Women face leadership void after losing key seniors


Only three women’s basketball programs lost two players to the pros last year.

I owa State became one of those teams when point guard Stacy Frese was drafted by the Utah Starzz and Desiree Francis was taken by the New York Liberty. Also gone from last year is Monica Huelman, a senior leader from the Sweet 16-qualifying Cyclones.

Now Iowa State must find a way to replace the lost leadership.

“When you lose three seniors like we did – about 60 minutes and about 30 points – Des and Stacy made close to half of our three-point shots. But I think more than that we lost a lot of leadership,” Head Coach Bill Fennelly said.

“People don’t know what to expect because we did lose three seniors,” said senior guard Megan Taylor. “I think we’re gonna be fine. I think we play well as a team.”

The concern is who will fill the void left by the stars, and whether or not the Cyclones can play as well as they did last season.

“Obviously it’s a question mark,” Fennelly explained. “When you look at our schedule, how tough it is will be determined later. But you look at our road schedule, Iowa, UNI, DePaul at a neutral court, at Duke, at NC State, at Oklahoma, at Texas Tech. Those kind of games are going to make it hard enough to find enough wins to get into the tournament.”

“As far as winning the Big 12 goes, I think Oklahoma and Texas Tech are going to be picked near the top,” Fennelly added.

When it comes to Iowa State defending the Big 12 championship Fennelly said “they’re not going to take the damn trophy out of my office if we don’t win it again.”

The Big 12 will be a different conference this season because all teams lost quality players to graduation.

The question of how well Iowa State does may be determined on the leadership of the players and who fills the scoring void.

Fennelly said that this season’s squad may be a “leadership by committee.”

Sophomore guard Lindsey Wilson, junior forward/center Angie Welle, Taylor and others will need to fill that void.

“Lindsey’s the talker in the group. Megan is going to do it by her attitude and the way she plays the behind the scenes stuff. Obviously Angie is someone who is kind of in the middle. She is vocal at times and she plays hard. I think she is a junior who has great respect from her teammates. I think it’s going to be kind of a group effort,” Fennelly explained.

“We’ve got a lot of different leaders in a lot of different ways, on the court and off the court,” said Junior forward Kelly Cizek.

“I think it depends on certain situations. Angie’s really stepped it up this year, and she’s been very vocal and Erica Haugen and Sarah Robson. I think its mostly those three and me, every once in a while,” Taylor said.

Taylor is recognized as the leader on the team, and Fennelly says that she is most deserving.

“There isn’t a kid in the country who plays harder than her, man or woman,” Fennelly said.

“I’m so used to watching Stacy and [Monica] do everything, and now that I’m a senior I guess it’s my role to do that stuff,” Taylor said.

Taylor and Welle are proven scorers, but the team will be looking for more production from junior Tracy Gahan and redshirt freshman Erica Junod, if they hope to re-live last season’s success.

“It’s a different look, but people are stepping up,” said sophomore Holly Bordewyk said. “We have great senior leadership.”

The Cyclones will also be looking for someone to play small forward. Junod and Wilson will handle the ball, filling the void left by Frese, while Taylor will fill the other guard spot.

The offense will be the same up-tempo style fans have grown used to, but rebounding is a main concern Fennelly said.

“If we were playing four-on-four we’d be damn good,” said Fennelly.

Fennelly said that newcomers will have to “step up” and play key roles too. Freshman Kate Bauman, Mindy Sywassinik and Junod may be asked to play key roles on the team.

Sophomore center Gintare Cipinyte and Bordewyk are also going to have to be solid.

Senior guard Erica Haugen, having been at Iowa State for four seasons, will be expected to put forth solid numbers.

“People always ask me why we don’t put names on the back of our jerseys. [It’s] because we play for the name on the front of the jersey, and that’s Iowa State,” Fennelly said.