Iowa State looks for another impactful game from Ryan against TCU


Daniel Jacobi II

Emily Ryan attempts a layup during the game against Kansas in Hilton Coliseum on Jan. 21, 2023.

The No. 18 Cyclones will look to extend their winning streak as they take on TCU on the road Wednesday night.

Iowa State is coming off two wins at home against tough opponents; Oklahoma State and Kansas. With the hectic week Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly had, he was absent for the win over the Cowgirls.

The Cyclones still managed a win under associate head coach Jodi Steyer and took that momentum with them into the comfortable win over the Jayhawks.

“Anytime you can go 2-0 on a week in the Big 12 is huge,” Emily Ryan said.

Although Ryan had a quiet night around the basket against Kansas, she made up for it with her presence on the court. Throughout the season, Ryan has been the leader on the court and gets the minutes she needs to get the job done.

Among all players in the Big 12, Ryan is sitting at the top in minutes played. She has made the most of every minute she’s on the court.

“She’s gotta be in the game,” Fennelly said. “She’s the leader of our team. She runs our team. There’s no one on our team that’s trusted more by anyone and everyone.”

Whether it’s calling the shots on the offense or giving her all to the defense, Ryan makes an impact. In the win over Oklahoma State, Ryan acted as another member of the coaching staff on the court, helping draw up plays to get over a tough Big 12 opponent.

The Cyclones are lucky Ryan has the stamina to keep up with the demand. Although Ryan made it clear that she’s willing to do whatever it takes to help her team win.

“Obviously, everyone wants to play as much as possible, and I’m no different,” Ryan said. “Just trying to get as many minutes as possible is fun for anyone. Just trying to do my job and whatever the team needs, if that’s playing 40 minutes, then that’s what I’m gonna do.”

However, minutes don’t cross her mind. She plays in the moment and doesn’t look at the bench as a bad thing. Whatever she needs to do to win is what she does.

It was also clear in the win over Kansas that Ryan’s presence on the court helped her teammates succeed. She ended the game with only 4 points but had 6 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks.

Those stats are nice, but for Ryan, wins is the only stat she cares about. That, and turnovers.

“There’s something about having her in the game that calms everyone down,” Fennelly said.

Fennelly said Ryan knows she’s not the most athletic person on the court. She’s not the fastest or the strongest, especially with how physical and tough players are in the Big 12.

Ryan makes up for any weakness she may have with her strong basketball IQ and her toughness. That toughness comes in handy when she has to deal with the physicality of certain opponents.

Ryan’s toughness was on display against Texas and Oklahoma State, as physicality played a role in the outcome of the games. From the moment she touched the ball on one end of the floor, she had a defender in her face through the entire length of the court.

“Everyone beats up Ashley Joens,” Fennelly said. “Now everyone beats up Emily Ryan.”

The physical play Ryan deals with doesn’t stop her from continuing to work hard on and off the court.

Fennelly mentioned that the team might need to look at ways of giving Ryan some rest in games and in practice. Fennelly said he might need to figure out a way to keep Ryan out of the gym since she’s in there so much.

“I’m gonna have to pull a Bridget and lock her out of here someday,” Fennelly said.

Every single day, Ryan is working. It was reminiscent of Bridget Carleton’s time on the team when Fennelly couldn’t keep her out of the gym either. That work ethic developed a great player in Carleton and looks to have developed another great player in Ryan.

As the Cyclones keep moving through their Big 12 schedule, Ryan’s impact will be more important than ever. Especially when it comes to road games.

“It’s hard to win on the road in the Big 12,” Ryan said. “We treat every game the same, regardless of who we’re playing, especially once we’re in the Big 12. Every win counts for the same amount and every loss counts for the same.”

The Cyclones will travel to Fort Worth, Texas, to take on TCU. The Cyclones are battling to stay near the top of the conference, while TCU has an 0-7 record in the Big 12.

Fennelly said the lack of production from TCU is due to the youth on the team. TCU is a much younger team than any other team in the Big 12, which can be a tough obstacle to deal with.

“Unfortunately for them, one of the things that’s happened is: our league got really old, and they went the other way,” Fennelly said.

At the end of the day, Iowa State knows not to take any game lightly, as any matchup in the Big 12 can go either way.

The Cyclones will face off against TCU at 6:30 p.m. in Fort Worth, Texas. The game will be streamed live on ESPN+.