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OldGoldFreePress COLUMNISTS | BACK TO Steve'S COLUMNS

PURDUE WOMENS BASKETBALL:
Women’s Opponents’ Profile #1: the Kansas State University Wildcats, 11/16/03


Program That Was Once The Doormat Of The Big 12 Now A National Power


Date: 11/16/2003
Author: Steve
© Old Gold Free Press Columnists

    Welcome to the first opponent profile for the 2003-2004 season. Each profile will include information about the opponent’s main campus, its women’s basketball team, and one player or coach on the team. Addresses to webpages will follow each section. Look for a profile on each opponent 1-2 days before the tip-off.

    The Campus

    Like Purdue, Kansas State University is a land-grant university created by the Morrill Act of 1862. Although Kansas State has four branch locations, its main campus is in Manhattan and is home to more than twenty-two thousand students. Its nine colleges offer more than one hundred bachelor’s and associate’s degrees.

    The official Kansas State website is very official, easy to navigate, and contains a lot of information about all aspects of university life.
    Type in the address below to go to the site: http://www.ksu.edu/

    The Team

    The Wildcats’ recent success has turned the once-mediocre program into one of America’s finest. The team’s resurgence has led to back-to-back NCAA tournament seasons, All-American honors for a number of its players, and a strong recruiting base from which head coach Deb Patterson can pull players to fit her team’s offensive style.
    And what an offense it is: the Wildcats know O. Last year the team shot 48% from the floor, 37.7% from 3-point range, and hit 72% of its free throws which led four players to averaging at least 13 points per game. Don’t think, however, that the Wildcats are a selfish team with players interested in padding only their own stats: the team averaged more than 18 assists per game last year, with four players being credited with three or more per game.

    While the offense receives a lot of attention, the Wildcats’ rebounding and defense also deserve mention. In 2002-2003, Wildcat opponents were held to 35.5% shooting from the floor and 29.6% from 3-point land. When the opponents missed, and seemingly missed often, the Kansas State players swept up the boards, out-rebounding their opponents by an average of 40.1 to 32.9. Such a sweeping discrepancy in rebounds can be attributed mostly to senior Nicole Ohlde (9.0/game) and junior Kendra Wecker (8.3/game), but all the Wildcats know how to hit the boards: all players who averaged more than 15 minutes per game collected between 2.4 and 6.4 caroms each outing.

    Where then, do Wildcat weaknesses lie? Last year, depth was an issue as only seven players received significant playing time and three starters had to average more than 34 minutes per game. This supposed weakness, however, may be counterbalanced by the play of five incoming freshmen, including point guard Twiggy McIntyre from Sapulpa, OK, and forward Claire Coggins from Lee’s Summit, MO. McIntyre averaged 11 points per game in the Wildcats’ two exhibition games and Coggins scored 13 points in twelve minutes of play during the 11/9/03 game versus Sparta Praha.

    The biggest weakness for the Wildcats? Playing in the rugged Big 12 conference. Programs like Texas, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma have been making national headlines the past few years. Baylor is an up-and-coming program, Colorado is always underrated by the national media, and Iowa State enjoyed more success than any other Big 12 team a few years ago. Such a brutal conference schedule may wear down this Wildcat team that, while having a number of veterans that know their roles, will depend on five untested players to produce as well.

    The following addresses provide link to the official webpage for the Kansas State women’s basketball team. You will find links to news, season statistics, and the 2003-2004 roster: http://www.kstatesports.com/SportSelect.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=400&KEY=&SPID=214&SPSID=3100

    The Player

    So which Kansas State player does a poor columnist highlight in his Wildcats profile? Does he go for the superstar frontcourt players Nicole Ohlde or Kendra Wecker? Nah, because everyone in the nation talks about those two and knows about their toughness and versatility (“Whack ‘em, Wecker” seems to be as well-known a chant as “Hook ‘em Horns” on the Big 12 basketball discussion board). What about all-underrated Megan Mahoney, who not only scores and rebounds for the Wildcats, but also led the squad in assists last year? Nah, everyone seems to notice the all-underrated players, which ironically doesn’t seem to take them off the all-underrated lists. How about Twiggy McIntyre, she of the 5’5” frame, the cool-as-a-breeze dreadlocks, and retro nickname? Nah, she’s a freshman. What’s left you ask? Plenty.

