Brett Bates, junior guard, gets ready to pass the ball. The women's basketball team is ranked third by coaches and media polls. (Korie Hawkins/Collegian photographer)

By Lea Shores
Staff reporter

Basketball season is still three weeks away but players and coaches have been busy preparing and fine-tuning their skills. On Tuesday, the anticipation really started to mount as coaches from the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference met in Wichita for the annual Media Day press conference.

Last season the women’s team finished third and was picked by both coaches and media to finish third again this year.

Dave Denly, head women’s coach, is working with a large team this year, with 29 women on the roster and four returning starters but Denly said with the amount of talent on the team this year, he isn’t sure who will be on the court when the first whistle blows.

“I couldn’t tell you right now who our five starters will be. It could change. It could vary,” he said. “There’s a lot of competition this year.”

Jasmine Jackson, junior forward, led the team in steals last season but is currently battling a pre-season ankle injury. Denly said he thinks she’ll be ok when season begins.

Jordyn Cossman, junior guard, began last season recovering from a knee injury, but Denly said came back strong at the end of the season.

Denly said, “At the end of the year she was playing her best basketball.”

Adding to the varsity team are Kaitlin Tennysonn, freshman guard, and Zefiryn Bryan, freshman forward. “When you’re two freshmen with a bunch of returners you have to have some thick skin,” said Denly.

While this year’s team is looking strong, the season looks to be a tough one. “Our kids will get tested,” said Denly. “We have a murders row on our schedule early in November.”

The women will be facing two teams who made the final 16 in the NAIA tournament, Hastings and Breyer State. “It will be interesting to see how we come out of that,” said Denly.

Kansas Wesleyan, picked second by media and coaches, is returning all five of its starters this season and Sterling, picked first, is returning 10 of last year’s top 11 players. Sterling lost the conference Player of the year in Cathryn Wiebe who led the conference in both scoring and rebounding last season. However, Lonnie Kruse, head coach, said the team picked up several key freshmen.

The women open at home against Dallas Christian on Nov. 5. Conference play begins Dec. 2 at Sterling.

Lea Shores is a senior majoring in English. You may e-mail her at lea.shores@sckans.edu.