Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Twice as nice: KU women enjoying return trip to Sweet 16

Kansas' Carolyn Davis, right, answers questions during a news conference Sunday, March 24, 2013 ahead of their second-round women's NCAA college basketball game against South Carolina in Boulder, Colo. Head coach Bonnie Henrickson, left, and Monica Engelman listen.

Kansas' Carolyn Davis, right, answers questions during a news conference Sunday, March 24, 2013 ahead of their second-round women's NCAA college basketball game against South Carolina in Boulder, Colo. Head coach Bonnie Henrickson, left, and Monica Engelman listen.


Team’s starting lineup takes a big hit with an in-season defection and a season-ending knee injury. A February fade pushes team onto a very thin bubble. Nervous players gather to watch the NCAA Tournament selection show. The word “Kansas” pops onto the television screen and the room erupts. The very same team that sneaks into the tournament field storms into the Sweet 16.

It happened last March and it has happened again this March.

The Kansas University women’s basketball team has this Cinderella act down pat.

“It was exciting then and it’s exciting now,” said point guard Angel Goodrich, who contributed 20 points, eight assists and one huge steal Monday night in an 75-69 upset victory against South Carolina.

The seemingly endless line of hurdles placed in front of KU has a strikingly similar look to last season’s:

  • Keena Mays quit the team during the season a year ago and Tania Jackson did the same this season.

  • Carolyn Davis suffered a season-ending ACL injury a year ago and Natalie Knight did this season.

  • The Jayhawks went 2-6 in February of 2012, 3-5 last month.

But thanks to snow-driven and mechanical travel woes, this year’s team wins the high-hurdles competition.

Senior Monica Engelman scored a career-high 27 points against South Carolina to lead the Jayhawks into the Sweet 16 and did so with her mother in the stands. It’s the least she could have done, considering her mother’s drive from San Antonio to Boulder ran into a blizzard that not only prevented her from seeing Saturday’s victory against Colorado, but also left her stranded in her car at a gas station all night, 80 miles outside of Boulder.

As the entire Kansas traveling party — student-athletes, coaches, administrators and various family members — soon would learn, flying doesn’t guarantee a timely path to the destination either.

The team bus left the arena about midnight Central time for the Denver airport, about a 45-minute ride. The bus driver dropped off everyone, but not everything. The cargo remained on the bus as it pulled out of the airport. The driver eventually was contacted and returned to enable the unloading of the bags. The chartered airplane had mechanical difficulties and the replacement part didn’t work either, requiring a replacement plane to be flown to Denver from Omaha. By the time the bus from Forbes Field in Topeka arrived at the KU campus, it was 8 a.m.

“I didn’t care,” coach Bonnie Henrickson said. “We won. I’d have walked home.”

At the pace Kansas has played in the tournament, the players might have saved time by running a fast break from Boulder to Lawrence.

Kansas, a No. 12 seed, faces Notre Dame, the top seed in the Norfolk region, at 11 a.m. Sunday in the Constant Convocation Center.

Davis is enjoying her first NCAA Tournament experience and isn’t too proud to acknowledge she enjoys playing on national television.

“I like that the world can actually see what we have now because we don’t play on TV too much during the season, so now we have our chance to show them all that we can play,” Davis said.

And the underdog role suits Kansas well.

“I think it’s more fun,” Engelman said. “A lot of people don’t have high expectations for you and to prove them wrong makes it that much more fun.”

Engelman said her mother will make her way to Norfolk, Va. through the air, not behind the wheel.

“I wouldn’t allow that,” Engelman said of her driving. “I think she’s had enough of being in the car.”

Goodrich chimed in: “I think my mom’s driving (from Tahlequah, Okla.).”

They’re all happy to have transportation issues to ponder. It means they still have somewhere to go.

“Coming in as freshmen, we all came here to make a difference and turn the program around,” Goodrich said. “Making the Sweet 16 two years in a row, I feel like that’s a big accomplishment for all of us. It’s been fun and exciting, and I’m so glad I’ve experienced it with these girls.”


Code_2008 8 years, 9 months ago

Edit: Never mind, they posted the time.

Anyways, Good Luck girls!

Steve Zimmerman 8 years, 9 months ago

Show the whole world what you got, gals! It's your turn to make a history. Right here, right now. You've come this far. Failure is not an option anymore (last year). At least get to final 4. Heck, let's win it all the way!

Rock Chalk!

