Regardless of the outcome of Saturday’s season opener for the Wichita State women’s basketball team, coach Jody Adams knows the game has improved her team.
Knowing they will open the season against a quality opponent – former Missouri Valley Conference rival Creighton – along with the senior class possessing lingering memories from prior battles, the players have been forced to practice with another level of intensity since its exhibition dismantling of Newman University on Nov. 2.
“I think everything is heightened to another level,” Adams said. “There is already a sense of urgency and wanting to do things at a certain level already. We’re asking them to do things at a level that we’re usually asking them to do in February, and here it is only November. It’s just a different place for this program to be.”
That was the intended effect when Adams scheduled Creighton, along with Kansas State, Tennessee, and the competitive Paradise Jam tournament. She wanted the Shockers to be forced to play at a higher level than any previous non-conference schedule.
The Valley offers its own challenges, but few overlap with what WSU has seen in the NCAA Tournament the last two seasons. So Adams wants to put WSU in uncomfortable situations. She wants to test a roster with half of its players essentially inexperienced.
“Our players have never been challenged in this way before,” Adams said. “They haven’t been coached this way this early in the season before, but they understand how important preparation is. They feel a sense of urgency to do things right.”
With four starters back, along with super sub Alie Decker, the veterans have recognized what Adams is trying to do and have risen to the occasion. They feel how important these November games are, and know how crucial it is for this team to put forth a good effort against a team like Creighton.
“There are no warm-up practices,” senior Alex Harden said. “We’ve been practicing like it’s March.”
Adams is 4-9 against Creighton, although the Shockers did win four of their last seven games against the Bluejays. The players have hinted that a rivalry may still exist, but Adams thought “rivalry” was the wrong term.
“I would say it’s more about respect,” Adams said. “Obviously the players still remember each other, but it’s two very different programs with two very different styles of play. It’s basically two philosophies going head-to-head. It will be their philosophy against our philosophy and whoever does theirs the best for 40 minutes will win.”
Creighton at WSU women
When: 2:05 p.m. Saturday
Where: Koch Arena
Records: CU 0-0, WSU 0-0
TV: Cox 22