KU Women's Basketball Holds Annual Media Day

Oct. 9, 2012

Head coach Bonnie Henrickson and the 2012-13 Kansas women’s basketball team held its annual media day Friday on James Naismith Court at Allen Fieldhouse. Below are the transcribed quotes from Coach Henrickson’s press conference.

Coach you have been practicing for a week, talk about how the team is shaping up for the 2012-13 season.

Bonnie Henrickson: I think we have been on our new calendar the last couple of years. (The women’s practice season) is a little bit different than that men’s where if you take our first regular scheduled game and go back 40 days, we are allowed 30 practices, so we have actually have been at it for about a week. We are probably five practices in and we went this afternoon and brought them back a little bit early. It has been good, I think the biggest question mark going in is to replace what we lost. I am confident about Carolyn’s return and she has practiced every day and has looked better every day and when you look at losing Aishah Sutherland, someone of that athleticism and skillset, you look at trying to fill the empty spot with her graduation and there is obviously, some key components and some key kids in that situation.

With the two young kids, Lamaria Cole has shown that she can get in the paint, which is what you want from a point guard. She has got that speed and athleticism. Markisha Hawkins has shown that she loves to be an offensive rebounder, which we need help in that area. Angel has been solid…the seniors with Angel and Monica, those two have been really good leaders throughout this short little stretch we have had. And the sophomores now coming off of a pretty good freshman campaign and certainly the experience that they got at the end of the year looked better and looked more confident. I think Tania has been a little bit dinged up, she had a meniscus repair the first week of school, but she has actually been in a little bit more the last three for four days, which has been positive, because she just started to get back in once we started full practice, so a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm, but a lot of work to do.

Monica for a while there was in a funk and she did not even look the same, play the same, but now she looks like the old Monica…is she playing like the old?

Bonnie Henrickson: Yeah, she does and she is excited about a fantastic senior year and quite honest, if you look at where do we get some of the production offensively that we lost with Aishah is, get Monica back to who she was. The numbers she was able to put up and I think she recognizes like we all do that, that is behind her and she has worked hard to get herself back and you are exactly right and quite honestly, we had struggled with Carolyn going down in February. I do not know if it was a secret, but it was not a secret in our office, but I was little bit surprised people did not take a bigger notice to how much she struggled and long before we got into February. So she has had a great summer and her teammates are excited, because they know how good she is and they also know how badly we need her, whether we had Aishah back or not. But there are some things that she can do for us offensively to space the defense and to get some room on the floor for some guys to make some plays that will really help us. I am glad you…and she does, she looks different, she has better bounce in her step and a lot better personality as far as just being more upbeat.

Every year during this time there is a goal to make it to the NCAA Tournament, now that you have been to the Sweet 16 last year, what is the goal this year?

Bonnie Henrickson: Well, absolutely to build on the success we had, but I would like to go back further into that we have got to win more games in our league. I think among the many things that was exciting about how we finished the year, I think we learned to…we played with more confidence on the road and recognizing that, we finished the year do-or-die as far as trying to get enough wins to get in and then we played certainly well on the road in the tournament, but we have to transfer that into league play with the confidence we had and we have to be more consistent in conference play. And I thought there were too many nights in Allen Fieldhouse we were flat and we have talked about that as a team that, we owe that to our fans every single night to play with the energy and if I had the answer for that I would explain it to you and talk to you about it, but I do not have the answer for that. But that was frustrating and I just did not think we played consistently throughout league play and then there were nights here we just were not any good, but I will say a positive thing out of the run was, we learned to play with a lot of confidence on the road and they have talked about that.

Seems in the past, most of the time you have one pure post player on the floor, but this year you have two post players how happen to be your best, so will you run things differently this…

Bonnie Henrickson: We will. And really it is probably as much offense or defensively for us where do we need to tweak some things. Offensively, Chelsea can score facing the basket and Carolyn can score, so you can play them both together. It is hard to play two bigs low, because it is just so easy to double team and that is hard. Where Aishah played kind of in the middle of the floor high, you could put Chelsea up there, because she probably honestly is as capable of a 15 foot jump shooter as Aishah was and Carolyn is growing that part of her game as well. When Chelsea got here she would tell you she was a face up post player as you might imagine, so we tried to convince her to get a little bit closer to the rim and that would be good for us. It is defense what we do, because the matchups in our league at the four could be pretty challenging for those two one-on-one, so then we can play some zone, which we have to play a little bit more to keep those two inside a little bit defensively.

