Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly announced on Monday that sophomore center Bryanna Fernstrom asked for her release and will no longer be part of the women's basketball team. The Chisago Lakes, Minnesota, native played in every game of the last two seasons and notched a school record nine blocks against Northern Arizona this past December. Her presence will be deeply missed inside for a Cyclones squad that was already struggling with injuries and depth issues.
This season, Fernstrom averaged over nine points and nearly seven rebounds per game. Fernstrom started 12 games this year, though she did not start against Kansas on Saturday. Freshman forward and Iowa native Meredith Burkhall, who Fennelly said has played the best in the post recently, started in place of Fernstrom two days ago. In his post-game press conference on Saturday, however, Fennelly acknowledged the difficulty of coming off the bench, and he praised Fernstrom for her strong play . Fennelly said on Saturday that when you get benched you either have a choice to "play harder and win your minutes back or feel sorry for yourself." Fennelly called Fernstrom "a plus for us tonight off the bench" on Saturday.
Fennelly quickly said on Monday his focus is developing and winning with the players who want to be at Iowa State. He said he will not address the Fernstrom situation in the future. Burkhall and redshirt freshman Claire Ricketts are the only other forwards who have seen significant minutes for the Cyclones this season. Burkhall averages just over 17 minutes per game and Ricketts has played an average of nearly eight minutes. Burkahll averages 7.3 points per game; Ricketts averages two points. These two will be tasked with covering for the 20 minutes that Fernstrom contributed each contest.
Iowa State has its bye week to adjust to the Fernstrom news. The Cyclones travel to Lubbock on Sunday to take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders at 2pm.