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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Kansas women will bank on Boogaard

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KU women heading West to battle K-State

A big one for the Kansas women's basketball team awaits on Saturday. The Jayhawks make the trip West to Manhattan to take on the K-State Wildcats.

— Krysten Boogaard figures to be right smack in the Kansas State bull's-eye today.

Boogaard, a 6-foot-5 freshman, has emerged as Kansas University's go-to women's basketball player after her 20-point, 12-rebound performance in last Saturday's 53-50 victory over Iowa State.

"I would expect them to crowd her," KU coach Bonnie Henrickson said, "and she's got to be able to handle that. She's got to turn her touches into shots."

Tipoff will be at 1 p.m. at Bramlage Coliseum. The game won't be televised.

Boogaard's maturation into a viable inside option has helped take the pressure off Danielle McCray and Sade Morris, the Jayhawks' top two scorers.

First, however, Kansas has to put the ball into Boogaard's hands, and that task will become more difficult with the loss of another freshman. During Tuesday's practice session, emerging point guard Chakeitha Weldon suffered a torn ACL and is finished for the season.

"We are extremely disappointed," Henrickson said. "Chakeitha had worked so hard, and her improvements were just starting to show on the court."

Weldon's injury - the sixth season-ending ACL suffered by a Big 12 Conference player this year - leaves point guard in the hands of junior Ivana Catic and soph LaChelda Jacobs. Catic protects the ball, but doesn't supply much offense. Jacobs can score, but is turnover-prone.

Lately, Weldon had been more of a middle-ground option for Henrickson after the 5-8 Atlanta product spent most of the first 21â2 months on the bench.

Helping alleviate the loss of Weldon, however, has been the steady improvement of Kelly Kohn's ailing ankle. Kohn, a sophomore who played some point guard last year, has been limping off and on for more than a month.

"I don't think she's 100 percent," Henrickson said, "but she's better than she was a week ago."

Kansas and Kansas State shared the Big 12 Conference basement last season, each with a 4-12 record. K-State has made a rapid turnaround, however, and is in the title hunt with a 7-1 record. KU sits at 2-6 at the midway point of the 16-game conference race.

This is basically the same KSU team as a year ago with one notable difference. Marlies Gipson is back after missing the last three months of 2006-07 with a knee injury.

Gipson, a 6-0 junior, is averaging 12.0 points and a team-high 8.0 rebounds per game. She and 6-2 Ashley Sweat, who averages 10.7 points, give the 'Cats a double inside threat.

Without Gipson, K-State struggled to a 59-55 win over the Jayhawks last year in Bramlage.

"That was a great game that went back and forth," Henrickson said. "We were able to score in transition and we defended well."

Senior Shaq Mosley led the Jayhawks that day with 17 points. McCray and Kohn added 13 apiece. Later in Lawrence, Kansas tripped the 'Cats, 82-74, in two overtimes as McCray and Mosley scored 25 and 21 points respectively.

That victory ended a KSU 12-game win streak in the Sunflower Showdown. Kansas hasn't won in Manhattan since 2001.

Notes: The first 6,000 fans will receive "Think Pink" T-shirts to heighten awareness of breast cancer. Both coaching staffs will wear pink blouses, and KSU players will be using pink shoelaces. : Kansas is ranked No. 31 in the latest RPI. The Jayhawks' schedule is ranked as the 15th toughest in the country. : KU's next games will be at home - Wednesday against Colorado and a week from Sunday against Nebraska.

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