KSU signees adjust to coaching change

By Joshua Kinder

New Kansas State women’s basketball coach Jeff Mittie already has a pretty good idea what kind of team he’s inherited after just a week on the job.

But Mittie is also already hard at work building for the extended future, which in part includes securing the three players who signed with K-State last fall.

Mittie, who was officially introduced at a press conference on Tuesday, met Shaelyn Martin last week during the first meet-and-greet with his new team at the Basketball Training Facility.

Salina Central’s 6-foot guard committed to K-State as a sophomore and made it official in November, joining Overland Park guard Lauren Mertz and St. Peters, Mo., forward McKenna Treece.

“I’m really excited to see what’s going to happen this summer and looking forward to focusing strictly on basketball and trying to improve, just to be able to play with the girls that I’ve wanted to play with for several years,” Martin said.

Though Martin is still on her way to Manhattan this summer, Mittie said he’d know more about the other two signees very soon.

“I don’t know — we’re still up in the air, so we’re going through that process right now,” he said. “This all happened so quickly, but I think in the next week or so we’ll have some answers there.”

Mertz told The Mercury on Tuesday night, however, that she is still completely set on being a Wildcat, despite the sudden coaching change. Mertz said she’s supposed to have a sit-down meeting with Mittie this week at her home in Overland Park.

“The culture there was a big thing for me, the girls there and obviously the coaching staff,” Mertz said, outlining why she chose K-State in the first place. “With one of those things being gone — I’m very sad for them and think it’s a big loss — but I’m excited for a new start and to start fresh with my new coach.”

Mertz never considered trying to get out of her letter of intent with K-State, even though it meant she wouldn’t play for a coaching staff she committed to as a freshman at Blue Valley Northwest.

“I was shocked and obviously looking for a reason why it happened — trying to wrap my brain around the fact that I wasn’t going to be playing for them — it was kind of hard to grasp at first,” said Mertz, who developed a deep appreciation for the staff after sticking with her through a pair of devastating knee injuries her sophomore and junior seasons.

“I think they’re all great people and they’re losing a bunch of great people, but I think it’s an opportunity for more great people to step up and make their mark, too.”

Martin, who helped her team to a second-place finish in the Class 5A state tournament this season, took a wait-and-see approach following Deb Patterson’s dismissal before deciding to remain with K-State.

“I had no idea anything like that was going to happen,” Martin said of Patterson’s firing. “It came as a real shock when I found out. I just heard there was going to be a press conference that day, and that was the first I had heard of it.

“I wanted to let things settle down, though, before anything drastic happened. But I think it’s going to turn out great and I look forward to getting started this summer.”

What Treece intends to do, however, still remains a mystery. The Mercury’s attempts to reach the 6-3 forward by phone on Tuesday were unsuccessful. Martin and Mertz were also unsure what Treece plans to do.

“I talked to Shaelyn about it and we’re on the same page, but I have not heard from McKenna,” said Mertz, played for the same AAU program as current Wildcats Kindred Wesemann and Jessica Sheble.

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