Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Zenger: ‘Bonnie will be back’ to lead KU women’s basketball

Transfers mount, but AD confident in coach Henrickson

Kansas women's basketball coach Bonnie Henrickson gestures to her team during a practice for the Big 12  tournament on Thursday in Oklahoma City.

Kansas women's basketball coach Bonnie Henrickson gestures to her team during a practice for the Big 12 tournament on Thursday in Oklahoma City.


Three of Bonnie Henrickson’s underclassmen have decided not to return to Kansas University next season, but the KU women’s basketball coach will be back for her 11th season, determined to land her first winning conference record in Big 12 play.

Earlier this month, KU announced the transfer of sophomore Lamaria Cole, a point guard headed to Prairie View A&M;, a school closer to her hometown of Bryan, Texas. The transfers of twins Dakota and Dylan Gonzalez of Pocatello, Idaho, have not been announced, but Henrickson confirmed it Tuesday, saying, “Is that where it’s headed? Yes, that’s where we’re headed.”

The latest defections do not have athletic director Sheahon Zenger contemplating making a change.

“No,” Zenger said. “Bonnie will be back next year.”

After Angel Goodrich-led squads made back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances, Zenger rewarded Henrickson with a five-year contract that pays Henrickson $505,000 per year through 2018. Should Zenger decide at some point during the term of that contract to bring in a new coach, it would cost the athletic department far less money than it would have under Henrickson’s previous deal. The new contract, started in the 2013-2014 season, nullified the last year of Henrickson’s previous contract, which had been set to expire at the end of that year. Her current contract includes a clause that requires KU to pay a one-time buyout of $395,000 should Henrickson be fired without cause.

The coach and AD typically meet at the end of every school year to discuss the state of the program and goals for improvement, and the retention rate of student-athletes always is discussed, both parties said.

During those conversations, Zenger said, “Our focus is not on nonconference play. It’s on in-conference play and postseason play, and Bonnie has had two outstanding seasons with regard to postseason play, and we’re both working toward making sure that that continues in the future and that our conference play improves.”

Henrickson and Zenger said having a women’s basketball team with a winning Big 12 record at Kansas is a realistic expectation, and Henrickson listed her relationship with Zenger as one of the factors that makes her optimistic about the future of the program.

“I’m excited that we can have such candid, open, honest conversations,” Henrickson said. “His wisdom in what we’re trying to do and his ability to look at the big picture has been unbelievably supportive.”

Henrickson and Zenger clearly have talked a lot through the years about transfers because their answers to questions about the latest news could not have been more in lockstep if they had rehearsed them: It’s always disappointing. Sometimes it’s best for the student-athlete, sometimes it’s best for the program, sometimes it’s best for both, etc.

None of the three transfers appeared to figure prominently in Henrickson’s plans for next season. Three double-figures scorers return: Forward Chelsea Gardner (17.1 points per game) and wings Asia Boyd (11.0) and Natalie Knight (10.6).

Two of the three high school recruits who signed in the fall are point guards, including Terriell Bradley, ranked as the 11th-best point guard by Collegiate Basketball Report and the 21st-best recruit by Henrickson also has been evaluating point-guard prospects from the junior-college ranks.

She said that the back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances “absolutely” have enabled her to upgrade the caliber of recruits she lands.

Asked if she thought she feels she is on the hot seat, Henrickson said, “Nobody puts more pressure on myself than I do, but from all the conversations we have had, I never have felt that I am, to use your words, ‘on the hot seat,’ no.”


Aaron Paisley 8 years, 2 months ago

Why is she coming back? Nothing about her KU resume says she should be back. Never finished in the top half of the Big 12, numerous underclassmen that have transferred out, and only 2 NCAA Tournament appearances in which KU was one of the last teams in. Since when is making the NCAA Tournament 20% of the time acceptable performance at a major conference school? KU is not significantly better than they were 10 years ago because Bonnie has not done a good enough job in her 10 years as coach.

Mick Allen 8 years, 2 months ago

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

Gerry Butler 8 years, 2 months ago

uh three under classman transferring out this year, and multiple trough the years? something wrong in paradise, where is the improvement constantly around 500 there has got to be a step up with this program sooner then later. ya 2 sweet 16 a couple of years back, but have we continued to build off those seasons? the answer is NO. you want support? then give a team to support, the mediocority doesn't cut it any more, always right around or a little over that doesn't make it. where is the improvement? if you wanna play in front of more then 3/4 empty arena then show us , give us something to work with, SOMETHING, ANYTHING 11years is quite abit of time I've tried, I've defended but REALLY? give me something to work with, I just don't see it

Jay Beakum 8 years, 2 months ago

Ugh! I need a Tylenol just to read the women’s basketball news during the season. And now this? Had no idea about the twins, but between those two and Cole, weren’t they the top 3 prospects for this team just a year ago?

I really hope that those transfers were because the new girls coming in are so much better.

On the bright side, I like this quote.

"Henrickson and Zenger said having a women’s basketball team with a winning Big 12 record at Kansas is a realistic expectation...”

That quote coupled with mention of the buyout info has the makings of an ultimatum. You either go .500 in conference or bye, bye.

Suzi Marshall 8 years, 2 months ago

Bonnie represents the dismal financial calamity from the Lew Perkins era of institutional theft. Why the university spends millions of dollars on a coach that does not produce results, on anything, may be one of the reasons fund raising for public institutions is so difficult.

The Williams Fund wants us to give them money so they can spend $505,000 per year for Bonnie and millions of dollars for severance pay for Mangino and Gill…..really?

Stephen Young 8 years, 2 months ago

This tells me one thing: Women's basketball is not a priority of the current AD. It would be interesting to know why--after ten years of mostly mediocre results on Bonnie's watch--Dr. Zenger or any KU fan can realistically expect any different result. Very disappointing, but the mistake (in my humble and only minimally informed opinion) was in extending the contract last year. With that decision made, of course she will be returning.

Tony Bandle 8 years, 2 months ago


1] Cavalry scout to General Custer.." General, don't worry, I didn't see one Indian along the Little Big Horn."

2] "Emperor Caesar, they always wax the tiles on March 15th......come down this hall. It's just a bunch of Roman Senators waiting for their chariots."

3] "Nothing ever happens in December, especially on a Sunday, in Pearl Harbor."

4] "Relax, Vesuvias always smokes like that."

5] "No..Bonnie will be back next year."

Tony Bandle 8 years, 2 months ago


Mick Allen 8 years, 2 months ago

That should be an addendum to her new contract.

Tony Bandle 8 years, 2 months ago

If Wikipedia is correct [and that is always a bif "if"], Bonnie's record at Kansas for the past 10 years is 171-154 or, essentially, 17-15 for a decade. I won''t even list KU's conference record.....I will let your imaginations run wild!!

If, in your minds, that warrants a contract extension, I will shut up and not criticize Bonnie or The "Z-Man" again.

Code_2008 8 years, 2 months ago

Yeah... I don't blame the twins for leaving. Zenger, if you're willing to pull the plug after 2 seasons of crap in football, you shouldn't make exceptions for other sports.

Waylon Cook 8 years, 2 months ago

Her current contract includes a clause that requires KU to pay a one-time buyout of $395,000 should Henrickson be fired without cause

I am good at my job and I don't even get that. I didn't know Zenger interned in DC. I have never been so sad about the state of athletics dept and I remember Lew, Bohl and all the other "experiments".

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