Jody Adams understood the risks of scheduling such a demanding nonconference slate for the Wichita State women’s basketball team.
Along with the quality opponents would come adversity, which the Shockers have had plenty of as they head into their final game before conference play Sunday afternoon when they play host to Wisconsin-Green Bay.
WSU lost four of five games, all by five points or less, had a player not suit up, another leave the team and had the coaching staff reprimanded by athletic director Eric Sexton for forcing players to do push-ups on the court during halftime of a game. And that was just in a two-week span.
What appears to be a tumultuous 6-5 start to the season has actually unified the players, Adams said.
“It’s driven leadership to speak up and not hold back demands of each other,” Adams said. “Some of the things that have gone on this year have honestly been the players disciplining themselves and disciplining each other.
“As a coach, you sit back and say, ‘Wow, they finally understand responsibility and accountability. It’s just fun to watch them grow up and have us step aside and just coach. We’ve got to coach and teach more than ever in the four years.”
It’s allowed Adams to focus on her point guards, Jessica Diamond and Alex Harden. The two have struggled to play consistently at the desired tempo, which has hindered the offense’s rhythm.
“If they don’t (play at the right tempo), then it stalls everyone else from being at their best in their role for us,” Adams said. “If those guys set the tempo, then it allows everybody to be able to do their strength.”
Perhaps the best thing to come from the first two months of the season has been the play of Kelsey Jacobs. The sophomore, who Adams called the team’s MVP so far, has started the last seven games and averaged 7.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 1.0 steals in those games.
A win over Green Bay, one of the nation’s top mid-majors, would be a signature win, something that has escaped WSU this season.
“It’s our last challenge before we go into the Valley,” Adams said. “We’ve had to focus through losses. It’s tough, but we haven’t been blown out. We’ve lost some tight, close ball games because of turnovers and not finishing. Those are the kinds of details that you talk about that are going to win big games and this is a big game.”