TERRE HAUTE —
More scoring options. Poised defenders. Momentum heading into the Missouri Valley Conference season.
That’s what the Indiana State’s women’s basketball team hope is provided to them when Stephanie Wittman and Chelsea Small become eligible in late December after sitting out until the end of the fall semester due to NCAA transfer rules.
Wittman is a San Antonio native originally recruited to Kansas State. She’s fought injuries during her career, even needing a minor arthroscopic procedure.
She’s had plenty of practice time to get an understanding of what coach Teri Moren expects of her. The sturdy 5-foot-9 combo guard will give the Sycamores, first and foremost, another scoring option and playmaker on the offensive end.
“Scoring, I’m a scorer,” Wittman said when asked how she’ll help the team the most. “Defensively, I’m not bad either. Hopefully, I can bring a little more on both sides of the court.”
The Sycamores finished near the top in the Missouri Valley Conference last season with a stingy defense, but ISU was last in the league in scoring.
Moren is hoping Wittman and Small provide a boost.
“Steph is a big guard that has tremendous skill,” Moren said. “She can attack, she can shoot it. We believe she can really play four spots because of her strength. She’ll spend most of her time at that off-guard, two or 3 spot. She’ll give us another kid that can shoot it but also create off the dribble. She could really end up being a special player her last year and a half here.”
Small will be playing her third collegiate season. She spent two years at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, where she averaged 10.7 points and 7 rebounds as a sophomore on a 36-1 NJCAA runner-up team.
“Ability to pass from the outside. That stretch four [player] that can shoot the ball,” Moren said. “She’s a finesse four that wants to face up and makes pretty good decisions. She’s mobile and pretty athletic.”
ISU was without Littleton for the first two games of the regular-season, and she wasn’t at 100 percent for the IU game.
“It’s stifled us with Lashonda being out,” Moren said.
But Littleton posted 10 points in ISU’s loss at Stetson, knocking down a pair of 3-pointers.
Small hopes to provide a similar presence offensively and a strong rebounder.
“Considering we have some players right now. I think once we get all the pieces to the puzzle the chemistry will flow. Once we have everybody in their spots, we’ll be good,” Small said. “I think me being able to stretch the defense out from the 4 position.”
The Sycamore duo could return for ISU’s game against East Tennessee State on Dec. 18 or a home game against Butler on Dec. 21. Wittman is itching to get on the court.
“Of course, I’m excited to get back out on the court. It’ll be a year, you get antsy,” Wittman said, adding that the few games before conference start will be invaluable to getting the rust off. “At the beginning maybe. You haven’t actually stepped on the court in a game. First game could be a little shaky, but should be good after that.
Small and Wittman like the idea of being part of a winner. The expectations are the highest since Moren was hired at ISU four years ago.
“I think it’s good for us to have that bullseye on our back,” Small said. “It should make us play that much harder.”
Wittman is ready to help make history.
“This group we have in the gym right now, I think we can do something really special. They say we’ve never been to the NCAA Tournament. This group, I think we can do it,” Wittman said.