Kansas-South Carolina Preview
The Kansas Jayhawks are never in a big hurry to get into the NCAA tournament. They do like to stick around once they arrive.
One of the last teams in the women's field for the second straight season, the 12th-seeded Jayhawks (19-13) can make a return trip to the round of 16 by beating fourth-seeded South Carolina (25-7) on Monday night.
They're big underdogs as they try to join San Francisco in 1996 as the only No. 12 seeds to follow up a win in the opening round with another in the second round. No. 12 seeds are 1-15 in the second round since the women's field was expanded to 64 teams in 1994.
Given Kansas' recent history, the Jayhawks have to like their chances.
The Jayhawks routed fifth-seeded Colorado 67-52 on the Buffaloes' home court on Saturday night behind 14 points and eight boards from Carolyn Davis.
She missed last year's NCAA run after blowing out a knee in Big 12 play.
With their leading scorer on the bench, point guard Angel Goodrich led the Jayhawks into the second weekend of the tournament with upsets over Nebraska and Delaware. They snapped the Blue Hens' 21-game winning streak and knocked the nation's leading scorer, Elena Delle Donne, out of the tournament.
They nearly upended Tennessee, leading the Vols at halftime before losing 84-73 in their first trip to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament since 1998.
''Last year, the motivation and the excitement that we had, and we want to feel that again,'' Goodrich said Sunday. ''I feel like we're just hungry for it.''
Drawing inspiration from last year's run is fine, but Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson doesn't want her team looking back at all.
''I'm a firm believer that past success doesn't dictate future success,'' Henrickson said. ''The only thing that I've addressed with our team from last year is our defensive field-goal percentage was 38.5 percent, because we went through a stretch of the year when we stopped defending and stopped winning.''
So, they spent their two-week span between the Big 12 tournament and their NCAA opener working on defense, which ''we'd gotten soft at,'' Henrickson said, and it paid off when they held the Buffaloes to 25 percent shooting.
Her motto is simple: ''It doesn't matter where you play, it doesn't matter who you play, it matters how you play.''
All three prongs came into play in their NCAA opener, when the Jayhawks absorbed an early double-digit deficit and handled a hostile crowd on their way to a convincing win.
''I think Kansas is showing why they are in the tournament,'' Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley said. ''If they can come in and play in the hostile environment like it was yesterday and win, they are much deserving. I do not know what goes into selecting what seed or what site. I know that when it comes down to playing in the NCAA tournament it is anybody's game.
''If we were just playing for seeds, then pack our bags we are heading to the Sweet 16. I think Kansas has a lot to say about that.''
Although Henrickson would prefer not to have to sit around on pins and needles to see Kansas come up on the selection show, there's something to be said for teams that survive the bubble: They're grateful and usually play loose, lacking the pressure that favorites feel.
Then, there's this: ''You feel like you belong and you're trying to prove that you belong,'' Henrickson said.
Outside perceptions being what they are, the Jayhawks were squarely on the bubble after losing five of their last seven and finishing 8-10 in the tough Big 12.
''I thought (Big 12 schools) were underappreciated because outside of Baylor we're only got one other team ranked. I think because we all beat each other up and everybody is really good, we can't be that good,'' Henrickson said. ''Well, I just think that there are a lot of really good teams in our league so I think we get caught in that.
''There're a lot of teams that would like to go 8-10 in the Big 12.''
With spring break started and the Buffs eliminated, a sparse crowd might be in the offing Monday night, unless Colorado fans come out to root against the Jayhawks, their former foe from the Big 12, and even up the cheering sections.
''I think the people of Colorado will come out and watch some good basketball,'' Staley said. ''I think they are committed to it. Of course you would want the home team playing, but at the same time I do not think they are hosting just to have an empty gym. You got two good teams to come out and see. I think they will come out, who they will root for is the bigger question.''
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