LakeShawnee 8 years, 9 months ago

I hope to be driving to Arlington Sunday morning for the Regional Final. In such an event, does anyone know of an AM channel you can listen to our women's games on in Oklahoma?

MinnesotaJay 8 years, 9 months ago

Notre Dame won't be easy, but neither will KU at full throttle. This is going to be fun!

dylans 8 years, 9 months ago

Good job girls, keep up the good work! How good is women's basketball in the big12? Obviously KU was underrated.

Waylon Cook 8 years, 9 months ago

Of course in typical LJW fashion we compare how similar but don't mention:

Playing Nebraska a former Big 12 foe(good riddance) Playing Colorado a former Big 12 foe(KU runs that school they should have hired Glen Mason as football coach)

Its amazing that even with Bonnie as the coach how good Angel makes us!

Waylon Cook 8 years, 9 months ago

I guess I never checked up on Angel's sis. Funny she plays in Kansas too!

KGphoto 8 years, 9 months ago

Notre Dame is a tough draw, but it’s cool that they get to play in the spotlight of the #1 team in the country. Give em’ hell ladies!

Now, back to Tania. I find it crazy that LJW hasn’t published a dedicated article that sheds even a little light on this story. It was, and still is, a HUGE story!

Last season when Keena Mays left (In December) there was an article saying she wanted to be closer to home in Texas. Very weird timing (sophomore year), but fine. Although many of the fans, in one of the livelier KU women’s basketball comment sections (about 40 comments.) pointed to Bonnie and her history of transfers. One even mentioning when they met Bonnie she was rude and condescending, and that until Bonnie was gone they wouldn’t be attending any more games.

This year, rising star Tania Jackson leaves the program in mid January, right before the crucial stretch run to March, and nobody says anything at all? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills here! Doesn’t anybody else want to know?

She’s a Lawrence native!! She IS home. What on earth would possess a 4th-year JR, and a two-time Academic All Big 12 player to just bail at her peak? She was averaging 7pts on 47% shooting, 6.5 rebounds, and opening up the paint a little with 35% 3pt. shooting (8 threes in 14 games). She was a key component to this season’s, and maybe even more importantly, next season’s success.

So what is it? Does she hate Bonnie? Is she pregnant? OMG, she’s is isn’t she? She’s pregnant. Wait a minute. Even if she is, wouldn’t the LJW publish an article saying that she left for "personal reasons”? But we didn’t even get that.

It’s not just the LJW either. The Topeka Capital Journal, The KC Star. I couldn’t find one publication with a report about why she left. Just a quick sentence thrown into other stories, offering no reason.

Benton Smith wrote the last piece I could find on Tania, back on November 22, 2012.

In this article he mentions that Tania earned a start over Bunny Williams because Henrickson could trust Tania. That she had been practicing well. She was on her way up!

Two months later, poof! It’s just so strange.

Jeff Coffman 8 years, 9 months ago

I remember something about it earlier. It seemed like she announced she would be leaving the team in a few weeks, but played some time after she announced. I can't remember where I read it, but it seemed like is where I go for 90% of the news I read on the jayhawks, so i'm sure there is a write up, just don't know where.

no_fan 8 years, 9 months ago

Here's a few options:

  1. Maybe she got tired of the program
  2. Maybe she wanted a better opportunity than she felt she was getting in her current situation.
  3. Maybe she felt she should have been starting and playing way more minutes than Bunny Williams
  4. Maybe she did not want to play for Bonnie any longer
  5. Only Tania knows, everyone's guess is as good as mine

Given the number of transfers out of this program since her tenure, one can only come up with one equation .... Coach!

Keena Mays probably felt slighted as well. Should have been starting surely over knight and was seeing limited minutes. Since her departure and return to basketball, she surely has been given the opportunity she so deserved. Conference player of the year and all American candidate. Never would have happened at KU ... Talent gets stifled in this system and for the likes of favorites IMO

KGphoto 8 years, 9 months ago

LOL all of those things you listed could be traced back to Bonnie, including #4 “Maybe she did not want to play for Bonnie any longer”. It’s a repeating theme. I would love to see what she’s really like, because the more this stuff keeps happening the more I have to believe she’s a miserable coach to be around.

It is INSANE to leave a program in January, while you’re healthy, you’re playing well, for a team that is playing well, in a town you grew up in, at a college that you grew up rooting for. Insane!

