🏀 2019-20 Season in Review

It was an abrupt and emotional end to the 2019-20 season due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States; but the Kansas women’s basketball team has a lot to look forward to heading into 2020-21. Not only is the team coming off its first winning season in seven years (15-14), but Kansas is also looking back on a season in which it got off to its best start (11-0) since head coach Brandon Schneider took over the program in 2015-16. The Jayhawks posted an undefeated regular season against nonconference opponents and qualified for postseason play for the first time since 2013.

The Jayhawks garnered their best home record under Schneider, collecting an 11-6 ledger inside Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas’ win over Big12/SEC Challenge opponent Florida highlighted the nonconference portion of the schedule while posting conference wins over Texas Tech, Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in Big 12 play.

Kansas held a 4-14 mark in league play, which gave KU its best showing in five seasons. After getting their first Big 12 victory over Texas Tech on Jan.18, the Jayhawks stunned the Longhorns of Texas in Allen Fieldhouse (2/15/19), one of their 11 wins in the historic building. The triumph over Texas was the Jayhawks’ first time defeating the Longhorns since 2013. KU claimed two more wins to round out the conference season.

The team, which finished .517 overall, was led by a handful of players throughout the season. As one of the youngest teams in the country, the Jayhawks returned six players (two seniors, three sophomores and one junior) and received seven newcomers (five freshmen and two transfers). Throughout nonconference and the first half of league play, six players averaged double figures in points. Kansas ended the season with five in double-digit scoring.

Leading the scoring effort was sophomore Aniya Thomas. The 5-foot-7 guard wrapped up the 2019-20 slate averaging 12.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.0 steals per game. The Duncanville, Texas, native averaged double-figures throughout the season where she poured in 20 or more points in four games and 10 or more points on 19-of-29 occasions. Thomas posted a career-best 28 points when the Jayhawks faced TCU on Feb. 28, and a week later netted her first double-double at Texas Tech (2/12/19) with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Thomas was not the only guard making waves in the backcourt for Kansas this season. The underclassmen showed their might and were led by two crafty guards, Holly Kersgieter and Zakiyah Franklin, who in their own right each had a standout freshman year. First-year guard Franklin nabbed the second-best scoring average on the team with 12.1 points per game and dished out a staggering 3.6 assists per game. Franklin led the Jayhawks in assists totaling 103 in her first year wearing the Crimson and Blue. Franklin scored double-figures in 20 games, which was highlighted by three 20-plus point outings. She also led her team on eight different occasions. Out of those eight, she posted a career-best 25 points versus Oklahoma on Feb. 2, the second-highest among her teammates. Franklin capped off her freshman year by becoming the third player in program history to be named a Big 12 All-Freshman Team selection.

Kersgieter kicked off the season by posting the first double-double in the first contest against Indiana State (11/7/19). The Sand Springs, Oklahoma, native scored a career-high 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. The freshman’s dominant performance earned her the Big 12 Player and Freshman of the Week honors, a first for the program since 2015. Kersgieter also led KU from beyond the arc, shooting a team-best .405 3-point field goal %. Kersgieter finished the season as one of the five Jayhawks to average double-figure points with 10.1 points per game.

Junior transfer Tina Stephens made a huge impact in the paint for Kansas. The 6-foot-2 forward played a big role in KU’s 38.6 rebounds per game season statistic. Stephens’ presence in the frontcourt produced seven double-doubles. The Palmetto, Florida, native averaged 10.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game. Her 7.2 rebounds per game put her in the top-10 of the Big 12 Conference rankings.

Seniors Mariane De Carvalho and Niccolly Ramalho finished out their Jayhawk careers leaving KU women’s basketball primed for the underclassmen. De Carvalho, one of five who finished in double-digit scoring, was third-best on the team with 10.4 points and 5.1 boards per game. The Araraquara, Brazil, native had arguably the play of the year with an over-the-head, no-look pass to a streaking Stephens against Wofford (12/30/19) to cap off the decade. Ramalho, a native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, garnered a couple of top plays that displayed her tenacity as she posed as a spark for the Jayhawks on defense.

Kansas’ 15 victories during the 2019-20 campaign also pushed Schneider, who is finishing his fifth year, over 450 career wins in his 22 years of coaching. Schneider’s 450th win came on Dec. 22 when the Jayhawks faced Saint Louis and came out victorious in a 68-50 overtime victory in Saint Louis, Missouri.