College Womens Basketball

Iowa State women's basketball needs to fix shooting woes against Kansas State's zone

Cyclones have scored 49 points in each of last 2 games, host Wildcats on Wednesday

Iowa State women's basketball head coach Bill Fennelly. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Iowa State women's basketball head coach Bill Fennelly. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

AMES – It’s easy to spot Iowa State women’s basketball’s problem over the last two games.

The Cyclones can’t make baskets. Iowa State scored 49 against No. 6 Baylor, shooting 28 percent from the field and scored 49 again against West Virginia on 26 percent shooting.

The solution, however, is a tough one. Iowa State has shooters who have made shots in the past, but how does Coach Bill Fennelly break his team (7-8, 1-3 Big 12) out of its slump before Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. when Kansas State (9-6, 1-3) comes to Hilton Coliseum?

“When you get to a valley, you have to understand that all teams and all players go through it,” Fennelly said. “I try to give them the analogy that there are a lot of great baseball players that go through an 0-15 streak, but you just have to keep working at it. There’s no magic potion and I think that’s the one thing players want, ‘Just tell me how to get out of this.’ I was raised in a way where you just have to work your way out of it especially at this level.”

The Cyclones rely on four first-year players that include three freshmen and a junior college transfer. Senior guard Emily Durr said it’s common for young teams to fall into slumps.

They just need to get into the gym.

“You always fall in ruts especially as a young kid,” Durr said. “You’re going to have highs and lows and just keep them focused on what we want to do and what we want to achieve, especially with your shot, just get reps and they’ll fall.”

One psychological strategy Fennelly used was handing out box scores of each player’s best game. He did it to prove that they’ve done it before and that he’s not asking them to do anything extraordinary.

Durr said he’s done that in the past to break slumps.

Junior Meredith Burkhall said it helps a lot.

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“Going into the game with a little extra confidence knowing that you’ve done it before and that you can do it again,” Burkhall said. “He’s always finding ways to get us ready for games.”

Fennelly’s hoping it works because Kansas State plays zone defense exclusively, and the best way to beat a zone is to make shots.

But if it doesn’t, his players will have to find other ways to impact the game.

“I think anytime you’re not making shots, you have to find other ways to help your team win a game,” Fennelly said. “That can be defense, that could be offensive rebounding to get more shots, that could be free throws or it could be more efficient in special situations – inbounds plays. You’re always searching for ways to make it better. If we can get (good) defensive effort game in and game out, we’ll be in the games but, you have to play both ends of the court.”

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