Jody Adams is where Gregg Marshall was.
Adams, Wichita State's women's basketball coach, is talking about teaching fundamentals and making sure her eight new players are figuring things out. On the men's side, Marshall is speeding into practice with 10 returners and daring his freshmen to keep up.
Both teams begin preseason practices today, although both utilized their fall instruction time to work with an entire team. Regardless of the NCAA terminology, basketball season starts today in the minds of most. WSU holds its annual Shocker Madness on Saturday night to give fans their first look at both teams.
"The good news is we've got a lot of veterans that know what we're teaching, which we did not have last year," Marshall said. "It's a little more difficult to be a freshman this year, because we'll probably move at a little faster clip. They've got to sink or swim."
If any of the four freshmen displace a returner, it means the rookie is an advanced talent. The Shockers (17-17 last season) return three starters, their top three scorers and five of their top seven. In Marshall's first two seasons, he relied heavily on newcomers because he didn't have other options. Working with this much experience is a luxury.
"We're making sure the core of what we do is taught well and understood so that we can build on that," he said. "We might be able to expand the things we do. We got just about everything in at some point last year."
Adams enters her second season with a dramatically different situation. WSU (13-18) returns three players with starting experience. Four of the top five scorers departed, either graduating or transferring.
Adams brought in four junior college transfers and four freshmen. Her first practice tonight will focus on her favorite subject.
"First and foremost, getting comfortable in our defensive stance," she said. "We're going to work on defense and rebounding."
Adams plans to split her practices into two-a-days next week. She thinks the shorter periods will help the new players concentrate. Hour-long afternoon sessions will focus on shooting and offense.
"I think they all do better in (shorter) practices," she said. "Get in and get out."