Kansas Women's Basketball Meets The Media

Oct. 14, 2009

The Kansas women’s basketball team held its annual media day Wednesday afternoon in Allen Fieldhouse. Head coach Bonnie Henrickson and the Jayhawk players discussed their expectations for the 2009-10 season.

Head coach Bonnie Henrickson

Opening statements:

“There are some days that it’s [the start of the season] hard to believe it is already here and there are most days that we have been waiting for it to get here, although we have been at it here since school started. There is much anticipation from everyone involved in our program. The expectations and potential for us to have a special year really culminated in a nearly fantastic finish at the end of the last year. We had a commitment by all of our players, both the returners and ‘newbies’, as we call them since there are two junior college players in that mix of six newcomers. We had that entire group here both sessions of summer school. The commitment on their part to be here and train together and get the new kids involved has been great from a basketball standpoint, from a conditioning standpoint and also from a chemistry standpoint.”

“Danielle (McCray) has been building momentum off of her fantastic summer and some of her preseason accolades. I know Danielle would tell you, as I would tell you, it [preseason attention] doesn’t guarantee anything. It is just good publicity for the program right now. The more we can stay in a positive light in front the media and in front of our fans and just, on a slow-build to the start of the season, if that is all we get out of it, then that is all we need out of it. She understands that it doesn’t guarantee her a great year or us a great year, but it is positive for recruiting and positive for our fans.”

“We are eager to get started. The players saw the locker room this morning. They are excited about that. I think it speaks to the commitment here, from Lew Perkins and his commitment to the resources it takes to be successful at the highest level, with the academic support services and the expansion of that facility, the amenities for the students with the locker room and then to the fans and their fan-experience on game day with the concourses of Allen Fieldhouse. When you walk in there, you really feel first-class. Having walked that group through there this morning, and it’s not even completed yet, you can tell there is a little bounce to that group and our players are excited, as they should be.”

On expectations for the younger players on this year’s roster:

“Well, obviously Angel (Goodrich) coming back and being healthy and playing with a lot of confidence and the perseverance that she has been through having been hurt and been through all the rehab and recovery, I think has made an obvious impact. It is the much awaited and anticipated impact of her on the program. I think for her, everyday there is more confidence, more attack mode and more aggressiveness.”

“With the freshmen group, Monica Engleman has been impressive. She has made shots, she has a good pull-up jump shot and she is a good passer. She has real high basketball IQ, which is a credit to the quality coaching she had when she was young, but she has a real good demeanor. She will be a real good poker player if she ever decides to do that because she doesn’t ever make a face, which for freshmen in that transition, is difficult, and especially when you consider who she is playing against, Sade Morris and Danielle McCray. She is playing on the wing with those two and against those two, and she has handled herself well.”

“Annette Davis has really shown a high basketball IQ. She creates a different look at the power forward. She is not the shooter that Nicollette Smith is, and she is not the long, lanky, athletic hang-in-the-air kid that Aishah Sutherland is, but a powerful, explosive player who can score on the block, score from the free-throw line or put it on the floor and shoot it. So that is a little bit different than the package those other two bring to the table.”

“Marisha Brown from Kansas City, has really shown–out of the gates–to be a tremendous rebounder and a fantastic on-ball defender. Offensively, she has been a pleasant surprise. She has hit some shots and has pretty good rhythm so far, so she has been impressive.”

On the competition that comes with having a large (15 player) roster:

“The young kids have pushed the veteran group, but the returners have done a good job helping that group get through the summer and transition into what it takes to play and be successful at this level. Practices are competitive. There is great intensity and it is fun to say, ‘ok, give me five out’ but don’t say who it is; just see who is going to step out. The confidence some of the young kids feel to step out and get in the first group and get on the floor right away and then the confidence in the upperclassmen to say, ‘well hold on now, let me step in and get on first’ has been really interesting. There is great camaraderie and great chemistry. I think we are ahead of where we would have been had they not all been here all summer. Typically, it is a one-session, one-semester group for the rookies, but as soon as they heard the upperclassmen were staying, they decided to get here and start training. But it is competitive, which is great. When you have kids with great motors in practice and great competition in practice, you are going to enhance your chance to improve at a much higher rate.”

