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October 18, 2006

Bill Fennelly


PETER IRWIN: We would like to welcome Coach Fennelly to the podium at this time from Iowa State University. Coach, if you will make opening comments and then we will take questions.
BILL FENNELLY: Looks like the same people in the same states every year.
PETER IRWIN: Michelle moved from the other side. She used to sit on the right.
BILL FENNELLY: Obviously, we are excited to be here. I wanted to thank the people of Oklahoma City. I think this is going to be a great event and it is exciting for our players and staff to think about coming to a new venue and a new part of the country. From everyone I have seen and heard, they really embraced this tournament and what it's about, so we are looking forward to coming.
Like everyone else, we are excited about starting the season. We start practice on Saturday and so far so good.
I think we have a team that will be better in a lot of areas, but this is a tough league. I think it is a league that every year produces some outstanding stories and hopefully we can be one of those stories.

Q. Hi, Bill.

Q. You were picked fifth. Were you surprised by that at all or is that about what you thought?
BILL FENNELLY: I don't know, Dan. I would say I was surprised. I felt like ourselves, Nebraska, Kansas State, a lot of us, would be bunched in that middle group. I think probably when you look at people who are returning and the strength of the league near the top, I really thought -- I told my son, I would be surprised if it was fifth or ninth, somewhere in there. And I think if you look at the numbers, it is pretty close in there.
I would like to finish fifth. That would be kind of cool. I think if you finish in the upper division in this league you will be playing in March.
Probably not surprised, but hopefully it is something our players are excited about and we can build towards that end.

Q. Bill, at least you have some depth this year, because I know last year you had some times when you were pretty worried about that. Can you talk about that? And also if you can talk about Rachel, just what you expect out of her, this being her freshman year.
BILL FENNELLY: Yeah, Michelle, the biggest concern we had about our team last year is that we played probably four and a half players most of the year. I thought our kids were outstanding in the way they competed and fought through some injury issues, but we are deeper. We have 13 players out there in practice, and I think that we have added depth in every position. I think we are -- in a football term, we are probably too deep almost everywhere. A lot of that is untested, but I think there is potential there.
Rachel Pierson is someone that adds a dynamic to our team that we haven't had in a while of a true center. We haven't played with a true center in a long time and Rachel red-shirted last year. She had a back operation on January the 7th, and I think my concern to be honest with you was whether or not, you know, not that she could play ever again at a high level, but function. That's a scary thing to be 18 years old and someone is operating on your back.
Rachel has had a great fall. I think she is someone that will add a lot to our team, obviously hasn't played competitively in about 20 months. But she does change our team and gives us something that we haven't had in a long time. So hopefully that will open up some things for some other players.
But the depth of our team is much better and having a true center adds a lot to something we haven't had in a few years.

Q. Hey, Bill.
BILL FENNELLY: How are you doing?

Q. Good. What's scary about playing Texas A&M? They are picked second in this league and I think a lot of people don't necessarily look forward to playing them.
BILL FENNELLY: No, I don't think you look forward to playing them. I think Gary is always whining about something. He is always worried about something bad is going to happen to him. I think the thing about A & M, they play a unique style. It is hard to prepare for that. Pressing and running. It is just one of those things as a coach you want to go into every game and you want to prepare and you think you have your kids ready to play.
With A & M, you can't simulate that stuff in practice. They play with a great amount of energy. He has brought tremendous enthusiasm to the program. You look at what they have done with men's and women's basketball, I think that both those programs have really done a great job and I think it creates a lot of enthusiasm. And it is a unique situation and we only play them once.
So you really -- the preparation is always an issue and you have to understand, every coach panics about turning the ball over in games. You are going to turn the ball over against A & M. You are. Do turnovers lead to easy baskets? Last year when we played them, we didn't turn the ball over in an inordinate amount of time, but when we did, they made layups.
Their defense creates points. Which a lot of other teams can play good, solid defense, but I don't know if the conversion to points is there like A & M. I don't know if I have seen a team offense rebound like that in a long time. They are well-coached. They have a great system. They have a system they believe in and it has obviously created a great amount of success in a short amount of time.

Q. Alison Lacey played most of her career in Australia. She has had a year to adjust to U.S. ball. But did you notice a certain style about her that's different from most American players?
BILL FENNELLY: Alison is a freshman on our team. She is from Australia. Played one year of high school basketball in Iowa, and the one thing about Alison, she is very skilled. She thinks the three-point line is two feet farther back than where it is because of the international game. She likes to play the game with a little bit of flare. A lot of things are not as fundamental as we are used to seeing. She passes the ball with one hand. She does a lot of things that are very creative with the ball.
I think the thing that Alison needs to learn, like all freshmen, especially someone like herself, is the day-to-day rigors of practice games, the way we want to play fundamentally, things like that.
She is a very talented kid. She is going to impact our team, no question. I think she can score the ball, she can play a multitude of positions. But she is a fun kid to have around.
Obviously that's part of the collegiate experience, too. Our kids are from Minnesota, California, you have to throw a kid in [there from|therefrom] Australia, the social aspects, it is a great learning experience for Alison, but also for other players. She is extremely talented and she will play a lot for us.

