Sudden, loud noises rank near the top of my long list of pet peeves, such as the horn at women’s basketball games in Allen Fieldhouse. For one thing, it used to startle me awake. I hated that.
But that was then. This is now: Not even midway through September, I’m sitting here doodling about what would make the most exciting starting five for coach Bonnie Henrickson’s ninth Kansas University team. Senior point guard Angel Goodrich has transformed its entertainment value so completely that I can’t wait for the season to start, and I never thought I’d feel that way about the sport.
Henrickson has recruited around Angel well enough that if the coach can get the team’s five most talented players’ heads in the right place at the same time and motivate them in such a way as to bring out the best in them, joining big Allen Fieldhouse crowds to witness Angel’s final season could become the thing to do for students and city basketball fans alike.
Most of us wrote off the Jayhawks when leading scorer Carolyn Davis went down with an ACL injury. The players took the opposite approach and Goodrich, led the team all the way to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
“Obviously, it was a heartbreaker when she went down,” Goodrich said recently. “We knew something was going to have to change, whether it was more perimeter scoring or it was a big stepping-up.”
Both happened. Goodrich looked to score more, and then-freshman center Chelsea Gardner proved ready for prime time in a big way.
“It either can break you or it can make you stronger, and I think it made us stronger,” Goodrich said of Davis’ injury.
Assuming Davis fully recovers, pairing her with Gardner underneath has exciting possibilities.
“We started doing that right before Carolyn got hurt,” Goodrich said. “Coach Bonnie was playing Carolyn and Chelsea together, trying to see how that would work. In practice, it looked really good.”
Goodrich at the point, Davis and Gardner on the blocks. The trio needs a shooter on the wings, one with enough size to guard a small forward. Enter senior Monica Engelman and sophomore Asia Boyd.
Both talents underachieved last year, Engelman mired in a slump, Boyd making the difficult transition to Div. I basketball, which requires more intense work and attention to detail.
“I went up against Monica in pick-up,” Goodrich said. “Big improvement over the summer from when she went into a little slump. She’s got a lot of confidence back in her.”
Boyd wouldn’t be the first major talent to make a gigantic leap from freshman to sophomore season.
Goodrich’s KU finale opens against Idaho State in Allen Fieldhouse and is just 59 days away. Can’t wait.