KU Women Participate in Big 12 Media Day Event in Dallas

Oct. 25, 2012

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DALLAS — Kansas head women’s basketball coach Bonnie Henrickson and Wade Trophy Watch List members Carolyn Davis and Angel Goodrich were on hand Thursday at the annual Big 12 Media Day event at American Airlines Center in Dallas. Henrickson addressed the media in a brief Q&A session from the arena floor. The transcript follows:

THE MODERATOR: Coach, your opening thoughts?

COACH HENRICKSON: Great to be here. Good to see everyone. It’s that time of year for all of us. It’s hard to believe it’s here, but I’m excited it’s here. We have an opportunity for an exhibition game on Sunday, and we’ll be as game ready as we can be here in the next couple of days.

But I’m really excited about the group we have. Returning Carolyn Davis from the ACL injury in the middle of February. An opportunity to coach a special point guard like Angel Goodrich for another year into her fifth year, her senior year.

Monica Engelman is back to the old Monica, struggled a little bit her junior year, and has really bounced back, back to sophomore form, which was really important for us. I think at that point she led the league in field goal percentage and had a really, really good sophomore campaign, and back to her old self. That will be important for us with Sutherland able to pick up some of the offensive numbers that Aishah was able to put up for us as a power forward last year and a senior.

Now we have a sophomore class that is bound to experience as freshmen. When Carolyn went down, Chelsea Gardner who is from DeSoto High School here, and Bunny Williams from Duncanville High School here. Both of those two posts came in and played critical minutes, and critical in that run for us in the NCAA Tournament.

Natalie Knight who is so consistent for us as a freshman from Kansas City, arguably the best freshman campaign of any kid I’ve had from a consistency standpoint, reliability standpoint.

And Asia Boyd being with Bunny Williams, probably two of our most improved players in the season last year. Both of those two kids, Asia’s from Detroit, Michigan, and both of those two much improved. To have an opportunity to get on the floor and stay on the floor for us early.

Q. When Carolyn went down last year, it seemed like the rest of your team circled the wagon as they made the run toward the tournament and won in the NCAA. Just talk about what that experience did getting her back to that nucleus that did so well down the stretch?

COACH HENRICKSON: I think with the sheer number of players Angel to me did the lion’s share of the work and grabbed Aishah Sutherland and said, you and I need to play at another level and hope these young kids will try to catch us. But that freshman class from last year that are sophomores now, invaluable for them from a confidence standpoint, from an understanding expectations standpoint, and a want to to get back to that and play at that level and play more consistently at that level throughout the year.

I can tell we’re more competitive in practice. They demand more from themselves and each other. And that started, quite honestly, when the tournament was over. Within 24 hours, we had a bunch of those guys back in the gym. There hadn’t been much dust that had settled, and that work has continued until we started.

Q. I know you have a little history with West Virginia from your days at Tech. I’m just curious about your thoughts. You’ve coached against Mike before and them coming into the conference?

COACH HENRICKSON: Of course I was giving him a hard time. The first time I watched him on film his first year, and my staff said would you stop watching him? And I said he’s kind of animated. He’s fun to watch. He promised me he’s toned down a little bit.

But I’ve been on the West Virginia Turnpike up to Morgantown a few times being from Blacksburg. But when you look at his team and I’ve watched them in the NCAA Tournament and Big East games, long, athletic and physical. A lot like for us in the league who Texas A&M was at half court. Probably big and long, really, 1 through 5 as we have in the conference. Played at a high level and played in a great league. Talking to him and being able to compare some of the teams in our league to some of the teams he had in the Big East was fair for his mindset and for his kids to get them ready for it. Mike does a great job, and they’ve done nothing but win under his leadership.

I’m here to tell everybody they shoot the gun too. I’ve tried to warn our volleyball team. They do. They got me the first time.

Q. Your team was one of five other teams in the Big 12 that won at least 20 games last year. That’s only half as much as Baylor. When you look at what Baylor has returning, is it fair to say it’s almost a race for second place this year?

COACH HENRICKSON: The good thing about the Big 12, the last I checked, they’re going to let us play them. They’re going to let us play. So I don’t think it’s a give and give and give. The likelihood of what they have returning and how good they are, certainly I’m joking with you there.

But I think all of us will make the most of our opportunity to step on the floor and tip it up and play against arguably the best team in America. There’s no doubt about that. But there are a handful of us that it will be a dog fight to finish either right around them in second, third or fourth.

But that’s the quality of competition like it has been in every year I’ve been in this league, certainly night in, night out. There are just no days off. Our kids understand that and all the players in this league understand that.

Q. You talk about West Virginia, what do you think TCU brings to the league?
COACH HENRICKSON: We saw them a few years ago in the Bahamas, and the personnel has changed, but Jeff has done a great job offensively. He’s creative. I’ve got great respect for what he does. He doesn’t have to be the same thing every year. He tweaks it enough to who he has in his program, and to give them a chance to be successful.

He’s got a couple of transfers. A couple from our league, honestly, that will help them get better. He’s got size and length and athleticism. I think trying to space the floor, spread it, shoot the three. Defensively they’ve always been a team that doesn’t beat themselves. They stay in games, and don’t make mistakes offensively.

Having had the opportunity a few years ago in the Bahamas, but having been able to watch him from afar and being in this area has paid attention to them. But he does a great job. Being in the league will really help them.

Q. You talked about Carolyn’s injury and what she went through. Obviously ACL can be a little problematic. She’s such an athletic player as well. I was curious what have you seen from her so far, how is the rehab coming along, and what do you expect from her this season?

COACH HENRICKSON: She’s not a hundred percent right now. If she was up here, she’d tell you the same thing. She’s maybe on the North side of 80, in the middle of 80. When she got into the workouts in August with us where she’s cleared to get on the floor and go through drills. I just smiled and shook my head at her. Nothing’s wrong. You just make it look so easy, and she makes every shot she takes and still does that. And she’s in practice. We scrimmaged yesterday. She played 15 minutes strong. She’s not as explosive and all of that coming back. She’s not in game shape, but that will come. That will be part of her process for her.

But she’s confident. She’s excited. Her teammates couldn’t be more excited. When she scored, the place went nuts. So it was good to see her back again.

But when you think about what Carolyn does really well, she rim runs as well as anybody in the country. There is nothing about her injury that will change either one of those two things. Once she gets in shape. She’s not running like she will yet because she’s not in game shape, but she catches everything they throw at her. She finishes around the rim and makes it look simple.

Q. You beat Delaware with this great player. How do you take that momentum into this season having a player that is heralded so much?

COACH HENRICKSON: Right. I think from a confidence standpoint and an expectation of the level our kids want to play in night in and night out, and you have to play at that level in this league. But keep in mind how much the Big 12 Conference and the competitiveness in our league helped us make that run. Because we could turn every team we played (into a Big 12 foe). We turned Nebraska into certain teams in our league. We turned Delaware into certain teams in our league. We turned Tennessee into certain teams in our league. That gave our players tremendous confidence right away. Being able to get on the floor and say we’re in a little mini Big 12 Tournament right here in terms of the competition.

As I said earlier, Angel did the lion’s share of that work. She made plays and got people in contested shots and made great decisions. But she got those young players to play at another level, and that’s what she continues to do today. But from a confidence standpoint, I think that is the most important thing we’re able to take with us from last spring.