On the role of junior guard Rhea Codio:

“In her own right, Rhea is a great play-maker. She has great experience. She is a really competitive kid and has a good basketball IQ. She played for Tony Turner at Independence. Tony does a great job; he is from this area and has worked our camps for years and years and is a really good guy. Rhea’s IQ is good, and she is not about to hand that job over to Angel. She has no thought of just, ‘well I’m here to back Angel up’. She is thinking, ‘I am here to play point at Kansas’. So, that is great competition at that position alone.”

On Danielle McCray’s ability to handle preseason attention:

“She has been great. She understands. This is something that she has dreamed about her whole life. Not awards, but playing at a high level and being successful and being a league player, so it is not like, mentally, she wasn’t prepared. We are pretty good in our program about making sure we keep egos in check and we bust her chops most of the time anyway. I said to her, ‘now Danielle let’s just think for a moment about your freshman year’ and she said ‘I know, I couldn’t guard you in your heels’ and I said ‘that’s right Danielle!’ So, she’ll be the first one to tell you, I have come a long way but I have a lot to do to get better. What I like about Danielle is she will tell you right away that Sade Morris has made her a better player because she has to practice against her everyday. The great coaches in this league, the great competition in this league, the great players in this league have all made her better. Her experience this summer, having to play against Maya Moore and guarding Maya Moore made her a better player this summer and she recognizes that.”

On expectations for senior guard Danielle McCray:

“I think for any of us to think that out of the gate she is going to average 31 points a night; no one expects that and she should not expect that. If you look at her down the stretch in her last six games, roughly 65% of her shots were pull-up jump shots because she has always been a kid who wants to play a little bit too fast and finish at the rim. Well, people are good enough and have watched enough film on her, that that is probably not going to happen at the rate at which she would like for that to happen. So, she has to make good decisions to stay out of foul trouble. The beautiful part of her game is she has a great pull-up jump shot and she is a great catch-and-shoot player. Sometimes she wants to do more than that, but she just has to keep it simple. I think she is starting to recognize that. I will be honest with you, in our full workouts, she has tried to make plays that just are not there. With our young kids, maybe they’re not at weak-side help, but in our league people are going to sit over there and wait for her. So, she has to make good decisions and get other teammates involved. Especially early in the game, she needs to loosen herself up and not press and not try to do too much, which for a kid who can do a lot, if she can just calm down and let the game come to her, she will be fine.”

On the role of senior guard Sade Morris:

“With Danielle and Sade buying into being Batman and Robin last year, I think that was good for those two mentally. What can get lost in the end of last year is how well Sade played. When Danielle may have struggled, Sade picked it up. Now, it would be really good for us if they would both play lights-out together, a lot. I don’t know if they have consistently done that. There is no reason for that, it just has not happened as much, but I don’t think Sade sits back and waits for Danielle to make plays anymore. She recognizes that she needs to step up and make a play.”

On how to carry-over last season’s end-of-the-year success into this season:

“We need to understand what it took and talk about where we were and what had to happen for us to be able to turn it around and make the best out of the situation and make the best out of that run in the NIT. We have had numerous conversations, individually and as a group, about how it was not easy. The young kids coming in cannot think that was easy and now we have totally turned it around and we won a bunch of games at the end. We have to recognize what a struggle that was and what we did individually and collectively to get that turn around. We have to learn from our success last year, but we can’t loose site of how we struggled. We need to learn from that and avoid all of that; the inconsistency, the turnovers, all the things that kept us from having a better year than we did.”

