LAWRENCE, KS – After finishing undefeated against non-conference opponents for the first time in 14 years, the Jayhawks had momentum going into conference play. However, KU still finished last in the Big 12, finishing with a 4-14 record against league opponents. This finished them just one game above .500 with a 15-14 record to end the 2019-20 season. The only chance they had to try to secure a tournament bid was to win the Big 12 Tournament, but it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2020-21 season was in question going into the fall semester, but the schedule was released on Oct. 26, giving fans and athletes alike some room to breathe. The NCAA also made the executive decision to allow winter sport athletes an extra year of eligibility, since the pandemic will affect the upcoming season.
The Jayhawks open their season on Nov. 25 at home against Northern Colorado. Kansas will have two conference games before their final non-conference game, a format that is usually unconventional to college basketball. All of their non-conference games will be at Allen Fieldhouse, with the exception of Dec. 3 at Ole Miss for the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. The final game of the season will be Feb. 24, which will be two weeks before the Big 12 Tournament begins. This is assumed to allow for teams to recover from any positive COVID-19 cases that they may have.
Mariane De Carvalho – One of two senior that hailed from Brazil, the 6’2” forward started every game last season and was a key contributor for both scoring and rebounding. Her experience helped them finish over .500 last season.
Aniya Thomas – As the starting PG, Thomas led the team in scoring as a sophomore with 12.6 points/game. She is also one of the fastest, if not the fastest, player on the team and is a terrific playmaker. Thomas is also one of the more emotional players, making her the heart and soul of the team. If she’s fired up, there’s no stopping her. Look for her to control the ball more this season.
Holly Kersgieter – What else is there to say about her other than she has sensational talent and can be the face of this team over the next three years. As a freshman, Holly was the leading 3-point scorer, shooting over 40% from beyond the arc. Every team needs a shooter, and she’s the one that can get it done.
Zakiyah Franklin – This girl is a stat sheet stuffer. Plain and simple. She was the 2nd best scorer, behind Aniya Thomas, but she was the best passer on the team and led the team in assists, all as a freshman. She is a playmaker, but she can also take over when asked and when needed.
Bailey Helgren – She isn’t the best scorer, but every team needs a big player that can step it up with both rebounding and defense. Standing at 6’5”, she is the tallest player on the team, and she is an outstanding rebounder and defender. She can do all of the little things to help her team win.
There are five newcomers on this team: Three freshman & two transfers
Freshmen – Head coach Brandon Schneider has looked to a more international route with his recruiting, and this freshman class delivered. All three freshmen hail from outside of the United States.
-Mia Vuksic – Sibenik, Croatia
-Ioanna Chatzileonti – Athens, Greece
-Katrine Jessen – Skovlunde, Denmark
Kansas has had success with international athletes, such as Mariane De Carvalho, the senior who hailed from Brazil last season. We’ll see how their futures hold.
Transfers – Erica Haynes-Overton transferred from East Tennessee State. She was a prolific scorer for her team, scoring in double-figures in all but 7 games through her first two season and finishing her career there with over 1,000 points. She transferred after only playing four games last season and was redshirted for the remainder of the year. Due to NCAA guidelines, she will have to sit out for the fall, but her eligibility will begin in spring 2021.
Julie Brosseau is a grad transfer from Repentigny, Quebec, Canada. She played her first two years at Maine, then transferred to Utah before graduating. She had one more year of eligibility and decided to transfer to Kansas. Her numbers don’t pop off of the stat sheet, so look for her experience to give her more opportunities with the Jayhawks to help the team.
What to watch for
Is head coach Brandon Schneider in the hot seat? – If this was a normal season, yes. However, this season will be far from normal. Some players may have to miss time due to Coronavirus and there are fewer games than normal. Schneider has boasted a 54-97 record while at Kansas. He had a lot of success at Emporia State, but not as much as during his tenure at KU. With this being a crazy and abnormal season, Schneider should have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Nobody should be in the hot seat this year.
How can KU win more games during a crazy season? – One of the trends I noticed from last season’s team is that they let the game get away late if the game gets close as they head into the 4th quarter. This could have something to do with the lack of experience KU had last year. This year, they have more experience and talent, especially with underclassmen.
Kansas is projected to finish last in the Big 12 for the third year in a row. In a conference like the Big 12, it’s difficult to win against these tough teams. Look for Kansas to have a chip on their shoulder to overcome the odds. In this weird season, there will be a lot to look for.
The first game is on Nov. 25 against Northern Colorado. KJHK will broadcast all home games on 90.7 FM. Be sure to tune in to every game!