MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State embarks on its 39th season of women’s basketball and the 20th season of play in Bramlage Coliseum with an exhibition game against the Lady Blues of Washburn at 7 p.m. on Thursday night. Head coach Deb Patterson welcomes back six players who started at least 15 games in 2006-07 return, as well as eight total letterwinners from a team that finished 19-15 and advanced to its second straight WNIT semi-final appearance. The Wildcats also welcome in four fresh faces with the addition of junior Kelsey Nelson and freshmen Kelsey Hill, Shalin Spani and Jackie Stanley.
Heading up the list of returners for K-State are senior Kimberly Dietz, juniors Shalee Lehning and Marlies Gipson and sophomore Ashley Sweat.
Dietz paced the Wildcats in scoring a season ago with a career-high average of 13.3 points per game. The guard from Boulder, Colo., is poised to become the 33rd member of the 1,000-point club as she enters the season with 873 points for her career.
Lehning paced the Wildcats in rebounds (6.9 rpg) and assists (5.26), finishing second in the conference in assists per game and assists/turnover ratio (1.70) on her way to honorable mention All-Big 12 honors. The perennial All-Big 12 candidate from Sublette, Kan., ranks fifth in school history in career assists (368) and 26th on the career rebounds chart (460).
Gipson looks to bounce back from an injury shortened 2006-07 season with a strong effort this year. The forward from McPherson, Kan., was on pace for All-Big 12 honors as she was averaging 12.8 points per game, 8.3 rebounds per game and 2.4 blocks per game in 16 contests before a knee injury in mid-January derailed her season.
Sweat enters her second season with the Wildcats after earning All-Big 12 rookie team honors and being named to the WNIT All-Tournament Team. After a slow start to her rookie campaign, the forward from McPherson, Kan., finished strong with an average of 11.4 ppg and pulling down 4.9 rebounds per contest.