    Laurie Koehn is a 5’8” junior shooting guard from Hesston, KS, and Moundridge H.S. If fans are looking for a Wildcat player to light it up from 3-point land, and why not as the Boilers’ opponents shot 36.1% from that distance last year, they’d look for Koehn as soon as she leaves the team bus. While the redshirt junior may have an injury bug, missing her entire freshman year and 10 games of her redshirt sophomore year, she’s on her way to obliterating school records in all three-point categories. Her two seasons on the Manhattan campus have brought her to #2 rankings in the school’s history for 3-percentage (41.8) and #3 rankings for 3-pointers made (194) and attempted (464). She’s also equally deadly from the free throw line, where more than 80% of her shots tickle the twine. And it’s not as if foes can forget she’s on the court like a pair of lost glasses: she has averaged more than three 3-pointers made for her career and has torched teams like Texas, Notre Dame, Colorado, and Iowa for 5, 6, 7, and even 10 three pointers in a single game.

    Koehn is by no means only a shooter. She’ll grab three or four rebounds per game, hand out an assist or two and grab a steal. And while it seems she’s most comfortable beyond the arc, she’s athletic enough to have won Kansas state championships in track and field in the distance running events. While her foot problems may have caused problems in the past, look for Koehn’s toughness and shooting touch to challenge the Boilermakers in the season opener.

    The following addresses are to Koehn’s official bio page on the Kansas State website and an article written about Koehn and her faith on the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ webpage: http://www.kstatesports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?SPSID=3103&SPID=214&DB_OEM_ID=400&ATCLID=28961&Q_SEASON=2003

    http://www.fca.org/partner/Article_Display_Page/0,,PTID2666%7CCHID387382%7CCIID1495322,00.html

    The Prediction

    The Wildcats are beyond tough in many areas of the game and hold a decided advantage over the Boilermakers in the frontcourt: Ohlde, Wecker, and Mahoney are tough enough and versatile enough to cause problems for any opponent. Guard play will be strong as Koehn will probably bomb away to attack the Boilers defense and stretching it enough to get inside looks to the frontcourt players. And this is a team that has jelled the last two years, getting accustomed to one another’s quirks and thoughts: there should be no reason for the Wildcats to have a bad outing due to chemistry or on-court knowledge. Role players like Brie Madden and Chelsea Domenico bring solid defense and passing skills, respectively, to the court.

    However, the game is in Mackey. It may not be a significant difference, but the Wildcats seem to play a little bit different on the road: playing close games against foes they should have handled with more ease: the team’s only road losses last year were to Stanford, Texas Tech, and Iowa State, but there were close games at UW-Green Bay, Northern Illinois, Baylor, and Missouri. Kansas State won’t get rattled by any means, but a decided pro-Purdue crowd may energize the Boilers down the stretch against the possibly tired Wildcats.

    However II: the Boilermakers also will have an edge over Kansas State on experienced depth. The Boilers return four starters, all seniors this year; its top frontcourt reserve from last year is now a starter; add an aggressive sophomore class that’ll claw and tussle for every loose ball, and an excellent set of recruits ready to hit Mackey officially for the first time. With a new up-tempo style of play for the Boilermakers, Kansas State may not have the legs to win at Mackey.

    If the game were later in the season or at Bramlage Coliseum, I might have had other thoughts as freshmen jitters tend to settle down and the newcomers have better jelled with the veterans as the season progresses. But it’s November and it’s Mackey. Purdue wins a close one, 78-70.


As news organizations move their stories to an archive, some of the links listed above may become inactive

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