Kansas women hot shots

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Understanding the difference between a good shot and a bad shot has helped Kansas University’s women’s basketball team become one of the most effective shooting teams in the nation.

Field-goal percentage has been a point of emphasis for Jayhawks coach Bonnie Henrickson, and entering tonight’s home game — a 7 p.m. nonconference finale against Sam Houston State — KU’s 50.7-percent clip currently ranks second in NCAA Div. I, trailing only Maryland’s 50.9 percent.

Henrickson, who defined a “good shot” as one a player can make unguarded six out of 10 times in a drill, said each player must know the kind of shots best suited for her.

“It’s about being a maker and not a taker,” the eighth-year Kansas coach said. “A good shot for me might not be a good shot for you.”

The Jayhawks whose shooting percentages best reflect an understanding of that concept are junior forward Carolyn Davis and senior forward Aishah Sutherland.

Davis ranks second in the country with 69 percent (Washington senior center Regina Rogers leads with 71 percent), and Sutherland’s 53-percent mark is 47th.

The key to KU’s hot start, Davis said, has been the team’s refusal to settle for the first available look.

“It’s just the fact that we take easy shots. We don’t try to rely on jump shots,” she said. “That’s not our type of game.”

Henrickson said Davis (17 points a game, 5.8 rebounds) works early to set herself up for quality looks, while Sutherland (13.9 points, nine boards) has improved her approach and has realized out-of-rhythm, off-balance shots often don’t fall.

From an individual standpoint, Davis said she posts up with the idea of creating a big target for her teammates.

“A lot of my seals and pins in transition have been a lot better from last year and the year before,” the 6-foot-3 forward said.

KU (10-1) also has benefited greatly, Henrickson added, from junior point guard Angel Goodrich’s passing.

“What a great job she does of hitting all of those guys in stride, uncontested,” Henrickson said of Goodrich, whose 7.7 assists is second in the nation. Oklahoma State’s Tiffany Bias is tops at 8.8.

Jayhawks junior guard Natalie Knight, who has started all 11 games, said the team’s posts can finish inside, but Goodrich (11.6 points, 51 percent) is reliable, too.

The rest of KU’s perimeter players want to be equally effective shooters.

“We’re working on getting a lot of shots up everyday before and after practice, just any chance we get,” Knight said. “Getting shots up is the key to that.”

Kansas lost one of its best perimeter shooters, Keena Mays (56 percent), who transferred after playing eight games.

Still, Henrickson said there are ways for the Jayhawks to improve their already-stellar shooting numbers.

“We would help ourselves more if we could get more opportunities in transition,” the coach said, “because your defense still impacts your offense.”

Tonight’s game will be the first meeting between KU and Sam Houston State (4-4).

Probable starters

Kansas (10-1)

G — Angel Goodrich, 5-4, jr.

G — Natalie Knight, 5-7, fr.

G — Monica Engelman, 5-11, jr.

F — Aishah Sutherland, 6-2, sr.

F — Carolyn Davis, 6-3, jr.

Sam Houston State (4-4)

G — Jasmine Johnson, 5-7, so.

G — Chanice Smith, 5-9, jr.

F — Sequeena Thomas, 6-0, jr.

F — Britni Martin, 6-0, jr.

C — Angela Beadle, 6-3, fr.