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Monday, September 6, 2004

Jayhawks make twin killing

Freshmen key 101-46 victory in Game One

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— Alex Galindo rocked back and forth, swaying to the music of a local freelance rap artist at halftime of Sunday's Kansas University-Langara College exhibition basketball game at War Memorial Gym.

"I was just having some fun. We're a fun team," Galindo, KU's freshman guard from Puerto Rico, said after collecting 16 points and 10 rebounds in the Jayhawks' 101-46 laugher over the outmanned Falcons.

"We were all listening to it and joking around," he added of his freshman buddies who had a jolly-good time jamming to the tunes and ramming the two-year college.

KU's freshmen combined for 77 of the 101 points during the first game of a Sunday doubleheader, in which Aaron Miles, Wayne Simien, J.R. Giddens and Michael Lee were rested. Veteran Keith Langford logged just 61/2 minutes.

"We've got great chemistry," Galindo said. "I think it's going to be a great class."

Freshman center Sasha Kaun had 20 points and nine rebounds, hitting three baskets off nifty left-handed hooks, while freshman pivot Darnell Jackson contributed 19 points and five boards. Guard Russell Robinson had 12 points and five assists. Center C.J. Giles contributed 10 points, four boards and a block.

"We're the Fab Five ... in a couple of years," said Jackson, KU's 6-foot-8, 240-pounder from Oklahoma City.

The 500 KU fans on hand -- a crowd of 550 attended in the 4,000-seat gym -- might disagree it will take that long for the group to be described as fabulous. They had 38 points the first half as KU blitzed the home team, 46-19.

"I think people should be excited about the freshmen, but not because of today. I wouldn't base anything on that game," KU coach Bill Self said. "That was not a very competitive team. They tried hard, but were not very big."

Langara, which in truth resembled a high school team, had nobody taller than 6-foot-8 on the court.

"The exciting thing," Self said, "is these guys really like each other. You can tell. Everybody likes everybody."

It seemed everybody on KU's bench was especially happy for freshman big man Kaun, the 6-11, 235-pounder from Russia out of Florida Air Academy in Melbourne, Fla., who struggled with just two points and five boards in KU's win Saturday over British Columbia.

"Sasha was nervous yesterday, that's all that was," Self said.

Indeed, Kaun admitted he had the jitters in his college-exhibition debut a day earlier.

"I was a little more relaxed today than yesterday," said Kaun, who admitted he was frustrated by Saturday's contest. "I was upset, frustrated. I walked around until about 10 o'clock last night, came back, watched some TV, watched news reports of the hurricane and went to bed."

A hurricane hit his adopted home state hard this weekend.

"It went right through it," he said of Melbourne. "I was worried about my girlfriend. But everybody is OK."

Kaun hit eight of 12 shots and Jackson eight of 10 Sunday. They showed some agility in swiping the basketball and racing in for slam dunks.

"It was a play I saw a loose ball and went for it. It doesn't happen often for a big guy. I probably was nervous about getting hurt going in for the dunk wondering if I'd run into some perimeter players," Kaun explained of his breakaway slam.

Jackson actually had two steals at midcourt for runaway dunks. One he put home softly; the second steal he did a twirling move before the slam jam.

"I went all the way around," Jackson said of his spin move before the dunk. "When I get a chance, I'll try to steal the basketball. That's something big guys can try to do, also."

Perimeter player Galindo hit six of 15 shots, just two of eight threes. He has been cold from three-point land in the exhibition season, so he went inside for a hoop on a driving move and had some putbacks on rebounds.

"Alex didn't shoot it like he's capable. He'll get his legs," Self said. "He did some other things."

Freshman point guard Robinson hit four of eight shots and had six rebounds.

"Russell is somebody our fans will really enjoy," Self said. "I'm really excited about our big guys scoring over both shoulders. Sasha kept it high. He was much better today. C.J. and Darnell played extremely well."

So did walk-on guard Stephen Vinson, who had nine points and eight assists while playing 34 minutes.

"I was real pleased with him. He plays hard each and every day," Self said.

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