Wichita State Shockers

LSU kicks off tough stretch for Shockers

It didn't take long for the difficulty level of Wichita State's schedule to ratchet up a notch.

The women's basketball team will play host to No. 21 Louisiana State tonight at Koch Arena, just two days after coasting to a season-opening 77-49 victory over Northwestern State.

The week doesn't get any easier after this, either. The Shockers go on the road to Arizona and at UC-Davis to round off three of the toughest opponents they will see all season.

That makes film this week for a team that features six first-year players and two more coming off injuries even more important.

"You have to learn now at a different pace," WSU coach Jody Adams said. "You have to be able to put what you learn in practice into play. Then after that, it's pretty mental for us. We have a week packed full of games and some unbelievable competition coming up."

The toughest figures to be LSU. The Tigers return 6-foot-2 senior LaSondra Barrett, who averaged 12 points and six rebounds last season. Barrett's name can be found on nearly every preseason national player of the year watch list.

Junior Jazimen Gordon should get the first crack at guarding Barrett, but the Shockers will likely make it a group effort to limit her effectiveness in the middle.

Team defense has been something Adams has preached about early this season.

"Everybody has a role on this team," said starting point guard Krystle Henderson. "If we get in and do our role, then we'll be a championship team for sure. We just have to buy into it."

The matchup was brought together by Adams and first-year LSU coach Nikki Caldwell, who backed up Adams on the 1991 national championship team at Tennessee.

WSU has a rare advantage in experience. Only three players for LSU have started games, while the Shockers return five.

But the key to success might not even be found in the starting lineup. In WSU's season-opening win, Adams was most pleased with junior Jessica Diamond proving a spark off the bench with 17 points and five assists.

"I think she had a great flow with her teammates," Adams said. "That's really important for your point guard to have that chemistry with the right and left wings. She had a good tempo and connection with them and we need that."