Frustration mounting for KU women

Kansas players, from left, Monica Engelman, Angel Goodrich, Carolyn Davis and Keena Mays watch the closing minutes of KU's game against Baylor Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011 in Allen Fieldhouse.

Through the first 14 games of the 2010-11 season, the Kansas University women’s basketball team lost one time. However, in the last six games, the Jayhawks have been victorious just once.

Such is life in the ultra-tough Big 12 Conference, but just because the Jayhawks understand that, doesn’t mean they’re not irked by their recent results.

“The frustration mounts, the need to get one and get back on track mounts. I think that’s fair. I wouldn’t argue that,” KU coach Bonnie Henrickson said.

With Sunflower State rival Kansas State on tap at 2 p.m. today in Manhattan, Kansas’ sense of urgency appears to be at a season-high.

KU enters today’s contest on the heels of one of its toughest setbacks of the season. Wednesday night, at Mizzou Arena, KU played MU tough for 32 minutes. But in the final eight minutes, the Tigers ran away from the Jayhawks en route to a 14-point victory that sent Kansas to its fourth consecutive conference loss.

Henrickson pointed to several poor aspects of their play when explaining the Jayhawks’ recent breakdown. Included among them were the inability to defend the perimeter, not taking care of the basketball and trouble stopping opponents in transition. Through all the specific examples she gave, a central theme continued to pop up.

“They’re disappointed, and they’re frustrated, but they’re focusing on finding a way to deliver a consistent effort, and they’re starting that in practice,” Henrickson said. “It might be the pressure situations, but we’ve had too much of a lack of focus, and we gotta clean that up.”

Doing that figures to be easier said than done against a Kansas State team that comes into today’s game at 14-5 overall and 4-2 in the Big 12.

The Wildcats, who have conference victories over Oklahoma State, Missouri, Nebraska and Colorado, are led by sophomore guard Brittany Chambers, who leads the team with 15.2 points and six rebounds per game. Chambers also leads the Wildcats in three-point shooting with 48 three-pointers made.

A Wildcat who fans of prep hoops in Lawrence may remember is freshman forward Chantay Caron, who will face her hometown team for the first time today. Caron, a three-year starter at Free State High, has played in all 19 games for KSU this season and started eight. Caron is slated to start today’s game and is averaging 3.7 points and 2.4 rebounds per tilt while logging an average of 13 minutes.

“She’s done a really good job for them on film,” Henrickson said. “She understands her role and defends and rebounds and has done a really good job for them.”

Caron, who transferred to Free State from Ottawa High, was on KU’s radar early but never seriously entertained signing with the Jayhawks. Caron committed to KSU during her sophomore year at FSHS and stuck with that commitment throughout high school.

“We had seen her play, she’d been at a team camp, and we’d seen her on the AAU circuit,” Henrickson said. “She was really, really young. We had limited contact with her, and then when she committed, it was kind of like, ‘Well, OK, we gotta shift gears.'”

That’s the plan for the Jayhawks today, who will look to avoid their 10th consecutive loss in Manhattan.

“Winning solves a lot of things and losing exposes a lot of things,” Henrickson said. “The frustration factor is probably where you feel it the most, but I know every kid in our program and everybody on our staff feels like if we can just put 40 minutes together we can get back on track.”