Kansas Opens NCAA Regional with Media, Practice

March 30, 2013

Carolyn Davis met with the media to discuss Kansas’ upcoming Sweet Sixteen game against Notre Dame.

NORFOLK, Va. – Kansas head coach Bonnie Henrickson answered questions from the media during a formal press conference Saturday on the eve of the 2013 NCAA Regional Semifinal against No. 2-ranked Notre Dame. In the meantime, seniors Carolyn Davis, Monica Engelman and Angel Goodrich participated in a video shoot for the ESPN telecast and then followed Henrickson on the dais to answer questions from the media.

Below is the transcript from Saturday’s media conference:

Bonnie Henrickson, Kansas Head Coach:
How would you characterize the run your team has had thus far?
“Between the Big 12 Tournament and the NCAA Selection Show, we have gotten better defensively. We are still playing because we played defense. We have gotten back to recommitting to some defense concepts that we got soft with. I felt like we played against Colorado as well as we did all year, 40 minutes, defensively. I don’t think we were as good against Southern Carolina defensively, but we were offensively, enough for us to win the game.”

How important is point guard play in this matchup from your standpoint?
“It’s important for both teams because we both have really good point guards. However, the other kids have to step up and play. We both have great point guards but we have other great pieces around them as well. The point guard play will be important because they will carry the responsibility with the ball in their hands. They will have the responsibility of making good decisions, taking care of the ball, getting into transition, and executing the half-court offense. The pieces around our point guard must contribute and play well.”

There’s been a perception that in the women’s tournament that there are only about 10-12 programs who can win the national Championship. Twelve seeds win all the time in the men’s tournament. What is your secret and what does it say about the women’s game, that double digits seeds are getting to the Sweet Sixteen?
“I think there are similarities between the men’s and the women’s side. It creates more of madness like it has on the men’s side. It’s exciting for the game and it builds the fan base for women’s basketball. I think people are starting to come to watch women’s basketball and not because they are affiliated to certain teams.”

Notre Dame in spots has played pressure defense by playing full court. How does you team plan to handle that and do they do well under pressure?
“In our league, we see a little of it, not a lot of it. It will not just be Angel Goodrich’s responsibility to handle the full court pressure. All the players around her must help whether it’s screening, cutting or making good decisions with the ball. We cannot stand around and expect her to handle all of that on her own.”

How much has Angel’s (Goodrich) background shaped her?
“She’s had an impact throughout her Cherokee community as well as Lawrence, Kansas. She has more importantly had an impact on all the little guys who have been told all their life that they are too little to play, so she’s had an impact on girls and boys. She’s been able to impact people as well, because she has persevered through injuries and has been able to bounce back from them.”

It seems like it is a social cultural phenomenon with Sklyar (Diggins) and Angel (Goodrich) playing against one another. Is this thing bigger than basketball?
“I do believe it is bigger than basketball. Speaking for Angel, she understands that this is all going on around her but she knows the most important thing is to lead our team. She understands that she has a lot of responsibility around her as a role model in our program and community, but she does not get caught up in that. She has been able to stay focused and continued to be a leader for this team.”

Can you expand on the other matchups throughout the game other than the play from the point guards?
“There is (Kayla) McBride, who is one of the most talented perimeter players in the country and Jewell Loyd who is one of the best freshman guards in America. She has the ability to shoot the three and get to the rim. Inside, they have Natalie Achonwa who is a good skill post player who scores on a flash or on a cut. She knows how to score around the rim. As you look at them as a team, they pass the ball very well. Their numbers between offensive field goal percentage and offensive rebounds are unbelievable. They are as good as we have seen all year!”

Angel Goodrich, Kansas Guard:
On what this year’s postseason run has been like for her
“This run has been amazing, has been just so exciting, so much fun especially with my teammates. It’s been a blast coming back to the Sweet 16, especially having Carolyn [Davis] back, it’s been great. I would just say it’s exciting, and we wanna continue to go on this run and have fun.”

On what it’ll take to pull off another upset
“You gotta come in ready, focused, and play together, stick together. I think that’s what’s gotten us this far is just playing as a team, just enjoying the run and having fun.”

On Sunday’s point guard matchup
“It’s going to be a great challenge between us. I feel like it’s just going to be, like I said, challenging. [Skylar Diggins]’ a great point guard. She’s done a lot for Notre Dame. She makes her teammates look great, and I’m just looking forward to the matchup.”

On what this Sweet 16 trip and her class’ legacy at Kansas, mean to her
“It feels great. To make it two years in a row, it’s a great accomplishment. Especially, coming back for, like you said, I have been [at Kansas] for a while and just leaving a legacy, I think that’s what we all wanted to do is just come here and make a difference at Kansas, and I feel like we’ve done that as a group.”

On a personal challenge of facing another good point guard
“I would say just being able to contain one another. A great point guard like [Diggins], she knows how to get certain players the ball, where to distribute, and she loves to run the ball like I do, and I think that’s the big challenges. Who can stop the ball in transition, and stop the ball in general.”

On experience with being an underdog
“I feel like we like being the underdog. We do have a little bit of experience being an underdog, and we don’t really see it as the big thing. We just wanna go out there and have fun and give it our all.”

On Notre Dame’s occasional full-court pressure
“We did watch a little bit of their game, or I did, and I did see some spurts where they did the pressure defense, full-court, but we can’t let that get to us. We gotta stay calm and try and break it the best we can. We’re not going to try and let that stop us from playing our own game.”

Monica Engelman, Kansas Guard
Success in tournament play so far
“I have just been living in the moment and not over thinking things. Just playing and keeping my head clear has given me the greatest opportunity to be where I need to be for my team.”

The impact the point guard match-up puts on other players
“Angel (Goodrich) makes me look good so if she is under pressure, that is going to affect me. If she is getting hounded or getting pressured, that’s going to make me work harder for her to be open and be in the right spots for her.”

Carolyn Davis, Kansas Forward:
Thoughts on second chance to the Sweet 16 after missing last year with injury
“It means a lot to experience this with my team. Last year was great but being able to contribute and actually be on the court and have fun with my teammates is great. I’m just so proud that we have been able to make it back for a second time.”

The impact the point guard match-up puts on other players
“We all talk about that Angel (Goodrich) is our floor general. She sets the tempo. Whatever tempo she is playing at we have to follow. I think that is how it affects the rest of the team; it sets the pace. The tempo, like I said, puts you in a position to get your shots. They have the ball a majority of the game so when they are under pressure it slows down everything. Whoever handles that better is going to help their team the most.”

Thoughts on the rebound match-up against Notre Dame
“We looked at their numbers and have also seen film. They rebounded extremely well. I am not sure of the number, but they have had a lot of offensive rebounds in the tournament. That has always been a big thing for us to contain because we have had trouble with that in our conference. Facing a team like South Carolina helped us prepare for them because they rebound the ball very well. I think we need to be disciplined. Chelsea Gardner, Bunny Williams, and I need to buckle down and make sure to keep them off the boards, and work early. Rebounding is a timing thing, and to be able to understand when the ball is going to come is an art and whichever team is going to be the most disciplined with that is going to be the most effective.

Team still impacted by Natalie Knight injury
“We see her every day, rehabbing right next to us while we are practicing and everyone is cheering her on and excited to see her come back. It just shows how strong she is and positive. Just like last year everyone was playing for myself and this year we are doing that for Natalie (Knight) because if she could be out there with us she would, and everyone wants her out there, but she is cheering us on.”