The Wichita State Shockers went 26-6 this year and earned a 14 seed in the women’s NCAA tournament, which gets underway this weekend. Shockers head coach Jody Adams, who led Wichita State to a second consecutive tournament appearance, joined Bill Littlefield.
BL: You are matched against No. 3 Penn State on Sunday. How do you like your team’s chances?
[sidebar title="The Men's Side" width="330" align="right"] Wichita State's Rob Baker has a small Kansas town buzzing. [/sidebar]
JA: You know, I like our chances a lot. They have that seniority—four starters for them being seniors. We only have one senior on our team period, so there’s a little bit more experience with the Penn State team. Part of what they have that we don’t have is probably the size. That’s the biggest difference that I see, but we’re going to stick to our guns and how we have had success throughout the season and take our Shocker defense and our mentality to Penn State.
BL: You have had a strong season, of course, but the men’s team at Wichita State is a No. 1 seed. They have been in the limelight all year long. Does their success help or hinder you in what you’re trying to accomplish on the women’s side?
JA: Oh, I think it helps. You just have to appreciate what the men have done. They have history way back to who knows when, when they went to the Final Four the first time [in 1965]. We’re creating history right now. We would love to be like them one day and get a first seed and be able to venture into that Final Four. But right now we are where we are. You know, we got to the dance last year, and, OK, now we know what that’s like. Well, we want to get further now. So we’re going to be greedy, and we want more now.
BL: You were the starting point guard on Tennessee’s 1991 championship team, so you played for the winningest college coach, Pat Summitt. You also played for the one-time winningest high school coach, Jim Smiddy. I wonder how that experience translates to your coaching and translates to your players?
JA: I think it does. Coach Smiddy, he was special, my high school coach. He was ahead of his time. We played against guys in practice. We played man-to-man defense and our offense was screen and roll. There wasn’t anything complex. We weren’t running the triangle. We weren’t running the chin offense or anything like that. But it was very simple but it was basketball.
And then you had the pleasure of going to play for someone great like Pat Summitt and to learn her winning ways. And it was all about getting out of your comfort zone. I felt like every day I walked into her practice I was on the edge. You’d make a choice: you quit or are you going to compete today? When you chose to compete you got better. And if you chose to quit you didn’t like the repercussions of quitting, so we chose to compete. And those are the things as a coach today I want to pass on to my student athletes.
BL: Do you have a long-term plan for making the team better and better over the years or is it a season-by-season challenge?
JA: No, I think you look at it long term. I’m entering into my fifth year, coming in at the bottom, and we had never had any history of winning any sort of championship. Not even the Piggly Wiggly Classic. We hadn’t even gotten first in it, so I wanted to change the environment. We got to continue to bring greatness here in our recruits, you know, that want that, that want to win and are just not settled to go to the NCAAs and not competing in our first game. We want to compete against Penn State. If we play our best and we play a complete game then we have a chance. Our chances are as good as anybody’s. Why not?
BL: I don’t want to inject anything negative into the conversation but it sounds like your voice is about to give out. That’s not something you want to have happen as the tournament begins.
JA: If you had talked to me two days ago you would have been like, “Have you been smoking cigarettes or something?” It’s actually better. It’s actually a lot better.
This segment aired on March 22, 2014.