It’s not strange to Wichita State coach Jody Adams that her teams are renowned for their defense, which is what she spent her time in college as Tennessee’s point guard picking apart.
Adams believes the moniker of defense wins championship, but also that excelling at defense is becoming a dying trait in prospects.
“These kids today, they don’t grow up playing basketball in their backyard or at the Y,” Adams said. “They’re playing video games or they’re on the internet or on their phones. It’s different, so I think some of that IQ, I think it’s delayed.”
So Adams recruits players with the right mixture of athleticism and what she calls “basketball IQ” to Wichita State, which will host Drake on Monday night at Koch Arena.
And it’s not a coincidence the Shockers once again lead the Valley in scoring defense, at 56.0 points. In Saturday’s 67-45 win over previously-undefeated Creighton, Wichita Stateheld the Bluejays to 34 points over the final 36 minutes.
“It was about as complete as we’ve seen,” Adams said. “But it didn’t surprise me. This team, it’s their mind and their heart and when they give effort consistently, they’re a great team.”
To play defense for Adams, effort is a must. That was instilled in her at Tennessee, where giving maximum effort on defense was regular and not a rarity.
But the reason why she prefers defense is because effort can be changed.
“If you want to see great change in your personal defense or team defense, give extra effort and you’re going to see significant change,” Adams said. “It’s the not the same on the other side of the ball. On that side, it’s a gift.”
Adams has assembled an arsenal of gifted defenders.
Jasmine Jones pesters the opposing team’s best guard. Alex Harden has the height (5-foot-11) to disrupt wing players and the athleticism to bother posts. Chynna Turner and Kelsey Jacobs are usually quicker than their opposition in the post and Turner has ventured more out on the perimeter this season.
“We can defend in a lot of different ways,” Adams said. “There’s a lot of versatility on this team, both offensively and defensively. All four of those guys can get down in a stance and guard.”