Archive for Thursday, December 30, 1999

SAINT LOUIS AWAITS KU WOMEN

December 30, 1999

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For the second straight game, KU will be without Suzi Raymant, who suffered a groin pull prior to the holiday break.

Kansas City, Mo. -- Ironic, isn't it, that Sprint, a company known for its long-distance services, is footing the bill for a basketball game in which the Kansas University women don't expect to have much of a long-distance threat?

No. 20 KU (7-3) will face Saint Louis (7-3) today in the Sprint Shootout at Kemper Arena. Tipoff is 5:30 p.m., with the KU-SLU men to follow at 8:05.

The Kansas women will play without Suzi Raymant, the team's second-leading scorer and KU's top three-point threat, for the second straight game.

Raymant, who sat out almost all of last year with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee, suffered a groin pull just before the holiday break and is listed as day-to-day, though she already has been ruled out for tonight's game.

"You keep looking at the positives," KU coach Marian Washington said. "It's better now than later. What I've been told is, we can rest her now and we'll have her back solid for us."

Without Raymant on Tuesday night, the Jayhawks attempted just one three-pointer -- a miss -- in a 72-70 loss to Arkansas State at Allen Fieldhouse.

"The good news," Washington said, "is we don't have to wait around until we get to another game as quickly as possible."

Nikki White, a 6-foot-4 sophomore forward who sat out all of last season with her own knee injury, started in Raymant's place. White contributed five points and two rebounds in 19 minutes, and her play help make up somewhat for the loss of Raymant.

"There have been a couple of players who have taken some major steps," Washington said. "Nikki was one of them. Nikki's running better. There's still a limp, but I see her striding, pushing off better, and that's good to see with Suzi out of the lineup."

Of prime concern to Washington, though, is Kansas' bench production. KU's starters -- excluding White -- have scored 612 of Kansas' 717 points, or 85 percent, this season. Starters account for 76 of 99 steals (76.8 percent), 129 of 165 assists (78.2 percent) and 304 of 424 rebounds (71.7 percent).

Only four reserves are averaging more than 10 minutes a game, and none averages more than 14.1 minutes. Further, freshmen Kristen May and Jamie Shelite and sophomore Katie Hannon have played in just three games each.

"We have a stat we really watch: bench production," Washington said. "This is probably the weakest we've seen this season in terms of bench production."

There's no telling how much Kansas' bench must contribute today. The Billikens enter with the same record as KU, but they've lost to the likes of Missouri (78-65), Minnesota (68-42) and North Carolina-Wilmington (74-68) after a 5-0 start.

Earlier this season, the Billikens received the first votes in the AP top 25 in program history, but they didn't have enough to be ranked.

"We don't know much about them," Washington said. "We're more familiar with Minnesota, and they didn't do too well against them. But they have a couple of players who are very credible players for them."

Three Billikens are double-figure scorers. Mandy Lueking, a 5-7 senior guard, leads SLU with 15.7 points per game. Bridget Beckmann, a 6-1 junior forward, adds 12.3 points and a team-best 9.1 rebounds per game, while Christan Shelton, a 5-10 freshman forward, adds 10.4 points per game.

Kansas will play its third game in six days on Sunday, when it plays host to Arizona State. Tipoff for KU-ASU is 2:05 p.m. at Allen Fieldhouse.

Probable Starters

KANSAS (7-3)

F -- Brooke Reves, 6-0, Jr.

F -- Jaclyn Johnson, 6-1, Jr.

C -- Nikki White, 6-4, Soph.

G -- Lynn Pride, 6-2, Sr.

G -- Jennifer Jackson, 5-11, Jr.

SAINT LOUIS (7-3)

F -- Christian Shelton, 5-10, Fr.

F -- Bridget Beckmann, 6-1, Jr.

C -- Amie VanDeurzen, 6-1, Fr.

G -- Kara Wile, 5-5, Sr.

G -- Mandy Lueking, 5-7, Sr.

Tipoff: 5:30 tonight, Kemper Arena.

-- Andrew Hartsock's phone number is 832-7216. His e-mail address is ahartsock@ljworld.com.

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