Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly had nothing but positive things to say after Friday night's 70-40 win over the Utah State Aggies (3-8). The Cyclones (11-1) play their third game in three days tonight at 7:00 PM when they host Loyola-Marymount.
Bill Fennelly: We played really well tonight. Another good team effort. I don't think we can play much better than the first six to 10 minutes of the second half. We shared the ball great and defended great. Again, my staff did a great job scouting. I thought everyone went in and played real quality minutes and played really well. It was great to see us play so well in the second half.
Talk about Heather Ezell coming off the bench tonight rather than starting.
BF: I told the team two things after the game. Number one was that I hope they appreciate the assistant coaches and all of the work they do to scout these games. Number two was that I don't like to single out people like I did tonight with Heather. That shows that she is a good person, she is a competitive kid and she doesn't pout. It was as good of a game as she has played since she has been here. She shot well, had six rebounds, and handled the ball great. She was on the floor defending and taking charging fouls. I know Heather is happy and her teammates are happy for her too. She came out and did the things that she is capable of doing and didn't pout about it. I told her at the shoot around that it's nothing personal. We just had to try something different. Unfortunately, someone has to start. Everyone is doing better off the bench.
Is there anything wrong with her knee that could have something to do with her not starting?
BF: She had reconstructive surgery in high school, and we had to scope her in the fall. She has a knee that is not pleasant. It is bone rubbing on bone and there is nothing we can do about it. We have tried to monitor her minutes and her practice time. When you are an athlete and you can't play physically like you want to, it is going to impact your performance. Heather has never made an excuse for it and never will, but it can't be a good thing. She handled it great tonight.
So often we see a player get turned around when they come off the bench, like
Nicky Wieben earlier this season.
BF: You relax a little bit and you see the flow of the game in front of you. You know what's going on. You know what plays are available. The excitement of starting is great here because we have such a great crowd. I do think there is some relaxation that goes in to it. The bottom line is that you have to be a good player and you have to be competitive. There have been a lot of players that come off the bench and don't play well because you have to do something pretty good right off the bench. You don't have the luxury like a starter where you can make two or three mistakes. Heather came off the bench firing tonight. The only thing she did wrong was miss a free-throw, and I think that bothered her. A lot of people got to play double-digit minutes again, and that's a good thing.
Alison Lacey looked comfortable in the starting role tonight.
BF: Alison has turned out to be someone that we can really count on. You look at her numbers tonight, nine rebounds, 12 points, five assists, and she doesn't turn the ball over. We played her at the one, the two and the three. You can't tell if she is one for ten or ten for ten. I yell at her and she looks at me the same way as if I pat her on the back. She is so even keeled. She has a feel for the game that a lot of kids don't have. She understands where the ball is supposed to go maybe one pass before a lot of people know it's going to be there. She's going to hit someone in the mouth with it one of these days because they are not expecting it. It's happened in practice. I thought our guard play was very good. Last night we had 29 baskets and 24 assists, and tonight we had 24 baskets and 21 assists. That means you are sharing the ball and getting the ball to the right people. That is pretty impressive to me. We couldn't have played much better than we played.
Are you having a hard time taking Lacey off the floor?
BF: It's very hard. The thing about Aus [Lacey] is that she can do a lot of things for us. She can rebound, she's a long defender, she is smart and she can score. Her demeanor has been very good. She doesn't panic. She got a few more minutes tonight because she is the back up point guard. It is nice to know that I can put her in the game that she is going to contribute one way or another.