Making the decision to not return to Kansas State University for her sophomore season, Lanie Page knew she was going to have to sit out a little bit.
When she transferred to Fort Hays State University this semester, the 6-foot-3 forward from Wamego had been doing all she could to stay in shape and be ready to go for her first opportunity to don the black and gold Tiger uniform.
That was all well and good, but she said there was nothing she could do to mimic actual game play.
That’s just something that has to come with time.
Saturday’s 2 p.m. tip against University of Nebraska-Kearney will be Page’s fourth game as a Tiger.
She feels she’s nearly fully adjusted to the change in colors. Fort Hays State coach Tony Hobson hesitantly agreed — to a certain extent.
“The coaches and teammates have helped me out so much that really it’s been a pretty smooth adjustment so far,” said Page, who in three games has added another scoring threat with 8.7 points per night. “There’s been some struggles — learning plays and stuff — but my teammates have pointed me in the right direction.”
It also helps she now understands where she will be getting many of her scoring opportunities. She’s been focused on improving her shooting from those spots on the floor.
Hobson would like to think the Tigers have fully acclimated Page into the system with last week’s 1-1 road swing at No. 11 ranked University of Central Missouri (a 71-51 loss) and a 62-61 nailbiting victory at Southwest Baptist (Mo.) University.
But in order to go forward, he said, his Tigers kind of had to step back and re-evaluate.
“I hope we’re closer,” Hobson said. “We’ve been trying it for a couple weeks. It’s almost like you have to take one step back to take a couple steps forward.”
The road trip with a new player — though she already was familiar with a good chunk of the team already — went a long way in getting Page further in the mix for a Tiger team that already was among the best in the MIAA.
“I’m just an extra body, another scoring threat on the team to take pressure off,” said Page, who in her debut led FHSU with 14 points two weeks ago.
“Tough coming in and actually playing in a game (after a layoff). I think I’m getting my wind back.”
Sitting 12-3 overall and 3-3 in MIAA play, FHSU faces a little bit of an uphill climb. FHSU, Nebraska-Kearney and Missouri Western (the Tigers’ next two opponents) sit 3-3 and in eight place in the conference in a tight race among first through eighth.
The Tigers’ split during the weekend — fueled by junior Tatyana Legette’s 18 points at SBU — went a long way in helping keep FHSU in the mix while it adjusted to a new impact player.
“When you’re sitting there Friday 0-1, 1-1 is great,” Hobson said. “You just don’t want to give up two losses in a row on the road. It was a decent little bounce back against a pretty good team.”
That’s exactly what Kearney is ahead of Saturday’s game. The Lopers, coached by Hobson’s former assistant Carrie Eighmey (formerly Hofstetter), the Lopers are 11-3 overall, and faced similar results as the Tigers during the road swing in Missouri. UNK lost 81-46 to Central Missouri and defeated SBU 76-67. The Lopers defeated Pittsburg State and Missouri Southern — each in overtime — then lost to Washburn and Emporia. Michaela Berry leads three Lopers in double digits at 15.2 points per night.
Saturday’s contest is also part of “Mascot Day” at Gross Memorial Coliseum, where area mascots will be on hand to cheer on the Tigers.