REIGNing From Three

“Good! Another Wellmark 3-pointer!”

For fans of the Iowa State women’s basketball program, the trademark call of play-by-play man Rich Fellingham has become synonymous with ISU’s style of play under head coach Bill Fennelly. The Cyclones are not afraid to fire away from beyond the arc.

The 3-pointer is one of the most emotionally-charged plays in basketball. It can swing momentum, build confidence and bring fans to their feet. While the announcement of a made 3-pointer echos through the rafters of Hilton Coliseum, fans wave their 3-point cards as the spirit squad tosses souvenirs into the stands.

During thREIGNing from threee Fennelly Era (1995-present), the 3-pointer has not been a one or two-year wonder, it has been central to Iowa State’s rise and stay in the women’s basketball ranks. Unsurprisingly, Iowa State has been the premier program in the country when shooting, and making, the ball from deep.

That’s right, Iowa State ranks first among ALL NCAA Division I schools in 3-pointers per game (7.82), 3-pointers made (4,745) and attempted (13,296) in the last 19 seasons.

It’s not just attempting 3-pointers that sets ISU apart from the rest, it’s the makes. Iowa State ranks fifth in all of Division I in 3-point percentage (35.69) since 1995-96. Couple that with ranking first in 3’s per game, made and attempted, and you can’t find a better university to root for or play for if you’re a fan of shots from long range.

Another compelling note: Iowa State has knocked down 4,745 trey’s to UConn’s 4,220, who sits in second for 3-pointers made since 1995-96. Even more impressive to the Cyclones netting 525 more 3-pointers to second-place UConn is the fact that they did it in 97 fewer games.

The Cyclones have netted an average of 7.82 3’s per game since Fennelly arrived, which is 0.99 3’s per game more than Villanova (6.83), which ranks second in all of Division I during that time.

Iowa State has not wavered in its 3-point prowess over the years, netting over 200 3’s in a season 16 times where over 170 schools in DI have never had aREIGNing from three season with over 200 3-point makes.

In addition to all the impressive notes above, we can’t forget about THE STREAK. Iowa State also owns the NCAA’s longest streak for 3-pointers made. The Cyclones have netted one from deep in 612-straight games and counting.

Under Fennelly, the 3-point shot has become iconic. Some of the most memorable moments in school history revolve around a 3-point shot. Take Megan Taylor’s 3-point buzzer beater to upset No. 9 Texas in 1997, ISU’s 3-point barrage vs. UConn or Alison Lacey’s game-saving three against Michigan State to send ISU to its second Elite Eight.

Iowa State history is filled with incredible long-range shooters like Heather Ezell, Taylor, Kelsey Bolte and Stacy Frese. The current Iowa State roster also shows no sign of stopping the trend, with shooters like Brynn Williamson, who already ranks 10th in Iowa State history in career 3-pointers (182), Kidd Blaskowsky, Jadda Buckley and freshmen Nakiah Bell and Emily Durr.

Iowa State is branded in large part by what takes place beyond the arc, and that’s OK.

So, it seems, in the world of NCAA women’s basketball, Iowa State truly is REIGNing from three.

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An Informal Wrestling Preview

2014-15 Preview Pic

Official practices are underway, preseason rankings are coming out and the buzz surrounding the upcoming collegiate wrestling season continues to rise. With the Cyclones set to open the season Nov. 1, here’s a look at what’s ahead for the Cardinal and Gold.

The Coaches
This season marks Iowa State wrestling head coach Kevin Jackson’s sixth at the helm and the fifth for assistant coach Travis Paulson. Jackson has coached Cyclone wrestlers to three NCAA individual championships, 10 All-America accolades and seven Big 12 individual titles.

The Cyclones added a pair of new faces to the coaching staff over the offseason in Trent Paulson and Angel Escobedo. Each coach on staff competed for the United States World Team, making Iowa State one of, if not only program with four former World Team members. You can read more about the Paulson and Escobedo hirings here.

Who’s Back
Iowa State returns the bulk of its starting lineup from a year ago, including three All-Americans, six NCAA qualifiers and two Big 12 Champions.

Michael Moreno, Kyven Gadson, Tanner Weatherman and Lelund Weatherspoon all return to the Cyclone lineup after 25+ win seasons in 2014.

