Fennelly Big 12 Teleconference

Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly met with the national media and previewed his team's Saturday evening NCAA Tournament game against Utah in Fresno, Calif. Here is a transcription.

On what he's seen from Utah on film:

"I think what you see in Utah is what you see every year with Coach Elliott's teams. They're very good half-court defensively. They have a lot of offensive weapons. Kim Smith and Shona Thorburn are kids that can take over games. They shoot the three like we do. Every coach talks about one possession at a time, and it's a fact of life when you play Utah. You'd better guard right and take care of the ball. I've been very impressed. They have good balance, a lot of depth, and some size.

"It's a great first round game. Both of us can shoot the three. Hopefully we can play smart defensively. We're not going to overwhelm you with full-court pressure and quickness at certain spots. But it should be a good first round game."

On stopping inside-outside presence of Smith and Thorburn:

"We've guarded a lot of great players in the Big 12 Conference. We understand the task at hand. The challenge also is that you can't stop players like that. They're too good and too involved in their offense. They have the ball too much. It's not like a post player where you double down or deny the ball. They have the ball in their hands a lot, so that's a challenge.

"The key is nothing easy, no silly fouls, don't forget to guard them on certain plays, and hope they help you a little bit and have an off night. That's the nature of this tournament. We're not naïve enough to think that we're going to stop anybody. We need to make sure every shot they get is a tough one. But while you're doing that, don't forget that there's three other players on the court with them."

On what practice schedule looks like this week:

"We took Monday off. To be quite honest with you, we're still waiting. We don't know what we're doing. We're trying to get out of here on Thursday and will practice in Ames on Tuesday and Wednesday. Hopefully we'll leave Thursday to go to Fresno. The NCAA protocol will be followed on Friday."

On how he can get the best Cyclone team to play in the NCAA Tournament:

"What makes us that team is we need to play a little bit loose. Our team did not play guard, and you'd have to credit Texas A&M, Kansas, and Colorado down the stretch. Our kids were so nervous. It's a great group of kids that want to do everything right. We were so uptight that we couldn't play the way we wanted to play. Against Texas Tech, we knew we were playing a great team and relaxed.

"Getting into this tournament you walk a fine line between being relaxed and enjoying the moment, yet still having that competitive edge to you. That's a hard balance and we found that much better in the Texas Tech game than we did against Colorado. Hopefully that's the team that prepares this week and shows up Saturday night."

On playing a 10-seed that's as good as Utah:

"You look at all of the 10s, and Wisconsin-Green Bay, Houston, and Oregon are good teams. Utah wins 25 games and plays Stanford to the wire and Michigan State to a two-point game. They have great players and have had a great run. Everybody you get in this tournament is really good. You get into that six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11 situation and it's going to be a tough game. That's the way this tournament is supposed to be."

On concerns of Anne O'Neil's health and wearing protective boot as caution:

"I don't think it has hindered her play. Anne's a kid that needs timing. Today will be the sixth day. She hasn't done anything since the Texas Tech game. It hurts her timing a little bit. She needs the work. Overall, I don't think it's hurt her yet. We'll see how it goes. We have been really cautious of how we've done it. We've tried to keep her off it, and hopefully she'll be physically ready to go on Saturday.

"It's a stress reaction in her leg that could lead to a stress fracture. There is not much we can do for it, except to keep her off of it and not let her practice too much. I tease her that she's getting old and her body is falling apart."

On matchup of ISU's transition game and Utah's deliberate style:

"They really do a great job of tempoing the game. We are not a great half-court team and never have been. We need to look for opportunities. You get opportunities to run by guarding and defensive rebounding. It's tough to run when you're taking the ball at the net all the time. We need to be aggressive in every way, shape, and form offensively. When the opportunity is there we need to be aggressive and not be afraid to take good shots.

"We have had some trouble with it down the stretch. Colorado and KU did a great job of it against us. We've got to try and prevent that. It starts with how you play defense."

On how long since he's been to Fresno:

"We coached there five years and it's been about 19 years since I've been back. We've had 15 to 20 emails from people that are still out there. I've been on two or three radio shows already. A lot of people are still there. It's a great sports town. I have fond memories there and our son Billy was born there. It's a special place. We're going to see a lot of fans than normally we would. Between that and Lyndsey Medders' family, we might draw a few more folks than people expect."

On importance of players that have been in NCAAs before:

"I've already talked to them about that and I think it will help. Just the whole idea of the format and little things like the travel party quadruples. The uniqueness of it was the last time we were in the tournament with this group of kids we were playing at home. But they have been through it before.

"It's great for Katie and Anne, because they've never been in an NCAA Tournament. This is the last time for some of them and maybe the first and last time for others. So enjoy it and learn from your friends and teammates. We'll play hard and do the best we can."


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