Iowa State women's basketball tipoff is a short two weeks away as Iowa State prepares for its encounter with the University of Nebraska Omaha.
As the season comes closer to tipoff, the team is down to 11 players on its roster, which raises the question of possible injuries hindering their season.
Last season, then-junior guard Madison Wise and forward Kristin Scott missed some time due to injury. Scott dealt with a back problem, which had her sidelined for multiple games throughout the season, and Wise was sidelined for 10 straight games having been dealing with persistent migraines.
Despite this, Scott has been working to become healthy all summer and believes if the team stays injury-free, then the Cyclones will be successful this season.
“Each of us brings something different to this team,” Scott said. “If we can all stay healthy, that will be our best bet of being successful.”
A healthy Scott and Wise can prove to be pivotal for the Cyclones this season. Scott is coming off of a 14-point and seven-rebound year, despite having recurring back issues throughout the season. In addition, Wise has been very consistently averaging just below double digits in points and four rebounds before her junior season during which she missed a lot of game time.
Scott and Wise, along with junior forward Ashley Joens and senior guard Rae Johnson, are expected to lead the team this season, especially after Joens put up big numbers last year.
Joens averaged a double double with 20 points and 11 rebounds and earned herself a unanimous All-Big 12 First Team selection, an honorable mention for All-American, and was a top-five finalist for the Cheryl Miller award.
After a breakout season for Joens, she still has a drive to get better in other departments of her game.
“You can't become content with where you're at,” Joens said. “You have to keep working and getting better as an overall player, not just scoring and rebounding.”
With her mindset and level of play, Joens is set to be a key asset to the Cyclones, which have been ranked No. 15 in the AP Preseason Poll, their highest ranking since the 2001-02 season.
With this, Joens doesn't let herself get too wrapped up in the preseason rankings.
“I look at them, but I don't really process them,” Joens said. “I look at them and know they don't mean anything until we go out there and start playing.”
Johnson will also play a big role this season as one of three seniors in a team mostly made up of freshmen and sophomores.
Johnson had her best season with the Cyclones last year having averaged 8 points, four assists and three rebounds.
Johnson reached double figures in scoring 12 times last season, including a career-high 19 points against Kansas State, proving she is capable of stepping up in any given game.
Johnson believes that with a healthy Cyclones team, it makes a difference on how they’ll be able to compete this season.
“[It makes a] huge difference,” Johnson said. “There were a lot of ups and downs when Maddie and Kristin were out, and I’m very excited to have them play.”
So long as the Cyclones can stay healthy, they will be a team to beat with Joens, Scott, Johnson, Wise and the supporting cast.