Q&A Brandon Schneider at the Midway Point of Big 12 Play
Nineteen games into the season, one thing has become crystal clear about the 2021-22 Kansas Women’s Basketball team.
They can do it all.
Consider: The Jayhawks are the only major conference team in the country to rank in the Top 21 in both field goal percentage and field goal percentage defense. Coach Brandon Schneider’s team is also averaging 73.6 points per game, which would be the program’s highest total since the 1994-95 season and his squad is on pace to establish a new program record for blocked shots this season.
What does it all mean? The Jayhawks are currently 14-5 on the season and 5-4 in Big 12 play. With a win Sunday at home versus TCU, Kansas would have its best 20-game start since the 2011-2012 season.
Needless to say, Schneider and the Jayhawks are having some fun.
Jayhawks Extra recently sat down with Schneider to talk about the hot start, the emergence of a key player and the importance of playing well in February.
Q: What are the attributes and characteristics of this team that really stick out to you? How do those characteristics differ from some of your past teams here?
A: “I think we have more balance with our roster this year, and I think that our team has a lot of confidence in each other. We have the ability for any player at any position on our team to step up and contribute on any given night.”
Q: Which players have emerged as leaders on this team? Did you challenge some of your veterans in the offseason to step up in that regard?
A: “Zakiyah Franklin is someone who we have constantly challenged to be more vocal throughout her career. She’s more comfortable to lead by example, but she’s really tried to push through her comfort zone and be more vocal. I also think that Julie Brosseau’s leadership has been important, with her being a veteran and Chandler Prater is someone who is also very vocal and taken on more of a leadership role this season.”
Q: How much fun are you having with this team and do you feel like this team has become an extension of you on the court?
A: “Any coach would tell you that if the team can take on the personality of the coaching staff, then that’s typically a positive. Our coaching staff is very connected and we have a great chemistry about us, we’re competitive and I think if those attributes can permeate through the entire program and team on the court, then I think we’re headed in the right direction.”
Q: Where are you seeing the biggest improvements from last season as a team? What did you see from some of the returning players in the offseason that has allowed them to show improvement this season?
A: “The biggest thing when you compare this team to previous years is the ability to finish plays. When you evaluate this team statistically with others, the fact that we are currently leading the Big 12 in field goal percentage is a tremendous improvement. Through recruiting, we were able to improve the length of our team, both on the perimeter and on the front line, which has enabled us to be significantly better on the defensive end as well.”
Q: With so many important pieces back from last year, how important was it to add someone like Taiyanna Jackson to the roster? What has she added, specifically defensively, to this team that has allowed the squad to get to another level?
A: “With Taiyanna, it started defensively. We knew that she was going to be able to come in and alter shots, effect shots and block shots right away. It allows your perimeter players to play differently when you have that kind of presence behind you. She’s rebounding the ball well, but what we’re seeing now is her development on the offensive end, here especially of late. (Jackson had a career-high 18 points and 11 rebounds last time out versus Oklahoma State). The commitment she’s made to before and after practice work with Coach Terry (Nooner) has really been important to her increased offensive production.”
Q: What changes for your team going through the Big 12 schedule for a second time? How would you define success for this team the rest of the season?
A: “February is a very important month, and our top focus right now is continuing to improve. There are some things for us that statistically we need to look and there are some areas that we know we need to improve in, so we will continue to work to get better and maybe make minor adjustments along the way. The most important thing is to keep getting better with skill development in practices and continuing to play more connected on both ends of the floor.”
Q: There have been several ‘First time since..’ stats and notes recently, what do those accomplishments mean to you and the program?
A: “In any mission, there’s going to be steps and things that have to be accomplished along the way to completing the mission. I think it’s very, very important that players celebrate those small victories along the way and I’m glad that we’ve had the chance to celebrate some of those recently.”