Owens becoming vocal leader for Lady Toppers

Brad Stephens

LaTeira Owens had a long talk with her coach last spring after the season.

The forward, who averaged 10.4 points per game as a junior, would be WKU’s top returning scorer for the 2011-12 season.

Head Coach Mary Taylor Cowles said she wanted Owens to be the type of leader she needed to take the Lady Toppers back to the postseason.

“We spent a lot of time talking about her and her abilities and our expectations for her coming into her senior year,” Cowles said. “Her senior season means a lot to this young lady.”

Owens was selected in October to the All-Sun Belt Conference second-team, the only WKU player to make any of the league’s three preseason teams.

Her shooting and rebounding skills have made her the Lady Toppers’ best offensive player, as evidenced by her performance in WKU’s 84-59 win over Kentucky Wesleyan last Sunday.

Owens led the Lady Toppers with 26 points and 11 rebounds, going 8-of-13 from the field and 10-of-11 from the free throw line.

But instead of just leading with the numbers she was putting up, Owens said she’s made a more concerted effort to be heard on the court.

“The main thing is to be more vocal, because last year I wasn’t vocal on the court,” she said. “I didn’t know how to do that… Now I have that leader role.”

Cowles said her five seniors have each taken coaching and teaching roles in getting WKU’s seven freshmen ready for their first taste of college play.

She said Owens is the kind of player who “calls it like she sees it.”

“LaTeira’s always been very vocal,” Cowles said. “She’s quick to compliment a teammate, and she can be quick to call a teammate out because that’s how she is. I think you need that.”

She contrasted Owens’ communication with that of senior forward Jasmine Johnson, who she said “may be the first one to go put her arm around somebody.”

“They blend together so well as a group of seniors that I think that’s been a tremendous impact on our freshmen,” Cowles said.

Owens and frontline partner, senior Keisha Mosley, handled the Panthers almost by themselves in the exhibition win.

Owens driving and attacking game was complemented by Mosley’s 20 points and 9-of-12 shooting in the low post.

“We have a good post game, and that’s what we rely on,” Owens said. “We rely on our post game because it will open up scoring and drives for our guards.”

Owens’ talents both scoring and rebounding from the forward position have caused expectations to be higher this season for her than for any other Lady Topper.

But Cowles said the entire senior class, not just Owens, will have to play well if WKU is to be NCAA-bound in March.

“Do I think a lot’s expected from LaTeira? Of course I do,” Cowles said. “But I think a lot’s expected from our seniors altogether, and I’m talking about production on the basketball floor.”