On Jan. 10, the Texas Tech women’s basketball team was a perfect 14-0 and ranked No. 10 in the nation. The Lady Raiders were back.
Twenty days later, Tech was out of the top 25 and in the midst of a five-game losing streak. The Lady Raiders were down, but not out.
Eight weeks went by, Tech lost in the third round of the WNIT to San Diego, 60-51, in Lubbock — a team Tech had beaten by one mere months earlier in California. The Lady Raiders were out.
It’s a question coach Kristy Curry and her staff have worked tirelessly to figure out. Last year’s Lady Raiders lost only one player from their 2010-11 tournament team and brought back its top two scorers.
“It hurt,” said Curry, whose now in her seventh season leading Tech. “You wake up every day expecting to win every day, whether you’re on the recruiting trail or home or here or on the court. Whatever that day holds, you want to win that day, just as a competitor. So, yeah, I mean, it’s disappointing the way we finished the year.”
Now how do you fix it?
It’s the first thing Curry said at media day: little things.
“Little things that you can do that make a difference,” is the answer, Curry said. “And it sounds simple, and it really is.”
It’s as simple as hitting free throws or boxing out properly, Curry said.
It’s as simple as taking every possession seriously, she added.
All the little things that went wrong combined to make one big problem — a missed NCAA tourney last year.
That’s the mindset that’s being indoctrinated into the Lady Raiders.
Curry asked her players to read a book about leadership in the summer. The core of the group, five senior guards, recognize their new roles as leaders.
“We all pretty much changed our attitude and have taken on the challenge of a new year,” guard Mary Bokenkamp said, “and us as seniors especially have take it personal to be better leaders for the freshmen. Having a big freshman class come in, a lot of new people, so just changing that overall attitude and work ethic. It started from offseason from summer to now. Everybody’s working hard.”
Every team says it wants to make the NCAA tournament every year. Not every team buys into that, and not every team has the ability — it’s just the nature of college basketball.
The Curry-led Lady Raiders mean it more than ever this season.
With Lubbock hosting the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament, the Lady Raiders can make their program known once again as a legitimate power in women’s hoops.
Curry maintains there isn’t any added pressure to succeed.
“Everybody always talks about pressure,” Curry said. “I’ve never felt pressure, I’ve always felt responsibility.”
Curry says its her responsibility to fix what’s wrong.
“If it’s a wow moment, like ‘wow, man, I don’t want that to happen again,’ how can I not let that happen again?” Curry said.
The Lady Raiders are following suit, taking charge for last season’s mistakes.
Senior point guard Monique Smalls knows there were a lot of “shoulda, coulda, woulda,” moments the team had to get over in the offseason.
Instead of dwelling on them, though, she and her teammates asked, “how do we fix it?’
“I need to be more of a scoring threat,” Smalls said at Big 12 Media Day in October, “which I would say everybody on the team has become a scoring threat. We have put up so many shots this summer, from the offseason, summer and preseason, we’ve shot so much.”
Guard Chynna Brown said she has become a more vocal leader. Forward Kelsi Baker has worked on her conditioning and outside game.
Tech’s top returning scorer, Casey Morris, called last year a learning experience.
With one year left for the senior quintet, and with Curry fully expecting to make the tournament, the Lady Raiders are ready to move on to better days.
“I feel like we can just go into it as veterans,” Morris said, “and do the best we can to get past it.”
To comment on this story:
email@example.com • 766-8723
firstname.lastname@example.org • 766-2166