After dropping three games to open Big 12 Conference play but responding with an upset of No. 7 Baylor and a near-upset of No. 8 Oklahoma State, the first half of the conference schedule was a bit of a wild ride for the Kansas University women’s basketball team.
Although the first nine games against Big 12 foes included nearly as many high points as low points, the Jayhawks enter the second half of the conference schedule hoping things will level off.
“It’s disappointing,” KU junior Asia Boyd said of her team’s up-and-down tendencies. “I mean, I feel like we work hard enough to be doing a little better right now, but we’ve gotta refocus.”
If focus is what they’re searching for, the Jayhawks’ most recent outing — an 80-55 drubbing at the hands of Texas on Tuesday at Allen Fieldhouse — may have been a gift in disguise.
There’s nothing quite like losing — and doing it in the fashion the Jayhawks did versus Texas — to get a team’s attention. KU trailed by just four at halftime and was outscored 42-21 after intermission.
Coach Bonnie Henrickson was noticeably upset following the UT no-show.
“We’ve gotta learn from today and then probably let go of it,” Henrickson said after the game. “Myself included. We’ve gotta let go of it and then have some pop going into Texas Tech.”
Although today’s 4 p.m. game against the Red Raiders is on the road, it figures to provide the Jayhawks with an opportunity to bounce back. Texas Tech enters today’s game at 6-14 overall and 0-9 in Big 12 play. While the Jayhawks (10-11, 3-6) have proven they can play with anyone in this conference, they’ve also proven they can stumble against anyone, as well.
“We’ve gotta get back to what it takes to win in this league,” Henrickson said. “From a discipline standpoint, a focus, effort and attention standpoint, which we have shown. We’ve gotta choose to be better. The good thing is, we get to choose.”
Asked what elements of improvement were most critical for her team to get things going in the right direction again, Boyd pointed to one aspect.
“Focus,” she said. “Focus.”
Asked how she thought she and her teammates could achieve better focus, Boyd was equally direct.
“Communication and just trying to get back to what we have to do,” she said.
While focus and communication likely would lead to good things, junior center Chelsea Gardner added another item to the list.
“I think we’ve just gotta come out together and have that energy from when the ball goes up in the air,” she said.
The Jayhawks knocked off the Red Raiders, 67-46, in Lawrence on Jan. 11 and have won three of the last five meetings between the two programs. In the KU victory earlier this season, Gardner led the way with 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting.
KU played Texas without starting guard Keyla Morgan, who missed the game because of a concussion. She is listed as day-to-day but is not expected to travel to Lubbock, Texas, for today’s game. Reserve guard Lamaria Cole left the Texas game because of an injury and also is listed as day-to-day.