Sunday, April 29, 2007

Everybody needs to step up’

Aldrich knows Jayhawks must account for loss of Wright and Rush next season


Cole Aldrich realizes he's more important to Kansas University's basketball team today, than, say, three weeks ago.

"I think so," Aldrich, KU's 6-foot-11, 250-pound incoming freshman from Bloomington, Minn., said Saturday, asked if he'd have to arrive at KU as an impact player rather than a role player in the wake of decisions by Brandon Rush and Julian Wright to enter the NBA Draft.

Those departing sophomores combined for 25.8 points a game last season.

"Everybody needs to step up, though, not just me. We all need to push each other this summer on the court and in the weight room," added the McDonald's All-American, who averaged 22.9 points and 17.6 rebounds as a senior at Jefferson High.

"If you look at the team right now, we've got a lot of good players - Sherron (Collins), Mario (Chalmers), Russell (Robinson), a lot of good big guys. I'm coming in. Tyrel (Reed) is coming in. We've got guys who can step up and make things happen."

Aldrich - who will be here for summer school in early June - took the news of Rush's applying for the draft in stride.

"It's a nice thing, but kind of a hurt," Aldrich said. "With Brandon being the great player he is, everybody wants to see him stay around. But if you get the opportunity to play at the next level, if it's your dream, you can't hold anybody back from going after their dream."

Aldrich wasn't as surprised with Rush's decision as Wright's, which came April 9.

"I know Julian loved college. He loved Lawrence. He just thought since he wanted to play in the league, this would be the best year to do that," Aldrich said.

Aldrich, who admits he has pro aspirations, says he will not arrive in Lawrence counting the days until he leaves.

"I'll stay four years if I have to. Whatever ... I'll stay eight if I have to. I love the fact of college," he said. "Just the crowd, the atmosphere of the games."

He acknowledged there was a lot of talk about the NBA from fellow blue-chippers at the recent McDonald's All-America game.

"A lot of guys want to get to that level," Aldrich said. "I was talking to my girlfriend's stepdad one day. As a society people look at us ... if you don't make it in the NBA, you are an unsuccessful player. Look at Europe. There are good players there. You are making good six figures, tax free. It's getting a lot harder to make it to the NBA. I mean, you have to be an elite player."

¢ The day after: KU coach Bill Self was out recruiting Saturday in Texas - a day after he discussed with the media Rush's decision to turn pro.

Rush left town Friday night and has not spoken with KU's coach since 7:30 p.m. Thursday, when he told Self he would be entering the draft.

"Even if I was (upset at Rush), it's over," Self said. "There's nobody upset with his decision, nobody. I'm just very disappointed in the way he handled it. I told him, the way he handles this will affect a great deal the way you are thought of by people who have treated you well (the media) the last two years. I'm disappointed he didn't follow his plan, which was to announce it Friday."

As far as Rush's schedule ...

"He will be back in class (this week). He did well first semester. I'm sure he will again. His stance is not to have an agent, which is to his benefit. I am not holding out any hope (of his return). I just want him to do what is best for him. I am hoping this is what's best for him."


jaybate 14 years, 9 months ago

EMPLOYMENT NOTICE: Leading midwestern university with storied basketball program seeks a wing. Anyone 6'6" or 6'7" tall with a sweet J and good defensive skills please apply. Potential one or two and dones preferred, but will consider all applicants as its late in the recruiting process. Send resume, ACT scores and DVDs of games to:

Mr. William Self Head Basketball Coach The University of Kansas P.O. Box Trey Lawrence, KS 66044

All applications kept in strictest confidence. Equal Opportunity Employer.

areyouserious 14 years, 9 months ago

Well said jaybate..............but im afraid that we will not be getting any late signers like we did with RUSH...................I still think he will be back this summer........too many good players in the draft that can shoot, dribble, pass, and play D. Rush is lacking 2 of the sure you can guess which ones.

filmhawk 14 years, 9 months ago

hey cole - they made me stay eight years too.

booze_buds_03 14 years, 9 months ago

I would consider Rush to be back at KU next year if he has half a brain. However, I really dont think rush can think for himself, so he will definitely listen to some agent telling him about possible $$.

