Notebook: Women’s basketball media day

Junior Emily Durr (Left) blocks a Delaware Hornet while Freshman Adrianna Camber (Right) passes by another player to score a point. Iowa State Women’s Basketball faced the Delaware Hornets on Dec. 18. Iowa State took home the win 88-57.

Noah Rohlfing

Women’s basketball coach Bill Fennelly was excited to get started at Iowa State’s media day on Tuesday. With a roster brimming with new talent and only two seniors, a point guard situation to be sorted out and high expectations, Fennelly certainly had plenty to talk about. 

He began by wishing well to University of Iowa’s athletic director, Gary Barta, who is reportedly suffering from prostate cancer and is taking a leave of absence from the Hawkeye program. 

“We certainly want to give [Barta] our very best,” Fennelly said. “The rivalry is a great one, but there’s certain things that are more important, and that’s someone’s health.”

Point guards, versatility and positionless basketball 

Positionless basketball has become more commonplace at both the college and professional levels over the years. With the rise of the Golden State Warriors, plenty of teams are now shifting to a style without a true point guard or center, letting athleticism and versatility run the show.

The Cyclones come into the season without an established starting point guard. Fennelly said that the team has played without a point guard at times during practice, but stopped short of saying that the Cyclones would be a positionless team. 

“The problem is, everyone wants to play like the Warriors,” Fennelly said. “I’d play like the Warriors too if I had Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.”

The changing positional dynamics in college basketball started during Fred Hoiberg’s tenure with the Cyclones, and Fennelly credits Hoiberg with changing the style of “traditional basketball.”

Hoiberg ran an offense that, at times, put the responsibility of point guard duties in the hands of “point forwards” in the mold of Royce White and Georges Niang. 

“‘Leave a piece of you behind'”

Only two seniors are on the roster this year for the Cyclones in guard Emily Durr and forward Claire Ricketts. That leaves the team caught between two minds: playing for the present and for the departing seniors, but also building for the future and focusing on the players who are returning.

Fennelly said that Durr is “a little behind physically” after undergoing Tommy John Surgery. Durr figures to play a major role for the Cyclones this year at both guard positions, while Ricketts will be fighting for minutes in the post with junior forward Meredith Burkhall and freshman center Kristin Scott.

Fennelly said that it does allow the team to experiment with the players who are new and will return. 

Every program has their own way of doing things, but Fennelly was adamant that he wants his seniors to leave a legacy at Iowa State and make sure that they’re remembered for years to come.

“We’ve always told our kids, ‘leave a piece of you behind’ and make the place better,” Fennelly said. “You don’t want to waste a second of [the season].”

Post Options

With the regular season fast approaching and only a certain number of minutes available, the fight for minutes in the post will be an interesting one to watch.

Meredith Burkhall is still the starting forward/center for Iowa State heading into the season, but the arrivals of junior Bride Kennedy-Hopoate and freshman Kristin Scott, along with the return of Ricketts, provides much needed variety and versatility. 

Fennelly couldn’t help but gush over the options at his disposal, with Burkhall and Scott providing outside threats and Ricketts providing athletic, versatile play. 

Kennedy-Hopoate is a rare breed of player for the Cyclones, according to Fennelly.

“[Kennedy-Hopoate] provides a physical presence that we haven’t had here in forever,” Fennelly said.

How the post players gel together and play to each other’s strengths to help the team is Fennelly’s greatest concern.

“It’s fun to have four people you can throw out there,” Fennelly said. “Hopefully, kind of like an offensive line, they gel together and everyone figures out their role and how they can impact success.”