Sutherland Shines on Senior Night

March 1, 2012

It’s a path that Perris, Calif., native Aishah Sutherland must have taken close to 100 times, the short walk between the Kansas women’s basketball locker room to the tunnel leading toward James Naismith Court at Allen Fieldhouse. While the walk itself was no different from the exactly 89 trips she had taken before, the significance of it Wednesday night was one that she had not experienced during her four years in the program.

The 6-2 forward knew that this would be her last time running through the tunnel during a regular-season basketball game while at KU.

“There were a lot of emotions”, Sutherland said, who had her parents come to the Fieldhouse on her special night. “I was happy to have them out here and so they could see me play since they are not able to do that a lot, being in California.”

What Clinton Sutherland and Saudia Stokes saw their daughter do inside the historic venue was merely post her 20th career double-double and come within a point of tying her career high. Even though her 23 points and 10 rebounds were not enough to propel the Jayhawks over the Cowgirls Wednesday night, Sutherland’s coach was quite complimentary following her performance.

“I thought she played well and carried us there in the beginning,” Kansas head coach Bonnie Henrickson said. “(The loss) is hard for all of us, but it certainly doesn’t diminish her career here.”

That would be hard to do because Sutherland’s time in Crimson and Blue will go down as one of the most successful in program history. Earlier in the season she became just the 24th player to reach that mark with her seven points versus Texas A&M on Jan. 21.

“It means a lot because I feel like I’ve accomplished something in this program,” she said after her milestone. “I am able to leave my senior year knowing that I’ve reached 1,000 points, now I’m focused on trying to get close to 1,000 rebounds if I can.”

While the newest member of the 1K-point club tries to add membership in another exclusive club, she can’t help but think about those players who have paved the way for her on-court success.

“I remember the past seniors the most like Danielle McCray, Krysten Boogaard, Sade Morris and Rebecca Feickert,” Sutherland said. “Just playing with them and listening to what they have to say because as a younger player, you always listen to the veterans on the team.”

One of those players who sees Sutherland in that role is junior guard Angel Goodrich, who after this season, will be looked upon for leadership just as number 11 and her past teammates had been before.

“Her game has a grown a lot,” Goodrich thought. “She has grown it to where she can shoot the outside shot and she proved that tonight (against Oklahoma State).”

What Aishah Sutherland has proved during her time at Kansas is that she is a threat, both on the line and under the boards. While the numbers speak for themselves, Sutherland hopes she can add another impressive component to her resume; an NCAA postseason participant.