Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Statistics, percentages and points. In the athletics world, all the numbers tend to define the players. Players are given awards based on their statistical output. They make ESPN's Sports Center for the nifty dunk, but rarely for the assist or steal.
But for every Michael Jordan, there is a Steve Kerr or Horace Grant. Players that rarely receive accolades but are a key component to their team's success.
For the Iowa State women's basketball team that player is junior guard Chassidy Cole. The interdisciplinary studies major grew up a fan of Jordan, even picking his number and wearing it whenever the situation allowed.
"When I was growing up I wanted to be like Michael Jordan," Cole said. "Ever since then I've had the number and want to play my best like him."
Known by her teammates and coaches simply as "Chas", her contributions are more along the lines of Grant and Kerr than Jordan, but that's okay with Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly.
"Our really good teams have always had that player that wasn't the "go-to" player, but impacted our winning," Coach Fennelly said. "Chas is certainly that player."
Cole is a specialist for Iowa State. Her fortes are ball defense, playing unselfishly, grabbing steals and sealing wins.
The Amarillo, Texas native averages just 2.0 points a game and dishes out 2.2 assists. She has started 10 contests and is averaging a career-best 19.8 minutes a game. When starting point guard Lauren Mansfield needs a break, it's Cole that runs the team's offense.
"Her and Lauren have played off of each other really well," Fennelly said. "Chas makes just enough shots to keep people honest. She doesn't shoot a lot but she gets her points and doesn't turn the ball over."
While her shooting percentages may not turn many heads, it's Cole's approach to the game that makes her a valuable component to the Cyclones' success. A team first, me second attitude that doesn't grab headlines but earns her a spot in the rotation.
"I've always been a passer, after I pass then I shoot," Cole said. "Defense has always been my number one priority. I want to guard the best player and do my best against them."
Fennelly can appreciate that mentality.
"She is the missing puzzle piece," Fennelly said. "The other players and coaches don't realize how big of a piece she is yet."
Although Cole may not get her 10 minutes of fame after every game, she doesn't go unsupported. Her family watches every game on TV. Fans at Hilton Coliseum also keep her energized by cheering loudly when she walks onto the court.
"It's hard for a young person in this day and age when we all want attention," Fennelly said. "She rarely gets asked to a press conference, but she's a big part of our team."