Sunday, January 28, 2007


Wright’s mis-slam symbolic


Julian Wright's career was there for all to see in one first-half play Saturday afternoon against a sloppy University of Colorado basketball team.

Wright picked the ball clean near midcourt and dribbled in for an uncontested basket.

How great will this dunk be?

Where will it rank on ESPN's plays of the day?

It was sort of like the questions we ask about Wright when we get ahead of ourselves:

How great will he become?

Where will he rank all-time among Kansas University forwards?

It's way too early in the game for those questions, just as it was too early in the game for Wright to be thinking about which SportsCenter slam he would pull out of his arsenal in what would become a 97-74 victory.

As Wright went up, he lost control of his body and the ball and ended up on the floor. He spent the rest of the half on the bench.

Have you ever seen one of those Southwest Airlines commercials where someone is so embarrassed he wishes he could fly away immediately? Wright was on standby for a flight out of the building. It never came. He eventually had to get up. When he did, he limped with an injury that best could be described as bruised pride.

Afterward, teammate Brandon Rush laughed about it. The coach did not.

"Julian knows he messed up real bad, then he tried to play it off by laying on the ground like he's hurt," a smiling Rush said. "That's Julian. But he came out in the second half and played better. He had his mind right."

In the second half, Wright dunked the ball with two hands and no frills and received a huge ovation. Even so, Wright also attempted a hook pass that was intercepted when a simple pass was the correct play.

After games, the media request players for interviews, but coach Bill Self has veto power. He chose to make Wright off-limits.

Rush was left to answer what sort of dunk Wright was attempting.

"I think he was trying to windmill," Rush said. "It didn't work out too good. I ain't never seen that before, not in a game, just falling and laying there like he's hurt."

Wright is high on everybody's list of favorites, from teammates to coaches, from professors to fellow students, from the bowlers at the on-campus alleys to Lawrence residents he greets with a smile and a hello. That's what makes it so difficult for anyone to get angry with him for his tendency to let Harlem Globetrotters moments taint his game and the team.

Audio clips

2006-07 Jan. 27 KU-CU Hoops

"He missed it because he was trying to do something spectacular, and whenever he doesn't play well it's usually because he's trying to do something spectacular," Self said. "I think it's frustrating because no matter what has been said, he still wants to make spectacular plays as opposed to good plays. He had an opportunity to get just as big a cheer from the crowd making a good play as doing something that he saw as being spectacular."

Imagine how good Wright could become if he were as adept as Russell Robinson at making the simple play.

"I think Julian is a fabulous talent who makes the game harder sometimes than what it actually is," Self said.

If the dunk that wasn't becomes a turning point, it will do Wright more good than any slam he ever has finished.


David Black 11 years, 4 months ago

I'm sorry but all I could think of was "Southwest Arline's Julian"..hey,he is a kid and I am proud he is a Jayhawk. Rock Chalk

rockchalkjayhawk4ku11 11 years, 4 months ago

We all screw up I wouldnt know what to do after I missed that either. Its all right Julian we all know you can make that dunk anyway. GO HAWKS

jayhawkinATL 11 years, 4 months ago

That mis-dunk was hilarious, no doubt. The other funny moment was when Sasha appeared to have injured his leg, at least that's what the announcers kept alluding to. We all knew he got a crotch-shot. It was priceless seeing Sasha bury his head in Julian's chest on the bench with Julian and RussRob just laughing away.

John Strayer 11 years, 4 months ago

In hindsight, it appears the worst thing the Big XII could have done to KU was vote Rush and Wright as preseason co-POY. Rush hasn't been at that star level so far this year even though he leads this team. And that vote has just messed with Julian's head big time; he just appears to be working too hard to live up to that expectation.

Jonathan Andrews 11 years, 4 months ago

It's such a fine line with a talent like Julian. You have to give him freedom for him to grow, but eventually you have to ask for some meat-and-potatoes, ordinary play from him. The team can't grow around him without it.

John Brown 11 years, 4 months ago

It was the only Kansas ESPN hightlight of the game for us out of staters. However, his acting is as good as my 5 year old's. But she gets the attention or the item that she wants in her role.

Kyle Crenshaw 11 years, 4 months ago

undisciplined? did u not read what self did? julian was benched for the rest of the half. im pretty sure that is discipline. some player's natural instinct is when they've got a chance to do something spectacular, they go for it. and this time but he messed up. but o well, i thought it was funny. id much rather have julian as a jayhawk than in powder blue even if he misses an occasional dunk.

