The focus on Audi – Iowa State’s all-American post could give Cyclones upper hand against Maryland –

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Mar 12, 2024; Kansas City, MO, USA; Iowa State Cyclones center Audi Crooks (55) celebrates after a play against the Texas Longhorns during the second half at T-Mobile Center. Mandatory Credit: Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports

STANFORD, Calif. – Before the arrival of Stephanie Soares, Iowa State women’s basketball would be doubted for its lack of size or experience at times at the post position.

It’s been well documented that Iowa State’s style of play had been intertwined with ball movement mixed with a four-guard lineup that could shoot the deep ball.

When Soares came to campus over the summer of 2022, that changed — and Iowa State was happy to adapt, which it did over the past two years.

Now, the Cyclones are preparing to face a Maryland team that lacks a true post, while Iowa State’s Audi Crooks can dominate in the paint. Oh, and there’s the fact that it’s a first-round NCAA Tournament game (6:35 p.m. Friday, ESPN2).

“Well, we hope so,” coach Bill Fennelly said on the impact that Crooks could have in the game. “I think Audi has had obviously a phenomenal year and played a lot against a lot of great players. Maryland has got great perimeter length but maybe not as big inside as some of the other teams we’ve played. That’s what makes this tournament unique and special is the matchups that you don’t see a lot during the year that we’re going to see tomorrow.”

Maryland plays two forwards in its entire lineup — not just rotation — in Allie Kubek and Emma Chardon, who hasn’t played since November.

The backcourt-driven Terrapins like to play fast and hoist shots up from the perimeter, which could make it difficult for them to guard in the post.

“That’s the first thing I noticed,” Addy Brown said when asked of her reactions to looking into Maryland following the Selection Sunday announcement. “I was like, ‘Well, who’s going to guard Audi?’ That’s exciting. I know they will have a good gameplan for us – they like to double and triple-team almost the whole team to the post because they don’t have one. So, that will open up outside shots for us. We’re excited.”

Iowa State will enter this game with the edge in the post if a favorite were to be determined at certain position battles.

But Fennelly has been to too many NCAA Tournaments to adopt an approach based entirely on that.

“Obviously any spot you feel you have a slight advantage is a good thing,” Fennelly said. “But then all you see or hear on TV is the NCAA Tournament is all about guards. So I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Again, we’ve gotten here because of the way we’ve played as a group, and obviously Audi has been a huge part of that. But you’ve just got to go into the game and decide —get a good read early on how they’re going to guard her.”

Fennelly and his staff know best — and Iowa State will be looking to avoid the types of lengthy scoreless droughts that took it out of games this season.

The team’s Big 12 championship loss to Texas featured one, and the Cyclones had to try and chip away at the lead after the hole they got themselves into past the 15-minute mark.

“In order for us to do well tomorrow, I think we really have to focus on execution,” Crooks said. “There have been a couple games where it’s been close and we’ve had lapses or slow starts, and we can’t have that. This is March, and everybody is trying to win, and anything is possible. We have to be in our P’s and Q’s and really execute our game plan.”

Executing a gameplan is Iowa State’s bread-and-butter, but it’s hard to find a NCAA Tournament game where it’s looked this advantageous of a matchup in the paint.

That comes to fruition on Friday night in Stanford.

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Publish date : 2024-03-21 03:00:00

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Author : usa-news

Publish date : 2024-06-11 06:56:08

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