At first glance, rebounding doesn’t appear to be a big problem for Wichita State’s women’s basketball team.
Unless that glance includes a look at last season’s losses at Creighton and Missouri State, the story is incomplete. Coach Jody Adams remembers those games painfully well as the difference between a championship and third place.
“Rebounding is a huge key for us,” she said. “We’re making some changes in our defense that should help our rebounding.”
WSU (20-13, 12-6 Missouri Valley Conference) didn’t get kicked around on the backboards on a regular basis. It ranked fifth in the MVC in rebound margin (plus-0.1) and second in defensive rebounds (34.7). However, when the Shockers lost on the backboards, they often lost big. In a 61-59 loss at Creighton, the Bluejays out-rebounded the Shockers 47-22 and grabbed 20 offensive rebounds. Missouri State, in an 85-67 win, grabbed 23 offensive rebounds and out-rebounded WSU 48-23.
“In every drills, it’s been a point of emphasis, whether it’s a rebounding drill or not,” guard Jessica Diamond said. “We already hold teams below their scoring average. If we’re able to capitalize on rebounds, it would eliminate second-chance shots, which is where teams get the majority of their points on us.”
Adams wants to continue to be aggressive on defense, an approach that held opponents to 58.1 points and 39-percent shooting. She is working to keep the Shockers, especially those guarding players away from the ball, in better position to rebound.
“When you’re out of position, it’s hard to get back in front to box out,” Diamond said. “Sometimes we over-pressured and got out of position.”
Doubles up — WSU men’s tennis team entered the fall season wanting to gauge its doubles chemistry. The early indications are good, thanks largely to the play of Matheus Pereira and Alvaro Gutierrez.
Playing as a combo for the first time, they advanced to the third round of the ITA All-American Championships and are 6-1 this fall. Gutierrez is a transfer from Oral Roberts.
“Alvaro’s been the real surprise package,” WSU assistant coach Matt Hogan said. “He’s come straight in under Mat’s wing and done very well.”
The Shocker women won four MVC individual championships, winning No. 3 doubles and Nos. 4-6 singles a week ago at the Coleman Tennis Complex. That is a good haul, but WSU is used to more, especially in the top flights. The Shockers won seven titles a year ago and failed to win No. 1 singles for the first time since 2008. Coach Colin Foster said several MVC teams are on an upswing with experience and talent.
“All the teams are getting stronger,” he said. “We’ve got great depth, but we feel like we’ve got great players up top and we just ran into some tough competition and some matches that didn’t go our way.”
Both teams end their fall schedules in the ITA Central Regional Championships this week. The men travel to Minneapolis to begin play Thursday. The women start Friday in Tulsa.
Solomon’s Shocker remembered — Solomon High, about 15 miles northeast of Salina, re-dedicated its football field to former WSU football player Marvin Brown on Friday.
Brown, along with 13 teammates and 17 others, died in a plane crash in 1970 in Colorado on their way to a game at Utah State. He was a sophomore running back.
Friday’s ceremony served as a reminder of Brown’s legacy, initiated by the school’s booster club, Brad Homman told the Salina Journal.
"We were sitting around the dinner table with my kids, and they had no idea why it was named after (the former Shocker)," he told the newspaper.
Brown earned all-league honors three times and all-state honors twice at Solomon, playing quarterback and running back. He ran for 1,069 yards in seven games as a senior. He earned all-league honors twice in basketball and holds school records in the shot put (54 feet, 10 inches) and javelin (192-5).
Cliff in Canada — Cliff Levingston is compiling quite a resume of obscure coaching jobs. His latest is with the Halifax Rainmen of the National Basketball League of Canada.
He is also stuck in another dispute over child support with Voretta Roland of Los Angeles, mother of his 26-year-old daughter. Roland, according to e-mails and a story in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, is accusing Levingston of owing $107,000 in child support. Levingston told the newspaper he recently made his final payment.
Levingston played for WSU from 1979-82 and 11 seasons in the NBA for Detroit, Atlanta, Chicago and Denver. In 2003, he spent four months in jail for failure to pay child support.
“I was wrong by not paying for that child support,” he told the Chronicle-Herald.
Levingston has also coached in the CBA, the ABA, the USBL and with the Harlem Globetrotters. In 2002, he coached the Dodge City Legend to the USBL title and was named USBL Coach of the Year.
Watch your apps — An anonymous donation is allowing WSU to purchase an iPad for each of its athletes. The iPads are loaned to the person and returned at the end of the school year.
The tablets can be used for academic and athletic purposes, according to a news release. Athletes can download apps from University Computing to help with coursework. Athletically, some coaches will use the iPads for instruction and scouting.
Athletes aren’t allowed to download gaming apps or music.
Worth noting — WSU’s men’s golf team starts play in the Alister MacKenzie Invitational on Monday in Fairfax, Calif. Host California is the nation’s top-ranked team in the coaches’ poll and the 16-team field also includes No. 22 San Diego State and No. 25 Oregon. The Shockers are No. 40.… WSU’s women’s team golfs in the MSU/Payne Stewart Memorial starting Monday in Springfield, Mo.