For the first time since the Big 12 tournament, Iowa State women's basketball Head Coach Bill Fennelly spoke with the media Thursday in a teleconference.
In the teleconference, Fennelly detailed his thoughts on the way the season ended, the changes they’ve had to make because of COVID-19 leading to social distancing and gave some insight on what the 2020-2021 nonconference schedule could look like.
Fennelly speaks on the end of the teams season
Iowa State finished the regular season on a three-game winning streak, capped off by an upset win over the second-ranked Baylor Lady Bears.
By beating Baylor, Iowa State almost certainly solidified its spot in the 2020 Women's NCAA basketball tournament before the Big 12 women’s basketball tournament was slated to begin.
Before they began however, the 2020 Big 12 women's basketball tournament and the 2020 NCAA women's basketball tournament got canceled, along with many sporting events nationwide.
“This team really accomplished a lot this season and this season shows that if you do the right thing and work hard, it’ll pay off,” Fennelly said. “Unfortunately, playing in the tournament couldn’t happen, it's very disappointing but makes sense because of the current pandemic.”
Technology is becoming the primary form of communication for the team
Since meeting face to face is impossible right now, technology is the form of communication the team has used to keep in touch during this pandemic.
Before the cancellation of the 2020 NCAA Tournament, Iowa State canceling classes and the Division I Council Coordination Committee deciding to extend the “dead period” through the end of May, Fennelly had no experience with virtual meeting platforms such as Zoom, Google Hangout and Webex.
But now, Fennelly is being forced to use these platforms to communicate with his staff and players.
According to Fennelly, the team has had team meetings over the internet where they’ve discussed “housekeeping items,” but also what they are thankful for, such as their friends, family and being able to be a college athlete.
One of the main challenges that all coaching staffs have had with adjusting to social distancing and not meeting in person is recruiting.
“This is a whole different thing; it affects recruiting, no campus visits, but we're trying to do the best we can to make it,” Fennelly said.
While the team isn’t able to have practice right now, Fennelly still expects the players to stay in shape and not fall behind.
"[I told them] you’ve got to keep working, this is not a vacation because we’ve got to be ready for whenever we come back,” Fennelly said.
No one knows for sure when that time will come.
Despite this, Fennelly is motivating his players to be prepared for when that happens.
“I told them I don’t know when to come back, we’re prepared to come back as late as the day before class begins,” Fennelly said. "That's what we're preparing for, and we hope it doesn't happen that way. We're going to know, we're going to know who got better, we're going to know who was on vacation and sat on mom's couch and watched Netflix and ate all day."
Cyclones addressing depth concerns
Despite going 18-11 this past season, the Cyclones struggled with bench scoring.
However, the Cyclones signed its best recruiting class in program history this season, which could fix their depth concerns.
They were often held to less than 10 points per game off the bench.
“We got caught without depth [this season] and I need to manage that,” Fennelly said.
The Cyclones have 13 players on roster currently with redshirt freshman Gabby McBride now transferring.
Iowa State may have some difficult nonconference games
In Thursday’s teleconference, Fennelly gave some insight on some of the details of the team's nonconference schedule.
Fennelly stated that Iowa State is slated to face the South Carolina Gamecocks, who finished the season as the top-ranked team in the NCAA this season, as a part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
Lastly, Fennelly said that they “could play in a tournament in Florida that is one of the best nonconference tournaments in the country.”