Scenes from a Mohegan Sun doubleheader — Bill Fennelly, Emily Ryan talk Iowa State win — Must-click women’s basketball links

The IX: Basketball Wednesday with Howard Megdal, Dec. 21, 2022

Greetings from the last week of the year for Basketball Wednesday! I just want to take a moment to thank you for all your support, your emails, your investment in building this infrastructure for us all to cover women’s sports. Four of us from The Next and The IX were on hand this weekend at Mohegan Sun for a women’s basketball doubleheader, and all year we have traveled all over the map to bring you inside these events. We cannot wait to do even more of it in 2023, together.

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(Editor’s note: This is the last Basketball Wednesday of 2022. The IX is off next week, and Basketball Wednesday returns Jan. 4, 2023.)

But with a delightful afternoon of hoops — Connecticut vs. Florida State, followed by Villanova vs. Iowa State — came a number of observations on these teams, and players, present and future. So let’s get to what I learned…

…Aaliyah Edwards was as promising a freshman big as the Huskies have brought to campus in a long time — maybe since Morgan Tuck? But her sophomore season included a regression in every significant way. There may be no better piece of good news for UConn, then, that Edwards has not only regained all of her freshman skills, she’s added to them — a more efficient and varied shooting touch, a better rebounder, and a far more effective passer out of double teams. How many bigs, nationally, would you take ahead of Edwards at this point? The list starts with Aliyah Boston, and it doesn’t end too much later than that…

…Ta’Niya Latson is the TRUTH. I don’t know how else to put it. The athleticism, the three-level scoring, the defensive intensity, the on-court IQ… add her to the 2023 draft and she’s a lottery pick, one WNBA talent evaluator told me this week. And again – she’s a freshman. So while the W needs to wait until 2026, Brooke Wyckoff gets to enjoy her for the next 3.5 years and build her program around her…

…on a lot of mock drafts you see Ashley Joens ahead of Maddie Siegrist. Some, you even see Stephanie Soares ahead of Siegrist. My question would be: why? Siegrist is 6’1, but as I found out from Denise Dillon, her reach is 6’2.5.

On Sunday, she largely shut down Joens, and made life difficult for Soares all afternoon, crashing the boards, playing all 40 minutes, scoring 32 points. Just a few days later, she scored another 31 to beat La Salle Wednesday. So for those keeping score at home: she’s got 4 size, she can play some smallball 5 and plenty of 3 without killing you at the defensive end (quite the contrary), and she’s got an endless motor.

Soares will make a camp. Joens will make a roster. Siegrist will be a WNBA contributor…

…there is an Iowa State player I think has a bright WNBA future, though, and it’s junior Emily Ryan, who is interviewed below, along with her head coach, Bill Fennelly. It’s not an exact science, but when I’m evaluating point guards with the potential to make the leap, I’m looking for: size, the ability to shoot the three at least at a 40 percent clip with volume, an assist percentage north of 35 and a turnover percentage below 20. If those two numbers are north of 40 and below 15, respectively, I’m even more excited.

Well: Ryan is 5’11, she’s north of 40 from three once again, her assist percentage is up to 36.6 this year, the turnovers, an early issue, down to a respectable 19.7 percent. Fennelly said he wouldn’t trade her for any point guard in the country, which, no, not even if we are just talking the state of Iowa, but she’s very talented and has another year and three months to continue her trajectory. She reminds me a lot of Jordan King from Marquette, frankly, and you’ll see her end up in a camp out of this year’s draft. Ryan? Maybe even beyond that. This league needs more point guards, that we know…

…the arena was mostly full for UConn-Florida State. It largely emptied out by the time Villanova-Iowa State began, and got progressively emptier as that game went along. I get it — we were in Connecticut, it was getting late on a Sunday, the organizers probably should have flipped the order of the two games, but: you, the people who stayed through the final buzzer of the second game?

You are my people.

Thank you for coming along for the ride. See you in 2023, friends.

And last thing: Lindsay Gibbs needs your help to keep the lights on at Power Plays.

She is an alum of The IX, she is a friend I cherish, but most important: she is as vital a voice as we have in this space. Please become a paid subscriber over there if you can, okay? She’s our people, too.

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This week in women’s basketball

Debbie Antonelli interviews Bradley’s Kate Popovec-Goss.

Ines Bettencourt’s story is amazing, and Lila Bromberg is here to tell it.

Blake DuDonis is a name to know in wbb coaching.

Toledo is a team you need to keep an eye on.

Aari McDonald is growing into her role on Arizona’s staff.

Jeff Jasper is a legend. 50 years doing anything is impressive! Coaching the most successful girls’ basketball program in the state of New Jersey? Ridiculous.

Give me this Big 5 WBB tripleheader please and thank you.

Utah’s offense is something special.

Don’t lose sight of the bad-faith folks and what they’re trying to do here.

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Five at The IX: Bill Fennelly and Emily Ryan, Iowa State

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Howard Megdal

Howard is the founder of The Next and editor-in-chief.