Jayhawk Women's Basketball Program Meets The Media

Oct. 15, 2008


The Kansas women’s basketball team held its annual Media Day Wednesday afternoon in Allen Fieldhouse. Head coach Bonnie Henrickson and the Jayhawk players had the following to say regarding the 2008-09 season.

Head Coach Bonnie Henrickson

Opening Statement:

“Good to see everybody. It’s hard to believe it’s that time of year already again. I’m just very, very excited, on my end personally. I think we’ve experienced our best preseason. Combined with Coach Hudy’s workouts and our individual workouts, I’ve been very pleased with the effort that these kids have put in from last spring to the summer and to the fall. Not only as a group in pickup and competing there, but extra work, taking extra shots and getting work on things that we specifically had asked a few of these kids to work on to improve their game and obviously help us improve. I think the addition of Angel (Goodrich), and I’m not going to try to hide my enthusiasm for what I think she can do, her playmaking ability, and that she hasn’t been a disappointment yet. In fact, she’s handled the transition better than I would have anticipated. I didn’t expect her to really struggle, but with freshmen, that transition from the summer into the fall and all the workouts with Coach Hudy and all of our stuff can make for a difficult transition. Even trying to prepare for trying to run three or four offenses on Friday night, she’s handled that very, very well and understands the game on a very high level. For a young point guard, that’s very impressive.”

On if this year is the year the team takes the next step:

“Last year down the stretch, we struggled so much in January. Looking at our schedule in February, we had a chance to turn the tables and make a run and be one of those eight teams (from the Big 12) that made the tournament. One possession losses here and there down the stretch really killed us. I think consistency for us has to be something we need to talk about and address and fix. We need to have the discipline and the toughness to do that. I also think being able to make plays in transition and offensively be more efficient and more productive, for us will be very, very important in the growth and maturity of this group. Yes, we have a freshman point guard, but we also have experienced point guards with Ivana (Catic) and LaChelda (Jacobs) in there as well. We’re as good as we’ve been at that position since I’ve been here, clearly. I know Erica Hallman was fantastic and did a great job for us, but the quality of that depth and adding Angel’s playmaking ability and then with the experience of Danielle (McCray) and Krysten (Boogaard), and Porscha (Weddington) has really had the best six months of anybody. She has changed her body a little bit. She’s leaner and has played more athletically around the rim. We have a lot of returning kids who have improved. I really felt that after that big class, that junior class after their freshman year, they got complacent. We had a lot of kids that thought they played a lot of minutes their freshmen year and just because they were sophomores they were going to be better, and they didn’t do the work. So as much as I’ll call them out for not doing the work, I’ll pat them on the back for doing a lot of work since we finished the season last year.”

On what she expects from Danielle this year:

“For her to be more consistent, and for her to make better decisions. Her turnover numbers have got to come down. She has to be a better defender, she has to force tougher shots, but for her to make better decisions off the dribble. Not many people are going to let her catch and shoot, but when they force her to put it down, be disciplined about her footwork on her pull-up, be disciplined about making better passing decisions. She and Sade (Morris) both turned the ball over too much. They also have the ball in their hands a whole lot. How we run our offense will change a little bit. We will reduce the number of times that those two have to make decisions and make several reads where they should not have to do that. We will put that more on our point guard position.”

On improving three-point shooting this season:

‘We’ve asked them to shoot more. Those kids talked about it in the offseason, and spending more time behind the three. Our kids have done that and have used the gun (a machine that kicks it back out to them and rebounds and kicks it back out to them.) We’ve worn that out. They spent a lot of time behind the arc. I think Kelly (Kohn) is back more towards where she was her freshman year in her ability to get outside behind the three and let us kick to her after having such a difficult struggle, injury-plagued, confidence-plagued, sophomore year. I think Danielle is a capable three-point shooter. Sade is shooting the threes better than she was when she got here. Angel shoots the three well. There are a handful of kids who are capable from behind the line. But we need to, more importantly, get to the free-throw line in transition. We didn’t do that. We have to score more in transition, score more from the free-throw line, and that happens because you’re going in transition and going to the glass. If we can improve in those three areas, our offensive numbers will probably be up 10, easily up 10 points per game.”

