Womens Basketball vs. Florida

Junior Tina Stephens plays defense against Florida's Kristina Moore. The Jayhawks beat the Gators 76-66.

After starting the season with a spotless 11-0 non-conference record, Kansas women’s basketball has now dropped 11 of 12 games in conference play and seven in a row.

The lack of defensive focus from Kansas has been a huge factor in the season’s drastic shift. In the last four games, Kansas has given up more than 85 points per game and are second to last in the Big 12 with 79.83 points allowed per game in conference play

Mainly, the women’s defense struggles against teams with premier post play at the center and forward position. Junior center Bailey Helgren is the tallest starter for Kansas at 6-foot-5, but can struggle against smaller, quicker post players. In turn, Kansas has allowed its opponents to 46.5% shooting from the field, which is last in the Big 12.

This was especially a problem against the Texas Longhorns, who Kansas will play Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse. In the last match up on Jan. 22, Kansas was outrebounded by 23, and the Longhorns two starting forwards combined for 39 points.  

“They are terrific rebounders,” head coach Brandon Schneider said after the 85-77 loss. “They are relentless, have good size and for us that’s difficult to match up with.”

Kansas is also dead last in both offensive and defensive rebounding during conference play. Poor defense, paired with the lack of rebounding, has led to most of Kansas’ problems in conference play. 

In the previous game against Texas Tech, the Jayhawks were outrebounded by 11 and let up 89 points. This game, Kansas struggled to defend the opposing guards Lexi Gordon and Brittany Brewer, who combined for 37 points. Kansas has struggled to guard the perimeter as well during conference play, giving up a 37% 3-point percentage in Big 12 play. 

Overall, Kansas is in the bottom two in the Big 12 in every defensive category besides blocks and steals. If the Jayhawks are going to right the ship and finish out conference play with a couple of wins, the defense is going to have to improve.