KANSAS CITY, Mo. —When looking into the reasons that the Kansas women's basketball program hasn't gotten over the hump in six seasons under Bonnie Henrickson, the Jayhawks' 29-67 record in Big 12 play is a good place to start.
And when trying to figure out why Henrickson's teams have struggled against conference opponents, the lack of a point guard who can do all of the things that Henrickson asks is as good a place as any to finish.
It's no secret around the league that the point guard is even more of a focal point of what Kansas wants to do than for most teams. Henrickson runs a lot of half-court offensive sets that need a floor leader who can make the right decisions, and she also wants that person to be able to get out and run in transition.
Henrickson says she hasn't had someone who can do it all since her last year at Virginia Tech in 2004, when the Hokies made it to the NCAA Tournament second round.
As Kansas comes off a ninth straight season without an NCAA Tournament berth, the sad thing is that Henrickson believes she had that player on her roster for two seasons. But, in 2008-09, Angel Goodrich missed the entire season with a torn left ACL. And in 2009-10, after averaging 7.1 assists in the first 15 games, Goodrich tore her right ACL. At that moment, another promising season went down the drain.
"I could feel it live," Henrickson said, "but when I went back and watched all of our games from last year from the point where Angel went down to what we looked like after, that changed how we played. We didn't run. It wasn't a plan for me — 'We're gonna try to walk it up.' But they just stopped running because they knew they weren't gonna get a ball."
Goodrich was a fourth-team Parade All-American coming out of Sequoyah High in Tahlequah, Okla. Henrickson and the Jayhawks don't believe the two surgeries have changed her status as one of the nation's best.
"When she was cleared to play pick-up, (sophomore guard) Monica (Engelman) texted me and said, 'It's already different,' " Henrickson said. "She's back in. Everybody runs because they know they're going to get a ball."
Goodrich is back, but the fact remains that she will be surrounded by youth. Gone are program cornerstones Danielle McCray and Sade Morris, and in their place are sophomores Engelman and Carolyn Davis, a center who averaged 10.2 points and 5.6 rebounds as a freshman.
KU may be young, but if Goodrich can stay healthy, Henrickson will have her point guard. That has everyone feeling optimistic once again.
"We started playing the game last spring: 'Who do we return? Who does everybody else return?' " Henrickson said. "They went, 'OK, we can get that one, we can get that one.... We've got a chance to be really good. Now let's spend this summer getting better individually, because that's the only chance we have to be successful.' "