Q. Bill, with [] Lindsay Wilson, she did everything for you her senior year, but the team struggled a little bit that year. Is Lindsey Medders in a different situation this year not? They seem a lot similar to me, and a player that can carry a tremendous amount of weight. This year, she probably has a little more complete team around her.
BILL FENNELLY: Lyndsey has a lot more help, there is no question. Lyndsey Medders is really a very special player. She is a very special person. You are talking about a kid that basically played the last two months of the season with a broken foot and had to put a screw in her foot at the end of the year. She has always done what we have asked her to do. I think every coach wants a great point guard and I wouldn't -- I wouldn't trade her for anyone in the country. I really wouldn't. She understands our system better than any guard I have ever had. She understands the way we want to play. She has embraced what it means to be an Iowa State player and has brought that to our fan base.
And with her and Megan, we have probably two of the greatest -- the best senior leaders I have ever had in the sense of what they have done for four years, how they've been through a lot of things and never complained, whether I changed positions on them where we didn't have the depth.
It is always hard to lose seniors, but these two probably have done as much for Iowa State women's basketball from start to finish as any two of I have ever had. I hope they can enjoy their senior year the way they have deserved to enjoy up to this point.

Q. You said that Nicky made the biggest jump from freshman to sophomore as any player. What precisely do you see that will blossom this year, maybe?
BILL FENNELLY: Nicky we probably have spent as much time as any player we ever had playing basketball in the summer. She went to camp. She went to post-camp. She worked out a lot. I think the two things -- number one, she walks into the building a little different. When you are 6' 3" and you are not very big, and I am telling you, you got to play Tiffany Jackson, Courtney Paris, Sophia Young, the look on her face was not a very good one.
But now she walks in the gym with a little bit better confidence level. She understands what the collegiate game is about. Her skill sets are better. She shoots the ball better. She can take the ball off the bounce a little better. I think she has an understanding of that first year was tough, but I think the experience she gained in learning to play at a high level was very good.
She had a great off-season and I think she is someone that will -- has a chance to be very good. I am not putting her in that Tiffany Jackson, Courtney Paris category by any means, but I do think she is someone that can go out and impact winning.
And I think that's what we try to tell our players all the time. Find a way to impact the University. Find a way to impact your community. Find a way to impact winning. And Nicky is a local player. She is from 25 miles away. So that was -- that's something that's added a lot to our program as well.

Q. Were you surprised when she said she wanted to go to point guard camp?
BILL FENNELLY: No, because Lyndsey Medders probably made her go. No, I wasn't surprised. Nicky, Nicky is one of those young people. She wants to be good at what she does. I think she felt it was a way to make her game better, understand the game better. I think that's one thing she struggled with last year was understanding how to play the game at a very high level and do things in relationship to the other four people around you. We play a lot different system than she played in high school.
I wasn't surprised. I was very proud that she did it and very excited that she was willing to do those kinds of things.

Q. Bill, who among your newcomers has stood out so far?
BILL FENNELLY: Probably the two newcomers on our team are Alison Lacey, no question, and Toccara Ross. Those two probably right now have separated themselves a little bit. I will put Shellie Mosman in that category, the guard from Carroll. If we had a game tonight and we played eight players, they would be in that group. So I think all three of them have really done well as far as adding what we need.
We needed depth at guard. Toccara is an undersized four-man. But she's skilled. She's athletic. She competes hard. She played in a great junior college program. She has a level of maturity that's different than most in-coming high school kids. Those three have done well. Just speaking from today and if we had a game tonight, you would see those three early and probably often.

Q. Bill, can you talk about Oklahoma, a team that has Courtney Paris, a lot of talent, they just keep reloading through recruiting shall plus this year they get the Big 12 tournament in their own backyard.
BILL FENNELLY: I don't think there is any question that Oklahoma is by far the best team in our league. They are a team, I don't think they have any doubt in my mind that they could win a national championship.
To be honest with you, they have great players. They have a great coach. I don't think Sherri gets nearly enough credit for the way she coaches that team. You will think they have all these great players. I have coached against her enough to know she knows what she is doing and she puts her kids in a position to win.
Courtney Paris, in my 30 years I never coached against Cheryl Miller and Lisa Leslie. I am not quite that old yet. But I have never seen a kid that's impacted the college game more than Courtney Paris has, but they have surrounded her with good players. They play at a very high level.
Obviously the Big 12 tournament being here is great for Oklahoma City. I think it obviously helps attendance and puts them in a great position. It is a tremendous team. When you start talking about great programs in this country with sustaining success, Oklahoma is certainly one of them. They are not going to go away. They have great support from their administration, great coach and great players. So it is good for our league. And hopefully Baylor did it, and hopefully Oklahoma is a team with some others that can challenge on a national scale, because they are as good a team as I have seen in a long, long time. They know how to play the game. The thing I like about them, they are very humble and they can play the game in a lot of different ways.
We played them the first game of the conference season and tried to double-team, triple-team Courtney Paris, she made the three-point shots on us and they beat us. We played them in the Big 12 tournament we decided to let Courtney shoot until her arm fell off and let her break the conference scoring record and they still beat us. They made two three-point shots. That's good players and good coaching, finding a way to win at a high level. I think it will be a great, great year, and I am sure the Sooner fans will enjoy watching their team play. It will be a great thing to have for them and for the fans of Oklahoma City and the people who put in the work here in the city.
It will help all of us. The attendance is better. Oklahoma is down the road. They will sell more tickets, great. The more people the better, it is absolutely great.
You can put this on the record, too. Sherri Coale can never complain again because she complained all the time I had too many fans in Kansas City. They went three and a half hours. Her fans have to go ten minutes. So I don't want her complaining about that one. But she has earned it.
PETER IRWIN: Coach, best of luck in the season.
BILL FENNELLY: Thank you, everyone. Appreciate your time today.

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