In a season that began with improved depth, Wichita State’s women’s basketball team is quickly finding its mainstays.
The plural form of that word may not be completely appropriate. Because of injuries, ineffectiveness and missed practices, junior guard Diamond Lockhart is the only WSU player to start and play at least 18 minutes in all six games.
That reflects on the unrest surrounding Lockhart, but it also speaks to her reliability. She started when the Shockers began the season with a three-guard lineup and has remained while they aim for the most effective combinations.
“Last year I was running the point-guard spot, and just taking on that leadership role and continuing to be the best teammate I can be,” Lockhart said. “And just trying to be an extension of the coach (Jody Adams-Birch), that means a lot to me.”
When Lockhart became last year following her transfer from Texas Tech, she was the point guard for a team that was down to six healthy players about two weeks into the season.
This year, the Shockers started with 16 players but have seen that whittle from game to game. WSU won its last game, an 87-73 victory over Northeastern, without leading scorer Rangie Bessard, who sat out with an injury. WSU said Bessard will miss Friday’s game.
As Adams-Birch has tinkered with the lineup, Lockhart has stayed in because of her versatility. She starts at shooting guard but can spell Keke Thompson, who also has started every game, at point guard.
In preparation for a position switch, Lockhart worked this offseason on her shot. Last year she shot 33 percent and 23 percent from three-point range but has improved those figures to 45 percent and 33 percent.
Lockart, who is 5-foot-5, spends time after practices and during game warmups sharpening her perimeter shot.
“That was one thing I focused on,” Lockhart said. “Just being ready, because we have a very aggressive guard core group, and I think we’re able to make the defense help. So just being ready for kick-outs and spot-up shots and stuff like that, that was a focus of mine.”
Lockhart may be a key to the Shockers sorting out their guards rotation. She and Thompson, a junior point guard, appear to be in current and future plans. TaQuandra Mike recently fell out of the starting lineup and Tamara Lee has picked up more minutes lately.
Aundra Stovall, who averages 16.8 minutes, is another piece that makes for a crowded backcourt and the likelihood that the situation remains fluid.
“It’s more of the consistency,” Lockhart said. “It all starts in practice, being consistent day in and day out, and I think that’s what coach Jody is looking for. Who’s going to show up every day and who’s going to give the same effort every day – I think just figuring that out, then we’ll be good.”
Arkansas State at WSU women
- When: Noon Friday
- Where: Koch Arena
- Records: ASU 0-5, WSU 2-4