Fennelly Big 12 Teleconference

Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly met with the media Tuesday morning on a Big 12 teleconference. He spoke about his team's remarkable start to the season, and hit on various topics leading up to the Cyclones' game with Nebraska on Saturday. Here is a transcription.

On Katie Robinette's play this season:

"She has lived up to her billing, and then some. She's done a tremendous job and is our second-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder. She's doing all the things that we've asked her to do, and has anchored our defense and played well.

"We're playing a lot of four-guard, one-post and she's the one. She had a good start to the Big 12 season and got into a little foul trouble on Saturday, so she didn't play as much or as well as she's been playing. But there's no question that what she's done all season has allowed us to have the start that we've had. She's impacted our team dramatically from where she was last year."

On balancing home life and playing career:

"It's been amazing how well she's balanced it. A lot of it is she's matured a lot, has a lot of help, and has a tremendously supportive family. Her teammates have helped her. I think she's really found a niche here and is close to a lot of people.

"She's got the highest GPA that she's ever had in her life, is playing better than she's ever played in her life, and is doing a great job of being a mom. So she's done a great job of doing a lot of things that most young people can't even imagine. The credit goes to her and her parents; they've really supported each other and appreciated the opportunity that Iowa State gave her."

On how this season has gone, compared to his preseason expectations:

"I don't think anyone would imagine we'd be 14-1, but I did feel like this team had a chance to be better and have a solid year. The NIT really helped this team. We had seven of our top eight players back, and we got to play four extra games, and practice a lot more. It's kind of like bowl practice, in that we got a little extra work in.

"Every single one of our kids came back better than they were a year ago, and we've done some things a lot better. We have five seniors and all of them have been tremendous in the way they've impacted the way our program has played. It's all kind of come together and we've remained relatively healthy. To this point, it's gone as well if not better than I could have expected."

On how to keep it rolling:

"I think you appreciate what you've done and don't take anything for granted. We have seniors that really understand and are very mature kids. They understand what we've done. The last couple years we haven't been in the NCAA Tournament. We had a bad year two years ago and got in the NIT last year. Our team understands what it takes.

"When you play in a league like this, you don't need much of a wakeup call and had better go out and play every day. We're blessed to have seniors that understand that. They're playing at a high level and leading at an even higher level.

"I think we can get better. We can take care of the ball better. There are little things that you can do. We've got to continue to develop our depth, because we're not a very tall team. We've got to do things the right way. We are getting better. It's a lot easier to go to practice trying to get better when you're winning some games, and not just playing out the string. We can get better, and that's the challenge. The schedule gets even tougher as time goes on, so if we don't get better we're going to pay for it."

On what 15-1 record – best start in school history – would mean on Saturday:

"I think it would be a huge surprise to most people, but it would be a great accomplishment if we could do it. This team and especially these seniors have been compared by so many to groups of the past. That would be a big deal.

"We have allowed our players this year to enjoy those moments. I think you get so caught up in winning the next game and looking ahead all the time that you don't enjoy where you are. We celebrated being ranked. Anything we do, we've tried to allow them to enjoy that moment because we trust their maturity and that they can get ready for the next game."

On what he'd like to start getting from Lisa Kriener and Brittany Wilkins:

"What we need from those two is just the ability to do some little things for us around the basket. Make the shots you should make. Don't turn the ball over. Defend the way that we talked about. The other day Katie got in foul trouble and we didn't have much of an inside presence. We go 1-for-15 from the 3-point line in the first half. I think if we go 5-for-15 nobody panics as much as we all did that day.

"I think Lisa is really playing better. The last couple big games she has shown signs of really helping. She knows she is going to get to play. Katie is not in the position to play 35 minutes and gets into foul trouble. Lisa played a really good first half, even though it didn't show up dramatically in the stat sheet.

"Britt is struggling to find that niche and consistency. I think she is practicing hard and pressing a bit because she wants to do well. They don't need to be Katie and score a lot, but when the opportunity is there take advantage of it."


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