On Monday, the Iowa State women’s basketball team held its media day, which gave insight on what the team may look like moving forward.
Cyclones have holes to fill offensively
With Carleton and Middleton both graduating, it has left the Cyclones with some questions offensively.
“We don’t have one person that’s going to replace Bridget, we don’t have a player that’s going to replace Alexa and we can sit here and wish that we did, but we don’t so we have to do something about it," said coach Bill Fennelly.
Fennelly’s message on Tuesday was straightforward.
Bridget Carleton averaged 21.7 points on 46.8 percent shooting from the field and 37.1 percent from beyond the three-point line, as well as 86.1 shooting from the free throw and averaged 8.6 rebounds per game in her senior campaign.
Last season, Carleton earned many awards and honors, including a spot on the AP All-American second team, the ESPNW All-American second team and she won the Cheryl Miller and the 2019 Big 12 player of the year awards.
The Cyclones also lost guard Alexa Middleton, who averaged 10.1 points per game on 41.9 percent shooting from the field, 34.1 percent from beyond the three-point line, 77.8 percent from the free-throw line and Middleton averaged five assists a game which led the team.
Middleton was an All-Big 12 honorable mention and earned a spot on the Big 12 All-tournament team.
“The players that benefited from playing with Bridget [Carleton] last year, have to play better and go from being role players to being players that you can count on daily,” Fennelly said.
Joens, Scott and Wise will lead Cyclones
Iowa State returns three players who started in at least 17 of their 35 games last season, sophomore guard/forward Ashley Joens, junior center Kristin Scott and junior forward Madison Wise.
In her freshman season at Iowa State, Joens averaged 11.7 points per game on 43.3 percent shooting from the field, 36.5 three-point shooting and 70.1 shooting on free throws while grabbing five rebounds per game.
Joens earned a spot on the All-Big 12 Freshman team.
“Being a better scorer and setting up my teammates more is what I think I need to improve upon to take the next step," Joens said.
Joens spent the summer playing for the United States U19 team at the 2019 FIBA U19 Women’s Basketball World Cup.
Joens did not shoot twell in the tournament, shooting 18.5 percent, scoring 2.2 points per game on 27 shots taken. However, Joens was a part of the team that won the 2019 FIBA U19 Women’s Basketball World Cup.
“Ashley has to have a really good year,” Fennelly said. “One of the things I said last year when I had my individual meeting with her was ‘If the highlight of your career is making the All-Freshman team, she didn’t do her job, and I didn’t do my job.'
"Her game is not that disimilar to Bridget’s but hopefully she grows into accepting that responsibility.”
Scott was the second-leading scorer for the Cyclones, despite not starting in over half the games last season en route to earning a spot on the All-Big 12 second team.
Scott earned a spot on the All-Big 12 Second team by averaging 12.8 points per game on 56.1 percent shooting which led the team, 38.1 shooting from beyond the arc, which also led the team and she also grabbed 7.1 rebounds which was second on the team.
“She’s got to take that responsibility of hunting her offense,” Fennelly said.
Wise started all 35 games last season in her sophomore year but had a down year shooting wise in comparison to her freshman season.
In her freshman season, Wise scored 8.7 points per game on 41.8 percent shooting from the field and 41.4 percent shooting from beyond the three-point line.
Last season, Wise averaged eight points per game on 36.3 percent shooting from the field as well as 28.7 percent shooting from three.
One area where Wise did improve last season was at the free-throw line. Wise shot 64.4 percent from the free-throw line in her freshman season, but she shot 89.7 from the free-throw line last season.
With two good ball handlers gone, Carleton and Middleton, Wise may be asked to be more of a ball-handler.
“For me, I need to make sure that I can handle the ball, especially with the starter at that position being unknown,” Wise said.
Point guard battle between junior Rae Johnson and freshman Maggie Espenmiller-McGraw
Fennelly named four starters on Monday — Joens, Wise, Scott and senior guard/forward Adriana Camber — leaving one spot open, the starting point guard spot.
In Monday’s press conference, Fennelly listed two potential players who could take that spot — Johnson and Espenmiller-McGraw.
Johnson played in all but one game last season, scoring 1.9 points per game in 13.1 minutes per game.
Espenmiller-McGraw was a five-star recruit who played high school basketball at Southeast Polk High School, averaging 19.8 points per game while shooting 55.8 percent from the field and 46.3 percent from beyond the three-point line, grabbing 5.8 rebounds per game and dishing out 3.9 assists per game.
Espenmiller-McGraw was an ESPN McDonald’s All-American Nominee.