The Wichita State women’s basketball team just wrapped up the most demanding non-conference slate in the Jody Adams era, but the schedule doesn’t drop off with Indiana State coming to Koch Arena to open Missouri Valley play on Friday night.
WSU (9-3) has navigated a challenging schedule to this point, but so has Indiana State (10-1). In fact, the Sycamores own a win over a ranked team and are rated 28th overall in the latest RPI report, 17 spots ahead of the Shockers.
Indiana State has proven itself a top challenger as Wichita State chases its third consecutive Missouri Valley championship. Friday will give an early advantage for the winner.
“I’m sure (Friday) is going to be a battle,” WSU coach Jody Adams said. “Indiana State is a very good team. They have great depth and they play a certain style of defense. They play hard.”
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Adams was extremely complimentary of her team while reviewing the past two months, which included victories over teams from the Big East (Creighton), Big Ten (Ohio State), ACC (Clemson), and Big 12 (Kansas State).
“I really am proud of how we competed,” Adams said. “Coming to play on a different stage this early in the season, they did that. With all of the things you grade your team on, the multiple defensive packages we implemented, the adjustments offensively, I give this team an ‘A.’”
Defense is sure to be prominent Friday, as ISU and WSU enter as clearly the two best defensive teams in the Valley. Wichita State’s defense allows 0.813 points per possession, while ISU’s allows 0.784. Each force turnovers on 30 percent of possessions.
Rebounding has been a problem for WSU — which might have been expected after the graduation of Michelle Price. WSU has grabbed 60.3 percent of possible defensive rebounds, a number that usually fluctuates around 70 percent for good teams.
“I think statistically, yes, we can do a better job of rebounding,” Adams said. “It’s something we need as we continue throughout the season. As you go on, you need those great stops and extra possessions because everybody knows you and they’ve seen you multiple times.”
Alex Harden — who is healthy after missing the non-conference finale due to illness — leads the team in defensive rebounds as a guard. The team’s two posts, Michaela Dapprich and Kelsey Jacobs, combine to average only 7.4 defensive rebounds.
But a more troubling number is the production from the bench, which is grabbing 3.9 of the team’s average of 20.6 defensive rebounds. That’s a number that Adams will keep an eye on, starting Friday against Indiana State.
“There are certain people we expect more from and that’s our reinforcement group coming off the bench,” Adams said. “We need to get more rebounds from them on both sides of the ball.”
Indiana State women
at Wichita State
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Koch Arena
Records: ISU 10-1, 0-0 MVC; WSU 9-3, 0-0