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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Keegan

Kansas women on track for tourney appearance

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Even without sophomore scoring sensation Keena Mays, who quit the team after her hottest stretch of games, and even without Asia Boyd, the highest-ranked recruit of the Bonnie Henrickson era, getting meaningful minutes, the Kansas University women’s basketball team has what it takes to get to the NCAA Tournament.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’ve read the “this is the year the drought ends” stuff before and have developed such an immunity to it you can’t even hear the wolf cry anymore, but this year really is different. Honest. No lie. I’m typing, so you already know my fingers aren’t crossed.

Sure, the Jayhawks didn’t look their best for stretches Wednesday night in scoring a 62-43 victory against a Texas Tech squad that was without its leading scorer and rebounder, Kierra Mallard. But they showed enough skill and savvy to make a ticket to the under-the-rim version of March Madness seem not only realistic, but probable.

Eighth-year coach Bonnie Henrickson has had talent in the past and, at times, even healthy talent. But she never has had three experienced players performing at such a high level at the same time.

The divergent talents of junior center Carolyn Davis, senior power forward Aishah Sutherland and junior point guard/magician Angel Goodrich complement each other so well that it’s difficult to see a scenario in which they won’t figure out a way to deliver Kansas an NCAA Tournament bid for the first time since 2000, when Marian Washington’s team lost to Vanderbilt, 71-69, in Ruston, La.

It all starts with Goodrich and her healthy wheels. She knows how to get to the lane and needs such small openings to fire passes off the deck and on the money to cutters and high and soft to Davis. Goodrich is the pool player who shakes the opponent’s confidence by seeing shots nobody else sees, only it’s passes she sees. This year she sees shots for herself too and makes them often enough to force the defense to respect her as a scorer.

Davis catches everything and so routinely puts a soft shot off the glass for an easy bucket that when she missed shots early Wednesday it seemed as if it just wasn’t going to be her night. She only made it to the free-throw line for one shot, a miss, and she scored 34 points. Goodrich to Davis is the Jayhawks’ go-to play the way Todd Reesing to Kerry Meier was during the recent glory days of Kansas football. If that route is covered, Angel has a born knack for reading defenses and the minds of her receivers. She can sense when the defense is on its way to collapsing on Davis and feels that the Dezmon Briscoe of the team, Sutherland, is about to break free.

Defensively, Goodrich can apply pressure aggressively, knowing if she gets taken on the dribble Sutherland will be salivating in anticipation of emphatically swatting a shot.

In the past, Bonnie Ball had a tendency to come off too scripted, the barrage of X’s and O’s paralyzing the brain and handcuffing the creativity. This team has a different feel.

“I don’t think as much,” Sutherland said. “Your freshman year, you think the most. It gets easier sophomore year. You should be good junior year, but this year I don’t think. I just do.”

The perfect mindset for dancing.

Comments

wildjayhawk 2 years, 2 months ago

It took Bonnie 8 years to get this far, it will be another 8 years to get to this point again. Fire Bonnie.

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Cody Stumma 2 years, 2 months ago

Keenan just jinxed the women's team. This is a sad day indeed...

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big12ku 2 years, 2 months ago

Although the core players are playing better, I am not (at the moment) as convinced as you are Keegan about their NCAA tourney readiness. Let's face it, with the exception of Baylor, league play has gone downhill this year which leaves room for the lesser prepared teams to excel. I could be wrong though, continue to win ladies and we'll see.

You mentioned Keena Mays and Asia Boyd at the beginning of this article and made them appear to be insignificant to the team's success of which I partially disagree. Losing Mays (competitively) hurt the team and well since we've never really seen what Asia is capable of, who knows - let's hope she sticks around so that we can find out. Keena Mays is gone and now Donielle Breaux, too. Any word on if Caprice Dennis (who verbally committed to KU then withdrew her committment) is coming to KU?

And finally Keegan and staff the ladies that left the program transferred to another school that better fit their needs. I take issue with your use of the phrase "quit the team" which implies some type of character flaw with the players. You've been around this program long enough to know why this program keeps losing players. These young ladies have worked hard since they were kids to get to where they are and so "quit" just ain't in them. They transferred to another program that better fit them. Let's just leave it at that.

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Bob Forer 2 years, 2 months ago

It's about time. I wish the women the best of luck.

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KGphoto 2 years, 2 months ago

I'm getting more of a 2005, Fort Worth Bowl, Hawk Football feel here.

Jason Swanson handing off to John Cornish and Clark Green. A real good defensive team led by Nick Reid and Charleton Keith. A few real nice conference wins and enough total wins to get into the bowl.

I don't think this team is quite ready for the Orange Bowl, but a dance and a shot at the sweet sixteen is at least in range.

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Bangkok_Jayhawk 2 years, 2 months ago

Glad to see the women on track! No reason they can't be a perennial power as well.

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itsalwayssunnyinlarry 2 years, 2 months ago

Good for them! It's nice to have both teams doing well. (and hopefully beating MU)

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MinnesotaJay 2 years, 2 months ago

All true, but without Engelman, too, kiss the tournament chances goodbye. Actually, remove any of the contributors, and I think you've got a big problem.

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