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Friday, July 10, 2009

Keegan

Women’s hoops program on rise

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Bonnie Henrickson still hasn’t coached the Kansas University women’s basketball team into the NCAA Tournament, but her bunch has managed to pull off a feat thought to be far more improbable. It has converted me from an unapologetic basher of women’s basketball to someone looking forward to next season.

All the elements — from a senior superstar to a perfect complementary star riding shotgun to a talented freshman running the point to a freakishly athletic sophomore still learning the game — are in place to make Henrickson’s sixth KU team a must-watch.

To fully appreciate how far expectations have soared in one year, consider how much pressure was on incoming freshman Angel Goodrich a year ago and how little heat is on her now, when she still is an incoming freshman, thanks to a dreaded ACL injury that prevented her from playing.

Impatient fans of Jayhawks women’s basketball a year ago counted on Goodrich becoming the savior the program so desperately needed. Now, no savior is needed. Danielle McCray took care of that, leading the Jayhawks all the way to the title game of the WNIT played in front of an announced crowd of 16,113. KU lost, 75-71, but Danielle and the Miracles won a ton of respect and new fans along the way.

Four of the five starters return, and the most heralded newcomer, Goodrich, happens to play the vacated position of point guard. Unless everybody is wrong about Goodrich, she’ll instantly upgrade the position because she’s a terrific passer, pushes the pace in a way that leads to easy baskets in transition and presents enough of a threat as a scorer that doubling McCray every time she gets the ball on the wing won’t be as easy for opponents to do.

Goodrich will make the other four players on the floor with her better by knowing how to draw the defense at just the right time to deliver an on-target pass to a scoring threat, and she might do her best work in transition.

This roster has the two most important elements necessary for a successful fast-break team. First, Goodrich gives KU a point guard who can take care of the basketball at high speeds and set up teammates for easy buckets. Next, having big players who can outrun their opponents leads not only to them scoring easy baskets, but to preventing the other teams from scoring them. When the bigs get back on defense to protect the interior, the guards don’t have to leave the perimeter unguarded in transition. Not many teams have post players who can sprint with center Krysten Boogaard and power forward Aishah Sutherland.

As solid as the Jayhawks shape up down low and at the point, it’s on the wings where they really stand out. McCray is excelling for Team USA in the World University games. Playing with and against such elite talent in practice and games can only help her game. Meanwhile, Sade Morris brings terrific defense and reliable scoring.

Veteran forward Nicollette Smith and the best of three frontcourt recruits (Annette Davis, Carolyn Davis, Tania Jackson) supply depth up front. In the backcourt, hard-driving LaChelda Jacobs, scrappy Kelly Kohn and junior-college transfer Rhea Codio give Henrickson options.

Comments

KGphoto 10 years, 6 months ago

I'm all in!

Goodrich is a superstar. McCray is a superstar!

Is Henrickson another Mangino? She's got her players. We'll see. Personally, I think it's Lew. And I think the women's recent success is directly related somehow to him. I don't know how. But I believe it.

There is no reason KU women should be second-tier in women's basketball when schools like Duke, Carolina, UConn, etc. can parlay men's success into women's. KU is the cradle of basketball. What do these other schools offer, that Kansas cannot?

Let's do this!

suttonku 10 years, 6 months ago

If this team doesnt compete for the big 12 title then Bonnie should be on the hot seat because she has enough talent at this point there is no excuses

Dirk Medema 10 years, 6 months ago

Tom, did you forget the concluding paragraph? The story builds wonderfully and then ...

As for competing for the conf title, I'd say that is a bit of a stretch. Relevant, competitive across the board, upper division, NCAA tourney, sure. But for any team to go from WNIT, even runner-up, to competing for an NCAA championship by adding one player - even one as good as Goodrich, is a stretch.

Yes, I realize that the comment was conf title, but the Big 12 is the Big 12, and even more so the case in Women's BB as other sports. If you are competing for the conf title, you're also competing for the national title. A nice goal? Sure. But to put Bonnie on the hot seat if we don't win (finished top 2? 3?) the Big 12, make the F4/E8/? seems to be an unreasonable std.

Personally, I'll be happy to see them in the top half of the conf and the second weekend of the tourney. Anything beyond that is whipped cream and cherries.

$0.02

suttonku 10 years, 6 months ago

that conference isnt that tough...KSU will be down and OU lost their big horse...yes OU and Baylor are going to be good but if they arent at least competing for the big 12 title then thats not good enough...i didnt say they had to win but at least at the very very least 3rd place...that team has 6 seniors and Goodrich is good and Mcray is great...I mean what is this Bonnies 7th season?

sevenyearhawk 10 years, 6 months ago

Here's all I'm hoping for - just for starters:

  • continued buzz and support from the fans, let's get that average attendance up, and have at least ten thousand fans for K-State and Mizzou.

