Thursday’s eight-point loss at Arkansas — the Kansas University women’s basketball team’s first stumble of the season — was the result of a month’s worth of playing good enough to get by but not necessarily the way the Jayhawks desired.
Today, with Div. II Newman University coming to Allen Fieldhouse for a 2 p.m. tipoff, KU coach Bonnie Henrickson is hoping for a serious bounce-back.
“I’ve been concerned about the energy in practice and the energy, in spurts, in games,” Henrickson said. “We’ve let some teams hang around because of our lack of intensity. As a coach you say, ‘When is this gonna come back to bite us?’ Sometimes success can seduce you and make you think that you’re playing well and you’ve got everything figured out, and we haven’t been.”
The 17th-ranked Jayhawks (7-1) enter today’s game on a 49-game winning streak in nonconference, regular-season home games. The last time the Jayhawks lost a nonconference, regular-season game at Allen Fieldhouse came versus Xavier in 2006.
Facing Newman (3-6) presents the Jayhawks with an opportunity to get the ball rolling on getting some things corrected. That starts on the defensive end.
“They’re a team, right now, that does what we’ve struggled to do, so it’ll be a good challenge for us,” Henrickson said of Newman’s guard-centric offensive attack. “They use a lot of penetration, and we’ve gotta be able to contain their dribble-drive. That’ll be good for us. We’ve gotta work and try to stay with somebody and then rotate if they get loose.”
Offensively, KU continues to get production from seniors Carolyn Davis (15.3 points per game) and Angel Goodrich (12 ppg), but Henrickson said she would like to see her team focus even more on getting Davis involved in the offense.
“We can’t miss opportunities to go inside,” she said. “That’s gotten better for us, but we have not (done) that consistently.”
Doing that, Henrickson said, starts with getting the ball into the paint with penetration and forcing the defense to collapse. In their 12-point road victory against Minnesota, the Jayhawks got into the lane out of half-court sets 22 times. In their recent loss to Arkansas, the Jayhawks made plays off of penetration just a dozen times.
Sophomore sub Chelsea Gardner has helped KU’s cause inside. During the past three games, Gardner is averaging 16 points and 6.3 rebounds per outing and has shot a combined 22-for-29 (.759) from the field.
With finals looming and winter break ahead, Henrickson said she would like to see her squad fine-tune several elements of its game in preparation for conference play.
“A little bit of everything,” Henrickson explained. “It’s not just one thing, and it’s not one guy. It’s clean up what we’re doing and do what we’re doing well, better.”