Jessica Diamond has regrets on the basketball court, and she isn’t the only one on the Wichita State women’s basketball team.
She is among three WSU players who played in a high school state championship game. Most of the others joined them in the playoffs. But none has accomplished the ultimate prize of winning a title.
That means something to these Shockers as they pursue their first Missouri Valley championship. WSU, which swept through the first half of the MVC season 9-0, kicks off the second half with a homestand starting Friday at Koch Arena against Northern Iowa.
This is a team unified in its path to redemption.
“All the time,” Diamond said when asked if she thinks about the loss in the Texas Class 5A title game her senior season. “That was the first time my school had been in a state title and to lose it, knowing we should have won, the regrets thinking back … I mean, I’m a senior in college and I still think back to that game.
“I definitely don’t want to have any regrets about this season.”
The topic isn’t one that coach Jody Adams has addressed specifically, but she acknowledged that it could very well play a role in the team’s motivation.
“I think every athlete draws from their own experiences,” Adams said. “What we’ll draw from and what we’ll reflect on is what’s most real and raw for us.”
The heartbreak that Adams wants her players to draw from is last season’s failure to finish off a conference title after holding a lead at the midway point of the season.
Many of the players know what it’s like to come so close to the pinnacle but not reach it.
“You can see it,” said senior Jazimen Gordon, who reached two state title games in high school but lost both. “But we’ve got to take it one game at a time, stay focused on the game plan and execute the details.”
The last time they strayed from that plan, it resulted in a loss to Drake — a team WSU swept in the regular season — in the semifinals of last year’s MVC tournament.
“We understand now that in the Valley you can’t look past anybody,” Diamond said.
To slow down Northern Iowa, a team that averages almost eight three-pointers a game, Adams has concocted a game plan designed to limit the Panthers’ outside shots.
If the Shockers don’t complete the details like that in the second half of the MVC season, Adams said, then the summit might remain of reach.
“We can’t expect to be in a championship game being who we are today,” Adams said. “We have to keep getting better and that’s my focus right now.”
Injuries — Forwards Chynna Turner (undisclosed) and Alie Decker (knee) are not expected to be available Friday. Adams declined to offer a timeline for their return, stating each was “day-to-day.”