If pressure is starting to mount for the No. 4-ranked and undefeated Fort Hays State women’s basketball team, Fort Hays State coach Tony Hobson isn’t seeing it from his players.
“It doesn’t feel like that to me,” Hobson said. “I think people like to talk about (the undefeated record) and that’s fine; we want interest in our program. Maybe they’re putting a little more pressure on themselves than what I think, but I don’t notice it.
“I’d just assume be in this position. Let’s handle the pressure and move on.”
FHSU senior forward Tatyana Legette said the Tigers (15-0, 6-0 MIAA) aren’t getting too wrapped up in the success.
“We really don’t try to think about it,” Legette said of facing pressure. “We know a lot of teams are looking to take us down. You just have to be prepared and play your game and don’t think about it too much.”
Fort Hays is set for one its toughest road trips of the season, facing Emporia State (11-4, 2-3 MIAA) on Wednesday and Washburn (10-4, 5-0 MIAA) on Saturday.
ESU, which is coming off a 68-66 heartbreaker at Missouri Western, will be looking to avenge an 84-74 loss to the Tigers on Dec. 8 in Hays.
“I know Emporia is going to be waiting in the weeds for us after we beat them here earlier in the year,” Hobson said. “… I know in their minds they think they can beat us, and they’re tough to play there (in White Auditorium). We’ll have to really be ready and kind of have to change gears because they play zone, trap like crazy. Probably have to defend a little differently because they have a couple kids who are tough to stay in front of.
“It’ll be a challenge but I think we’re ready for it.”
Tyra Jones leads four Hornets averaging in double figures with 15 points per game. Jessica Wayne is putting up 14.5 points a game while Emily Miller and Addie Lackey are averaging 12.3 and 10.9, respectively.
“Watch for Tyra Jones,” Legette said of keys in facing ESU. “She is an asset for Emporia. And they have a lot of good shooters, so communicating is very important for our team because we do a lot of switching.”
Game time Wednesday is set for 5:30 p.m. in White Auditorium.
Tiger men gear up for tougher stretch
Mark Johnson already feels like the Fort Hays men have been through a gauntlet in the MIAA, and the Tigers’ coach knows it's only going to get tougher.
In what Johnson believes to be one of the best top-to-bottom years for the MIAA as a whole, Fort Hays is off to a 5-1 start in league play, taking care of the teams in the bottom half of the conference standings.
The Tigers (11-4 overall) play five of their next seven on the road, starting with Wendesday’s 7:30 p.m. game at ESU.
“I feel like we’ve had a really hard schedule and it’s only going to get harder,” Johnson said. “We’re going to be on the road and playing some really good teams. This league has always been the best league in the country. Just from what I’ve seen so far, this is the best I ever remember it being.
“This is going to be a challenge for us, but that’s want you it to be. You want to be battling in a league like this and we’re going to have to continue to play well if we want to win games.”
FHSU beat ESU 86-78 in the first meeting in Hays. ESU sits 7-7 overall and 2-3 in MIAA play, coming off an 85-79 win at Missouri Western.
Five Hornets are averaging in double figures, led by Kooper Glick (14.4) and Malik Hluchoweckyi (14.1).
FHSU senior guard Marcus Cooper is coming off two of his better games as a Tiger, scoring 22 against Northeastern State and 24 against Central Oklahoma on combined 17 of 22 shooting from the field.
Johnson said Cooper’s shot selection has been improving of late.
“I think at times Marcus settles for jump shots; he’s so strong and athletic,” Johnson said. “His drive needs to set up his jump shot instead of his jump shot set up his drive. I think he’s getting into the mindset of attack the rim and let the jump shot come to him.”