Michael Moreno, Kyven Gadson, Tanner Weatherman and Lelund Weatherspoon all return to the Cyclone lineup after 25+ win seasons in 2014.

The Cyclones bring back eight of their 10 starters from a year ago, leaving open weights at 125 and 157. Of those eight starters, Michael Moreno (31), Kyven Gadson (30), Tanner Weatherman (25) and Lelund Weatherspoon (25) each won at least 25 matches last season. All six of the Cyclones’ 2014 NCAA qualifiers return to the lineup in M. Moreno, Gadson, Weatherman, Weatherspoon, Earl Hall and Gabe Moreno.

The only returning starters not listed above are Luke Goettl, a two-time NCAA qualifier, and Quean Smith, who picked up a pair of wins over ranked opponents last season.

In terms of production, the Cyclones return their top six point scorers in M. Moreno, Gadson, Weatherman, Weatherspoon, Goettl and Hall. Five returning wrestlers notched six or more pins in 2013-14, with Gadson and M.  Moreno leading the way with 13 bonus-point victories (major decisions, tech-falls and pins).

Kyven Gadson and Michael Moreno are two of nine returning wrestlers nationally to post back-to-back, 30+ win seasons.

Kyven Gadson and Michael Moreno are two of nine returning wrestlers nationally to post back-to-back, 30+ win seasons.

Gadson and M. Moreno boast two of the NCAA’s best résumés. The Cyclone seniors are two of just nine wrestlers in the nation to win at least 30 matches and earn a spot on the NCAA All-America podium in both of the past two seasons. The duo makes Iowa State one of just five programs nationally to return multiple wrestlers with back-to-back All-America seasons.

Lineup Changes
Kyle Larson looks to be the guy at 125, coming off of a 2014 campaign that saw him post three top-5 finishes. Larson posted an overall record of 18-8 last season and was 3-2 in dual competition, notching nine bonus-point victories. The West Des Moines native also won two tournaments during his redshirt year.

John Meeks is coming off a redshirt of his own and will take over at 141, bumping G. Moreno to 149 and Goettl up to 157. Meeks went 11-1 last year while wrestling unattached, finishing third at the Harold Nichols Cyclone Open and taking home the title at the Kaye Young Open. Meeks scored in double figures in over half of his matches not decided by fall and scored bonus points in five matches, scoring two pins, two major decisions and a tech-fall.

A spot is also up for grabs at 157, where the starter will likely be decided by performance in the opening tournaments of the season. The starting spot may be between Goettl and redshirt-freshmen Blayne Briceno and Daniel Woiwor. Briceno was a three-time Fargo All-American and 2013 Greco national champ at 145. Woiwor, a two-time Minnesota high school state champion, notched two top-five finishes last season while wrestling unattached.

Newcomers
Members of the incoming freshman class have already taken home some big hardware in their prep careers. The class of Marcus Harrington, Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, Nathan Boston, Logan Breitenbach, Dante Rodriguez and Ryan Schuman have collectively captured six national titles, 15 state titles and earned 10 All-America honors.

The trio of Harrington, Rodriguez-Spencer and Breitenbach saw a lot of success at this summer’s USA Junior National Championships in Fargo, North Dakota. You can read about that here and here.

The freshman crew will likely all use a redshirt except for Boston, who could work his way into the mix at 125.

Also new to the lineup this year is Dusty Jentz, who transferred to Iowa State this year from Luther College. Jentz was a four-time place-winner at the Wisconsin High School State Championships and was the state champion his senior year at 182 pounds. Jentz has wrestled at 174 and at 165 over the past two seasons.

Following the Cyclones
Be sure to keep up with the Iowa State wrestling team on Twitter and Facebook, and follow the season on Cyclones.com. Also, be sure to check out our schedule to see when and where we compete.

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CLUTCH

Naz Long

There is being clutch.

And then there is being CLUTCH.

Dependable in crucial situations according to Dictionary.com.

Naz Long according to Cyclone Nation.

It wasn’t the first time as a basketball player that Long had hit big shots. While playing in Peach Jam at the 17U level, Long hit a game-winner against a Marcus Paige led All-Iowa Attack team.

