She set her school’s all-time assists record, made sure she drew the best out of whichever four players were on the floor with her, kept her women’s basketball team playing at a revved-up pace and refused to let it lose.
Angel Goodrich did what point guards are born to do in leading Kansas University past Oklahoma, 81-71, because that’s what she always does. And she does it with equal parts style and substance. On Sunday in Allen Fieldhouse, she did it in front of 6,724 spectators, most of them dressed in pink.
Both coaches said afterward they knew what sort of player Goodrich would become the moment they laid eyes on her.
“It’s who I thought she could always be, it really is, from the first time I saw her as an eighth grader at an AAU tournament in Memphis,” KU coach Bonnie Henrickson said. “She has a gift. She has a gift.”
Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale has known her for a long while as well. Goodrich said her high school team attended Coale’s camp at OU every year, and the coach would sign the back of her shirt, “My future point guard.”
Goodrich chose Kansas instead, the first upset she helped KU score against the Sooners, but not the last. Coale didn’t like her decision, but still likes the player who made it.
“She’s been exactly what I thought she was going to be in this league,” Coale said. “I would have loved to have kept her home, but she’s had a great career here.”
Goodrich totaled 17 points, 10 assists and five rebounds and drew out the best in senior teammates Carolyn Davis (24 points) and re-emerging Monica Engelman (21 points) in a game that will look as good to the NCAA Tournament selection committee as it looked in person.
“She’s really good,” Coale said. “She has a great pace about her, just a real soft, fluid game, plays at the right speed for her ability level. Crafty, clever.”
Kansas led by 13 points with slightly more than four minutes remaining against the injury-diminished Sooners.
“We knew they would make a run, and they did,” Henrickson said. “They made the run, and we had an answer, and that answer was Angel making a play. It might be for herself. It might be for someone else.”
Goodrich’s final big play in her 100th career game and start was a beauty, and it moved Lisa Braddy into second place all-time on KU’s career assist list. Trapped under KU’s hoop, Goodrich threaded a beauty of a pass to CeCe Harper near midcourt, leading her perfectly for an uncontested layup that put KU up 10 points with 54 seconds left.
The record was announced, but Goodrich couldn’t make out what was said.
“When the horn went off and we won, that was the best moment,” Henrickson said. “The second-best moment was, she said, ‘I did what? What did I do?’ That’s how the kid plays. She didn’t have any idea. She said, ‘I thought somebody put something on Twitter, but I’m not on Twitter.’ I said, ‘Stay off Twitter. You don’t need to be on Twitter.’”
Goodrich helped Kansas play Sunday the way it did last March when she was trending on Twitter after leading the Jayhawks to an NCAA Tournament upset victory against Delaware.
Goodrich’s mother, father and brother were at Sunday’s game.
“I look to them sometimes,” Goodrich said. “They’ll just say a mumble or anything. I know what they’re saying. They’ll give me a look, and I know what it is. It’s just little things that we have. I’m glad they were here. I love the support.”
Goodrich also praised the support of the crowd for which she played so relentlessly.
Still, I wonder how she would play in front of a full house in Allen Fieldhouse. She has just two more games there. Those who haven’t seen her play need to circle either this coming Sunday’s noon game or a Tuesday, March 5, 7 p.m. tipoff against TCU. Those local basketball fans who haven’t seen her play have two choices: Attend one of those two games, or spend the rest of their lives wishing they had.