ISU Women's Basketball at Big 12 Media Days

ISU head coach Bill Fennelly and senior Brittany Wilkins met with the media in Dallas at the Big 12 media days earlier this week.

MODERATOR: Coach Fennelly, please introduce your player, make an opening comment or two, and we'll go from there.

 

COACH BILL FENNELLY: I have Brittany Wilkins with us today. Brittany is a fifth-year senior from Arlington, Nebraska.

 

I want to thank everyone for coming. This is always an exciting time of year to start the basketball season. We're looking forward to being part of what the Big 12 has to offer. I don't think there's any question year in, year out this is truly the most special league in the country with the fans and the Hall of Fame coaches and so many great players and hopefully Iowa State is a team that will do our part to uphold what this league has stood for over the last 10 years. We're looking forward to get going. We have only practiced four times, so I don't know a whole lot about our team but we'll do the best we can to answer your questions.

 

Q. Update on Heather?

 

COACH BILL FENNELLY: Heather Ezell is one of our freshmen who was hospitalized for a week with a staph infection. She is out for about two more weeks. She has a pickline, I.V. -- permanent I.V. for the next two weeks. She runs around with a bag on her hip shooting jump shots. And she shoots better than anybody on our team with an I.V. in her arm. She's doing a lot better. Probably won't be available for two, three weeks. Basically what I told her is flush October 2005 and when November starts we will start over. Hopefully when November comes she will be back practicing.

 

Q. So start of the season unlikely she'll be --

 

COACH BILL FENNELLY: I think she should be ready to go by the start of the regular season opener November 20. I don't think she will be ready -- we have exhibition November the 6th. I would doubt that she'd be ready to play that night, but for sure we're planning on November 20. Hopefully it goes that way.

 

Q. (Inaudible) a bit of a dark horse (inaudible) team that can surprise some people in the north?

 

COACH BILL FENNELLY: I wasn't surprised that we were picked 9th. I thought that was probably appropriate. We lost a lot of great players. Look at all the percentage of rebounding and percentage of scoring, returning, were not we're not real high.

 

I hope we can surprise some people. I think we can. I think we have players that understand what it means to have an Iowa State jersey and to play for this program. I think we're a program that has to compete game in, game out, night in, night out since the league has been in existence. I firmly believe we can do that again, but we'll have to see if that's possible. But I like the approach our team has taken up to this point. We're going to have to prove that we can play at this level. I think our kids understand what that means and hopefully they can embrace that attitude.

 

Q. How different does it look at your practice and not seeing Anne and all the starters from last year and how different will your team be this next year?

 

COACH BILL FENNELLY: It is, to be honest with you personally, it is extremely difficult. Much more than how good of basketball players they were, those five seniors did more for our university and for me personally than anyone I have ever been around in my life probably. That was very hard to not go out there. But at the same time I am very, very excited about the kids we have back, with Brit, Lyndsey, Megan who understand it.

 

We have some freshmen I think will make an impact on our program and we're trying to play and understand what it means to wear an Iowa State jersey.

 

As you mentioned, those kids – Tracey Paustain is student coach, Katie Robinette works on our scout team so we get to see them. Mary Fox and Anne O'Neil and Lisa Kriener emailed me or called me right before practice started. There's still a part of

it -- and hopefully the current players understand what that means, and they will play and act and conduct themselves in a way that those players did. Thank you for asking.

 

Q. Looks like the north division is really jumbled. Some of the teams that weren't successful have a lot of people back. Other teams lose a lot and are rebuilding. How do you see the north this year?

 

COACH BILL FENNELLY: Well, I think very similar to last year. I don't think there is a great team right now in the northern division, but I think there's a lot of teams that -- Colorado will be better, I think they are a year older and any time there's a new coach, there's a new enthusiasm sometimes. Nebraska has a lot of players back. I think Bonnie Henrickson is a star. I think she can do -- I honestly believe they can do at Kansas kind of what Kim did at Baylor with the way she coaches and recruits.

 

Deb Patterson is always going to be good. They have recruited very well. And Missouri, they have a lot of players back and I think that as we look at -- those are 10 games that you play that I think every coach in our league would say you have a chance to win all 10 after you chance to lose all 10. That's going to impact someone's post-season chances dramatically.