It HAS to be Bonnie. I hate to be negative after another huge tournament win and sweet sixteen appearance, but while I’m enjoying the run, I’d also love to understand what this woman is doing to these kids.

If this is the men’s team, there would be pages of info. There are pages of articles when a 3rd stringer who gets zero minutes leaves the men’s team over the summer, and even that player usually ends up making a statement or something. Tania was a key contributor on a tournament team making it’s move in January, and it gets swept under the rug. WTF!?

Tharp leaves the football program in the off-season. Fully reported. It was because he couldn’t stay healthy.

Freshman Zach Peters leaves the men’s team in the pre-season because of concussions. Reported by LJW, CJonline, KCStar...

4th year JR Tania Jackson disappears like a fart in the wind right in the middle of the season? Can we get CSI Lawrence on this?

wakeupcall 8 years, 9 months ago

Kgphoto, I agree with you. Something should have been published. Even if it was a political lie. The article on Keena Mays stated " to be closer to family" that was NOT true. Colleges sugar coat the TRUTH to keep negativety down in the press. Now, if a athlete is dismissed from a team/scholarship because of their actions "violating team rules" the TRUTH is told. We the outsiders will NEVER know the TRUTH of why these athletes leave because the Colleges are going to protect the COACH from any negativity with the program. Not only are athletes leaving but staff also leave every year under Bonnie.

Jeff Coffman 8 years, 9 months ago

I sometimes wonder if for a coach it is better to do well in the tournament or in the regular season.

I think of Bob Stoops, who is incredible in the regular season, but has lost more BCS games than any other coach (of course he had to get to those games).

Bill Self early on had regular season success, but wasn't as solid in the tournament. Now he has success in both, so I'm really talking early on.

Bonnie Henderson I don't think has ever had a winning Big XII regular season record, but two sweet 16s and she is dynamite.

Mark Mangino even had poor performance in Big XII play, but was 4-0 in the post season.

Many of the hot name college coaches only are talked about because of their performance in the dance, not during the regular season (e.g. Smart-VCU, WSU-Coach, etc.). Same with football performance.

Don't get me wrong, if you aren't successful in the regular season and can't get into the post season of course you are gone; however, I'm talking about regular season medicracy and above average performance in post-season play.

Waylon Cook 8 years, 9 months ago

Mangino was 3-1 in bowl games. Lost to NC State and Rivers in Tangerine bowl.

Bonnie will be gone after next year but its obvious KU can be a power in womens hoops!

wakeupcall 8 years, 9 months ago

Bonnie should have been FIRED! Lew, paid her more then she deserve. If, you are saying some Coachess do better in post season? My question is what took her so long to start being one of those Coaches? Unfortunately, she probably bought herself into another year. IMO it was not her coaching ability. I give credit to Angel and crew!

kranny 8 years, 9 months ago

She won't be fired-at least not this year or next year. She coaches in the toughest league, endured injuries, coached in an NIT final and two sweet 16s. The question will be after the next 2 seasons after Angel is gone. If she doesn't find another Angel, she' s done(assuming no Angel-type of player equals lack of wins).

Doug Merrill 8 years, 9 months ago

RCJH! I am very proud of this team.

Those who take the opportunity to rain on this team's parade so you can air your negative opinions about seasons past are missing the point. it is NOW that is important. These players are doing a great job NOW. Their coach is doing a great job NOW. Be logical: save your (heard it all before) roasting for a year that the team doesn't meet expectations.

big12ku 8 years, 9 months ago

No one is raining on this team's parade, if the writers did not want anyone to comment, ask questions, etc etc about the past, WHY DO THEY KEEP BRINGING IT UP (The departures, defectors, quitters, whatever they want to call them).

I wish the ladies success, but KUSPORTS have got to move on from the past and use who and what they have now. I am SURE that the ladies that have departed are very happy in their new lives and new environment, and probably are out there rooting for their old teammates.

wakeupcall 8 years, 9 months ago

That will be Sunday! These wayward fans. Women NEVER have/had these many posts until they win. What happen to being faithful thru thick and thin? Lol

Doug Merrill 8 years, 9 months ago

Bill Self doesn't agree with the Bonnie-bashers:

"She (Henrickson) has done a really good job here. I’m so happy for Angel (Goodrich) and those other seniors, for them to get a chance to continue playing.”

nostradavid 8 years, 9 months ago

Great job Cinderellas! Don't worry about midnight.

There will always be time to hit the books...

Billie and her book.

Billie and her book. by nostradavid

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