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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Keegan

Column: End nearing for Bonnie Henrickson?

KU coach Bonnie Henrickson reacts late in the Jayhawks' 55-48 loss to Kansas State on Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015, at Allen Fieldhouse.

KU coach Bonnie Henrickson reacts late in the Jayhawks' 55-48 loss to Kansas State on Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015, at Allen Fieldhouse.

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I must admit, I was excited about the future of the Kansas University women’s basketball program when I saw how the freshman class played three years ago.

Carolyn Davis went down with an injury, and Chelsea Gardner stepped into the center position and played like a veteran, a very talented veteran.

Asia Boyd didn’t get to play very often, but when she did, she showed the talent that made her a highly rated recruit.

Natalie Knight had such a pure shot, such a winning attitude.

Now they’re seniors. The future is now. And it’s bleak. They all have had productive careers, Knight and Gardner crossing the 1,000-point milestone for their careers, but their final two seasons have been bummers in terms of the team’s success. Barring a Tiny Tim-ish miracle, Boyd’s career has ended. She was on crutches Wednesday night because of a stress fracture of the left foot. The trio will leave Kansas with something in common with every other Bonnie Henrickson recruiting class: They never had a winning Big 12 season.

It’s Senior Night for all three players Monday against Iowa State, and they deserve a big crowd to thank them for their efforts. So does Bonnie. My guess is it will be the Senior Night of her Kansas coaching career as well, the final chance to thank her. Thank her for working extremely hard, for organizing an annual golf tournament that is so well run, so popular and raises so much money to battle breast cancer. Thank her for making the community in which she lives a better place.

It feels as if the time has come, so why not send the woman who coached the Jayhawks into the WNIT title game with Danielle McCray leading the way, recruited Angel Goodrich — amazing Angel Goodrich — to Kansas and watched her lead KU into consecutive Sweet 16 appearances in the NCAA Tournament, out with one more good memory?

Seriously, how hard would it be to drive to Monday’s 7 p.m. tipoff and surprise four women who have endured another rough season by turning what normally is a joyless atmosphere into a happy party for a night?

The team might even do its part and play considerably better than it did in Wednesday’s 55-48 loss to a so-so Kansas State team in Allen Fieldhouse. The Wildcats won despite shooting 28.1 percent and losing the battle of the boards by 13.

How does that happen? The way it usually does for Kansas. Turnovers. Lots and lots of turnovers. There were 15 in the first half, 23 for the game, five in the final 3:48, which had a lot to do with K-State’s late 12-0 run.

It was the 13th time this season KU (13-16) reached the 20-turnover milestone. KU has turned it over fewer times than its opponent just six times. The .293 shooting night made it 10 times the team has shot .400 or worse after a .293 shooting night.

Players overloaded with information tend to think too much on the court. That can lead to turnovers and generally passive play and in turn a joyless atmosphere in the fieldhouse.

Henrickson’s Big 12 records, since taking over the program in 2004-05: 5-11, 5-11, 4-12, 4-12, 6-10, 5-11, 6-10, 8-10 (Sweet 16), 8-10 (Sweet 16), 5-13 and 4-12 and counting.

Eleven losing seasons with small crowds at most of the games does not earn a coach a 12th, especially when the buyout calls for just one year of salary in the contract extension athletic director Sheahon Zenger signed Henrickson to after her second Sweet 16.

Still, the only appropriate response for Monday night’s home finale is a big, passionate crowd. Leave the reflections on Bonnie’s career at KU for another night. Here’s how I’ll remember her tenure: Bonnie, yes! Bonnieball, not quite.

Comments

Bill Kackley 4 years ago

I THINK YOU PUT IT VERY WELL, BONNIE YES, BONNIEBALL NO. SHE IS A CLASSY PERSON BUT KU WILL NEVER HAVE A TOP NOTCH WOMEN'S BASKETBALL PROGRAM SO LONG AS SHE IS THE COACH.

Mick Allen 4 years ago

Give Keegan some credit, that is the nicest "get out of town" column I have ever read. Thanks for the updated stats too. Bonnie's conference record is even worse than I thought. She has won 60 and lost 124, or a .326 winning percentage. If she were to be candid, what do you think her response to the question of whether her record after 11 years warrants being given another year would be? Grounds for further pessimism is that her 2 best players and her 2 top scorers are seniors. The 13th game with at least 20 turnovers and we commit 23 in our 16th conference game. Obviously we have sure cured the turnover problem as the season has progressed. See if Lew can find her another job.

