Now the importance of leadership is apparent to the Wichita State women’s basketball team.
In the practices since letting a 16-point second-half lead slip away in an overtime loss to Saint Joseph’s last Friday, coach Jody Adams has made sure to drill the concept home.
The team is still without an ideal leader. Alex Harden is the most talented, but still battles bouts of passiveness. Michelle Price is the team’s elder, but has never had to be the only leader. Jamillah Bonner is the most vocal, but lacks Division I experience.
It’s a quandary, but one that Adams thinks can be solved.
“They haven’t had to lead before,” Adams said. “They’re still working on their leadership style and they’re beginning to find out what works and what doesn’t work with this group.”
Another adverse situation comes Wednesday evening at Bramlage Coliseum, where Wichita State (1-2) will take on Kansas State (2-1). Since renewing the rivalry in 2011, Wichita State has lost both games.
Both teams are coming off shocking losses. WSU was stunned by a comeback by Saint Joseph’s in an 81-73 loss, while K-State will be looking to rid itself of the memories of an 84-39 loss to UTEP in El Paso.
Wednesday’s winner will be the more desperate team to turn things around.
“They had a sense of urgency about them,” Adams said of her group since the loss. “They’ve been encouraging the freshman a lot, and they’ve been able to put in the extra time and extra work. The more reps they get in practice, the better they will be.”
Harden, whose turnover with eight seconds left in regulation led directly to Saint Joseph’s overtime-forcing layup, has taken responsibility and responded well in practices since.
It was no question what the team had to improve on after the game.
“We were lacking toughness,” Harden said.
But on the court, Wichita State will have to improve taking care of the ball against a press. Against Saint Joseph’s, WSU turned the ball over five times in the final five minutes against a full-court press.
That must improve for WSU to navigate through a difficult non-conference schedule.
“Transition is the name of the game for us,” WSU junior Valerierose Agnello said. “When we’re not doing that, it slows us down. We need to take care of the ball and make sure we stay composed when teams put on a press like that.”