Derek King 11 years, 4 months ago

And don't forget, the only reason he had the breakaway dunk opportunity in the first place is because he created a steal with his smothering, one-on-one, on-the-ball defense.

And, despite what the coach says, when you know you can make the dunk and 16,300 are BEGGING for it, do you HONESTLY expect him to lay it in? That was exactly what that breakaway situation called for--he just didn't execute. And we were up 15 at the time.

michael anway 11 years, 4 months ago

Self talks about toughness. Ask yourself this question. How many Mamma's boys do we have on this team?

Jclarkson 11 years, 4 months ago

I agree on the undisciplined comment. Sure, Julian didn't play the rest of hte first half, but he wasn't disciplined enough to not attempt something like that. Sometimes it seems as though we're too busy trying to make something look beautiful, than just making it look simple.

It reminds me of the Simpsons episode where Homer goes to Clown College. Krusty is explaining a stunt and says, "if you pull it off, it'll look great. But if you screw it up, you'll look really stupid."

I applaud Self for benching Julian. Until the team as a whole can be more disciplined with the ball, this season will end up as one of those "what if" seasons that end way too prematurely.

rockchalkjayhawk4ku11 11 years, 4 months ago

Jayhawkerman, SHUT UP! Julian scews up and every one gets down on him? He is a good player he is just thinking to much.

cobweb 11 years, 4 months ago

Several of the guys have missed dunks showboating this year. The missed easy baskets will cost us an important game one day. Put the ball in the hoop and quit screwing around. We won't win a national championship doing this crap. If Julian worked on his shooting as hard as he works on his dunks, he would be a much better player.

CMKUbLu304 11 years, 4 months ago

ok, for one, he's 19 and trying to have fun. and for two, we were kicking their butts anyway. The crowd was kinda dull...I should know I was there. It was a sloppy game, not a lot to cheer about. A break-away dunk would have got the crowd into it. I honestly don't know any player, on any team, that can dunk like Julian can, that would not have attempted something to get the crowd fired up in that situation. I have to applaud his acting tho, had me like what? haha. But coach Self did what he needed to do to tell Julian that it wasn't the best play to make, however...if he would have made it, it would have been on ESPN top 10. Sometimes you goof. It's not like it cost us the game, or even close. So get over it.

Christopher Johnson 11 years, 4 months ago

Does Wright remind anybody of Drew Gooden? Drew made a lot of knucklehead plays like that early in his career . . . he still turned out great when he learned a good mix between the smart plays and when to do something exciting.

Alex Staley 11 years, 4 months ago

ok guys, don't be getting down on Julian. If it werent for him and his ambitious dunks we would not have the newspaper front page, highlight of the tournament, 360 slam against Texas in the Big XII championship. Nor would we have the amazing slam against Florida earlier this season. So Julian embarrased himself a little bit. How often does he go up for dunks like that and miss? Not very often. Dont underestimate the impact one of his slams has. When Allen Fieldhouse starts to get quiet especially. It gets the crowd in the game like no other play.

John Strayer 11 years, 4 months ago

Regarding making the "simple" shot, well that doesn't guarantee points this year either. How many "bunnies" has this team missed this year? How many common layups have gone careening off of the backboard over the front of the rim?

KU just seems to be trying too hard. The bulk of this team are sophomores; the future is still bright when they can get it figured out.

kufan4life 11 years, 4 months ago

It was funny, we won, and now it's time to let it go.

jayloco 11 years, 4 months ago

Yep, it was really funny. Even funnier that he laid on the grown faking the injury. I think everyone knew that was more pride than anything.

The "undisciplined" comments have their merit. Have you notice that we seem to come out of the gate playing very fast, making lots of mistakes and turning the ball over a lot. Just seems that way to me lately. Those lost possessions early on could really help KU get off to a good start and put a lot of pressure on an opponent should they fall behind early to this talented Hawks squad.

Roysoldboy 11 years, 4 months ago

I nearly fell out of my chair on that shot and his resulting job but the Kaun rack job was one of the funniest things I have ever seen and the attempt of the announcers to play it down as a leg injury was much sicker than just coming out with the truth. The looks on the faces of Robinson and Wright on each side were priceless. I think they got a bigger kick out of that one than the team got out of Wright's failed dunk and they were laughing at him as hard as I was.

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