Friday, February 10, 2006


Rookies drawing praise

KU freshmen earn rave reviews after Nebraska win


Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self recently decreed his three freshmen starters "sophomores at the least."

Jason Dourisseau can see why.

"They've had to grow up fast. Playing at Kansas, there is a lot of pressure coming into that program," Nebraska guard Dourisseau said after watching Mario Chalmers, Brandon Rush and Julian Wright combine for 34 points, 14 rebounds and six assists in KU's 69-48 victory over the Cornhuskers on Wednesday in Lincoln.

"They do have a lot of talent, but these guys have been playing in big basketball games their whole lives," Dourisseau added.

KU's three highly-recruited players not only showed off their physical skills in the rout at Nebraska, but perhaps more importantly, exhibited mental moxie as well. Remember, KU pasted the Huskers (15-7, 5-4) by 42 points on Jan. 21 in Lawrence.

"I don't think it was a tough sell. It's what I like about it," Self said. "We watched the tape of that first game. Our guys knew they (the Huskers) missed shots the first game that didn't have anything to do with defense. It was poor defense. We were lucky they missed them the first game.

"From a competitive perspective it's not hard to convince them (to play hard every night)."

Next up for the Jayhawks (16-6, 7-2) is Saturday's 3 p.m. battle against Iowa State (14-8, 4-5) at Allen Fieldhouse.

Huskers had motivation: KU pummeled a Nebraska team that had a lot to play for Wednesday night.

Before the game, NU radio color man Matt Davison asked Omaha World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel his thoughts on the last time Nebraska played a game as big. Shatel deduced it was Davison's freshman year, 1998, the last time NU made the NCAA tournament, or the ex-Husker's sophomore year, when NU went 10-6 in the Big 12, barely missing an NCAA bid.

"Here were the stakes," Shatel wrote in Thursday's paper. "NU was tied for third in the Big 12, at 5-3, and, at 15-6, a run to March Madness was not utter madness. The Big Red's RPI was dismal, but if they could sneak into the top four, and have a big-time win along the way, you never know."

Instead ... "Opportunity knocked but the Huskers clanged it off the rim, lost it out of bounds and had it stolen by Kansas' Jayhawkish defenders," Shatel said.

And now some fans are calling for coach Barry Collier's removal ... again.

Stats of interest: KU senior guard Jeff Hawkins has committed just one turnover in his last seven games despite playing between 15 and 19 minutes in each of those games.

As a starter in KU's first 11 games, he had 35 assists, 29 turnovers. As a reserve KU's last 11 games, he has 22 assists, eight turnovers.

"Guys are figuring out their roles. My key role is not turning over the ball," Hawkins said. "When I come in the game and come out, we shouldn't be worse off than where we started."

Hawkins has made eight of 11 threes against NU this season. Since the Kentucky game on Jan. 7, Hawkins has made one of 14 threes against teams other than Nebraska.

Aldrich hurt: Cole Aldrich, a 6-foot-11 high school junior from Bloomington, Minn., who has orally committed to KU, has a stress fracture in his lower left leg, about four inches above the ankle.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that Aldrich will be out a month, effectively ending his season.

"At first I thought it was a high ankle sprain," Aldrich told the paper. "I kept playing on it for about two weeks. I went to our trainer when it wasn't getting any better."

Aldrich has averaged 17.4 points, 12.8 rebounds and 2.7 blocks for Jefferson High, which is 14-3 overall and 11-3 in conference play.

"It feels a little strange that I was playing better with my leg hurt than when I was healthy," Aldrich said of his play of late. "I don't know how to explain that."

Aldrich said he sent a text message through his cell phone to KU's Self to inform him of his injury. Aldrich said Self responded with a text message, advising him to "take his time" during the healing process.

Four for Arthur: Darrell Arthur, a 6-9 senior center from South Oak Cliff High in Dallas, told he still has a final four of KU, Indiana, Baylor and SMU.

"I was going to go I think to the Kansas vs. Texas game, but I don't know," Arthur said of the Feb. 25 game in Austin. "My head coach and AAU coach need to work that out."

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