ISU women’s basketball looks to freshmen for exhibition game

Freshman Bryanna Fernstrom shoots during the game against No. 3 Baylor. The Cyclones took down the Bears 76-71 on Senior Night. The game was ISU coach Bill Fennelly’s 600th win at Iowa State. Fernstrom had 6 points for Iowa State.

Trey Alessio

So far, the ISU women’s basketball team has yet to have a practice with its full team present.

But ready or not, tomorrow night the Cyclones will play their first exhibition game together at Hilton Coliseum.

Iowa State is focused on three things as Midwestern State comes to town — adapting to the new rule changes, testing its conditioning and transferring its play from practice to a game-type situation.

ISU coach Bill Fennelly said exhibition games give the team, especially its freshmen, a chance to simply get out there and play.

The freshmen have been a main source of attention for the Cyclones heading into the season. Bridget Carleton is expected to start. Meredith Burkhall is expected to play a lot if she doesn’t start — the decision has yet to be made.

TeeTee Starks, however, will not play Thursday. Starks suffered a concussion in practice Tuesday on a loose ball that Fennelly described as “all four people at a four-way stop, all going at the same time.”

“All three of [the freshmen] are in the rotation and all three of them will play,” Fennelly said. “As the year goes on, that’s not going to change. Those three are in our top six or top seven. That’s been a pretty consistent thing at practice.”

Carleton said the freshmen have been talking about this first exhibition game for a long time, and they’re ready to go.

“We’re all pretty nervous but excited,” Carleton said. “We’re mostly just excited to get started. Hilton Magic is real, and we’re really excited to be a part of it.”

The freshmen will also have to adapt to several new rule changes, including four quarters instead of two halves and closer foul calls. Along with the rule changes, Carleton — from Chatham, Ontario — said the biggest adjustment from Canadian basketball to the American collegiate level is the speed of the game.

Fennelly said with the double-bonus free-throw provision, among the other rule changes, Iowa State will have to use the new guidelines to their advantage.

“We can talk about it and tell the kids about it, but if the people out there in the striped shirts are blowing whistles, that’s a foul whether you agree or not,” Fennelly said about the referees.

Fennelly added that Iowa State is historically not a team that fouls a lot but the freshmen are bound to make mistakes. Fennelly said the coaching staff always has a pool going on which freshman will shoot the first air ball at Hilton.

But despite the light-hearted pool, Fennelly expects the freshmen to step up and help out this year’s team tremendously.

“I hope that we play to our strengths and keep people in front of us and not foul,” Fennelly said. “That’s what these [exhibition] games are about.”

Iowa State will take on Midwestern State at 7 p.m. Thursday night in Hilton Coliseum.

“[The freshmen] have taken on the role of having a lot of minutes very well,” said redshirt sophomore Jadda Buckley. “They’re learning the plays and chemistry-wise, we’re connecting very well.”