Harrington: How can the Cyclones combat physicality?


Jacob Rice/Iowa State Daily

Iowa State forward Beatriz Jordão boxes out for a rebound in the Cyclones’ 87–62 loss to No. 5 Baylor on Feb. 28.

Andrew Harrington

It’s no secret that physical teams such as Baylor and Texas have caused problems for Iowa State women’s basketball this season, but what adjustments need to be made for the Cyclones to compete in these types of games?

With the Big 12 Tournament on the horizon, rematches against at least one of these two teams appear likely.

Going 0–4 on the season combined against Texas and Baylor with a -94 point differential, it is clear that something needs to be done differently the next time this team comes across a long, physical opponent.

On the defensive side of the ball, Beatriz Jordão provides a physical component of the game that could be utilized more frequently. Splitting minutes with Morgan Kane has worked well against most teams, but there may need to be more of a 25/15 split between them.

The Cyclones have sacrificed open looks from the three-point line to double team some inside shots, but this has allowed Baylor and Texas to post strong shooting numbers in their contests against Iowa State.

Over the four games against Iowa State this season, Baylor and Texas have shot a combined 41.3 percent from deep. For a pair of teams that are not known for shooting, these numbers will not result in an Iowa State win very often.

Allowing Baylor to get one-on-one shots in the post will result in a lot of post scoring, which is why the Cyclones should rely on physical play from Jordão more frequently.

While the defense needs to improve against this style of play, the offense has not held their own either.

Averaging a mere 54.8 points per game as a team in the four games, the Cyclones have struggled to find open looks on offense. 

To cut down on inefficient shots and late shot clock heaves, Iowa State needs a role player to step up and hit open shots. Players such as Ashley Joens, Lexi Donarski and Emily Ryan do not get the open shots that they are used to taking when three players are able to face guard them the whole game.

If Nyamer Diew, Aubrey Joens or Maggie Espenmiller-McGraw can score around 10 or more points in these games, it will make the Cyclones a tough team to defend. Each of these players is more than capable of hitting a few three-pointers and making a big difference in the outcome.

Another change that could help the team is finding a way to get more offensive spacing. Iowa State has utilized the dribble handoff very well, but these athletic teams have shut it down.

Adding more away screens and flare screens could help people get open on the opposite side of the court.

Possibly the biggest deciding factor of an Iowa State matchup against one of these teams is shooting from Donarski. Draining 76 shots from deep this season, Donarski is the third-leading three-point shooter in the Big 12.

If she finds a way to knock down some shots in addition to one of the role players previously mentioned, the offense will perform at the level that it will take against these teams.