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October 25, 2012

Bill Fennelly


THE MODERATOR:  Coach, welcome.  Glad to have you here.  Your thoughts?
COACH FENNELLY:  First of all, I certainly want to thank everyone for coming.  To be a part of this league is sincerely something special for our university.  The coverage you all gave us, we appreciate very much.
Like everyone else, we understand we're part of the best league in the country.  The way we do things administratively on down, our fan base, the success of our teams.  We're excited to get the season started and certainly hope that we can be a part of another great year in the Big 12.

Q.  You've seen her for a long time.  I wonder how glad you'll be to see Brittney Griner finally leave school?
COACH FENNELLY:  Very glad, obviously.  I've already got the graduation card printed up and ready to send her.  It's been something that has been‑‑ I've been doing this a long time.  No disrespect to other players before, but I've never seen anyone impact a game like that.  Everything we've tried to do, everything that we've tried to figure out to do something against her hasn't worked.  We're not the only ones, I guess.  But I think the other thing though is she's gone from a tall athlete to a tall athletic, tremendous basketball player.  She works hard.  She's been very well‑coached, and obviously is someone that's impacted our game dramatically, impacted our league.  But everyone in Ames is excited they get to see her one more time.  I'll be glad when that one more time is over, to be honest with you.

Q.  You've traditionally had really strong support in Kansas City for the Big 12 Tournament and your fans.  Do you have any mixed emotions seeing the tournament separate for the men and come down here to Dallas?
COACH FENNELLY:  Nothing personal against Dallas.  I was always probably the one that never wanted to separate them.  And I know that's probably not the politically correct statement.  Our fans loved it.  I think the Iowa State fan base is unique in the sense that they support both teams.  They love going to both events.  I had no idea what had happened with how many fans will travel down here.
Obviously, it's a great city, a great venue.  But personally speaking, I liked it the way it was.  But just like at home with my wife I don't get my choice on some things.
I'm sure it will be a great event.  We want to be a part of it, and hopefully we'll get to stay a few days and enjoy all the great things that Dallas has to offer.

Q.  I know you played West Virginia a couple years ago in the tournament.  What are your thoughts on Mike and his program and what they bring?
COACH FENNELLY:  Yeah, we played West Virginia in the Virgin Islands.  Actually, we played TCU and West Virginia in the same tournament which is a little ironic.  My teams are maybe, what I told our players and our fans back home is they're kind of half court versions of them.  Physical, defensive minded, we kind of grind it out and make every possession hard.  I know they had an injury that's unfortunate for them as they entered the league.
When you go beat Notre Dame at Notre Dame, and they beat Texas in the NCAA Tournament.  It's an outstanding team, and one that I think has had a long run of success.  I don't see why that will change when they come to our league.
I think the travel will be unique for them and for us.  But it's a great team.  A physical team.  A team that defends the right way, and a team that's going to be very, very well‑coached.

Q.  Curious to know what your thoughts are on Geno's comment about lowering the rim?
COACH FENNELLY:  That's way above my pay grade.  When you're Geno and you've got one name, you can kind of do and say what you want to say.  I haven't thought much about it.  I think that there are things that our game can do better, and I think Geno, in my talking to him, it's always about we missed too many lay‑ups, and we need to be better at that.
I don't personally think it's going to change how people are interested in the women's game.  I think there are practical applications to how would you do it?  Do you change high school gyms that have baskets attached to the walls and things like that?  I haven't had the time to study it like he has.
The thing about Geno is he's always thinking outside the box.  Sometimes in our sport you have to do that kind of thing.  But when we're not as good as them, so I'm more worried about not turning the ball over than I am with how tall the baskets are.

Q.  You're rebuilding your back court with two new starters.  Talk about the challenge of trying to grow up in that area?
COACH FENNELLY:  I think the biggest thing for our team, and I said it media day at our place, if our guards can just know what color jersey to throw it to, defend a little bit, they can play with Chelsea and Anna and Hallie Christofferson.
We have some inside kids that are experienced.  But it's one thing to have really good players.  But when you have good players that are post players, someone's got to give them the ball.
Nikki made the all-freshman team, and what I told Nikki Moody, if the highlight of your career is to make the all-freshman team, you didn't do your job, and I didn't do my job.  We'll have two freshmen guards that will play some, from Houston, and then Brynn Williamson who played as a sophomore has had a really good start at practice.
So we've played Hallie at the three and the four, and we've tried to mix it up a little bit.  But you'll see a lot of times where we'll have a sophomore and two freshmen in the back court, and that's not an easy remedy for success in this league, but that's part of who we are, and whether you're a freshman or not, you've got to do the things to be successful.
They're talented enough.  They're working hard at it.  But they'll be shocked when they have to go out there against Odyssey, and Whitney Hand, and Angel Goodriches of the world, and Tiffany Bias, they'll learn quickly, so we'll learn with them.

Q.  Anna's had a really nice career and some big games during that time.  But is she ready to take the next step towards becoming a game‑in, and game force for you?
COACH FENNELLY:  I think with Anna, it's about staying healthy.  That sounds really simplistic.  She's missed over 150 days of workouts, practices in her time.  Like you said, she's had some games where she's changed games.  I mean, Brittney's freshman year at our place, the reason we beat Baylor was Anna made five three‑point shots.
When you have a 6'7" kid that can shoot the three, and offensively skilled, that changes your team.  But when she can't practice, and she's a kid that when she doesn't practice, it really sets her back.  Some kids can miss a day and come right back at it, that's not Anna.
So you hope as a senior, she can do the things that we know she can do.  And if she does, that gives us the flexibility and gives us another offensive punt, gives us some length.  She's not a shot blocker by any means like Brittney.  Well, no one is, but Anna's not a shot blocker.  But still you have some length.  You can rebound the ball.  But for us, her number's got to go up offensively for us to have a chance to be a solid team.

Q.  West Virginia's coach talked about the great crowds that the Big 12 has.  Of course we talked about this before, about Iowa State and its great crowds.  Can you talk about how you continue to year after year keep that level of fan craziness up to come to games wherever you are?
COACH FENNELLY:  We have a very loyal fan base.  They're emotionally attached to our team.  I think we're a small Mid-Western part of the world.  We don't have professional sports, so they're really attracted to what we do.
Basketball has been huge at our school.  It's been built over time.  I think being in this league has allowed it to grow.  Certainly a level of success has helped.  The first game we coached, we have 310 people, I have the box score framed in my office.
We try to remember every day how hard it is.  It's about everyone.  It's a collaborative effort between what we, do our players, all of you folks, you know, people want to read and see what you say about us, and anything we can do‑‑ I tell people, marketing and recruiting is like breathing.  You do it all the time or you die.  We've tried to do that with our fan base.
Our administration has been ultra, ultra supportive of what we've tried to do and be creative in that mindset.  So it's become a fun place to go.  Hilton Magic started with men's basketball has hopefully trickled down to our side of the locker room as well.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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