Joe Ross 4 years ago

Mick. I agree. Reading this, I wonder if Tom knows something we dont know. Its kind of a longitudinal, historical accounting of Bonnie's tenure as coach. I wonder if this column portends some change that is coming down the pike.

As Matt Tait says, "Stay tuned..."

Waylon Cook 4 years ago

Please everyone stop blaming Lew. Yes this was a horrid hire when it happened(I get it she had a great record at a team that was in the Big East but in the A-10 during a lot of her career). Yes he gave her extension she didn't deserve. BUT THAT CONTRACT WAS UP. And Zenger inked her to a new deal!

Joe Joseph 4 years ago

Her contract was also up right after she had led KU to a sweet-16 appearance. No way she's getting canned after that.

In my opinion, Zenger crafted her extension quite well. Only having to pay her one season's worth of buy-out damages seems like a bargain compared to what the football team has been on the hook for in recent years...

Waylon Cook 4 years ago

Every dog has its day. Bonnie had Angel Goodrich and some other key players. They did the work(our draws also were VERY favorable).

Yes Zenger spent most of that money on the football program with the Weis hire. Why does this guy never get the blame?

Aaron Paisley 4 years ago

Bonnie's pre-Kansas resume justified the hiring at the time. Bonnie never should've been around for the team to make the NCAA tournament with Angel either. I don't doubt Bonnie tried her best, but KU was never a competitive team and her two best were barely tournament quality.

Waylon Cook 4 years ago

Good point Aaron. Angel with a real coach would have been a sight to see! Yes last team in the 2nd time!

Mick Allen 4 years ago

Okay Waylon, maybe Zenger can find her another job.Is that better?

Waylon Cook 4 years ago

Mick Allen 10 months, 2 weeks ago

I guess the previous 10 years of mediocrity at best is not a "big enough picture" for Zenger. Unbelievable and disappointing.

1 Sign in to suggest removal

You agreed 10 months ago. We are on the same page but Lew is gone and has left his damage this is all on Zenger now.

John Thomas 4 years ago

I know not many would approve of a Junior College coach but they should take a look at Hutchinson Juco s coach.John Ontjes. He has taken a juco job and made a 100 game home winning streak, 3 years to the nationals, National runner up two years in a row and they are undefeated this year.

Brad Richardson 4 years ago

John, I agree with your suggestion concerning Ontjes. Another name to consider is Tory Verdi who left Bonnie and became the head coach at Eastern Michigan.I think Bonnie's miserable record against KSU is another nail in the coffin.

Cody Stumma 4 years ago

So Bonnie really is leaving after this year? Thank god.

Bville Hawk 4 years ago

Seems like Keegan is usually right when he pens these types of columns.

Tony Bandle 4 years ago

My Bonnie lies over the ocean.

My Bonnie lies over the sea.

My Bonnie lies over the ocean.

Please don't bring back my Bonnie to me.

I think her overall record at KU is over .500 but league play has been unacceptable for years.The longer hair looks great but she never got around to darkening those eyebrows.

David Kelley-Wood 4 years ago

In past years, I've favored retaining Bonnie. Not that it was the correct decision, but apparently the decision maker(s) agreed, perhaps because it's the KU way, i.e., to stick with otherwise good representatives in anything resembling borderline situations.

If Bonnie is retained again, I'll be supportive and hopeful as always. But, I hope that doesn't happen. This is a good time for a change. She's a classy lady, and if she hasn't squandered those healthy paychecks, she'll be just fine.

Best wishes, Bonnie, but more importantly, RCJHKU.

Jim Stauffer 4 years ago

It was obvious Zenger wanted to give a gal with a decent rep another shot after the Sweet 16, thinking that may infuse some real energy into the program. I like the way he has handled all of the coaches. I believe the overall performance of our athletic teams has improved since he came on board. And that, after all is the goal of his job.

Chris Baker 4 years ago

From my experience both working in Television and in Newspapers, you typically won't see columns like this written unless the author is all but confirmed that the individual in question is on their way out the door. Why? Because generally speaking, sports writers want to be on good terms with the coaches and administrations of the teams that they cover, because they want good access to those people, interviews, scoops, etc. So you don't write a column like this if you think there is a chance that you might be wrong and have possibly angered/offended these folks that he will have to continue working with. Typically speaking, most sports writers will be REALLY darn certain before they publish something like this.

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