South Carolina coach Dawn Staley knows something about point-guard play. She established her own credentials in triplicate as one of the game’s greatest point guards as three-time All-American at Virginia and three-time Olympic gold medalist.
Ahead of tonight’s second-round NCAA Tournament meeting with Kansas, Staley joined the chorus of praise for Jayhawk fifth-year point guard Angel Goodrich.
It didn’t take long for Goodrich to grab Staley’s attention. All she did was run circles around Colorado’s flustered All-Pac-12 senior Chucky Jeffery in Saturday’s 67-52 upset of the No. 5-seed Buffs.
“Goodrich makes their team go,” Staley said. “She is the engine that creates opportunities for her and her teammates to score. She is the engine that makes them go. We are going to start with her and try to limit the around of production that she creates for her and her teammates.”
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Big 12 coaches have sung her praises all season. To gain notice from a coach who is a household name in the sport is one more thrill in the tournament experience.
“That means a lot, especially coming from another conference,” Goodrich said. “It’s a great feeling. … I want that for my team and for being a leader. It’s just an honor to hear that from someone like her.”
The No. 12-seed Jayhawks (19-13) look to advance to the Sweet 16 for the second straight year. The winner will be in the Sweet 16 for the second straight year.
The Jayhawks follow 19th-ranked Colorado with the 17th-ranked Gamecocks.
“This time of year everyone is good,” said Goodrich. “Everyone is ready to play. We just have to come out ready to play from the tip.”
Jayhawk coach Bonnie Hendrickson was a little more succinct about her team leader.
“She’s a rock star,” Henrickson bragged of her 5-foot-4 dynamo.
Henrickson never tires of her recruiting tale of reserving a seat with the athletic director in Tahlequah, Okla., when Goodrich was playing in the eighth grade.
Goodrich nearly disappeared early in her Kansas career. She blew out an anterior cruciate ligament in her second practice. The next year she tore the other ACL after starting 15 games.
“You look back and think, ‘Wow, how did I ever get through that?’ ” Goodrich said. “To be honest, I’m kind of glad I went through it because it’s taught me so much. It taught me to not regret anything, to take every game day by day and to be grateful for what you have because it can be taken from you any second.”