Chambers, Wildcats looking for ways to end offensive funk

By Joshua Kinder

Brittany Chambers has averaged about 15 points per game during her three years at Kansas State and led the Wildcats in scoring each of the past two seasons.

However, being the Brittany Chambers everyone has come to expect has become increasingly difficult for her.

The junior guard has struggled of late, but not necessarily the way you might think. It’s not that Chambers has missed an abundance of shots or turned the ball over excessively. It’s that Chambers hasn’t even been able to get shots.

During the course of 14 straight games, the Jordan, Minn., native attempted no fewer than 12 shots a game and averaged more than 15 attempts per game.

But in three of the last four games, Chambers’ usual free-firing stroke has been corralled — first by Texas Tech, then by Oklahoma and most recently on Wednesday night against Iowa State.

The Wildcats pulled out a win against Tech, despite Chambers getting free for just nine shots, making four to finish with 15 points.

But against the Sooners, it was a different story, as the 5-foot-8 guard struggled to even get looks — making 2-of-11 from the field and finishing with 10 points in the 65-57 loss.

On Wednesday, the Cyclones used a box-and-one defense and chased Chambers around with double teams, limiting her just one shot attempt in the first half and four in the second half. Chambers finished with just six points in the loss, marking just her third game in single figures all season.

“It’s a combination of things that’s the problem,” said Chambers, who’s averaging 15.4 points and a team-best 6.3 rebound per game this season. “Defenses are doing box-and-ones and doubling, so defenses have gotten harder. But we’re not setting screens and I’m not cutting hard enough. If I’m not cutting hard and I’m getting doubled, then there’s no chance.”

Though Chambers has been quick to accept the responsibility for her lack of scoring recently, she has been contributing in other ways, especially on the boards, leading the Wildcats in rebounds in five of the last seven games — including a game-high 10 at Texas Tech.

Chambers admits there’s a sense of frustration right now with the newfound struggles. Given that, she says it’s on her to find other ways to get shots and focus more on getting others better offensive looks.

“I wish sometimes that I could just play, but that’s not going to happen,” she said. “I have to find a way to score and find a way to improve the team if I’m not scoring. I just have to help find a way to win and if that’s not me scoring, then it’s getting other people open so they can.

“I know I won’t get stand-still 3s right now, so I need to work to find other ways to score and get the ball — anything to help win games.”

But senior guard Tasha Dickey said the rest of K-State’s offense isn’t working hard enough to get Chambers open.

“Brittany is a very big factor on this team and we need her to score, and that’s on us,” she said. “We, as a team, need to find ways to get her open. We can’t just put it on Brittany, like, ‘Brittany, get open by yourself.’ We aren’t setting the screens for her and we’re not allowing her to be open. That’s on us.”

But in a way, the challenge of getting the ball into the leading scorer’s hands is just part of an overall offensive lull for the Wildcats, who travel to Stillwater, Okla., on Saturday to face Oklahoma State (12-4, 4-3) at 11:30 a.m. looking to end a three-game losing skid that started against OU.

“If you were at the driver’s exam and the guy said, ‘make a right-hand turn,’ and you turn left, you probably wouldn’t pass the exam,” K-State coach Deb Patterson said. “That’s what we’ve been doing.

“I think it’s just a statement of how inefficient we’ve been on offense. We’ve stood around, we’ve been very passive and basically not played on the offensive end.”

K-State ripped through the first four Big 12 games, even collecting a pair of wins over Top 25 opponents. But since, The Wildcats (13-6, 4-3) have fallen on hard times with two straight losses at home and now have three of the next four games on the road.

“You have to take it one at a time — you really do,” Patterson said. “From where we’re at, you just have to look at the next challenge, which is Oklahoma State, and the greater challenge, being yourself.

“We have to get our edge back, our passion, our accountability, our toughness and throw the excuse-making out the window. Whether you win or lose, there’s a way we have to play.”

That starts with playing the full 40 minutes. K-State squandered opportunities against Oklahoma and again this week against the Cyclones — sandwiched around a blowout loss on the road to No. 1 Baylor last weekend.

“The first time I saw it was in the Oklahoma game when I saw us compete that second half and act like possessions didn’t matter,” Patterson said. “Baylor is Baylor, but I think there was a bit of a snowball there because we had individuals who didn’t bring it to that game, didn’t bring the work. You might not be competitive, but you can at least bring the work.

“And (Wednesday’s) game, the first half, you’re pretty much in control. Then in the second half, boom, we don’t play.”

As far as getting Chambers’ offensive production back on track, Patterson said that corrects itself when the work phases of the game begin to improve.

“I feel like that’s our biggest hurdle right now,” she said. “We’ve got to get back to playing hard and accountable for 40 minutes. When we do that, the rest takes care of itself.”

If there is a silver lining to the Cats’ struggles, it’s that Patterson knows her team is capable of so much more because it’s shown it already this season. Just two weeks ago, the Wildcats were ranked in the Top 25 and playing their best basketball of the season with a five-game winning streak.

“They’re more than capable and that’s got to come from within,” she said. “They’re more than capable of competing hard and keeping games close, fighting the fight and making quality basketball decisions. But you have to play with a certain level of emotion to do that.”

Dickey agreed.

“Its disappointing because we’re not giving the best we can give,” she said. “We’re settling for something that we’re not. As a team, we know we can do great things. We just need to go forward and not make excuses.”

Probable starters

KANSAS STATE (13-6, 4-3)

  Ht. Yr. Ppg. Rpg.

G — Brittany Chambers 5-8. Jr.  15.4 6.3

G — Tasha Dickey 5-10 Sr. 9.7 4.1

G — Mariah White 5-8 Jr.  6.0 4.1

F — Jalana Childs 6-2 Sr. 14.9 5.4

F — Branshea Brown 6-2 Sr. 5.1 5.5


OKLAHOMA STATE (12-4, 4-3)

  Ht. Yr. Ppg. Rpg.

G — Tiffany Bias 5-6 So. 11.6 3.1

G — Jordan Schultz 5-10 Fr. 3.1 1.3

F — Liz Donohoe 6-0 Fr. 14.0 6.1

F — Lindsey Keller 6-2 Jr. 7.4 6.6

C — Kendra Suttles 6-1 So. 9.2 5.3

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