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Archive for Saturday, October 18, 2008

KU women hoopsters dance, then play to tie in scrimmage

October 18, 2008, 12:00 a.m. Updated October 18, 2008, 6:24 a.m.

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Allen Fieldhouse hosts 'Late Night in the Phog'

It's the annual advent of basketball season here in Lawrence. It was a highly-anticipated night as KU basketball fans stood in line for hours on end just to be part of 'Late Night in the Phog' - and of course their first glimpse of the National Champs. Enlarge video

Late Night in the Phog highlights

We look at a few highlights from 'Late Night in the Phog' 2008. Enlarge video

Coach Bonnie Henrickson felt rather calm about watching her Kansas University women's basketball team's first practice of the 2008-2009 season.

Surveying the pre-game skits at Late Night in the Phog? Now that's another story.

Playing to a packed Allen Fieldhouse crowd, Henrickson's 13 players split into two teams, performing their own rendition of MTV's popular "America's Best Dance Crew" show. Each squad dressed to the Broadway nines, complete with black top hats and silver canes.

"I was a little nervous about the first group because for the first time ever, I actually watched a little bit," Henrickson said. "I watched thinking, 'That's why I don't dance. Because I look worse than that.' But they enjoy it. The crowd gets into it."

The dancing numbers between the dueling squads finished up pretty even - which was a theme for the evening, carrying over to the 12-minute, running-clock scrimmage as well.

Both the red and blue squads found themselves fit to be tied, a 17-17 draw with the final points coming on a Kelly Kohn three-pointer for the Blue team.

Sophomore forward Nicollette Smith said she and her teammates spent three nights a week since school began in August practicing for the dance-off. In the end, though, that competition was no match for the game itself.

"Definitely the game," Smith said when asked which she preferred. "It was nice to get out and be able to play in front of people."

Ballyhooed freshman Angel Goodrich made her unofficial debut in a Jayhawks uniform, as did freshman Aishah Sutherland. Goodrich scored four points and added two assists while running the point for the Red team.

Senior Marija Zinic, who saw limited minutes last season, led all scorers on the night with seven points for the Blue team, converting on two layups inside - something Henrickson was pleased to see.

"At some point, you need to figure out this is your last go-around, and you need to make the most of it," Henrickson said. "She really has shown great effort and has performed well."

Danielle McCray paced the Red team with six points and said she already could tell a difference between this year's bunch and last year's.

"Just the team chemistry I think is really good," McCray said. "We're going to get after it tomorrow in practice."

For Goodrich, the evening was all about getting acclimated to her new gym's surroundings. Goodrich, who never attended Late Night while being recruited, said the event lived up to its hype.

"I wasn't as nervous as I thought I would be," she said. "It was exciting having so many people watch you."

Her performance in front of a jammed Fieldhouse wasn't half bad, either.

Demonstrating the skills that made her one of Henrickson's top recruits, Goodrich scored on both an under-handed scoop and a crossover-dribble jumper in the lane.

She also had the ball in her hands in the waning seconds with the game on the line before senior Ivana Catic poked it away at halfcourt for the final possession.

That still couldn't wipe the smile from Goodrich's face as she emerged from the locker room minutes after the scrimmage.

"I love playing," Goodrich said. "I'm so excited for practice to start up. Preseason was great. I had a good time. Putting on this jersey felt so good."

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