The last few weeks for K-State fans have been flooded with news and speculation about Bill Snyder's coaching staff and the play of a men's basketball team striving to make back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances. Meanwhile, the women's basketball team has been flying under the radar.
Well, I don't think a 12-0 start that is the best in school history can be considered flying under the radar. But, it's true, our ladies in purple have not gotten the appropriate love from some of us in the blogosphere or other media outlets. No more, I say.
Last season could have been considered one of the best of Patterson's career. The Cats were coming off a tough '06-'07 season that started with an exhibition loss to Emporia State, and finished with an NIT loss to Wyoming. Not much was expected in '07-'08, but Shalee Lehning and company led K-State to a regular season Big XII title and a spot in the NCAA tournament. Along the way, Patterson was named Big XII Coach of the Year.
Now, Lehning is making the most of her senior campaign and is on pace to possibly break a couple of NCAA records in the meantime. Her triple-double against Washington was the fourth of her career (a conference record) and the second of the season (NCAA record is four in a season). It's hard to find a guard in women's basketball that has such a wide range of skills. Plus, how many of you have your own sweet web site?
Ashley Sweat is also coming into her own as a consistent performer for the Cats. She's averaging 15.5 points/game and 4.9 rebounds/game this season, compared to 11.2 and 3.5 last season. A definite rise in production. Sweat could be looked at as a key member to this team once they hit Big XII play. It's nice to have a forward that can hit free throws at an 80% clip. If she continues to put up consistent numbers throughout the conference stretch, this team could be looking to repeat.
Another strong contributor to the team's success this year has been Marlies Gipson, who provides the other half of K-State's strong front court alongside Sweat. Gipson is second in scoring to Sweat and is an even better free throw shooter. Kari Kincaid has proven to be a dangerous threat from behind the arc, hitting over 40% of her shots from three.
Let's see....two front court players averaging double digits, a three point threat whose range starts when she gets out of bed, and a talented, multi-skilled leader running the show from the point? Yep, that's a recipe I like.
The Cats close out the non-conference portion of their schedule with a game against over-matched Central Arkansas on Saturday. Here's wishing the ladies good luck as they try to encapsulate the same success they experienced last season. We'll all try to pay better attention from here on out. At least, we definitely should.