Early in Bonnie Henrickson’s tenure at Kansas, she searched for a difference maker. She needed a program changer, someone to help her restore the KU women’s basketball team to prominence.
Henrickson found what she was looking for in the form of a 5-foot-1 eighth-grader playing AAU ball in the small town of Sequoyah, Okla. Henrickson saw something special in this whirling, spinning, darting ball handler and wouldn’t take her eyes off Angel Goodrich until she came to Kansas.
Goodrich, a fourth-year junior — and now 5-4 —has carried Kansas to its first NCAA Tournament since 2000 and its first Sweet 16 since 1998.
And with an upset of second-seeded Tennessee this morning, 11th-seeded Kansas would make its first appearance in the Elite Eight ever.
“She came to Kansas to elevate a program, and it’s been fun for me to watch her be able to do that,” Henrickson said. “I told her it was an opportunity to be program-shaper and have a chance to play in the Big 12 Conference, the best league in the country.”
That faith in Goodrich made her the most important recruit, perhaps even more so than Olathe East’s Danielle McCray (2006-10) in Henrickson’s eight seasons a Kansas.
While McCray was an eventual first-round pick in the WNBA draft, she never played in an NCAA Tournament game. Goodrich has starred in this tournament. She scored 20 points with five assists and two steals in 39 minutes in the Jayhawks’ first-round win over No. 6 seed Nebraska and 27 points with six assists and two steals in 40 minutes in the second-round upset of No. 3 seed Delaware.
“It’s who she’s always wanted to be, and it’s who I’ve always thought she could be,” Henrickson said of Goodrich’s first two NCAA games. “It’s nice that a lot of people got to watch her play in those games.”
In her second practice as a freshman in 2008, Goodrich suffered a torn anterior cruciate in her left knee, causing her to redshirt that season. After playing 15 games in the 2009-10 season as Kansas’ starting point guard, Goodrich suffered a torn ACL in her right knee.
But Goodrich was healthy enough to return to the starting lineup eight games into the 2010-11 season and flashed just enough promise by averaging 7.5 points and 6.3 assists. She finished the season with a flourish — 10 points, nine assists in a WNIT win over Wichita State and nine points, nine assists and eight rebounds in a second-round WNIT loss to Duquesne.
Goodrich has averaged 13.3 points per game this season, but 17.0 in the 10 games since Davis went out of the lineup. Goodrich has averaged 23.5 points through two NCAA Tournament games, which ranks fifth among all players in the tournament. And she leads the nation with 7.4 assists per game.
“I’m one of the captains and leaders on the team, and for me, it’s just going out there and keeping my team together, being strong, and doing what I’ve got to do to help my team,” Goodrich said. “That’s to be aggressive, dish the ball to the open player and do what I’m asked to do.”