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Wednesday, February 8, 2006

KU must deal with ‘Baby Shaq’

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— Taylor McIntosh usually draws the toughest inside defensive assignment for Kansas University's women's basketball team.

McIntosh, a 5-foot-11 sophomore, almost always is undersized, but tonight she'll be climbing a veritable mountain when she shadows Oklahoma freshman sensation Courtney Paris.

"If Taylor gets behind her," KU coach Bonnie Henrickson said, "I don't know if you'd see Taylor."

Tipoff will be at 7:05 in the Noble Center.

Paris stands 6-foot-4 and surely weighs at least 200 pounds. They don't call her "Baby Shaq" for nothing. Paris leads the Big 12 Conference in scoring (21.3), field-goal percentage (.623) and blocked shots (71).

Moreover, she not only leads the league in rebounding (14.7), she's tops in NCAA Division I in that category.

"She has game-changing ability," Henrickson said. "It's been a long time since I've seen a freshman who has had that much of an impact."

Paris also has a twin sister who plays for the Sooners. Ashley Paris doesn't start, but she logs about 22 minutes a game and contributes 6.5 points off the bench.

KU's players will be seeing the Paris twins for the first time tonight, but Henrickson has seen them before. She was one of many coaches who beat a path to suburban Oakland, Calif., to watch them play.

One of those family members is Leonard Gray, an uncle who was a hotly recruited 6-8 forward at K.C. Sumner High in the late 1960s. Gray signed with KU, played on the Jayhawks' freshman team in 1969-70, then transferred to Long Beach State.

Lynne Paris, Gray's sister, is the twins' mother. Their father is Bubba Paris, a former all-pro offensive tackle with the San Francisco 49ers.

Oklahoma (19-4 overall, 9-0 Big 12) appears well on its way to the league championship, while Kansas (14-6, 3-6) retains hopes of advancing to the postseason.

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