Big 12 quick-hitters: Oklahoma State cancels opener after positive tests

West Virginia gets defensive with Gondrezick

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Three Oklahoma State players test positive for COVID-19

The Oklahoma State women’s basketball team has canceled its season opener and suspended in-person practices after three players tested positive for COVID-19. None of the players reported severe symptoms, per a university press release. The Cowgirls were set to tip-off on the road at Little Rock on Nov. 25, and the conference has yet to cancel the Cowgirls’ Nov. 29 game against Oral Roberts.

“We’ll get through this,” Cowgirls head coach Jim Littell said. “Our first priority is creating a safe environment for the people in our program. If that means we need to alter our schedule, then that’s what we’ll do. We won’t set an exact date for a return to team activities because of the uncertain nature of the virus. Our focus is to make sure that everyone is well taken care of and to do our part to minimize the spread. We’ll figure out the rest later.”

All other Big 12 programs are set to start their seasons on schedule. Kansas State and West Virginia were the lone squads to opt out of a Nov. 25 start date prior to the season.

Nov. 25 opener:
Baylor vs. Central Arkansas
Kansas vs. Northern Colorado
Iowa State vs. Omaha
Oklahoma vs. Houston
TCU vs. Incarnate Word
Texas vs. SMU
Texas Tech vs. UTRGV

Nov. 27 opener:
West Virginia vs. Fresno State

Nov. 29 opener:
Kansas State vs. Southern
Oklahoma State vs. Oral Roberts (TBD)

National preseason honors announced

Two national preseason watchlists were announced on Monday. Both the Women’s Jersey Mike’s Naismith Trophy and the Wade Trophy are given out to the nation’s top collegiate women’s basketball player. The Naismith preseason list names 50 preseason candidates, while the “Wade Watch” names just 33 players.

The list is headlined by Baylor’s NaLyssa Smith and Iowa State’s Ashley Joens, who received votes in the AP women’s basketball All-America team but did not make the final five-player cut.

Oklahoma sharpshooting guard Taylor Robertson and Baylor’s reigning Sixth Woman of the Year Queen Egbo were the lone names who cracked the Big 12 preseason team but missed out on national honors. The Big 12 tied for the most Naismith list selections with nine, though three squads (West Virginia, Kansas, and Oklahoma) were without a player on either watchlist.

West Virginia reloads on the defensive end

Last year, West Virginia guard Kysre Gondrezick had it all figured out on the offensive end, but lagged behind her teammates defensively. The then-junior was West Virginia’s leading scorer last season, averaging 15.3 points per game on top of 3.1 assists and 1.3 steals.

But she never quite hit her stride with conditioning, and she’ll be the first to say that she wasn’t happy with her play on the defensive side of the ball.

Then, this offseason, she lost 48 pounds.

Expect West Virginia guard Gondrezick to reach the next level of her defensive game. Head coach Mike Carey said the improvement in practice has been “night and day,” and that the team comes into the season with five high-level defenders. Gondrizeck said she feels a lot faster this year, which should help her generate even more transition opportunities.

“The better shape that I was going to be in, the better I feel like I will be as a player,” Gondrezick said. “I think my offense would have skyrocketed last year if I were able to play on both ends and ignite my defense into my offense. So those are areas that I'm excited about, to see how that will play out this year in terms of the things that I have worked on.”

Outside of Baylor, West Virginia had the best defense in the Big 12 last year. But the Mountaineers struggled to convert many of their defensive stops into transition buckets.

“The last couple years what's probably been the biggest disappointment is two things … we haven't scored and our defense hasn't helped us get some easy buckets at the other end,” Carey said. “And I think we'll be able to do that a little bit this year.”

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