Two games at Hilton Coliseum sit in front of the Iowa State women’s basketball team this week.
Both games will provide a big opportunity for the team. Both games are against teams in which the first meeting this year came down to the wire. Both games will be extremely important when discussing Iowa State’s tournament fate come Selection Monday.
The Cyclones are coming off of a two-game road losing streak to face Oklahoma State on Wednesday (6:30 p.m., Cyclones.tv) in the first of two home contests this week.
“We’ve lost two games in a row against some really good teams on the road,” Fennelly said. “Now, we come home and you’ve got to try and put something together. It’s a big week for us. No question.”
At first glance, it seems like an opportunity the Cyclones should be able to take advantage of. It just won’t be easy.
Both Oklahoma State and Oklahoma are below Iowa State in the Big 12 standings. Although, each team is so close together, with the exception of first and last place, that these games will always be a battle.
Fennelly and his team are focusing on capitalizing and gaining sweeps to help them advance to a better seeding for the Big 12 tournament as well as a birth in March.
“When you look at a true [round-robin], at the end of 18 games, you look at your record,” Fennelly said. “It’s always dictated, in my opinion, by two things: Who do you sweep, and who do you allow to sweep you? After the first round, there’s four teams we have the chance to sweep, and five teams that have a chance to sweep you.”
In their first meeting, Iowa State and the OSU fought to the final buzzer.
The Cyclones found themselves down by seven points going into the final media timeout. They had to hit a number of shots to escape Stillwater with a 64-63 victory.
“All of our games are going to be like [that],” junior Kristin Scott said. “We have to realize that we have to play all four quarters with great execution to be successful.”
What defines success for the Cyclones?
That would be Fennelly’s 19th trip to the NCAA Tournament with Iowa State.
“That’s my goal, 100%,” senior Adriana Camber said. “I was just reading we’re on the bubble right now, so we’ve got to make sure we’re in. I don’t look into it too much, I just got the notification from ESPN.”
Members of the team pay some attention to bracketology. Fennelly tries not to.
The Cyclones are currently in the ‘Next Four Out’ category on ESPN.
They take it for what it’s worth.
“At the end of the day, it’s only that Monday that matters,” Camber said. “What everyone else says doesn’t really matter. We’ve just got to stick to our plan and play our game. If that goes through, we’ll hold it up.”
For the Cyclones to defeat the Cowgirls again, they’ll need to improve on their game-specific defense.
Limiting big scorers like Vivian Gray has been a staple for Iowa State under Fennelly. While his team did hold one of the top scorers in the conference to seven points below her average, they still allowed Kassidy De Lapp to go for 21 in Stillwater.
“Our scouting report defense has got to get better,” Fennelly said. “When our teams have been really good here, we’ve been really good at executing a game-plan and scouting report on how you guard certain people. We haven’t done that and that’s on me.”
Fennelly said that aspect of the season has been disappointing for the Cyclones.
In one moment, his team looks really good, but in another it’s a complete nightmare.
Much like a lot of things this year for Fennelly, his staff, and the team – things haven’t gone as planned. Although, much like the times of other hardships this year, they’ll work tirelessly to figure them out.
As they have the entire season, the Cyclones will try and find a way.
The question remains whether or not it will be enough.
|Big 12 WBB Standings|
Upcoming Big 12 Schedule
Wednesday, Feb. 05
6:30 p.m. | Oklahoma State (3-6) @ Iowa State (4-5)
6:30 p.m. | Texas Tech (3-5) @ Kansas State (3-5)
7:00 p.m. | Kansas (1-8) @ Baylor (8-0)
7:00 p.m. | West Virginia (4-4) @ Oklahoma (4-5)
Saturday, Feb. 08
2:00 p.m. | Oklahoma (4-5) @ Iowa State (4-5)
2:00 p.m. | Baylor (8-0) @ Kansas State (3-5)
2:00 p.m. | West Virginia (4-4) @ Oklahoma State (3-6)
5:00 p.m | TCU (7-2) @ Kansas (1-8)
Sunday, Feb. 09
1:00 p.m. | Texas (6-3) @ Texas Tech (7-2)