Marian Washington isn't about to let a little thing like paradise distract Kansas' women's basketball players.
Washington, KU's 26th-year coach, is keeping a short rein on the Jayhawks as they prepare for the Hawaiian Regent Classic in Honolulu.
"We're going to go to the North Shore," Washington said Thursday, "and we hope to have dinner at some nice places. But that's it until the last day. As far as going out, and looking at some of the sights, we're going to save that until the 23rd so we can keep our focus."
Still smarting from a nationally televised 76-58 loss to seventh-ranked North Carolina last Sunday, the 17th-ranked Jayhawks (0-1) will take on Massachusetts (1-1) in the first round of the tournament today. Tipoff is 6:30 p.m. at the Sheriff Center.
"They're much more enthusiastic now," Washington said. "Hopefully we're going to see some improvement now. There's no question that we're very aware of how we might have done things better. We expect to be able to take another step up. We have to put ourselves in the situation we're in, playing top-10 teams that have been there longer than us. They know better what it takes to be able to do the job. Overall, we took our knock, but I think we'll learn from it.
"More than anything, it really enforced we're not ready yet. Is it an indication of whether or not they're that much better than us? I don't know. But they had a level of intensity we didn't match. They did a great job. We didn't respond, and that's disappointing."
After UMass, KU will take on Minnesota at 5 p.m. Saturday in the tournament, then meet Hawaii at 9 p.m. Sunday. They'll spend an extra day in Hawaii before heading straight to Los Angeles for the Loyola Marymount Classic next Friday and Saturday.
After yet another road trip to Arkansas State on Dec. 1, Kansas finally will hold its home opener on Dec. 4 against Maryland-Eastern Shore in the Jayhawk Commerce Bank Classic.
"It's really difficult for our team to have so many games away," Washington said. "I know we're working to balance our schedule better. But for us to play the teams we need to play, often the tournament format lets us see some teams that would be helpful for us. Last year we had a similar schedule early, and in the end it helped us. I don't know if we were really prepared for it last year, but it helped us in the end. This year, we'll probably look back at North Carolina and it will end up as being one of the best things that could happen to us."
Today's opponent, UMass, went to the NCAA Tournament last season and finished 19-11.
"That makes them a very credible ball club," Washington said. "They shoot a lot of threes. The other night, they shot 28 of them. They're balanced, and they like to push the ball up the floor. That definitely should help us."
UMass sports four double-digits scorers. Kelly Van Huisen, a 5-foot-8 sophomore guard, leads the way with 15.5 points. She's followed by Tez Kraft, a 5-11 senior forward, with 14 points per game; Alison MacFarland, a 5-9 junior forward, 12.5 points; and Kathy Coyner, a 5-5 sophomore guard at 11 points.
F -- Lynn Pride, 6-2, Jr.
F -- Jaclyn Johnson, 6-1, Soph.
C -- Nakia Sanford, 6-3, Sr.
G -- Suzi Raymant, 5-11, Sr.
G -- Jennifer Jackson, 5-10, Soph.
F -- Alison MacFarland, 5-9, Jr.
F -- Tez Kraft, 5-11, Sr.
C -- Yolanda Rayside, 6-3, Sr.
G -- Kathy Coyner, 5-5, Soph.
G -- Kelly Van Huisen, 5-8, Soph.
Tipoff: 6:30 tonight, Sheriff Center, Honolulu.
-- Andrew Hartsock's phone number is 832-7216. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.