Oct. 5, 2011
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By Mark Janssen
Yes, we’re only four games into the 2011 college football season, and yes, the calendar has just flipped to October, but it’s also basketball time for Deb Patterson’s Wildcats.
Through the early drills this fall, Patterson said, “I like their work ethic. I can tell that we’re a group that is going to be very focused and will sell out on the work phases of the game. I’m convinced with that even with our young players.”
Patterson is working with a 12-person roster, plus a 13th in Katya Leick, a 6-foot-1, junior transfer from Nebraska, who will have to sit out this season.
On that roster are the two leading scorers from last year in Brittany Chambers (16.0) and Jalana Childs (13.1), plus the fourth and fifth top scorers in Branshea Brown (5.5) and Mariah White (4.9). All were full-time starters for the 21-11 Wildcats that placed third in the Big 12 Conference and reached the NCAA Tournament.
Looking back, Patterson says two things propelled K-State to those lofty marks after being picked for ninth in the preseason Big 12 Conference poll by the league coaches.
First, there was the one-two scoring punch of Chambers and Childs, who as Patterson said, “… played at an unbelievable high caliber of offensive basketball. They literally took the team on their shoulders and won games.”
Secondly, was how the team responded to an early-December skid.
“Our program is one of high standards that are never going to change,” said Patterson. “When we ran into a resistance with some team members, we had to learn that there would be no compromise to our standards. Our standards were going to be accepted as the gospel. When we stopped making individual excuses was a big step for our team.
“There was a time when we were not competitive and not going toe to toe with teams we were more than capable of going toe to toe with,” said Patterson. “There are no excuses for not bringing it day in and day out in terms of competitiveness and toughness. When everyone understood that’s the way it was going to be to get on the plane to go places as a team, we got better.”
Helping keep that “this is how we work around here; this is how things are going to be done” understanding in place during the summer conditioning program were a pair of seniors in Childs and Brown.
“No, I would have never believed it,” said Patterson of the growth pattern of her two players. “Brandy always had a work ethic, but she was so shy we couldn’t get her to say a word. Now she’s a player her teammates look to. She still doesn’t say a lot, but she can make a point.
“Jalana’s evolution from a freshman to a senior has been amazing,” Patterson added. “To see her growth in confidence and assertiveness is very special. To grow as she has as a person is very special. They’ve both had to stretch who they were, and they’ve done so.”
Dickey Adds Experience
New to the K-State roster is Tasha Dickey, a 5-10 senior transfer from the University of Arizona where she played in 76 games, with 21 of those being starts. Dickey was a member of the Pac-10’s All-Freshman team in 2008 when she averaged nearly seven points per game. Her career average was 2.9.
Dickey, who is working on her masters, will be eligible to play as she is an Arizona graduate, but with a year of eligibility left due to a redshirt season.
Dickey is the daughter of K-State offensive line coach Charlie Dickey.
It’s a relatively new rule to women’s basketball that teams can begin a schedule of 30 practices, 40 days before the first competition. While saying some league coaches were not fans of the rule, Patterson says, “I love it. With the extra days you don’t have to be unbelievably intense and beat them down over a short period of time. This gives your team an opportunity to improve over an extended period of time. You can practice the kids hard for three days, and then give them a long weekend.”
The Wildcats will open the year on Nov. 3 against Oklahoma City in Bramlage Coliseum.
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