To cope with this season’s struggles, Texas has compartmentalized its schedule into smaller segments to avoid looking too far ahead.
“We talked about how we were going to run this [season] with segments,” said Texas coach Gail Goestenkors. “Now, for the second segment, we wanted to go 4-0. We are rebounding better. I am very pleased. Now we start the next segment.”
The team started Big 12 competition 0-4, so Goestenkors and her staff got creative to keep the Longhorns’ (15-7, 4-4 Big 12) spirits up.
“I’ve never used the segment technique before, but when you lose you have to become very creative as a coach and just as a staff to help us move forward,” Goestenkors said.
Ending the second segment last Saturday with a win over Kansas put Texas at the .500 mark for the conference season.
Texas’ hard work and determination to pull itself up by its bootstraps has not gone unnoticed.
Freshman Chassidy Fussell was tabbed Monday, for the third time in her career, as the Phillips 66 Big 12 Conference Freshman of the Week. The guard has reached the 20-point mark 12 times this season. Fussell’s efforts have put her on the map as the first Longhorn freshman since the 2006 season to score 20-plus points or more in five consecutive games.
“I’ve been a little surprised by her consistency, she was unranked when the season began,” Goestenkors said. “Her numbers have all gone up since we’ve hit conference play.”
Also recently recognized for their efforts both on and off the court were senior Kathleen Nash and juniors Yvonne Anderson and Ashleigh Fontenette, as all three were named to the Capital One Academic All-District team.
Tonight, the Longhorns open a two-game road stretch with a game at Kansas State. The Wildcats (16-5, 6-2 Big 12) have yet to lose a game at home this season. But Texas, which went into hostile Texas Tech territory earlier this season and emerged victorious, knows a thing or two about maintaining its composure.
With a defense that ranks 11th in the nation and second in the Big 12, Kansas State is led by junior Branshea Brown — she leads the squad on the boards with 6.1 rebounds per game. The Wildcats have held their opponents this season to 53 points on average.
“They’re really smart. If a kid can’t shoot, they’re not out there guarding them,” Goestenkors said of Kansas State. “They keep you a little bit off balance because they are constantly changing their defenses.”
For KSU head coach Deb Patterson, preparing for tonight’s game has included taking a better look at what Texas has to offer. Patterson’s squad will be keeping an eye on Fussell.
“She is extremely aggressive and versatile. She can score in a variety of ways and she can score with intensity and aggressiveness,” Patterson said in Tuesday’s Big 12 teleconference. “She plays with a fearlessness that’s very important in this league. She can hurt you with a great three and she can get to the rim.”
But for the Longhorns, remaining focused and tough is the most important factor as they start a new segment of their season in Kansas at 7 p.m.
“They’re an outstanding team, especially at home,” Goestenkors said. “So we need to go in there and be both mentally and physically tough because to go on someone’s home court you’ve got to be both of those things to be successful.”