Women's Basketball

WBB: Everything Bill Fennelly had to say in today’s teleconference

Bill Fennelly

Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly hosted a teleconference on Thursday afternoon to address the media for the first time since the Big 12 Tournament cancellation in Kansas City.

Check out everything during Coach Fennelly the call below:

On last season

“Thank you guys for being on the call. Certainly, you do. I think this team really accomplished a lot and fought through a lot of things. As a coach and as a parent, you’re always telling people that if you do the right thing and you work hard, you’ll be rewarded for those efforts. Unfortunately, like a lot of teams in the country, the ultimate reward of playing in the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City or going to the NCAA Tournament didn’t happen. We’ve always been a group that worries about what we can control and we’re celebrating how the season ended with the win over Baylor. It’s very disappointing, but we completely understand with how the world is now. We’re just trying to not forget what we accomplished and not focused on what didn’t happen.”

On handling the Day-to-Day Operations of the Program

“It always starts with the health and well-being of your players and their families. We’re in constant communication with them. I think the biggest thing for me is making sure our seniors are set, get them graduated, and figure out where we go from there. I’m learning a lot about technology, which has been interesting and frustrating at the same time for me. We divided our team into groups amongst the staff. They have small group (meetings). I have big group (meetings). Our strength and conditioning (coach) is in touch with them. The medical staff is in touch with them. So, we’re trying. It’s a very unique time. Right now for us, luckily, this would be our ‘slow time’ anyway. It’s more of a academic function of moving forward because we don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s about where are they, are they healthy, are they where they need to be and, academically, are they doing the things that they need to be doing to finish the semester?”

On it being difficult to not have the players around

“The best part about coaching is interaction on a daily basis with your players. This time of year, I’ve never liked anyway because I’m forced to do things I don’t like to do. It’s paperwork, budgets, evaluations… it’s all the stuff that as a coach, you have to do, but you don’t want to do. The idea of not seeing them around is very hard. That’s the part you miss the most. Even though it is a slower time, you still get to see the team. There wasn’t just a gradual easing to the end of the semester. We went to Kansas City, we were told we were done, we came home and we scattered and that was it. It was just so quick, that I think that’s the part that’s been hard for me. There wasn’t that normal time of thanking the seniors in a lower key manor and getting the new kids ready to go. It’s very, very different, but we’re trying to do the best we can.”

On learning about technology

“I don’t know if I’ve learned all of it. I have Coach Carp, Billy, and Steven on speed dial. I didn’t know there was Zoom, Webex, Google Hangouts… all of those things that we’re trying to do is the only way we can see them face-to-face. Obviously, you’re always texting, emailing and calling, but right now that’s the best we can do. My staff does a good job of organizing those things, and we’re trying to find a good balance of what’s best – because some kids handle things different – but it’s been good so far. It’s obviously not what you want, but that’s kind of what we’ve always told them – ‘We’re going to control what we can and we’re not going to make excuses.’ We’ve got to keep working. We’ve got to keep going to school. We’ve got to keep doing what we can under the circumstances. I keep telling them, ‘We’re not on vacation. That is not what this is.’ We have to keep them on task so when we do get back, we’re ready to go. That’s the thing. You don’t know when (that day) is going to come. We just have to be ready for whatever is in front of us. The more we prepare now, hopefully, the better we’ll be when they say it’s OK to open up the gym again.”

On previous experience with Video Call apps

“Zero. It’s embarrassing because it really isn’t that hard. I just get real frustrated and I don’t live in that world. I think (my grandson) Will could do it and I need a lot of help to get it done. I’m willing to do anything – like we had a whole team meeting with the staff on Monday – just to get to see their faces. I’m willing to learn anything I have to learn just so I get to see them and interact with them a little more than just calling and texting.”

On what the team meeting was like

“It was Ok. It was a little bit surreal. We just went through some housekeeping items. I went through with all of the players and said, ‘Tell me where you are. Tell me what access you have to a gym, just give me some background.’ Then I made them all tell me what they’re thankful for. ‘Tell me what, maybe you were forced to think about that you never really thought you had to or didn’t want to.’ They talked a lot about their family and they talked a lot about their teammates and they’re chance to be a college athlete. So now we’ll move forward and do individual ones and small group ones and kind of come from there. So, it was good. We had everyone on the call. Deb started it and kind of did the Mom-first lady greeting and then we kind of went from there. I think it made everyone feel a little better.”

On office availability

“I go to my office from time-to-time. I don’t have some of the stuff in my house like printers, but yeah – it’s locked down. There’s no one here. I think 99% of the time I’m here there is not a person in the building. My staff is not here. The men’s staff is not here. I think the custodial staff comes in every once in awhile, but other than that it’s locked down.”

Was that a Zoom call?

“It was a Google Hangout? I think that’s what it was called. Yeah, it was that one. We had that with the team on Monday. We’re going to try to do different ways. I’m learning. The Zoom one, you can get everyone’s face on it, where the Google Hangout one, you can’t if you have too many people. So see, I’m already learning some of this stuff. We had done it with the staff and the quality was good. It was easy. So we’ll see if the Zoom thing will be something that we try as well.”

