The chance to start building upon last season’s success begins today for Kansas University’s women’s basketball team.
For the first time since their Sweet 16 loss to Tennessee this past March, the Jayhawks, led by ninth-year coach Bonnie Henrickson, take the floor today at Allen Fieldhouse for an exhibition against Washburn. Tipoff is 2 p.m.
KU finished 2011-12 with a 21-13 record and a Sweet 16 run in the NCAA Tournament even though forward Carolyn Davis (16.9 points, 5.7 rebounds), now a senior, missed the final 11 games of the season due to an ACL tear in her left knee.
The misfortune, though, didn’t doom KU’s season. Henrickson said Thursday at Big 12 media day in Dallas that point guard Angel Goodrich (14 points, 7.4 assists) rallied the team, making a postseason berth and a pair of NCAA Tourney victories possible.
“She made plays and got people uncontested shots and made great decisions,” Henrickson said of the now-senior point guard. “But she got those young players to play at another level, and that’s what she continues to do today. But from a confidence standpoint, I think that is the most important thing we’re able to take with us from last spring.”
The coach also said last season’s freshmen forwards benefited somewhat from the injury to Davis. Now sophomores, Chelsea Gardner and Bunny Williams saw their responsibilities and minutes increase in Davis’s absence.
Henrickson also praised the play of guard Natalie Knight, also a sophomore, and said Williams and sophomore Asia Boyd improved more than anybody else on the team last season.
The Jayhawks return 75.7 percent of their scoring and 63.3 percent of their rebounding from a year ago. However, despite KU’s postseason success and the return of Davis, the Jayhawks didn’t quite crack the preseason Top 25. Kansas received 90 votes in the first poll of 2012-13, to trail No. 25 DePaul’s 104 votes.
The Jayhawks are 4-0 versus Washburn in exhibition contests dating back to 2000. In the teams’ last meeting in 2010, KU defeated the Blues, 80-46.
Kansas holds a 40-9 all-time record in exhibition games and has won 31 of its last 33 preseason contests.