On Angel taking pressure off Danielle and Sade:

“She’s a playmaker. She’s someone who should, I really believe, get Danielle uncontested shots, get Krysten uncontested shots. In practice this morning she got Porscha an uncontested shot, Sade an uncontested shot. She’s good enough to beat her guy, make the next guy play her, and drop a pretty nice pass or take a pretty good shot. She did both of those things today. She can get inside a defense. She has that ability, and makes good decisions.”

On Danielle:

“She’s been a kid who we’ve posted, who shoots the three, who we depend on to rebound the basketball. I think she’s been a capable defender. I think she’s capable of much more. I think she’s been an average defender, and I think she’s capable of being a better than average defender. She’s a kid who has tremendous confidence, and she’s a team player. She’s not afraid to take a big shot, she wants the big shot. She’s also a great teammate and shares the basketball. She has handled that load here. She has also handled being a pretty good player from 30 minutes down the road (Kansas City area) and all the attention that comes with that. That’s something that we embrace and are excited about, but sometimes that’s not easy either. I think she’s handled that well.”

On if watching the NCAA Selection show motivates the players:

“The staff does it every year, but we hadn’t done it yet with our players until last year. They understood the message that we were really that close. Consistency from media timeout to media timeout, from half to half, from game to game, and then the discipline and toughness to finish a game, to get a stop or find a way to score. One, we weren’t convinced that they really understood how the whole thing worked anyway, so it was probably an educational session as much as anything, but also when they looked at teams like Xavier getting in and Nebraska getting in, teams we had beaten, teams that were one possession games, and just the excitement of all of it. There was excitement playing in the WNIT, but certainly not what it is playing in the NCAA Tournament. We wanted them to understand the opportunity there and how close we were but didn’t take care of business. But then we had the opportunity to at least play again in the WNIT, and be excited about that.”

On a player comparison for Angel Goodrich:

“I think her personality is a little like Russell Robinson. She’s not going to be the loudest voice in the gym, but she communicates by gestures. She’s not a cheerleader, she takes care of her business, her teammates look up to her. They trust her, but she is not going to be the loudest voice in the gym. When they huddle up, she’ll give them directions, she’ll know what to say, they’ll trust her basketball IQ. All that kid has done her entire life is win, and they respect that about her. Playmaking, I think she is a little bit like, and I’m going to go NBA on you, the Chris Paul guy from the Hornets. As much as stature and how small he is and he plays in a big league. You put her and Krysten next to each other and it’s nearly comical. The size difference there. But she has an ability, even in the lane, to get her shoulders by you and still score. She’s played on a national level in a summer program. She has had great experience playing against some of the best post players at the high school level who eventually could potentially be in our league, or are already in our league when she was younger. We’ve watched her since she was in the ninth grade. Also, her ability to get in the paint and make a pass that most point guards can’t make.”

On Angel handling the pressure:

“We talked to her about not getting caught up in any conversation that ‘you’re here to save us.’ The pressure is on the kids who are returning. Anything that we get out of that kid, who is very capable of a lot, is going to be gravy, especially her freshman year and handling that transition. The pressure is on Danielle, Sade, Kristen, LaChelda, Ivana. Those kids that have been here forever that should help her turn the corner. She’s not going to be driving the bus right away. She might be in the front seat and eventually kick somebody out, but those kids have to help her make the transition. Has there been a lot made out of her? Sure, how many kids have had that kind of success? To win at that level and have that kind of success and handle herself like she has, but we’re not caught up in that and she is certainly not caught up in that. She came here to be a difference maker and a program changer. I’m not going to try to tell her anything different than that. She has handled her first day to today as well as any freshman has, pressure or no pressure. Angel wants to win, she wants to help us win, and whatever role that is for her, she will embrace it.”

On if Angel will start right away:

“Not right away. We’ve had two practices, she’s played really well. I’m not saying she wouldn’t, but she knows she has to earn that. Should she have goals to do that? She better. That’s why she’s here. Would I be shocked if it happened? No, but I know she has to beat two kids who are going to try to keep that position to themselves between Ivana and LaChelda. If she does, then she’s playing awfully well if she’s going to beat a senior and a junior out. That’s pretty good news for us.”

