AMES Ashley Joens, the 2018 Gazette Female Athlete of the year, made her debut for the Iowa State women’s basketball team Thursday.
Iowa State hosted Division II Southwest Baptist in an exhibition at Hilton Coliseum.
Joens got the start and 22 minutes of playing time but didn’t fill up the stat sheet. The former Iowa City High prep recorded just two points and one rebound in Iowa State’s 90-51 win.
Coach Bill Fennelly isn’t worried about the highly-touted freshman.
“I thought she played hard,” Fennelly said. “It was not unexpected when you’re a freshman and you have to go through it for the first time. But Ashley has a chance to be very good, obviously. I think this will be good for her. I think we all have to be fair — especially the coaches — about what we expect of her as a freshman. She shot the shots she should’ve, she didn’t pass up on anything, I thought she defended fine and she didn’t have a turnover in 22 minutes.”
While Fennelly admitted he was trying to have fair expectations, he also acknowledges that can be difficult.
“(My expectations) are really high,” Fennelly said with a chuckle. “So I’m contradicting myself. We told her when the season started that we’re not going to coach you like a freshman. She doesn’t want to be coached like a freshman. We’re starting her for a reason. We have a lot of faith in her ability — we’ve seen it in practice, we saw it in Costa Rica. She has a chance to be very, very good.
“She’ll be in the gym early (Friday) because I know she’s not real happy with (shooting) 1-for-5. She’s going to have a big impact on what happens here — especially a kid from our state.”
The biggest thing Joens needs to do is a find a way to impact the game when she’s not hitting her shots.
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“That’s a challenge for a young player, they’re so used to, ‘All I do is score,’” Fennelly said. “She has to figure out a way — like they all do — ‘How do I impact success when I’m not scoring?’ I thought she started to figure that out a little bit in practice and she showed some signs of that — I really thought she did in the third quarter, which was good for her.”
Joens didn’t have a breakout debut that set the world on fire. But that time is coming, likely sooner rather than later.
“There will be many nights where Ashely Joens is sitting up here with me (taking questions),” Fennelly said. “Not tonight, but her time is coming.”
Iowa State’s next game is another exhibition Sunday against Winona State.
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