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Postcards from Los Angeles

Jayhawks advance to Round 2 with OT win over Michigan; will play top-seeded USC at 9 p.m. Monday night on ESPN

9 min read
The 8th-seeded Kansas women's basketball team got dressed up for a fancy team dinner during one of their nights in Los Angeles, where the Jayhawks are competing in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. KU will take on top-seeded USC at 9 p.m. central on Monday night in L.A. [Contributed photo]
Tag along with Kansas senior Ryan Cobbins & the 8th-seeded KU women's basketball team on its journey through the 2024 NCAA Tournament, which started this week in Los Angeles.
The Kansas women's basketball team smiles and throws up their W's after a Round 1 NCAA Tournament win in Los Angeles on Saturday. [Kansas Athletics photo]

SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2024

Sunday was an "off day" for the 8th-seeded Kansas women's basketball team, but the Jayhawks were anything but lazy.

After knocking off No. 9 seed Michigan in overtime on Saturday, Kansas (20-12) moved on to its preparation for top-seeded USC on Sunday, with a walk through, shoot-around, team meetings, scouting sessions and more.

The Jayhawks and Trojans will square off at 9 p.m. central on Monday night on ESPN, with the winner headed to the Sweet 16.

Saturday's win, which featured a game-high 22 points from senior guard Zakiyah Franklin, who hit a game-tying 3-pointer with 7 seconds to play in regulation, allowed the Jayhawks at least two more days together.

For senior Ryan Cobbins, that meant staying on top of her homework as much as staying locked in to the task at hand in California.

“I'm trying to stay ahead of homework because we obviously hope we're still playing for a while longer.”

Asked if they were able to catch the end of the men's season-ending loss to Gonzaga in the second round of their tourney in Salt Lake City, Cobbins said they did not but that many of them were tracking the score on their phones.

Ryan Cobbins warms up for the game against Michigan. [Kansas Athletics photo]

With the KU men done for the season, it's the KU women who are carrying the torch for basketball-rich Kansas this postseason, something that Cobbins said had not quite hit her yet.

"We haven't really talked about that, but maybe we should start to look at it that way."

Whether they do or don't, Cobbins has shown that there are plenty of other elements of this road trip keeping Kansas busy.

From love for the managers and support staff to a birthday celebration for one of their assistant coaches, Marqu'es Webb, who turned 29 on the day of the Jayhawks' Round 1 win.

As for the on-court element of the Jayhawks' run so far, the KU women have now won four straight first-round games after coming back from 10 points down in the fourth quarter to defeat Michigan on Saturday afternoon.

KU is 11-4 all-time in first round games, including a 2-0 mark under the direction of head coach Brandon Schneider.

Kansas is 4-6 all-time in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, with two of those four wins leading to back-to-back Sweet 16 trips in 2012 and 2013.

The Jayhawks are 0-5 all-time when facing a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance, including a second-round loss to then-No. 1 Stanford back in 2022.

Awaiting Kansas in Monday's showdown is the top seed in the Portland 3 Region, 3rd-ranked USC, whic improved to 27-5 on the year with an 87-55 victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the first round of the tournament on Saturday.

The Trojans are led by All-American guard JuJu Watkins, who ranks second in the country averaging 26.9 points per game. USC enters the second round on a six-game winning streak, which includes wins over No. 7 UCLA and No. 2 Stanford in the Pac-12 Tournament.

Monday’s contest will be the second all-time meeting between Kansas and USC, and first in the postseason. KU won the first meeting, defeating USC 82-77 on Jan. 2, 1996, in Los Angeles.

The Kansas women's basketball team poses for a group photo at USC's Galen Center during an open practice session earlier this week ahead of their Round 1 NCAA Tournament game. [Kansas Athletics photos]


The Kansas women's basketball team advanced to the second round of this year's NCAA Tournament with a hard-fought, 81-72 overtime victory over Michigan on Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles.

Senior guard Zakiyah Franklin, who led the Jayhawks with 22 points, hit a clutch 3-pointer inside the final 10 seconds of regulation to tie the game and send it to OT.

The Jayhawks dominated from there.

All week, we've kept tabs on the team, from the time they left Lawrence up until the final horn of Saturday's win, through correspondence with senior Ryan Cobbins.

Like man of her teammates, Cobbins talked about the opportunity and the matchup with Michigan as a "when we win" sort of thing. And then they went out and made good on that.

“It was a little bit of strategy because I'm a big believer that if you tell yourself that it will happen, it increases the chances of you actually making it happen."

That's not to say the Jayhawks didn't feel nerves and pressure of the do-or-die environment.

“We did have a little bit of jitters and (head coach) Brandon (Schneider) kind of talked about it when we got in the locker room. He said being anxious and nervous before you play means you’re ready to go.”

Cobbins said the game day routine for the Jayhawks was the same as it has been all season. Quiet bus ride. Quiet locker room. Everyone locking in in their own way.

The first-year Jayhawk admitted that the isolationist strategy struck her as strange when she first arrived.

