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Iowa women's basketball team prioritizes fun, on and off the court

The Cyclones recently showed off their bond with a TikTok. They believe their ability to have fun together makes them better players.

AMES, Iowa — The Iowa State women's basketball team is coming off of a successful season and is projected to have another one, landing at number 8 on the AP's preseason poll. 

In addition to having talented players, it's the bond those players have with their coach that's been a big factor in their success. 

Bill Fennelly is entering his 28th season as head coach for the Cyclones. In his time, he's won 568 games, made two Elite Eights, six Sweet Sixteens and one TikTok

The idea came from junior guard Lexi Donarski. 

"I walked in [to his office], and he was super quick to agree to it," Donarski said. "I thought it would take a little convincing, but it was like, right away."

For Fennelly, it wasn't a hard decision. 

"I've embarassed myself a lot in my life," he said. "So not a big deal. But mainly because... I ask them to do a lot of stuff every day [so] when they asked me to do it, sure, I'll do it."

Fennelly said that he treats his players like he does his own kids. 

"I'm hard on 'em like I was my boys," Fennelly said. "I expect them to do things in a certain way because I think that's what, as a parent, as a grandparent, as coach, that's what you're supposed to do."

For his players, that fatherly instinct makes all the difference. 

"He's not afraid to tell us what we need to hear," said junior guard Emily Ryan. "He's not going to sugarcoat it, he's gonna be completely honest with us. And that's what makes him so good at what he does. We know he cares about us a ton. And so that makes us want to play hard for him." 

That family aspect translates to fun on the court. 

"We're lucky that we're on a team that loves being around each other, embraces the hard times together and makes the good times even better," Ryan said. 

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