The Wichita State women’s basketball team is beginning to gain officially has the nation’s attention.
A school-record 19-game winning streak has vaulted the Shockers to No. 24 in the USA Today coaches poll, released on Tuesday. It is the first national ranking in the program’s 36 seasons.
It is an accomplishment six years in the making for coach Jody Adams, as WSU has ascended to a power in the Missouri Valley since she assumed control before the 2008-09 season.
The national ranking can be filed under a long list of firsts under Adams, including WSU’s first regular-season and postseason MVC championships, NCAA Tournament appearance, and the most wins in a season.
“I’m very proud and honored,” Adams said. “It’s an honor when your peers and colleagues would respect the growth in your program, of what has happened and what is currently happening in the present. I’m just very proud of this program.”
Adams was adamant this ranking was not solely the work of this year’s team. It was the work put in by former players, such as Haleigh Lankster, and then Jessica Diamond, Chynna Turner, and Jazimen Gordon, that has culminated this season.
After posting just one winning season since the turn of the century before Adams arrived, the Shockers, with their 20-2 record this season, have secured their third consecutive season with at least 20 victories.
It is a turnaround that is quickly becoming compelling to those outside of Wichita.
“Every other coach in the league can look at what Wichita State has done,” said Patty Viverito, the senior associate commissioner for the Missouri Valley Conference. “This is a program that was down in the dumps when Jody got the opportunity to lead the program. And now it’s a blueprint for how to do it and how to do it right.”
Making the rise even more compelling is that it coincides with the men’s program’s top-five ranking.
Wichita State athletic director Eric Sexton was ecstatic to learn both programs will now be nationally ranked.
“We are very proud of the work and effort that our women’s basketball program has put in,” Sexton said. “The toughness that Jody Adams and her coaching staff has instilled into the student-athletes during her six years is paying dividends. It is an exciting time for Wichita State athletics and the accomplishments of Shocker women’s basketball are a big part of our success.”
There will be a time for Adams to soak in what she has accomplished at Wichita State. But that time is not now.
“We accept the stage that we’re on, but we’re still going to go about our ways and how we get ready for our next opponent,” Adams said. “We’ve got to continue to prepare ourselves for the next seven games. Right now we’re not looking any further than that.”
WSU, 11-0 in the Valley, has a three-game lead and will travel to Drake on Friday.