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Quiet Hallie Christofferson becomes go-to player at Iowa State

Hallie Christofferson goes about her work with the Iowa State women's basketball team quietly, at least in coach Bill Fennelly's view.

He doesn't expect pep talks and long speeches and a lot of backslapping from the 6-foot-3 senior, only results. And in that area, her play speaks volumes.

"She's very understated," Fennelly said Wednesday at the team's media day. "She'll probably have more points than words spoken in her four years here, but she is someone that does a lot for our team. She's the face of our team."

With the departure of post players Chelsea Poppens and Anna Prins, both taken in the WNBA draft last April, Christofferson is now the player the Cyclones will build around in their bid to reach the NCAA tournament for the eighth straight season.

She certainly has the credentials to handle the task.

Christofferson earned first-team all-Big 12 honors last season after averaging 15.6 points, best on the team, and 6.7 rebounds while shooting 40 percent from 3-point range and 51 percent overall. She's on the preseason all-Big 12 team announced Wednesday and has blossomed into a star after coming out of tiny Exira High School in southwest Iowa as a virtual unknown.

"Every day around her, you feel better about yourself," Fennelly said. "She's just one of those kind of people that every single day has figured out a way to make herself better."

And according to teammate Brynn Williamson, she's not all that quiet.

"She talks a lot," Williamson said. "She's the first one that will hop into the back of a picture and do something crazy. It's kind of weird to see the coaches talk about her like that. I can see that, but for us, when we close the doors in the locker room, it's totally different."

The Cyclones, coming off a second-place finish in the Big 12, are switching to a four-guard offense after pounding the ball inside to the 6-3 Poppens and the 6-7 Prins last season.

Christofferson becomes the No. 1 option, and the players already have grasped that.

"When you run plays, everyone is always trying to throw her the ball," Fennelly said. "We do some things in practice where we have to score now or we're going to run or we have to score now before we take a break, and every play called is for Number Five. They do everything they can to get her the ball."

What player wouldn't like that?

But it also means Christofferson must be willing to shoot it late in the shot clock or shoot under pressure or take that last-second, game-deciding shot.

"I'm comfortable with it," she said. "But you kind of have to be. You have to be comfortable in that role and you have to want to do the stuff that's not as familiar to you."

The Cyclones also will rely heavily on Williamson, a perimeter shooting specialist and strong defender, and point guard Nikki Moody. Both are juniors.

Williamson averaged 8.3 points last season and Moody 8.4, plus 7.4 assists to lead the conference and rank third nationally. Fennelly would like to see Moody become more consistent.

"We can't have 16 points and then zero," he said. "It's got to be eight, eight, eight. We're going to spread the court so maybe that will get her to the rim more. If she has some help, I think offensively she'll be better, defensively she'll be better."

That help is expected to come from freshman guards Jadda Buckley, a top 50 recruit from Mason City, and Seanna Johnson, who helped her Minneapolis-area team win three state championships. Energetic sophomore Nicole Blaskowsky, who averaged 6.6 points last season, also could help.

"We will have to score more, but we can't rely on Hallie for everything," Blaskowsky said. "If there's a shot, we have to go for it."