In his second year as head coach for the CSU Stanislaus women’s basketball team, Wayman Strickland has already led his team to as many wins as they posted all of last season in only the first two games.
“The main difference is last year, for better or worse, I got the job right when we started, and the program was in a bit of disarray,” Strickland said.
This year, Coach Strickland saw things differently, as he was able to recruit and work with the team in the offseason, creating what he calls a team with depth now and great leadership qualities all around.
Strickland took over a team that was very small in roster size with little or no depth just weeks prior to the beginning of the season and that was one of the main reasons that the Warriors posted only a 2-25 record, struggling to put any bodies out on the court.
“There was a lot of rebuilding and structure that had to be done,” Strickland said. “Basically last year was a foundational year. I got the job so late, so there was no way of doing summer weight lifting or anything like that but we worked on skill work and build relationships with returning players coming back, recruited girls on campus to help build a complete team and we have gotten the process of turning our program around.”
Coach Strickland knew that building a successful program comes with time, patience and winning, but he is not just worried about winning. He knows that there is more to sports.
“I preach to my team that we’re not just trying to be ok and so and so. We want to be great student athletes and it is a process,” Strickland said. “When working to be great you don’t always get results you want right away, and you can’t be focused on short term success. It’s a process and we’re starting to become a decent program, but it’s not going to be based on what we do the next few weeks, but the long run.”
With the help of parents and alumni they were able to invest in renewing the locker rooms, something that Coach Strickland said draws more attention to the recruits when they see a nice locker room.
“The Vieras and Swansons stepped up to support our basketball program. These two families have been great supporters and they helped fix our locker rooms which are sort of like a sanctuary,” Strickland said. “They stepped up and gave us some additional resources to help get us a complete locker and now we have great area and the kids love it. It’s a great recruiting tool when kids come visit. They want to see a good campus and it makes a huge deal.”
With a new year, the Warriors return only three seniors and will be leading one of the youngest squads in the California Collegiate Athletic Association. Katie Staack, Lauren and Erin Goode will be the veterans.
Lauren made the second team all conference team and that is a pretty good accomplishment when you only win two games. It shows how hard work pays off, Strickland said of his star player.
“My seniors are playing great roles as leaders; good teams always have good leadership within,” Strickland added. “So a great portion of the success in the short term and in the long term it will be a product of our coaching staff and student athletes.”
This year with a group of young individuals, Strickland feels this team is better overall, and just hopes to improve and learn as they continue to play.
“Anything that we built from now on is really due to the foundation that these young women had last year,” Strickland said. “We were never outworked but out played. These girls gave all they had every single minute of the game.”
Other players to watch for will be, Brianna Cotton, Molly Farrar, Eliza Matley along with Madelyn Birchall and Jasmine Washington who should be a force in the paint.
“Our goal is not to win two or 25 games. We want to be the best every single play if we continue that process about doing the best every play,” Strickland said. “Attention to detail whether with school, work anything like sports it will make you a better person. We just hope to be successful consistently we are sticking through with our process.”
Next game for the Warriors will be at 7 p.m. on Tuesday as they host Chico State.