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Archive for Friday, August 12, 2005

Depth focus for Henrickson

August 12, 2005

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While most college basketball coaches would tell you a 12-16 won-lost record is something to forget quickly, Bonnie Henrickson begs to differ.

The Kansas University women's coach had enjoyed postseason success in her career as both a player and a coach, yet her first season at KU taught her about coaching a short-handed team night in and night out.

And, as much of a learning experience as it was, she hopes she won't have to do it again.

"I thought we squeezed as much juice out of that thing as we could," she said. "I know personally I feel like I'm a better coach because of it."

After facing elite competition in the Big 12 using mostly a seven- or eight-player rotation in 2004-05, the key this season will be developing depth. On paper, her recruiting class may provide just that.

Point guard Shaquina Mosley headlines an intriguing group of newcomers.

Mosley can score, and after averaging a sparkling 8.2 assists per game while shooting 60.8 percent from the floor as a sophomore at Central Arizona College, she was named junior college player of the year by the Women's Basketball Coaches Assn.

Once Mosley acclimates to the NCAA Division One game, Henrickson expects her to take over as the point guard, which will allow senior Erica Hallman to move back to shooting guard, a position she hasn't played regularly since high school.

"Erica's best friend now is Shaquina Mosley. There's no one more excited than her," Henrickson said. "Clearly, she's an elite level athlete and a great kid."

Hallman averaged 13.1 points per game last season, and led the Jayhawks with 61 three-pointers while shooting a respectable 38.9 percent from beyond the arc.

"Having Shaq there is going to be a plus," Hallman said. "As soon as I get her ready to run the system, I'll move to my natural position."

Even though she ran the point for the third straight year, last season was a major adjustment for Hallman because of the coaching change. She played her first two years under Marian Washington who retired after the 2003-2004 season.

"I feel like I learned more last year than my first two years combined," Hallman said. "Different terminologies, different discipline. Every aspect was different, and different in a good way. Playing under a coach for two years and adjusting to a different style and focus is always hard."

Henrickson lost only one starter, Aquanita Burras, and reserve guard Blair Waltz to graduation.

Hallman and Crystal Kemp, who poured in a team-high 13.8 points per game last season, head the cast of returnees. Lack of depth forced Kemp to log more minutes than Henrickson would have liked, but help appears on the way for the 6-foot-2 Topeka native.

Freshman Marija Zinic, a native Serb, figures to bolster the Jayhawks up front, and Henrickson is counting on improvement from Jamie Boyd and Taylor McIntosh, a pair of sophomores.

Another newcomer - 5-8 guard Ivana Catic - should give the Jayhawks' outside shooting and defense an upgrade.

"Ivana is tremendous," Henrickson said. "People are going to love the way she plays and the flair she has about her. She lights up a room when she walks in, and she plays with that kind of energy and emotion."

Forwards Sophronia Sallard (5-10) and Jen Orgas (6-2) round out the cast of newcomers.

Henrickson has a history of culling talent from overseas, but not at the expense of local players. She already has verbal commitments for 2006 from Danielle McCray of Olathe East and Lindsay Ballweg of Overland Park Aquinas.

Meanwhile, Henrickson hopes the current crop will enable the Jayhawks to climb into the Big 12's upper division. Kansas had some close calls against teams that finished higher in the standings last year.

"The thing we were disappointed in was that we really thought we'd get somebody we weren't supposed to," she said. "You look at the Baylor game and the Texas game, and we found a way to put ourselves in a position to be successful. Now we've got to find a way to win those."

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