KURUSH1530 14 years, 9 months ago

Now, i won't lie, I'd much rather watch NBA than college. And one difference from the NBA compared to college, is NBA doesn't necessarily go for the best all around players people. If you have one exceptional quality that you excel at on the court and GM's think that will transfer over onto an NBA court, they will take you. Which is why Rush will be middle to mid 20's pick in the first round because of his defense alone. Plus he has excellent size and length, great for guarding players 2-3 inches taller than him. Rush has nothing left to improve at the college level that will increase his stock anymore than what it is.

filmhawk 14 years, 9 months ago

another thing to think about - w/ julian and brandon wright, they are getting drafted highly not because of their college careers, but because of their potential - they've shown enough in their short stints to show people that they will progress. b-rush is older. his potential ceiling is bottoming out. it's one thing to take a 19 year old with a lot of upside (aka shady), and another to take a 22 year old with a solid game that has plateaued. my guess is that if b-rush came back to lawrence and put together a season identical to the one he just had, his stock would decrease instead of increase. i think if he can go in the late first round this year, he should do it.

also - i wonder how guys like mario and r-rob will like being told by a senior in high school that they need to "step it up." careful cole.

heish 14 years, 9 months ago

College Basketball is far better than the NBA in regard to the excitement and the team play. It's unfortunate that it takes the NBA playoffs for the teams to actually start to play hard. There is such a drastic difference in play from regular season to the playoffs with the NBA; in college every game is like it's the player's last game, that's why it's so exciting.

JayViking 14 years, 9 months ago

film, the quote in the title..."everybody needs to step up," i actually don't see that anywhere in the article. cole simply said "We've got guys who can step up and make things happen."

JayViking 14 years, 9 months ago

bah, i see where he said it, just above that. my apologies. i still don't think they'll take it negatively.

worrynotjhawk 14 years, 9 months ago

"Everybody needs to step up, though, not just me. We all need to push each other this summer on the court and in the weight room," added the McDonald's All-American, who averaged 22.9 points and 17.6 rebounds as a senior at Jefferson High.

Cole understands his role on this squad. Being without Rush (unlikely as it is) and Wright won't kill this squad. There are plenty of big time contributors on this team. Look at last years stat sheet, Mario, Sherron, Darrell, and yes even Sasha can go for twenty-plus on a given night.

The one area we are going to need a bit of a contribution is rebounding - Julian (and Rush - when not hiding on the court) pulled down a lot of boards which got our offense going and it turned into a lot of points. Aldrich will fill this nicely and Arthur, Jackson, and Kaun are very capable of dominating all season.

I anticipate more key minutes from Morningstar and Reed to get the key threes in clutch situations.

Rock Chalk

filmhawk 14 years, 9 months ago

don't get me wrong - what cole said is exactly right. but it may not be his place to say this right now. the team leaders, the guys who have been in the weight room the last three summers, the guys who have been here since before julian and brandon got here, the guys who have stepped foot on a college court, may not like reading something like this from a guy who is just - and i'm not down on him - but a guy who is just real excited to get here. all i'm saying - is leadership is earned. and if he gets to the hill and becomes the leader that maybe we have been lacking - great. but first - get to the hill. right?

countryjayhawk 14 years, 9 months ago

wish these guys would look at their fellow jayhawks who just swept the defending champs, Kirk Hinrich, he was ready to go after his junior year, but he stuck around improved his draft status, went to a final four, and now is having one of the most successful NBA careers of any jayhawk

Dirk Medema 14 years, 9 months ago

film - Cole isn't usurping anyone's leadership, nor is he saying anything that hasn't been said by any other player (see last week's article on Sherron, and any number of similar articles about teams losing key players unexpectedly). He just happens to be the latest one to be quoted in the newspaper. He's not calling anybody out. He's really just reiterating what Self told him a year ago. Don't get complacent. Work your butt off. Be dominant. Don't be a role player. Fortunately, there is a lot more communication on the team than this article, and they are all quite familiar with being quoted by the media.

ku98 14 years, 9 months ago

KURUSH1530, I could not disagree more with your statement. Assuming the NBA is interested in players who excel in one particular area, that certainly will not guarantee Brandon a spot in the top 20. Brandon's defense is good, definitely the best on our team, but I would not say it is excellent. I saw him get burnt by that kid from DePaul and others. He lacks intensity at times, and intensity is exactly what defense is about. Most NBA guards won't be bothered much by Brandon. Defensive specialists get drafted in the second round, not in the top 20. This is the NBA. Defense is not always high on teams' priority list.

