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LAWRENCE, Kan. — The Kansas Jayhawk men aren’t the only local team headed for the NCAA Sweet 16.

This Sunday, Bonnie Hendrickson leads KU’s women into their third game of this year’s edition of the tournament. Kansas (20-13, 8-10 Big 12) will meet a #1 seed — Notre Dame. A Raytown native helping the Hawks advance in the dance.

He’s always ready to go. Whether it’s spreading the sweat in practice, or with a passing giggle. Kansas Women’s Assistant Basketball Coach Terry Nooner is back home again, in his first season working as an assistant under head coach Bonnie Hendrickson.

“I remember when Bonnie called me, and talked to me about a possible opening,” Nooner said. “I started screaming and she was on the other end laughing because I was so excited.”

Terry was a crowd favorite playing for Roy Williams’ teams of the late 1990’s. The player known as “Noonball” is glad to be walking the familiar streets of Lawrence.

“There’s a few people who remember me,” Nooner said.

Now, he’s back at  Allen Field House, after spending a year in the same role at Southern Illinois. Nooner works mainly with the Jayhawk perimeter shooters, and using his upbeat personality to push players.

“A bad play happens, just forget about it,” Nooner instructs. “Move on to the next play. Just play with confidence and having fun.”

Stats suggest Nooner’s direction is paying off. KU’s Women’s Basketball team has won 20 games… and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16. The former Raytown High standout helps find swishes by spreading smiles.

“He’s crazy,” KU Guard Angel Goodrich said. “He’s so much fun to be around. He cracks us up every time we have position shooting. He just puts a smile on your face.”

“He’s a positive guy,” Hendrickson said. “He has great relationships with the players. It’s awfully special that he’s walked the walk that these guys have.”

And while any coach can teach hustle and hard work, Nooner is a man with a different plan. He emphasizes communication, and making practices more enjoyable for players.

“I used to get in trouble for it, so. Now, I get paid to make people laugh.”

At the Phog, that’s no small feat.

Nooner isn’t the only homegrown connection on KU’s roster. Sophomore Guard Natalie Knight played her high school basketball at Olathe South High School. She’s missed significant time this season with a torn knee ligament.

Kansas meets Notre Dame (33-1, 16-0 Big East) this Sunday at 11 a.m. CT.