The seed is much lower and the record much different, but the Wichita State women’s basketball team still has the attention of every team in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament this week.
That’s the respect earned by winning three straight conference tournament championships, even though the Shockers will be the eighth seed and play Bradley on Thursday at 4 p.m. at the iWireless Center in Moline, Ill. after completing an 8-21 regular season
Even Bradley coach Michael Brooks, whose team swept the season series against Wichita State, is concerned about the Shockers finding a spark again in the postseason.
“I think everyone knows Wichita State has been a magical team in this tournament,” Brooks said. “We’re going to have to do some outstanding things to be able to beat them a third time.”
And it’s true Wichita State will play up its past success, even though only three of the players on this year’s team were a part of the three-peat. But that inspires confidence, WSU coach Jody Adams said, and that’s exactly what she’ll try to give her young team before Thursday.
“I think with past success, everyone knows it’s there,” Adams said. “Whether you’ve been a part of it or not, those banners are still hanging from the rafters in the arena. Nobody remembers who was on that team. It’s the fact that you’re wearing Wichita State across the chest that you’re associated with that success.”
Jaleesa Chapel, the closest thing to a veteran on this team, has told the newcomers what it was like to win a championship. But even she played a minimal role off the bench as the team’s shot of defensive energy.
Now all of the returners’ roles have drastically increased and Wichita State is still working through the struggles of the maturation process. But Chapel still believes there’s enough punch on this team to do something special.
“We’ve always been a dangerous team, it’s just up to us to show that,” Chapel said. “We have the athleticism and we have the talent, it’s just up to us to put it all together and show everybody that we can shock the world.”
And as far as the 21 losses, the most by any Adams team in her eight years?
“It’s a new season,” Adams said. “It’s March Madness and we’re really excited about that. Right now everyone is 0-0.”
BRADLEY VS. WSU WOMEN
When: 4 p.m. Thursday
Where: iWireless Arena, Moline, Ill.
Records: BU 8-21, 4-14 MVC; WSU 8-21, 5-13