Notebook: Women’s basketball heads to Costa Rica

Iowa State Women’s basketball head coach Bill Fennelly meets with the media on Thursday, August 9 ahead of the team’s trip to Costa Rica.

Spencer Suckow

The Iowa State women’s basketball team will leave Friday for Costa Rica, where the team will play three exhibition games against club teams and tour the country over the course of a week.

Before departing, however, head coach Bill Fennelly, freshman guard Ashley Joens and junior forward Adriana Camber met with the media. Here are a few highlights from Thursday’s media availability.

Fennelly Previews Costa Rica

Trips like these don’t come around very often for the Cyclones.

Only twice before in the past 20 years have the Cyclones taken a trip overseas during the summer: a 1999 tour of Denmark, Norway and Sweden and a 2014 trip to Italy.

The unique opportunity that the trip presents isn’t lost on Fennelly.

“Obviously, it’s a great experience for our kids and we’re very lucky that our administration supports these kind of things,” Fennelly said. “These are the experiences that, probably, they’ll remember more than games they won and things like that.”

In addition to team bonding, Fennelly said that the biggest thing that the trip provides is a chance for newer players to get adjusted.

Because the team is currently absent key contributors such as Bridget Carleton, Alexa Middleton and Meredith Burkhall, Fennelly says that the extra practice time doesn’t particularly do much for the team from a preparation standpoint and is “overrated”.

However, Fennelly says that the trip is an excellent opportunity for the Cyclones’ younger players to get to know each other and gain a head start to life as a Division I basketball player.

“Whether it’s terminology, how to do things, the pace we do things, how we handle road trips, all those kinds of things,” Fennelly said. “The biggest thing is the chemistry that they get when we play three games, but it’s all the other stuff.”

Joens ready after winning gold

One of those younger players on the trip will be incoming freshman Ashley Joens, who won a gold medal with Team USA at the FIBA U18 Americas Championship on Tuesday.

Joens, a five-star recruit from Iowa City, was one of the key cogs in helping the U.S. win gold. She scored 10 points in the gold medal game and finished second on the team in scoring during the tournament, averaging 10.7 points per game.

“It was a great experience,” Joens said. “Just to get this opportunity has been huge.”

Joens was initially selected to the team as an alternate, but ultimately made the final roster after a strong showing during tryouts. She added that being able to represent the U.S. and hold the championship trophy was “exciting”.

Despite the tournament concluding this past Tuesday, Joens won’t be taking any time to relax. She’ll be with the team when they travel to Costa Rica, and she says that she’s ready to go.

“I’m actually really excited,” Joens said. “To be back with this Iowa State family is really great and I’m excited to get to go to Costa Rica and get to play with them.”

Camber becoming a leader

With several key players missing time this offseason, Adriana Camber has had to take on a leadership role a little earlier than expected.

In fact, the junior says that she’s currently the oldest one on the team because so many people are gone. Camber is taking things in stride, however, and is using the opportunity to pass on some of the wisdom she’s gained to the younger players.

“None of the seniors are practicing right now, so as a junior that’s kind of your role,” Camber said.

Most of that wisdom involves making sure that the younger players don’t get too down when they make mistakes.

“Just take it easy,” Camber said. “Don’t be too hard on yourself. We all just want to do good, and even if we mess up, don’t stress about it too much.”