Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Jayhawks taking baby steps


Let’s talk about some positives for Kansas University’s women’s basketball team. And why not?

The Jayhawks may not be on the national radar screen yet, but at least they aren’t on sonar.

For starters, the Jayhawks have 18 victories. That’s one more than any of coach Bonnie Henrickson’s previous four teams had. KU won six conference games and tied for seventh place. Again, that’s one more than Henrickson had since taking over prior to the 2004-2005 season.

KU finished strong, winning five of its last seven, including a surprising 69-45 thumping of Baylor — the Bears went on to win the league tourney — and a 67-52 decision at Oklahoma State, KU’s first conference road victory in two years.

Danielle McCray blossomed. McCray, a 5-foot-11 junior, became only the fourth KU player to earn first-team All-Big 12 honors by becoming a consistent double-double-type player.

Freshman Aishah Sutherland, banished to the bench early in the season, emerged as a solid reserve down the stretch when Henrickson realized that sheer athleticism is an acceptable antidote for inexperience.

In the preseason, conference coaches predicted Kansas would finish ninth in the league standings, a guess based mostly on the fact KU had practically everyone back from a team that had tied for 10th the year before.

In a sense, the league coaches had bumped KU up a notch based on the experience factor. At the same time, the coaches no doubt felt freshman point guard Angel Goodrich would make an impact, although obviously not a major one.

Then Goodrich went down in preseason due to a damaged ACL, and Kansas was indeed the same team it was the year before. And still is with two exceptions.

One, ongoing offensive inadequacies forced Henrickson to take the shackles off McCray. Never very good as a one-on-one player during her first two seasons, McCray improved markedly in that aspect.

Henrickson said McCray learned to create shots by improving her footwork. Well, whatever works. McCray’s handwork, meanwhile, remained pretty darned good.

And two, senior Ivana Catic provided stability at point guard at a time when the Jayhawks were turning the ball over with alarming regularity.

Catic is something like chicken soup for a cold. She may not be doing much to improve the offense, but she isn’t doing anything to harm it, either. Still, there are times when you want to shout: “Shoot the darned ball, Ivana.”

KU would be stronger in the postseason, too, if Nicollette Smith could generate some offense inside the three-point line. Smith remains a solid defender, but even her three-point shooting has tailed off.

Basically, this KU women’s team is the antithesis of the KU men’s team. Whereas Bill Self’s club is built around a Mr. Inside (Cole Aldrich) and Mr. Outside (Sherron Collins), Henrickson relies on a Ms. Wing (McCray) and a Ms. Wing II (Sade Morris).

In Henrickson’s four years, the Jayhawks have taken baby steps forward and backward. A giant step may not be on the horizon, but a grown-up step isn’t too much to expect next year.


phogthedog 11 years, 10 months ago

Let's fill AFH for the Lady Jayhawks next Monday night. They deserve our support!

Code_2008 11 years, 10 months ago

I'll already be there... the band is always there for the Ladies at home... now if we can just get the students there...

slantrox 11 years, 10 months ago

I have a very gifted basketball playing daughter who really wants to play for KU. The unfortunate thing is I haven't seen enough positives from Bonnie to warrent any warm feelings about the direction of the team.

We went to the KU/CU game in Boulder LAST year and sat directly behind the bench 1 row. KU was up and rolling on CU ( a horrible team ), CU then goes on a 30-4 or something run that Bonnie never even got upset about. Sure she called some timeouts and pulled out the clipboard and doodled some plays, but she never once raised her voice to chastise a player. Never once called out any of the girls for dogging it down the court....and they did dog it. This was all in the FIRST HALF.

We also watch every time they are on TV and I see nothing that says to me "urgency". That shows me that she is just coasting, and we don't need a coaster at the helm of the ship.

One last thing, we went to the Bonnie basketball camp the last two years and found it to be the most poorly run and least productive of any basketball camp we have ever been to. Not great coaches helping and only a handful of the players really acted like they even wanted to be there.

Extreme disapointment from a coach that we were VERY excited about when she was hired. Bonnie needs to get a sweat up during games, maybe even practices and show some fire, or just sit on the hot seat for one more year.

I am saying this assuming she has been given the support from the department she needs. If she hasn't it is time for her to light a fire under that situation and let us all know about it. KU fans want her to succeed, but it doesn't appear that she wants to and I can't figure out why.

Phillbert 11 years, 10 months ago


I haven't been to one of the camps, let alone multiple ones, so I can't speak to the KU one beyond knowing that Goodrich and (I believe) McCray were first interested in KU via the camps.

On Coach Henrickson's demeanor, I've read complaints from people in the newspaper that she gets on players too much and calls them out too often. Clearly, as your comment shows, there are others who disagree and want to see more fire.

