Kansas Women’s Basketball Conducts Annual Media Day
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas women’s basketball opened the first day of the 2014-15 season with its annual media day on Tuesday, Oct. 7, inside Allen Fieldhouse. The media-only event began with head coach Bonnie Henrickson’s preseason press conference followed by one-on-one interviews with the members of the 2014-15 team.
The Jayhawks capped off the busy day with their first practice of the season and are three days away from Late Night in the Phog, which is set for Friday, Oct. 10.
Below are quotes from Henrickson, senior guard Asia Boyd, senior forward Chelsea Gardner, senior guard Natalie Knight and senior forward Bunny Williams.
KANSAS WOMEN’S BASKETBALL
MEDIA DAY QUOTES KANSAS HEAD COACH BONNIE HENRICKSONOpening Statement:
“It’s exciting to be here. I am excited about our group, the returners and the young kids. As you all know, the rules have changed, so we’ve been on the court with them a little bit in the month of September. With the returners, I am impressed with their ability to step up and lead as a senior class. If you look at their careers prior to a disappointing year last year, (they reached) two Sweet 16’s and is certainly a group that wants to do everything they can on and off the court to get back to the NCAA Tournament, that experience and success. Off the court, I think that they’ve done a great job of being leaders. All four have been named captains and taken the younger kids under their wing. They have been trying to help these kids understand the expectations and what will be coming up here, from the pace and intensity to what workouts are like.
On the seniors:
I think that on the court, they have put in their time and gotten better individually. I am really excited about Chelsea (Gardner) and her being a senior. She is coming off of being first team all-league last season and preseason all-conference this fall, and I am excited for her and all the recognition she has earned here at Kansas with a lot of hard work. I think if you look at Natalie (Knight), the most important thing looking back in the last year for her was getting healthy. The Baylor game was the first game that she had taken the brace off and played as confidently as she had prior to the injury. For her to be able to start her senior campaign where she finished her junior campaign will be important for us. They are arguably the best inside-outside tandem in the league. Natalie has to be more aggressive and selfish, which isn’t in her nature. We have to talk to her parents about how unselfish she is and how we can get her more selfish. We have worked with Natalie on getting her shot off more quickly, getting her different types of shots, deeper threes and recognizing that there will be a lot more defensive attention on her behind the three-point line. Asia (Boyd) is an improved player. We are looking at her playing the three and the four, giving us some perimeter skill at the four position, but also getting her some time at the three. Bunny Williams has improved her range from the high post and her ability to be more aggressive and put it on the floor and kick it out to go high-low with Chelsea. So, when you look at those four seniors I am really impressed with the time they’ve spent in the offseason trying to grow their game.
On the Junior class:
The only junior we have is Timeka O’Neal from over in Kansas City. I’m excited with her coming from Johnson County Community College. A tiny little thing, but you all know me a tiny point guard doesn’t scare me. She has the ability to escape and playmaking ability. She has a high basketball IQ and all she did over at Johnson County was win, so she knows what it means to be successful and is expecting to be successful. A person that only started with us this fall, but has gotten into the fold and has the team chemistry part of it. The relationship with her teammates has been really positive. She brings a lot of energy to that position and the ability to shoot the three.
On the Sophomore class:
In the sophomore class, we have Jada Brown at the four. She had a good offseason and can rebound the ball for us offensively, defensively, get on the floor and be aggressive for us at the four position. She has worked on her ability to knock shots down from fifteen feet, which is important for us with Chelsea being down low those fours will have some room to shoot. The defense for most of the year was in Chelsea’s lap, so for them to be able to make some shots will be important for us. Caelynn (Manning-Allen), at 6-5 her vertical improved six inches last year with Coach (Andrea) Hudy. I think from a focus standpoint for her, we can get her more dialed in, I don’t say that in a negative way. She has an amazing personality and when you go out her and engage with her you’ll see that, Caelynn (Manning-Allen) chases two rabbits and when you chase two rabbits your probably only going to catch one. We have to get her to chase one rabbit and dial in and be more committed to being great every day. She has strung those together and is already the most improved player in our program. From an upside standpoint, I think of how good she can be, and honestly, how great she can be and if she can continue to make progress from the offseason. I think playing her and Chelsea together is a viable option a lot more than it was last year. With her ability to take good shots and stay in an offense, she is a kid that can run really well, has great footwork and athleticism. It will be exciting to watch her grow, she is not there yet, but she is in the mix of being able to play and I’d like to play those two together. I think it would be really good for us defensively and Chelsea has proven to be a pretty good perimeter defender. The anxiety is that you don’t want Chelsea to foul 20 or 30 feet from the basket if she ends up with a smaller player. I am excited about both Caelynn and Chelsea. Keyla Morgan has been with us, she has not been fully released yet, but she’s in great shape and has been able to do everything with us, except anything contact. Being cautious, rightfully so, I think the most important thing is her long-term health and we’ve gone with what the medical professionals in the athletics department have advised us. We are waiting for her to be cleared in the near future and be able to get back in contact in the practice. Certainly her experience getting into the starting line-up as a freshman will be huge for us. We anticipate her being released fully really soon, but we don’t know.
