If there was a theme to the second half of last week, it was accountability, and as Ashia Woods put it, “consequences.”
The two days of practice following the Kansas State women’s basketball team’s home loss to Iowa State on Wednesday offered a crash course in toughness, the need for a greater focus and what happens when goals aren’t met.
“After Wednesday, if you’re right toe was over the line and we didn’t want it there, then you were going to be accountable to that,” K-State coach Deb Patterson said Monday. “If you don’t go get that rebound, then you’re accountable to that — to an absolute extreme level.”
For Woods, the two days leading up to the Wildcats’ game at Oklahoma State especially hit home.
“She did a lot of running and she’s going to continue to do a lot of running if she doesn’t continue to bring that accountability,” Patterson said. “We can’t let ourselves slip like we did in the second half against Iowa State. We can’t lose our edge again.”
The freshman guard said Thursday and Friday’s practices were “mind-blowing.”
“The last two practices were more than hard, they were the hardest practices I’ve ever worked,” she said. “I don’t like to run like that and if you threaten with running, I’m going to do everything I can to make sure I do things right.”
Whatever happened behind the closed doors of Bramlage Coliseum seemed to get the Wildcats’ attention, as K-State (14-6, 5-3 Big 12) put a three-game losing streak behind it with a key 67-56 road victory over the Cowgirls on Saturday.
K-State is hoping it carries over into Wednesday’s game at Texas when the Wildcats travel to Austin to face the Longhorns (13-7, 3-5) at 7 p.m.
Saturday’s road win also offered a glimpse into what Woods might be able to do for this team down the stretch this season and beyond, as the Wichita Collegiate product scored seven points and grabbed four rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench.
“Those practices transferred over to the game and got me on the right track and thinking about the things I do, the things I don’t do and the things I need to do,” said Woods, who connected on a big 3-pointer and made all four shots from the foul line.
“I’m getting more comfortable with what I’m supposed to be doing and the system in knowing what to do when I’m out there.”
Woods’ growth this season has been somewhat gradual, as she’s averaging just 2.6 points and 2.7 rebounds a game for the Wildcats.
“The game is much more tougher, more physical and a lot faster at this level,” senior forward Jalana Childs said. “That’s a hard thing for a freshman to adjust to, but I think she’s done a good job so far, especially on the defensive end.”
Woods has shown flashes of athleticism this team could use, for sure. But before Saturday, it didn’t always translate into numbers on a stat sheet — especially when it counted most — on the road in the Big 12, while trying to shake a losing skid.
“She clicked in and I haven’t seen her practice that hard since the first two days of practice and the practice before we played Purdue,” Patterson said.
“If she works her tail off like that, invests and doesn’t settle in and say, ‘I’m going to be Tasha (Dickey’s) sub,’ and instead takes the floor with the mentality at practice and says, ‘I can go toe-to-toe with anybody and I’m going to get better today,’ that gives her the chance to be the best she can be and us the chance to be the best we can be.”
Against Purdue, Woods drew the task of guarding the Boilermakers’ best scorer in Brittany Rayburn. The 5-foot-11 guard clamped down and held Rayburn to 3-of-14 from the floor in the 46-42 overtime loss on the road.
On Saturday, she gave even more.
“Against Oklahoma State she was a difference-maker, just like she did against Purdue when she shut down Rayburn — lock-down,” Patterson said. “But against Oklahoma State, she did the job on defense and did the job on offense and she did the job as a rebounder.
“That’s what Ashia is capable of and I think if she will give that much of herself everyday, we’re going to see a whole other level of Ashia Woods.”
Before the season started, Patterson said Woods had the potential to be one of the best Wildcats ever.
High praise so early, but now Patterson thinks Woods has taken that turn to living up to the lofty expectations.
“I think she sees it now and I think she understands and I think we’ll continue to hold her to that accountability,” Patterson said. “Once you understand yourself, what’s in there, and what you can give and what your team needs you to give consistently and you buy in, then watch out.
“When Ashia steps on the floor with the mentality she did at Oklahoma State, we’re so much better, it’s not even funny.”
But Woods isn’t alone in the Wildcats’ quest to right the ship. The Wildcats will be counting on Woods, JuliAnne Chisholm and Chantay Caron to provide a lift off the bench as K-State begins the second half of the Big 12 slate Wednesday at Texas.
“Right now, with our basketball team, and how hard we have to play as we go through February, we need those players who are capable to come in and give us production, score the ball, leave the floor with numbers as a rebounder,” Patterson said. “Don’t just be content and play a few minutes to spot somebody for a blow. It is about coming into the game and being a difference-maker.
“We don’t need three people out there that nobody is guarding. We need five out there that everybody’s worrying about guarding.”
KANSAS STATE (14-6, 5-3)
Yr. Ht. Ppg. Rpg.
G — Brittany Chambers Jr. 5-8 16.1 6.5
G — Tasha Dickey Sr. 5-10 10.0 4.3
G — Mariah White Jr. 5-8 6.0 4.3
F — Jalana Childs Sr. 6-2 14.3 5.3
F — Branshea Brown Sr. 6-2 5.0 5.4
TEXAS (13-7, 3-5)
Yr. Ht. Ppg. Rpg.
G — Yvonne Anderson Sr. 5-7 11.4 3.2
G — Ashleigh Fontenette Sr. 5.8 11.1 3.8
G — Chassidy Fussell So. 5-10 16.7 4.1
F — Ashley Gayle Sr. 6-4 6.2 7.6
F — Cokie Reed So. 6-4 8.1 5.3