The Kansas University women’s basketball team will be gunning for a pair of milestones at 7 tonight when they play host to Maine at Allen Fieldhouse.
The Jayhawks, who have raced out to a 6-0 start — buoyed by a thrilling overtime victory in last weekend’s BTI Tip-Off Classic — will look to improve to 7-0 for the first time since the 2005-06 season, when they opened the year 12-0.
That’s the small scale.
On the big scale, a victory would give KU its 700th victory all-time.
Despite both feats hanging in the balance, KU coach Bonnie Henrickson said her focus was on teaching her young team how to win.
“The results are fun, and that’s exciting and we all love to win here,” Henrickson said. “But I think the process is more magnified when you’re young, how do we win, what do we need to do every day in practice, what do we need to do on gameday to win.”
So far, the Jayhawks have passed those tests and they’ve done so without the services of sophomore point guard Angel Goodrich.
Goodrich, the victim of two different season-ending knee injuries, recently has been dealing with some discomfort in her knee. She had some scar tissue scoped on Thanskgiving morning and is about two weeks away from a return.
“Past that first week, she’ll be day-to-day just seeing how she’s rehabbing and if she feels good,” Henrickson said. “We’re anticipating she’s going to feel a lot better now.”
Freshmen point guards Keena Mays (nine points, six assists per game, with three starts) and CeCe Harper (four points and two assists per game) have filled in during Goodrich’s absence and both have made a good impression on their head coach.
“Keena’s done a really good job,” Henrickson said of the freshman from Arlington, Texas. “She’s controlled tempo, she’s taken care of the basketball, she has stepped up in a difficult situation. Both of those young kids have done a good job.”
Controlling the tempo will be key in tonight’s game against the Black Bears, who enter the contest 1-4 overall, with the lone victory coming on the road. Kansas is averaging 81 points per game, while the Black Bears average just 57 points per outing.
“They can shoot the ball and they’re very confident offensively,” Henrickson said of tonight’s foe. “We have to be able to dictate defensively, speed ’em up and try to get them to play fast and use our strengths.”
As has so often been the case this season, the Jayhawks will have a decided size advantage in the post, with 6-foot-2 Aishah Sutherland and 6-3 Carolyn Davis battling Maine’s Samantha Wheeler (6-0) and Corinne Wellington (6-2) inside.
After playing — and winning — three games in three days, the Jayhawks were off on Monday and back on the floor Tuesday. Despite the busy weekend, Henrickson didn’t anticipate her squad being worn down.
“It’s a quick turnaround for our kids, which will be a challenge,” Henrickson said. “We may feel a little bit foggy physically, right now, but we have to tell the young kids this is about what you feel like every day in February, so just get used to it.”