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Archive for Saturday, August 16, 2008

Freshman Goodrich could be key

Point guard to be counted on for Jayhawks to overcome last year’s turnover shortcoming

August 16, 2008

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Her name conceivably could be construed to mean "Celestial Automobile Tires" and perhaps that's apropos.

Angel Goodrich does indeed come with a smooth set of wheels and, from all indications, is heaven-sent to Kansas University's women's basketball program.

Goodrich is a 5-foot-5 freshman point guard from Sequoyah, Okla., whom KU coach Bonnie Henrickson once said would have started if she had been with the Jayhawks last season.

"Her abilities and strengths should fit in well," said Henrickson, who is beginning her fifth season on Mount Oread.

In other words, Henrickson believes Goodrich is blessed with the natural skills so important to making things happen in the backcourt.

Now the question is: Can Goodrich step right in and alleviate the two primary weaknesses that made Kansas settle for a 17-16 record last season?

KU's most glaring bugaboos were too many turnovers and too few points and, in a large sense, the two were not mutually exclusive.

Every turnover leads to one less possession, and the Jayhawks' average of 19.4 giveaways per game - worst in the Big 12 Conference - impacted the points per game. KU wound up scoring at a 60.7 clip, 11th lowest output in the Big 12.

Thus fewer turnovers should lead to more points next winter, and Goodrich factors into that potential scenario because, as Henrickson noted, "the ball will be in Angel's hands more."

Nevertheless, turnovers weren't the sole reason the Jayhawks were points-challenged. Kansas took and made far fewer three-point goals than any other conference team, and KU shot a staggering 154 fewer free throws than their foes.

Again, Goodrich should help because she can shoot from the outside and can penetrate and draw fouls.

Juniors Danielle McCray and Sade Morris, the two leading scorers last year at 14.9 and 9.8 points a game respectively, rarely draw fouls because they're basically stand-still shooters. Meanwhile, McCray and sophomore Nicolette Smith were pretty much the only reliable three-point threats.

Goodrich may loom as an offensive upgrade, but it's also possible she could give away as many points as she scores because she stands just 5-5, and that height may be an embellishment.

"Will people try to post her? Sure," Henrickson said, "but we'll go over post defense with her, and I think she'll handle it well."

Goodrich was one of three Henrickson signees. The KU coach also inked a pair of 6-3 prep post players from California in Ashley Ellis and Aishah Sutherland. Ellis failed to qualify for a scholarship and was expected to enroll in a junior college, but Sutherland is on board and could contribute right away.

"I love her length," Henrickson said of Sutherland. "She also passes well, and she can guard inside."

Whether Sutherland can score enough inside to take the pressure off 6-5 sophomore Krysten Boogaard remains to be seen. When foes double-teamed Boogaard last season, she struggled.

"Her commitment is solid," Henrickson said of the Canadian who averaged 9.4 points and 5.6 rebounds. "I think she'll get better with experience and more understanding of how to use her body inside."

If Boogaard does make a leap, Tamika Raymond will surely receive some of the credit. Raymond, a seven-year veteran of the WNBA, was hired by Henrickson off the Ohio State staff in the spring and assigned to tutor the Jayhawks' post players.

When Boogaard and McCray were producing in tandem last season, the Jayhawks were usually clicking. When they weren't, teammates had difficulty picking up the slack.

The 5-11 McCray, who also led in rebounding (7.1), is the Jayhawks' best all-around player, yet Henrickson thinks the Olathe East product can be even better.

"She has to step up and be a leader," the KU coach said.

Henrickson also needs Morris, a 5-11 junior from Norman, Okla., to kick her game up a notch. Specifically, Morris must cut down on her turnovers after amassing 120 giveaways last season, one of the highest totals in the Big 12.

Henrickson also hopes a healthy Kelly Kohn can become the catalyst she was as a freshman.

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