The young Wichita State women's basketball has learned how to let go.
It's a step in the right direction, and it might be the breakthrough the Shockers needed as they prepare to host the Missouri Valley's top team, Northern Iowa, tonight at Koch Arena.
"The biggest thing we were fighting (earlier in the season) was confidence in each other," WSU coach Jody Adams said. "That's just natural teamwork and it takes awhile. They have to learn each other and learn to trust each other and keep it."
Adams saw her team break down barriers and show more trust in each other in what she said was the most successful two-game road stretch in her three seasons as WSU's coach.
Wichita State picked up a 66-57 win at Drake, and then almost upset a top-three team in Creighton, losing 50-48 in overtime.
"I think our team is beginning to understand that through adversity they need each other," Adams said.
The team carries new confidence into tonight's matchup with the Panthers, a team that beat WSU by 10 a month ago at Cedar Falls, Iowa.
The loss at Creighton brought to light a problem Wichita State has had all season: free-throw shooting.
The Shockers went 8 of 14 (57 percent) in the game and rank last in the Missouri Valley Conference in free throw percentage at 56.0 percent — next-to-last Southern Illinois shoots 64.3 percent.
"Our problem is when we get to when the game is on the line, we just can't manage to knock them down," junior Haleigh Lankster said. "We need to be more relaxed and be patient and see the ball going in the rim because we can make free throws all day in practice."
Wichita State is improving on the road. But until the Shockers can find consistency away from Koch Arena, the games they at home gain added importance.
"Home games have to be automatic for us," point guard Jessica Diamond said.
For now, WSU will look to chip away at remaining barriers to fully complete its chemistry.
"I can't say that it will just go away, but it will fade away," Adams said. "And that's a positive thing."