On positioning in the Big 12:

“In sitting in the gyms this summer with a number of people in the league and having casual conversations, I think, as much as any year that I have been here, that if we stay healthy, win games at home and sneak a few on the road, we have a chance to win the league. We should think that and there are a handful of other schools that should think that. There are a lot of conversations in coaches’ offices and in locker rooms and in practice that we have a chance. Now, that is a long way off. I don’t think there is a clear-cut, out-in-front team that is heads-and-tails ahead of everybody else. We have had that before in the league, but I just don’t think we have that this year. There is a lot of depth and talent all over the league.”

On benefits of having such talented seniors leading team in 2009-10:

“There is a tremendous opportunity here, as prepared as we are with kids who have experience, kids who have bought into the system, players who play with great pride for their program and for the university. Sade and Danielle are as dependable as they come as far as their commitment to getting it right every day. Absolutely, there is a window that we have to take advantage of and there is no reason we shouldn’t with the experience we have returning and their understanding of the league, the game and what it takes to be successful.”

On talk of post-season play:

“I think in our huddle, realistically, we should expect to be in a position to win a conference championship. We could finish sixth or maybe seventh and still go to the NCAA tournament, but no one wants to finish sixth or seventh. No one would be excited about finishing sixth. We understand there is a lot of work to be done before that comes to fruition, but no one is afraid to talk about a conference championship. These kids have put in the time. They have committed to what we have asked them to do and it has been a lot of hard work. So, no there is not hesitation to talk about that.”

Senior guard/forward Danielle McCray

On how expectations have changed for her and the team:

“They have changed a lot. There are different expectations. We’re focusing on the team and team success this year. I try not to focus on the expectations. I try to focus on how our team is bonding and trying to get the freshmen rolling. It really hasn’t been a huge factor.”

On being in the spotlight:

“This is something I always wanted to do—to be in that spotlight and have people look up to me. It’s something that I can say has been a dream come true.”

On how the program is changing:

“We were picked really high in [Lindy’s] poll and I think it’s something that we look forward to and have been looking forward to. Since my freshman year we have been working hard to change the program around and that is what’s happening this year. Everything is going well right now.”

Sophomore forward Aishah Southerland

On how she has been improving as a player:

“I have made some steps to improve. I’ve been working on my 17-foot shot. I’ve been working on off the dribble moves and rebounding. I want to rebound more this year. I want to have more of an outside game.”

On going against junior Krysten Boogaard in practice:

“She’s improved a lot and she’s stronger. It’s a good thing to go against in her practice.”

On the team’s goal for the season and how to achieve it:

“The team goal is a Big 12 Championship. We need to play well on the road and play as a team. We have to do better this year.”

Junior forward Nicollette Smith

On the rise in expectations for the team this season:

“It’s a big jump, but at the same if you look at who we have coming back and who we have coming in and you look at what every other Big 12 team has lost—if you compare the numbers they are in our favor.”

On preparing for the season:

“This offseason has been one of the harder ones since I’ve been here. You’d think it’d be one of the easier ones since we made that big run last year, but as we start getting better and the target is more and more on our back we have to work harder. There is going to be more attention to detail and we have to limit our turnovers. I like that it’s been hard because it’s going to be worth it when we make the NCAA tournament.”

Freshman forward Annette Davis

On her first few weeks with the team:

“Everything has been fun as far as getting to know the team and bonding with the coaches. Interacting with everyone on the court has been fun.”

On who has helped her transition to the college game:

“There isn’t one person that stands out. Everyone has been interacting with each other. Everybody is helping with the transition.”

On the new women’s basketball facility:

“Nothing can really describe how awesome the new facility is. You don’t know what to do. The new facility is amazing. I wouldn’t say that it is what made me come here, but it’s a plus.”

On how she hopes to contribute this season:

“I hope that I can get on the court and I hope that Bonnie will want me to stay on the court. I think everyone will bring something different to the table. Not one person can win a game. It takes the team as a whole.”

