Kansas campers get taste of ‘Bonnie-ball’

When Bonnie Henrickson was hired as Kansas University’s women’s basketball coach in March, she promised to bring a more offensively-minded style of basketball to KU.

This weekend, about 30 players from Kansas and surrounding states in grades 8-12 found out first-hand what “Bonnie-ball” is all about at Henrickson’s inaugural KU camp at Allen Fieldhouse.

Defensive fundamentals and footwork were taught during the Friday session of the two-day camp, but Saturday’s activities focused almost strictly on Henrickson’s favorite up-tempo offensive drills.

“We did two breakdown sessions about getting out in transition and talked to them about how important it is to get out and run,” Henrickson said. “It’s a lot of the same drills we’ll run in practice.”

From the look of things, Henrickson liked what she saw. The first-year coach strolled the sideline with a smile on her face most of the day and watched with an inquisitive eye as players sprinted through three- and five-man weave and secondary-break drills. During catch-and-shoot drills, Henrickson offered pointers to correct shot-release flaws and occasionally paused to joke around with campers.

“It was a lot of fun … it was really good,” Henrickson said. “If you can work hard and you’re coachable, that makes it a lot of fun for us.”

Good shooters also make camp fun for coaches, and Henrickson’s had its share of net-scorchers.

Sometimes she caught herself gazing in awe as her campers hit shot after shot.

“In this group, there were a lot of kids who could shoot the ball well,” she said. “Half that camp could really knock down shots. I was shocked. We’ve never had a camp anywhere where kids could shoot that well.”

Kansas University women's basketball coach Bonnie Henrickson speaks to participants in her Elite Camp. The camp was Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.

For the run-and-gun coach, seeing swish after swish was sweet indeed.

Henrickson wasn’t the only one issuing compliments Saturday afternoon, however. Her campers issued rave reviews after their first experience with the new KU coach.

“I got a lot better with shooting and attacking the basket,” said Brette Ulsaker, a junior-to-be for Class 5A state runner-up McPherson High. “The new coach, new program, close location and new tradition were appealing.”

One camper in particular had a pretty good idea what to expect out of Henrickson’s camp. Jennifer Orgas, a 6-foot-2 senior-to-be from Skutt Catholic High in Omaha, Neb., said she decided to attend camp after becoming the first player to give Henrickson an oral commitment to play for Kansas.

After experiencing Henrickson’s coaching style up close this weekend, she said she still was standing by her commitment.

“I loved it. I liked what I saw,” said Orgas, who chose KU over Kansas State, Michigan, Michigan State and Syracuse. “In a way, we’re all coming into this together. It was good for me because I learned the way she coaches things so I’ll know what to expect when I get here.”