November 27, 2013
By Kelly McHugh
K-State women's basketball will be celebrating Thanksgiving a little differently this year.
While the winter weather has kicked off in Manhattan, Kan., and temperatures are expected to stay in the 30's on Thanksgiving day, the Wildcats' women's basketball team will be in the beautiful, sunny Bahamas, competing in the 2013 Junkanoo Jam.
"I'm really excited, it's just another time to bond with these girls and I think there will be some good competitions for us," sophomore guard Bri Craig said. "It will be good for us to see teams from other conferences."
K-State (2-2) will open the tournament with a game against SMU (5-0) at 3:15 p.m. CT tomorrow afternoon in Freeport, Bahamas.
Competition at the Junkanoo Jam won't be easy, and depending on how the Wildcats fare against SMU, on Nov. 29 it will take on either Tennessee (5-0) or Virginia (3-2).
"It's going to be a great tournament, there are great teams playing in it," senior forward Katya Leick said. "We could, potentially, be playing Tennessee and that's a great game. It's a very respectable school. It's a big name, you know, everybody knows Tennessee, and that's something that I think is really cool."
While being on the road for Thanksgiving is nothing new to head coach Deb Patterson - last year K-State was in Nashville, Tenn., and in 2011 it was in Cancun, Mexico - she said after the game she will take time with her team to recognize the holiday.
"We take some time to get together to really reflect on sharing what it is we are thankful for and what we have been given," Patterson said, "and in this situation we're going to be in a beautiful destination spot, so that won't be hard. But we always take some time on Thanksgiving to have a team chapel, it's a part of what we do."
For K-State redshirt freshman Kelly Thomson, this year will be her first Thanksgiving away from her family in Riley, Kan.
"This will be my first thanksgiving on the road, my first thanksgiving with the team, my first thanksgiving away from the family," Thomson said with a smile. "I'm pretty excited. Even though I don't get to be home with the family, I'll get to be with my second family. I'll get to be on the road with these girls, and we'll be in the Bahamas so you can't really beat that."
Though the Wildcats are coming off of back-to-back tough losses to UTEP and Wichita State, the team is ready to get back on the court and continue its season the way it started.
While the young team may still be trying to figure out how to get it done on the court, one thing is certain: this group of Wildcats is closer than ever, and this year they are thankful for each other.
"What am I thankful for this year? I would definitely say my team and the height that we have, I'm very thankful for the height," junior guard Haley Texada laughed, "but mainly for the girls that I'm surrounded by every day and our coaching staff that's been here working us hard every day."
Leick agreed that being surrounded by her K-State family has made the past year very special.
"This might be cliché, but I'm thankful for my team," Leick said. "I really enjoy my team. I can't even explain the family dynamic, how much I love my team and my teammates and my coaches. To have that relationship with them and to be able to go places like the Bahamas and compete with them, I'm just that much more appreciative. I couldn't be more thankful for them."
On the court so far this season freshman guard Leti Romero leads the team in both scoring and rebounds, averaging 13.3 points and 5 rebounds per game, and is followed by Texada who is averaging 7.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.
You can listen to tomorrow's game online for free at kstatesports.com or on the K-State Sports Network.