So with the other three sophomores (excluding Natalie Knight) is it important for them to take that kind of next step…

Bonnie Henrickson: I think Chelsea kind of came into her own at the end to replacing Carolyn and Natalie was as she had as good a freshman year as any kid I have ever been around from a consistency standpoint and understanding a role and fulfilling her role. Asia Boyd has gotten better and she is more confident, she has got to shoot the ball better, she is a kid who can get people to foul her and we have to get her on the floor. Bunny Williams, I thought stepped in and gave us some big minutes, she kind of subbed for Aishah down the stretch a little bit and can play both the four and five spots on the floor. But that whole class and again, Natalie is a little bit more well-known and then Chelsea made a name for herself in March, but we need Asia and Bunny to be more consistent and help us more night in and night out.

We have not talked about point guard, who is going to play there for you this year?

Bonnie Henrickson: I think there is this little player that I just walked away from in there, yeah how good is she? How good is (Angel Goodrich) and how consistent she is and just even more maturity and I would say as a group there has been a maturation process. It is not all giddy and everything is all fun, because we made a run, the maturity of understanding the work it takes, the consistency it takes to play at that level, but also her maturity and recognizing her role in this program more clearly than she ever has from a leadership standpoint. I really felt like one of the most enjoyable things was to watch her and I got to watch her in practice every day, grab everybody and circle the wagons in her own unique way, not the loudest kid and you might have known it if you were too far away, but to be able to be in a circle and sometimes it is just a look with her. We talked so much about communication and she handles it a little bit differently, but as effectively as anyone I have ever been around.

Do you think maturity comes from…last year?

Bonnie Henrickson: I think she grew into her own before we ever made the run, getting us to the point that we had a chance at a run, because if you look at how well she played at Texas Tech, how well she played at Oklahoma and how much…she just grabbed Aishah and said okay, you and I are going to have to take over here or we are probably not going to make it and then we have to hope that we get some young kids to step in and play well and all of that came to fruition. But I do not think it was a light switch for her, I think is just one of those ones that you can turn that just keeps getting brighter and brighter and brighter and brighter and the more success she had and we had, okay I really get this and I embraced it. It is not that she does not like any of you and the limelight, but that is not why she does this. She has learned to embrace that comes with the territory and it is part of being a point guard and for her it is part of being just as darn good as you are and she has learned to accept that and not be so uncomfortable. For the first two years she was just uncomfortable. Any time was pulling teeth to get her to…okay, I will do the interview. And it is not…she just wants to play and be successful.

Where do you think Carolyn is and can she get back to where she was after this?

Bonnie Henrickson: Absolutely. If you think about her game–and I thought this for many days when she went down–okay, what does she have to get back to? What does she do really well? She runs rim to rim really, really well. Well, she is doing that. She can beat Chelsea in sprints right now. Make sure that you write that in bold print that Chelsea reads that, that she can beat Chelsea in sprints. And will she catch the ball? The kid never does not catch the ball. It did not affect her hands, so she will be able to run and catch and finish. She will not develop bad habits, because of this, she will still not put the ball down if she should not, she will keep it and she will make it look simple, which is…when we first got her in the individual workouts, I just shook my head and she looked at me and I said, you just make it look so easy, but that is what the best ones do. So there is not a doubt in my mind and she has had days where it has felt maybe a little bit swollen or it is a little bit sore, but nothing that has ever kept from anything and you can tell she gets frustrated, but then when she has great days and she had a good workout today and she feels good, then she has all of that plus the positive energy that she has knowing that she is going to be okay.

She is obviously, not the same as Aishah was, that explosive kind of player…

Bonnie Henrickson: She has never been bouncy. She has been really, really long. That is what I said when I said, the two things she should be able to do that she was always able to do is run and catch. I never said, but gosh how is she going to handle not being as explosive and bouncy. She never really has been and it is not a knock on her, she is just really, really long and then she uses that length.

So how’s the strength of the knee…

Bonnie Henrickson: No and I have not seen anything that would make me think…now she gets gassed and she gets tired from…we have had her go up and down a little bit, so from a normal fatigue having missed what she has missed since February, that is normal for her right now, very normal, nothing alarming by any stretch and there has not been anything.

