‘Talented’ WKU hosts exhibition opener Tuesday

Cole Claybourn

WKU Head Coach Mary Taylor Cowles can only talk her team up so much before it comes time for the Lady Toppers to prove her right or wrong.

Since beginning practice Oct. 7, Cowles has said in several variations that she likes the makeup of this year’s team — maybe more than any in her previous eight seasons at WKU.

She said she likes the maturity, team chemistry, and overall balance of talent this year’s team boasts.

Now, after nearly a month of practices and Red vs. White scrimmages, Cowles will finally get a legitimate glimpse of what to expect this season when the Lady Toppers host Lindsey Wilson at 7 p.m. Tuesday in their first exhibition game of the season.

“We’re just really excited about basketball season being here,” Cowles said. “I think going into this first exhibition game, we’re a little more at ease because of what we’ve been able to cover and get in from a practice standpoint.”

Tuesday’s game is the first of two exhibitions for the Lady Toppers, with the second one coming at 2 p.m. Sunday against Lee (Tenn.).

Both are precursors to what appears to be a tough non-conference schedule for the Lady Toppers, with games against five Bowl Championship Series schools and a regular-season opener on the road against Louisiana Tech, which Cowles labeled “a very good and talented basketball team.”

With eight upperclassmen — two of whom were named to the pre-season all-Conference team — there aren’t many position battles. And even with one of those all-Conference players being senior point guard Amy McNear, Cowles said freshman point guard Chaney Means will get her fair share of playing time.

Cowles said she continues to be impressed by Means, who has seemed comfortable at the point guard position since the first day of practice.

McNear said she’s also been impressed by Means and that she’ll provide good depth at the point guard position. She said that same depth is present at every position.

“It’s unbelievable just to know that we have that extra person on the sideline that has the same ability and can produce the same as everyone else,” McNear said. “As a team, we’ll be pretty hard to stop because of that.”

Adding to the depth will be a bigger sense of team chemistry. Junior forward Jasmine Johnson said the Lady Toppers often use the exhibition games to help build that, but this year will be different.

“Even though our freshmen just came in July, we know our strengths and weaknesses,” she said. “We know what the next person is going to do. We have each other down pat right now.”