On the Freshmen class:
In the freshman class, we have some kids that can handle the ball really well and shoot the ball really well. I think that’s where we are different. Even in the practice yesterday, we hit more threes in the live scrimmage against the (practice) guys and against each other than we did in most practices last year. At the point guard position, there is Lauren Aldridge from Marshfield, Missouri. She has a tremendous basketball IQ, a great competitor and a great leader as a freshman. What I appreciate is that the upperclassmen have allowed her to lead in moments where it is appropriate for her to lead, give direction, command presence in workouts and team building exercises we’ve done. She is a young lady who shoots the ball really well. She has played at a high level in high school and in the summer, that is evident in what she expects from herself. You can say the same thing about Chayla Cheadle, who won three straight state championships over at Rock Bridge, so they have the expectation of success and know what it takes to be successful. What she is willing to do to be successful is impressive. I think Chayla has the chance to be one of the best defenders we’ve had here in a long time. Is she there right now? No. There is the expectation for her to be there with how aggressive she is able to be, how long she is, her “want to” on that end of the court and the level of pride she has on that side of the floor. Offensively, she has some things that will make us a better basketball team as well, but I think immediately on the defensive end. Terriell Bradley plays point guard as well, so we are looking at three point guards in the new group of five. Terriell is a playmaker and she shoots the three. She can put it on the floor, make a play, very unselfish and let’s go of the ball. She sees things and has great vision. Again, she was well coached in high school and her summer team. She is a young lady who has been impressive offensively early on. Defensively that pace of the game and the physicality is something she still has to embrace, like every young perimeter player we have ever had. Lorraine Enabulele (En-NAY-boo-lee-lay), Lolo as we call her, is a power forward that embraces being physical, which doesn’t happen a lot with a young post player, since they don’t want a lot of contact. Lorraine embraces that, she is comfortable being physical. The expectation for her is to learn and grow from the returning post players. She is physical and has improved tremendously since she got here in late June. She is a young lady who embraces the contact and physicality, which will allow her to guard someone a little bit bigger since she can handle the contact and doesn’t bounce around. With Hudy and Glenn’s strength and conditioning program, they have made tremendous progress with her. She went home and came back and her coach called and asked me what I did and I said ‘she has been working hard and that it is a part of her growth and she will embrace that.’
On the team:
So generally speaking, if you look at us now and the work we did in the summer and so far this fall, I am confident that we can handle the ball better and shoot the ball better. I have really been impressed with their ability to recognize how to get uncontested threes. Those three young point guards have really done a great job of recognizing where the ball needs to go. Defensively, we are a work in progress, we’ve got to get better and we’ve got to get tougher. We’ve underachieved on the glass, especially coming from our perimeters players. We’ve got to get in and steal some possessions and eliminate extra possessions. If you look at how many one possession games we were in and look at that, it is offensive rebounds and turning the ball over. One thing I think we can change is our intent to rebound the ball better on both ends.”
