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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Everyone’s talking about … Elena Delle Donne

Jayhawks wary of Blue Hens’ star

Delaware standout Elena Delle Donne listens to a reporter's question during a news conference Monday, March 19, 2012, in Little Rock Ark., previewing the Kansas-Delaware meeting in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Delaware standout Elena Delle Donne listens to a reporter's question during a news conference Monday, March 19, 2012, in Little Rock Ark., previewing the Kansas-Delaware meeting in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

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— It’s difficult to go more than a few seconds at Jack Stephens Center these days without hearing her name.

Elena Delle Donne.

She’s the Delaware University women’s basketball team’s inside-outside threat with the size (6-foot-5), skill (27.9 points a game, 10.3 rebounds, 42-percent three-point shooting) and pedigree (signed with Connecticut before transferring) to give opposing teams nightmares.

Right now, Delle Donne is Freddy Krueger for Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson and her Jayhawks, set to face the Blue Hens at 8:40 tonight in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Since defeating No. 6 seed Nebraska, 57-49, Sunday night in the first round, No. 11 seed Kansas (20-12) hasn’t had much time to prepare for No. 3 seed Delaware (31-1) and one of the country’s elite players. Henrickson said Monday while addressing the media that KU has gone over various defensive approaches in an attempt to thwart Delle Donne, but she didn’t want to make so many changes with such a narrow window for preparation that the Jayhawks would confuse themselves.

“There’s some things that we can’t control, and she can just hit ridiculous shots,” the eighth-year KU coach said of Delle Donne. “We’ve got to make sure we can manage the emotion of that. We’ve got to try to make a play and not let her get the same thing, but we recognize that.”

KU junior captain and point guard Angel Goodrich said facing unbeaten Baylor (34-0) and consensus player-of-the-year candidate Britney Griner in Big 12 play should prepare the Jayhawks for the daunting task that awaits them. A significant difference with Delle Donne is that she is three inches shorter than Griner, and she is a threat from behind the three-point line.

Goodrich (13.3 points, NCAA-leading 7.4 assists) said the Kansas forwards, especially senior Aishah Sutherland, would have to be active defensively on the perimeter.

“It’s gonna be a good match-up. Aishah, we trust her,” Goodrich said of the athletic 6-2 forward. “It’s just going to be a team effort.”

Henrickson indicated that three of KU’s forwards — Sutherland and subs freshman Bunny Williams and sophomore Tania Jackson — probably would guard Delle Donne at one point or another, but freshman starter Chelsea Gardner might not figure into that mix.

“Aishah will have the match-up to begin with, but Aishah can’t guard her for 40 minutes,” Henrickson said. “There’s no way. We’re going to have to move some people around.

“(Delle Donne) is too tough a match-up. And how much of the offense goes through her?”

Sutherland said she isn’t going to alter her approach just because Delaware has a superstar on its roster.

“I’m just going to face up, and I’m going to play my same game and not make any changes,” said Sutherland, who is averaging 13.8 points and 8.9 rebounds. “We’re going to go out there and play hard and play with the team and just play together. That’s what we need to do.”

Gardner, meanwhile, is hoping for results similar to her night against the Huskers in the first round, when she reached career highs of 15 points and 16 rebounds.

“Just play like I played (Sunday), going for the boards, offensive and defensive boards, and just playing deep (in the paint),” she said.

If the Jayhawks can get some sort of contribution from all nine players — Goodrich, Gardner, Sutherland, Williams, Jackson and guards Natalie Knight, CeCe Harper, Monica Engelman and Asia Boyd — like they did against Nebraska, their surprising postseason might continue to the Sweet 16.

Said Henrickson: “We talked about how good it felt to see our name pop up on the selection show on Monday, and then the only feeling that would top that would be to win, and now the only thing that can top (Sunday) night is to win (again).”

Comments

bloomingtonjayhawk 2 years, 1 month ago

Fantastic win for the Lady Jayhawks. Watched the entire game on ESPN. Seems odd that kusports.com hasn't mentioned the final score yet.

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WhoSaidThat 2 years, 1 month ago

HUGE Win!! Lets Go! Sweeeeeet16!!

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nwhawkfan 2 years, 1 month ago

For once, even the Bonnie haters have to admit she had a great game plan. Wore 'em down.

Next up: Pat Summit and Tennessee!

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DaNeille Davis 2 years, 1 month ago

Wow! Awesome game ladies!! I was totally impressed with your play and game plan!! Proud to be a Jayhawk! Enjoy the ride!! I reside in TN and everyone around here are huge Lady Vol fans! Hope you kick some volunteer a$$!! Rock Chalk!

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Chris Baker 2 years, 1 month ago

Did kusports.com forget that the game was on tonight? No coverage of it here at all? This is embarassing.

