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Jayhawks Host South Florida in NIT Championship

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Photo detailKansas vs. South Florida

The Kansas women's basketball team will host South Florida on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m., in Allen Fieldhouse in the Women's NIT Championship game. South Florida (26-10, 8-8 Big EAST) advanced to Saturday's title game by defeating Boston College, 82-65, on Wednesday night on the road, while the Jayhawks moved into Saturday's game by knocking off Illinois State, 75-72, in Allen Fiedlhouse Wednesday evening. Kansas (22-13, 6-10 Big 12) will be playing in the WNIT Finals for the first time in program history. The 2009 WNIT Championship game will be broadcast live on CBS College Sports.

Denver's Thoughts...

I'd be lying to you if I said I had a prediction or an inkling as to what to expect in this one.  The important thing here though is that the Kansas Jayhawk women are in a championship game and they deserve some props and support.  They got it for the semifinal with a record crowd and with the final at Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday, my guess is they break that and good for them.  Bonnie Hendrickson seems to have things moving in the right direction and with this team only fielding one senior, returning Danielle McCray and regaining top freshman Angel Goodrich who sat out this season with an ACL injury, I expect this NIT success will be a big springboard for next season.  Great job, congrats and Rock Chalk Jayhawk.

Full Preview, roster and Women's basketball tidbits after the jump...

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A LOOK AT KANSAS

Kansas enters Wednesday's game with a 22-13 overall record, including a 6-10 ledger in Big 12 Conference play after picking up nine wins its its last 11 games down the stretch. Led by a pair of double figures scorers in Danielle McCray and Sade Morris, the Jayhawks are out scoring their opponents by 7.5 points per game. McCray tops the Jayhawk scorers with 21.5 points per game, while Morris adds 12.5. Sophomore Krysten Boogaard is next with 9.0 points per game. In addition, Nicollette Smith and LaChelda Jacobs are adding 6.6 and 5.9 points per game, respectively. KU is shooting 46.1 percent from the field, while holding  its opponents to just 37.6 percent fi eld goal shooting. Three different Jayhawks are making better than 50.0 percent of their shots, led by Boogaard at 53.8 percent. The Jayhawks have recorded 242 steals on the season, led by McCray with 48 pilfers. Ivana Catic is the leader in assists with 129 dimes, while Jacobs has dished 107 assists and Morris 86. McCray is pulling down a team-leading 7.8 rebounds and Boogaard is grabbing 5.4 per game. Kansas is also shooting well from the three point line as it has connected on 158-of-422 shots from beyond the arc, good for 37.4 percent, tops in the Big 12 Conference. McCray is leading the way from beyond the arc as she has knocked 77-of-180 shots. Ivana Catic leads the Jayhawks from the foul line as she has connected on 29-of-34 attempts. McCray has connected on 83.5 percent of her foul shots.

A LOOK AT SOUTH FLORIDA

South Florida is 26-10 on the year, with wins over NCAA Tournament teams Rutgers, DePaul, Iowa and Villanova. The Bulls finished 8-8 in the Big EAST Conference this season, earning the eight-seed in the conference tournament. South Florida is led on the season by senior All-Big EAST First Team honoree Shantia Grace with 14.8 points and 4.9 assists per game. Grace had

16 points and seven assists in the Bulls' win over Boston College in the WNIT Semifinals. Junior guard Janae Stokes comes off the bench to provide double figures with 12.7 points per game.  Stokes has knocked down a team-leading 115 three-pointers on the season. Senior forward Jazmine Sepulveda turns in 11.7 points per game, while also leading USF with 94 steals. Senior

forward Jessica Lawson leads the Bulls on the boards with 6.6 caroms per contest, while also dropping in 10.5 points. USF outscores its opponents by 12.7 points per game and pulls down nearly two more rebounds per game than its foes. The Bulls shoot 34.1 percent from beyond the arc, and have knocked down 270 threes on the year. USF has also recorded 158 more steals than its opponents. South Florida head coach Jose Fernandez is 142-133 in his ninth season with the Bulls. His overall coaching record is the same.

 

FAST BREAKS

  • Kansas has won nine of its last 11 games, including wins over Top-25-ranked teams #5 Baylor and #22 Iowa State. The Jayhawks have also won their last six home games and own a 16-3 mark in Allen Fieldhouse this season, including a perfect 11-0 mark versus non-conference opponents.
  • First Team All-Big 12 guard-forward Danielle McCray has scored 20 or better in 22-of-35 games on the season, including 30 or more points in six games. McCray, who is leading KU with 21.5 points per game, ranks fifth on the KU single-season scoring chart with 753 points on the season. She has averaged 30.7 points and 10.0 rebounds in KU's three games WNIT games. McCray has tallied 123 points during KU's four WNIT games and needs just six points versus South Florida to tie the WNIT record for points in a tournament. Jolene Anderson of Wisconsin recorded 129 points in five games in the 2007 WNIT.
  • Kansas junior Sade Morris has come on strong as of late. Morris turned in a career-high 24 points in KU's win over Nebraska in the opening round of the 2009 Big 12 Championship. She also had seven rebounds, four assists and two steals versus the Cornhuskers. She went over the 20-point mark versus Creighton with 21 tallies and had another 23 versus Arkansas. She is averaging 17.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.3 steals during the six-game postseason stretch.
  • KU freshman forward Aishah Sutherland has also been solid for KU over the last six games. Sutherland has averaged 10.8 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks and has connected on 27-of-45 shots from the field, good for 60.0 percent, over the last six outings. She collected her first career double-double versus Creighton with 15 points and 12 rebounds and had eight points and 11 boards against Arkansas. She followed that up with 15 points, seven boards and four blocks at UNM. Sutherland had nine points, seven boards and three blocks in the win over ISU.

  • KU sophomore center Krysten Boogaard has been a force in the paint in KU's last two WNIT games. Boogaard tallied 11 points, seven rebounds and three blocks against New Mexico and followed that up with 18 points, seven rebounds and three more blocks versus Illinois State. Over the two-game stretch, Boogaard has averaged 14.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks. She has also knocked down 10-of-14 shots from the field and 9-of-11 shots from the foul line.
  • Jayhawk senior Ivana Catic dished six assists against three turnovers in Kansas' win over Illinois State in the WNIT Semifinals. She had already collected 32 dimes against just three turnovers in KU's other fi ve postseason outings, giving her 38 assists, compared to just six miscues during her last six games.

 Photo detailMCCRAY TABBED HONORABLE MENTION ALL-AMERICA BY ASSOCIATED PRESS

Kansas junior guard-forward Danielle McCray was tabbed an honorable mention All-American by the Associated Press. McCray, who leads the Jayhawks with 21.2 points per game, is the first Kansas player to be recognized by the organization since Lynn Pride in 1999. McCray, who earned First Team All-Big 12 honors this season, currently leads KU in points (21.5), rebounds (7.8), three-point field goals made (77), three-point field goal percentage (.428), free throws made (142), blocks (34) and steals (48). In addition, she leads the Big 12 Conference in three-point field goal percentage and ranks second in scoring and three-point field goals made.