Freeport, Grand Bahama Both teams are 3-0. Both teams are nationally ranked.
Today’s clash between Kansas and Xavier is the showcase game of the Junkanoo Jam, a 12-team women’s college basketball tournament divided into three divisions.
“It’s a great matchup on a neutral floor,” KU coach Bonnie Henrickson said. “And you want to meet that opponent on a neutral floor.”
Tipoff for the meeting between the No. 9-ranked Musketeers and the No. 18 Jayhawks will be 3:30 p.m. in the Freeport YMCA gym.
For the first time this season, Kansas will go into a game as the underdog, and standout senior Danielle McCray, for one, likes the feeling.
“Hey, that just gives us the want-to,” she said, “to see where we stand.”
Echoed senior Sade Morris, who scored a career-high 26 points in Sunday’s 77-66 victory over Michigan: “Rankings don’t mean that much.”
Talent does, however, and the Musketeers are loaded, particularly up front with 6-foot-4 Amber Harris and 6-6 TáShia Phillips. Both are averaging double-figure scoring and more than eight rebounds a game.
“Those two will be matchup problems for people all year,” Henrickson said.
Phillips and McCray, incidentally, were teammates on last summer’s USA Basketball team that captured the gold medal at the World University Games in Serbia.
How 6-2 Aishah Sutherland and 6-5 Krysten Boogaard perform for the Jayhawks against Xavier’s Harris-Phillips tandem could prove decisive.
“Krysten and Aishah are going to have to stay out of foul trouble,” Henrickson said. “And we’ve got to be able to hold our own on the boards.”
Xavier, experiencing the highest poll ranking in the Cincinnati school’s history, won the Atlantic 10 title last season, finished with a 25-7 record and led the nation in field-goal percentage.
Coach Kevin McGuff has added a new weapon this season in Katie Rutan, a freshman guard who is shooting 48 percent from three-point range and is averaging 13.0 points a game off the bench.
The two other teams in the Xavier-Kansas bracket are TCU and Minnesota. The Horned Frogs and Golden Gophers will meet at 10 a.m. Friday with the winner scheduled to battle today’s winner at 2:15 p.m. Saturday. The losers bracket game will be at noon Saturday.