Former starter Wieben puts up solid numbers after coming off bench

Chris Conetzkey

It’s time for the tip-off as the ISU women’s basketball team gets set to play Drake, and sophomore Nicky Wieben finds herself in unfamiliar territory for the second straight game – the bench.ÿ

“It is a little bit different; last year I started every game but five,” Wieben said. “I didn’t think I was really in position to be starting anymore, and I think that was a really good choice what they [the coaches] did on their part.”ÿ

Coach Bill Fennelly made the move, starting freshman Rachel Pierson over Wieben before the team’s win over UW-Milwaukee. Wieben came into that game averaging 8.2 points per game and 4.6 rebounds – not necessarily a reason to make a switch. Fennelly, however, demanded more out of Wieben.ÿ

“She hadn’t played at the level she was capable of playing,” Fennelly said. “We thought it would relax her, and I mean we weren’t trying to embarrass her or punish her, but we needed to try something different.”ÿ

Fennelly’s move paid off. Against UW-Milwaukee last Saturday, Wieben had 19 points and six rebounds in just 21 minutes, and followed that with a 15-point, six-rebound performance in the Cyclones’ 70-62 win against Drake.ÿ

“Coming into the game late, I get to see what’s not really going right in the game,” Wieben said. “I just get to really learn from that before I go in so I know what I really need to focus on. You just got to come out and play hard whether you’re in the starting lineup or not.”ÿ

Although Wieben isn’t starting, her play has warranted getting plenty of minutes. On Tuesday night she had 26 minutes, compared to Pierson who started and ended the night with 17. Wieben and her coach don’t put much emphasis on starting, which is why Fennelly isn’t surprised at all by how she responded to the change.ÿ

“I wasn’t surprised; I was very proud of how she has handled it the last two games,” Fennelly said. “Even though she isn’t starting, it’s about getting quality minutes, and that’s what happened in the last two games.”ÿ

For now Wieben will keep coming off the bench, and that might not be a bad thing. Wieben has settled into her role coming off the bench nicely, averaging 17 points per game and six rebounds per game since the change.ÿ

Not only is she playing better basketball, but she is also adding a new facet to her game that was previously non-existent – the 3-pointer. The 6-foot-4 inch Wieben hit a crucial three to put the Cyclones ahead 54-48 in the second half, breaking Drake’s back. The attempt was only the first of the season for Wieben, but the question is: will she be popping any more treys this season?ÿ

“I don’t know,” Wieben said with a smile. “Actually, [Lyndsey] Medders called for the re-screen, and it was a real good call by her. It was nice for that to actually go in, so I don’t know, maybe.”