Most coaches say their teams don’t pay attention to the rankings, but Iowa State’s Bill Fennelly said the Cyclones’ first appearance this season in the Associated Press poll this week at No. 24 was a thrill.
“Our kids were ecstatic,” Fennelly said. “We made a big deal. We put 24 on the scoreboard, we’re proud of it.”
Fennelly said having another Big 12 Conference team in the rankings boosts the conference and Iowa State, but mostly he is just happy his players’ hard work is being noticed.
“It’s a tangible reward for the effort of our seniors and our other players that all the media experts think at least right now, we’re a decent team,” Fennelly said.
The ranking also makes Missouri’s game Saturday against Iowa State (13-1, 3-0 in the Big 12) the Tigers’ second straight against a Top-25 opponent.
The Tigers will play the Cyclones’ after an 87-44 loss against No. 23 host Kansas State on Tuesday in which the Tigers struggled to score and rebound.
The Tigers, who are averaging 62.9 points, shot 31.8 percent from the field against the Wildcats.
Iowa State, on a 10-game winning streak and 8-0 at home, averages 82.6 points and has held its opponents to 57.5.
Missouri coach Cindy Stein said the Tigers (7-7, 2-1) need other scorers besides LaToya Bond and Tiffany Brooks, but nagging injuries are hampering her team.
Bond, a 5-foot-7 junior point guard, is averaging 12.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 3.9 assists. She scored 14 against Kansas State.
“(Bond is) gaining confidence, and getting a better understanding of when she needs to kind of take over,” Stein said.
Brooks who scored 13 against Kansas State, had 30 in a loss to Nebraska on Jan. 8.
However, center Christelle N’Garsanet, who has been averaging 25.9 minutes, 12.5 points and six rebounds, stayed on the bench for most of the Kansas State game because of an undisclosed foot injury.
Meanwhile, Iowa State has
depended on the play of Anne O’Neil and Katie Robinette.
O’Neil, a 5-foot-11 guard, is averaging 17.9 points and 7.4 rebounds a game.
Robinette, a 6-foot-2 forward, is averaging 14.4 points and 6.3 rebounds. She is shooting 53.5 percent from the floor.
Both are seniors who tranfered to play for the Cyclones.
“We’ve been blessed,” Fennelly said. “Sometimes when a kid transfers, you’re taking someone else’s problem. It’s anything but that in our case, they have both been tremendous people, tremendous players for us, it’s been nothing but positives since the day they’ve been at Iowa State.”
The Cyclones heavily recruited O’Neil and Robinette, but they chose to go elsewhere. O’Neil started at Illinois and Robinette at Nebraska before transferring to Iowa State after their freshman seasons.