Wichita State Shockers

Here are the three lofty goals Keitha Adams has for WSU women's basketball

New Wichita State women’s basketball coach Keitha Adams added five players to a roster that included nine returners.
New Wichita State women’s basketball coach Keitha Adams added five players to a roster that included nine returners. The Wichita Eagle

Becoming a Top 25 team, selling out 10,506-seat Koch Arena and returning to the NCAA Tournament are the visions Keitha Adams has for the Wichita State women's basketball program.

Those are significant considering the Shockers have never been ranked in an Associated Press poll, have never sold out Koch Arena and have gone a combined 37-55 in the three seasons since their three straight (and only) appearances in the NCAA Tournament.

But Adams, entering her second year as WSU's coach, believes the move to the American Athletic Conference allows for those possibilities to become realities.

"It's going to take us some time to build this thing," Adams said. "It's going to take a lot of work and getting people bought in, and then we've got to put a product on the floor that's going to get people fired up about us. But I believe it's all possible and that's why I'm working my tail off every day to get it done."

To Adams' credit, she has worked wonders before with a struggling program.

When she arrived at Texas-El Paso in 2001, that program had a total of five winning seasons in its 25 seasons and never more than 18 wins. For the next 16 years, Adams guided UTEP to a 284-209 record, two NCAA Tournament appearances, three conference titles, and six 20-win seasons.

Oh, and she sold out UTEP's 12,222-seat arena. Twice.

"I truly believe we can do that here with the great fans at Wichita State," Adams said.

Competing against Connecticut in the AAC has made it clear (the Huskies won 124-43 in last season's meeting) the Shockers need to retool their roster. UConn has elite size, smarts and skill, elements Adams wants to replicate to some degree at WSU.

But to achieve her goals, Adams knows she has to bring a certain type of athlete to WSU.

"I'm looking for players that are really passionate about the game and extremely competitive," Adams said. "We're looking for ladies that have that extra edge to them that are super competitive. I want girls like that on my side."

Adams believes she has started the process with her first recruiting class, which will make up the majority of this season's roster. Sabrina Lozada-Cabbage and Cesaria Ambrosio are the only two seniors on the team and the only players with Division I starting experience.

Jaida Hampton, a 5-foot-11 wing, might be the gem of the class for Adams. Hampton, from East Lansing, Mich., was named Michigan's Miss Basketball for 2018. Another coup might be 5-7 guard Dawnyel Lair, who was widely recognized as the best player in the Los Angeles city league. Carla Bremaud, a 5-11 guard from France, and Shyia Smith, a 6-0 forward, are also believed to be instant impact players.

"This is the beginning of pouring a foundation of my stint here," Adams said. "We're basically starting over here. We're going to be a bunch of diaper dandies this season, but they're going to be young and exciting. It's going to be a rollercoaster, but I'm excited for the ride because you're going to see great players flourish."

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