Jayhawks Stand Tall On Defense And Rebounding

Nov. 15, 2010


With three players in the starting lineup standing 6-foot-1 or taller and three more on the roster with a height of at least 6-foot-2, Kansas is making its size known early on in the 2010-11 season. After recording a total of 19 blocks in the two exhibition games, the Jayhawks rejected 10 South Dakota shots Sunday afternoon, their most for a single game in six years.

Jayhawk 6-foot-3 sophomore Carolyn Davis tied her career high with five, while 6-foot-5 senior Krysten Boogaard blocked three shots for the 12th time in her career. KU 6-foot-2 junior Aishah Sutherland had the other two rejections, her 17th game with multiple blocks.

South Dakota head coach Ryun Robinson admitted that KU’s size affected his team.

“Their athleticism and length disrupted what we wanted to do,” said Robinson. “They are a very good basketball team. Their size and length is hard to deal with.”

Kansas head coach Bonnie Henrickson says her team’s ability to block shots is not just based on the players’ height.

“Our length bothers some people,” said Henrickson, who collected her fifth-straight season-opening win Sunday. “Carolyn is long. Krysten is long. Those players are really long if you measure them fingertip to fingertip. Aishah has good length, but I think she also elevates really well and plays bigger than she is. I think we have used our length to try to alter shots. Sometimes we’re not even trying to block it, but we get a hand on it.”

Kansas used its size advantage against South Dakota to gain an edge on the boards as well, out-rebounding the Coyotes 53-33. The 20-rebound margin was something the Jayhawks achieved only three times last season. Davis, who tied for the team lead with seven rebounds, said that Henrickson has made rebounding a big focus for this year’s squad.

“We have been doing a lot of rebounding drills in practice,” said Davis, who averaged 14.0 rebounds per game during exhibition play. “I think that has really been helping us out. I also think that a lot more people are going to the boards, which is helping the team get bigger numbers.”

Two other Jayhawks tied Davis with seven rebounds – Sutherland and 5-foot-7 freshman guard Keena Mays. Redshirt freshman Tania Jackson said that rebounding as a team, including the guards, has been worked on a lot in practice.

“Coach (Henrickson) puts a lot of emphasis on rebounding,” said Jackson, who led KU with 13 points against South Dakota. “That is one of the things we want to focus on for the whole season. I know Keena had seven boards. It’s important for our guards to go out there and crash the boards as well.”

Davis thinks that Mays’ effort on the glass will pay big dividends later in the season.

“She’s really good,” said Jackson. “We talk about sending four people to the boards, and a lot of the younger players are owning up to that. That will be really good for us in conference play.”

Last year, Kansas’ record was 18-3 when it out-rebounded its opponent, a trend the Jayhawks hope will continue this season as they focus on taking advantage of their length on defense.

Kansas will return to action when it plays host to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at 8 p.m., in Allen Fieldhouse on Wednesday, Nov. 17. The KU-TAMUCC game was originally scheduled for 7 p.m., but was moved to the later start time to accommodate the Kansas-Baylor volleyball match, which will be played at 6 p.m., in the Horejsi Family Athletics Center.