Versatile Frontcourt Primed For A Solid Season
Oct. 31, 2011
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Despite the drop in temperature of yet another Kansas autumn, Allen Fieldhouse is just getting warmed up. With a seating capacity of 16,300, the storied Kansas arena is just about ready to host its ravenous fans for the 2011-12 season.
And the frontcourt is ready to take center stage on the hardwood in the Phog. Kansas head coach Bonnie Henrickson has a very impressive group of forwards on her roster this year. Returning players include senior Aishah Sutherland, junior Carolyn Davis and sophomore Tania Jackson.
Davis finished last season as an All-Big 12 First Team selection and will most likely be the focal point of a strong Kansas frontcourt. After averaging 19 points per game last season on offense, Davis and her teammates have turned the focus to defense in practice.
“We have worked on zone and doubling defensively more than we have in the past,” said Coach Henrickson. “It’s good for Carolyn and all of our bigs to face that and handle it offensively and defensively.”
Both Jackson and Sutherland have worked on extending their range during the summer break to become capable jump shooters and a threat away from the basket. The emphasis in practice, however, has been for both Jackson and Sutherland to create an open shot off the dribble.
“They have got to put the ball on the floor because they both have to get to the free throw line more,” said Henrickson.
While Jackson has been a vocal leader since she walked into the gym, Coach Henrickson is looking toward the lone senior, Sutherland, to take part in directing the young Jayhawks. Sutherland has been leading by example, impressing coaches in the weight room and with her natural athleticism. A more vocal role for Sutherland would be beneficial for directing the younger players.
“With her experience as a senior we need for her voice to stand out and get people in the right spot,” said Henrickson.
The Jayhawks have added two new post players that bring size to KU’s already strong roster. The new additions include 6-foot-1 freshman Bunny Williams and 6-foot-3 freshman Chelsea Gardner.
“Bunny is a really good rebounder,” said Coach Henrickson. “She is physical. She can post up offensively and get on the defender and stay on them, which for a young player, is really impressive.”
“Chelsea is long defensively,” Henrickson said. “Because of her length and determination, she has more room for error on defense.”
Both have been impressive in practice early on this season which has stood out to Henrickson. With the physical nature of their position it can be more difficult for post players to get acclimated to college basketball according to Coach Henrickson. Each day in practice the freshmen have the unenviable task of facing up against three talented and experienced forwards in Davis, Jackson and Sutherland.
“What I like is that they’re both playing really hard every day and trying to get it right,” Henrickson said of the team’s new post players.
The Jayhawks look to improve on last year’s record of 21-13 with their versatile lineup of post players. Coach Henrickson knows that her team is just as hungry as she is to take the court.
“As a group they have really grown to where they demand a lot from each other and that has been fun to watch,” Henrickson concluded.
Kansas women’s basketball opens its 2011-12 season Wednesday, Nov. 2 in an exhibition game versus Emporia State. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. in Allen Fieldhouse.