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Archive for Monday, March 24, 2008

KU women open WNIT vs. Evansville

March 24, 2008

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On paper, Kansas University has a below-average women's basketball team.

The Jayhawks finished in a tie for 11th place in Big 12 Conference standings and have dropped six of their last seven games. Then again, KU's overall record is 16-15.

So just where do the Jayhawks fit into the women's college basketball picture?

"We're a good team that plays in a great league," KU coach Bonnie Henrickson said.

Just how good will be determined by how far Kansas advances in the WNIT, a 48-team postseason tournament that gives NCAA Tournament rejectees an opportunity to build momentum for next season.

Kansas will meet Evansville in its WNIT opener at 7 p.m. today in Allen Fieldhouse. The game will not be televised.

Clearly, the WNIT agreed with Henrickson's assessment because tourney officials gave the three Big 12 schools in the field - Colorado and Texas Tech are the others - first-round byes.

"Until you're in this league and coach in this league," Henrickson said, "you can't really, really, truly respect and understand it."

Facts back what Henrickson is saying. Kansas, for example, played a dozen teams selected for the NCAA Tournament and defeated three of them - Hartford, Xavier and Nebraska (twice). In addition, only three of KU's 15 losses were to teams not in the NCAAs.

So even though the Jayhawks have won only once in their last seven outings and are hardly going into the postseason on a wave of momentum, they sound upbeat.

"It's important to have the right mind-set," senior captain Taylor McIntosh said. "It sounds like a cliche, but you have to go out there and have no regrets and do everything you possibly can to get a victory."

Teammate Danielle McCray stressed that losing six of the last seven bothers the Jayhawks not at all.

"It really doesn't," McCray said. "Just the fact we're losing and getting tired of losing, that's the attitude we're taking."

Kansas compiled an impressive 11-2 record in the preseason, and Evansville (21-11), co-champion of the Missouri Valley Conference, will be KU's first non-conference foe since December.

"Our goal is to go as far as we can," McCray said. "We just need to play how we're capable of playing. We can't look down on the other teams."

Tonight's winner will advance to meet Michigan State. The site hasn't been determined, but that game probably would be on Wednesday night.

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