Junior guard Marisha Brown

On joining the team this season:

“I’m really excited for my first year here. It’s a great building program and they did great last year. I’m excited to be a part of the program. We’ve been doing well and working hard.”

On her impression of team so far:

“Everything is going well. I didn’t realize how dedicated each player and member of the coaching stuff is to making this program. I love being a part of it.”

On how she can help the team:

“Individually I plan on bringing great defensive presence. I think that’s one of my strong points—pressuring the ball and getting up the floor.”

Senior Guard Sade Morris

On potential Big 12 title hopes:

“After last season, and our finish in the WNIT, we’ve all had a different mindset. We’ve been talking about it for four years now, about how we want to make it to the NCAA’s. Every time after practice, we always say ‘Big 12 Championship.’ We believe it, that’s what our eyes are set on, going for a Big 12 Championship. If we make that happen, we’re going to be in the NCAA tournament for sure. There’s no more ‘I hope we do it.’ This is the year for us.

On how the team is handling the spotlight after being ranked in the Top 25 by some publications:

“It feels great, were all just taking it in, but we know we have to put in work. That’s pre-season, that means nothing – it’s just what people think. Now we have to go prove it, prove that we’re better than 22nd. We want to increase our ranking, so we just have to go out there and prove ourselves.”

On which newcomers have impressed her the most:

“The newcomers we have are great, they’ve all been working hard, and they’re going to make a big impact for us.”

Junior Center Krysten Boogaard

On the off-season changes and improvements:

“One of the points of emphasis requires us to get stronger, be more physical. I need to get stronger in the post, I know that’s been one of my weaknesses. I’ve been working for this all my life.”

On being able to recognize her own strength:

“I can definitely tell my strength, especially at practices we’ve had. It feels good to not be pushed around as much.”

On the senior leadership, the newcomers and the high expectations:

“Definitely, I can feel the expectations, we know they’re really high. We have a great group of freshmen and newcomers, great senior leaders, obviously Danielle (McCray), Aishah (Sutherland), all the returning players – I feel like we’re going to have a great year.”

On competing for a Big 12 Championship, believing if it’s a real expectation:

“Absolutely, we say that in practice every day – we’re working towards that goal of ours, especially making it to the NCAA tournament. That’s a big goal of ours.”

Junior Guard Rhea Codio

On why she chose Kansas:

“I had a great relationship with the coaches, and I wanted to continue that journey (to KU).”

On how life is different, going from Brooklyn, to Independence CC, and coming to Lawrence:

“It’s extremely different, going from the fast life, to the slow life. I had experience, coming from Independence; it’s a small town, it’s very slow, and Lawrence isn’t that much of an adjustment. It’s cool being somewhere that’s faster than Independence.”

Freshman Guard Angel Goodrich

On her road to where she is today and how she dealt with her injury:

“I had great support from the coaching staff, my teammates and my family, they all pulled for me. It was pretty tough for them. It was really great having their support.”

The high expectations, and if she’s ever experienced anything like it:

“They’re pretty high, especially right now. We’re in a pretty tough conference; the Big 12 is always tough. With everyone coming in, we’re looking pretty good. If we just come in and work hard every day and get better, I think we can be good. Our expectations are high, we want to be better (than our expectations).”

On playing up to her expectations after the injury, and if it’s nice to have a 1-2 punch with Danielle McCray:

“Danielle is great, she’s a great basketball player I love playing with her and Sade (Morris). I think the whole team is coming together, it’s great to have that.”

Freshman Guard Monica Engelman

On adjusting to life in college after graduating high school in June:

“I had to get adjusted to college life pretty quickly – I was very nervous. I started school the next week (after she moved to Lawrence), it was a pretty quick transition.”

On coming to a team that has a lot of senior leadership:

“Coming in as a freshman, it is very beneficial to me to be surrounded by a lot of upperclassmen. I think it is great for me – it has helped me grow and mature as a player.”