Pride will help transfer player looking to rebound after ACL injury

Zac Reicks

It has been a long time since Anne O’Neil stepped on the basketball court.

Sitting out a transfer year and tearing your anterior cruciate ligament will do that.

“It feels like forever since I have played in a game,” O’Neil said. “When I first stepped onto the practice floor my hands were shaking because I hadn’t played in so long.”

Since being named honorable mention all-Big Ten as a freshmen at Illinois, O’Neil has transferred to Iowa State, watched from the bench as her teammates garnered another 20-win season and NCAA tournament berth and then tore her ACL when she finally regained her eligibility.

Iowa State women’s head coach Bill Fennelly is someone who has also waited a long time for O’Neil to be able to produce on the court.

“She will be counted on a great deal to fill a variety of positions and score a lot of points,” Fennelly said. “[She] is a very big part of what we need to do.”

What Iowa State needs to do is replace 35 points a game that departed with the graduation of Angie Welle and Tracy Gahan.

The one thing O’Neil can do, however, is score.

“Anne can score, there is no doubt about that,” Fennelly said.

The redshirt sophomore left Cedar Rapids Kennedy as Iowa’s all-time five player career scoring leader (2,494; 28.3 ppg) and knows how to fill up the basket.

“I am very confident that I can score and contribute to a good team,” O’Neil said. “I have worked hard to be ready both physically and mentally for this upcoming season.”

Getting ready has meant countless hours of rehabilitation for an injury that can be career threatening to some players.

“When I went down, I wasn’t sure if it was my ACL,” O’Neil said. “I never felt sorry for myself and just wanted to get into surgery as fast as I could.”

Fennelly wants O’Neil to help get Iowa State off to a fast start, as the rugged slate of games that await the Cyclones will no doubt test both her knee and resolve.

“She has waited a long time to go out and play, and her knee appears to be ready,” Fennelly said. “She’s good with the ball, knows how to win and will help us a lot this year.”

O’Neil is returning to her home state where she made a name for herself as one of the top women’s players of all time.

Along with her countless scoring records, O’Neil led Kennedy to a state tournament appearance and was named 2000 Miss Iowa Basketball.

Fennelly was one of the main reasons she decided to transfer closer to home, along with the success the ISU women’s program has seen in recent years.

“Coach Fennelly has built a great program and the chance to add to it is very exciting,” O’Neil said. “Being at ISU is pride in and of itself.”

Senior point guard and team leader Lindsey Wilson is just one Cyclone who is happy to have O’Neil on the team.

“I was the only point guard for two years,” Wilson said. “Now [Erica Junod] is back, and Anne is back, and they will both help a lot.”

With O’Neil back in the fold, an undersized ISU squad will look to prove that this isn’t a rebuilding year like many prognosticators believe.

Instead, the Cyclones will try to improve upon their 145-27 mark of the last five seasons.