Even with a mask on during his interview, it was easy to sense the joy head coach Brandon Schneider had about returning to practice.
The Kansas women’s basketball team completed its first official practice on Thursday, Oct. 15 to begin preparing for the 2020-21 season. For the Jayhawks, it has been a long offseason of waiting to get back on the court since their previous campaign was brought to an abrupt halt just as the postseason was set to begin.
“I think we are all just grateful that the first official practice is here,” Schneider said during an interview with KU Athletics.
It marked the first time that the Jayhawks could be on the court in an official capacity in over 200 days. Kansas was slated to face Texas Tech in the opening round of the Big 12 tournament on March 12 before the NCAA ultimately canceled the postseason due to the threat of COVID-19.
“It’s been obviously challenging not knowing what we can and can’t do,” Schneider said of the process that led to the first day of practice. “We still have to be extremely cautious. Not only in how we practice, but how we conduct ourselves outside of the facility.”
Schneider noted that a new rule by the NCAA granted them extra practice time, which led to an additional 20 minutes on the first day.
“A little bit different circumstances because (the) NCAA extended our time to 12 hours (in this) transition period,” Schneider said. “I’ve been really pleased with how our 11 returners have taken the newcomers under their wing and just done a great job aiding their transition in the program.”
The Jayhawks finished with their best regular season record since 2013 with a 15-14 clip a year ago. Kansas still went 4-14 in Big 12 play, but three of those wins came in the final six games of the league slate.
Schneider, who is now 54-97 overall and 11-79 in Big 12 play in five seasons at the helm, believes the Jayhawks can build off some of that success from last year.
“We felt like we were going to be a postseason team a year ago," Schneider said. "Now, I think this team has its sights on (the) postseason. Not just any postseason tournament, they want to play in the NCAA tournament.”
Kansas fans will get a chance to see the KU women in action on Friday in the 36th annual Late Night in the Phog. The virtual event will begin at 7 p.m., and can be streamed live online via Big 12 Now on ESPN+, Facebook Live and KUAthletics.com.