The Kansas University women’s basketball team did exactly what it was supposed to do in its two-game exhibition slate: It made the easy ones look easy.
The Jayhawks mopped up on their mostly undersized opponents, scoring at will inside and pushing them around on defense.
That may not end abruptly beginning with today’s season opener against South Dakota — scheduled for a 2 p.m. tipoff at Allen Fieldhouse — but from here on out it only gets harder.
“We try to make all of these nonconference games kind of equate to the teams we play in (the Big 12),” said Bonnie Henrickson, now in her seventh year as coach at KU.
That means a number of things for the Jayhawks, whose aspirations of making the NCAA Tournament mean finishing toward the top of the conference this season.
First and foremost, there’s getting re-acquainted with facing the tough, physical forwards they’ll see in the Big 12, such as Baylor standout Brittney Griner.
Kansas sophomore forward Carolyn Davis, who scored 50 points and snagged 28 rebounds in the preseason, and frontcourt-mates Aishah Sutherland, Krysten Boogaard and Tania Jackson, will be going against five Coyote forwards over 6-feet tall.
And those forwards, like all-conference pick Amber Hegge, don’t only pose a challenge when defending.
“A lot of the forwards face up, drive and shoot,” Henrickson said. “They don’t spend a lot of time with their back toward the basket.”
The Jayhawks might have held Washburn to 35 percent shooting and forced 27 turnovers last week, but Henrickson said she was impressed by the Coyotes’ ability to shoot and score from the wing.
“Defensively, we need to be as active and aggressive as we were in passing lanes,” Henrickson said.
That aggression needs to carry over on offense.
Sophomore Monica Engelman stood out against Washburn for her ability to drive to the basket and score. It’s a trend Henrickson wants to continue to see to keep the offense from becoming stagnant.
“(Monica needs to) make people play her off the dribble to complement her pull-up game and three-point range,” Henrickson said.