By this point in the season, most college basketball coaches expect to be dealing more with answers than questions.
But that has not been the case for the Kansas University women’s basketball team, which will look to snap its second losing skid in the past five weeks at 7 tonight at TCU.
On the heels of one of the more disappointing efforts of the season, a 16-point home loss to West Virginia last Saturday, the Jayhawks are facing questions about mental toughness, defensive fundamentals and even the rotation, given the season-ending injury suffered by starting guard Natalie Knight and the voluntary departure of starting forward Tania Jackson a couple of weeks earlier.
“I wouldn’t say it’s same old, same old,” said senior guard Monica Engelman. “But it is a little more frustrating that we’re struggling with certain things. Because of what we were able to do last season, our expectations were a little higher, but I still have the same expectations and I have no doubt in my mind that we’ll be able to do what we are capable of.”
In order for that to occur, Engelman said the Jayhawks must get angry. Not angry to the point of playing out of control or losing sight of what’s important on the floor, but miffed.
“Even if we’re winning we need to play with a chip on our shoulders and start separating ourselves in the Big 12,” she said. “We need to get on a run and we need to start climbing up the ladder and start positioning ourselves for the postseason.”
A match-up with the Horned Frogs may be just what the Jayhawks (14-8 overall, 5-6 Big 12) need to get back on track. In the first ever meeting as conference foes, TCU enters tonight having lost all 11 Big 12 games this season and 7-15 overall.
Despite the sub-standard record, KU coach Bonnie Henrickson sang TCU’s praises, particularly its defense.
“They play almost exclusive 2-3 but they’re good at it,” Henrickson said. “It’s their primary defense. They do a good job of bumping and rotating and do a good job of defending teams’ scripted sets.”
KU has struggled at times this season when opponents have gone to zone defenses, so facing it for a full 40 minutes could represent a challenge. Still, Henrickson’s experienced squad comes into this one averaging more points (68-60) and giving up fewer (63-64) while also out-shooting (44 percent to 35 percent) and out-rebounding (plus-1.5 to minus-4.5 per game) the Horned Frogs on the season.
While the tale of the tape seems to favor Kansas, the players themselves do not plan to take that mentality into the battle.
“The game against TCU is highly important,” Engelman said. “We need to be desperate.”
Goodrich honored by Big 12 Conference
Kansas senior guard Angel Goodrich was named to the Academic All-Big 12 women’s basketball team for the fourth straight season, the league announced Tuesday.
Goodrich, who leads the Big 12 in steals and is third in assists, earned a first-team nod for the second year in a row.
Student-athletes qualify for the teams by maintaining a 3.00 GPA or higher while participating in 60 percent of their team’s games.