Davis And Engelman Look To Lead Jayhawks In 2010-11

Sept. 29, 2010

Carolyn Davis and Monica Engelman enter their sophomore year with a lot riding on their shoulders. Both had great freshman campaigns and will look to build on that this season. This year’s Jayhawk team lost seven players from last year’s team that made it to the third round of the Women’s NIT. Davis and Engelman will be called upon to lead the Jayhawks to a successful season.

“It’s a learning process and I have been picking stuff up on the way, along with Carolyn,” said Engelman, who hails from San Antonio.

There are only four other upperclassmen on this year’s team so it will be up to Davis and Engelman to carry a bulk of the load. Even with a young team, expectations still remain high for both Davis and Engelman.

“We are a young team, so from that I can expect some things coming our way we haven’t seen before,” said Engelman. “But we’re a quick and talented team, and I expect a lot of good things from both the underclassmen and returners. There will be some good basketball.”

Along with a new season for the Jayhawks, also brings two new additions to the coaching staff. Chester Nichols and Tory Verdi join head coach Bonnie Henrickson on this year’s staff. Both coaches are highly regarded from their previous stops in their coaching careers. For the players, that means making a few adjustments.

“I don’t think it will impact us negatively to have a change in the staff,” said Davis, who is a Houston native. “It can only help us because we have two great assistant coaches coming in and we all have the same goal.”

Engelman and Davis received a considerable amount of playing time last season, especially down the stretch. When Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year Danielle McCray went down with an ACL injury, Engelman was called to step in and fill some big shoes.

“Before Danielle was out I had a chance to watch and learn from her,” said Engelman, who averaged 7.5 points and 2.6 boards on the season. “When she went down, even though it was unexpected, I learned a lot about what I should be doing and what I should not be doing, and I was able to adjust to the tempo of the game.”

Davis continued to improve throughout the season and eventually worked her way into the starting lineup for 13 games down the stretch. With senior leader McCray out for the year, Davis picked up the slack.

“It built my confidence up a lot because I struggled when I first got here,” said Davis, who turned in 10.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per game as a freshman. “When I did start playing, my coaches and teammates had faith in me to get me the ball down the stretch. It helped me become the player that I am now.”

Throughout this offseason both players have worked to continue to get better. Davis and Engelman are two different types of players so they each have different aspects to fine-tune. Engelman is an excellent shooter so she concentrated a lot on improving her footwork and it is her goal this year to be more consistent with her three-point shot. As for Davis, she will have her hands full this season in the Big 12 because it is a conference known for its’ post players.

“I worked on expanding my game,” said Davis. “I worked on becoming more of a threat from outside because a lot of the bigs in this league are bigger than me. If I can play from the inside and outside I feel like I can dominate.”

Davis is excited for this season and thinks this Jayhawk team has what it takes to be a factor in the Big 12. Along the way Davis will encounter some high-profile competitors and there is one in particular that she is looking forward to the most.

“Of course ever body wants to play against Brittney Griner (Baylor),” said Davis.”I mean it is difficult to play against her, but it is great to play against her and I hope I play well this year.”

Both players have had to evolve through the changes from high school to college, but they seem to be doing very well so far. They both said that the college game is different in many ways and that it does not even compare to high school.

“The whole dynamic of the game is different,” said Davis. “It’s bigger, faster and stronger, but I love it and it is what I live for.”

Davis was named to the 2009-10 Big 12 All Freshman Team and was also a Third Team Freshman All-American. Those two achievements are very special to Davis and it gives her a ton of confidence going into this season.

“It says a lot considering I wasn’t playing very much at the beginning of last season and how much I grew throughout the year,” said Davis. “It is a stepping stone to accomplish even more this year.”

Davis and Engelman will be leaders on a young Kansas team this year, but it should not be anything to difficult for them to handle. They both love Kansas, their coaches and teammates and the family atmosphere.

“I fell in love with the school, coaches and the atmosphere,” said Engelman. “I saw how much of a family environment it was here and that is exactly what I needed.”