2007-08 Oct. 10 KU women's basketball media day
- KU coach Bonnie Henrickson speaks at Wednesday's women's basketball media day
- KU forward Danielle McCray talks about carrying over momentum from her solid finish as a freshman
- KU forward Taylor McIntosh talks about how the program has changed over her four years
- KU freshman center Krysten Boogaard talks about potentially bringing the post presence the program has needed under Henrickson
- KU guard Kelly Kohn talks about taking a larger leadership role in the backcourt this year
- KU guard LaChelda Jacobs talks about the transition from freshman to sophomore year
- KU guard Sade Morris talks about the sophomore class as a whole growing up quickly as freshmen
Buying a vowel may be a chore for Krysten Boogaard, but certainly easier than growing up with four older brothers.
"It was a challenge every day," Boogaard said Wednesday. "They would wrestle around and I'd get in the middle of it."
But not anymore.
"They can't do that today," Boogaard said with a smile, "because I'm bigger than they are."
Boogaard is, in fact, taller than the majority of males on the planet. She stands 6-foot-5 and is being counted on by Kansas University women's basketball coach Bonnie Henrickson to give the Jayhawks an inside presence - something they sorely lacked last season.
"She's going to be great," KU sophomore guard Danielle McCray said of Boogaard. "She's been blocking shots, rebounding, scoring."
Henrickson doesn't really need Boogaard to be great. All the KU coach needs is for the rangy native of Regina, Saskatchewan, to fill a void with a measure of competence and consistency.
"Krysten handles her size very well," Henrickson said during Media Day in Allen Fieldhouse. "She runs the floor. She's athletic. If she's not blocking shots, she's altering shots."
Henrickson also likes Boogaard's mental make-up.
"She can joke around," the KU coach said, "but she's very serious about what she's doing on the floor. For a freshman that's a big piece of it."
If Boogaard can plug the hole in the middle and the half-dozen freshmen who logged considerable duty last season make a noticeable leap, the Jayhawks can conceivably consider the 20-loss campaign and the last-place finish in the Big 12 Conference as an anomaly.
"I'm cautiously optimistic we have a chance to be pretty good," Henrickson said. "Toughness and discipline will get us in the top half (of the conference) and that's where we need to be."
Kansas went through an horrific mid-season stretch in which it dropped 15 of 17 games. Then, however, the Jayhawks rebounded to win five of their last nine outings - an encouraging sign considering how many freshmen were thrown into the frying pan.
Still, the catalyst for the late-season surge was point guard Shaquina Mosley, and Mosley completed her eligibility, meaning the position is up for grabs.
Henrickson left no doubt about who she wants to fill Mosley's shoes - junior Ivana Catic. The question is will she? Catic has blown hot and cold during her first two years in a KU uniform.
"Right now that position is a bit of an angst for me," Henrickson said. "As Ivana goes, we'll go. If she struggles, we're looking at young kids at that position."
Henrickson actually used Kelly Kohn, then a freshman, more at the point last year than either Catic or Mosley, even though Kohn wasn't a classic ball-distributor or even an average shooter.
"Her competitiveness gave her an edge," Henrickson said of Kohn. "But she can't shoot an air-ball from three, then swish from three."
Freshman recruit Chakeitha Weldon is the third-string point guard.
If Mosley was the catalyst late last season, then Danielle McCray provided the most explosive chemical reaction. Slow to round into shape after off-season ankle surgery, McCray didn't earn a starting job until mid-February, and she had been regarded as the showpiece of the 2006 recruiting class.
Once acclimated and in shape, McCray blossomed and, it goes without saying, Henrickson is hoping for a carryover and more.
"The difference is night and day," Henrickson said. "Danielle's completely different that she was a year ago."
Henrickson had only two seniors last year and she has only two again this year - Taylor McIntosh and Jamie Boyd. While Boyd is primarily a reserve, McIntosh has started all but two games in her three previous seasons on Mount Oread.
"She's the voice," Henrickson said of McIntosh, a classic blue-collar player. "She's their grandma. We've been calling her that for three years now."
In a nutshell, Henrickson is counting on the addition of Boogaard, the maturation of McCray and the emergence of Catic to avoid another 20-loss season.
Henrickson's fourth KU team will make its debut Nov. 4 in an exhibition game against Pittsburg State.