In her final season in an Iowa State women's basketball jersey, Emily Durr knows the job of leading a young team falls heavily on her shoulders.
Though she won't be the only graduating player, Claire Ricketts, a redshirt junior, will forgo her final year of eligibility after the upcoming season, Durr will be among the most vocal players on the team looking for its 11th NCAA tournament berth in 12 seasons."It's a little bit intimidating because you have a lot of expectation on you, but at the same time I love having that leader role," Durr said at the team's annual media day Tuesday. "Just being the vocal leader and having experience and knowing what the younger kids are going through in season.
"Big shoes to fill."
Seanna Johnson and Jadda Buckley left a void, both in scoring and in leadership, from last season that Durr will be called upon to fill.
On top of the departure of two of the top three scorers from last season's team, the Cyclones lost rotation players TeeTee Starks to transfer and Heather Bowe to graduation.
Durr spent the summer recovering from Tommy John surgery on her right elbow and could do little on the court because of it, will be looked to as a steadying presence for ISU.
She worked on her off-hand some while recovering from injury, which she said will help her as the Cyclones go to a point guard by committee program with Buckley's departure, and averaged 8.9 points and 2.6 rebounds per game as a junior after struggling her first two seasons in the program.
But even though she wasn't on court this summer, she was among the most important members of the team and her contributions, which might not show up on the stat sheet, will be major, her coach said.
"It took her about six months to get back on the court," Fennelly said. "When you're a senior, you have to tell people this is the way it's going to be, everything for you is the last first time."
On her last media day of her last season, Durr said she hopes to help the team in any way she can.
And that started this summer, as the Cyclones relied on her to be the leadership presence they missed while Bridget Carleton was globe-trotting with the Canadian national team, helping the team earn an AmeriCup gold medal and FIBA World Cup berth for next summer.
Fennelly said Carleton, a junior guard and the other part of the Cyclones' Big Three with Buckley and Johnson last year, will be the best player on the court for the Cyclones, an undeniable truth, but Durr will be among the most important.
"I hope I'm a big deal to this team. I just try to help in any way I can, and try and lead the team. I'm more the vocal leader," Durr said. "We have Bridget who's a great player. She's more of a lead by example leader. She's always in the gym, working hard, but I feel like anybody on the team can come to me at any time and I'll be real with them and honest with them, but it's all out of love."
And that's the unique perspective Durr, and Ricketts, can provide to a young team.
Durr struggled her first two seasons in the program as she and Fennelly agreed she did not put the work in necessary.
But, after a junior campaign in which she broke out and became a key contributor both as a starter and bench player, she and Fennelly understand what Durr can bring to the a young team with new faces.
"I think the biggest thing is, when you're a senior, you have to tell people this is the way things are going to be," Fennelly said.
And Durr is more than comfortable stepping doing just that.
"I'll be that vocal person that's like hey, you've got to work on this or hey, you're not going hard necessarily, you need to step it up," She said. "I think they respect me for that, which means a lot."