Better Every Day, Lewis Makes Impact for K-State
The 6-foot-5 sophomore from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has been making an impact on the court for the Wildcats so far this season as she leads the team in scoring, rebounding and blocks.
"I feel like everything is coming along and that I'm getting more comfortable as I play," explained Lewis on Monday afternoon. "As the games go on, I feel like each game I'm getting better. I feel like I've been a help for my team, and my team just keeps pushing me on."
Four games in to the 2014-15 season and Lewis is continuing to make leaps and bounds in her play - but that comes as no surprise to K-State head coach Jeff Mittie.
"I think she just gets better and better," explained Mittie. "I've seen her grow at both ends of the floor, and I said early on, way back when I took the job, I felt like she could do some good things. She comes every day and is coachable, so I'd be more surprised if she wasn't progressing."
While last year Lewis averaged just 5.7 points and 4.6 rebounds per game, this year she has nearly tripled her production on the court as she is averaging a team-leading 12.3 points and 7.0 rebounds, and she has recorded 17 blocks.
In the Wildcats' most recent game against UTEP at the 2014 Hardwood Tournament of Hope in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Lewis scored a game-high 14 points and had four blocks - including two that teammate Kindred Wesemann just couldn't stop talking about.
"I wish you could have been down there (in Mexico) because she blocked this girl, then they got the rebound and went up to shoot it again, then she blocked them again," said Wesemann with a smile. "Then we went down and got a layup. So it's been fun playing with (Lewis). It's been fun to watch her grow as a player."
The back-to-back blocks came in K-State's 72-43 win over UTEP - the Wildcats' first and only game of the tournament after their final two games were canceled due to facility conflicts.
"It was very exciting," added Lewis about the same play Wesemann spoke about. "The first block I wasn't anticipating getting it, I was just trying to get a deflection or something. Then once I got that block I saw that we didn't get the rebound and I was like, 'Oh! We're still playing defense!' It was a great moment, and my teammates made it even better because they were cheering for me."
Though the Wildcats played only one game in Mexico, the team made the best out of a bad situation.
"It's unfortunate because you go down there for three games," explained Mittie, "it's a trip you schedule for that purpose. It's a business trip. You intend to get a little beach time, but we got a lot of beach time and a little basketball. I'd prefer to get a lot of basketball and a little beach time."
The Wildcats improvised - because of the lack of facilities to train in - and did workouts on the beach and in the hotel pool. Through the experience, the team's chemistry grew as K-State grew closer together despite not playing a game.
"It was nice, I feel like I got to know everybody better, especially the new players and the freshmen," said Lewis. "We would play games, we went on the banana boat and we bonded in the ocean together, so to be able to share moments like that, it was great."
However, now back in Manhattan nine days since playing its last game, K-State is ready to get back on the court.
Tonight at 7 p.m., the team will take on UT-Arlington (3-2) in Bramlage Coliseum and looks to continue its winning streak in non-conference play. A win tonight would give K-State its first five-game winning streak since Nov. 9, to Dec. 16, 2012.
"They've had a very successful early part of the year, and I'm familiar with a lot of the players on their roster," said Mittie who knows a thing or two about Texas basketball players after spending 14 years coaching at TCU. "I think they have a very solid basketball team... that roster certainly has a Texas flavor to it with a lot of players that I've seen."
UT-Arlington has dropped games at Wichita State, 71-61, on Nov. 22, and at home to UTSA on Tuesday, 63-55.
K-State enters tonight's game with a perfect 4-0 record with wins over SIUE, UMKC, Hampton and UTEP, and the Wildcats have outscored its opponents 284-180 this season while averaging 71 points per game.
And there is no doubt the Wildcats' early success has come with the help of Lewis. Under the new coaching style and system of Mittie, the talented forward has become a consistent force on the court for the Wildcats.
Quiet but focused, humble but ready to work hard for her team, Lewis' goals for the remainder of her sophomore year are simple.
"My main goals are to stay focused in getting as many blocks as I can, to score and to help my teammates in any way I can," she concluded.
To read more about tonight's game and to check out the game notes, please click here.