K-State's women have been waiting a while to face another
team, though not as long as most considering their four-game
Europe tour this summer.
Even with the extra work,
K-State continues to face the challenge of figuring out how to
replace two All-Big 12 players in Kindred Wesemann and Breanna
Lewis, both in terms of leadership and production. The
Wildcats look to do so by committee, with seven newcomers and
five returners on the roster.
"It's a new group,"
fourth-year head coach Jeff Mittie said, "and that's been both
challenging and fun to see how the pieces fit
Offensively, the Wildcats expect to be more
balanced than a year ago. Senior Shaelyn Martin said this does
not mean points will be easier or harder to come by,
"It's just different. Our style is going to
have to be a little bit different," she said. "Lew was our
go-to, get it in the paint, and now we're a little more guard
heavy in that situation with returners, but I'd say it's more
different, not necessarily more difficult or easier. It's just
making a transition to what kind of players we have
Mittie said the Wildcats' two freshmen forwards,
Mary Lakes and Ashley Ray, are ahead of the curve physically
but it would be unrealistic to ask them to reproduce Lewis'
shot blocking numbers, which shattered K-State records. Still,
he's eager to see how they develop in other important
"Lateral movement, timing, discipline, angles,
those will all be a factor for them," he said, as his team
comes off its second-straight NCAA Tournament appearance. "I'm
curious to see how quickly they can grow in that because it's
a big part of our defense."
So far, senior Kaylee Page
said she's been impressed with how quickly the Wildcats' five
freshmen have advanced.
"Ashley Ray is so fun. She
loves to bang in the post and it's so fun watching posts who
love to bang because you can teach them to rein it in just a
tad, but it's hard to teach them to go that hard," Page said
of the 6-foot-4 Girard native. "On the guard side, between
Alisa (Wiggins), Cymone (Goodrich) and Rachel (Ranke), they've
come so far since June. It is so fun to watch them use the
things that we work on in drill work and put them into play.
It's just been so fun to watch all of them grow up."
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