116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
AMES — Nearly 3,000 tickets have been earmarked for Ames-area schoolchildren for the No. 8 Iowa State women’s basketball team’s season opener against Cleveland State at Hilton Coliseum.
So expect some joyful noise — not just cheers and boos — to ring though the venerable arena when the Cyclones face the Vikings at 11 a.m. Monday.
“We’re like everybody else,” ISU head coach Bill Fennelly said of his team recently. “They just want to play. I think getting into Hilton will be exciting for them. Every team is bored and tired of getting beat up on by the scout team.”
That was true before an unsurprising blowout exhibition win Wednesday over Winona State and it’s true Monday when the deep and talented Cyclones begin a journey that could extend beyond past last season’s Sweet 16 run that ended in a 76-68 loss to Creighton.
“I think we have a lot of good pieces and it’a just getting them all to connect, mesh together, and as we continue playing with each other, and the season goes on, and we get more experience, it’s just going to get better from there,” said ISU all-time leading scorer and two-time reigning Cheryl Miller Award winner Ashley Joens.
The Cyclones are replete with skilled players, from point guard Emily Ryan to reigning Big 12 defensive player of the year Lexi Donarski; from Joens to 6-foot-6 newcomer Stephanie Soares, and several others who provide the team with elite depth that will be sorely needed during Big 12 play.
“I’m really excited and I told the team the other day — I think I said this on media day — that this team reminds me of the 2000 group in the sense of their talent level, the way they play, the way they’re committed to it,” Fennelly said. “It’s fun to think in those terms and play in those terms.
“It’s a group that’s shown up. We haven’t practiced great every day, but we’ve shown up every day. And most people don’t do a great job at work every day, but if you show up, that’s a skill. And our kids have shown up every day and I’m really excited to see what they do.”