Wichita State women’s basketball coach Keitha Adams assembled a wide-ranging group of guards with a wide-ranging recruiting plan.
Sophomores Seraphine Bastin and Carla Bremaud are from Europe and they started as freshmen. Adams had to wait two years for guard Mariah McCully to arrive on campus and then two games for her to suit up. DJ McCarty and Ashley Reid (Texas) and Maya Brewer (Missouri) are from more traditional recruiting areas.
Together, they’re adding some sizzle on both ends of the court for the Shockers (5-3), who play at Creighton (7-2) at 1 p.m. Saturday and Arkansas Pine Bluff on Monday. You can watch the AR Pine Bluff game on YurView KS (Cox Ch. 2022) and yurview.com.
“Everybody can attack; everybody can score,” Bastin said. “We don’t have a girl who’s going to score 20 points every game. Many people can score.”
That group gives Adams depth and versatility. Wichita State has won five of its past six games, highlighted by an 88-80 win at Louisiana Tech and an 88-83 home win over Oklahoma.
Last season, the Shockers didn’t top 80 points once.
Things are different in 2019-20.
“When we all get on the same page, and we’re all playing at the same pace, and our intensity is all the way up, this can be a fun group to watch play,” Adams said. “We’re very athletic.”
Bastin leads the team in assists (23) and is shooting 42.9 percent from three-point range. Bremaud, the team’s top scorer last season, made 4 of 6 threes and scored 15 points against Oklahoma. Reid, slowed by injury last season, was recruited to be a locker-room leader and she worked over the summer to improve her shooting.
McCarty’s height and athletic ability help her drive into the lane and draw fouls – she averages 10.1 points a game.
McCully, after sitting out the season’s first two games while waiting on a junior-college transfer waiver from the NCAA, averages 11.7 points and made 3 of 7 three-pointers in Saturday’s 25-point performance in a win over Eastern Michigan. She is a creator who, in recent games, made one-on-one moves late in the shot clock to help wrap up wins.
Brewer can score in bunches, as her eight points in nine minutes in a win over Oklahoma shows.
Wichita State’s offensive numbers are improved over last season and the Shockers are more troublesome on defense.
The Shockers are playing faster than last season, which is what Adams wanted. Their scoring average is 67.3 points a game, up from 56.9 last season. Last season, the Shockers made 38.8 percent of their shots, 27.4 from three-point range. This season, they are up to 42 percent overall and 30.5 behind the arc.
Some of that offensive improvement comes from defense. Turnover margin flipped from minus-1.7 to plus-2.5 this season.
“Our defense has got to set the tone for us,” Adams said. “It creates a lot of offense for us in transition.”
The Shockers average 10.1 steals a game and 18.8 points off turnovers. Last season, they averaged 8.3 steals and 14.5 points off turnovers. Five Shockers average more than a steal a game, led by Bremaud’s 2.4.
“Our team can really run,” Bremaud said after a win in their exhibition game in November. “We could see tonight that when we really run, that’s effective for us.”
Last season, the Shockers relied heavily on Bastin and Bremaud to run the offense and score. Adams saw them as foundational freshmen when she recruited Bastin from Belgium and Bremaud from France.
There is much more help this season.
Brewer gives the Shockers scoring off the bench and is a better practice worker and defender after an uneven junior season. She reached double figures three times this season, including 14 points at Missouri State, after one game last season.
— Wichita State Women’s Basketball (@GoShockersWBB) December 7, 2019
“Right after the season, I dedicated myself to having a good attitude,” Brewer said. “It’s just effort, being active, hustle plays, talking, being a leader. Then it comes natural. It helps me build more confidence.”
McCarty and McCully are both newcomers who add athletic ability and scoring punch. McCully signed with the Shockers during the 2017-18 season at Wabash Valley (Ill.) College. A hip injury sidelined her last season and she stayed at her home in Grand Rapids, Mich., to rehab. She signed a second time with the Shockers and came to campus this summer.
“Mariah’s a unique story, someone I hung in there recruiting,” Adams said. “That’s a longer situation than I’ve ever had with any recruit. We really felt like she could really impact our program and help us right away.”
While the Shocker guards are playing well, it isn’t yet a complete group. Injuries kept Bastin and Bremaud out for a game each. Guard Vendela Danielsson, regarded as an excellent shooter by Adams, missed the season’s first six games while recovering from a concussion.
“The challenging part is we’ve not been healthy,” Adams said. “Vendela is a heck of a shooter. She was out all preseason and it’s been a long wait for her. She’s not yet in full stride.”
The 3s keep coming and they don’t stop coming! Maya Brewer bangs in another trey for @GoShockersWBB as they face off against @OU_WBBall in 2nd quarter now.
Stream it: https://t.co/1kh5vVQHUm#Watchus pic.twitter.com/bC9hYO5YSp
— YurView Kansas (@YurViewKS) November 30, 2019
Adams isn’t satisfied with Wichita State’s offense. Turnovers – 17.8 a game – remain an issue. She wants to see more crispness moving the ball, setting screens and cutting. While she likes when her team goes fast on break opportunities, she wants her team to move quickly when setting up the half-court offense. To counter that, she said the Shockers might practice with a 20-second clock, instead of 30, to add to the sense of urgency.
“Our offense has a lot of room to get better in the half-court game,” she said. “Our offensive execution and our timing needs to be a lot better. We take too long to get in our offense. It feels like we’re dragging.”
Watch Arkansas Pine Bluff vs. Wichita State women’s basketball – Thursday, Monday, September 16th at 11:30 am CT on Yurview Kansas (Cox Ch. 2022) and streaming on yurview.com.