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TODAY'S SPORTS EXTRA

K-State WBB Veterans Start Off Well in New Roles

November 13, 2017
By Corbin McGuire


Shaelyn Martin took charges. Kaylee Page knocked down threes. Kayla Goth slashed to the paint.

The veterans for the K-State women's basketball team brought plenty of the old to their 74-49 season-opening win against Stephen F. Austin on Friday. But they also mixed in some new, too.

With K-State looking to replace its top-two scorers from last year, Page has been asked to shoot the ball more. Usually, more than once a day. The 6-foot-4 senior started the season by firing off 13 shots to tie her career high. She made seven of them, including going 4-of-9 from beyond the arc to register a team-high 18 points.

"We're always telling her to shoot," K-State head coach Jeff Mittie said. "We do want her to be aggressive because of the amount of scoring that we lost from a year ago."

Page showed this new aggressiveness in the third quarter of Friday's win. The Wamego native hit three treys and scored 11 points in the period to help K-State pull away from Stephen F. Austin, which finished last season 25-8.

While Page said she's trying to "let the offense come," she knows from the daily reminders that this mindset means something different now.

"Coach Mittie told me if they have their feet inside the 3-point line, then I need to shoot the ball. So I've been trying to live and die by that rule. I still get yelled at in practice because sometimes I still don't do that," Page said, laughing. "But I'm just trying to be a leader out on the court and help the offense flow, get everyone involved and just be whatever we need."

 

Her last three words — whatever we need — might sum up the Wildcats' greatest strength at the moment.

With various injuries throughout the summer and early fall, including one to senior point guard Karyla Middlebrook, roles have been fluid for the Wildcats thus far.

Goth, a junior who played at the two last season, has moved to the point this season with Middlebrook out. Martin will also step into the position from time to time. Multiple Wildcat freshmen have been thrust into a sizable role by necessity.

For the most part, the results have been positive.

"Our group has just taken whatever we go into the game and say, 'This is what we need to do and this is your role,' and I think they're trying to do it to the best of their ability," Mittie said, specifically referencing the Wildcats' second half against Stephen F. Austin, which was outscored 37-21 after halftime. "I was more pleased with just team dynamics of just doing whatever it takes to be successful in the second half. I think as we get healthier and as we gain more experience, we'll be able to hopefully define these roles and hopefully expand them some."

This role expansion has already started with K-State's three upperclassmen, who combined for 38 points, 17 rebounds, 14 assists and seven steals in the season opener.

"We do have to develop scorers," Mittie said. "But we need the Kaylee Pages, the Kayla Goths, the Shae Martins, the veterans, to really be aggressive because the freshmen have some scoring ability but they're going to go through the hills and valleys at times, and I trust our veterans to take good shots in those moments."

Along with increased offensive responsibilities, K-State's veterans have still brought the ability to impact the game in every other facet.

Martin, who sat out K-State's exhibition schedule with an injury, energized the team against Stephen F. Austin by drawing a pair of charges in the first half, moving her career total to 68. The senior also scored nine points on one field goal attempt, hitting 7-of-8 from the free throw line, while collecting a team-high six assists and four steals.

"It was a great feeling to get back on the floor with my teammates," Martin said. "I'm going to do anything I can do to raise the energy on the floor."

"Her taking the charges is such an uplift. It really gets us going," Page said of Martin. "Her getting to the middle of the floor and just getting to the free throw line, they're daggers to the other team."

Goth filled the stat line as well. The junior went 4-of-5 from the floor for 11 points, also notching five rebounds, four assists and two steals. Then there was Page, who took a step forward in her comfort to be a go-to option on offense.

All of it added up to a decisive victory.

"It feels good and it's obviously good for everyone's confidence. It was really fun to get out on the floor and play a real game," Page said, as K-State hosts Omaha on Monday at 7 p.m. "I'm excited for the next one."

 

 

We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact Corbin McGuire, or K-State Associate AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.

   

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