Women’s basketball team working toward finding its identity

Senior center Breanna Lewis poses during media day on Oct. 10, 2016. (Evert Nelson | The Collegian)

Last season culminated in a NCAA Tournament second-round loss for the Kansas State women’s basketball team against the top-seeded South Carolina Gamecocks.

Still, all that’s in the past.

Last year’s team was fairly successful, having made the NCAA Tournament where they beat George Washington University in the opening round. However, K-State head coach Jeff Mittie said Monday that this year’s team will have to create its own identity.

“This team has to have their season,” Mittie said. “Last year was a step forward but last year is over with.”

What exactly that identity will be, however, remains to be seen.

“We’ve got a veteran group that has continued to improve,” Mittie said. “I have liked the way (the veterans) have worked. I have felt like the newcomers that have come in have added some things that have given us some exciting things to take a look at on the floor.”

Mittie also said the team isn’t as far along in figuring out its identity as he would like.

One of the seniors expected to lead the way this year is senior center Breanna Lewis. Lewis finished first on the team in points, rebounds and blocks last season.

Lewis said she also thought the team was still working toward figuring out its identity.

“From my eyes, really, I would say that we’re really working on communication every day,” Lewis said. “Once we get that down pat, then I feel like we can establish our identity. But as of right now, it’s just getting better each day, one thing at a time. I’m curious as to see what it will be, but hopefully it’s defense because defense wins games.”

One area of emphasis for the team has been rebounding. The team tied for 206th among Division I schools in the category.

Mittie said the team rebounded poorly enough that it actually hurt the statistics of an otherwise good defense.

“Our defense was pretty good, on first shot,” Mittie said. “Our defense might have been one or two in the league on first shots. However, when you’re giving up 17, 18, 19, sometimes 20 plus offensive rebounds, those extra possessions, that’s a big concern.”

Mittie said part of it was the team’s zone defense, which should improve this year as the team continues practices.

“We’ve got a ton of work to do,” Mittie said. “I think we have more pieces to do it. I think we’re a little quicker to the ball than we were a year ago and that’s one of the keys to rebounding zone.”

Junior forward Kaylee Page said Mittie has really been pushing the team to get used to playing hard every play, regardless of whether they are up or down in a game. Page said the team has worked on playing through fatigue as well. The team scrimmaged Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the team’s first week back in practice.

“My body was really tired,” Page said. “But considering it was the first week, I was honestly really surprised at how well everyone’s bodies handled it. We all handled it really well considering it was our fourth, fifth, sixth day of practice.”

The K-State women’s basketball team will play an exhibition match against Washburn University on Nov. 4 before officially starting its season Nov. 11 against Chicago State in Bramlage Coliseum.

Shelton Burch
Shelton grew up in the desert southwest. A native of Lancaster, California, he mostly grew up in south Phoenix, Arizona; Austin, Texas; and Colorado Springs, Colorado before moving to Kansas and graduating from Junction City High School. He started working as a news writer for the Collegian in 2009 before taking a three-year break from college. He returned to K-State in 2013 and has since worked for the news desk, feature desk, as a copy editor and now as a sports writer. He enjoys tap dancing, writing anything possible, reading court opinions and watching Arizona Coyotes hockey.