As Kansas women’s basketball’s offseason continues, coach Brandon Schneider reflects (2024)

LAWRENCE — As Brandon Schneider sat in his office last week, he reflected on the season Kansas women’s basketball just enjoyed.

Schneider, the Jayhawks’ head coach, felt they had even more data to support how they felt about how tough their schedule was. He pointed to how they played against three of the four finalists for the 2024 Wade Trophy, UConn’s Paige Bueckers, Virginia Tech’s Elizabeth Kitley and USC’s JuJu Watkins, and how many teams they faced competed in a postseason tournament. And he was proud, too, of the way his side responded in February after struggling through January.

Had Kansas not gone 6-1 in February during Big 12 Conference play, odds are Schneider doesn’t lead his side to a second NCAA tournament appearance in three years. There wasn’t some defining meeting that would grab headlines, he explained, just an understanding they needed a plan —not just talk of a recovery. And he reiterated that how they started to play better defensively, after simplifying some things, played a significant role.

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Here are some more takeaways from what Schneider had to say:

There’s something Schneider will keep in mind, with future scheduling

Schneider said he thinks the difficulty of Kansas’ non-conference schedule is why his team received a No. 8 seed in the NCAA tournament, instead of one or two lower. The selection committee, from his perspective, gave the Jayhawks credit. But when it comes to scheduling in the future, he’s going to have in mind the fact that the Big 12’s schedule is now imbalanced.

Schneider noted they’ll need to keep in mind how difficult their Big 12 schedules could end up being, like this past season, and how those are released well after they have an idea of what their non-conference slate will be. He still anticipates a challenging non-conference schedule next season, just not one at the level it was this past season. He said next season’s non-conference slate includes games against Iowa and Penn State, as well as the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam.

Here’s how Kansas can earn a better seed in NCAA tournament

The last two times Kansas made the NCAA tournament, after winning its round of 64 matchup it ended up playing a No. 1 seed in the next round. To avoid a path like that in the future, he thinks they need to have a good non-conference performance and win 12 or more games in the Big 12. Those times the Jayhawks made the NCAA tournament they won 11 conference matchups during the regular season.

Kansas is moving forward without its star, veteran trio

Holly Kersgieter, Zakiyah Franklin and Taiyanna Jackson all played their last season of college basketball this past campaign, and that leaves a void for Kansas to fill — especially Jackson, a second round pick in the WNBA draft. Schneider said he tried to value the opportunity to coach them and appreciates everything they did to advance the program. From the moment he knew they were coming back for one more run, he planned for what he would do next.

Schneider added they knew they would have to be aggressive in recruiting this spring, and feels they have a quality pitch for players in the transfer portal. There are more opportunities for high-impact players this year with the Jayhawks than there were last year. Only two of Kansas’ top six scorers are back.

Kansas has announced 2 incoming transfers so far

Kansas hasn’t been immune to losing players to the transfer portal, but it’s been reserve players from this past season’s team. And since the season’s ended, the Jayhawks have announced a pair of additions through the portal. Those are Creighton guard Brittany Harshaw and Wisconsin guard Sania Copeland.

Schneider noted it’d be hard to say how they fit in until Kansas fills out its roster, but he did highlight that he doesn’t go into the portal for someone unless he thinks they can have a significant effect right away. Harshaw and Copeland are going to compete for minutes. Schneider is looking to improve 3-point shooting, depth and perimeter length.

Wyvette Mayberry, S’Mya Nichols will be relied on as leaders

Wyvette Mayberry and S’Mya Nichols give Kansas two returning starters, and two people Schneider will rely upon as leaders. Both did well this past season in that regard, but also had Kersgieter, Franklin and Jackson on the team. It’ll be something that can help them take the next step as players.

Nichols was the Jayhawks’ star freshman. Mayberry, a veteran, is someone Schneider views as one of the better defenders in the Big 12. Those are two people incoming transfers should be excited to play with.

As Kansas women’s basketball’s offseason continues, coach Brandon Schneider reflects (1)

Jordan Guskey covers University of Kansas Athletics at The Topeka Capital-Journal. He is the National Sports Media Association’s sportswriter of the year for the state of Kansas for 2022. Contact him at or on Twitter at @JordanGuskey.

As Kansas women’s basketball’s offseason continues, coach Brandon Schneider reflects (2024)
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