Archive for Saturday, August 12, 2006

Henrickson: Freshmen key

August 12, 2006


Bonnie Henrickson only knows one way to approach a season in which half of her scholarship players will be freshmen.

With open arms.

"I'm excited about it. I'm not scared about that," the Kansas University women's basketball coach said. "I'm realistic that they are freshmen and that I can't turn the hands of time and make the clock go any faster than it will."

With seven true freshmen, Henrickson knows the 2006-07 season will be filled with growing pains.

She also knows, however, that the struggles could be well worth it if the youthful Jayhawks develop as well - and as quickly - as she believes they can.

"Not one of them would have made the decision to come here," Henrickson said, "if they were afraid of being put on the floor early and often their freshman year. I think the sky's the limit for this group. I really do. They're tremendously talented."

Henrickson's "Super Seven" will have to be if they hope to make up for a departing senior class that combined for nearly two-thirds of the offense a year ago.

Crystal Kemp, Erica Hallman and Kaylee Brown contributed 44 points per game, leading the Jayhawks to the WNIT and their first postseason appearance since 2000.

Kemp was also named to the All-Big 12 First Team, averaging 18.6 points and 8.4 rebounds.

"We can't replace that kind of experience," Henrickson said.

Instead, she will lean on returnees Sharita Smith, Taylor McIntosh and Jamie Boyd to lead by example. All three played for Henrickson in her first two seasons at Kansas.

"You've got to use their wisdom," Henrickson said, "and rely on their guidance with these young kids."

The Jayhawks will also rely heavily on sophomores Ivana Catic (9.1 points) and Marija Zinic (6.2) returning as the leading scorers from a year ago.

Zinic was especially impressive late in the year, scoring 14.7 ppg in KU's three postseason contests.

"She had a great finish to the season," Henrickson said. "I thought she was as consistent as Crystal was down the stretch."

Henrickson also hopes a strong final game by Shaquina Mosley will carry over into the new season.

The former junior college player of the year posted 11 points and five assists against Mississippi in the WNIT after struggling most of the year.

Henrickson said it was important for the upperclassmen to get a taste of success with last year's 17-13 record and WNIT berth.

"At least those returning kids - though there aren't a lot of them - understand and see the significance of playing in postseason," Henrickson said. "These kids should want some more. They should want to be in the NCAA tournament."

Headlining the freshman class is Olathe East product Danielle McCray.

Ranked as the 30th-best player in the country, the 6-foot forward was the Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year. She also starred in track and field , accumulating five gold medals at the Class 6A state meet in May.

Lindsey Ballweg - from Overland Park Aquinas - is the other Kansan in the class. The 5-10 guard is a sharpshooter from the outside and will help fill Brown's spot on the perimeter.

LaChelda Jacobs and Kelly Kohn are the other two guards. Jacobs is known for her athleticism and defensive prowess, while Kohn has established herself as a smart and unselfish player.

"These guards will compete. They're very competitive," Henrickson said.

Sade Morris, from Norman, Okla., is a slasher who can create her own shot, and Rebecca Feickert gives Kansas a post player who can hit outside shots.

Porscha Weddington, the final member of the class of 2010. is a good finisher around the rim, much like Kemp.

Henrickson said she would not be hesitant to throw her freshmen into the fire at an early age.

"In my career as a head coach, I've played young kids," Henrickson said. "And not just subbed them in and subbed them out. I've played them.

"I'm not afraid to do that as long as they can produce."


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