Kansas University women's basketball coach Marian Washington woke up to a stunning revelation the other day.
The Jayhawks, despite the injury loss of their top three-point threat, are ranked 21st nationally, are 12-3 overall and 2-0 in the Big 12.
"I've been so busy trying to figure out what we're going to need to do to bring about a better rhythm, I never really thought about how well we'd done," Washington said. "We've already won our 12th game. But that's just a beginning. We've got a long way to go."
Kansas' biggest test of late will come today, when it faces No. 16 Iowa State at the Cyclones' Hilton Coliseum. Tipoff is 2:05 p.m.
Iowa State (10-1, 2-0) is Kansas' first ranked opponent since the Jayhawks' 76-58 loss to North Carolina in their season opener.
After losing senior three-point bomber Suzi Raymant to a season-ending knee injury in the third game of the season, the Jayhawks struggled a bit, and Washington finally settled on a starting lineup that included sophomore Casey Pruitt at the point and former point guard Jennifer Jackson at shooting guard in place of Shandy Robbins.
Kansas has won eight straight since then, though Jackson and Pruitt have been pretty much interchangeable at the guard spots.
"I still like that," Washington said, "but we'll probably go again with Jennifer starting in the point guard spot and playing the shooting guard on defense. That worked out well for us the past few games."
All of KU's guards will have to be en garde against the Cyclones. Under fourth-year coach Bill Fennelly (69-31 at ISU), ISU continues to flourish in his offense, which centers around the three-point shot. Iowa State leads the Big 12 in treys taken -- 201 through 11 games. Texas Tech (171 threes in 14 games) and Texas A&M (171 threes in 12 games) are a distant second in the league long-range bombing department.
"Their backcourt is just phenomenal," Washington said, "and every player they have is capable of scoring from the three-point line. They're comfortable with each player taking it, 1 to 5. That makes it challenging."
Megan Taylor, a 5-11 forward who last year was named the Big 12 freshman of the year, leads the Cyclones and ranks sixth in the Big 12 with 18.3 points per game.
She's complemented by Stacy Frese, a 5-8 junior who contributes 15.3 points per game, and freshman Angie Welle, a 6-4 center and tallest women's basketball player in ISU history who adds 10.7 ppg. ISU's key reserve is Desiree Francis, a 6-foot junior forward who averages 17.4 points per game.
"At least in the conference, Frese has been probably their go-to player," Washington said, "but they've got several good players. Last year, they seemed to expect to get a lot out of their inside players. This year it seems most of their offense comes from their perimeter players."
Kansas won the season series with Iowa State last year, 2-1, but the Cyclones snapped a 14-game losing streak to the Jayhawks with a 69-49 victory in Ames, Iowa. In that game, KU's Lynn Pride took an elbow and suffered a concussion. She hit just three of 15 shots and finished with seven points.
"It's always been tough for Kansas to play there," Washington said.
"In the past, it seemed like we always matched up well, but it was never an easy game. No matter where they were in the conference rankings, they always played well at home. It's always a battle."
Kansas will return home to play host to Missouri on Wednesday. Tipoff is 7:05 p.m. at Allen Fieldhouse.
KANSAS (12-3, 2-0)
F -- Lynn Pride, 6-2, Jr.
F -- Jaclyn Johnson, 6-1, Soph.
C -- Nakia Sanford, 6-3, Sr.
G -- Casey Pruitt, 5-6, Soph.
G -- Jennifer Jackson, 5-10, Soph.
IOWA STATE (10-1, 2-0)
F -- Monica Huelman, 6-2, Jr.
F -- Megan Taylor, 5-11, Soph.
C -- Angie Welle, 6-4, Fr.
G -- Stacy Frese, 5-8, Jr.
G -- Erica Haugen, 5-10, Soph.
Tipoff: 2:05 p.m. today, Hilton Coliseum, Ames, Iowa.
-- Andrew Hartsock's phone number is 832-7216. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.