Jayhawks Preview Matchup With Delaware

March 19, 2012

  • Monday Press Conference
  • Highlights

Kansas Press Conference
Monday, March 19, 2012

Head Coach Bonnie Henrickson

What did you like about what you saw last night?
I thought it was similar to the Oklahoma game and we played to win from the tip. We played confidently and I would have compared it to the win at Oklahoma. It was kind of similar offensively and similar defensively and we defended really well and Oklahoma is another team that likes to shoot the three. I thought to start the game it felt similar because we started with a 10-2 run there and not that the run was that drastic yesterday, but we got a lead and were able to hang onto it.

I’d say for the last month that this team has kind of played under duress, and knowing that if we don’t win we won’t get to go so I don’t know that this feels very differently to them. The stakes are higher certainly and they have that excitement, but to be around them it has felt like it has for like the last month.

How do you avoid a let down after the excitement of last night?
We talked about how good it felt to see our name pop up on the selection show on Monday and then the only feeling that would top that would be to win and now the only thing that can top last night is to win. I am really excited for them because it is a grind and unless you have been in it and manage the emotions of the player that goes down and the emotions of all those people that love Carolyn to death and you try to keep the train on the tracks it just feels good to see them be that excited.

Can you talk about how the team has changed since Carolyn went down?
We had to reinvent ourselves pretty quick. We had to play three games in six days after that. It happened on a Sunday and then we had to go to Iowa State and then we have our archrival at home on Saturday and we couldn’t ask Chelsea to be that person. We asked to try and get better every day and what does she always say, try to get better in practice every day, and I don’t her to say that. She has bought into that and she tries to do it every day and has great pride in that is why she has gotten better. But Aishah has gotten more touches, Angel has gotten more touches, CeCe Harper has emerged and gotten more touches. We’ve been by committee and haven’t asked one person to put up those kind of numbers.

Do you feel like the guards can be an advantage?
They are good defensively. As a group they play well together and I thought they guarded really, really well last night. I thought they got after Little Rock and got into them and turned them over and got into transition. It is a little bit of a wash because I think we match up well, but I think they’ve got athletic players and shooters and a lot of pieces to the puzzle which why they are as good as they are.

How did the Big 12 schedule help you?
I think if you look at (Delaware’s) non-conference schedule they did a great job scheduling. If you look at who they played and the success they had and playing the ACC and Big 10 and Tina has done a great job in preparing this group. Our non-conference was Big 10 and ACC match ups as well. We played Nebraska, even though they were in the Big 12 last year, we also try turning the team you are about to play into teams in your league to reference that. We talked about with Nebraska that Oklahoma State was similar, but with Delle Donne you don’t have anyone to compare.

On her familiarity with Delle Donne:
“With USA basketball I’ve watched her. In high school, I remember, I think it was a tournament, and she was really, really young, the first time I ever saw her, probably seventh or eighth grade. And everybody was in the gym watching her. I think it was in Tennessee somewhere. And Pat was there. And Geno was there, and everybody was there. But, yeah, just how good she is, and how she’s grown her game, how hard she is to guard. How effortless – she makes it look easy, which is what the great ones do. But, yeah I’ve watched her since she was really, really young. She just keeps getting better and better.”

On anyone besides Aishah Sutherland guarding Delle Donne:
“Aishah will have the matchup to begin with, but Aishah can’t guard her for 40 minutes. There’s no way; we’re going to have to move some people around. She is too tough a matchup, and how much of the offense goes through her, and from a fatigue standpoint I think it would be good for us – now Aishah is going to take the lion’s share of that, but I think we’re going to have to have some other people try to guard her for a little bit too. And maybe try to keep Chelsea off of her, I don’t know, that’s a mismatch on the wrong end for us.”

On if Tania Jackson and Bunny Williams will help defend:
“Yes. All the fours. Again, watching all the film we have, they’ve seen everything, Tina’s seen everything. Man, zone, whatever. They’ve played such a good schedule. And that league’s good. I was at Virginia Tech for a long time, so I know what the Colonial is and how good those guys are and how good that league is. So, nobody is going to try to snow me that that’s a mid-major program. That’s not a mid-major program. That’s not a mid-major team. There are a lot of great coaches in that league and there are a lot of great coaches on their schedule, who did a lot of different things to try and stop her and it didn’t work, so it’s a challenge. But we’re excited about it and I know the players are too.

