WKU Women’s Basketball: Lady Tops focused on team concept as practices begin

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. WKU Lady Topper Basketball gave fans a first look at its 2019-20 roster Saturday with an open practice at E.A. Diddle Arena.

The Lady Toppers went through a lengthy practice of about three hours, purposefully meant to test their endurance and their decision-making when fatigued.

“The game doesn’t end with everyone rested,” WKU head coach Greg Collins said. “The season doesn’t end with everyone healthy and 100 percent. We’re trying to put them in some of those situations and recreate that feeling of having to make good decisions under pressure.”

The Lady Toppers are entering Year 2 under Collins, who last year led WKU to the Conference USA Tournament semifinals in his first season at the helm.

Playing one of its most difficult schedules in many years, the Lady Tops secured their seventh straight 20-win season in 2018-19.

“We’ve had a bunch of kids working hard all summer long, so we’re glad to get the whole team here and start building on what we did last year,” Collins said. “We’re trying to resolve some issues that we had – we felt like we had some unfinished business last year.”

The Lady Toppers return their top five scorers from last year’s squad, led by redshirt senior guard Dee Givens, who averaged 17.6 points and was a First-Team All-C-USA Selection a year ago.

Junior forward Raneem Elgedawy returns after averaging 15.4 points and 7.7 rebounds last year. Also back are redshirt senior guard Alexis Brewer (11.4 points per game), sophomore guard Meral Abdelgawad (8.1 ppg), senior guard Whitney Creech (6.1 ppg), among others who will see their roles increase.

After having to replace the production of outgoing stars Ivy Brown and Tashia Brown last season, Collins said having a core group of returners back this season changes the mentality in the preseason.

“It’s a different process,” he said. “Last year we were trying to replace 50 percent of our scoring and a lot of our rebounding, so we had a different initial goal heading into practice. Now we’re doing a little more building, making sure we know who’s going to get the shots and where they’re going to come from, and really working on our team concept.”