The time to win big is now.
That was the point of emphasis on Wednesday when the Wichita State women’s basketball team held its media day at Koch Arena.
When the preseason polls are released on Monday, the Shockers, returning five players with starting experience from a 20-win team, are likely to be tabbed the favorites to win the Missouri Valley Conference.
Wichita State, in coach Jody Adams’ fifth season, has its most talented roster featuring six seniors, four four-year players and sophomore Alex Harden.
The Shockers will play its first of two exhibition games at Koch Arena on Sunday afternoon against Harding (Ark.) University.
“We’ve come a long way from my freshman year being picked 10th to now,” said senior Jessica Diamond, a first-team preseason all-conference pick. “We definitely want to leave here with a Missouri Valley title, in the regular season and in the conference tournament. As seniors, we want to leave a legacy for our other teammates to carry on.”
In the last five seasons, Wichita State has graduated eight seniors. Adams’ youth movement has flourished this season, as her first recruiting class of Diamond, Chynna Turner, Jazimen Gordon and Michelle Price are now fourth-year players.
“I’ve been able to step back and not speak as much,” Adams said of practices. “Now I have five other teachers out there.
“We just haven’t had this type of leadership before. It’s so different with six seniors. They’re great teachers, they’re great floorleaders and they’re great leaders of expectations.”
Last season the Shockers tied their longest winning streak at 10 games and held a comfortable lead in the MVC race at the midway point. But a 6-7 finish to the season left WSU disappointed.
“They know we fell short last year,” Adams said. “They understand how we have to redeem ourselves. I feel a sense of urgency.”
Adams has prepared a rigorous non-conference schedule headlined by a home date with Kansas State and a road trip to LSU. The Shockers will play six teams that finished in the NCAA’s top-50 RPI report and 10 that competed in the postseason last year.
It’s a challenge that’s been accepted by players.
“A fight is what I want,” Turner said. “No one wants to go to a fight knowing you’re going to win, what’s the point? Always knowing you’re going to fight to the end is a good thing.”