On the challenge of guarding Brittney Griner versus guarding Delle Donne:
From an impact standpoint on the offensive end, just how difficult they are to guard. Griner’s different because she’s got her back to the basket, and she always pivots baseline. If you try and double her she drops it off for Destiny Williams to shoot a layup, or goes outside opposite to shoot a three. You’ve got to pick your poison with her. We tried to do some things with her and say, `Okay, she’s going to get hers, and let’s try and shut down other people.’ And if you looked at our matchup with Baylor, none of that worked very good, so I wouldn’t brag on it too much. And then, with Delle Donne, same thing. Offensively what she can do, and how unselfish she is, and from a step back to a pull up to the rim to a post-up, I mean, all the different screens they run her off of. They run her off every screen there is in basketball. James Naismith would be proud, they run her off of everything. But just how hard she is to guard. And Griner’s gotten more difficult to guard because she can face. So there are similarities there, where Griner always had her back to the basket, always baseline, now she’s putting the ball on the floor a little bit more. Heck, they run a double stagger for her to get a three, Griner. They didn’t get it on us though.”

On changing her game plan to face Delle Donne, but also trying to stick with that they know:
“We’ve got one day. And I think, if you’re going to make some changes, you’ve got to make sure you don’t confuse yourself. There are some things you can do, but with one day, you’ve got to be careful. You’ve really got to be careful. And you can’t lose sight of who you are. And there are some things I think we might be able to do, but we’re not going to try and do too much. And it’s not a knock on her, I’ve been in it long enough to know it doesn’t matter if I feel good about it, it matters how they feel about it. And I’ll ask them, `How do you feel about it?’ And if they say no, we won’t do it. If they say yes, we’ll try it. We trust them. So we went through it obviously in film and we’ll go through some stuff today and see what it feels like to them, but we can’t reinvent the wheel overnight. There’s some things that we can’t control, and she can just hit ridiculous shots. We’ve got to make sure we can manage the emotion of that. We’ve got to try and make a play and not let her get the same thing, but we recognize that. But again, whoever asked us about the league, we’ve got some players that can do some pretty impressive things too in our league. And you kind of play through that. So it’s a good question, because, I think if you try and do too much in a short period of time, and you’re confusing yourself, it doesn’t do you any good.”

Aishah Sutherland

How is the scouting for Delaware going?
They have a really good player in Delle Donne and they also have two guards that are really good and an overall good team. Now we’re working on how to defend them.

Are there any differences between Delle Donne and Baylor’s Brittney Griner and what are the biggest challenges of defending Delle Donne?
Well Delle Donne is a great player. She is able to base up more than Brittney Griner, so she has a lot of base up game. She is able to shoot threes and she can do pull ups, it’s different.

Are you going to change your game around to stop Delle Donne?
I’m going to go out there and defend the same way I’ve been defending all year. I’m just going to base up and I’m going to play my same game and not make any changes. We’re going to go out there and play hard and play with the team and just play together, that’s what we need to do.

Does playing a team that’s 31-1 give you any motivation and do you think it is in the realm of possibility to beat them?
Yea, I feel like that is a possibility and we will be excited. It’s always exciting to play against a team that hasn’t lost a lot and it will be our motive to beat them.

How much of a relief was last night’s win and do you feel you are overlooked going into tomorrow?
I feel like we maybe are overlooked, but we won our first round game and they might look at us different and they should. We’re just going to go in and play hard and try to beat this team too.

How exciting is it to have the men’s team also make it to their next round?
We both shout each other out; we both support each other and text each other back. I read that we are one of the five teams that have both of us still in (the NCAA Tournament). That’s pretty exciting to have that and have our fans look at the women’s and men’s teams.

Chelsea Gardner

How is the scouting for Delaware going?
It’s like Aishah said, we’re just going to go out today and learn how to defend them at practice.

You’re hitting your stride right now, what do you think is the strength of your game going into tomorrow?
Just play like I played yesterday going for the boards, offensive and defensive boards and just playing deep.

What are your emotions going into this game?
I’m excited. I’m excited for tomorrow and just working hard and working hard out in practice today. Just excited.