  • Aisha Sutherland to dunk in a couple games - and the hype and attention that'll bring.

Of course I want them to be competitive, but with a supportive atmosphere, I have no doubt that the team will bring it!

Coach Bonnie another Mangino?

I sure as Hell hope so ...

phogthedog 10 years, 6 months ago

Ordered my season tickets already! So you know there will be two old gray-haired people there. We need young blood. The team was buoyed during the tournament with the student and fan support. We've got to raise and then maintain attendance. I am looking forward to the season!

5DecadeHawk 10 years, 6 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

KGphoto 10 years, 6 months ago

Is it me or is there a whole Kazemi/McNair thing brewing with Decade and Tom?

What ever you do Tom, don't pass out on the couch!

Waylon Cook 10 years, 6 months ago

Angel is THAT GOOD! I promise she is going to shine! I watched her since her Frosh year and their is a reason Geno, Pat and other big timers wanted her-but she wanted to be close to family. She can FLY folks!

Hendrickson and Mangino are similar-Mangino and Bonnie both inherited programs with a previous coach who drove it into the ground(Marian didn't recruit Stiles, Koehn or Wecker.....) Both needed time and also Mark had no QB and Bonnie no PG-Mangino gets a QB and goes to the Orange bowl, just think Bonnie will get a PG this year and with McCray and Sade leading the charge the skys the limit!

bad_dog 10 years, 6 months ago

What's with the Mizery loser reference regarding Keegan, 5Decade? I thought Keegan was a Marquette grad.

kucourtsider 10 years, 6 months ago

I am with sevenyearhawk here. Aisha just about had a dunk in that WNIT final game. WOW that would have brought the house down.

The girls are more certainly going to be more a functional, effective team in the 2009-10 season. I am super excited to watch them play!

Rock Chalk!

kucourtsider 10 years, 6 months ago

I am with sevenyearhawk here. Aisha just about had a dunk in that WNIT final game. WOW that would have brought the house down.

The girls are most certainly going to be more a functional, effective team in the 2009-10 season. I am super excited to watch them play!

Rock Chalk!

Chiliskate 10 years, 6 months ago

Just purchased 2 season tickets for the first time. I think this is Bonnie's year and the team's year, and support from a full Allen Fieldhouse was electric last year. Go Hawks!!

MinnesotaJay 10 years, 6 months ago

I'll travel to Lawrence for at least a couple games this season. Pretty much got hooked on the women's program when I visited my daughter last fall, and we caught the Nebraska game. Sort of unfortunately, we had no problem getting excellent seats (the best I'd ever had in Allen).

What struck me was how hard the ladies play. Not that they weren't good. They were, and you could see they had begun to gel. But, whenever you've got kids with KU jerseys on their backs playing their guts out for the school, how can you not get onboard?

truefan 10 years, 6 months ago

I'm with you MinnesotaJay. I made it to the WNIT final game and sat front row in the student section. By "sat" I mean stood the entire game a yelled until my lungs hurt. Bonnie has proven that she can put a team together, and her reward will be 1) more fans in the stands and 2) more money in the bank.

I can't wait until next year. The football team is in position to do some big things. Our Men's basketball team groomed for another run at the title. The Women's basketball team is ready to make a run at the Big Dance (may not win it, but getting there is a HUGE step). And apparently KU just lucked out and landed a world class discus thrower.

yovoy 10 years, 6 months ago

i stopped going to the women's games about 2 years before coach w, stepped down. i stopped going because her players had quit playing. the event that made me leave at half, and not come back: haftime vs baylor (i believe it was bu). they hustle off, and we just walk, no, amble toward the tunnel. my daughter, who was probably 8 or 9 (and knew to always hustle in whatever sports), asked me why those girls were just walking. we left, and never came back. it's possible we made it home before they got to the locker room.

i had tickets for the nit cc game, but didn't go. i watched on tv though. i've thought about going back to see some games now. it's my guess that these ladies actually run off the floor, and show some pride in their program.

actorman 10 years, 6 months ago

"let's get that average attendance up, and have at least ten thousand fans for K-State and Mizzou"

Excellent point, sevenyear, but don't forget to add that it would be great to have more than half the fans being KU fans for a change. The KSU games in WBB have been getting like the old KU-NU football games. It would be nice to actually have a homecourt advantage again.

Truefan, that's great, I hadn't hurt about the discus thrower. But you forgot to mention the baseball team, which also seems to be making great strides. Truthfully, this has to be the best time overall for sports in KU history. Can anyone think of a better time?

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