Every year that she has played point guard for Kansas University's women's basketball team, Jennifer Jackson has been told some relief is on the way.
Now she finally believes it.
Jackson, a 5-foot-10 senior from Tuscaloosa, Ala., played more minutes than any other Jayhawk last season, averaging 32.7 minutes per game and 33.9 minutes per Big 12 game. On a bum ankle.
"I led the team in minutes last year," Jackson said Wednesday at the Big 12 women's basketball media day at the airport Embassy Suites. "It's not something I would have chosen if I had the option. If coach wanted me to play 40 minutes a game, I'd do it. I'd do what I can."
Jackson, one of three seniors, will enter her final season at KU averaging 32.4 minutes a game over her career. In other words, she has averaged just over 7 1/2 minutes of rest each game of her career. In Big 12 games, she has sat out just over six minutes.
And it took its toll, especially in the latter part of last season. Hobbled by a bum ankle that required "stop-gap" surgery last December, Jackson underwent more extensive surgery in the offseason and reports her mobility is back to where it was as a freshman.
"Last year it became a matter of me just trying to gut it out," she said. "I'm not 100 percent now, but I wasn't 100 percent before. Where it mainly hurt us last year was defensively. Coach likes to pressure the ball end line to end line, but playing 35 minutes on a bum ankle is where it hurts us the most."
Help is on the way. Really. Where before injury, defection or gaps in talent kept coach Marian Washington from spelling Jackson, the Jayhawks suddenly are loaded at the point.
"We won't have any problem bringing in the backup point guard, or the third-stringer, or whatever you want to call it," Jackson said. "We have four point guards who can play."
Two of the four are relatively untested. Selena Scott, a 5-5 junior, is the most experienced, with 54 career games and a start to her credit. She played her way into the regular rotation midway through last season.
Behind her is Kristen May, a 5-7 sophomore who played in just 14 games a year ago. May is recovering from knee surgery.
Then there are two newcomers who have impressed in practice KC Hilgenkamp, a 5-10 junior transfer from Hutchison Junior College who's more of a combo guard, and Leila Meng5-6 true freshman from Stockholm, Sweden.
"We're deeper on paper than we were a year ago," Washington said. "We're deeper at the point, and we have at least three players in the post. We do have some concerns about the 4 (big forward) spot."
Washington also had some concerns about the point, but none of those surrounded Jackson's backups once practice started.
"It's most important to me and Jennifer that we watch her health," Washington said. "We're excited she's stronger, and we want to make sure she's stronger at the end of the season. Selena Scott and a new player, Leila, can handle the point-guard responsibilities."
Foremost in Washington's mind this preseason is getting four of the five newcomers ready to play. The fifth, freshman center Rodneikka Freeman, likely will be red-shirted.
The other newcomers are juco transfers Fernanda Bosi, a 5-11 guard, and Dalchon Brown, a 6-3 center. A relatively new face will be Sharonnpencer, a 6-foot sophomore forward who sat out last season under the NCAA's partial-qualifier rule.
"We're working hard to make sure the new players are comfortable in the system," Washington said. "Of those five, four will be very important for us this season. We won't be able to say much about ourselves until we face some other opposition."
KU will open its exhibition season on Nov. 8 against the Basketball Travelers. Tipoff is 7:05 p.m. at Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas' regular season will open against Grambling State on Nov. 18.