Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

K-State Women Building off Summer Tour

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

K-State Women Building off Summer Tour

Article excerpt

MANHATTAN -- The first official practice for women's college basketball teams was Tuesday, but there was a slightly different feel at Kansas State.

The Wildcats had the benefit of 10 practices and four exhibition games on a European tour last summer, so they had a head start.

"It did feel different," senior forward Kaylee Page said at K-State's media day Wednesday. "We were able to have 10 practices this summer and we got a lot of the teaching out of the way so it was like we started a lot further ahead than we normally would have with this young of a team.

"It helped so much to build chemistry not only on the court but off the court. We spent so much time together touring, but we also learned a lot about each other's game and tendencies on the court."

Still, Wildcats coach Jeff Mittie had that same old opening-day feeling Tuesday.

"It still felt like the first day for me," Mittie said. "I think I'd probably be disappointed as a coach if it didn't. I saw some people tweet out in the coaching profession, 'We've had practices since June so it's not the first day.' I thought, 'Glad you're not on my staff.' If you're not excited to get going when it gets going for real, you probably ought to find a different profession, but that's just me.

"To me, those 40-minute things we do in the summer drive me crazy because it's not long enough to really get into the teeth of things. I can barely get mad enough in practice to yell at them in 40 minutes. My players wouldn't agree with that."

The Wildcats are coming off 23-win season that ended in the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year. They must replace two All-Big 12 players, center Breanna Lewis and guard Kindred Wesemann, but return a solid nucleus with seniors Page, Shaelyn Martin and Karyla Middlebrook, junior Kayla Goth and sophomores Peyton Williams and Eternati Willock.

That group is bolstered by a highly-regarded recruiting class featuring five freshmen and one junior college transfer.

"It's a new group and that's been both challenging and fun to see how the pieces fit together," said Mittie, who enters his fourth season with a 61-38 record at K-State.

"This team is stronger physically, more athletic physically than previous teams. …

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