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AMES - The Iowa State women's basketball team got a history lesson on Monday.
The Cyclones (16-10) were selected to play in the NCAA tournament as a No. 7 seed against No. 10-seed Michigan State (15-8) at 5 p.m. next Monday (ESPN) in the Mercado region.
As soon as the selection was announced, associate head coach Jodi Steyer addressed the team and told them about the 2009 NCAA tournament, when Iowa State beat Michigan State 69-68 to advance to the Elite Eight, which was the most recent time the Cyclones advanced that far.
'There's a newspaper clipping on the walls of Sukup (Practice Facility) of that game,” guard Emily Ryan said. 'When we found out about our draw, coach Steyer told us about an awesome comeback they had at the end of the game to advance. It was exciting to hear the deep history we have here at Iowa State.”
The deep history that exists only exists because of coach Bill Fennelly. Before Fennelly arrived at Iowa State, the Cyclones had an all-time record of 249-353. Fennelly's record as Iowa State's head coach is 539-283.
This is Fennelly's 26th season at Iowa State and it will be his 22nd NCAA appearance - the Cyclones likely would've made it last year, too, before the event was canceled so it could've been the 23rd appearance in 26 seasons.
Even though it's become the norm for him, it's still special because it's new for the players.
'It never gets old,” Fennelly said. 'It never gets old because you always have a new team and a different team. I've been to a few of these, and I'm blessed, but it's our freshmen's first time and it could be our seniors' last. You just don't know. And if we haven't figured that out this year, that you don't always know and you can't take anything for granted, then you have a problem.
'This is fantastic. It's so exciting and so invigorating on so many levels.”
As expected, the Cyclones don't know much about the Spartans because they haven't played since 2009.
But that's the other part that Fennelly loves - getting to study a new team.
'It's kind of like the start of the season when you're preparing for someone you haven't played all year,” Fennelly said. 'There's nothing better than working late into the night, tonight (selection Monday). That's as good as it gets. That's what we're doing tonight.
'We'll celebrate and we're honored that the committee chose us. It's always fun to see Iowa State come up on a national stage. We're going to enjoy this, I promise you.”
The teams do have a common opponent: Iowa. The Spartans beat the Hawkeyes 86-82 on Dec. 12, three days after ISU's 82-80 loss at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. But Iowa beat MSU 87-72 in last week's Big Ten tournament semifinals.
The winner of the ISU-MSU game will face No. 2-seed Texas A&M (23-2) or No. 15-seed Troy (22-5) in the second round. North Carolina State (20-2) is the top seed in the region.
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