Nine days without a game can cause a basketball team to lose momentum and to accumulate rust.
Not Kansas University's women, however. Not according to coach Bonnie Henrickson.
"Right now," Henrickson said, "we're sharper than we were before."
The Jayhawks (3-1), idle since spilling Creighton, 60-47, on Nov. 20 in Omaha, Neb., will entertain Western Illinois (1-4) tonight.
Tipoff will be at 7:05 p.m. in Allen Fieldhouse. Sunflower Broadband Channel Six will have a live telecast.
Henrickson would have preferred to have played at least one game during the nine-day break. In fact, KU officials tried to schedule a game for Sunday, but negotiations fell through.
Still, Henrickson isn't complaining about the long layoff.
"It really worked out well for us," the third-year KU coach said. "It was good to be able to focus on us as a team."
With half her roster composed of freshmen, Henrickson has been conducting a shaking-out process during the nonconference portion of the schedule.
Kelly Kohn and Sade Morris have stepped to the head of the seven-member freshman class. The 5-foot-8 Kohn has emerged as the starting point guard, while the 5-11 Morris has developed into a solid wing player.
Meanwhile, Olathe East product Danielle McCray has become a solid scoring threat off the bench, even though her minutes have been limited because of a summer foot injury that set her back.
"She's still behind in conditioning," Henrickson said of McCray. "She runs out of gas pretty quickly, and she's been resting on defense. She just needs to get in better shape."
McCray is averaging 7.3 points a game, the Jayhawks' fourth-highest scoring number, despite logging only about 14 minutes on the floor.
Post player Marija Zinic, a 6-2 sophomore, is the lone KU player averaging double-figure points. Zinic is scoring at an 11.3 clip. She and junior Taylor McIntosh are the rebounding leaders with 25 apiece.
Nine Jayhawks are averaging at least 3.5 points per game as Henrickson shuffles players in and out to keep them fresh on defense. KU is forcing 22.5 turnovers per game and nearly half of that total are steals.
"Right now we have a lot of kids bringing things to the table," Henrickson said. "I think our depth will help us all season."
Western Illinois, coached by Iola native Leslie Crane, is off to a rough start with its lone win coming against Hannibal-LaGrange. The Westerwinds have two players from Kansas - soph Lindsay Boss from Santa Fe Trail High and freshman Jordon O'Brien of Parsons.
Kansas will travel Sunday to Wisconsin, then entertain South Dakota State the following Wednesday.