Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Kansas basketball notebook


The Jayhawks wore red uniforms for the first time since a loss at Villanova on Jan. 22, 2005. KU is 5-1 in red uniforms under Bill Self. Prior to Self becoming coach, the previous time KU wore red was in the 1986 Final Four under coach Larry Brown.

¢ Board work: Brandon Rush grabbed 10 rebounds to go with his 14 points in 23 minutes. His career high is 12 boards.

"The ball pretty much fell in my hands, so I had no choice but to go up there and grab it," Rush said. "I made a couple of good block-outs. Coach has been stressing good block-outs."

¢ Itinerary: The Jayhawks will practice today in Allen Fieldhouse, then head to Las Vegas for the Las Vegas Invitational.

The players, who will attend a show on the famed Vegas strip tonight, will have a 10 p.m. curfew in Glitter City, Self indicated. He will have the players practice twice on Thanksgiving, with two Thanksgiving meals - "a lunch and a dinner," Self said.

"The coaches' (curfew) is a little later than that. It will be the same as the scribes," he quipped. "It is a business trip," he added in a serious tone.

The team will not stay in a casino, but in a hotel off the strip.

"We are at a non-gaming hotel," Self indicated of the Marriott Renaissance.

¢ Ball State, then Florida: KU will play 2-1 Ball State - a 70-55 loser to Tennessee Chattanooga in Muncie, Ind., Friday night; then 5-0 defending national champion Florida on Saturday.

"It's tough not to look past them, still we've got to play Ball State tough," Rush said. "I think everybody is looking forward to playing Florida. I've been thinking about it ever since they won the national championship and I heard they were on the schedule. They have a good team; Ball State does too."

KU soph Julian Wright proved to be a team leader of sorts, cutting short questions about Florida by grabbing the microphone from Rush in the interview room to the laughter of Rush and media in attendance.

"Every game is a stepping stone. Coach told us we've got to focus on Ball State," Wright said.

¢ He's a leader: Self liked Sasha Kaun's return for many reasons. One that might come as a surprise is the player's ability to lead.

"We've been talking about leaders. That may be the guy. He has changed the excitement of our team in the locker room just being there," Self said. "He is pretty vocal. Of course he speaks Russian. I think he definitely speaks Russian when he's upset with me."

¢ Happy for J.R.: Russell Robinson said he was happy for former teammate J.R. Giddens, who scored 21 points with 10 rebounds in New Mexico's victory over Kansas State on Tuesday night. Robinson said he still text-messages Giddens.

"Me and J.R. talk, e-mail, text," Robinson said. "He's one of the main reasons I came to Kansas. He made me feel so welcome on my visit. I wish him luck. I don't agree with everything he does, but he's a good kid."

¢ McLendon's school: KU graduate John McLendon coached Tennessee State to three consecutive NAIA championships (1957-59). At that time, the school was known as Tennessee A&I.; He was the first African-American coach to win three straight national titles.

McLendon, who is from Hiawatha, is a member of the Naismith Hall of Fame.


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