Lynn Pride is gone, so to whom can Kansas University's women's basketball team turn when it needs a quick bucket?
So far this season, Jaclyn Johnson has been the answer.
Johnson, KU's 6-foot-1 senior forward, will carry a team-best 18.8-point average into tonight's KU Credit Union Jayhawk Classic meeting with Eastern Illinois.
Tipoff will be 7:05 p.m. in Allen Fieldhouse, about two hours after the start of the other Classic game between Minnesota (3-1) and St. Joseph (1-3).
Twice this season Johnson has tied her career high of 25 points, and she had 24 in Tuesday night's victory over No. 24 Illinois.
And while Johnson's play hasn't made anyone forget Pride, the Jayhawks' four-year go-to player now playing in the WNBA, it sure has helped the Jayhawks overcome her loss.
"If that's the role that's given to me, I'll accept it," Johnson said. "People ask me if that's too much pressure. Pressure doesn't bother me. I can handle all that weight on my shoulders."
Heck, she can even take a benching in stride.
In the season's third game, Johnson played just 22 minutes before fouling out. In that game against Alabama-Birmingham not coincidentally the Jayhawks' only loss Johnson scored a season-low seven points before fouling out early in the second half.
"I'm always on Jaclyn," KU coach Marian Washington said. "We have that kind of relationship. In the UAB game, she had four fouls, and I had somebody at the table ready to go in, and Jac tried to draw a charge. It was her fifth foul. I always have to get on her about playing smart."
In part because Johnson wasn't, and in part because Johnson was guilty of 13 turnovers in the second and third games combined, Washington yanked Johnson from the starting lineup for Game Four.
Johnson responded with 25 points, nine rebounds and just three turnovers, offset by two assists and two steals.
"It didn't bother me at all," Johnson said of her benching. "It might have even helped me. If I'm not starting, maybe I can feed off somebody else who is starting. Hey, she knows what she's doing. She's been in it, what, 28 years? She has 500-some wins. She must know something about basketball."
She knows enough to know Johnson's importance to the team.
"One of the reasons she came off the bench was, we had so many turnovers and she was greatly responsible," Washington said. "But Jaclyn is by far a key player for us. Any time she can get in the paint, she's tough to stop."
That might be especially true tonight against shorter Eastern Illinois (2-2).
Center Pam O'Connor, a 6-foot-2 freshman center, is EIU's tallest starter on a team that starts just two players over 6-foot. O'Connor also is Eastern Illinois' leading scorer and rebounder, with 13 points and 7 rebounds a game.
Kansas likely will start three 6-footers and no one shorter than 5-10.
Sometime-starting center Nikki White is questionable this weekend. White, a 6-3 junior, suffered a broken nose a week ago Saturday. Though she practiced while wearing a mask, she continues to be bothered by headaches and won't decide until today if she'll play.
Win or lose tonight, the Jayhawks will play at 3:05 p.m. Saturday. Because of contractual obligations with the Jayhawk Television Network, Kansas' game time Saturday is locked, and Eastern Illinois is guaranteed a noon tipoff.
KU's game Saturday will be televised live locally on channels 13 and 62.
EASTERN ILLINOIS (2-2)
F Angie Russell, 6-1, Sr.
C Pam O'Connor, 6-2, Fr.
G Lauren Dailey, 5-10, Fr.
G Portery Scott, 5-6, Sr.
G Renee Schaul, 5-7, Sr.
F Brooke Reves, 6-0, Sr.
F Jaclyn Johnson, 6-1, Sr.
C Kristin Geoffroy, 6-6, Jr.
G KC Hilgenkamp, 5-10, Jr.
G Jennifer Jackson, 5-10, Sr.
Tipoff: 7:05 tonight, Allen Fieldhouse.