Just two minutes into the second exhibition game of the season for the Wichita State women’s basketball team and Michaela Dapprich was already on the receiving end of a Jody Adams’ look of dismay.
Dapprich has been forced into a leadership role as one of five returners from last season’s NCAA Tournament team. But when she started off the game firing two jumpers instead of working from the post, as Adams instructed, she showed just how young this team is — even the leaders are still learning.
But there’s no denying the Shockers have a deep pool of talent, which was showcased fully on Sunday afternoon at Koch Arena in their 89-51 victory over Southwest Baptist, an NCAA Division II program.
Dapprich recovered from her early miscues to return to the game and display the shooting touch that figures to make her one of WSU’s top scorers. The sophomore scored 12 of her game-high 22 points in the final 5:33 of the first half, and completed a double-double with her 10 rebounds.
“I’ve got to give thanks to my teammates and my coach for getting onto me and giving me that wake-up call,” Dapprich said.
“It’s about time,” Adams said with a grin, referencing Dapprich’s scoring spree.
It actually took WSU 15 minutes to shake off Southwest Baptist, as it started the game missing 20 of its first 29 shots. The Shockers, spurred on by Dapprich, made eight of their final nine shots during a 23-8 run in the final six minutes of the half to break open the game.
After the poor opening to the game, Wichita State thrived on offense from its aggressiveness attacking not only the basket but also the boards. WSU finished with 19 offensive rebounds, which played a part in providing its offense with 22 more shots than Southwest Baptist.
Michelle Price, Jamillah Bonner, and Jaleesa Chapel were particularly effective tracking down offensive rebounds, combining for 11 of them.
“It’s going to matter big time down the line,” Adams said, “especially if we’re not shooting well at the time.”
The five returners were all solid, but these two exhibition games centered around transitioning the seven first-year players into WSU’s system.
While no one outside of Bonner made much of an impact on the box score, Adams and the returners were pleased with the progress made during the week and in Sunday’s game from the newcomers.
“We’re starting to develop team chemistry and starting to communicate more and that’s leading to all the steals and all the activeness we have on defense,” said Price, the team’s lone senior. “The more reps they get, the more comfortable they are out there.”
Chapel has impressed Adams with her start to the season and earned the start, logging 22 minutes and adding two points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals. She played the most of the five freshmen.
The two junior-college transfers, Bonner and Valerierose Agnello, are also expected to be fixtures in the team’s rotation — at least to begin the season.
“I think they’re coming along,” Adams said. “We’re trying to keep the game simple. The great thing about this group is they’re coachable. They want to please you. They want to please these upperclassmen.”
And sometimes the returners are right there with them. It makes for a challenging situation for someone like Dapprich.
But when she is shooting like she did on Sunday, making 4 of 6 three-pointers, Dapprich is a player everyone can follow.
“It makes it easy for us,” junior Alex Harden said. “There’s no rebounding. We just get back on defense.”
Halftime—WSU 42, SW Baptist 25. Three-point shooting—SW Baptist 4-13 (Duncan 3-5, Spani 1-4, Johnson 0-1, Palsencia 0-1, Botkin 0-2), WSU 8-13 (Mi. Dapprich 4-6, Mo. Dapprich 2-3, Preston 1-1, Decker 1-2, Chapel 0-1). Rebounds—SW Baptist 33 (Zelenka, Botkin 5), WSU 45 (Mi. Dapprich 10). Assists—SW Baptist 12 (Johnson, Zelenka 3), WSU 15 (Harden 4). Fouls—SW Baptist 22, WSU 22. A—1,387.