Another Year Older, Another Year Better

Emma Ostermann

July 29, 2011

By Mark Janssen - K-State Sports Extra

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A year older, a year more mature, and a year to become accustomed to life in the Big 12 Conference.

That trifecta is part of the growth pattern that Stephanie Wittman, Chantay Caron and Emma Ostermann went through during the 2010-11 Kansas State women’s basketball season, and how each feels more prepared for play in 2011-12.

“It was definitely a learning experience,” said Wittman, a 5-foot-9 sophomore-to-be from San Antonio, Texas. “Coming out of high school, we were all the best on our teams, but coming here was different because I didn’t know what to expect. I took it as a learning year for the things that I needed to learn, which was a lot. I think this year I am definitely more suited for things to be better.”

Wittman played in 13 games and scored 13 points with a season-high of five when she went home to play UTSA.

Part of the adjustment was also playing in front of an average of 4,000 fans compared to a few hundred at Alamo Heights High School, where she was ranked as the No. 37 guard in the nation when she averaged 15.7 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.

“Our fans were really good to us last year,” said Wittman. “At my high school, most of the fans were the parents. The fans here are from all over – military, older people and students. They know some of our families are not here so they are helpful in many ways.”

Wittman also goes into her second season with even more appreciation for Deb Patterson, and the entire Wildcat coaching staff.

It was the summer of her junior season that she tore her ACL. While other schools backed off, K-State maintained a keen interest.

“If a school could stick with you and have faith in you after your tear your ACL, then that’s a school worth looking into,” said Wittman. “The coaches called me a lot to see how I was doing and to see how the process was going. That impression is why I ended up coming here.”

Also coming from the prep ranks to K-State was Caron, a 5-11 product of Free State High School in Lawrence, Kan. Caron averaged 14.6 points and 6.6 rebounds as a senior, earning second-team Class 6A All-State honors.

In looking toward her second collegiate season, Caron said, “I have gotten a lot stronger. I’m still working on my defense, but also on offense because that really wasn’t me my freshman year. My freshman year, I didn’t really know anything about anything on how the game was played at this level. Knowing how they play in the Big 12 and how we mesh together as a team makes it a lot easier.”

Averaging 2.9 points with a season-high of 13 against Dartmouth in her freshman year, Caron, who had 10 starts and played in 27 games, now promises, “I want to be more of a shooter but also to have a very good defensive game.”

A secondary goal is to continue to go unbeaten against the Kansas Jayhawks after a 2-0 start this past season.

“My friends from high school always ask, ‘Why did you come to K-State?’ Or, ‘Why did you not go to KU?’ I just really like K-State and it is my home now. I don’t care what they say,” said Caron, who is a special education major.

Also coming from the Sunflower State was Ostermann, who played her prep ball at Abilene High School, followed by two years at Cloud County Community College in Concordia, Kan.

“My parents and my brother all graduated from K-State, so I definitely grew up a K-State fan,” said the 5-8 Ostermann, who scored 14 points in 16 games. “I did not really know any other way besides purple and white. I started coming to K-State basketball camps when I was in middle school, so I grew up a Wildcat.”

Ostermann helped the Thunderbirds to a two-year record of 50-14 by averaging 10 points per game. During her high school career, which included a 25-1 senior season, she netted 16.0 points and 2.9 rebounds per game.

“The reason I went to juco was because I was definitely a lot smaller than I am now in terms of weight and strength,” said Ostermann, who invited teammates to her home in Abilene over the Fourth of July holiday. “I was able to develop myself at Cloud County. I jumped at the chance when Coach P gave me a chance to play here. It was definitely a blessing.”

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