The Kansas University women’s basketball team went dancing, as in playing in the NCAA Tournament, last March for the first time since the 1999-2000 season.
Nobody played better than Angel Goodrich then. The women will go dancing, as in moving their feet to the rhythm of the beat, tonight during Late Night festivities. Goodrich warns against expecting a miracle equivalent to the Sweet 16 run the tournament bubble team went on without its leading scorer.
“I’d rather just play ball because we do a lot of dancing and dancing’s not my forte,” Goodrich said. “I can’t dance at all, so I’d rather just play.”
She did not need critiques from teammates on her rug-tearing talents to accurately assess them, but she received them anyway.
“I feel it and I’ve been told that a couple of times,” she said of her shortcomings.
She’s grown as a basketball player and leader, even if her dancing skills haven’t kept pace. A 5-foot-3, fifth-year senior point guard, Goodrich is an All-America candidate and has enough talent on the wings and in the post playing with her to make a winning season in Big 12 play a realistic possibility.
“Hungry,” she said of the word that best captures this team. “Very hungry to get out there and get it started. We’ve been talking about how we cannot wait for our first game. And I’ve never been on a team that’s so ready for practice to start. It’s awesome.”
Leading returning scorer Carolyn Davis (16.9 points, 5.7 rebounds per game), sidelined by a torn ACL, did not play during the Sweet 16 run but is back practicing. Senior wing Monica Engelman, according to teammates and coach Bonnie Henrickson, is back to her old self after going through a funk during which she appeared to lose weight, her shooting touch and her passion for the game in the middle of her junior season.
“This is my senior year,” Engelman said. “I don’t have time for that this year.”
Sophomore post player Chelsea Gardner (averaged 13 points, 11 rebounds in NCAA Tournament) will play alongside Davis after exceeding expectations playing in her place.
Sophomore guard Natalie Knight started all 34 games and averaged 5.9 points. Sophomore Asia Boyd, ninth-year coach Henrickson’s highest-rated recruit, averaged just 10 minutes in 18 games as a freshman, but Goodrich indicated she has improved a great deal.
“I feel that she can become a really great player,” Goodrich said. “She’s already a great player. She’s grown her game by being more confident and pushing the ball. When I go, she runs more than she used to. Seeing her grow has really just changed who she is and how she sees herself as a player on the court. She’s really aggressive. She can get inside, use her body to take contact. She’s a great finisher when she goes in and she has some range too.”
It’s Goodrich’s job to bring out the best in the everyone on the roster. Her coach thinks she is up to the challenge.
“How good is she?” Henrickson asked, rhetorically. “How good is she?”