He also sent a game against Georges Niang’s BABC squad to a second overtime with a floater over his future college roommate. Long is quick to point out that Niang’s squad won in the second overtime, so he owns the bragging rights.

For Long, who came to Iowa State as a combo guard but played primarily at the point his first season in Ames, it’s about making plays and doing whatever he is asked to do.

“Really, I feel like I can play either spot. I’m comfortable with that,” Long said. “I’m a junior, I know the offense and the defense and anything Coach Hoiberg wants me to do I feel like I can do that.”

That’s Naz Long in a nutshell.

A positive teammate, and now, a leader.

“I like to consider myself a leader because I am a third-year guy. Coming into my junior year, I can say that I’ve been through the ups-and-downs with this team. From the Ohio State loss to the Big 12 Tournament title, I’ve seen the lowest of lows and the highest of highs in basketball. I definitely think I can help the freshmen and first-year guys.”

Long is one of 10 children. He learned early how to adapt, how to get along. It has helped him in the team setting.

“I definitely think having a family like that is like being on a team,” Long said. “Being the middle child, I feel like I have a connection with all of my siblings. I can relate to everyone because I’m not too young or too old. On all the teams that I have been on I’ve been able to relate to a lot of people. It is a knack I have and coming from a big family probably helps with that.”

He lives on a number of simple beliefs, including the power of positivity.

How does one hit his last three 3-pointers, including the game-tying one with 50 seconds left in the third round of the NCAA Tournament after starting 1-for-5? By being positive, that’s how.

“Even when things aren’t going great on the court, you’ve got to find a way to be positive. I play with a lot of emotion, but I don’t want people to see me down.”

Long will surely be counted on even more this season. He knows he won’t sneak up on anyone.

He’s prepared himself diligently, hoisting more than 700 makes per day this summer. He’ll ride the values taught to him by his parents in Mississauga, Ontario.

He’ll lead. He’ll be positive. He’s ready.

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Historical Reunion

SIDs at Jack Trice

I have spent almost 20 years working in the Iowa State athletics department and been blessed with outstanding moments and memories in my career.

One of the top highlights of my tenure at Iowa State occurred Homecoming weekend when every individual responsible for promoting Iowa State athletics for nearly the last 40 years came back to Ames to reminisce about their time at Iowa State.

I love history. But I REALLY love Iowa State history. The Cyclone knowledge these five former head sports information directors (Tom Starr, 1977-80; Butch Henry, 1980-83; Kirk Hendrix, 1983-85; Dave Starr, 1985-93; Tom Kroeschell, 1993-2013) possess is absolutely immense.

Thanks to the foresight of Iowa State Athletics Director Jamie Pollard, we now have a platform to showcase these once-in-a-lifetime events on our Cyclones.tv channel. Cyclones.tv was able to sit down with these Cyclone pioneers in a roundtable discussion for them to tell their tales of Iowa State athletics.

The stories recounted were incredible, and if you are a true Cyclone, you will surely agree. The quintet gave us inside scoop on Cyclone legends Johnny Orr, Pete Taylor, Jeff Hornacek and Fred Hoiberg just to name a few, and the Cyclones.tv cameras caught every moment of it.

The cameras rolled for 2 ½ hours. It could have gone longer, but time constraints prohibited it.

SIDRoundtable143

All five former publicity men have been enormously successful after they left Iowa State, but it became extremely evident in the interviews that their time and service at Iowa State will always be special to them.

That’s what makes being a Cyclone so great.

I would love to give you a couple of stories from the “Iowa State SID Roundtable,” but I don’t want to be the spoiler.

You will have to see for yourself when the exclusive show premieres on Cyclones.tv.

Stay tuned!

 

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Hoop Bits (10-9-14)

Bryce Dejean-Jones

Debunking A Myth
A number of articles recently have described new Cyclone transfer Bryce Dejean-Jones as a “volume shooter.” I’m not really sure where this notion came from.

Dejean-Jones, a 6-6 shooting guard, has averaged 9.2 shots per game over the course of his career. Last season, when he led UNLV in scoring with 13.6 points per game, Dejean-Jones took 11 shots a game. He shot 42.7 percent from the field, which would have ranked 11th in the Big 12.

