Two juniors take on job of leading team to greatness (W)

Shelby Hoffman

The senior leadership of the 2005-2006 ISU women’s basketball team falls in the hands of two juniors.

Lyndsey Medders and Megan Ronhovde lead the squad into an uncertain terrain of top-notch non-conference matchups and a looming Big 12 schedule.

The two are no strangers to success, and the price to achieve it will rest largely on their shoulders.

“Coach sat us down and ran through all the pressure we’d have, and he said it was somewhat unfair because we are only juniors,” Ronhovde said. “But he told us to take it as a challenge, because there are no excuses for the level of experience we have.”

The two were in steady rotation since the moment they stepped on the court in Hilton, but their roles as supporting players are now nonexistent. There is no phenomenal senior class to lead the way, and it is the twosome’s turn to take the reins.

“They both learned right away how hard it is, and they know what is expected of them,” said coach Bill Fennelly.

“We have complete faith in them that they will get the team to a capable level.”

Their camaraderie out of the basketball arena has translated into a fierce and delivering duo on the court.

“We walked in here together and we understand each other,” Medders said.

“We have the kind of chemistry off the court that helps once we’re on the court.”

The two feel responsible for the team’s progress and especially the advancement of the freshman class, whom they say is unlike any other they have seen.

“They have come in and worked as hard as any other class, and it is our job to help them play and adjust to that level of play,” Medders said.

“Rachel [Pierson] and Heather [Ezell] have bodies built and ready to play in the Big 12. They are like me and Ron [Ronhovde], with no excuses just because they’re freshmen.”

Ronhovde said patience has been a virtue with the incoming class, and that they are looking to the upperclassmen more than ever for guidance.

“We told them we know what they’re going through, that there are a lot of unknowns, but it’ll come,” she said.

“It gives us more pressure to perform well, but we have learned to embrace it rather than run away from it.”

In addition to handling communication on the court, Medders and Ronhovde are aiming to catapult their physical play as well.

Medders was second on the team last season in minutes played with 30.6, while Ronhovde trailed closely with 30.1. They averaged 9.7 and 9.2 points per game, respectively, and Medders assisted consistently on the wing. The two improved their scoring only a point from the season before.

“We are getting to the physical standpoint where we can play not only more minutes, but good minutes,” Medders said.

“There will be more of a challenge on my part because their first defender will usually be on me.”

Medders said her expectations are not for a top-25 team, but for one that improves with every practice and game.

“It is extremely exciting and I’m not as nervous as people think I should be,” she said.

“Getting better and better, what else can you ask for? Coming in and getting better is the only thing you can control.”

With a legendary season behind them and sizable shoes to fill, Ronhovde said the spotlight is theirs now, and they have to seize it for all it’s worth.

“Anne [O’Neil] said after our last game that the team is ours now,” she said.

“That speaks volumes with her caliber and what she thinks we can accomplish.”