Nisleit ‘doubtful’ for Wednesday after ankle injury

Matt Gubbels

With Nicky Wieben and Toccara Ross already out with ACL injuries, the ISU women’s basketball team will likely have to play Wednesday without another post player.

Junior Amanda Nisleit rolled her ankle with 18 minutes left against Baylor on Saturday and was unable to re-enter the game. The X-rays on Nisleit’s ankle were negative. However, she still limped into practice on Monday wearing a protective boot.

Coach Bill Fennelly said Nisleit is not being ruled out for Wednesday’s game against Missouri, but that it is doubtful she will play.

“We will definitely plan for her not to play on Wednesday,” Fennelly said. “It would be a miracle if she plays.”

Nisleit has been in double figures in three of the last five games, including the four three-pointers and 12 points she had before her injury against Baylor. The Cyclones (16-10, 5-8 Big 12) are now down to just junior Jocelyn Anderson and sophomore Genesis Lightbourne in the post.

“We’re going to have to come together,” said junior Heather Ezell. “Everyone is going to have to step up a little bit more to make up for that.”

Fennelly said there were several possibilities the coaches were looking into, such as starting sophomore guard Denae Stuckey.

“We’ll try and figure out which way we can match up the best way with Missouri,” Fennelly said. “Everyone wants to feel like they’re a part of the team. This is their opportunity. We keep saying that, but it’s there now because they’re going to play.”

Offensive Difficulties

Losing Nisleit, at least for Wednesday, may make it tougher for Fennelly to accomplish one of the things he wants his team to do down the stretch.

Iowa State has shot over 40 percent only four times in their 13 Big 12 games, and he said the offensive efficiency needs to improve, especially late in games. The only player on the team that is shooting over 40 percent is freshman Kelsey Bolte, and six out of Iowa State’s eight conference losses have come by five points or less.

“You have to make a basket at a critical time,” Fennelly said. “That puts a lot of pressure on everything, but for the most part you can’t fault their competitive spirit.”

Having only one real true post-up option in Anderson may make this task even tougher. Fennelly said there are a few things the team will try to possibly post up Bolte and sophomore point guard Alison Lacey.

“We’re going to mess with some things where we’re going to invert our offense and post up our guards,” Fennelly said. “I’m watching any game that’s on TV because there has to be somebody out there running something we can use.”

Lacey said she has played in the post a little bit before, so that will help.

“We’re running out of posts, so I think we’ll try a lot of different things,” Lacey said. “If it’s me going down there and that’s what [Fennelly] wants, then I’ll do it.”

Wednesday: Must-win?

With only three games remaining in the regular season, many “bubble” teams are looking at what they will have to do to get into the NCAA Tournament.

Fennelly said he was researching tournament resumes for two hours on Sunday.

“I spend a lot of time doing this; it’s kind of a sickness I have,” Fennelly said. “I think a team in our league that finishes 7-9 has a great chance to get in the tournament.”

Iowa State currently sits at No. 33 in the ratings percentage index with its strength of schedule ranked 20th. After playing Missouri, the Cyclones play two top-50 RPI teams in Kansas and Nebraska.

Lacey said a win against the Tigers is vital to Iowa State’s tournament hopes.

“The next three games are pretty critical for us,” Lacey said. “If we can get all three, that would be great, but any win we can get is good.”

Fennelly said he did not think a loss would take his team completely out of contention.

“Would it hurt you? Absolutely. Would it end it? No,” Fennelly said. “I think without question you have to tell yourself two out of three [wins] is probably minimum.”