Cyclones look to keep on rolling over UNC

Josh Flickinger

After seeing the likes of Texas Tech, Nebraska and Missouri for the better part of a month, a non-conference break in the schedule should be a welcome change for the Cyclones, right?

Well, not exactly. The North Carolina Tar Heels come into town riding five game losing streak that has dropped them from being rated ninth in the Associated Press poll to being completely out of the poll.

It was certainly no coincidence that four of the five losses have come after Nikki Teasley, their All-American guard, was taken off the roster for reasons that were not explained.

Before she left, she was averaging 14 points and leading the team in steals and assists.

But ISU All-American candidate Stacy Frese says that statistics don’t really tell the story of how good Teasley is.

“She wasn’t averaging that many points, but she pretty much could score when she wanted to. She’s a great player,” Frese said.

In Teasley’s absence, the Heels have been led by LaQunada Barksdale. The forward was leading the ACC in scoring before being held to just two points in UNC’s 69-56 loss to Wake Forest on Sunday.

Also in the mix are center Jackie Higgins, averaging 10.1 points and 9.3 rebounds, and Juana Brown, who scores 11.2 points per contest.

Frese has mixed feelings about playing this game.

“It’s good for the Big 12 and it’s good for Iowa State, but it’s kind of strange to be playing outside the conference this late. Last year it was really tough because we had to go to Clemson after playing at Texas Tech, and now North Carolina is kind of in the same situation,” Frese said.

The game, which will be nationally televised on ESPN2, will be played in the friendly confines of Hilton Coliseum, where the Cyclones have won 41 straight regular season games, and 22 consecutive games total.

Frese doesn’t think the Cyclones will be overconfident, however.

“I think it’s always a danger, but the coaches do a good enough job of pounding it into our heads that we can’t be too confident, or we’re going to get beat,” Frese said.

The Cyclones have won nine in a row since being upset by Drake, and they have won by an average of 21 points per game during that stretch.

As far as where this group of Cyclones is in comparison to last year’s, Frese thinks that the two are comparable.

“I think we still have a ways to go before we’re at that level, but obviously we’re playing well right now. We just have so much confidence in each other, and that really helps,” Frese said.

The Cyclones have been led in conference play by sophomore center Angie Welle, who has averaged 19.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game in the conference.

Her improved play has been a big factor in ISU’s success.

“She has just gotten so much better. She really runs the floor, and beats people down the court. And when Oklahoma State started to double team her, she kicked it back out really nicely,” Frese said.

So, it appears to be a game of pick your poison when teams face off against ISU.

What would Frese choose?

“I think I would try and take out the three-point shooters first. We have so many people who can shoot the three that it’s probably our biggest weapon. Everybody’s playing so well right now that we’re a tough team to guard,” Frese said.