Exhibition game will test Cyclones

Jeremy Gustafson

When the ISU women’s basketball team steps onto the Hilton Coliseum hardwood Sunday, they won’t look quite the same as they did last year.

Then again, neither will the opponent.

“Normally, it’s literally a dress rehearsal,” Fennelly said “[But] This will not be the case.”

The Cyclones face the Houston Jaguars, a team comprised of former college stars and current WNBA players, Sunday at 2 p.m. at Hilton Coliseum.

“It’s more like what you see our guy’s play,” Fennelly said.

Players like Jamie Redd, who plays for the WNBA’s Seattle Storm, Vanessa Nygaard of the Portland Fire and Cedar Rapids native Robin Threatt-Elliott.

Also on the team is Amanda Lassiter, a WNBA rookie who played for the Missouri Tigers.

“It should be much better than playing a bunch of people you can’t pronounce their names,” Fennelly said, in reference to some of the Cyclones past exhibition games, such as last year’s against a team listed in the media guide simply as Foreign Exhibition.

For the Cyclones, two new faces will be in the starting lineup for the first time.

Sophomore guard Erica Junod, who Fennelly called “a sixth starter” last season, and junior forward Mary Cofield will be called upon to take the spots left by Megan Taylor and Erica Haugen.

Junod got significant playing time last year and averaged 6.0 points per game.

Cofield, a transfer from St. Ambrose, sat out all of last season and was allowed only to practice due to NCAA rules.

“A year can seem like a lifetime,” Cofield said.

But now her time has come to fill Taylor’s role.

Taylor left the school with 132 games played, 1,866 career points and 966 rebounds, all school records.

Still Cofield feels that there won’t be too many unfair comparisons.

“I don’t think [Taylor] is replaceable,” Cofield explained. “The only thing I can do is just come in and play hard. Maybe after sitting out and watching her, I can try and do some of the things I think she would have done last year.”

Fennelly agrees.

“There’s never gonna be another person like Megan, what she did on and off the court for this program,” Fennelly said. “Mary is a very talented player in her own right, she plays a different style.”

As far as the game goes, Fennelly plans to get as many of his players game experience, but also knows they will be going up against a solid team with great individual players.

“If this is a pick-up game at the rec,” Fennelly said, “our kids are gonna get picked last. But that’s why you play team basketball.”

Cofield said the Cyclones will approach this as a real game, not an exhibition.

“I think anytime you step out on the court, whether it’s practice or a game, you gotta go hard,” she said. “You have to take everything seriously.”