By Mark Janssen
Playing two seniors in Ashley Sweat and Kari Kincaid, plus a cast of youngins' a year ago, K-State's women's basketball team finished 14-18 on the season, which included a 5-11 record in the Big 12.
This year's Wildcat lineup very likely will include a pair of juniors, plus three sophomores, with a bench that is equally young.
"We'll be young again, but I think we have a chance to be more athletic," said Patterson, who greets the Big 12 Conference media today in Kansas City.
With more potential athleticism being the plus to the team, Patterson says, "The concern is finding a way to score the ball. We just must find ways for our young players to step up and learn to be finishers and scorers. Putting the ball in the basket against great defenders will be the challenge for this team."
Seniors Sweat (16.1) and Kincaid (8.8) ranked first and fourth, respectively, in scoring last year, accounting for 24.9 of KSU's 61.6 points per game.
The leading returning scorers are backcourt mates Brittany Chambers (12.1) and Taelor Karr (9.1), who ranked second and third in scoring last year while playing 30-plus minutes per game as true freshmen.
"I appreciate what they accomplished last year as freshmen. It's amazing how young they were, yet how much we depended on them," said Patterson. "They are bringing a degree of leadership to the floor, but being sophomores, they are also still a work in progress. They played so well at times last year, yet they have so much still to learn."
Depth at the two guard positions will come from freshmen Stephanie Wittman, Cloud County Junior College transfer Emma Ostermann, and senior Kelsey Hill, who missed last season due to knee surgery.
"Wittman will need time to develop her game, Emma has the ability to shoot jump shots and the 3s, while Kelsey can also shoot the 3, which will be big if she is able to play the two-guard spot," said Patterson. "A lot will have to do with the speed element and how she will bounce back from the surgery."
Mariah White and JuliAnne Chisholm (when she joins the team in December after the volleyball season ends) will be candidates at the small-forward position, while the two interior positions will come from a rotation of Jalana Childs, Branshea Brown, Chantay Caron, Brianna Kulas and Alina Voronenko.
"I'm not sure what the combination will be, but each will be bring something a little different to the court," said Patterson.
In particular, the 6-2 Childs, a product of Orlando, Fla., has been a bright spot of the early drills after a sophomore season when she averaged 7.3 points and 4.4 rebounds a game while starting 31 of the 32 games.
"She has really looked good," said Patterson. "I honestly believe that she has the potential to be someone that the next level (WNBA) takes a look at. She worked her tail off this past summer, and she's stepped up as a leader and is showing some maturity in the approach she takes to the game. I honestly believe this will be a real breakout season for her."
With Brown, Patterson says, "She can be a dynamic scorer. She's not a back to the basket post player, but when she faces the basket, she can do a nice job."
In scouting Caron, Patterson said, "She's a very aggressive rebounder and has a great nose for the ball. She's a wonderful post defender in that she plays taller than she is."
But with Patterson, it all comes back to one important factor, which is scoring the ball.
"We're not going to have that signature 3-point shooter that we've had in the past, so we're going to have to find ways to space the floor and create real open sets for 3s because we're going to need that," said the KSU coach. "That, and we're going to have to make sure our posts get a lot of touches and make sure, as a team, we get to the foul line."
LOOKING SHARP: K-State's team will be wearing one of 15 new Nike designed uniforms in 2010-11.
"Nike chose us two years ago and began building and designing this brand new K-State uniform," said Patterson. "We are the only team that will wear this design this season, but in the future, high schools, AAU programs and college teams can all choose to wear this design."
K-State will have four uniforms, which include the home whites, road purples, an alternative black uniform, plus a pink uniform for the WBCA's "Pink Zone" initiative.
The home white uniforms feature purple and black stripes on the jersey tops and the shorts. The "K-State" wordmark, last names of the players and the numbers are purple and outlined in silver. On the v-collar of the jersey includes a black stripe.
In accordance with a new branding initiative by the NCAA, all four uniforms will feature a small NCAA basketball logo patch on the left shoulder of the jersey and on the right leg of the shorts.
SEASON OPENER: The Wildcats will play exhibition games on Nov. 4 (Fort Hays State) and Nov. 8 (Washburn) prior to opening the 2010-11 regular season on Friday, Nov. 12, in the 16th Annual Commerce Bank Wildcat Classic against Grambling State at 12 p.m.
Also in the field will be Marist and St. John's playing at 2 p.m.
KSU'S ROSTER MAKEUP: K-State's playing roster includes one senior, five juniors, three sophomores, and three seniors. Six roster members come from Kansas, and one each from South Carolina, Minnesota, Florida, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.
TICKET INFORMATION: Women's basketball season tickets begin at $78 for general admission, while bench and chairback seating is available for $99 and $132, respectively. K-State is also offering a "Wildcat 4-Pack" this season which consists of four general admission tickets for $200. Season tickets are only $50 for those with military IDs stationed at Fort Riley. The most convenient way to order tickets is online at www.kstatesports.com. Tickets may also be purchased in person at the K-State Athletic Ticket Office in Bramlage Coliseum or by calling toll-free, (800) 221-CATS.