AMES — When looking at the Iowa State women’s basketball team this year, there is no doubt that the top storyline is be what the team will look like without Bridget Carleton leading the way.
The former star player for the team was within single digits of the school’s scoring record and helped the Cyclones return to the NCAA Tournament in 2019.
“You don’t lose a player, a person, a leader like Bridget [Carleton] and [tell someone else] you’re next,” coach Bill Fennelly said.
Losing the Canadian will take a hit on the team’s scoring, leadership and basically everything else. On Wednesday, Iowa State will take the court for the first time minus- Carleton in an exhibition game.
Junior Kristin Scott is coming off of an injury suffered in the offseason. She won’t be available either.
However, when the team’s second game on the schedule is against the in-state rival and largely successful Drake Bulldogs, it is a cause of concern to not have her ready to go right away.
Wednesday will also mark the first look at Iowa State’s rotation at point guard.
The team lost another talented senior in Alexa Middleton who handled the role – and played extensive minutes – exceptionally a year ago.
“We lost maybe one of the best senior classes, and players that we’ve ever had,” Fennelly said. “There is not one person that will replace [Carleton]. We don’t have one person that will replace [Alexa Middleton]. It will be a different kind of team, but we just need to do things the right way. I think [our] players understand that.”
This season, Fennelly plans to at least start off by running the position by committee.
Last year’s point guard off of the bench, Rae Johnson, will be back in the running as well as someone Fennelly called a pleasant surprise this offseason in Jade Thurmon.
Fennelly also had high praise before the start of the season for the freshman out of Southeast Polk in Maggie Espenmiller-McGraw. After coming down with the flu, the newcomer had to sit out of some practices that undoubtedly could make a transition from high school to college ball challenging.
Assuming that everything goes according to plan, each of them should see the court for a bit on Wednesday at the No. 1 spot.
“We don’t just need people to make shots, we need people to create shots,”” Fennelly said.
The Cyclones will tip off at Hilton against Missouri Western State on Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. with the game being televised by Cyclones.tv.
Iowa State will officially open the season a week from Thursday when they face Southern on November 7.