For the first time this season, Bonnie Henrickson’s Kansas University women’s basketball team will take the floor on the heels of a loss when the Jayhawks play host to Alabama at 2 p.m. today at Allen Fieldhouse.
Last Thursday, the Jayhawks (8-1) dropped their first game of the season, 75-67, at Michigan. KU led early in that one but fell victim to a strong second half from the Wolverines.
By winning its first eight games of the year, Kansas was off to its best start since going 12-0 in 2005. While a lot of coaches will point to a loss as a positive way to teach a lesson or two, Henrickson’s line of thinking goes the opposite way.
“Losing is never a good thing,” Henrickson said. “But how you respond to a loss is the only way that anything good can happen after losses. We anticipate we’ll bounce back and show a little toughness.”
To do so, the Jayhawks may have to play their best game of the season. Alabama comes into today at 8-1 and on a three-game winning streak. What’s more, Henrickson said the Crimson Tide are as well-rounded a team as KU has faced so far.
“Definitely. They’re the most impressive offensive rebounding team and they’re the most impressive defensive team that we’ve seen,” she said. “Offensively, they’re as good a one-on-one team as we’ve seen.”
On defense is where Alabama creates the most problems, as the Crimson Tide force an average of 27 turnovers per game. Through nine games, Alabama has forced 243 turnovers, including 30-plus against Tennessee State (36), North Carolina State (30) and Providence (30).
“They get after it in whatever defense they’re in,” Henrickson said. “And then the offense they create from their defense is impressive.”
This one figures to be quite a test for both teams. Kansas is averaging 83.2 points per game, which ranks fourth in the Big 12 Conference and ninth in the nation. Led by sophomore forward Carolyn Davis’ 18.4-point average, KU has four players averaging double digits in points per game.
Sophomore guard Monica Engelman, who led KU with 19 points in the loss to Michigan, is averaging 13.3 points per game, and junior forward Aishah Sutherland (11.9) and freshman guard Keena Mays (10) round out KU’s top four.
Today’s matchup will be the first all-time between the two programs and KU is partnering with Douglas County Toys for Tots for the game. Fans donating a toy at any Allen Fieldhouse entrance will receive free admission to the game.