You’ve had other teams where you’ve had a bunch of newcomers
Bonnie Henrickson: Yep.

This one, I mean, are you happy that it’s, I mean, it’s pretty veteran and a lot of coming returnees?

Bonnie Henrickson: Yeah, I am. It’s fun to coach. I had that group of four last year was fun and with these two, they bring something, though, they really do. And they both have, you know, Lamaria is very, very fast. She has that ability to get in the paint and make a play. And now, she doesn’t value the ball like we are going to need for her to. We had a little possession conversation today about the game is of possessions. We had, we’re probably going to talk about that again tomorrow, I feel certain. But, you know, we’ve got two and I’m excited about those two, and you’d like to be consistently three and four, but it didn’t play itself out that way. I like these two gals, and the upperclassmen are really good with them, because they all remember. It doesn’t take you long to forget, oh, that used to be me.

Do you feel more of a special sense of urgency this year? It’s obviously every year, but with three seniors —

Bonnie Henrickson: Well, I don’t know if it’s a sense of urgency. It’s a responsibility I have every day to write the best practice, to demand the most, to help us get better every day. And in doing that with the group that we have, it should be a special season. But, like I said earlier, there are some exciting things that are going on, but there’s a lot of work for us to do. But, I’ve had some awfully special seniors since I’ve been here. And we can talk about Daniel McCray and Sade Morris and those kids so you want for every senior to go out with the biggest pop as possible. And, we’ll work our tails off every day to help make sure that happens.

You guys have had expectations before, but this is maybe slightly different. Would you do anything in the first couple of weeks of practice, or that first month of the season?

Bonnie Henrickson: Right, well, if you’ve been around me much at all, it’s boring. We talk about trying to get better every day, so that’s what we talked about today is trying to be better in practice today than we were when were together on Friday. And I think that’s the smartest way to handle this. Whether you have expectations or you don’t is can we try and focus on getting better every day, because it’s easy to get caught looking too far ahead. It’s easy to try to compare and I’m a firm believer that every minute we do that we waste time in something that we can control is about being better in practice every day. So, that message won’t be any different. That won’t be any different this year than it has been any other year. They understand it better is maybe the difference. I think they understand it at a different level now, under there is from an energy standpoint, from a competitive standpoint. I think from a competitive standpoint, I think that’s where it feels a little bit different to me because they understand that in doing what we did and wanting to do more, how important that will be to be able to raise that bar in practice every day against each other, which is the only way you can get better.

So, the good news is you got a lot of talent back. The bad news is I guess so has Baylor. But again, the Big 12 looks different this year.

Bonnie Henrickson: It does, with everyone in the league having significant losses, really other, quite honestly, other than Baylor. I mean, with that group that they’ve got coming back. I would say for us Aisha was a significant one. That kid was arguably one of the most talented players I’ve ever had. And to fill the pieces around and to fill the spot that she vacated. But if you look at West Virginia. I’ve watched some film on West Virginia, and being familiar with Mike Carey from where I used to be, driving on the West Virginia Turnpike to get to Morgantown is a little bit easier than the trip we’re going to make. But they’re really, in a half-court defense, a lot like Texas A&M. They’re big, they’re long, they’re athletic. He puts a high premium on his defense, being able to create offense for them and turn people over. They’re very, very physical. TCU, now it’s been three or four years since we played them, similar with some of their personnel, but everyone in the league is a little different, other than Baylor, which is it’s a new year, that’s supposed to happen. But it does look a little bit different without Missouri and A&M, which it’s going to look different because it is different just not having those two.

Speaking of that, have you gotten used to the new old faces on your bench?

Bonnie Henrickson: The new old faces? Oh yeah. We’ve given Katy a hard time about being recycled all year. So, it’s good to have her back. I was on the staff that recruited her and then got to coach her her junior and senior year. So she understands me and that’s always been a great plus for her to help them. And she will coach the post this year, which she had done previously when she first got here, and then we moved her on the perimeter. Noonball (Terry Nooner), as we all affectionately call him, he’s the most positive, energetic guy I’ve ever been around. And as much pride in this program and the University of Kansas as anyone I’ve been around. And Mo (Green) does a great job with her point guards in helping them understand the game from where they play every day. So, I do feel like some days I’ve got a new job every day. Because when I first came in I’m like oh, look at all of these new people. So, but it’s been fun. They’ve been great. And they’ve really, and the kids have really embraced them.

