Oklahoma State’s star point guard is working on toughening up her young understudy. "You have to,” Andrea Riley said of her effort to improve freshman Kelsey Hatcher. "Because in the Big 12 you’re not going to get any easy-breezy nothing.”
While things won’t be easy-breezy in the rough-and-tumble Big 12, the Cowgirls will have Riley for those games. But come NCAA Tournament time, OSU will have to find a way to win one without its all-conference superstar point guard. Riley, last year’s Big 12 leading scorer, will have to sit out OSU’s first Tournament game for unsportsmanlike behavior in last year’s Sweet 16 game. That means backups Hatcher and junior Ally Clardy will have to answer the call, playing all the minutes in the opening-round game. OSU coach Kurt Budke said Clardy, who has played limited minutes the last two seasons, "has been playing great.” Hatcher, a standout shooter, is likely the Cowgirls’ point guard of the future. The freshman from Little Rock won 11 state championships at Central Arkansas Christian — four in both track and field and soccer, two in basketball and one in cross country "That shows she’s a winner,” Budke said. "She’s making the transition to college, and that can take some time but she’s doing well. She’s a kid who works extremely, extremely hard.” Riley said the game she won’t play isn’t something she thinks about much, but because of it she’ll be even more conscious of pushing Hatcher and Clardy in practice. "Going out and practicing hard consistently every day, playing tight defense, staying up on them to where they’ll be used to the bumps and somebody going hard after them for 40 minutes,” Riley said.