It has been nearly eight months since Jeff Mittie was introduced as K-State women’s basketball coach and tonight will open up the Blue Springs, Missouri native’s inaugural campaign in Manhattan.
The Wildcats will welcome Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville as the 2014-15 campaign officially opens with a 5:30 p.m. tip at Bramlage Coliseum.
With just two games with his new team, the first-year head coach doesn’t want to overcomplicate plans for their first opponent.
“We’re going to have to keep those things pretty simple,” Mittie said. “With all the information overload on our end, we don’t want to overload them with trying to learn another team’s offense in a couple of days. At the end of the day, execution and effort are going to be two things that we’re constantly talking about.”
Exhibition contests were near polar opposites as game margin ranged from a four-point win against Emporia State to a 50-point win over Newman.
Senior guard Haley Texada is excited for the start of the season and said she hopes they’ll remember the fine details in getting the season going.
“It’s a lot of execution and trying to get precision within the plays and trying to get a better flow with things,” Texada said. “Friday is when it’s official and it counts. I think everybody is ready and the blood and adrenaline is going. It’s going to be a good game.”
Sophomore forward Breanna Lewis paced the Wildcats offensively in the two exhibitions, averaging 13.0 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Texada pinpointed a need to get her a touch every time down the floor.
“Everybody brings something different to the table,” Texada said. “Whether we get in to Lew and she scores or they double-down on her and she kicks it out, she at least knows we’ve got her back and trying to get the ball back in the hoop. Everybody plays a different part, but it all links together very well.”
A change in defensive philosophy has been an adjustment for the Wildcats as Mittie has introduced a zone-heavy philosophy.
Mittie hopes to see a continuation from the 50-point drubbing of the Jets.
“It’s such an important component of the defense that we get steals and deflections,” Mittie said. “Some of these zone defenses are about keeping people in front of you and force jump shots. Our’s is a very active defense. We’re improving and to put a percentage on it, I’d say we’re 75 percent in.”
The Cougars were picked to finish fifth in the Ohio Valley Conference preseason polls and are coming off of an 11-19 season. They return three starters and are led by senior guard Tierny Austin, who is coming off of a 13.2-point, 6.9-rebound junior season.
K-State has never faced SIU-Edwardsville, but Mittie holds a 1-0 edge over the program in his coaching career.
With three-straight games at Bramlage, K-State is opening the 2014-15 schedule with its longest stretch at its home arena since the 2011-12 season.