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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Freshman not passing fancy

Rush on Chalmers: 'The only thing I don't like, he doesn't pass as much'

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Kansas University's new freshman point guard knows how to put the ball in the basket.

"Mario ... he scores pretty well. He's a scoring point guard," freshman guard/forward Brandon Rush said of 6-foot-1, 182-pound Mario Chalmers, who averaged 25.3 points a game last year at Anchorage's Bartlett High.

"Most of the time he takes a lot of threes, and they go in," Rush added, shaking his head in amazement.

Impressed with his buddy's play on the offensive end, Rush won't give Chalmers, who scored 20 points in the McDonald's All-American game, an A-plus in all areas of the game.

Not after just two weeks of practice, anyway.

"The only thing I don't like, he doesn't pass as much. He doesn't do the fancy pass like every other point guard is doing," Rush said before Wednesday's practice at Allen Fieldhouse.

"Julian ... he passes real fancy, like oohs and aahs," Rush added of freshman Julian Wright, who has been working mostly at the small-forward and power-forward positions during the first two weeks of practice.

Rush -- who has been used mostly at small forward, where he says he's been "getting to the rack, slashing, shooting, help rebound with the big boys" -- grinned at speculation coach Bill Self might not want his freshman floor general flinging acrobatic passes at workouts.

"Oh, he likes them," Rush said. "Every time (somebody) does one, throws one, he likes it. He just shakes his head."

Like most coaches, Self approves of any pass that results in an easy basket.

"We are stressing taking care of the basketball," Self said. "Sometimes guys can make easy plays more difficult than they should. We're stressing that with everybody."

Self apparently has spent time singling out Chalmers, who is battling Jeff Hawkins for the starting point-guard slot.

"He mostly has been yelling at Mario the most the past two weeks," Rush said. "Mario is laid-back, doesn't go hard. After he gets yelled at, he goes hard. He's been getting on Micah (Downs), too."

Self thinks he was harder on Chalmers the first week of practice than he has been lately.

"I think I was probably harder on Mario the most, not intentionally, just because I think that's the most important position, and he has to make good decisions," Self said. "He is responsible for everything going on out there. They (point guards) have to take ownership for everything that's going on. It takes time to get them to understand that."

Chalmers understands the coach's concerns.

"Coach has been kind of hard on me," Chalmers said. "He wants me to work harder in practice. That's what I'm trying to do. He said in Alaska I could turn my game off and on. Right now, he just wants me to bring it all-out every time. At first it was hard to do, now I'm getting used to it, play every possession like it's your last."

Chalmers tells Rush he's not against making a behind-the-back pass.

"It depends what kind of situation," Chalmers said. "If we're up by a lot, (I'll) try to add a little crowd excitement. Yes, I'll do it, but for the most part get the job done with a basic pass."

By the way, if it makes Chalmers feel any better, Rush doesn't think senior Hawkins makes the "flashy pass" either.

"No. Hawk shoots, shoots, shoots," Rush said with a grin.

  • Coach sees Series: Self took advantage of KU's day off on Tuesday to attend Game Three of the World Series -- Chicago's 7-5, 14-inning victory over the Houston Astros. He had seats in the 12th row, lower deck of Houston's Minute Maid Park.

"It's the longest game I've been part of," he said of the 5-hour, 41-minute marathon, the longest game in Series history. "I think the White Sox are in good shape."

  • Tryouts over: Walk-on tryouts are complete, with no hopeful yet invited to join the team.

"I am not positive, (but) I don't think we're going to do anything," Self said of adding a player to the roster. "As long as we're healthy, I like the numbers we're practicing with (14). I think last year we had too many (17).

"We've got guys certainly on call if anything happens, but I don't want to mislead anybody or encourage somebody because there's a great chance that won't happen. A lot depends on our health situation."

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