Cyclones look to newcomers to strengthen post

Travis Cordes

The ISU women’s basketball team returns the two sources of nearly all of its productivity at the post position from last year in junior Nicky Wieben and senior Toccara Ross.

But Ross, the lone senior on the Cyclone roster who stands at 5-feet-11-inches, has seen limited action on the court this preseason, as she has been battling a bad back for the majority of the fall.

Despite doing close to nothing basketball-related leading up to fall practice, coach Bill Fennelly has been pleased with the progress she has shown thus far.

“When you’re fighting a bad back, there’s no easy solution,” Fennelly said. “But she’s very tough-minded. She wants to play; she wants to be a part of this. And I’m stunned with how well she’s doing for not having done as much as the others this fall.”

The 6-foot-4-inch Wieben is returning to start for the third-straight season for the Cyclones, and is looking to build on a solid sophomore season in which she averaged 12 points and 5.7 rebounds per game and earned an All-Big 12 honorable mention.

“Nicky is constantly developing her skill set,” Fennelly said. “As a junior in college, you make the decision of whether you want to be an All-Conference player or a good player on a good team, and that’s the challenge for Nicky this season.”

Outside of Wieben and Ross, the Cyclones appear to be thin at the post position, with no players returning with experience. They will turn to a large assemblage of newcomers and inexperienced players to pick up slack if Ross’ back continues to be a problem.

“We’re thin there [at the post position], there’s no question,” Fennelly said. “Every player wants an opportunity, and everyone is going to get one right now. I’m hoping Toccara’s injury isn’t anything too disabling, but she may be behind the other players because she’s been so inactive.”

Newcomer Jocelyn Anderson (6-foot-4), along with junior Amanda Nisleit (6-foot) and sophomore Genesis Lightbourne (6-foot), are all looking to fit into the equation this season.

“I think we have a solid base with Toccara and myself returning after seeing most of the time last year,” Wieben said. “And when you add Jocelyn, Amanda and Genesis I think we’ll be able to put together a solid post game.”

Anderson, a junior college transfer from Des Moines Area Community College, was named to the Division II All-American second team in both her freshman and sophomore seasons with the Bears, and nearly averaged a double-double in her sophomore campaign (15.3 ppg, 9.6 rpg).

Both Nisleit and Lightbourne saw limited action with the Cyclones last season.

“The post position is going to play a very important role in our success this year,” Ross said. “And even though we may only have two returning players, newcomers like Jocelyn add some depth at that position and I think we’ll be just fine.”