Cyclones aim for Elite status

Paul Kix

When practice ended on Tuesday afternoon, a video camera lit up ISU women’s basketball head coach Bill Fennelly’s face while tape recorders and microphones jockeyed for position just below.

“A lot more of you guys show up now,” Fennelly said.

When the cameras and tape recorders finished with him, they moved on to senior Megan Taylor, sophomore Lindsey Wilson and junior Angie Welle.

The players then answered more questions about their Sweet 16 opponent Vanderbilt and, in particular, Chantelle Anderson.

“Her arms are as long as anybody’s I’ve seen,” Welle said.

Anderson is 6-6. She shoots 73 percent from the field for Vanderbilt, which leads the nation.

She also leads her team in scoring at 21 points per game.

“She has great hands. She’s mobile,” Fennelly said.

“You can’t keep a kid like that from scoring. You have to try to contain her.”

“We want to get her in foul trouble so I don’t have to worry about her,” Welle said.

However, Welle needn’t worry about trying to squelch Anderson alone.

Fennelly said the Cyclones are going to try a lot of different zone defenses.

“I mean, they shoot 55 percent as a team,” he said. “They really spread you out [defensively].”

Rebounds often carom long off the rim from a team that sets up from sideline to sideline.

“Rebounding is the key to the game,” forward Tracy Gahan said.

Vanderbilt spreads the court out horizontally while attacking their opponents vertically.

Zuzana Klimesova is a 6-2 junior from the Czech Republic, who averages 16 points per game, second on the team.

Jillian Danker is a 6-1 junior guard/forward. “She’s a zone buster,” Fennelly said. Danker averages 13.2 points per game.

Jennifer Benningfield is a 6-3 freshman who played in all of the Commodores’ 31 games. She averages 9.7 points per game.

“They’re all very skilled,” Fennelly said.

So is Welle. She is second in the nation in field goals made at 66 percent.

“We’re going to try to do offensively whatever it is we’ve been doing,” Welle said. “We’re going to try to bring them away from the basket.”

The Cyclones have made it to the Sweet 16 for the third time in as many years. “It’s a great accomplishment to say that we’ve gotten to the Sweet 16 three straight years,” Gahan said.

“Everybody’s been there that was there last year,” Welle said.

“We know the practice schedules and the dinners,” Fennelly added.

He is hoping a Cyclone contingent travels to Denver to see the team play at the Pepsi Center this weekend.

“I think we’ll get a nice turnout for the game,” he said.

Vanderbilt brings a 22-9 record into the game Saturday. Iowa State counters with a 27-5 record.

The game is scheduled to begin at 9:30 on ESPN2.