“But sure enough it works.”

As for the game itself, in which Cobbins chipped in with 6 points and 1 rebound on 2-of-3 shooting from 3-point range, she said she knew the Jayhawks were going to win the game with just over 2 minutes to play.

"Even though we were still behind, the momentum was in our favor."

Jayhawks Ryan Cobbins (far left), Zsofia Telegdy (seated), Laia Conesa (middle) and Skyler Gill (right) show off KU's name in the second round of the big bracket at the team hotel on Saturday night. [Contributed photo]

KU erased a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter and scratched and clawed their way into the second round with the toughness victory. After the game, the smiles told the story.

“I feel like it was just a lot of joy. And, honestly, I looked over at the bench and saw (freshman) Laia (Conesa) crying. We’re just super-excited to continue to get to play together, and I’m sure Laia’s tears were tears of joy.”

Team rules dictate that the players turn their phones in well ahead of tip-off and stay away from them for a while after the game. So, Cobbins was not able to get images, video and immediate reaction from inside the locker room on Saturday.

Of Franklin's game-tying shot, Cobbins said simply, "It’s March. And for that to be the person that it happened for, it was awesome. We even got a little smile out of her."

More fun is on the way, so stay in touch with Wave the Wheat throughout the next couple of days as the Jayhawks prepare to play top-seed USC at 9 p.m. central on Monday night on ESPN.

KU senior Zakiyah Franklin advances the Jayhawks into the second round on the big bracket in the KU locker room in Los Angeles after Saturday's win. [Kansas Athletics photo]

FRIDAY, MARCH 22, 2024

The 8th-seeded Kansas women's basketball team is back in the NCAA Tournament for the second time in the past three seasons and their run began earlier this week, when they traveled from Lawrence to Los Angeles, the site of their first-round game against No. 9 seed Michigan.

That one is slated to tipoff at 1 p.m. Saturday at top-seeded USC's Galen Center. And the winner likely will play the Trojans on Monday in Round 2.

KU senior Ryan Cobbins, shown here at the Topeka airport with KU super-fan Amanda Young, has agreed to bring R1S1 Sports along on the road with the Jayhawks this week in sunny California. [Kansas Athletics photo]

Before the Jayhawks left, R1S1 Sports connected with KU senior Ryan Cobbins, a native Kansan who transferred from Alabama to play her final season at KU, about bringing us along on the trip.

So, as long as the Jayhawks are playing, you'll find updates — video, photo, verbal and more — from Cobbins about what her team has been up to and how they're handling life on the road.

Keep an eye on this post for updates from the Jayhawks' time in California and we'll be with them as long as they're still playing.

The trip to Cali was fun for a lot of reasons, and Cobbins said she got the sense that the Jayhawks were treating it like a mixture of spring break and a business trip.

"The vibes were high when we were headed to the Topeka airport. There was just something about us that I haven’t necessarily felt all year and I think that’s just because we’re playing our best basketball."

After landing and getting checked in, the Jayhawks watched the KU men knock off Samford in Round 1 of their bracket, and then got back to work themselves on Friday with another practice and some more scout work.

"We've been doing a lot of kind of transition work to kind of get our legs back under us after not playing for a week and a half or however long it's been, but today was just basically an extended shoot-around. We did our usual shoot-around routine. We went over scout and then of course we ended the day with half court shots."

It's bigs vs. guards when that goes down and Kersgieter won the competition for the guards on Friday.

"I felt like we were really locked in and we shot well in the gym. We felt like it's a shooter's gym, so we're looking forward to that."

So far, Cobbins said there weren't too many signs of added emotions from the four KU super-seniors whose careers are winding down.

“We kind of have that in the back of our minds because it truly is like you never know. Obviously we’re all looking at it as positive as possible and we’re expecting to play more than one game. But it is in the back of our mind because we’re at the tournament and if you win you keep playing and if you win you go home.” 

After 1 day in L.A., Cobbins already had a good feel for the following honorees among the team.

Funniest moment to this point: Passing the phone challenge for KU's social media channel. "Pops and Holly were getting after each other."

Player having the most fun so far: "I feel like it's Laia. I know she's at the beach right now and I know she was so looking forward to seeing water again. I haven't seen her stop smiling since we got here."

Anyone being super serious?: "Skyler Gill's a little tense right now and we're just trying to shake her out of it. Maybe it's because it's her first tournament and she's a little nervous, but I think she'll come around."

The Jayhawks picked up some new gear on Friday night.

Here's a quick look back at some thoughts about the road trip from KU's Zakiyah Franklin, S'Mya Nichols and Holly Kersgieter, who spoke with R1S1 Sports before they boarded the bus for the airport earlier this week.

And here's the latest chapter of "The S'Mya Diary," in which the Jayhawks' all-Big 12 freshman gives her thoughts on Selection Sunday, her first NCAA Tournament and more.

• The S'Mya Diary - Part XII

Stay in touch with Wave the Wheat for more updates to this post from Cobbins throughout the rest of the week...