Kansas State University

K-State women looking for a bounce-back year

KANSAS CITY, Mo. —After eight straight trips to the postseason, the Kansas State women's basketball team spent late March at home last season.

The experience was tough on everyone involved.

"No one wants to experience that again," said Wildcats junior forward Jalana Childs. "That was depressing to say the least."

So as K-State coach Deb Patterson and selected players discussed expectations for the upcoming season at Big 12 Media Days on Wednesday at the Sprint Center, their top goal came as little surprise.

"With this team this year," Patterson said, "what we're looking at is trying to put the pieces together and finding a way back to postseason play. That is a tangible goal, something that every day we take the practice floor we're very, very convicted toward."

The losses of Ashley Sweat and Kari Kincaid from last season's team that went 14-18 overall and 5-11 in Big 12 play will be difficult to overcome, but with three starters returning the Wildcats are optimistic they can surprise a few people this season.

K-State was picked to finish ninth in the conference's preseason poll, but that means little to current players. Sophomore point guard Brittany Chambers, who averaged 12.1 points and 5.8 rebounds last season, has taken on leadership responsibilities and is ready to spread the ball around.

"We've got, I think, one of the best young point guards in the league," Patterson said. "And that definitely excites me. We've had some great point guards at Kansas State, and I think she lines up with the very best we've ever had. And so it's neat to think about starting a season with her at the helm."

Her main job will be to push the tempo. Unlike last year's squad, which relied heavily on three-point shots, this group hopes to find points in the open court with athleticism and in the paint with power.

Childs, who Patterson calls "one of the great breakout players in the league," will be relied upon to deliver scoring inside. So will fellow juniors Branshea Brown and Alina Voronenko.

"They bring something to the court, which is nice," Chambers said. "They can take it in and they're smooth on all ranges. Getting more balls to them will open up our shooters a lot more."

Patterson understands she is asking her players to change this season, but she thinks they can handle whatever new responsibilities are given to them.

She has seen them work hard in the offseason, and likes the way they are practicing together. She believes they are displaying an improved demeanor and are acting more mature.

Both traits will help in their pursuit of the postseason.

"Every player has just stepped up that much more," Chambers said. "We're expecting a lot this year."