For Wichita State women’s basketball coach Jody Adams, playing point guard requires more than passing, dribbling and running the plays.
The point guard needs to possess an attitude, an edge and the confidence to put her teammates in the right spot. Senior Jessica Diamond can be that leader, but it’s not always easy.
“She’s a sweet, loving kid that’s not bossy at all,” Adams said. “You’ve got to be bossy.”
Diamond is working on it. It gets easier as a senior. Younger players naturally look to her for direction and support.
“I’ve been focusing on being more demanding,” she said. “I know when I see something wrong. I know when something needs to change. I’ve been focusing on being more vocal about it.”
A strong voice is particularly important with the guards, who lack the experience of the post players.
“Most of the time I lead by example, but I’ve been focusing on demanding more out of (the guards),” she said. “At times, it demands yelling and putting people in their place.”
Diamond should get plenty of leadership help. WSU has six seniors, three of whom are lifetime Shockers. Diamond, Chynna Turner and Jazimen Gordon arrived in 2009-10 and helped carry the program toward the top of the Missouri Valley Conference. WSU, which started practice last week, went 20-13 last season and should be picked near the top of the Valley. Adams has been waiting for this kind of a roster.
“We’ve had a really great four days of practice,” she said. “The best since I’ve seen in four years here. We have an older team. They know what to expect.”
Across the border — WSU’s volleyball team is 5-2 on the road and coming off an uplifting win at Oklahoma last week. On the other hand, its two losses came at Creighton and Northern Iowa, the teams atop the MVC standings.
So the Shockers (13-5, 6-2 MVC) still need to show they can win on the road to stay in the Valley race. They play at Missouri State (11-9, 5-3) on Friday and travel to Southern Illinois and Evansville next weekend.
“Confidence for our team is a big thing,” Shocker libero Jackie Church said. “Against OU, we had great confidence going into that match.”
MSU uncharacteristically struggled early in the season, going 5-6 in non-conference matches. Last weekend, WSU defeated Illinois State 3-1 and swept Indiana State while the Bears needed five sets to stop Indiana State and lost to Illinois State in five. They rebounded Monday to defeat Central Arkansas 3-1.
Pick up the pace — Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton is 3-0 this fall, winning every cross country race entered and usually by healthy margins. When winning the NCAA title is your goal, however, winning isn’t enough.
Tuliamuk-Bolton isn’t satisfied with her times as she prepares for Saturday’s pre-national meet in Louisville, Ky.
“I know I’m not really where I’m supposed to be,” she said. “I’m just going to try and run and see where I am compared to where I was last year and see how I need to prepare.”
She will face the toughest field of the season. No. 1 Florida State, No. 4 Oregon, No. 6 Georgetown and No. 8 Michigan are part of the 39-team field in the seeded 6-kilometer race.
Tuliamuk-Bolton won the 5-kilometer Cowboy Jamboree with a time of 17 minutes, 1.77 seconds in her most recent race. This will be her first 6-kilometer of the fall. To prepare for stronger competition, she is focusing on speed work. When she runs a mile, she wants to push her pace from 5:30 to under 5:10.
“I have enough mileage, so what I’m working on mostly is my speed,” she said.
WSU’s top runners will go to Louisville while the rest of the squad competes in the McPherson Invitational.