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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Keegan

Hopes high for Jayhawks’ non-revenue sports

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A call went against the Kansas University volleyball team Wednesday night in its match against No. 19 Iowa State and KU basketball coach Bill Self, seated next to director of basketball operations Doc Sadler, slapped the table in front of him.

Basketball players Elijah Johnson, Naadir Tharpe and Justin Wesley sat in the stands on one side of the Horejsi Center, women’s hoops players Angel Goodrich, Carolyn Davis and Monica Engelman and football player Daymond Patterson on the other side.

Legendary former Lawrence High volleyball coach Joan Wells, inducted into more Halls of Fame than Elvis Presley had gold records, took in the match, as did former KU basketball players Bill Hougland, Harry Gibson and Roger Morningstar.

They all came in hopes of watching KU knock off a nationally ranked opponent, No. 19 Iowa State. They all left happy and had reason to feel confident Kansas is headed for the top 25 for what would be the first time since it was No. 24 on Sept. 19, 2005, which also happened to be the same year the Jayhawks made the NCAA tournament.

“We had our Rock Chalk Choice awards a few weeks ago, recognizing the sports that did well,” senior Tayler Tolefree said. “As a team, you want to feel like you contributed to the success of the athletic department. We want to be up there.”

It’s happening. Already, Kansas has more victories against Top 50 RPI schools than it had all of last year.

In revival mode, the volleyball team is not alone on campus in that regard. Despite key injuries, women’s soccer is ranked No. 23 in the nation, its first top 25 appearance since the 2009 season.

Bonnie Henrickson’s women’s basketball squad brings more confidence into the season than ever because it has all but one key performer back from last season’s bunch that made it to the Sweet 16 following the leadership of Goodrich, a March Madness national celebrity. Bigger crowds will mean a bigger home-court advantage and this has the makings of Bonnie’s best Kansas team.

The KU women placed fourth in the country at the NCAA track and field championships and nearly every key athlete returns, including gold medalist Diamond Dixon.

For a change, Ritch Price didn’t experience the deflating feeling of watching one (or more) of his recruits sign to play professional baseball. Price’s entire rotation is back and he could have his deepest pitching staff in years.

In softball, recruiting appears on the uptick. Third baseman Chanin Naudin earned second-team All-Big 12 honors a year ago and 5-foot-1 freshman shortstop Chaley Brickey, like Naudin a Texas high school standout, is expected to make a huge immediate impact.

The Big 12, such a competitive conference, has a way of devouring hopes, but KU definitely has more going for it than in quite some time.

Comments

Ashwin Rao 2 years ago

Thank for recognizing non-revenue sports, Keegan!

Clarence Haynes 2 years ago

Now, ljw only needs to include track and field in its KUSports APP.

flyingfinn 2 years ago

I really hope the girls on both the soccer and volleyball teams can keep it up. KU needs some good things to focus on this fall.

april28 2 years ago

A lot of good news here...this is the way it starts. Excellence. The model is Stanford and if we successfully pursue that model, the university will grow, excel and prosper.

icdedpeeple 2 years ago

I don't see any mention of rowing. Is it time to stick a fork in that effort?

HawkTronic 2 years ago

We can't end rowing until Title IX is amended to reflect the real world of college athletics. Rowing equalizes football.

HawkTronic 2 years ago

Not saying they should end rowing, just saying they won't.

Ron Prichard 2 years ago

KU just build a new rowing building. I doubt they will shelve the program.

gdkadjayhawk 2 years ago

Just beat K-State! Reverse the trend of the last few years.

stinkybulldog 2 years ago

I wouldn't say it's turned around yet.

kugrad93 2 years ago

Glad to hear that the volleyball team is doing well, but why must Keegan cram outdated pop culture references into every column he writes? And why the hyperbole? Elvis had more than three dozen gold records -- and that's not counting those that went platinum. Is Joan Wells really in more than 36 halls of fame? Stick to the facts, Keegan. And if you insist on making references to things that happened in the 1950s, bring back Bill Mayer. At least the old school stuff he wrote about had something to do with KU sports.

bville_hawk 2 years ago

OMG, are you a Journalism professor somewhere? It's a frickin' column, it's written and read for entertainment purposes. If it stimulates some productive conversation, all the better.

Do you take a red pen to your local newspaper and correct all the errors you find there? How about paperback books? Magazines?

Dyrk Dugan 2 years ago

i agree. it's a SPORTS column....not meant to be line by line perfect in every reference in every way. She's in quite a few Halls of Fame...that's all we need to know. and Elvis is thrown in.....no matter what generation you're in, you've heard of Elvis.

Michael Pannacciulli 2 years ago

Keegan bashing never gets old I suppose...

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