Women's Basketball

STANZ: Ryan makes a statement in player power era

Iowa State Cyclones forward Nyamer Diew (1), guard/forward Ashley Joens (24), guard Emily Ryan (11), and guard Lexi Donarski (21) celebrate from the bench during the fourth quarter against TCU at Hilton Coliseum on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, in Ames, Iowa.

Let’s ride with Emily Ryan.

Iowa State’s point guard needed only 10 words, three photos and two emojis to make a major statement Tuesday evening.

Amid a week of teammates hitting the transfer portal and rumors of problems within Iowa State’s women’s basketball program, Ryan made her commitment to Iowa State University and its fans clear.

“Ride or die through it all,” Ryan wrote in a tweet that accompanied three photos of Bill Fennelly and two heart emojis. “Love you Cyclone Nation.”

There are questions about the current state of Fennelly’s program that need to be answered. Fans deserve assurances that this off-season’s transfers are a by-product of today’s era of college athletics – an era in which players come and players go – and not something more concerning. Perhaps some self-reflection is needed in order to help the program evolve in this ever-changing world of college athletics.

But those answers, assurances, and reflections won’t come overnight. And in the meantime, let us not overlook the players who remain – the players who have chosen to stay in cardinal and gold.

Emily Ryan is one of those players.

Things were feeling awfully thin Tuesday afternoon after it was announced Denae Fritz was entering the transfer portal. Ryan held the fate of the program’s near future in her hands. And she very publicly chose to stay.

As much as this is Fennelly’s program, Tuesday night made clear this is Emily Ryan’s team.

This entire week has been a signal of who truly holds the power in these programs in today’s day and age. It is the players who control the fates of programs across the country, and it is time for coaches everywhere to reckon with that fact.

And now, for Iowa State, Ryan will be the one who holds the keys to whatever success the Cyclones are able to find next season.

Iowa State’s staff will be tasked with building a good team around her. She’s more than good enough to carry that load. Nyamer Diew has proven capable of being a major piece alongside.

What’s next is assembling a team to complement them and a group of freshmen rated among the best classes in the country. That’s easier said than done in today’s day of college basketball with name, image and likeness playing a significant factor across the country.

Iowa State will have to be a player in that game if it hopes to compete.

They’ve got a good starting point, though.

The Cyclones will ride or die with Emily Ryan.

Jared Stansbury


Jared a native of Clarinda, Iowa, started as the Cyclone Fanatic intern in August 2013, primarily working as a videographer until starting on the women’s basketball beat prior to the 2014-15 season. Upon earning his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Iowa State in May 2016, Jared was hired as the site’s full-time staff writer, taking over as the primary day-to-day reporter on football and men’s basketball. He was elevated to the position of managing editor in January 2020. He is a regular contributor on 1460 KXNO in Des Moines and makes regular guest appearances on radio stations across the Midwest. Jared resides in Ankeny with his four-year-old puggle, Lolo.