Kansas University’s women’s basketball team was not shy about sharing its disappointment of missing out on the NCAA Tournament and qualifying for the Women’s NIT for the fourth year in a row.
“It drives us all crazy,” said KU coach Bonnie Henrickson following KU’s loss to Baylor in last week’s Big 12 tournament. “But we’re going to have to get over that fast because, in the NIT, those that don’t want to play in it don’t last very long.”
No one knows that better than Kansas, which has made a couple of decent runs through the WNIT during recent seasons. Last year, KU won a pair of games before bowing out in the third round. In 2009, the Jayhawks roared all the way to the title game, which they hosted in front of 16,113 fans at Allen Fieldhouse, before falling.
And this year, after putting their disappointing past behind them, Henrickson said she believed her squad was poised to keep playing for a couple more weeks.
“This group is in a good place to be able to make a run,” she said. “They’re a competitive group. They play with a lot of pride. They want to hang a banner in Allen and get this right.”
The journey begins at 7 tonight, when the Jayhawks (20-12) play host to Wichita State in the first round. Although none of them are overly thrilled about their postseason fate, Henrickson said her team included enough veterans who had been through it before to get the rest of the squad focused.
“We have (senior) Krysten (Boogaard) that played in it, (junior) Aishah (Sutherland) that played in it. (Sophomore point guard) Angel (Goodrich) was on the bench for that (2009) run we made,” Henrickson said. “Krysten will tell you playing in Kansas in front of 16,000 people for a championship was the highlight of her career.”
KU’s round-one opponent is relatively inexperienced. At 17-14 overall, Wichita State is in the postseason for the second-straight season, but earned a postseason bid for just the fourth time in school history.
Kansas leads the all-time series between the two schools, 30-7.
Kansas is 8-4 in the WNIT in its current format, including a 7-1 mark at home.
“They want to keep playing,” Henrickson said. “They want to play in the other one (NCAA Tournament), but it’s not like they don’t want to play. They’ll play and compete with a lot of individual pride and program pride in that tournament with no doubt, absolutely no doubt.”