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PATTERSON MAXIMIZED TALENT

Also See: K-State Tennis Upsets No. 25 Texas A&M

By Mark Janssen

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Deb Patterson is the first to say of her Wildcats' 21-11 season, "We performed at a level that was better than what I anticipated. They achieved at a higher level than any of us thought they would, or could.

"The WNIT was our goal. We knew it would be a fight to get into postseason play," said Patterson, who earned her 300th career win and guided the program to its 800th during the season. "We didn't know what that meant ... probably WNIT, but we knew it would be a battle."

K-State was picked ninth by the coaches in the preseason Big 12 poll with Patterson saying, "I wouldn't have argued had it been 10th. It would have been fair."

The Wildcats didn't finish ninth or 10th, or even fifth or sixth, or even fourth. K-State pieced together 10 wins in conference play to tie Oklahoma for third place in the league. Among those wins was a 71-67 decision over No. 5 Texas A&M.

Oh yes, K-State also received an invitation to the NCAA Tournament instead of the WNIT where the Wildcats would lose to Purdue in the opening round.

The turning point to the season came on a late-December day when the Wildcats didn't play, or even practice.

After an 8-1 start to the season, K-State went to San Antonio for a pre-Christmas tournament where it lost to Texas-San Antonio by 17 and Middle Tennessee State by 14.

"The success they had led them to become their own entity. They had their own thoughts on what it took to win," said Patterson. "We were absolutely atrocious in San Antonio. We didn't compete by any stretch of the imagination."

Patterson said she went home for the holidays "hotter than a hornet" and knowing that she had a huge issue to address when the team met in Hanover, N.H., for the Big Sky Classic on Dec. 29 and 30.

"They went out to loosen up that first day back all happy and knowing it all, and then we met in the center circle for the next two-and-a-half hours," said Patterson. "We had a discussion with me doing most of the discussing about how things were going to go from this point forward. It was a rubber meeting the road meeting. They heard 'The World According to Patterson' and the state of K-State women's basketball. There was a lot of talking, but I had a lot to say."

Patterson said the team had adapted a "Me, me, me. My, my, my attitude. They said, 'This is what I think, this is what I feel,' which can take you down a bad road."

The Wildcat coach said the leadership provided by Kari Kincaid the year before had been missed, and compared this team to a pack of dogs.

"In the animal kingdom, one dog will be the Alpha dog. There are times that girls pick the wrong Alpha dog," said Patterson.

Following Patterson's speech, K-State went out and defeated Dartmouth and Vermont, and then opened Big 12 play with a 63-45 domination of Oklahoma State. That was followed by a hard fought seven-point loss to No. 15 Oklahoma and a double-overtime loss to Texas Tech.

With a new communication line and level of accountability, Patterson said the loss at Oklahoma was pivotal to the season.

"We had given absolutely 100 percent. We couldn't have done anything more, and we still lost," said Patterson. "We took the game very seriously, and there was an instant feeling of, 'Oh my gosh, this is going to be hard.' They finally understood that outside our little K-State world where everyone thinks we're wonderful, there are teams out there that want to kick our rears."

Patterson said the eventual success of the team came from "unbelievable growth" in three Wildcats in particular - sophomores Brittany Chambers and Mariah White, plus junior Jalana Childs.

"We would have never expected Mariah to be able to defend and be a 30-minute per game player; Brittany became a consistent point producer who could pop for 22, 25 and over 30 points on occasion; and Jalana showed growth in that she wanted the ball ... wanted to make plays and take responsibility."

Overall, Patterson said, "It was a good year. I think we maximized our talent."

MYSTERIOUS MARCH: Patterson shakes her head at the bad luck her basketball team has experienced in the month of March.

2005 - Meghan Mahoney's career ends with an Achilles injury at the Big 12 Championship
2007 - Kimberly Dietz suffers an ACL injury at the Big 12 Championship
2008 - Danielle Zanotti suffers a late-season back injury
2009 - Shalee Lehning comes down with mononucleosis late in the year
2011 - Jalana Childs suffers a hip injury in early-March

"All were catastrophic injuries ... boom they just happened," said Patterson. "We were never totally healthy going into postseason play in any of those years."

TWO SIGNED: K-State's roster for 2011-12 will include five seniors, three juniors, three sophomores and two freshmen.

The newcomers are Haley Texada, a 5-foot-7 guard from Frisco, Texas, and Ashia Woods, a 5-11 guard from Wichita Collegiate High School.

"I'd like to tell you that we're going to sign a couple more, and we are in the hunt for some big girls, but they are very, very hard to come by at this stage of the season," said Patterson. "We need that program-changer."


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 either Mark Janssen at mjanssen7@cox.net, or Kansas State Director of Athletic Communications/SID Kenny Lannou at klannou@kstatesports.com. For those who would like to share Sports Extra with a friend or family member, or change your current email address, click here.