On how Krysten has progressed over the summer:

“She had a really good summer. She was here at the June session, which we were excited about. It was just more time with Coach Hudy and in the gym with her teammates. Then she traveled with her Canadian junior national team over to China and played the Chinese Olympic team. Their center is 6-10, so she got some quality competition training with her team and then playing three games against their Olympic team. Her strength numbers are bigger, she’s a little bit more defined.”

On if Aishah can make an impact:

“She can, she’s tremendously athletic. I told her, there’s not many players I’ve coached who can hang around the rim and hang on the rim. Everyone wants to lob it to her and see if she can dunk it. She’s trying to, but she hasn’t yet. She can also stand out there an knock down the three. I’ve never coached a kid that you could say those two things about the same kid. She just has to get her footwork right. She’s been great on the boards, She’s been through two practices and led us in offensive rebounding. If she can do that right away, go aggressively, go rebound it and finish it, then she could contribute because we need someone on the glass.”

On where Aishah fits in:

“At that little big position, what we call Nicollette’s (Smith) position. She won’t catch and shoot it like Nic, but she can drive it and make a play. She’s a very good passer off the dribble, and she has athleticism and skill. She is in the mix, absolutely. Especially as well as she has been rebounding the ball lately.”

On how Danielle benefitted from attending a point guard camp:

“Not to play the point, obviously. Ivana had gone the year before. What Danielle got out of that, more than anything, was the mental aspect of it, her ability to communicate. She actually came to me about it. She had talked to Ivana about it, and talked to someone else who had been to it before, so her family was in support of it, and she had to finance the whole trip and the whole camp herself down in Dallas. I think from a leadership standpoint and being a good teammate, not that she was ever a bad teammate, but being a better teammate and trying to help and be more vocal and try to help players. She took about 30 pages of notes, and I have them in my office. I’ve looked through them and there are some very interesting things that they talked about, concepts that we teach that we may refer to differently or different language, but she has come back and has been voted captain. She didn’t get a vote last year, and she was voted captain this year by her peers.”

On if there is urgency to get the program over the hump:

“Absolutely. There isn’t a more miserable job in America when you lose than this one. You wake up with it, go to bed with it, walk in every day with it, go to the grocery store with it. That’s 365 days a year. I came here to turn it around, I came here to win. I’ve won everywhere I’ve been, and I have confidence and pride that we are doing it the right way. We have good kids in here, we have to get over the hump. I said earlier, the three words we’ll throw around everyday are consistency, discipline and toughness. That’s what we have to have to be able to finish those games that we have a chance in.”

On if she feels motivated by being predicted ninth in the Big 12:

“This year was probably the most difficult vote for every coach in the league I would think. Everyone other than Iowa State and Oklahoma lost one significant starter. Those two didn’t lose anybody. There are a lot of great players back in the league. Our league, more than any league in the country, has more returning players. In this league, top to bottom, most of us have four starters back.”

On if this year a team picked ninth or tenth can finish second or third:

“Absolutely. It didn’t really surprise me what K-State did last year. That wasn’t a shock to me. It’s hard, maybe one or two of the picks are obvious but the rest, you’re like well, do they play that one at home or that one away. You start splitting hairs to figure out where to put people.”

Senior Guard Ivana Catic

On if the number nine preseason ranking in the Big 12 is fair:

“We were good at times last year and inconsistent at times and that is what everyone can see. What they can’t see is us working hard in the offseason, working hard in the summer and now during preseason. I think we really got better and developed more consistency. As Coach has said before, the core of our team isn’t freshmen and sophomores now; it is more upperclassmen with the great addition of the two freshmen. I think we are definitely going to do better than ninth. That’s our goal.”

On what she worked on personally in the offseason:

“I did a lot of shooting and a lot of dribbling. I tried to keep my dribble low and more efficient, so I am able to cover more ground with fewer dribbles. Shooting was something that I was good at early in last season, but I didn’t keep my consistency through the Big 12, so that was my emphasis, working on threes and shots off the dribble.”

On who will be the biggest surprise on this year’s team:

“I think the two freshmen (Angel Goodrich and Aishah Sutherland); they are going to have to adjust just like everyone else has, but I think they are really going to be good. I think Kelly kind of struggled last year, but I think she will really step up this year. She has been doing great in workouts. You never really know with this group though, it really is somebody else every time we play, so I hope we are going to have everyone step up at some point in the season.”

