Kent State hopes pressure stymies Cyclones

By Chuck Schoffner Associated Press Published:

For Iowa State, those two words could hold the key in its game with Kent in the NCAA women's Mideast Regional at Hilton Coliseum today.

Their friendship notwithstanding, Kent coach Bob Lindsay hopes to put Iowa State's Bill Fennelly through 40 minutes of misery with the Golden Flashes' fullcourt, trapping, in-your-face defense.

To combat it, the No. 24-ranked Cyclones (24-7) will have to move the ball and find the teammate who is left uncovered. Easy in principle but much harder when you're squeezed between two arm-waving defenders.

"When a team pressures or traps the ball, you really have to be aware of not panicking right away when you get trapped," Iowa State's Jayme Olson said. "If you know it's coming and you're prepared for it, you're able to rotate the ball a lot quicker and they have to scramble to find the person they were guarding and that can cause a lot of confusion."

And, the Cyclones hope, get someone a wide open shot. They have good shooters at every position and average eight 3-point baskets a game, tops in the nation.

"I'm not very smart, but if it's five-on-five and there's two on one of you, then it's four-on-three," Fennelly said. "Which means somebody ought to be able to get a shot or somebody has an uncontested lane to go get the basketball off the board."

Kent (23-6), which won the Mid-American Conference championship and owns a 19-game winning streak, forces an average of 32 turnovers a game. Usually, the more turnovers the Golden Flashes force, the better they are on offense.

"When we play well, it's from our defense," said Kent's Carrie Templin, the team's leading scorer with a 14.1 average. "When we force turnovers, that creates our offense and makes things go a lot smoother for us. When our defense isn't so good, we struggle offensively."

Along with its fullcourt pressure, Kent uses a lot of players, with 11 averaging at least 10.5 minutes a game. Iowa State uses only seven players.

"Their defense is an aggressive one for 94 feet," Fennelly said. "And when you play a lot of players, you're not afraid to foul and you're not afraid to keep fresh people in the game."

Iowa State is 15-0 at home this season and has won 19 straight at Hilton since last season. Four of the home victories have come against NCAA Tournament teams, including Texas Tech, the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Regional.

Lindsay said Iowa State's success at home is his biggest concern in playing the Cyclones.

"I think I know what we have to do to win. I think everybody else does, too," Lindsay said. "You've got to make shots, you've got to play hard and you've got to play better than they do. And that's difficult to do in somebody else's home gym.

"But we're capable of doing it. There's a reason why we haven't lost a game since Dec. 29. We play well in other people's gyms."

Lindsay and Fennelly have been friends for years and they faced each other 13 times when Fennelly coached at Toledo, one of Kent's MAC rivals. Toledo won 10 of those games. There will, however, be a brief interruption in that friendship on Saturday.

"From 5:30 to 7:30, I'm going to try to beat his brains out," Fennelly said. "And I'm sure that's what he's going to try to do to me."

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.