WSU women’s basketball team is back on campus for summer school, conditioning and reading
As always, coach Jody Adams gives them a book. This summer, it is “The Right to Lead” by John C. Maxwell.
“The biggest (subject from the book) we discussed as a team is risk,” Adams said. “Risk is the hardest, because you’re vulnerable. You’re putting yourself out there in front of everybody to fail. We talk about learning from failure. If we didn’t fail, we wouldn’t learn.”
Adams likes the way her team appears to be learning from last season’s disappointing finish. The third-seeded Shockers lost 56-52 to seventh-seeded Drake in the semifinals of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. During the regular season, WSU handled the Bulldogs by 22 and 18 points. Instead of playing for a chance to earn an NCAA Tournament spot, the Shockers settled for the WNIT.
“This group continues to work towards, ‘Why did we not finish that game?’ ” she said. “We beat Drake twice during the regular season. Why did we not finish in that semifinals game? We’re old enough to know why, and I think it goes back to the rises and the dips.”
WSU won 10 straight games and started 7-0 in the Valley. Looking back, the players tell Adams they realize they didn’t continue to get better during that stretch. Adams knew and tried to convince them. The Shockers, pumped up by the win streak, thought they were working hard in practice.
“With the lack of tradition here, and us trying to build tradition, you don’t know how to win and you don’t know how to handle success,” she said. “The one thing you fear is that you get complacent.”
WSU, which returns four of its top five scorers, could the MVC’s preseason favorite, and will certainly be picked in the top three.
“We’re at the top of the Valley, but how are we going to begin to separate to build tradition here?” Adams said.
The Shockers set goals in April, and used statistical landmarks to help. They know what it typically takes to earn All-MVC honors, for example. They formed a 20,000-shot club for the summer, in which members must make 20,000 threes over the summer. During June, July and August, Adams wants to see her team working toward those goals.
“We’ve got to change (practice habits) the next day we come into practice, to want to get the right reps,” she said. “I think this team gets that.”
On the job market — Former Shocker Haleigh Lankster hopes to find a spot on a professional women’s basketball team later this summer.
She hired an agent and is looking at teams in Europe, particularly Luxembourg. She expects to know by late July or early August.
“The Euro league is probably the best league,” she said. “I want to play with the best athletes. I’m really fortunate to get this opportunity.”
Lankster, a 5-foot-9 guard, averaged 12 points for WSU as a senior and earned MVC Defensive Player of the Year honors. She is home in Tulsa this summer, working out on the stadium steps at Washington High and playing pickup games at the University of Tulsa.
Still searching — In April, WSU was close to completing its men’s basketball schedule. Then a game fell through and the Shockers are one game short.
Frustrating, but the Shockers are in a good position compared to previous seasons.
“We need another home game, whether that is here in Koch (Arena) or downtown,” associate athletic director Darron Boatright said.
So far, the highlight of the schedule is a home-and-home series with Tennessee, and former Missouri State coach Cuonzo Martin. The Shockers travel to Tennessee this season. The Volunteers will play at Intrust Bank Arena in 2013-14.
WSU will also travel to Virginia Commonwealth and Air Force. Tulsa comes to WSU, a game likely to be played on campus.
Worth noting — Matt Baty, assistant athletic director for development, has left WSU for a job in private business. Baty, who played baseball at Kansas, came to WSU in 2009.… WSU outfielder Kevin Hall and pitcher Josh Smith, both seniors, were named to the MVC scholar-athlete team. Hall, who has a 3.69 grade-point average in chemistry, is on the first team for a second time. Smith, with a 3.29 GPA in sport management, is an honorable-mention pick.… WSU women’s tennis coach Colin Foster and Derek Miller advanced to the quarterfinals of the doubles bracket in the USTA National Open Hard Court Championships in San Diego last week. They won two matches before losing to the runner-up team of Erik Elliott and Bijan Moallemi 1-6, 6-1, 6-1. Foster defeated David Masiorini (6-2, 6-0) before losing to eventual champion Luis Perez (6-3, 6-4) in singles play.