2005-06 Preseason Prospectus
July 25, 2005
2005-06 Season Outlook
Jayhawks Aiming High In Henrickson’s Second Year
For second year head coach Bonnie Henrickson the foundation has been set and she is ready to build.
Armed with a top-25 recruiting class — her first class at KU — and six dedicated returning players, Henrickson and the Jayhawks are poised to make significant strides in that building process and make a strong run at postseason play in 2005-06.
“We’re excited about our first recruiting class and the growth of those players already in our program,” Henrickson said. “We’ll need to continue to build on the foundation we set last season, but we feel like we have the pieces in place to have the type of improvement that we expect.”
In year one, Henrickson instilled in her team the importance of working hard and `coming right’ every day. Although undersized and short on bodies, the Jayhawks learned what `Bonnie Ball’ was all about, and the improvements were evident as the team experienced its best campaign in five seasons.
“I think we made great progress,” Henrickson said. “In areas of strength and conditioning, we saw tremendous growth. Defensively, we were better than I had anticipated and, most importantly, we learned to be consistent in our work ethic.”
This season, Henrickson will have more to work with in terms of size, depth and perhaps most importantly leadership. A trio of seniors who started last season return, including Erica Hallman, Kaylee Brown and Crystal Kemp.
“I expect Erica, Kaylee and Crystal — having been with us for a year and understanding what the expectation level is — to lead us. They also understand what the increased expectation level for this team will be as far as getting to the postseason, and I think they are quite capable,” Henrickson said. “I’ve noticed some change from them in the spring and summer, but just like anything else I’ll always ask for a little bit more.”
Playing in the postseason was an annual and expected event for the Jayhawks in years past. Henrickson believes that with the right determination, this year’s Jayhawks can put themselves in the position to have that chance again.
“It’s realistic for us to feel like we have a chance to move up in the Big 12 North and knock on the door for postseason,” Henrickson said. “If it’s the WNIT and we build from there, then that’s a good place to start.”
She knows it won’t come easy, but Henrickson proved in her first year that her teams were capable of exceeding expectations.
“The players who were in the program our first year — those kids individually all got better, and we also improved as a team,” Henrickson said. “We must continue to recruit and add talented players and we’re excited about the players we’ve added this year. But, if we’re going to continue to compete in this league, we need more growth and more progress.”
Other returnees joining the senior class include junior guard Sharita Smith and sophomore forwards Taylor McIntosh and Jamie Boyd.
McIntosh was a surprise starter last season earning her way with intense rebounding and defense. Smith and Boyd operated primarily as the first two weapons off the bench.
Five newcomers, including four freshmen and one junior, will look to make immediate impacts. Junior College Player of the Year Shaquina Mosley joins freshmen Ivana Catic and Sophronia Sallard on the perimeter, while freshmen posts Jen Orgas and Marija Zinic will fight for minutes in the paint.
Noticeably missing from last year’s starting lineup is departed senior Aquanita Burras — the third-leading scorer and team’s top defensive specialist.
Replacing Burras’ defensive intensity is a tall order, but Henrickson is penciling in Smith or one of the several talented newcomers to fill that void.
“I talked to Sharita at the end of last season about becoming our defensive presence this year,” Henrickson said. “She is the most likely candidate to be able to replace Aqua defensively but she’s going to have to have a willingness to put in the hard work it takes to do something like that. Shaq is another player who we think could really be a great defender.”
Since day one, Henrickson has emphasized defense and creating opportunities from the defense. While it remains to be seen just who will step up on that end of the floor, the offensive firepower should be vastly improved.
At the point guard position, the Jayhawks should be loaded with the return of Hallman and the addition of Mosley and Catic.
Hallman, more of a natural two-guard, slid over to play point and started all 28 games as the floor leader in 2004-05. As newcomers Mosley and Catic develop, Hallman will be able to move back over to the wing to open up more opportunities for her to utilize her long-range shooting prowess.
“Offensively, we’ve solidified the point guard position with the addition of Ivana and Shaq,” Henrickson said. “But if Erica is our best point guard, she’s going to play there until those other two are ready. Hopefully that transition will happen sooner than later, and when it does we’ll have a pretty nice threat on the wing that we didn’t have last year.”
Hallman, an honorable mention All-Big 12 performer, was the team’s leading three-point shooter last season and ranks in the KU all-time top five in all three-point shooting categories. Her year of development under Henrickson running the point should give her a great advantage heading into this season.
“Erica just has a great ability to score,” Henrickson said. “She makes tough shots and makes them look easy. Her unselfishness and willingness to move over and play the point will make her an even better two-guard this year.”
In Catic and Mosley, KU has secured a pair of winners who know what it takes to be successful and the importance of working hard.
“Ivana is a very dynamic left-handed point guard who can penetrate and dish or knock down the open jumper,” Henrickson said. “Similar to Erica, she is able to create easy opportunities for her teammates. She is a tremendously fit kid and really takes pride in hard work — she may have the easiest transition to the intensity of our workouts because she really understands and respects that.”
Mosley comes to Kansas after two very successful seasons at Central Arizona College playing for one of the most respected junior college coaches in the game, Lin Laursen.