 

And hopefully all of us will be able to also say that we played some pretty good basketball because in this league you get 6th or 7th place you got a great chance to be in the N.C.A.A. tournament. I think the northern division is going to be an -- like last year, we had our own little chart just for the northern division games because we really felt that was going to impact the end of our season. I don't think that will be something that we should probably throw away. Should probably bring it back out.

 

Q. Brittany, with all the kids you lost and just I would say very strong personality strong character kids along with good basketball players. How is this team developing it's personality and chemistry can you tell so far this early?

 

COACH BILL FENNELLY: This summer all five of the freshmen came up and took classes and worked out and I think that really showed a lotof commitment on their part just to the program and the roll this they are going to play this year in our program. Just over the last couple of weeks we just been getting to know each other more. Last year we just knew each other so well, that core five seniors.

 

But I think our team has a lot of potential to do that this year. We had kind of like a team retreat a couple of weekends ago that just really kind of opened a lot of doors just to get to know their personalities, you know, besides them as basketball players because I think that's really important for our program, just the chemistry that we have off the court I think is huge. Because it carries onto the court as well. I am excited to get to know the five freshmen and just what they have to offer for our program. I think that they got a lot of expectations and I think they can do it. They have had a great preseason, and I am excited to see how our personalities come together and stuff.

 

Q. Is this Iowa State team going to look as much like the traditional Iowa State teams or is this one going to be something new, something different?

 

COACH BILL FENNELLY: I hope it looks like the traditional Iowa State teams because that's pretty good thing in my opinion. Our style of play will be a little different. I think we'll be more traditionally post oriented than we have been in the past with a true four and five man. Our strength is definitely in our post game. I think we have four, five kids that can develop and turn out to be very good post players. So that may be appear to be a little bit different. We're still going to try and run the ball and like I have said since the day I got here, shoot it before we throw it away and shoot the 3 a lot and try and be entertaining and change defenses. And so I don't think the casual fan will see a dramatic difference except for I think we'll be taller than we have ever been. And there's a chance that we could actually be 6-2, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 at one point on the court. So that's unique for us.

 

We have kind have gone from a traditional four guard one post to maybe a little taller lineup. I think that's the only thing that would probably to the casual fan look a little different but hopefully the Iowa State Jersey will still represent the same kinds of things and the way we play and the way we act and represent our school and obviously represent our conference.

 

Q. Brit, seems like a lot of the teams that are here talk about being really stronger at the post than in past years. Overall, do you think does it seem like this is maybe going to be a post year in the conference this year, who

in the conference impresses you as far as the other opposing centers?

 

BRITTANY WILKINS: I would just have to say that I mean, post game is gone up the level of play has definitely improved and gone up. The girls are getting bigger, stronger, faster, and I think we have a lot to offer like our freshmen, you know, Rachel Pierson and Nicky Wieben in particularly have really stepped up and, yeah, you just got to go out there and every day roll the ball out and bring that effort that Coach Fennelly talks about every day.

 

You are going to go against people that might be bigger against you or faster than you but you can always outwork them and Coach Fennelly always talks about rebounding. You can have a 5'9" girl be the best rebounder on your team. It is about height but it is more about effort. Yeah the post game is obviously strong in the Big 12 you can see that on Baylor's team with Sophia Young and just her game and stuff. Just come in every day with that effort and bring in what you have to

offer, so...

 

Q. Are you any more concerned than usual about going to Colorado this year given the way they played you at the Big 12 tournament last year?

 

COACH BILL FENNELLY: No, I am always concerned when we play Colorado. I really I feel -- it's hard coming here not seeing Coach Berry here and the way the season ended last year, but I think the thing -- whenever we played Colorado, they were as prepared a team as we played every year regardless of the score, they were always prepared to play, so -- and the difference will be it's a whole new style. I don't know Cathy's style that well, but I don't know that they are going to running the try angle like Coach Berry did so there will be some differences. They have a team that has great size and they played really well obviously in the conference tournaments so I am sure that that's something that they will point to in a small way. I don't know that it will really impact the game dramatically. I think the challenge to us will be adjusting to a style of play that I think Colorado is going to is from what I have seen and read.


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