What makes Natalie so effective? You talked about her earlier. What makes her so effective?

Bonnie Henrickson: Well, I think that she kind of plays and lives like it’s never as good as it seems and it’s never as bad as it seems. She’ll hit a big shot, her face doesn’t change. She’ll turn it over, not very often, her face doesn’t change. She just, she can go on to the next play probably as quick and as well as most seniors and that’s hard to do when you’re a freshman. This game’s a game of mistakes, and usually the team that makes the fewest wins. But she doesn’t turn one into three. And when you’re young, that’s easy to do, be upset about one and all of a sudden, I’ve got three more piled on. But she’s a kid who’s always been able to knock down open shots, and we were able to do that for her. And Angel creates so many of those opportunities for her. But she’s just very, very consistent. I mean, how she plays is how she practices every day, and the same thing with Angel. You talk about how Angel plays every day, that’s how she practices every day, so it doesn’t feel different to her when you can smell popcorn.

You’ve got some added excited and hype around the program this year. How much does that help going into the season?

Bonnie Henrickson: It’s good. I think it’s good for them, for the excitement, but they recognize that it’s not going to win us any games. It’s good for the fans. It’s good for attendance. It’s good for media, all of those things surrounding your program, but there is not a person in our program that thinks that that will have any effect on whether we win or lose. There is good bounce to them, but they are, I guess that from a maturity standpoint, they won’t get caught up in any of that, there’s no way they will. They understand it.

You’ve got Angel and Carolyn up for, on various watch lists. How exciting is it just to have those two back on the court?

Bonnie Henrickson: It’s good, I think, for different reasons. Carolyn being able to be back on those lists, having been on those lists last year, and certainly deservedly for Angel to be on those lists, that she wasn’t last year. But she played her way on those lists, and Carolyn did the year before. And then from a respect standpoint and who people believe that she is, that’s she’s back on all of those.

You talked about the Big 12 earlier. Where would you like to see your team fit in?

Bonnie Henrickson: We all vote and you can’t vote for your own group, but I think that there’s three or four of us that are in a battle for second, third and fourth. I do, and I think it’s close. It’s a little bit harder with West Virginia, because it’s one thing to play somebody and it’s one thing to watch a film. But I think there will be a dog fight for who’s right below Baylor.

I know every year it seems like there’s one thing you probably would say, if we could really improve on this, we’ll be in good shape. Is there something that you would say about this team?

Bonnie Henrickson: We’ve got to guard better. That just eats me up because all of my former players kill me. They say, “You’re getting soft. You don’t guard like you used to.” So we’ve got to guard better and we’ve got to rebound the ball better. Offensively, we have been pretty good, and we’ve shot the ball well and we’ve taken good shots. And Angel’s a big part of that just being able to create some opportunities for people. But we’ve got to keep people in front of us. Our defensive field goal percentage has got to drop as far as the type of shots that we give up and then rebound a little better.

When does that bother you the most? When you’re watching film going back, or just —

Bonnie Henrickson: Thinking about it, watching film, when I get asked a question about it, it drives me nuts, it drives me nuts, because we used to not be able to score. And when I first got here, we might lose, but we’d hold somebody to 54 points and then we could only score 49. And now we’ve got the flip side of that. We’ve got to be able to guard better.

Is there anything this team potentially could better than any team you’ve ever coached?

Bonnie Henrickson: I just think how much fun we will able to be in transition, because of what Angel can do. And that’s what you guys love, and I love the same thing. You know, Bill (Self) and I talk all the time, recruit players who make plays so you won’t have to run so many plays. And Angel’s cut my playbook in half, she has, which I love, which I love, just how good I think we can be in transition.

They love that too?

Bonnie Henrickson: Oh, absolutely, that’s how they want to play. That’s how they want to play, absolutely, we all do.

When Angel first came here, you kept comparing her to Chris Paul. Do you still like that comparison?

Bonnie Henrickson: I do, I. From how the kind of shots that he can create for himself and how he can let go of it, and she’s got the little giant killer, she likes to shoot that. And he’s really good at that, as well. And then she’s really developed in a good mid-range pull up jump shooter, and he does that. So, and he has a presence, you know, in the team that he runs, just like she’s learned to develop and embrace. And they’re both real little in their game. They’re game’s not little, their stature’s little, but their game’s not little.