Scoring in the halfcourt offense hasn't been a strong suit this season for the Wichita State women's basketball team.
Head coach Jody Adams expects that to come around as the season progresses. But until that happens, Wichita State (5-3) will continue to have to rely on its defense to produce points.
So far this season the Shockers lead the Missouri Valley Conference with 9.3 steals a game — a trend WSU looks to continue tonight when it hosts UC Davis at Koch Arena.
"When we play defense and we get after our opponent, it gives us a lot of confidence," senior Morgan Boyd said. "That leads to run outs and lay ups. We don't feel pressure; we don't feel anything. It's just our game. That's where we live and die by — our defense."
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To compete with UC Davis (6-2), a team ranked No. 8 in the Mid-Major Top 25 poll by collegeinsider.com, creating offense from its defense will be necessary for Wichita State.
That's no secret for UC Davis coach Sandy Simpson.
"They run best off the live turnover," Simpson said. "They do a really good job of releasing when they recognize one of their teammates is about to gain possession off a steal or a loose ball and they just turn and go."
UC Davis represents a quality opponent that will be a measuring stick for Wichita State. The Aggies play a rare half-court trapping defense that is unseen in most parts of the country.
"That's something out West that we're known for," Simpson said. "It's just kind of a different theory of defense, in terms of angles. It's a little different look than most teams are used to seeing."
The defense will be sure to test Wichita State's ball handling, which has been inconsistent this season. WSU is averaging 19 turnovers a game, in large part due to unresolved answers at the point guard position.
Adams has been working this week in practices on improving the team's overall ability to handle the ball.
"As we continue to watch film and break it down," Adams said, "these guys are going to see repetitively when they jump stop and their footwork is correct and we're tight and compact with the ball then the ball isn't being slapped out of their hands when we're the aggressors."
This is the firstmeeting between the two schools, and will be the 1,000th gamed played by the WSU women's basketball program.