It’s going to be difficult for the Wichita State women’s basketball staff to relate to the new emphasized foul calls on the defensive end.
Coach Jody Adams and assistant Bridgette Gordon, both successful players at the University of Tennessee in the late 1980s and early ’90s, played in an era where a stiff-arm to the back was normal.
The NCAA announced changes in the offseason to encourage more offense, effectively banning defenders from hand-checking, placing two hands on the offensive player, and using an arm bar.
“If you ask Bridgette and I, that’s now how it was played a long time ago,” Adams said. “But that’s where these guys should have a lot of confidence. We’re athletic. We can get to the rim. We have great shooters. When the defense gets up in us, we just have to put the ball down against them because you’re going to get the call.”
Adams turned Wichita State into a defensive terror on the foundation of its defenders playing physically. The Shockers were never afraid of the fight for position in the low blocks or forcing perimeter players off their routes with a bump.
Now all of those qualities will be stripped, or at least diminished. While the physicality may be toned down, Adams is still planning on WSU playing with the same enthusiasm on the defensive end.
The Shockers know they must change, beginning this afternoon as they open their season against Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne at Koch Arena in the Preseason WNIT.
“We’re used to our defense being intense, getting into the body and not letting them go where they want to go,” sophomore forward Michaela Dapprich said. “Now we have to back down a little bit. We have to use more of our feet than our hands on defense.”
It remains to be seen how much the new emphasis on the foul calls will affect Wichita State, but the coaches are doing everything they can in practice to prepare the players.
“The coaches are calling everything in practice,” junior Alex Harden said. “They’re making sure we keep our hands off. We get one touch and that’s it for the rest of the play on defense.”
There is a positive, that is if WSU makes it one when it has the ball.
Offense has never flowed regularly under Adams, as her teams typically grind out points from its defense and rebounding. But now with the rules encouraging aggressive drives, WSU suddenly has an advantage with athletic wings Harden and Jamillah Bonner capable of attacking the basket and either scoring or drawing fouls.
“They’re protecting the person with the ball in their hands, so we’ve got to attack the rim,” Adams said.
While it may change how the Shockers play their defense, Adams and Co. think company believe the rule changes are actually a positive for the team moving forward.
“We’re definitely going to be driving in more and not shooting as many outside shots as we have been,” Dapprich said. “I think that will be to our advantage.”