Bridget Carleton's instructed off day helps her get back on track

Iowa State women's basketball coach Bill Fennelly told star player to stay out of the gym for a day

Iowa State's Bridget Carleton backs down Baylor's Didi Richards at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas, on Jan. 3, 2018. (Ray Carlin/USA TODAY Sports)
Iowa State's Bridget Carleton backs down Baylor's Didi Richards at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas, on Jan. 3, 2018. (Ray Carlin/USA TODAY Sports)

AMES – Iowa State women’s basketball player Bridget Carleton is a workaholic.

Coach Bill Fennelly often praises the junior’s work ethic because she can be seen all hours of the day in the gym, getting shots up and perfecting her game.

But Carleton had been in a slump over the previous five games before the Baylor game. She was shooting just 28 percent from the field and 17 percent from 3-point range.

Against No. 4 Baylor, Carleton got back on track, scoring nearly half of Iowa State’s 50 points. She poured in 24 points on 3-of-8 shooting from 3-point range.

The Cyclones (8-10, 2-5 Big 12) need that performance to carry over to their game against No. 17 West Virginia (15-4, 3-4) at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Hilton Coliseum.

Fennelly had a plan to get his star player back on track.

“The only thing I told her after Saturday is we have cameras in our practice facility and I told her, ‘If I see you in here on Sunday, I’m not going to play you on Wednesday,” Fennelly said. “I told her to go be a college kid, go to a movie, watch football. Do anything but be in the gym, which she was not happy with at all.”

Carleton spent Sunday, an off day, on her couch watching basketball with her teammates.

Fennelly wanted to give her a break mentally. Carleton has been carrying this team the whole year and he could sense it wearing on her.

“We all have things in our lives that we love and are passionate about, and sometimes you try so hard and you want to do it so perfectly and you want to do it at a level you’re capable of,” Fennelly said. “One of the great things I remember from one of my majors in college – economics – is there’s this thing called the law of diminishing returns. You can invest, and invest, and invest, and invest and at some point, your return drops even though you continue to invest. That’s kind of where I saw Bridget so I tried to get her out of the gym.”

Fennelly’s plan worked.


“It was nice to hit some 3s finally and obviously my free throws,” Carleton said. “I haven’t gone a game in a while where I didn’t miss a free throw. That felt good. I guess the rest day paid off. It definitely felt good.”

Will a Carleton rest day become the norm?

“I won’t try (to give her more off days), I don’t think she’d listen to me,” Fennelly said with a laugh. “It’s one of those things where it’s counterintuitive to some people, but sometimes you have to. You just have to get away from it and clear your mind a little bit. I don’t really think that was the reason. I tried to take credit for (her performance against Baylor) and she didn’t buy it.

“I’m sure she’ll be in here again, like she was (Friday) morning, like she always is. The biggest thing is we have to keep her fresh, not only physically, but mentally.”


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