On the first day of practice for the Wichita State women’s basketball team on Wednesday at Koch Arena, it was difficult for coach Keitha Adams to show her 10 newcomers an example of what she wanted.
That’s because the Shockers only return two players, seniors Sabrina Lozada-Cabbage and Cesaria Ambrosio, who have significant experience and with Ambrosio sidelined because of a back injury, Adams had just one returner at her disposal on Tuesday.
“I don’t have five players to throw out there and say, ‘Everybody watch this,’” Adams said. “It’s completely new learning for the whole group. We’re in full-throttle teaching mode.”
Adams made a strong impression in her first season coaching WSU, taking a roster she didn’t recruit that was projected at the bottom of the American Athletic Conference standings to a 14-17 record, which included separate four-game winning streaks in AAC play and a win over No. 23-ranked South Florida at home.
Now the majority of the roster has been hand-picked by Adams with the trade-off being nearly a complete reset. Only 28 percent of the minutes from last season return with 10 of 15 scholarship players new to the program, not counting Raven Prince, Alyssia Faye and Asia Henderson, none of whom played much (or at all) last season.
Adams has 42 days — or 30 practices — to prepare for the season opener on Nov. 7 against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The Shockers will debut with an intrasquad scrimmage open to the public next Saturday and play an exhibition game on Nov. 1.
“These guys are going to be the foundation,” Adams said. “We’re in rebuilding mode. I bet we’re one of the youngest teams in the country.
“Right now I don’t think we’re very comfortable on the court. We’re very quiet. That happens when you’re thinking a lot and you’re learning. When you know something, you’re able to articulate and communicate and you don’t have to think about it. So we just have to get there through a lot of reps.”
For now, the team will rely on the seniors. Lozada-Cabbage (7.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 1.2 blocks) and Ambrosio (4.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists) combined for 50 starts last season.
But there have been some newcomers who have impressed Adams early.
Adams singled out four freshman: Carla Bremaud, a 5-foot-11 guard from France, Jada Peacock, a 5-8 point guard, Jaida Hampton, a 5-10 guard, and Trajata Colbert, a 6-2 post.
“Jaida Hampton has showed some things offensively that I’ve been very pleased with,” Adams said. “Jada Peacock, in terms of her motor. She’s been going really hard and is being vocal. Trajata in the post has been one of our most physical newcomers.
“Carla is a really good competitor and we’re going to need for her to look to score for us. She’s a really good shooter with a good basketball IQ.”