On the goals she has for her senior season:

“Going to the NCAA Tournament, which was something we talked about when I first got here. That one of the main goals and we haven’t done it, so I really want to do it for the girls, for the fans, and for the coaches.”

On if there is a certain team she is looking forward to playing in her last season:

“When you play in the Big 12 everyone is good, so you can’t really take a game off because everyone is competitive. I am just looking forward to playing in the Big 12, because you are going to get everyone’s best effort every time you play them.”

Senior Forward Marija Zinic

On what she worked on to improve from last year:

“I worked a lot on getting stronger and getting in better shape. I also did work on my explosiveness to help me improve my game.”

On the goals of the team this year:

“We definitely want to go to the NCAA Tournament this year. We just want to get better from the last couple of years and whatever is possible for us we hope to do.”

On becoming more of a leader this year:

“Well I need to as a senior. I know that Ivana (Catic), Katie (Smith), and myself have the most experience on this team. We have been here for three years and we know what the coaches expect from us. We are definitely going to try and help the younger players. Give them as much energy and enthusiasm as possible.

On who will surprise people the most this season:

“I think that everyone worked really hard this summer and you can’t really pick one person because everyone is going to step up.”

On being picked ninth in the Big 12:

“Well we definitely want to try and do better than where we are picked.”

On what parts of the game will help make the team better:

“I think we are playing with more energy now and playing better defense in the past. If we can find ways to score easier and we worked on it a lot playing pick-up games all summer and I think that is going to improve a lot.”

Junior guard LaChelda Jacobs

On what she worked on in the off season:

“I worked on my jumper and my outside perimeter game. I’m usually more of a slash to the basket, take it to the rim type of player. So I’ve really been trying to develop my jump shot a lot more.”

On her hopes for the Jayhawks this season:

“We can only go up from here, since we finished 11th (in the Big 12) last year. They ranked us ninth this year, so we were excited about that. We’re going to try to go out and play better in the conference and make it farther in the Big 12 tournament. We just want to have a good season.”

On who will be the biggest surprise this year:

“I think both of the freshmen will have a big impact. Angel Goodrich is just a great point guard who makes some incredible passes. Aishah Sutherland is so athletic and has so much potential. In practice today, she blocked a shot and made some shots. I think as the years go on she can just get so much better.”

On how the team has improved from last year:

“I think our chemistry is really good. We’ve all come together and we’re older now. There are five juniors now so the majority of the team is no longer freshmen and sophomores. I think that has really helped our chemistry.”

Junior Point Guard Kelly Kohn

On what she worked on in the off-season to improve her game:

“I worked on a lot of things in the off-season to improve my game. One of the things that I really focused on was to try and improve the consistency of my shot. Bonnie talked to me a lot this summer about improving my shot off the dribble.”

On the team’s goals for the season:

“Our first goal, first and foremost, is to make the NCAA Tournament. We came up short of making the tournament last year and achieving our goal, so that is definitely at the top of the list. We would also like to improve upon our ranking in the Big 12 as much as possible. Preseason we are ranked ninth and I know that our whole team knows we can be a lot better than that and that is something that we want to prove.”

On if the Jayhawks ranking is the Big 12 is fair:

“They have their own opinions and they have to make some assumptions based on last year, but we have a lot to prove and with our new freshmen coming in, I think we will be able to prove that we are better than ninth.”

On what player will surprise the most this year:

“We are all very excited about the two freshmen that we have. I think they will both do good things for us. Angel (Goodrich) at the point guard has caught on very quickly to things and I think she is going to excel early on. Aishah (Sutherland) will bring some athleticism to the post and she will really help our rebounding.”

On where the team will be most improved this year:

“Probably our maturity level. This is the first year since I have been here where the majority of our team hasn’t been underclassmen. We know how to progress during the season and we come in with expectations.”

Junior Forward Porscha Weddington

On how she is improving as a player:

“Just continue to focus on getting better everyday and continue to make sure that I am finishing around the rim. I’m working on getting a lot stronger and in better shape.”

