The Kansas Jayhawks women’s basketball team started off its season undefeated in non-conference play.
Since the start of Big 12 ball, the Jayhawks have lost five of six games, and are in dead last in the standings.
They even lost at home to Oklahoma State by 18 points, a team that Iowa State beat on the road this past Sunday.
When KU comes to Hilton on Saturday (2:00 p.m.), however, it won’t be overlooked by coach Bill Fennelly and his team.
“I think, with the exception of Baylor,” Fennelly said. “There’s going to be 16 games that you go into and you feel like you have a great chance to win, and you go into it knowing you have a great chance to lose it.”
Iowa State knows not to overlook teams, as well, thanks to some experiences from last season.
As one of the top teams in the league, the Cyclones needed to avoid scares at times to keep their spot in the standings and finish second in the conference.
“You can’t overlook any team,” sophomore Ashley Joens said. “They’re going to come out and give it everything they have. We just have to go out and play.”
That’s what this season will be like, though, for Iowa State. They can’t afford to overlook anyone and make it to the NCAA Tournament.
The theme surrounding the team has been to find unique ways to win games. Something they have done the past two times out.
“I think that’s our team,” Fennelly said. “The identity of our team is that we don’t have an identity. We play a lot of different people (and) a lot of different styles. Our kids have embraced us trying anything and everything.”
Fennelly hasn’t shown any mercy in changing his starting lineup and rotating his players at will throughout each game.
It’s about preparing for what is ahead in the next 40 minutes and what mix of players is best to attack their opponent.
Fennelly said that from an Iowa State standpoint, to pin the success on something, he is focusing on three things.
“It comes down to, for us, don’t turn the ball over, be a good scouting report defensive team, and try to make enough shots,” Fennelly said. “The games we’ve won, I think that was the formula. The games we’ve lost, one of those things has not gone well or more and the results speak for themselves.”
As opposed to the game his team played against Kansas State on Wednesday night, the Jayhawks will be just as physical as most of the teams are in the Big 12.
It will make entry passes on the offensive side of the ball tough, and it will be another test for the offense.
“They’re going to get up into us,” Fennelly said. “They’re going to front the post. They’re going to make every pass painful. These guys are going to try and beat us off of the dribble and create offense. That’s where we have struggled (earlier this season).”
The physicality will mean Joens will have to battle through some tough defense, which can be worrisome for the coaching staff.
However, Joens hasn’t let it affect her game, especially as of late.
The Iowa City native has recorded a double-double in three straight games and has yet to be held below 17 points in a conference game.
The Hilton crowd will see her make a lot of backdoor cuts on Saturday.
“Backdoor cuts are (going to be) a big thing,” Joens said. “Especially if we can get them to come up and get some easy looks that way.”
Now, the question is if the Cyclones can record their third straight conference win.
|Big 12 WBB Standings|
Upcoming Big 12 Games
Saturday, January 25
1:00 p.m. | Texas (4-2) @ Oklahoma State (3-3)
2:00 p.m. | Kansas (1-5) @ Iowa State (3-3)
2:00 p.m. | Oklahoma (3-3) @ Kansas State (1-4)
2:00 p.m. | Texas Tech (2-4) @ No. 2 Baylor (5-0)
Sunday, January 26
7:30 p.m. | No. 25 West Virginia (3-3) @ TCU (4-2)
Tuesday, January 28
7:00 p.m. | Texas (4-2) @ Oklahoma (3-3)
7:30 p.m. | Iowa State (3-3) @ No. 2 Baylor (5-0)
Wednesday, January 29
7:00 p.m. | TCU (4-2) @ Oklahoma State (3-3)
8:00 p.m. | Kansas State (1-4) @ Kansas (1-5)