It seems almost a lock that Wichita State will improve upon last season’s 8-22 record, which included a 5-13 mark in the Missouri Valley Conference. The degree of improvement, however, will hinge upon several factors.
The first, and perhaps most important, is the Shockers’ shooting. They shot 38.5 percent last season and made 28 percent of their three-pointers, the biggest reason WSU struggled to reach 50 points in many games.
WSU added Butler Community College product Tamara Lee to provide outside shooting, and guards TaQuandra Mike and Diamond Lockhart, who combined to make 66 of 230 threes, have growth potential.
The Shockers’ new dribble-drive offense is designed to provide high-percentage shots by getting guards into the lane and allowing them to make decisions. Rangie Bessard, last year’s Valley Newcomer of the Year, teams with junior-college All-American Angiee Tompkins to give WSU a pair of rebounders who are also versatile scorers.
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WSU had six players for a pair of November games last year but will deploy 16 in coach Jody Adams-Birch’s ninth season, so the Shockers can play a faster pace without worrying about fatigue. Adams-Birch described last year’s team as young and inexperienced, but now the Shockers have five seniors and seven juniors.
With all 11 players returning and five junior-college signees, WSU has 15 players who have played college basketball. Kayla Williams is the only freshman, and she fits into the scheme because, at 6-foot-1, she has a strong perimeter game while being capable of guarding the post.
A guard rotation that includes Lee, Lockhart, Mike, transfer Keke Thompson and four-year player Jaleesa Chapel could prove to be a strength after WSU averaged nine assists last season.