Which Wichita State women’s basketball team will show up in St. Charles, Mo. this week for the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament?
The No. 2 seed that awaits the winner of Missouri State and Southern Illinois for Friday’s quarterfinal, WSU enters as a true enigma.
February proved that Wichita State is vulnerable, as it lost four of five games, including on the road to SIU, one of the lowest-rated teams in the country.
But then the Shockers closed with a 37-point victory over Missouri State, bringing back memories of the team that has defeated every team in the conference by double-digits this season.
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“I think there is some doubt around us now,” WSU sophomore Michaela Dapprich said. “I don’t think they’re going to expect us to come out the way we’re going to.”
During the program-best 20-game winning streak, WSU coach Jody Adams was confident that matchups weren’t going to decide the outcome of the game. Every game will come down to the Shockers deciding if they’re going to play the defense that Adams requires.
“It’s the details of your system and the details of ‘Point A’ and ‘Point B’ meeting,” Adams said.
So while zone defenses employed by other contenders such as Indiana State and Northern Iowa gave the Shockers fits the second time around, Adams would point out that WSU’s defense did not perform the way it needed to in the losses.
Every time WSU’s defense generated at least 20 points off turnovers, it not only won but often in dominant fashion.
“We know what can happen when we played them in the first round,” WSU junior Alex Harden said. “We know what happens when we play hard and fly around and work for each other. There’s not a team that can stop us.”
The players are confident they rediscovered the formula that sent them on the long winning streak in the final week of the regular season. They said the week off before the Missouri State game to rest and refocus was just as important as the 93-56 victory.
And now the returners, such as Harden and Dapprich who played their best basketball last season in St. Charles, are trying to communicate to the team’s seven first-year players just what the postseason is like.
“This is what you dream about,” Harden said. “It’s a lot of hard things you got to do to get there, but this is it. You always dream about going to the NCAAs.”
After persevering through the grind for an entire season, Wichita State is ready for its reward.
But there are nine other teams in the league that sniffed weakness from WSU at the end of the season. Teams are no longer intimidated.
Wichita State is welcoming all challengers.
“That’s why they call it the madness,” WSU senior Michelle Price said. “We’re ready for madness.”
Harden gets defensive honor — Harden was chosen MVC defensive player of the year for the second consecutive season. She’s the third player in Valley history to win the award in abck-to-back years.