On how the team can avoid losing close games this season:

“For me, just remember to have bench energy and remember that when my name is called that I do everything right so we can win. As a team we’ve been working a lot harder and getting more in shape, getting a lot stronger and individually working on our skills.”

On being picked to finish ninth in the Big 12:

“We’ve got to continue not being caught up in that and continue to work on winning.”

On how she has helped the freshman:

“I’ve helped them out while running, managing their schedules, making sure they are going to things on times, and now that practice is starting helping them focus.”

On goals for the team and for herself:

“Making the tournament is always our goal. I just want to continue to improve everyday.”

Junior Forward Danielle McCray

On if this is going to be her breakout season:

“It needs to be for me. I set some individual goals, but they aren’t completely set yet. That is going to come when I start playing. I think it needs to be and is going to be. If I keep doing what I need to be doing and practicing hard everyday and being consistent, it should come together.”

On her mother as a role model:

“If my mom accomplishes something, she looks for the next thing she can accomplish. I feel that that has rubbed off on me. When I accomplish something I don’t dwell on it, I move to the next thing. I think her hard work and never giving up has rubbed off on me.”

On why she attended point guard college:

“It was all about the leadership aspect. Point guards are leaders. They have to know how to control their team. They always have the ball in their hands. I went to take advantage of the leadership parts. I took notes on it. It was a good experience. I learned how to talk to my teammates when situations are bad and how to bring my teammates up. Ever since high school I have been a ‘lead by example’ person. I was never talkative. I just had to get out of that since this year I am basically the leader of the team from a captain stand point. I just needed someone else’s thoughts. I feel like I have been saying some of the stuff I learned while we were in workouts.”

On how she has helped the freshman:

“In the beginning of workouts I told them they were doing way better than I was my freshman year. I just kept comparing my freshman year to their freshman year. I kept telling them that they are going to be really good. And I’ve been giving them helpful information that I’ve learned from the coaches.”

On avoiding close losses:

“We have to learn how to get over the hump. Once everything starts going bad, it keeps going bad. If something goes wrong, we need to get over that and hopefully pull away.”

Junior Forward Rebecca Feickert

On where she hopes to improve this year:

“I think one thing that I really want to improve on this year is getting rid of my shot quicker. I have been working very hard on that so that I can just catch and shoot and be ready to shoot at all times.”

On reaching the team goals for this season:

“I think that we are closer as a team now than we have been at any point in my career. We all have a lot of self-confidence now and a lot of confidence in each other and that will really help us to be successful this year and down the road.”

On having the same core of players for several years:

“I remember my freshman year when we started out with seven players in my class and just that deer in the headlights look that we all had in practice not knowing what to expect and what the Big 12 is like. Now after three years we know how each other acts and reacts to things which really helps. The bonds and friendships that we have made has created a lot of stability for us and it will help us.”

On what she knows now that she didn’t know when we she first got to KU:

“I would say the intensity because this is just a completely different level. The speed of the game is just so much faster than it was in high school. Every person on the floor is so talented and you have to be able to do something that sets yourself apart. Bonnie always talks about owning something where in high school we were all-stars on our respective teams and we all owned everything.”

On her plans after college basketball:

“As of now I am going to graduate a year early with my undergraduate in accounting. Then I will have one year of eligibility left to play basketball and I am going to get my masters in accounting. Then following that I want to go law school and hopefully work for a Big Four firm in international tax.”

Sophomore forward Nicollette Smith

On working on her game in the offseason:

“I’ve worked on creating more for my teammates, driving and kicking more for my teammates, and being able to bring more to the court than just stepping outside and shooting. I’d like to be able to do more than that.”

On the team goals for the season:

“We would like to finish in the top six in the Big 12 and go to the NCAA Tournament, and win a lot more on the road than we did last year.”

On this year’s surprise player:

“I think Angel’s going to be a big surprise because I think people will look at her and see how small she is and think she might struggle, but she won’t struggle at all. She’s going to be really good this year.”

On pre-season rankings:

“I think that’s fair based on our performance last year, especially on the road last year and in the Big 12 because we didn’t win very much in the Big 12. But at the same time, I feel like, just knowing our team and how good we are and knowing the talent we bring to the court, we’ll definitely end up higher.”

On the team’s improvement:

“I think we’ll have a lot better team chemistry this year. We’ve grown closer as a team.”

