Archive for Wednesday, January 5, 2005

UT tough way to open

Big 12 favorites top Jayhawks’ league schedule

January 5, 2005


— Rutgers may not have done Kansas University's women's basketball team a favor.

Rutgers stunned Texas, 51-47, Sunday, ending the Longhorns' nation-leading 41-game home win streak, and KU potentially could be caught in the backlash.

"I understand that," first-year Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson said, "but the Rutgers-Texas game won't have any effect on how we prepare. We've got to take care of Kansas first."

Tipoff will be at 7:05 p.m. today at the Erwin Center on the UT campus. The game will be broadcast on the Jayhawk Radio Network and telecast live on CSTV (Sunflower Broadband Channel 147).

On the surface, Henrickson couldn't have drawn a tougher Big 12 Conference opener. Texas was the preseason choice of both the media and the coaches to repeat as league champion, while KU was tapped for 11th place in both polls.

Not that Henrickson is wringing her hands about the scheduling draw.

"In this league," she said, "who would you be begging for?"

Texas coach Jody Conradt is begging for more consistency out of her veteran squad. The Longhorns' three losses -- Georgia and UCLA were the others -- all featured blown halftime leads. Against Rutgers, Texas did not score in the last 8:37.

"We did lose to good teams," Conradt said. "What is surprising is how we lost. We got big leads at the half, then we gave the games away."

Kansas has won four of its last five. The Jayhawks' only loss during that span was a five-point decision to Creighton in Omaha, Neb.

"I told my team this is not the Kansas we have played over the last few years," Conradt said.

Texas has won five straight in the series, including a 73-54 triumph last season in Lawrence, but Conradt is cautioning her players about overconfidence.

"This is a totally different Kansas team," Conradt said. "Bonnie has taken their best players -- and Kansas has some good players -- and has them playing at a high level."

KU junior Crystal Kemp is having a breakout season. The 6-foot-2 forward ranks in the top five in the Big 12 in both scoring (16.5) and rebounding (8.6). Point guard Erica Hallman (12.2) and wing Aquanita Burras (11.0) are also double-figure scorers. Hallman ranks third in the league in assists (5.55) as well.

Kansas, however, hangs its hat on defense. The Jayhawks are dead last in the league in scoring offense, but KU is fourth in scoring defense (52.4).

Conradt has seen enough of the Jayhawks on tape to give Henrickson a thumbs-up.

"Kansas is a well-coached, organized, disciplined team playing to its strengths," the veteran UT coach said, "and that's scary."

Kansas will go from the frying pan into the fire when it meets Kansas State, another nationally ranked team, Saturday in its home conference opener. KU has dropped six straight to the Wildcats.

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