Iowa State looks for a starting five against Wisconsin-La Crosse

Head coach Bill Fennelly reacts to a call made by the official during Iowa State’s 61-48 win over Oklahoma State on senior night. The Cyclones ended the regular season with a record of 18-11 (Big 12 9-9). 

Garrett Kroeger

Basketball is almost upon us.

Before the Iowa State women’s basketball team officially kickoffs of its 2017-18 season on Nov. 10 against the South Dakota Coyotes, it will take on the Wisconsin-La Crosse Eagles this Sunday at noon at Hilton Coliseum.

The game against the Eagles is only an exhibition contest. However, it will still be a meaningful game for the Cyclones because it allows them to figure out the rest of the question marks they have before their game against South Dakota.

“November hits and now you start thinking about what we have to do to get ready,” said coach Bill Fennelly. “This is our last chance to put things out there before we open the season.”

One of the things that Fennelly and his staff have to put out against Wisconsin-La Crosse is a starting lineup.

During media day, Fennelly stated that he didn’t have any sort of starting lineup in mind. However, he did know that Bridget Carleton and Meredith Burkhall will start for Iowa State. The other three spots are up for grabs.

Earlier this offseason, the Cyclones participated in a scrimmage against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. In that game, Fennelly started Nia Washington at point guard, Madison Wise at the two, Carleton at the three, Burkhall at the four and Bride Kennedy-Hopoate at the five.

Although that was Iowa State’s starting five in that scrimmage, Cyclones fans probably shouldn’t expect that unit to start on Sunday.

“I think, probably, that there will be a lot of changes as [Iowa State] goes,” Fennelly said. “We just don’t have the consistency.”

So far in practices, Carleton, Burkhall, and Kennedy-Hopoate have by far been the most consistent players in Fennelly’s eyes. So, those three could start during Iowa State’s exhibition game. As for the other two, expect Fennelly to go with the hot hand.

Washington and freshman Rae Johnson are neck and neck in the point guard race. And Wise, Adriana Camber and Emily Durr are also in competition for the off-ball guard position too.

“We are actually going to scrimmage, have an intrasquad game on Saturday,” Fennelly said. “Give one more chance to have a look of things and then we will decide. But, I think it will be more of who is hot that day thing.”

One thing that could affect Iowa State’s potential starting lineup is Carleton.

Last year, she played at the four a lot. So if Iowa State wants to play her at the four, that means Burkhall would move to the five and Kennedy-Hopoate would move to the bench.

However, dealing with an interchangeable unit is nothing new for Carleton because the Cyclones changed the lineup often last year. And Carleton is perfectly fine not having a set position this season.

“It is what it is,” Carleton said. “That’s one of the positives. Everyone is competing for minutes every single practice. So, everyone is giving it their all. The set five isn’t set yet and [Fennelly] has made that clear.”

Carleton believes that competition makes the practice more exciting because everyone is trying to lock down a starting spot.

While vying for a starting position makes practice more exciting, Iowa State is just excited to get the season going. And even though it is only an exhibition game, it should be a special moment for this year’s team.

“One of the things that we have talked about with our team all the time is that any chance you get to put on an Iowa State uniform, it should be special,” Fennelly said. “Especially at Hilton. Whether it’s an exhibition game or it’s at a time that people don’t even know the basketball season is starting. It’s gotta be fun.”