Alie Decker came to Wichita State to be a zone-busting, dead-eye sharpshooter. The basketball nation noticed last week.
After making 18 three-pointers and averaging 20.7 points in three games last week, including a school-record nine against Winthrop, Decker was named the national player of the week by the United States Basketball Writers Association.
Decker has been WSU’s best shooter for three seasons, but has never erupted like this before. She has worked meticulously in the offseason to improve her footwork, stroke, and follow-through. She has shot thousands of jumpers for two straight summers in preparation for this season.
“I think it’s been over a period of time for this to happen,” WSU coach Jody Adams said. “About a year and a half of really wanting to be the very best shooter in the Missouri Valley. She’s put in a lot of hard work and she’s studied her craft, so it doesn’t surprise me.”
Decker has never taken credit for her performances, always redirecting the credit to the teammate setting the screen and the other teammate for finding her with a pass.
That hasn’t changed entering Wichita State’s final non-conference test on Sunday afternoon against Sam Houston State (1-8), a team with an RPI over 300 and a 17-point loss to an NAIA team on its record.
“I don’t want to jinx it,” Decker said of her hot stretch. “My teammates have set me up for some great passes. I know I wouldn’t be able to shoot the ball without them. They’ve done a great job of penetrating and kicking, going inside-out.”
Decker isn’t quite a full-fledged set shooter, but she’s close to it. She has shown the ability from time to time to score off the dribble, but there is no doubt she is most effective on catch-and-shoot opportunities along the perimeter.
Adams has adapted the offense to incorporate more of this, running Decker off a multitude of screens against man-to-man defense and sticking her in the corner and along the wings against a zone, looking for a kick-out.
In fact, of the 18 three-pointers she made last week, only two of them came without an assist. The kick-out shot against zones has been where Decker has thrived, evident by 11 of those 16 assists coming from either Kelsey Jacobs or Michaela Dapprich, who are the posts passing out of the middle of zones.
“That’s just my role,” Decker said. “I will be there when they need a kick-out or if my defense helps in. I’ll be there. It’s just my role.”
When Decker is making shots from the perimeter, Wichita State’s offense flourishes. It makes Decker’s defender that much more reluctant to help off when Alex Harden and Jamillah Bonner are pentrating.
With Missouri Valley play beginning in less than a week, Wichita State’s offense is starting to take shape.
“It stretches things out and opens up a lot of different seams and looks for our offense,” Adams said. “I know it brings a lot of confidence to our team on the offensive end when Alie is shooting the ball that well. It’s big when your shooters are knocking down shots.”
SAM HOUSTON STATE AT WSU WOMEN
When: 2:05 p.m.
Where: Koch Arena
Records: SHS 1-8, WSU 9-3