Dec. 29, 2011
By Mark Janssen
K-State Sports Extra
Deb Patterson says the nonconference season has been a blur, and one that ends tonight in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., where the Wildcats will play Marist in a 6 p.m. (central time) tipoff.
The Wildcats are 8-3, which has included playing five games in two tournaments in Cancun and Las Vegas.
“Those events gave our team a chance to grow in a short period of time,” said Patterson. “We were playing back-to-back, or with a quick turnaround, which is a good way to learn. It’s what we’ll be living in January and February These tournaments put a lot of pressure on the team almost before we’re ready, but it also makes you grow up fast.”
That growth spurt is needed because after tonight, K-State begins the 18-game grind of Big 12 basketball with the defending national champion Texas A&M Aggies coming to Bramlage Coliseum on Wednesday for what is now a 5:30 p.m. tip.
A year ago K-State was picked to finish in the bottom third of the Big 12 Conference, but ended up tying Oklahoma for third place. This year, the Wildcats are again picked near the bottom (9th out of 10).
To be another surprise team in 2012 Patterson says, “We would need to become an extremely consistent offensive basketball team. We would need to become a team that can consistently score 70 points, or more. It’s just a fact that the teams we will line up against can score the ball. Right now we’re a three or a four on a scale of 10 with our offense. I need to see some real growth.”
In K-State’s three losses this year, it has scored 54 points (Hofstra), 42 (Purdue) and 38 (UNLV) points. Overall the Wildcats are averaging 59.1 points and giving up 48.5.
Last year K-State averaged 60.9 points per game, while giving up 56.3 to post a 21-11 record.
A year ago Patterson said, “We had two players in Brittany (Chambers) and Jalana (Childs) who elevated their game to an extremely high level as offensive players. Teams were not prepared to defend our team at the level that they were prepared to compete. They simply took our basketball team on their shoulders four or five times and literally won basketball games for us. Even late in the year it was unexpected by the opposition. Last year they were so mentally tough in close and tough games, they put us over the top.”
Chambers averaged 16.1 points and Childs 12.8 points per game last year, and this year it’s 15.6 and 14.6, respectively.
“It’s going to be different this time around because they are seeing more attention,” said Patterson. “Every scout (report) will be directed toward those two. The game will be harder for them this year.”
To Patterson, that means K-State’s support cast will have to step up. So far this year Tasha Dickey is averaging 8.3 points, while next high are Maria White, Branshea Brown, Chantay Caron and Ashia Woods with respective averages of 4.9, 4.6, 3.9 and 3.5 points per game.
“Our success will depend on the supporting cast demanding enough attention from defenses by finishing enough plays and making enough open shots,” said Paterson. “That would force teams not to be preoccupied by the other two.”
TOUGH AS ALWAYS: With the Big 12 season openers just a week away, the conference looks to be loaded, again. Patterson said another one of the challenges will be the new double round robin format.
“Everyone’s schedule in the league has intensified 10-fold,” said Patterson. “I don’t see a better solution and at the end of the season we will have crowned a true and very deserving league champion.”
A champion that will likely be considered one of the best teams in the nation as Baylor, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State are still unbeaten, while Kansas and Missouri each have only one loss. In the national polls, the Lady Bears are No. 1, Texas A&M No. 10, Texas Tech No. 15 and Texas No. 22.
“There’s no question that Baylor looks like the front-runner, but A&M, Oklahoma and Texas are right there,” said Patterson. “Those next three are close enough in talent and experience that it’s going to be quite a fight for second through fourth. After that it’s a whole new battle for the next few positions.”
In Brittney Griner and Odyssey Sims, Baylor has the best inside-outside duo in the college game.
“Brittney (6-foot-8) casts a large shadow, but Odyssey is one of the most talented point guards I’ve ever seen,” said Patterson. “She is strong, physical and can shoot the 3. Odyssey is a huge part of Brittney’s success. She can go toe-to-toe against anyone, and then Brittney can be so phenomenal that it’s ridiculous. She has the ability to dunk it, plus turn and score over both shoulders. She’s a force I’ve never seen in the women’s game.”
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