KB Stars smells the championship with solid performances from backup players.
Cheongju KB Stars defeated Bucheon Hana OneQ 74-64 in the first round of the Woori Bank Woori WON 2023-2024 Women’s Professional Basketball League on March 17 at Cheongju Gymnasium. KB Stars, who moved into sole possession of second place, has a season record of 3-1.
Unlike the 2022-2023 season, the KB Stars got off to a fresh start. Park Ji-soo (196 cm, C) has returned to full health and is anchoring the offense. Kang Isul (180 cm, F) and Heo Ye-eun (165 cm, G) have also gotten a boost from Park’s return.
However, the KB Stars faced a tough schedule early in the season. Park Ji-soo, Heo Ye-eun, and Kang Seul played over 100 minutes in three games. The game was also played on a day’s rest after their last game against Woori Bank on Nov. 15.
Before the game, KB Stars head coach Kim Wan-soo announced a drastic rotation. “We only had one day to prepare (after the Woori Bank game). We focused on managing the players’ physical condition,” he said.
With a full roster of 15 players, KB Stars started 10 players from the first quarter. Starters Park Ji-soo and Yoon-ah Yeom (177 cm, G) played only 4 minutes and 17 seconds before resting. This was partly because the starters, including Park Ji-soo and Yoon-ah, showed off their firepower early on.
Kim Min-jung (180 cm, F) and Kim Sodam (184 cm, C) were substituted one after the other. Shim Sung-young (165 cm, G) and Lee Chae-eun (171 cm, G) also took the court. All five starters went to the bench, as even Kang Yiul rested with 1:15 left in the first quarter.
The rested starters came back in at the start of the second quarter. After a shaky first quarter, the team regained their composure and extended their lead to 15 points. Yang Ji-soo (172 cm, F), who entered the game for the first time in the second quarter, also did her part with two three-pointers.
KB Stars’ active rotation continued into the third quarter. They didn’t rely on any one player, but rather took advantage of the scoring opportunities. Kim Ye-jin (168 cm, F), who was shooting around 14% from the field before this game, also hit a three-pointer.
Entering the fourth quarter with a 14-point lead, KB Stars expanded their bench. With Yeom Yoon-ah and Heo Ye-eun at the center, they kept the Hana WonQ lead at bay. All players except for Choi Sung-hyun (181 cm, F) took the court.
Coach Kim Wan-soo was more disappointed than praising his rotation players. “Jisoo (Yang) did her job well,” Kim said after the game. She kept the atmosphere alive and played like an alto. We need to utilize a lot of players. Even the players coming off the bench have to do their part within their playing time. That way, we have a strong team. I always say that we have to change the atmosphere with dirty work and defense. We foul when we shouldn’t. We miss defenses. We need to improve in the future.” 캡틴토토 주소
However, the game had a hint of the 2021-2022 season, when KB Stars won the overall title. At that time, Heo Ye-eun, Shim Sung-young, Kang Isul, Kim Min-jung, and Park Ji-soo formed a solid starting lineup, while Choi Hee-jin (180cm F), Yoon Yoon-ah, Kim Sodam, and Uhm Seo-yi (173cm F) also played at the right time.
Park Ji-soo said after the game, “With a tight schedule, playing time control and rotation are the most important. The backup players are invaluable. When you come in from the bench, it’s not easy to perform well. Every player who came in did a good job. I’m grateful to them for taking the pressure off the starters.” Park Ji-soo averaged just 28 minutes and 46 seconds in the 2021-2022 season, when the team won the overall title.
The KB Stars can still expect to improve. The form of veterans Kim Min-jung, Yeom Yoon-ah, and Shim Sung-young could be even better. Lee Yoon-mi (170 cm, F), Lee Chae-eun, Lee Hye-joo (169 cm, G), Sung Hye-kyung (177 cm, F), and Ko Hyun-ji (182 cm, F) are also pushing for playing time.