Scout team plays vital role in success

Matt Gubbels

There is another men’s basketball team at Iowa State that not many people know about.

This group of young men is the scout team that prepares the ISU women’s basketball team for each and every game and has been one of the driving forces behind the success of the program.

Coach Bill Fennelly said these men are as important to the success of the program as anyone.

“Our scout team guys are the best,” Fennelly said. “There is no way we could prepare at the level we need to play without our guys.”

Seven players walk into women’s basketball practice each day and run through the opposing teams’ sets, instead of forcing the 12 players on the women’s team to practice against each other. Fennelly said one of the greatest things about the scout team players is their dedication.

“We practice two or three times at six o’clock in the morning on a Tuesday, and they’re here,” Fennelly said. “Eight o’clock on a Saturday morning – they’re there.”

The scout team has changed over the years by word of mouth from the existing players on the team, and the players get into it for different reasons.

“It’s a fun experience, and it gives me something to do,” scout team sophomore Brian Olson said. “It makes you feel like you’re contributing to the Iowa State athletics department.”

Sophomore Chris White said he just got into it to play more basketball at first.

“I didn’t really know anybody; I just knew friends that did it last year,” White said. “It turned into building a lot of friendships and playing a lot of hard basketball. It’s been a lot of fun getting them ready,” White said.

The scout team may be especially important this year, when the women’s team has only 10 healthy bodies.

Fennelly said he is impressed with the young men, who continue with the scout team, considering they don’t get many perks for participating.

“They come every day, and they get a pair of shoes,” Fennelly said. “They get yelled at like the players sometimes, but they’re tremendous young people.”

White said Fennelly treats the scout team just like the rest of the players.

“He doesn’t really look at us any differently than he does the other players,” White said. “It’s nice because you don’t get like special treatment or anything like that; it’s just the same as being another player.”

There was one main sentiment from the players. Before each game, each of the players on the scout team wants to find out who the best player from the opposing team is, so they can be that person.

“It’s a lot of fun to be the gunner because you kind of get the green light to go ahead and shoot and do whatever you want to do,” White said. “It kind of varies from team to team.”

Assistant coach Latoja Schaben gets the team ready to practice against the women.

“She’ll run us through all the plays to make sure we have them memorized before we start practicing with the girls,” Olson said. “She’ll get on our case, too, quite a bit.”

This season, with the team fighting for an NCAA Tournament berth, Fennelly said these men should take ownership in the women’s success.

“We’ve had some really good guys, guys that take it seriously,” Fennelly said. “Guys that I hope – and they should – feel a great sense of pride.”

White said the players do take a certain pride when the team is successful.

“Especially when they win, you feel like a major part of the team,” White said.