With the Big 12 Conference portion of the schedule right around the corner — Kansas University opens with Texas Tech on Jan. 8 — KU women’s basketball coach Bonnie Henrickson has a luxury few teams are able to enjoy.
When the Jayhawks play host to SIU Edwardsville at 2 p.m. today, they’ll do so with the hope of plugging guards Angel Goodrich and Marisha Brown back into the rotation at some point during the game.
“When you have a chance to get two starters back, you have a chance to get a lot better,” Henrickson said. “And, right now, not a lot of teams can say that. We’ve had both of those two in there. They’re limited, but we’re cautiously optimistic that they might be able to go a little bit (today).”
If they do, that’s a bonus. But, so far, the Jayhawks (9-1) have been fine without them in racing out to their best start since opening the 2007-08 season with an identical mark.
Kansas is averaging 82.8 points per game, which ranks fourth in the Big 12 and 14th nationally, and has three players averaging in double figures. Sophomore forward Carolyn Davis (19), sophomore guard Monica Engelman (14) and junior forward Aishah Sutherland (13) have made sure KU’s offensive production has not fallen off with Goodrich and Brown on the bench, and freshman guard Keena Mays has filled in nicely for Goodrich at the point, averaging 9.6 points and 6.3 assists per game.
Sutherland also has done her part on the glass.
The junior is averaging 9.9 rebounds per game, which leads the Big 12 and ranks 38th in the nation. As a team, KU is outrebounding its opponents by 11 boards per game, the 15th-best advantage in that category in the country.
Because of finals, KU has not played since drubbing Alabama a week ago at home.
Henrickson said the open week gave her team plenty of time to improve.
“We’re trying to work on some things we don’t normally get enough time on,” said Henrickson, noting zone defense specifically. “We’ve just really been trying to work on some things that we may not see every day.”
The Jayhawks and Cougars have never met.
Henrickson had high praise for Edwardsville despite its 2-8 record, particularly because one of KU’s strengths is shared by SIU Edwardsville.
“Their offensive rebounding numbers are more impressive than their opponents’,” Henrickson said. “So, even in tough losses, they’ll battle, they’ll do the little things it takes to win. We just have to make sure we set the tone and the tempo right away.”