If you don’t give a hoot about women’s basketball, shift your eyes to the latest update on Mark Mangino twisting in the Lew Perkins wind … if you haven’t already.
OK, if you’re still with me, you’ve probably watched the Kansas University women this season and, in particular, freshman point guard Angel Goodrich.
To this point — just three games — Goodrich has played like a freshman. That is to say, she’ll make a great pass, then she’ll make a dumb pass. She’ll hit a tough shot, then she’ll miss a layup. She’ll make a steal, then she’ll be beaten on a drive.
The bottom line, though, is talent. Goodrich has unmistakable basketball instinct, a knack for playing the game that other women — even more athletic women — can only wish they possessed.
By the time Goodrich is a senior, it’s no fantasy to expect her to be as good or better than Justina George.
Who’s Justina George? Right now, she’s the best Native American guard playing college basketball in Lawrence.
A senior at Haskell Indian Nations University, George is three inches taller than the 5-foot-4 Goodrich and not as clever a passer. But George is more of a scorer and, at this stage, a better defender than Goodrich.
On Monday, George, a member of the Navajo tribe from Ramah, N.M. (population 407), was named Midlands College Athletic Conference player of the week.
Check out the numbers George compiled during three HINU wins: 16.3 points, 5.3 assists, 4.7 steals and 4.3 rebounds. Against Ottawa last Thursday, George was credited with a jaw-dropping eight steals.
I’m sure if Goodrich were playing at the NAIA level, she would be compiling similar numbers and, at the same time, if George were suiting for the Jayhawks or another NCAA Div. I school her statistics wouldn’t be nearly as glossy.
Nevertheless, both Goodrich, who hails from Oklahoma and belongs to the Cherokee tribe, and George bring a high level of skill to a game that is considered by many unworthy of interest because men are so much better at running, jumping, shooting and, of course, dunking.
Regardless of gender, however, and regardless of the level of competition, talent almost always translates into winning and both Goodrich and George are helping elevate their programs.
At Kansas, for example, early season crowds are about double what they were last season. Goodrich isn’t the only reason for that upswing, of course, but she is clearly making a good team better.
Meanwhile, Haskell is off to an 10-2 start thanks mainly to George and to Maria Parker, a 6-0 center who lacks the bulk to play at the NCAA level but is lithe and athletic, and can shoot the rock.
It would be nice to say the Fightin’ Indians’ women’s basketball team is drawing bigger crowds, but sports at Haskell don’t draw crowds. They draw gatherings.
Still, I would expect the HINU women to draw more interest in December and early next year through word of mouth.
If you’ve read this far, thanks. Now you can go on to the latest installment of the Mangino-Perkins soap opera.