By taking 11 shots a game for UNLV, Dejean-Jones accounted for just under 18 percent of the team’s shots. As a shooting guard and top scorer, this is hardly volume shooting. Last season, the Cyclones had three players take more than 19 percent of ISU’s shots.

On a per minute basis, Dejean-Jones averaged a shot roughly every 2.4 minutes he was on the floor. That would have been fifth among Cyclones, who averaged about five shots more per game than UNLV a year ago.

Welcome Back
Iowa State returns 57.8 percent of its scoring from last season, despite losing its top-two scorers. This is the most returning scoring of the Fred Hoiberg era. Here is the breakdown:

2014-15 – 57.8%
2013-14 – 35.3%
2012-13 – 47.2%
2011-12 – 38.7%
2010-11 – 23.5%

Did You Have A Hoiburger? Most Did!
Nearly 15,000 Hoiburgers were sold this summer at Applebees, raising nearly $15,000 for United Way of Story County.

Tweet, Tweet
Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg (@ISUMayor32) and Bill Fennelly (@ISUCoachFen) are among the top tweeters in college hoops.

Hoiberg is sixth nationally among men’s coaches with 54,537 followers and Fennelly is eighth nationally with 10,363. (as of 10-9-14)

So if you aren’t following them, click the little blue button. Both are worth it.

On a side note, men’s basketball is currently 13th nationally with 37,703 followers. We are nipping at the heels of Illinois, so spread the word about @CycloneMBB.

Note: Rankings were compiled by the Tennessee media relations department.

Tweet, Tweet Pt. II
Georges Niang (@GeorgesNiang20) is also heavily followed. He’s the fifth most followed basketball player in the Big 12 with 24,220.

Morris Gets Nod As Potential Breakout Star
Monté Morris has people talking. And rightfully so. While people point at his NCAA record-breaking 4.79 assist-to-turnover ratio, I think perhaps as encouraging was the fact that in the NCAA Tournament he averaged 13.3 points. On the biggest stage, with Georges Niang injured and out, Morris was able to do something he hadn’t been asked to do much of before….score. And he did just that.

Throw into the fact that his defensive game may be the most overlooked part of his game and you have the makings of a potential star. In the second half against UCONN he moved over to guard Shabazz Napier, holding the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player to 1-of-6 shooting as both played all 20 minutes. Morris had a team-high 46 steals (1.8 steals per 40 minutes) last season despite playing limited minutes early in the season.

On Thursday, NBCSports.com named Morris its No. 2 potential breakout star for the season. You can read it here.

Morris

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Claire Ricketts: You Can’t Teach Hard Work

Claire Ricketts

Freshman Claire Ricketts’ path to Iowa State wasn’t that of a typical Division I basketball recruit. Ricketts started out as a swimmer and didn’t start playing organized basketball until her freshman year of high school. With a lot of time to make up, she had to work hard to play catch up. Many NCAA prospects begin playing basketball in middle school or earlier, but in middle school Ricketts found herself in a pool and not in a gym.

Swimming was her sport of choice at a young age. It wasn’t until around eighth grade that her time in the pool appeared to have run its course and she found herself interested in playing high school basketball her freshman year at John Paul II. So the Parker, Texas native put away her swim cap and goggles and traded them in for a jersey and basketball shoes to take up the family sport of basketball.

Growing up, pick-up basketball games were common for the Ricketts family. Her two brothers looked to pursue college basketball careers and her sister also played basketball.

However, her familiarity with basketball wasn’t enough to earn her a starting job in high school. Though she didn’t start she said she was recruited for varsity because of her height. Her coaches started developing her into an athletic post player. She didn’t play much her freshman year and she described herself more as clumsy on the court than anything else.

“I always fell to the ground,” Ricketts said. “Everybody laughed at me. If you saw me out there, I was either on the ground or on the bench. I was really awkward and clumsy. I never thought I was going to be getting letters from colleges or get the opportunity to play at a D I school.”

Despite having a difficult adjustment early on in her freshman year, she kept working hard throughout the season. By the end of her freshman year, the Cardinals of John Paul II were in the Final Four and Ricketts’ coach pulled her aside and told her she was going to start in the game.