As a sophomore last year, Mosley was named the WBCA Junior College Player of the Year as she led CAC to the national title. Although a bit undersized, Mosley is a fearless competitor who can compete well against larger players.
“Shaq is explosive and plays much bigger than her body frame,” Henrickson said. “She elevates very well — I’ve seen her go up and take rebounds from post players. At Central Arizona, she played for a coach who understands pushing the ball in transition and also executing in a half court set. She’ll have to adjust to this level handling the ball with the type of defense she will face in our league. She, along with Sharita, could be one of our defensive leaders.”
In addition to Hallman, who figures to slide over to the wing once the point guard position is solidified, KU returns Brown and Smith to go with newcomer Sallard who was rated as a top 25 player by one recruiting service.
The addition of Sallard combined with the increased depth at point guard should lead to fierce competition for minutes.
Brown was a 25-game starter a year ago and hit 43 treys, good for a share of ninth on KU’s single season list. She got off to a red hot start, hitting a three in 14 of the first 15 games and played solid defense drawing nine charges — the second most on the squad.
“Kaylee understands that we can get her good shots,” Henrickson said. “What we need her to do now is finish the year as well as she started it. She hit some big threes for us last year and we would not have been able to have as good a season without her.”
Smith, like Hallman, was asked to play out of position at times last year as she spent part of her minutes as the backup point guard. While Henrickson believes Smith could ultimately flourish as the squad’s defensive specialist, the junior has shown flashes of being a contributor on offense.
“She’s made progress in her overall game,” Henrickson said. “We’re working on her ability to penetrate and kick or hit the mid-range shot. Everyone is going to have to fight for minutes, but I think she could find her niche with her defensive presence.”
Eager and willing to contribute in her first season is Sallard, a freshman from Syracuse, N.Y. The most highly-touted player in Henrickson’s initial recruiting class, Sallard has a natural feel for the game and brings many intangibles.
“Sophronia has a complete game for her age,” Henrickson said. “She is a great mid-range player and a fantastic passer — she passes the same way Erica does. She has the ability to get to the rim and score or force another defender to pick her up and drop a pass. She’s going to get her teammates layups, or if you deny them, she’s going to finish.”
Also joining the talented group of incoming players is walk-on Katie Smith. Smith played her high school career alongside Orgas as Skutt Catholic HS in Omaha, Neb.
In the post, KU will be anchored by Kemp, an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection last year. Kemp has led the Jayhawks in scoring for two seasons and was KU’s top rebounder a year ago. Last year as a junior, Kemp was the only player on the squad taller than 6′-0″, and was forced to carry the majority of the load inside. This year, Kemp should be freed up, and have more room to operate with the growth in the games of second-year players Boyd and McIntosh, and the additions of Orgas and Zinic.
“With Crystal, we’re going to need her to be able to play a more physical game in the low post — for her to be able to take a beating and still finish,” Henrickson said. “She’s made strides in her fitness, and we’ll need her to be a leader on both ends of the floor.”
In their initial campaigns with the Crimson & Blue, Boyd and McIntosh were forced to learn on the job. McIntosh quickly gained her reputation with rebounding and defense. As a sophomore, she will look to expand her game offensively.
“We need the same defensive and rebounding effort we got from Taylor last year,” Henrickson said. “She’s gotten stronger and can handle more contact inside. We need her to be a better high post player, but if she can drive and finish and knock down the occasional jumper, she’ll be fine.”
Boyd operated as one of the top two reserves in her rookie campaign and has had a great offseason. Her development could be key to giving Kemp the necessary rest she did not receive last season.
“Jamie has made tremendous progress — specifically reading defenses, making moves and scoring off one leg,” Henrickson said. “We’re hoping for her to be able to give us more as far as being able to knock down a pull-up or high post jumper, but also be able to spin, create some space and become a better one-on-one player down low.”
Orgas, who was the first player to commit to Henrickson after she took over at KU last year, figures to have plenty of opportunities to contribute at either post position. A 6′-2″ skilled player, Orgas will add depth at high and low post.
“She’s going to have to be guarded at either spot, which is going to open things up for Crystal,” Henrickson said of Orgas. “Her work ethic and competitiveness will really help her in her bid for playing time as a freshman.”
Also joining the mix in the post is Zinic. A native of Serbia and Montenegro, Zinic has extensive international experience playing alongside Catic as a member of numerous junior national and national teams. A skilled perimeter player, she will look to use her strengths to stretch defenses.
“Marija is a very skilled post player as a passer and a shooter,” Henrickson said. “She’s probably the one post player who could step out beyond three-point range to help open up space inside. Because of her international influence, she brings a lot of perimeter skills for a post player. She’ll need to develop her low post offense and defense, but we can teach her that.”
With more weapons in the paint and on the perimeter, KU has the necessary ingredients it needs to build on last year’s improvement. Henrickson believes the returning players and the rookies should quickly adapt to working together.
“I think our freshmen and Shaq will mix very well with the players we have coming back,” Henrickson said. “We were able to be specific in our positional needs as we were recruiting, and we picked up some offensive punch.”