America, meet Angel Goodrich
Bob Cousy. Calvin Murphy. Muggsy Bogues. Spud Webb. And now, introduced to America on Tuesday night, basketball’s latest pint-sized point guard sensation, Angel Goodrich.
Never has such an exciting, fearless, flashy, innovative basketball player played in front of such small crowds in Allen Fieldhouse as Goodrich, Kansas University’s 5-foot-4 junior.
KU’s Angel in the backcourt had the audience she deserved Tuesday, when she treated ESPN2 viewers to her vast array of basketball skills in a 70-64 upset victory against No. 3 Delaware. Goodrich totaled 27 points, four rebounds and six assists.
Next up: second-seeded perennial powerhouse Tennessee at 11 a.m. Saturday in Des Moines, Iowa.
She hit three-pointers. She threaded no-look passes to precise targets. She drove to the hoop and fearlessly kissed shots off the glass as if she were a foot taller. She led ESPN.com and ESPN’s SportsCenter. She handled her postgame interview with Holly Rowe as if she had spent as much time on national TV as Katie Couric. She trended on Twitter. Repeat: Angel Goodrich trended on Twitter.
Angel’s killer smile reached all the way from Little Rock, Ark., to her hometown of Tahlequah, Okla., to right here in Lawrence.
Goodrich arrived at Kansas on the shy side and had to endure surgeries to repair a torn ACL on each knee. And look at her now.
On a night two saints (St. Bonaventure and St. John’s) and an Angel played their way into the Sweet 16, it was Goodrich who captured America’s imagination. Repeat: Angel Goodrich trended on Twitter.
“The best player on the floor has been the littlest: Angel Goodrich,” ESPN color commentator Fran Fraschilla said as Goodrich was driving the Jayhawks all the way to Des Moines.
With teammate, close friend and leading scorer Carolyn Davis out for the season because of an ACL surgery, Goodrich knew her team’s best chance at countering Delaware’s 6-5 superstar Elena Delle Donne (34 points, 10 rebounds) rested in her clever hands.
Goodrich’s story echoes that of Purdue’s Robbie Hummel, minus 17 inches. The difference: Her effort did not fall short with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line. Another difference: The story has one more year to go.
If Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson can find a way to capitalize on Angel’s wild run — and by that I don’t mean talking incessantly about slip screens, fade screens, back screens, down screens, ball screens, etc. — the ball-handling magician’s days of playing inside a cone of silence should be over. Plenty of time to worry about that. For now, Bonnie and her assistants are busy trying to find a game plan for Tennessee that worked as well as the one for Delaware did.
Oh, and did I mention that Angel Goodrich trended on Twitter?