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Archive for Sunday, March 23, 2008

Jayhawks trying to shake off rust

March 23, 2008

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Danielle McCray feels like it's mid-October all over again.

"It seems like we're getting ready for a whole new season," McCray said. "It's like we're starting from scratch."

McCray and her Kansas University women's basketball teammates have had plenty of time to kill between the end of the Big 12 Conference Tournament and the Jayhawks' first game in the WNIT.

When Kansas plays host to Evansville tomorrow night, 12 days will have elapsed since the Jayhawks fell to Oklahoma State in the second round of the Big 12 meet.

"That'll be about two weeks since we last played," senior Taylor McIntosh said, "and we're not used to that."

KU coach Bonnie Henrickson gave her players two days off following the conference tournament, then conducted drills from last Saturday through Tuesday.

On Wednesday, as a change of pace, Henrickson staged a mock, 40-minute intrasquad game with the coaches acting as the whistle-tooters.

Then Henrickson gave her players Thursday off before beginning preparations Friday for Evansville.

Since it was spring break week, the KU players didn't have much to do other than practice basketball.

"Some of us went to the mall," McIntosh said with a smile, referring to a trip to The Legends shopping area in Kansas City, Kan.

While the KU players were off Thursday, Evansville staged a Jekyll-and-Hyde act to advance to a meeting with the Jayhawks. The Purple Aces trailed by 19 points nearly three minutes into the second half on their home floor, but rallied to stun Southeast Missouri State, 60-58.

Kansas and Evansville, co-champion of the Missouri Valley Conference, have had two common opponents - Drake and Creighton.

Evansville won two of three games against Drake, a team KU beat, 69-64 in the SMU Invitational last November, and split home games with Creighton. KU walloped the Bluejays, 91-56, on Nov. 27 in Allen Fieldhouse.

Evansville will have one advantage. After playing on Thursday, the Aces will have shed some accumulated rust while the Jayhawks will be trying to shake off the effects of the long layoff.

"That's why we played last Wednesday," Henrickson said of the simulated game. "But you can balance rust by saying we'll be fresh and everybody will be healthy."

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