Freshman guard Angel Goodrich

On her transition to college:

“It’s a big change from high school. I have to get used to everything. I’m just trying to get where I’m really comfortable with my team and comfortable with the feel of the game.”

On the upcoming season:

“We want to finish in the top six in the Big 12. We’ve also been talking about going as far as we can in the Big 12 tournament. I just want to make a difference on the team. I came to this program to help. I think I’ll have a chance to contribute right away and that’s the reason I came to KU.”

On her Native American background:

“I know a lot of people who go to Haskell (University), and my best friend goes there. So I’ve spent some time visiting and hanging out there. They’ve told me that they will come to some games. I think with it (Haskell) being so close to KU, it’s a really cool thing for me as a Native American.”

Coach Katie O’Connor

On her coaching transition from the post to the wing:

“I think I’m comfortable in either spot. I’m probably more natural at the wing position only because that’s the position I played collegiately, so I think that kind of gives me a different look at things, and I’m excited to work with the kids that I have. Obviously you watch the whole floor when you coach, but I’m excited about the talent we have in that position and the opportunity to help develop that.”

On her players’ pre-season developments:

“I think we’ve had a really good pre-season, especially at the wing position. We understand that we’re going to be relied on to be a core group, and I think they have done a good job of attacking that. The players have made great strides in terms of being in the gym on their own in the summer and the fall, and obviously in the scheduled work outs we have here in the fall.”

On pre-season rankings:

“I think nobody knows what’s going to happen until the season starts, and I think that’s where we look to prove ourselves, look at it that way, really attack it from the start, and see where we wind up at the end of the year.”

Assistant Coach Karen Lange

On how Danielle has improved since attending point guard college:

“I think what she took away from that camp the most was learning how to be a leader and learning how to vocally be a leader. That’s something that she has struggled to bring out of herself. We’ve talked to her about learning how to say the right things and learning when to say the right things. Once she does that more, our point guards will understand that better. Especially Angel who is new to our program this year, it will really help her as far as when we tell her to speak more, Danielle will be able to give her examples.”

On how she handles her newborn child and coaching:

“This is my second child. I have a three-year old and now a three-month old. It’s been great. The only way that I can do it is that I have an unbelievable husband who’s extremely supportive and a great dad. I’m lucky in that regard because it’s difficult. He’s the reason I am able to do it.”

On freshman point guard Angel Goodrich:

“She’s doing great. She’s getting better and better every week. You can tell she’s getting more comfortable every week. She’s adjusting to everything that has to do with being a freshman in college. She’s eager to learn and eager to compete. I think she’s going to be a great dimension to our program.”

On Ivana Catic helping freshman Angel Goodrich:

“Ivana has been great. You can’t say enough good things about Ivana and her leadership since she has been here and how much she has been helping Angel. That’s just a credit to Ivana and who she is as a person.”

Assistant Coach Tamika Raymond

On her transition to Kansas:

“It has been pretty easy. The kids have worked really hard and the coaching staff has been very good to me going above and beyond to make me feel as comfortable as possible. They have helped me familiarize myself with the area and finding a place to live. On the court I am trying to figure what is going on, who is who and the style of play.”

On transitioning from a player to a coach:

“I think that was a lot harder for me when I was younger, but now it is a lot easier. The hard part for me this year is that it a new program, new kids and a new area for me. That is hardest part for me right is just getting to know who everyone is.”

On her WNBA season:

“It was great. We were picked to finish second to last in the East and we were able to finish in second. We got upset in the first round of the playoffs, but I love the franchise and got a chance to play with some old players who I played with in college. Overall it was a great year.”

On comparing the WNBA style of play to the Big 12:

“It is probably about the same because most of the players that play in the Big 12 seem to play in the WNBA. I think both are about getting up and down the floor. All the players are very athletic and fast. The Big 12 is the premiere conference in America right now.”

On the Big Ten compared to the Big 12:

“It is a little bit slower. The Big Ten is more of a half court game. The Big 12 is a lot more up and down the court. The Big 12 has great coaches. It is not just top heavy all the coaches are very good coaches. Seven or eight teams usually make the NCAA Tournament and it is just a different level of play with great coaches.”