Mays Makes Most of Starting Nod

Dec. 8, 2011

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Sophomore Keena Mays came out on a hot streak against Wisconsin Thursday night, pouring in 14 of her 17 points in the first half. Her 17 points were just four shy of her career-high 21 points, which she hit against Alabama less than a week earlier. That performance, along with consistency in practice, earned Mays her first start of the season versus the Badgers.

“She earned it,” head coach Bonnie Henrickson said. “She’s produced, she’s practiced well, she’s been who I thought all along she can be and she’s continued to get better and better. She’s practiced really, really well, which we talked about that last week and that’s important. She’s a playmaker, she shoots the three well, she went to the glass really hard and defensively she was really good. It’s all about production and practice and she’s been able to answer both of those.”

The 5-7 guard from Arlington, Texas tried to contain her excitement after the game but couldn’t help but smile knowing that she impressed the coaches this week. Mays knows that just because she started tonight’s game, doesn’t mean she can slack off.

“I’ve wanted to have a starting spot since the beginning of the season,” Mays said. “I proved this week that I can be the player she needs me to be. I just need to practice like Coach (Bonnie) Henrickson told me to and be consistent because that is a big thing with coach.”

Mays found the outside shots easily when Wisconsin double-teamed junior forward Carolyn Davis, netting eight points in less than a three minutes span during the first half. Mays went 5-for-7 from the field in the opening frame, including 2-for-3 behind the arc. Having shots fall would prove beneficial for the Jayhawks when their forwards were more of a focus for the Badgers.

“Every team is going to scout Carolyn and double-team her in the post all season so all of the guards need to hit shots outside,” Mays said. “I was open a lot in the first half; they gave me a lot of open looks and shots were falling for me.”

Staying consistent is being drilled into Mays’ head because she knows that she needs to keep competing and be aggressive in order to play more minutes and be in the coach’s mind for a starting spot.

“I’ve probably played every role on the team and it’s only the beginning of the season,” Mays said. “It means a lot to me to start; obviously I wasn’t playing in the early games because I wasn’t practicing hard and I wasn’t competing, but hopefully now I can just stay consistent.”

Mays hopes to continue being competitive and will look to start again when the Jayhawks take on UMKC in Lawrence, Kan., Saturday, Dec. 17 at 7 p.m.