Wieben fnjury forces Cyclones to adjust now-six-strong rotation again

Matt Gubbels

When lone senior Toccara Ross went down for the season with a torn ACL on Dec. 21, the players on the ISU women’s basketball team just had to adjust to playing more minutes.

Since junior Nicky Wieben suffered the same injury at Texas last Wednesday, however, the Cyclones have had to change their rotation and some of their strategies for attacking opponents.

Wieben, the Cyclones’ 6-foot-5-inch center, was second on the team, with 12.7 points per game, and was leading the team with 5.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. She broke the career blocked shots record less than five minutes before her injury against the Longhorns.

Fellow junior Jocelyn Anderson replaced Wieben in the starting lineup Saturday against Nebraska, scoring eight points, corralling 10 rebounds and blocking three shots in her first career start.

Coach Bill Fennelly said his team understands that there is not much they can do about injuries such as these.

“We just have to get ready for the very next game we play and play as hard as we can play and try to find a way to win some games,” Fennelly said.

“You don’t lose two good players and not feel the effect, but the other players need to find a way to make up the difference. We have to put them in a position to do that,”

With the injury to Wieben, the Cyclones lost their second starting post player from last season, and their rotation, which started the season at eight, has now dwindled to six. All five starters (freshman Kelsey Bolte, sophomore Alison Lacey, junior Heather Ezell, sophomore Denae Stuckey and Anderson) played at least 35 minutes in the loss to the Cornhuskers, and Fennelly said the starting lineup will more than likely not change the rest of the season.

“There aren’t a whole lot more options,” Fennelly said. “The rotation is up for grabs – I thought [Genesis Lightbourne] did a good job. She only played five or six minutes – the first minutes she has played at a critical time maybe in her career.”

“[Amanda Nisleit] has got to get back to where she was, and hopefully Shellie [Mosmon] or Anna [Florzak] – one of those two – can find a comfort level and give us some time.”

Lacey said that game helped the team adjust to not having Wieben.

“It’s going to take a little more time, I think, but I think we’re coming along nicely so far,” Lacey said. “We can’t feel sorry for ourselves – we lost Toccara and Nicky and we need to keep playing.”

The Cyclones are making changes not just with who’se on the floor. With the players seeing as many minutes as they did against Nebraska, Iowa State was forced to play more zone defense and use some four-guard sets that they have before.

Ezell said the losses do change the Cyclones’ game, but there are things they’re working on.

“We’ve got a lot of different combinations we’re using, and we’ve got a lot of different things we can do,” Ezell said. “We’re starting to get used to it. We’ve been practicing it for a while, so hopefully everything will come together.”

Kansas State coach Deb Patterson said Bolte has improved her scoring in Wieben’s absence.

“Her production as a replacement there has been very good,” Patterson said. “Defensively, it changes them more than anything because of Wieben’s versatility.”