By Mark Janssen
Players, players everywhere, and Kansas State coach Deb Patterson likes the way it looks.
With an active roster of seven or eight players at the end of last year, Patterson has 12 healthy 'Cats roaming the Bramlage Coliseum floor this year heading into the 2010-11 season.
"Even though we are young, and not in any way, shape or form dominating in any phase of the game, there are more of us and it is more competitive and more energized," said the 15th-year K-State coach, who has accumulated 279 Wildcat victories.
K-State's roster makeup is young with one senior active for play - Kelsey Hill. Jalana Childs and Branshea Brown are the lone juniors, to go with sophomores Brittany Chambers, Taelor Karr, Emma Ostermann, Mariah White and Alina Voronenko, plus freshmen Chantay Caron, Brianna Kulas and Stephanie Wittman.
Senior Shalin Spani will not play this season due to her seventh knee surgery, while JuliAnne Chisholm will not report to the team until the end of the volleyball season.
Caron is a 5-11 product from Lawrence's Free State High School, Kulas is a 6-footer from Mission, Kan., and Wittman a 5-9 product of San Antonio make up the freshman class, plus Ostermann, a native of Abilene, Kan., is a transfer from Cloud County (Kan.) Community College.
"I like their work ethic and I think they have bought in early to the intensity and the accountability that we want in our gym as opposed to dragging our freshmen along," said Patterson. "On a given day in a certain drill session, you're not going to know who your freshmen are, and who they are not."
"That's good in one respect, but in another you want your older players to be far superior and to stand out," she said. "But we are collectively young, so on most possessions you are not going to see any distinction from at least two out of three of the freshmen."
Caron set a school record for career points (827) at Free State, when she was a Class 6A All-Stater and McDonald's All-American nominee. As a senior, she averaged 14.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. Along with her basketball skills, Caron still holds school track records in the 200- and 400-meters.
Kulas played her prep ball at Shawnee Mission North where she was a Sporting News All-American honorable mention recipient. In her senior season, she averaged 16.7 points and 6.0 rebounds to go along with being a national Honor Society member in the classroom.
Wittman was ranked as the No. 37 guard in the nation by ESPN HoopGurlz. Her senior season included numbers of 15.7 points and 6.1 rebounds per game for Alamo Heights. She was a 20-point scorer as a junior and 11-point as a sophomore.
K-State will entertain Fort Hays State tonight at 7 p.m., and Washburn on Monday at 7 p.m. before opening regular-season play with the Commerce Bank Classic on Nov. 12-13 in Bramlage Coliseum.
STARTING FOR THE 'CATS: Patterson has listed returning starters Brittany Chambers (5-8, Soph), Taelor Karr (5-8, Soph) and Jalana Childs (6-2, Jr) as starters, along with Branshea Brown (6-2, Jr). At mid-week, she said the fifth position was wide open.
COACH P: Deb Patterson, the all-time winningest women's basketball coach and the longest tenured women's basketball coach in Kansas State history, has a career record of 279-164 (.630) and a record of 119-105 (.531) in the Big 12, including Big 12 regular season titles during the 2003-04 and 2007-08 seasons.