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Saturday, November 10, 2012

KU women focus on boards for opener

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Few things please Kansas University women’s basketball coach Bonnie Henrickson more than seeing her Jayhawks devour offensive rebounds on missed shots.

That’s what they did in their exhibition finale a week ago, grabbing 16 of KU’s 24 misfires to score 22 second-chance points.

Henrickson wouldn’t mind seeing some guards ignite that kind of repeat performance today in the Jayhawks’ season-opener against Idaho State — 2 p.m. tipoff at Allen Fieldhouse.

KU’s tallest players — 6-foot-3 senior forward Carolyn Davis and 6-3 sophomore forward Chelsea Gardner — had three offensive boards apiece in the Jayhawks’ 88-43 exhibition rout of Fort Hays State, but their coach delighted in seeing guards CeCe Harper (three), Monica Engelman (two) and Asia Boyd (one) contribute to that offensive-glass output.

According to Henrickson, Kansas (No. 25 in the USA Today coaches poll) needs better rebounding habits and can get to that point with its big guards, 6-1 Boyd and 5-11 Engelman, helping out. She said Engelman was the first to pound the offensive boards against FHSU.

“That becomes contagious when somebody starts it,” the coach said.

The senior guard from San Antonio hoped to prepare the Jayhawks for future assertive play with her effort.

“I’m trying to take more pride in my rebounding,” said Engelman, who secured seven boards in both KU exhibition victories after averaging 3.1 a game as a junior.

Beginning today against the Bengals — 0-1 after losing 62-54 Friday at Kansas State — the Jayhawks hope their bench can produce in the regular season like it did in the preseason (31.5 points a game).

Senior point guard Angel Goodrich said subs Boyd, Gardner, Harper, Tania Jackson, Lamaria Cole and Markisha Hawkins have that ability after building trust in practices, as well as the exhibitions.

“We know what kind of potential they have,” Goodrich said. “We know their talent.”

The women’s basketball world is fully aware of the Jayhawks’ strengths, too. Earlier this week ESPNW listed Goodrich, whose 7.4 assists a game led the nation last season, and Davis among its top 25 players in the nation. KU was one of four schools — with Connecticut (three), Baylor (two) and Maryland (two) — to have at least two players on the list.

Idaho State returns four starters from last season, when the Bengals finished 24-8 and, like the Jayhawks, reached the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

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