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Archive for Monday, March 5, 2012

Big 12 coaches, media honor Kansas women

March 5, 2012, 5:10 p.m. Updated March 6, 2012, 12:00 a.m.

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Still riding high from Sunday’s surprise victory in Norman, Okla., the Kansas University women’s basketball team received a double dose of good news on Monday.

Three Jayhawks were named to the All-Big 12 postseason teams, voted on by the coaches and released via Twitter on Monday afternoon, and freshman guard Natalie Knight was named the Big 12 freshman of the week for her role in the Jayhawks’ 83-77 upset of the Sooners.

Junior forward Carolyn Davis was one of 10 players named to the All-Big 12 first team. Davis, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in mid-February, earned the spot because of her strong performance during the first 11 games of conference play. At the time of her injury, Davis was second in scoring in the Big 12, at 17.5 points per game, and ranked in the top five nationally in shooting percentage at 60.2 percent.

Junior point guard Angel Goodrich was named to the All-Big 12 second team. Goodrich is the conference leader in assists, with 7.5 per outing, and her 2.2 assist-to-turnover ratio is second in the Big 12. She also ranks in the top 15 in points (12.8), steals (77), three-point percentage (.377), three-pointers made (40) and minutes per game (37.2).

Forward Aishah Sutherland was the final Jayhawk honored by the league’s coaches. The senior from Perris, Calif., received an honorable mention nod for averaging 13.9 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. She is one of just four players in the Big 12 to rank in the top 10 in both scoring and rebounding, and her eight double-doubles put her in a tie for fourth place among all Big 12 players.

As for Knight, she became the first Jayhawk to win freshman-of-the-week honors since Davis in February 2010. During KU’s victory against Oklahoma, Knight exploded for a career-high 18 points on 4-of-8 shooting, including a 3-of-6 mark from three-point land. The Olathe freshman also knocked down seven of the eight free throws she attempted and tied a personal best with seven rebounds.

The victory was the Jayhawks’ first in Norman since 1998, snapping a 15-game losing streak to OU.

“We’ve worked hard to kind of reinvent ourselves offensively,” KU coach Bonnie Henrickson said. “You lose (one of the top) field-goal-percentage players in the country (Davis) and how much we go to her, you can’t do that over night. But we have adjusted and we put 83 up on the board on the road (on Sunday) and we’re becoming more confident and comfortable with who we have to be offensively, so I’m really, really proud.”

KU’s victory against the Sooners was their fifth conference road win this season, a feat that has helped offset their 3-6 Big 12 mark at home.

“We have played well on the road, absolutely,” Henrickson said. “We’ve played with a lot of confidence and played aggressively. My gray hair is about the other venue (Allen Fieldhouse). We’ve been close. We’ve had seven or eight one-possession games (at home) and our last two games were one-possession losses.”

With the victory, the Jayhawks (19-11 overall, 8-10 Big 12) earned the right to bypass the opening day of this week’s Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City, Mo. Instead of being one of four teams to play on Wednesday, the Jayhawks, seeded sixth, will tip off at 7:30 p.m. Thursday against third-seeded Texas A&M (20-9, 11-7).

The No. 6 seed marks the highest in the Henrickson era and is the best position the Jayhawks have earned since playing as the No. 4 seed in 2000.

A&M swept the Jayhawks during the regular season, winning each game by 11 points, but Henrickson said her team was looking forward to its next challenge.

“There aren’t many teams in this league that you’d be begging to play,” she said. “But we’re excited about the opportunity and excited about how it unfolded and certainly excited about our performance (Sunday). We’re hoping to continue to build off of that momentum.”

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