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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Keegan: Blowout not total waste

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The Washington Generals wore green uniforms that said Dartmouth on the front, and the best moments Tuesday night in Allen Fieldhouse came before tip-off on the video board, where Julian Wright slammed defending national champion Florida over and over again.

Witnessing suspense of any sort also required looking upward, where the video-board basketball shuffle took place during a break in the action. The No. 3 hoop was the winner. Nailed it, thank you very much.

The students, anticipating a blowout, stayed away in droves. The northwest corner seats were unoccupied until a small gathering of anti-social folks in search of privacy and leg room found it there.

If anybody cares, the final score was Kansas 83, Dartmouth 32. Even if at full strength, this was one test the student-athletes from injury-thinned Dartmouth never would pass.

From a spectator's viewpoint, the game was a waste. Charging admission to watch a replay of the Florida victory on the scoreboard would have made for a more entertaining evening, and the student section would have been jam-packed.

For at least one player, though, the game was worthwhile. Brady Morningstar, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound freshman out of Free State High and New Hampton Prep in New Hampshire, played 13 minutes and showed a nice feel for setting up teammates. Morningstar, who did not get off the bench against Oral Roberts, Ball State or Florida, totaled five points, three rebounds and three assists.

He faces much better competition in practice on a daily basis.

"In a game, it's not that bad either because you're out there under pressure with a lot of people watching you on TV," Morningstar said.

With a minute left, Morningstar was on the receiving end of a Jeremy Case lob. He dropped it in instead of trying to jam it. He also hit a three-point shot, but it was his finding shots for teammates that stood out.

At New Hampton, Morningstar averaged 22 points a game. As a Free State senior, he averaged 18 points, many on lobs he slammed home.

"I knew coming in I wasn't going to be a scorer," Morningstar said. "We have All-Americans who can score. I just try to get the ball to them."

His underhanded feed of Brandon Rush resulted in a soft dunk. He hit Darnell Jackson for a pick-and-pop and drove the lane and dished to Rod Stewart (the one with short hair) for a three-pointer.

The son of Linda and Roger Morningstar, who played at KU for Ted Owens, and the brother of former KU volleyball players Linsey (a senior) and Jamie (1999-2002), Brady was recruited by Tennessee before accepting Bill Self's scholarship offer.

"Brady's been in kind of a weird situation in that we did not red-shirt him because we believe he will help us this year, but we did not believe he was quite ready to help us against Florida," Self said. "So we kind of prepared up until that game to give Rod those minutes, but Brady has a chance to be that fifth perimeter player. I don't know if it's going to happen Saturday (against DePaul). : I really believe by January he's going to be a guy who can impact our program in a favorable way."

By January, the cream-puff opponents will be history. Hurry up, January.

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