Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Lobo coach defends Giddens

McKay lauds former KU player as 'fine young man'


J.R. Giddens' current coach at the University of New Mexico had a lot more to say about Giddens' legal problems Tuesday than his former coach at Kansas University.

"I find it difficult to believe that J.R., the 'stabee,' would have to face the charges that were announced today in rather dramatic fashion," said Ritchie McKay, coach of the Lobos. "However, I wasn't at the incident, so I don't know all of the facts. Yet, I trust J.R., and we fully support him. I think that when all is said and done, his impact on our basketball program and our community will be significant."

Giddens on Tuesday was charged in Douglas County court with misdemeanor battery and disorderly conduct in connection with a May 19 melee outside Moon Bar. Giddens suffered a slashed artery after he allegedly was stabbed by Jeremiah Creswell, an Olathan who also was charged Tuesday with misdemeanor battery.

Giddens, who according to Dist. Atty. Charles Branson didn't throw the first punch inside the bar, faced misdemeanor charges after allegedly attacking Creswell with others outside the bar.

"Before judgment is passed on J.R, please consider that I think we live in a day and age in which we often assume truth in things we hear about a young person's character before really getting to know that individual," McKay said. "In the short time I have known J.R. Giddens, I believe, from what I have read about him, that he has been wrongly portrayed. If you speak with anyone in our basketball family or anyone who has spent any amount of quality time with J.R., they would attest to him being a fine young man."

KU coach Self had a shorter take on the situation, saying: "We have put this situation behind us. The district attorney statement speaks for itself. We will have no further comment on this matter."

He said the Jayhawk players also would have no comment on Giddens or the Moon Bar incident.

Self did talk about his program and expectations of the players in general.

"There is a certain standard our players need to live up to," Self said.

"We feel the guys have done a pretty good job in that regard, with the exception of this particular incident. Any changes in team rules or policies will be amongst the team and team alone."

Of the "perception" of his program, he said: "I was much more concerned with the perception of the program on May 19 (after Moon Bar incident)."

KU athletic director Lew Perkins said he "wished the young man the best," referring to Giddens. "Hopefully, everything works out for him and he has a very successful career."

Perkins said he was concerned about problems stemming from the consumption of alcohol, not talking specifically about basketball, but college sports in general.

"This whole alcohol issue is not good," Perkins said. "I take my hats off to our coaches. They bring in police officers, FBI agents ... we've done everything we can to educate. It's a concern around the country, people worried about health and safety of kids. It's troublesome. There is no magic solution. If we had it, every school in the country would call. It's scary. It's not good."

¢ Downs suffers sprain: KU freshman Micah Downs was wearing a boot on his left foot Tuesday, a day after suffering an ankle sprain while playing basketball. X-rays showed no broken bones, and he should miss a week or so of activity on the court.

¢ No word on Rush: The NCAA Clearinghouse did not rule on Brandon Rush's eligibility Tuesday. One of his transcripts reportedly still needs to be reviewed, and a decision on the 6-foot-6 guard's eligibility could come today.

The Indianapolis Star said Indiana coach Mike Davis dropped Rush as a recruit when 6-10 Cem Dinc committed last week. "Although IU had two scholarships left and could have taken both Brandon and me, coach Davis promised not to take Brandon if I committed," Dinc said.

¢ Happy 50th: KU director of basketball operations Ronnie Chalmers celebrated his 50th birthday Tuesday.

¢ Giddens statement: Giddens issued a statement Tuesday after the charges against him were announced: "Last May, I had an experience I will remember the rest of my life. I learned a lot from what happened that evening, and I feel I am a better person because of it. Now, I want to move on with a new and exciting situation I have at the University of New Mexico. I have really enjoyed my brief time in Albuquerque and I look forward to working with my new teammates and making a positive impact to the Lobos basketball team on and off the court."


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