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Thursday, December 6, 2007

Keegan

Keegan: All signs say Rush on mend

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KU faces Eagles, comes out on top

Tonight Bill Self's squad put their new #3 ranking on the line for the first time against Eastern Washington. The Hawks bested the Eagles, 85-47.

Eagles to invade Hawks' nest

After winning its first road game of the year at USC, the Kansas men's basketball team returns home tonight. This evening the Jayhawks take on Eastern Washington at Allen Fieldhouse, where Kevin Romary is standing by.

Useless trivia with DJ

DJ Whetter and Kevin Romary play useless fieldhouse trivia.

Audio clips

2007-08 Dec. 5 KU-EWU Basketball

A successful stock investor doesn't look at a company's bottom line today, rather looks for signs of where the company is headed.

A baseball manager bringing along a flame-thrower coming off of arm surgery doesn't study his pitching line to determine when that pitcher is ready to slide back into the rotation. He looks for signs, first the consistent return of velocity, then his ability to hit spots consistently.

A forecaster doesn't look at the sky to predict the weekend's weather.

Similarly, Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self didn't read Brandon Rush's line in the box score to form an opinion on whether the junior forward from Kansas City had an encouraging night Thursday in an 85-47 pummeling of Eastern Washington. The coach looked for and found signs that the athlete he coached last year is on his way back in the wake of ACL surgery.

In the past two games, Rush has made just six of 22 field-goal attempts, which, come to think of it, sounds a little like one game from O.J. Mayo. Rush made one of eight 3-point shots in the two games.

"I didn't think Brandon played his best tonight," Self said. "I didn't think he played his best obviously Sunday. But look at him. He did three things tonight that were better than anything he's done this year. He got a rebound off two feet where he went way above everybody else in traffic. He got a dunk off one foot in transition, which he hasn't done at all. And he guarded No. 10, and 10 couldn't get around him. There are three things that from my perspective are the three best things he's done. I didn't think he played well offensively, as far as he looked passive. But if he can keep 10 in front of him, and he can rebound in traffic and he can finish in transition, then he's close to back to being Brandon."

Close is a vague term, but so much time remains in this basketball season that if close ends up meaning March, what's wrong with that?

Rush has a beautiful jump shot, so his recent dry spell from the perimeter is close to meaningless. The three factors Self listed mean far more.

The No. 10 Self referenced was Adris DeLeon, whose strategy all night was to blow by his man. He scored a game-high 24 points and needed only 11 field-goal attempts to do so on a team that had only three players score in the first 34:52 of the game.

At his healthiest, the long-armed 6-foot-6 Rush is an explosive jumper who slides his feet guarding a ball-handler as well as most big-time sub-6-footers. Among KU players, nobody's game is as sound as his head-to-toe when he's physically sound.

"It'll just take some time to get back in the flow, try to get back to my old self like I was last year, so I can be explosive and help my team out rebounding," said Rush, who had nine points and 10 rebounds in 22 minutes.

Rush said his knee "gets a little tired sometimes, but it's no big deal." He said it's as much mental as physical.

"I just don't push myself to jump as high as I can," Rush said.

Steady improvement from Rush, the return of Sherron Collins to break down defenses and create easy baskets and the establishment of a post-up game with the sort of persistence evident Wednesday will be huge keys to this promising season for Kansas.

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