It’s not the way Kansas University women’s basketball coach Bonnie Henrickson would have drawn it up, but KU’s eighth-year coach will deal with it.
When Henrickson’s Jayhawks tip off the 2011-12 regular season at 2 p.m. today against Western Michigan at Allen Fieldhouse, they’ll be without All-Big 12 forward Carolyn Davis, a junior who is listed as day-to-day because of a stress fracture.
“It’s not good for us,” Henrickson said. “But I’m always about trying to find a positive, and I think it’s an opportunity for some of those other kids to step up and produce. I think it’s good for the young post players, and it’s good for Tania (Jackson) and Aishah (Sutherland). There’s more responsibility on them to catch and finish and be a post presence.”
If ever there were a team to do it against, the Broncos would be it. Ten of Western Michigan’s 14 players are underclassmen, and WMU brings back just one starter from last year’s 9-21 team.
“We have a little bit of an advantage on them because we’ve got all these kids back,” said Henrickson of her squad that returns seven players and four starters from last season. “What’s tough is, we’ve got ’em on film once, and it was just such a blowout it was tough to tell. I think it was 70-20 at one point, and I think they ran five halfcourt offenses.”
Senior Miame Giden, a 5-foot-11 forward who averaged 11.7 points per game during the 2010-11 season, led the Broncos with a team-high 13 points during a 94-35 exhibition victory against Indiana Tech on Nov. 3. WMU used a formula very familiar to the Jayhawks to come away with the victory. Forty-four of the Broncos’ points came in the paint, and they outrebounded Indiana Tech, 61-27.
Freshman guard Michelle O’Brien gave the Broncos an unexpected boost down low with 10 rebounds. She also scored 13 points in her first college game. Sophomore center Rachel Adaline added 10 points, including 6-for-6 shooting from the free-throw line.
“These guys will screen more than we’ve seen in the first two (exhibition) games,” Henrickson said. “I think they’ll try to get into some more halfcourt offense. It should be a good test.”
KU was led in exhibition play by junior Angel Goodrich, who averaged a team-high 14 points per game to go along with five assists. Davis (13 ppg), junior Monica Engelman (13 ppg) and senior Sutherland (10) also contributed double-digit scoring during KU’s two preseason games. Davis shot 75 percent from the field and led the Jayhawks with seven rebounds per game.
The Jayhawks have won six straight season openers and enter the season after running through two exhibition games by an average score of 76-52. Although first-game jitters are normal, Henrickson said she expected her players to be ready to go as soon as they hit the floor.
“Having had the opportunity in the exhibition games, to get in the uniform and the lights are bright and you can smell popcorn, nerves shouldn’t be an issue,” she said.