SE: Women’s Basketball Back in Action Tonight

K-State women’s basketball opens its 2015-16 campaign tonight in Bramlage Coliseum with an exhibition matchup against Washburn University at 7 p.m.

The Wildcats are coming off a successful 2014-15 season where the team went 19-14 and made the second round of the 2015 WNIT under first-year head coach Jeff Mittie. The Wildcats return eight letterwinners and welcome six new faces to this season’s roster.

“I think our young group is where they need to be,” said Mittie. “All-in-all, I think we had a good summer and I think we have had a good early fall. Practice the first two weeks has not been as good as I would have liked, but at the same time, I think we are still making decent progress.”

The team is led by preseason All-Big 12 recipient Breanna Lewis. Heading into this season, the 6-foot-5 junior forward is coming off a breakthrough sophomore campaign where she broke the K-State record for blocks in a season with 97. Lewis started all 33 games and registered career-highs in every statistical category. She led the Wildcats last season in scoring (11.5 points per game), rebounding (6.4 rebounds per game) and blocked shots (2.9 per game), and she became the first player in K-State history to record 300 points, 200 rebounds, 90 blocks and 50 steals in a single season. 

“I feel like by far my growth is internal this year,” said Lewis when asked where she has grown the most since her sophomore year. “In prior years, when I stepped on the floor, I didn’t have as much confidence in myself, which affected the way I played. Now I feel like I’m more confident. My confidence level has gone up and that’s helped the way I play and the way I think about the game. It’s shown me what I’m capable of.”

Also returning from last year’s starting lineup for the Wildcats are senior guard Brianna Craig, who averaged 6.1 points and 2.3 rebounds per game last season, junior guard Kindred Wesemann, who averaged 8.0 points and 2.0 rebounds per game last year, and sophomore guard Shaelyn Martin, who, as a true freshman, was the Wildcats’ most versatile player last season racking up 4.6 points and 5.2 rebounds along with a team-leading 2.7 assists and 2.0 steals per game.  

“I’ve been working a lot on finishing,” explained Martin. “With the new rules (see below), free throws are going to be a lot more important this year. Getting to the free throw line has been a priority of mine as well as increasing my mid-range shot and hitting my threes. I just want to continue from what I did last year and continue to make steps from that.”

Along with the Wildcats’ returners, K-State welcomes six new faces to its roster in senior Megan Deines, sophomore Kaylee Page and freshmen Kayla Goth, Anna Hammaker, Cheyenne Hooper and Lanie Page. 

“I am going to be really excited and will have all of the butterflies in my stomach,” laughed Wamego, Kansas, native Kaylee Page about running onto the court for the first time as a Wildcat. “I’ve had a lot of people that I went to high school with tell me that they are going to come and watch the games or get season tickets, so I hope people come out.”

With added height on this year’s roster, the Wildcat basketball team has worked during the off season on improving its offensive front. 

 “We were an offensively-challenged team last year,” said Mittie. “We won three Big 12 games where we shot below 30 percent. That’s ugly, ugly basketball, but it was a win and we took it. We need to be an improved offensive team this year; that’s been the goal in the offseason: improve our offense. I’m seeing glimpses, but we’re a long way away from doing that.”

Added Martin, “This year we are a lot longer than we were last year. We have a lot of individuals who can play the forward and the guard spots, so having the ability to move people around is going to be very beneficial for us. We obviously have Bre (Lewis) in the middle, but we also have some bigger forwards now that can sneak in there too, so taking advantage of size mismatches is going to be an advantage for us.”

 Tonight’s game can be seen live on COX Channel Kansas by COX Cable subscribers in the state of Kansas or on K-StateHD.TV, as Brian Smoller (play-by-play) and Kristin Waller (color analyst) will have the call.  

Season and single game tickets are still available. For ticket information, please contact the K-State Athletics Ticket Office at (800) 221-CATS or visit www.kstatesports.com/tickets.

For game notes, team schedules and more about tonight’s exhibition matchup, please click here


A CHANGE IN THE GAME

The NCAA announced significant changes for collegiate women’s basketball leading into the 2015-16 season. The new rules coming into play this year are believed to “enhance the flow of the game” and “improve the pace of play,” according to the NCAA. 

Along with switching the women’s game from two halves to four quarters, the NCAA announced a rule that allows teams to advance the ball to the frontcourt following a timeout immediately after a rebound or made basket in the last 59.9 seconds of the fourth quarter and in any overtime periods. This change is to help add excitement and intensity to what would too often be long, drawn-out endings of collegiate women’s basketball games.

Here is a look at a few more rule changes from the NCAA website:

• The 10-second backcourt rule, which was implemented during the 2013-14 season, will see a few changes. A team will not receive a new 10-second backcourt count when a throw-in results from: a ball deflected out of bounds by the defense, a held ball and the possession arrow favors the offensive team, a technical foul is called on the offensive team when the ball is in its backcourt.

• Defenders are now allowed to place a forearm or an open hand with a bend in the elbow on an offensive post player with the ball whose back is to the basket.

• Teams will now reach the bonus and shoot two free throws on the fifth team foul in each quarter. In the four-quarter format, team fouls reset to zero at the start of each quarter. However if a team reaches the bonus in the fourth quarter, that team would remain in the bonus during any additional overtime periods. 

“Since I got into coaching, the college game has always been two 20-minute halves,” said Mittie. “You never advance the ball and the bonus situation is much different with the five team fouls. These are pretty significant rule changes from a coaching perspective.”

Along with the rule changes, there is an environment change to the women’s game as well. Bands and amplified music may now be played during any dead-ball situation. Previously, rules allowed music to only be played during timeouts and halftime.

“Younger fans want to be entertained constantly, so I think that that’s part of that,” added Mittie. “In the international game, music is a part of the whole thing – it’s going 24/7, so this is somewhere in between. But, we have a great band, and I'm all for our band being able to be involved in the game as much as possible.”


VOLLEYBALL FIGHTS OFF TCU IN FOUR SETS

With the help of four Wildcats reaching double-digits in kills and a defense that had 82 digs and nine blocks, K-State took down TCU in four sets (25-23, 25-17, 21-25, 25-22) on Saturday in Ahearn Field House.

K-State (14-8, 6-4 Big 12) captured its fifth win over its last six matches, and sixth in seven home matches this season, by holding TCU (16-6, 6-4 Big 12) to a .202 attack percentage. The Horned Frogs were coming off a three-set win against No. 2 Texas on Wednesday, a match in which TCU hit .306.

“We played exceptionally well and exceptionally hard,” said K-State head coach Suzie Fritz. “There were spontaneous plays – it was like ping-pong – and we adjusted well to a majority of them. We got our hands on a ton of balls as well.”

To continue reading about K-State’s victory, please click here.


MEN’S BASKETBALL WINS EXHIBITION OPENER, 80-42

Junior Wesley Iwundu paced four players in double figures with a game-high 17 points to help Kansas State cruise past Division II foe Emporia State, 80-42, in the team's first exhibition game on Friday night at Bramlage Coliseum.The Wildcats have now won 17 consecutive home exhibition games dating back to 2004.

K-State was impressive on both ends of the court, connecting on 50.8 percent (30-of-59) from the field, including 61.5 percent (16-of-26) in the first half, while holding the Hornets to 25 percent (13-of-52) shooting, including 15 percent (3-of-20) in the first half. 

To continue reading about the men’s basketball win, please click here