Frank Phifer admitted he was playing at roughly 85 percent Thursday night because of a lingering ankle injury that forced him to miss all of last season.
The Washburn senior forward called the exhibition game against Kansas University "just a practice." Despite KU's convincing 99-69 exhibition victory against Washburn, Phifer still tallied 22 points and 11 boards in 22 minutes.
It was obvious Thursday's game meant much more to the Bronx, N.Y., native than a routine practice.
"I just wanted to see where I'm at and make the people in the (MIAA) conference think twice about me, because I know they're probably thinking I was going to come back the way I was," Phifer said. "By me playing today and showing everybody the type of player I am, I think I'll have everyone in the conference a little shaky now."
Phifer's biggest strength appeared to be his ability to get to the foul line. Phifer constantly had KU players going after his pump fakes around the basket. He converted 12 of 14 free throws and was 5-of-10 from the field. But Phifer still said he wasn't satisfied with the performance.
"I'm not back to the way I was a year ago before my injury," Phifer said. "People said, 'Hey, Frank, you had 22 (points) and 11 rebounds,' but I feel I could have done better if I was 100 percent."
Phifer, who transferred to Washburn from Kentucky Wesleyan, challenged Kansas post players Darnell Jackson, Julian Wright and Darrell Arthur throughout the game. Even Washburn coach Bob Chipman said he was pleasantly surprised with Phifer's tenacity in the post.
"Frank's a classy post man, and he's tough in there," Chipman, in his 28th year as the Ichabods coach, said. "He's only about 85 percent, but I thought he held his own in there."
Aside from Phifer, though, Washburn's post men had difficulty containing Jackson and Arthur. The duo combined for 39 points and 16 rebounds.
Arthur wowed the KU crowd in his freshman debut with 21 points, six rebounds and six steals.
After Chipman's post-game assessment, the Dallas native now has quite a bit to live up to.
"He is not freshman of the year," Chipman said of Arthur. "He is freshman of the century. It's like no one else is on the court. He's a fabulous player. You can tell the athletic ability."
Chipman said he was particularly impressed with the Jayhawks' speed and their ability to run in the open court.
"They're so athletic at every position," Chipman said. "They are so fun to watch. If I wasn't coaching at Washburn, I'd buy season tickets here."
Chipman said the loss would pay off toward the end of the season.
"Even though they whipped us pretty good there, we'll take bits and pieces from this, and it will help us," Chipman said.