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Archive for Friday, March 9, 2007

Kansas women learn lessons, grow to prepare for next season’s play

March 9, 2007

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— Shaquina Mosley feels there's a lesson hidden somewhere in this trying season.

Kansas University's women's basketball senior won't be around to see if the rest of the Jayhawks learn it. But she knows it's there if they want to.

"I hope everyone who comes in here just works hard and knows that even if you are struggling that you can still make a difference toward the end of the season," Mosley said. "It's not over just because you maybe lost two games in a row. You still have to push and keep fighting."

The Jayhawks' season ended with a 71-54 loss to Baylor in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals Wednesday. Officially, Kansas finished with an 11-20 record - hardly anything to brag about. In fact, it was only the second time a KU women's basketball team ever had lost as many as 20 games in a season.

But it could have been a lot worse.

Until Mosley's emergence midway through the season, Kansas didn't have a go-to scorer - and the standings reflected it. The Jayhawks at one point were 6-16 overall and 0-9 in conference play. The fact that they won five of their last nine - including a 71-62 win over Oklahoma State in the Big 12 tournament's opening round - speaks volumes about their development.

"The beginning of the season, we were struggling," said freshman Danielle McCray, who averaged 10.5 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. "I think we just stayed together as a team, and we knew it was going to be our time sometime."

Now the question is whether it will carry over into next season. KU loses Mosley (11.1 points per game) and Sharita Smith (2.8 ppg) but should retain everyone else. That includes Kelly Kohn (9.8 ppg) and Taylor McIntosh (6.8 ppg, 6.0 rebounds), the only Jayhawks to start all 31 games.

In addition, Henrickson and her staff continue to hit the recruiting trail. One commitment has already secured 6-foot-3 forward Krysten Boogaard from Regina, Saskatchewan.

"We've got some positions and needs we need to fill," Henrickson said, "and we're certainly working our tails off to get that done."

A 14-player roster with 10 freshmen and sophomores contributed to KU's struggles. Still, Henrickson thinks it's all going to come together soon. In some respects, she may feel this season could prove to be a microcosm of her tenure at KU - an obvious bumpy ride until the development kicks in.

Then, success.

"I'm excited about our growth," Henrickson said. "I'm excited that I really believe we got the right people in the program. I believe in my coaching staff and their commitment to these kids and to developing players and to developing a program.

"We're not there yet. But I think we're headed in the right direction."

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