And I completely disagree when you say that Brandon has nothing left to prove at the college level and that there is nothing he can do to improve his draft status. How about coming back for his junior year, working on his ball handling, scoring 18-20 a game and winning the 2008 national championship? Don't you think he'd buy himself a spot in the lottery with that?

KURUSH1530 14 years, 9 months ago

ku98, I do agree that coming back and averaging 18-20 a game and winning a national championship would solidify a spot in the lottery. However, that sounds like a good dream, not reality.

Once again, I must reiterate, I am a bigger fan of the NBA than college. So I watch games daily, day in and day out. Defense is a huge key, although to the untrained eye it seems as if none is being played. These are the best athletes and players in the world. If college players could shoot like NBA players, trust me, the college ranks would seem to lack defense as well.

With that being said, why would Rush want to stick around for another so-called "great" season under HC Bill Self when he could be drafted in the first round?

KURUSH1530 14 years, 9 months ago

By the way, two picks out of the top twelve in last year's draft were used for defense..Patrick O'Bryant at number 9 and then Hilton Armstrong at number 12.

Joe Ross 14 years, 9 months ago


There's only three aspects of the game: defense, offense, and transition. So OF COURSE defense is a "...hug key". But I've watched some NBA basketball myself and I can tell you unequivocally that offensive talent is a BIGGER KEY than defense. Furthermore, some people's defense in the NBA is a LOT better than others', so it's not like they're all on even par with one another. Therefore, blanket statements should not be made (or implied) that everyone in the NBA has great defensive skills. It just isn't true.

Somewhere I read a stronger point, and it may even have been yours, that different players each bring different skill sets to the NBA and a player's particular "uniqueness" might allow him to occupy a niche in the NBA regardless of overall ability. This is the better point.

It doesn't matter how much a person watches NBA games or not quite frankly. Im sure there are more authoritative people than you--don't take offense--you disagree on aspects of the game in the NBA. Haven't you ever watched the guys on TBS argue before the games? Qualified opinions would also differ on whether Rush is a first rounder or not. Judging from the projections, I think he might go first round but some projections have him down around 25 and lower. There's only 30 teams in the league. I can't find fault with people here who say he COULD solidify his position or improve his stock by returning for a year. Why? Because if you slip to the second round you lose A LOT, but I'm sure you know that since you're savvy about the NBA (and I'm not being fecetious, Im just saying...).

Respectfully gotta disagree with you bro...

ku98 14 years, 9 months ago

KURUSH I think O'Bryant and Armstrong got drafted so high, not because they are defensive specialists, but because they are 7 footers. Size matters. Also, I think that O'Bryant and Armstrong averaged about 10 minutes per game, so if defense is such a "huge key" in the NBA, I'd expect these two highly drafted defensive juggernauts to play more than that. Also, I will agree with you that NBA players are amazing athletes. However, if they are (as you claim) the best players in the world, then explain why they have not won a golf medal in international competition in quite a few years now. Could it be because they can't play solid defense? My answer is yes. Could it because most of them can't bust a zone because they can't shoot? My answer is again yes. Bottom line, I wish Brandon (and you) the best, but if he is good enough (in your opinion) to be a top 20 pick, why do you think it is so unrealistic for me to say that he could score 18 points a game as a junior and take KU to the national championship?

jaybate 14 years, 9 months ago

I give up waiting for the LJW to post any more stories. I have one.

James Naismith is ALIVE!

He was seen walking down Jayhawk Boulevard today. He says he's feeling well and looking forward to Bill Self recruiting a wing.

jay4life 14 years, 9 months ago

I think the NBA is over rated. Cole is right for the most part that these players need not to worry because they can still make it in Europe and still earn 6 figures. When was the last time team USA won an international event? I don't even remeber. It's because everyone else has improved and basketball now is loved almost everywhere in the world.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.