Head coach Bonnie Henrickson will take over for Marian Washington and try to rebuild a program that has struggled since the 2000 season. Henrickson coached at Virginia Tech for the past six years with an outstanding record of 158-62. The team also reached the NCAA tournament five times during her tenure.
Henrickson met with the media in preparation for the 2004-05 season, which officially begins this Friday at Late Night in the Phog. Henrickson is ready for all of the challenges that she will face during the new season.
"At Virginia Tech, I was put in a rebuilding position," Henrickson said. I can promise you that I am better prepared to do it now than I was then. I have more resources and commitment. It is never as good as it seems and it is never as bad as it seems."
Henrickson will try to improve a team that won only nine games last season and finished tied for eleventh in the Big 12 Conference. The Minnesota native is confident in her game plan to help the Jayhawks return to winning ways in Lawrence.
"We have to pressure the ball on the perimeter, making it hard for people to find their height inside," Henrickson said. "We have to be creative with traps and zones, trying to win possession games. We are going to make teams hit shots on the perimeter. We will have to understand a good shot and a bad shot and how to use each possession. Tempo and pace offensively will be very important for us. We are going to have to be opportunistic. If we can't push it up, we will have to settle and use a half-court game."
The Jayhawks will look to improve in front of an expanded television audience this season. Four national telecasts are included in the 18-game television package and Henrickson feels the added exposure is crucial to the success of the team.
"I think it is critical for us, the more that we can get this team and program out where people can see it. I can promise you that when people watch us, we will compete and play hard. Win or lose, we will play with class. We are headed in the right direction and we will do it the right way," Henrickson said.
A new change for the women's team will also take place Friday at Late Night in the Phog. The Jayhawks will take part in a scrimmage at 11 p.m. before the men's team takes the floor. A male practice squad will challenge the women's team during the scrimmage and give the fans a preview of a Henrickson coached team during the Late Night festivities.
"I think it's fantastic. It's the right thing to do. Our players are excited and a little nervous about it. We don't get to watch it but we will videotape it and we practice the next morning. We will have a conversation about what happened. It is a step in the right direction so fans can see our players," Henrickson said.
After Late Night, the women's team will officially begin practice in preparation for the first game against Fort Hays State on November 9th.