On having three point guards:
Lauren, Timeka and Terriell can all play the point. The good thing about all of them is that they can really shoot the ball, so you can play two of the three together. The fact that all three of them shoot the three really well, will really enable us to play all three of them, but more likely two of the three together. For me some of the anxiety comes from not having a returning point guard for the first time in my time. This year, we’ve done some things differently in our summer and fall work to help them understand what it feels like offensively and defensively, instead of just giving them a playbook and have them look at that. I think when you look at young players, specifically young point guards, there are intangibles that point to why a kid might struggle. When you look at us I don’t see any of that. It doesn’t mean we are not going to make mistakes, but we will compete every day. They understand the pace and intensity of the game and they are committed to that. They are very mature and responsible, both on and off the court. I have not had an issue with anyone of the three of them. They’ve played at a high level and they’ve been successful. They are very mature and they expect a lot of themselves. I’ve had multiple film sessions with them and from the minute we’ve finished film and gotten to the next practice they’ve been able to clean up some things, which means they are paying attention. It hasn’t surprised me. They are who we thought they were and in the three months they’ve been here, they have done nothing to make me think I was wrong with that assessment.
On having a talented returning guard (Natalie Knight) and post player (Chelsea Gardner):
The thing with Chelsea is we have to keep her out of foul trouble. So, if we can keep her on the floor, we enhance our chance to be successful. To start with those two, and then have the realization of and I know it’s early, but there is not an ounce of me that has gotten a sense that the rest of those kids realize that those two need to touch the ball, and that was a big thing with the seniors. In this group of seniors last spring, I said the five of us have to commit to, with the new players coming in, we’ve got to get a better, buy in sooner, before they get frustrated. Think about what they get frustrated with. I don’t get to play the minutes I thought I would and I don’t get to shoot it like I thought I would or I don’t get to shoot it every time I touch it like I use to before. So, they’ve really had multiple conversations when they play pickup about shot selection and in the workouts that we’ve had, our unselfishness to find each other and other people. Now, do we pass it into the post well? Not as well as we are going to need to. Certainly, a lot of these guys haven’t played with a really good big.
ASIA BOYD // GUARD // SENIORWhat she adds to the team
“I add toughness and tenacity to the team. I also think I add competitiveness to the team.”
What she has done this offseason and what the team as a whole has done to improve:
“I’ve been working on getting my shot off quicker and going right more often. As a team, we’ve been trying to work on finishing more and being faster.”
On personal expectations for the season:
“I want to play well and produce for my team. Our team goal is to win the Big 12 and make the (NCAA) tournament.”
CHELSEA GARDNER // FORWARD // SENIOROn stepping into a leadership role:“I have been working my way into being a vocal leader. I try to come into practice every day speaking up more. I have to work on being vocal because I’m not typically a talker.
On expectations for the team:
“The expectations are high, but we are going to be good this year. The freshmen are working hard and we are all excited for this season and to see what we can accomplish.”
On areas that she wants to improve:
“I have been working on getting into a good defensive position and finishing around the rim. I’ve been working on my jump shot also and improving my game in other areas.”
NATALIE KNIGHT // GUARD // SENIOROn stepping into a leadership role:
“I think it has been a slow progression. Toward the end of last year, the coaches asked me to step up as a leader. I tried to do that as best as I could. Over the summer, I was able to spend a lot of time with my team and get to know the new members. That has really helped me step into that role. They also make it easy to be a leader because they all listen well.”
On how the team has progressed:
“I have noticed a difference this year, so far. Everyone is willing to work hard and put in the extra effort, which is what we need to be successful. I think that will continue throughout the season. Workouts this summer in the weight room and conditioning are where I started to see the difference. I think if we are willing to work hard in those areas, then it will transition onto the court as well.”
On team and personal goals for the season:
“We want to win the Big 12 this year. We also want to get into the NCAA Tournament again and do better than we have been in the past. Personally, I want to help my team in any way I can. That includes being aggressive and continuing to shoot the ball well and working hard on the defensive end.”
BUNNY WILLIAMS // FORWARD // SENIORWhat she’s excited for most about this season:
“I’m excited about a lot of things this season. We have some newcomers that will contribute. I’m a senior this year, so I’m excited about that. We have a ton of talent returning and the chemistry we have now as a team is really good and the vibe is great.”
What she’s looking forward too:
“Just getting on the court with everyone, this team is the most together team that we’ve had since I’ve been here.”
What the freshman will add to the team:
“They’ll add energy, hard work, they listen and try to understand everything. They don’t slack off and work hard, which is what we need.”
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