Mittie, K-State women’s basketball searching for identity

New K-State women's basketball head coach Jeff Mittie responds to questions from the media and K-State fans in attendance at his introductory press conference on March 25, 2014 in the West Stadium Center of Bill Snyder Family Stadium. This season Mittie wants to see the team improve defensively and work on their free-throws. (Parker Robb | The Collegian)

In preparation of his first season at K-State, Jeff Mittie clearly voiced his desire to find a feel for where his team stands for the 2014-15 season at Wednesday’s Women’s Basketball Media Day.

To Mittie, as a coach with some of the most wins in Division I women’s basketball, the confusion and searching comes with the transition. However, he said with the first exhibition coming on Nov. 3 against Emporia State, it’s time to put pedal to the metal.

“The sense of energy for our group hasn’t been as good as I would have liked,” Mittie said. “That has been a little bit concerning. Our group needs to have greater sense of urgency. (Sometimes) they’ve laid back and been a little timid and not wanted to make a mistake. You don’t know how they’re going to react. I would rather them get after it, play their tails off and we’ll correct mistakes on film later.”

The Wildcats ended their season last year with a record of 11-19 and the team is confident in improving that record with the various changes that have been made. One of which will be very noticeable and senior guard Ashia Woods, who will be looked upon as an on-and-off-the-floor leader, said it’ll add some “pop” to what they’re able to do on offense.

“Well, one change that will really be big is the defense,” Woods said. “We went from a man-to-man defense and now we are in a zone. (Offensively, Mittie) is making each individual player attack more, score more and think of shooting first.”

Mittie said he needs his team to get to the free-throw line and find easier shots to attempt, while also limiting other team’s ability to work inside the 3-point line.

“Biggest difference is the discipline,” sophomore guard Kindred Wesemann said of her new head coach’s tendencies. “Just knowing that he is going to expecting everything that you have for every play, we have this saying, ‘You don’t take one play off (in practice), because you can’t take it off during the game.'”

Entering her last season at K-State, Woods is looking to make a run at a conference title and she said she believes that what they’re implementing in practice should transition well into games.

Fortunately for Mittie, he has plenty of young talent to work with as eight of his players are either freshmen or sophomores.

A healthy Haley Texada is an important piece for Mittie’s inaugural season. As one of the few underclassmen on the roster, she’ll be a crucial part of the development of the 2014-15 season.

“Coming off the injury was really tough, not being able to play in conference, but I am excited to get back out there and show them what I got,” the senior guard said.

Mittie spent the last 13 seasons at TCU, accumulating 303 career victories. He tallied a 2-2 record against K-State and developed a scouting report of the Wildcats’ roster. Now, seven months into his tenure at his new school, he said it’s time to transition to a different mindset.

“It is about what you are doing today,” Mittie said. “It is about your productivity today. Because, quite frankly, what you have done in the past is not relative to how you are playing today. That has been a little bit of a message that our returners have needed to get quicker. They have not played as well as I believe that they are capable of. They need to pick it up here, because the productivity of today is going to be who is going to play here come the exhibition season and going forward.