I tend toward the latter myself, but I have been to enough games (all but one home game and one away game both of the last two seasons) to see and hear Coach "chastise" players. She not going to throw chairs or grab jerseys, but she makes it very clear that the player in question needs to do things differently. We see this also through the playing rotation, such as when McCray didn't start a game this year (apparently) b/c of performance and when players who (apparently) aren't practicing well don't see the court. (I say apparently because I am not a KU coach and, as such, can't be 100% those are the reasons.)

I agree with you on being frustrated that there hasn't been more success so far, but I also like the direction this team is headed, such as the run they put on at the end of the season. I also know that next year Goodrich will be back and there will be six new players in the mix.

slowplay 11 years, 10 months ago

I think Coach H. will get one more year. This is the Big 12 folks, and her first 4 years were nothing to get too excited about. I agree there's something to be said about "baby steps" but that's something you look for at the HS level not Division I. Her demeanor seems inconsistent. I've seen tirades about little mistakes and complacency when the team truly struggles. As a former woman's coach (20 years HS) I have a tendency to look at execution more than talent and at times it's severely lacking. No coach makes it to this level without a strong resume, but I think she needs to take a hard look at the overall program because another mediocre season might be the end for her at KU.

Bigslick4KU 11 years, 10 months ago

I'm in agreement with Phillbert on this one. If you mess up, Bonnie will let you know about it, plain and simple as it should be. This program is headed in the right direction by some of the comments from players this last month during that winning streak about finally understanding how much hard work it takes to win, playing defense night in and night out,etc....those things are what will push this train over the mountain top!

But Slantrox, I'm not sure why you posted all this stuff that happened 18 months ago? Why didn't you post this after the CU/KU game 2 seasons ago? As Philllbert said I also remember talk of a camp that Goodrich and McCray went to. Brando has taken his daughter to a camp and just loved it as he has posted about many times, doubt it's the same one but they have 5 or 6 a summer.

Not following the negative vibes you posted....

Go luck ladies..hope to make it on Monday night!!!

bluzhawk 11 years, 10 months ago

slantrox - This is what Jay Bilas wrote in his blog recently. "If you love basketball, you would love watching the KU women work. I came away really impressed with the program. If you think women may not be able to coach a men's team, you are wrong. That staff could coach anyone."

I'll be there Monday. Go Hawks.

sevenyearhawk 11 years, 10 months ago

slantrox, et al ...

who says you need fire to be championship coach?

Just look at Tony Dungy, for example.

I am about to have my first experience with the women's basketball camps this summer, as my daughter will be attending.


I would LOVE to see a link to that post ... I've been a big fan of Coach Bonnie, having met her several times (including in the line for Mario Chalmers' book signing at a mall)

WBBLover2010 11 years, 10 months ago

The women have GREAT potential. Just keep the positive vibes coming, saying negative things only makes it a harder mountain to climb. Plus, you shouldnt be saying negative things if you havent even been to more than one home game. You need to follow and see them play all season then you will know what they do and how much heart and sweat they have put into this program. Rock Chalk. Good Luck, hope to see everyone on Monday EVERYONE NEEDS TO BUY TICKETS: ADULTS:$5 CHILDREN:$4 KU STUDENTS:FREE GENERAL ADMISSION SEAT YOURSELF!!!!! Come out and support, the KU men are not playing, so why not come and watch? Give it a shot, you never know, you may like it :)

Omegatron 11 years, 10 months ago

"We went to the KU/CU game in Boulder LAST year and sat directly behind the bench 1 row. KU was up and rolling on CU ( a horrible team ), CU then goes on a 30-4 or something run that Bonnie never even got upset about. Sure she called some timeouts and pulled out the clipboard and doodled some plays, but she never once raised her voice to chastise a player. Never once called out any of the girls for dogging it down the court....and they did dog it. This was all in the first half."

I've never met Coach Henrickson. I always sit up high, hate court side, so I've never been close enough to hear her during the game or during a time out.

So I have no ideal, outside of the newspaper, of her particular style of coaching. Only thing I can do is guess.

What you say here lends me to believe that she is the type of person who remains calm no matter the situation. Which is a good thing as it might calm down the people who she is trying to coach when things are going bad.

By not raising her voice, it's more likely that they will focus on what she is trying to say, pay attention to what she is doodling on the clipboard, and focus on executing her game plan.

Where as yelling and insulting might or might not work depending on the player.

Tom Shelton 11 years, 10 months ago

Slantrox is wrong, Bonnie is a calm, confident coach who has the experience to get the job done. You will see the big jump next year. She is a great representative of the University and KU is lucky to have her.

Dirk Medema 11 years, 10 months ago

Good Luck Monday Ladies. Hope this season finishes well, tho I'm already looking forward to next year. Sherron has shown how important a strong pg is to a program, and Goodrich would also be the 3rd option that every good team needs.

Rock Chalk

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