Kansas women's basketball came into the season with extremely high expectations. But despite being projected to finish third in the Big 12 in the conference's preseason poll, the Lady 'Hawks have been underwhelming through the first half of the campaign.
The team finished 7-4 in nonconference play, coming within one basket of defeating top 10 Virginia Tech, yet they still lost games against Penn State and Texas A&M they were expected to win. Now, they have lost the first three contests in league play by a combined 42 points.
West Virginia, Iowa State, and Texas Tech have rolled by KU over the past week and a half. The WVU meeting featured a 25-point home loss in Allen Fieldhouse. Even with highly touted freshman S'Mya Nichols playing as well as anticipated and returning most of the previous year's talent, Brandon Schneider's group can't quite seem to get it going.
One might say it is a make-or-break season for Schneider. In his ninth year in Lawrence, he has taken the Jayhawks to the NCAA Tournament just once. Last year, his squad winning the WNIT concealed the fact that a loaded roster didn't hear its name called on Selection Sunday. Fast forward to 2024, and a supposed top-3 team in the Big 12 is well on its way to missing the tournament again.
It's time to start talking about Schneider as the problem. With the prestige of the men's program and advantages on the recruiting trail, there is no reason Kansas women's basketball shouldn't be at the top of the conference each year. Schneider's unusually long leash could finally be snapped after this season, especially considering AD Travis Goff has shown he isn't afraid to make massive changes.
There is still a sliver of hope for KU if Nichols, Taiyanna Jackson, and Zakiyah Franklin can figure it out. But unless Kansas can turn it around, 2023-24 will be yet another disappointing campaign.