The Wichita State women’s basketball team felt so confident in its depth and talent in the post that it moved Chynna Turner, a three-year starter, to the wing to create more playing time for everyone.
But the Shockers have been hit hard by injuries — Allie Decker, Jazimen Gordon and Kelsey Jacobs, all posts, were injured against Southern Illinois last weekend. That left WSU with six players in its normal rotation to do the heavy lifting in the 13-point road win.
After not meeting expectations in non-conference play, the WSU women have succeeded in every adverse situation in Missouri Valley Conference play. The Shockers are league leaders with a 7-0 record heading into Friday night’s game against Illinois State at Koch Arena.
“Someone had to step up,” said Turner, who moved back down to the post due to the injuries and scored a season-high 22 points in beating SIU. “I think everyone on this team is willing to do whatever the team needs and that game the team needed me in the post, so that’s what I’m going to do.”
Coach Jody Adams expects the Shockers to be close to full strength against the Redbirds. She said Gordon, who has missed the last four games with an undisclosed injury, and Jacobs, who sprained an ankle on the road swing last week, will be available this weekend. Decker’s return remains uncertain.
Illinois State ended WSU’s school-best start in the Valley last season, when the Shockers also began MVC play 7-0.
WSU players still recall how that game was the start of the team’s demise last season, as it could not sustain a two-game conference lead in the second round of MVC games.
“I feel like we’re in a much better place leadership-wise and mentality-wise,” senior Jessica Diamond said. “I think last year we were a little under-prepared for what they threw at us. This year we’ve faced every kind of defense. We’ve run all of our different offenses and I think we’re prepared for anything.”
Adams doesn’t have to bring it up to her team — she can tell they remember the pain from last season. A win on Friday would not erase that, but it certainly would begin to erase doubts the Shockers struggle to finish in February and March.
“They’re bound and determined and they don’t want to repeat last year,” Adams said.
Turner added: “We know what can happen. We know we can easily lose and be in the same spot. But we just want to win on Friday. We’re not concerned about being undefeated. We’re just worried about winning on Friday.”