By any Means: Lady Topper senior endures program troubles

WKU senior guard Chaney Means (2) gives commands to her teammates during the women’s basketball game against Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday in Diddle Arena. WKU won 92-63. (Kreable Young/HERALD)

Kyle Williams

Over the last four seasons, the WKU women’s basketball program has undergone numerous personnel changes and only one Lady Topper has endured the refinements – senior guard Chaney Means.

Means, who has appeared in 119 games throughout her WKU career thus far, is the only Lady Topper remaining from the 2010-11 team.

The 5-foot 8-inch Lawrenceville, Ga. native won just 20 regular-season games through her first two years on the Hill under former coach Mary Taylor Cowles, but since then, Means and the Lady Toppers have nearly doubled that total, allotting 41 victories under coach Michelle Clark-Heard.

After Cowles was fired, Means said she wanted to remain a Lady Topper, but was uncertain about her future. However, when she met Heard for the first time, she knew the program was headed in the right direction.

“I was worried about what was going to happen,” Means said. “All the change and everything, but when coach Heard got the job and talked to me it was awesome. I was just excited to see her vision for the program.

“When you talk to coach Heard you can just see her passion…I think that was a big thing for me, I could see her passion. Not just for basketball but specifically for Western Kentucky.”

After Heard was hired, she had the opportunity to meet with Means and her parents and, at that time, Heard said Means expressed her trust in her and vowed to bring a whatever-it-takes mentality to the revamped Lady Topper team.

“She’s been through everything,” Heard said. “She’s been through the coaching change, she’s been through everything that’s happened…For me as a coach, it’s a joy to coach someone like her because everyday I know she’s going to bring it – the same attitude, the same work ethic not only as a basketball player but as a person.

“She wants to win, she loves Lady Topper basketball and I’m just really excited that I have had a chance to continue to keep coaching her. It’s a privilege and honor.”

During Heard’s first season, Means recorded a career-high 29 starts and 23.9 minutes per game as the Lady Toppers set the Sun Belt Conference mark for largest single-season turnaround following a 10-21 season in 2011-12. Means has been dubbed the Lady Toppers’ X-Factor ever since.

Despite being just a junior during the 2011-12 season, there were no seniors on the roster; therefore, Means said she had to assume the role of senior leader a year early, but welcomed the challenge.

“It’s kind of a unique situation because we didn’t have any seniors last year, so I kind of had to step into that role earlier than expected,” Means said. “It really has been cool just getting to mentor the younger girls and just kind of share with them what I’ve experienced. They’ll come to me because they know I’ve been through mostly everything…I kind of embrace it.”

According to Means’ father, Chandler Means, the adversity she dealt with during her freshman and sophomore year allowed her to grow into the leader she is today.

“She had never really gone through a great deal of adversity,” Chandler said. “And she had to go through a lot of adversity during her first two years at WKU, so I think as a person that’s where she’s really grown is learning how to handle adversity, rise above it and keep a positive attitude.”