On learning new technology

“Like most things in life, when you’re forced to do something, then you do it. Or, you just throw your hands up in the air and say, ‘No,’ which I think is kind of stupid. I have no choice. Yeah, I feel bad that I hadn’t learned it earlier, but I think you’re always trying to find a way to do new things. Up until this situation, you were learning things that impact recruiting more than anything with Twitter and things like that. This is a whole different thing and now we’re learning new ways to recruit. You can’t have official visits. You can’t have people on campus. So, how do you communicate with people? You still have to do those things. Like I said, conversation is good. Kids want to see your face. They want to see the campus. We’re trying to do the best we can and make it informative and productive at the same time.”

On Roster Turnover

“The roster is always changing. I think one of the things – if I taught a class to future coaches – the number one thing I would start with is roster construction. It’s always changing. Given this situation, it’s going to change more. If they change to the one-time transfer rule, it will change again. For our team, Gabby McBride is in the transfer portal. She will not be back. We have four incoming freshmen that everyone knows about, and you’re still recruiting. There’s still kids out there that we would like to add. I think the biggest thing I learned this year is that three of those (five starters) missed a lot of time. We got caught, I think, without the depth that we needed. So, I need to make sure I do a better job of managing that. We’re going to still recruit. We’d like to add some people during the spring signing period, there’s no question. I don’t know if we will. Right now, we’re at 13 (scholarship players) given (McBride) and the incoming kids.”

On Jamie Pollard

“For the people who live here and deal with Jamie every day, it wasn’t a surprise. I mean when you read all of this stuff across the country and everyone talking about it, that is how Jamie is every day. Obviously this is a unique and large decision, but when you make a decision like that and you get the support that he got from his team then it says a lot about what he does and how he does his business every day. It is what it is. He looked at the big picture and felt this was the best way to go about it, and I think it was. It’s no small thing for people to give up part of their paycheck, but there’s people that don’t have jobs and there’s things that we want to do as a university and as a department to keep the culture and to keep the thing that we have. This is a very tight-knit group here and it’s fun to be a part of. It’s like your family. If your family is not connected, when things go bad it’s easy to splinter. When your family is together and you have the same vision and you care about one another, you get through it. I am like everyone else. I pray to God that we are playing football in the fall and basketball in the winter and who knows what is going to happen, but right now we have to take care of what we can take care of and Jamie’s leadership in that regard was exactly what we expect from him and what we have learned to appreciate of him. He is the best athletic director in the country and we’re lucky that he is the leader of our team.”

On down time’s effect of Skill Development

“That’s a great question. I think as a coach you’re always telling your kids you got to work out, you got to do this, you got to do that and most of them kind of buy into it. I told them on Monday. I said I don’t know when we are going to come back. It could be June? I told our staff to prepare that the next time you see our team will be the day before fall classes. That’s what we’re preparing for, and we hope it doesn’t happen that way. Then you’re going to know, you’re going to know who got better, you’re going to know who was on vacation and sat on mom’s couch and watched Netflix and ate all day. We are going to find out who is truly committed. One of the things last year about our team is, life is about choices and what choices are you going to make on a daily basis. We have a lot of young people on our team that for the first time in their life are having to live through some really hard choices and we can’t make them be here at 2:30 p.m. to work out for half an hour and we might not be able to do that for a long, long time. I think there’s teams that are going to benefit and there’s teams that are really going to suffer from it. It depends on your kids, it depends on your leadership. I think that’s going to be a huge thing in the fall in how you reboot. Are you working on your team in the fall, or are you just working in the fall on what you should have been doing in June? I think we’re all going to have to go through stages of that and I am just hoping our kids are doing the things they need to do to be ready to go because we are going to play the toughest schedule that maybe we’ve ever played here.”

On old baseball games that he might be watching during downtime

“I don’t watch (many of them). It makes it worse for me. I don’t like watching the old stuff as much as I probably should. I don’t watch much television anyway. I don’t watch some of those things. I’m trying not to watch the news a ton either. I like the documentary stuff that ESPN does or whatever. Some of the old-time games and things just makes it even harder. Unless it’s the Cardinals in the sixth game of the World Series – something that’s uplifting that I know the result of. I have watched the Baylor game a couple of times even though the more that I watch it, the more nervous I get because I keep thinking that the outcome is going to change. I have watched that a couple of times.”

On shareable details of the 2020-21 Schedule

“The only thing right now that is supposed to be scheduled is that we’re supposed to play South Carolina in the Big 12 / SEC challenge. They’re the No. 1 team in the country, so that will be exciting. Obviously, we’ll play in-state teams. We’re trying to put a tournament together in Florida that will be one of the best, if not the best pre-season tournament in the country. So, we’re working hard on that. We’re trying to finish it. Obviously, everyone is kind of in the same boat, not knowing exactly what they want to do. Every school is a little different. Originally, we had plans to play certain places and go certain places – and some of those things haven’t worked out, but it will be very, very good and we’re looking forward to being ready to face it.”