“It was an unreal experience because we were in the state championship,” Ricketts said.

Ricketts improvement was a true testament to the phrase, “Hard work pays off.”

Even though the Cardinals didn’t win it all that year, Ricketts learned a valuable lesson about working hard and pushing yourself.

After playing on the AAU circuit later that same year, she started receiving interest from Division I schools. It was then that she realized that the clumsy freshman was gone.

She attributes much of her quick improvement to the fact that she isn’t afraid of being coached.

“I’m not a kid that doesn’t like to be coached,” Ricketts said. “I’m not a kid that everything’s happy. I want you to tell it to me straight.”

Her tell-it-like-it-is mentality is part of the reason Ricketts was attracted to Iowa State and being coached by Bill Fennelly. She knew she would be coached hard and she responded to that.

Flash forward to three years later and Ricketts is a member of the Iowa State women’s basketball program and one of several players vying for the final spot in the Iowa State starting lineup.

“You can’t teach hard work,” Ricketts said. “You have to have it in you. That’s just me. You can make a difference on the court without having stats.”

Ricketts will look to make a difference for ISU on the court when the Cyclones open the 2014-15 season on Nov. 16 against USC Upstate.

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Danielle Moore: Hard Work Pays Off

Danielle Moore

The life of a walk-on student athlete isn’t easy. Walk-ons are required to put in just as many hours as scholarship athletes while not receiving any financial aid. The ultimate goal of nearly every walk-on is to earn a scholarship, and that was a goal sophomore soccer player Danielle Moore shared as well.

Moore, a Davenport native, was set to attend Iowa State University as a regular student with her soccer playing days behind her. But after a conversation with her parents and an email to the Iowa State coaching staff, Moore’s soccer career was given new life when she was offered a spot on the Cyclone roster as a walk-on.

“Once they offered me a spot on the team my next goal was to earn a scholarship,” Moore said. “I just wanted to do my best and do whatever I could to help the team.”

With a new motivation to earn her niche within the team and prove herself, Moore gave every ounce of effort she had to show that she belonged with the best. One of the things that separated Moore from the majority of the rest of the team did not come on the soccer field, but rather in the classroom. She also had to put effort into the original reason she came to Iowa State, to major in biological systems engineering, which is one of Iowa State’s most challenging majors.

“It’s a very demanding major,” Moore said. “Many of the other people in the major are fully dedicated to engineering. It can be hard at times being a full-time athlete and engineering major at the same time, but you can do it. It’s definitely doable.”

Not only did Moore do well in the classroom, but she exceeded. She was named to the Iowa State University Dean’s list for both the fall and spring semesters of her freshman year.

After doing so well in the classroom, Moore had another item on her checklist to accomplish. During her freshman season she didn’t see much playing time. The roster was laden with upperclassmen at her position, but she knew that her time would come. After the Cyclones loss in the Big 12 tournament, she knew that her sophomore season would be her chance to shine and have a chance at earning a scholarship.

“Last year at the end of spring we all had a meeting and Tony was telling me all the things that I was doing better at and things that I need to work on. Then at the end he was like ‘we’re going to put you on scholarship’ and I just started crying. It was very emotional. It meant a lot to me that I was able to set a goal and be able to accomplish it.”

Moore was given a scholarship. She had earned one of the most sought after goals set by walk-ons on any program. Now she had to prove that she could excel on the field as well as she did in the classroom.

A meeting with Coach Minatta in the spring revealed that the Cyclones were weak at the outside back position. The only problem was that Moore had played center mid her whole career and would have to learn a completely new position. But learning a new position wouldn’t be a task too tall for someone who had already accomplished what she had.

After a few learning bumps in the spring, Moore got better at her new position. So far this season she has proven to be one of Iowa State’s critical playmakers. The sophomore has started every game for the Cyclones and even dished out an assist against Northern Colorado. Not bad for someone who wasn’t even planning on playing soccer after high school.

“Looking back to last year at this time it’s crazy to think that it has developed into this,” Moore said. “It has been one of the best experiences of my life. I have met the best people and my best friends. I have had great mentors. It has been a crazy experience. My path is kind of abnormal, but it’s worked out well.”

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