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JayHawkFanToo 2 years, 1 month ago

Biggest upset of the tournament so far. Congrats Lady Hawks, job very well done.

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Dan Harris 2 years, 1 month ago

The men and Women in the SWEET 16!!

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JayHawkFanToo 2 years, 1 month ago

Elena Delle DONE!!! This seems to be a year of destiny for KU.

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nwhawkfan 2 years, 1 month ago

Yes !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11111

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nwhawkfan 2 years, 1 month ago

KU up by 9 with :58 left. No timeouts for Delaware.

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Jordan Gumm 2 years, 1 month ago

Angel Goodrich does it again!!!! ROCK CHALK Cinderella!!!

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JayHawkFanToo 2 years, 1 month ago

Amazing...the Lady Hawks are going to do it!!! Ahead by 9 points with 1 minute to go

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Dan Harris 2 years, 1 month ago

9 point lead and have the ball with 1:20 to go

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Dan Harris 2 years, 1 month ago

How the HELL was that not a charge! It looks like the refs in the ladies game don't know the difference either!

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Dan Harris 2 years, 1 month ago

How the HELL was that not a charge! It looks like the refs in the ladies game don't know the difference either!

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jayhawkgrad97 2 years, 1 month ago

Angel is on fire. Go Lady Hawks!!

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nwhawkfan 2 years, 1 month ago

Delle Donne looks beat...just stay tough down the stretch.

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Dan Harris 2 years, 1 month ago

Lady Hawks up by 9 with 4 min to go now 11 WOW are you kidding me!!

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Oklahoma_Hawk 2 years, 1 month ago

Go Ladies!!! I am pulling for you!!! Glad it is on ESPN3

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nwhawkfan 2 years, 1 month ago

And an Angel shall lead them...

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lurkerhawk 2 years, 1 month ago

Why is there not an active scoreboard for the ladies like there is for the mens?

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nwhawkfan 2 years, 1 month ago

Good D so far on Delle Donne. Just make your shots ladies!

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JayHawkFanToo 2 years, 1 month ago

Lady Hawks are kicking a_s_s!!! KU is ahead 50-43 with 13 minutes to go...keeping fingers crossed.

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Tony Bandle 2 years, 1 month ago

Let's see, for the sake of locker room humor, what headlines I can devise if Delaware ends up facing Baylor.

{Before I am ripped apart as a male, sexist pig, I want to make it clear that I have and always will maintain that, as a gender, women are far superior to men in almost every category except actions that require upper body strength and consuming mass quantities of barley beverages {and there, it's almost a tie!!}.Sure, there are great men and horrible women but as a complete work, the female of the human species is far superior...it's a law of physics, like gravity!!}

Beauty and the Beast Godzillette versus Mother Mothra Momma Bear against The Big Blue Hen Sharon Stone to battle Iman The Ebony Eraser challenges the Blonde Bomber The Grinder versus Bella Donna

or, simply,Britney versus Elena.......it doesn't get better than this!!!

Of course, we can avoid all this silliness if the LadyHawks can pull off the upset!!!! Go gals...it's been a long time since Kansas was in the NCAA's...let's stick around awhile!!

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kubiggestfan 2 years, 1 month ago

Go get them Ladies....You can do it, just play your game and play hard.

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jhawkrulz 2 years, 1 month ago

How is a team that goes 30-1 and has arguably one of the top players in the game end up as a 6 seed. Mid-Major or not, that has to be a Top 3 seed or better.

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mom_of_three 2 years, 1 month ago

I can root against her! She did force some shots the other night so we will see.

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Cody Stumma 2 years, 1 month ago

Good Luck Girls! You can beat them!

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Keith Hummel 2 years, 1 month ago

What a tough match-up for the Jayhawks. If your not familiar with Elena's story, check out a piece Frank Deford wrote recently:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/frank_deford/02/08/Elena-Della-Donne/index.html

Not only is she one of the best basketball players in the nation, it is almost impossible to root against her because of her personal story. Beating her and the Blue Hens will truly take a team effort.

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phogthedog 2 years, 1 month ago

We are looking forward to watching you play this evening. Thanks to your stellar performance on Sunday (watching women's game on tv while listening to men play on the radio) I was able to avoid a complete meltdown at the start of the men's game against Purdue. We are proud of your success under tough circumstances. RCJHKU!

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ksbball1 2 years, 1 month ago

She's not just good looking, she can flat out play. Good luck Lady Jayhawks we'll be pulling for you. RCJHK

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Bangkok_Jayhawk 2 years, 1 month ago

Men's sports: Become famous for being good. Women's sports: Become famous if you are good AND good looking.

Good thing for Kentucky's Anothony Davis this standard doesn't go both ways!

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kusportsdotcom 2 years, 1 month ago

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

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