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2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Let’s get it on

Rush fired up for Final Four

Kansas guard Brandon Rush slaps hands with fans as the Jayhawks take the court for practice in this file photo. KU worked out at the Alamodome in San Antonio on the eve of the 2008 national semifinal game against North Carolina.

Kansas guard Brandon Rush slaps hands with fans as the Jayhawks take the court for practice in this file photo. KU worked out at the Alamodome in San Antonio on the eve of the 2008 national semifinal game against North Carolina.

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— Brandon Rush is a joy to be around during Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners at his grandmother's house in Kansas City, Mo.

"He is so low-key. When he says something over the holidays, it's ridiculously funny," says former UCLA standout JaRon Rush, brother of both Indiana Pacers guard Kareem, as well as Kansas University junior Brandon.

"He's always joking with me, saying, 'I got farther than you,''' added JaRon, who never made it past the Sweet 16 during his days as a Bruin.

Low-key, easy-going, fun-loving Brandon Rush - "He's the funniest guy on the team; that's what the guys tell me," notes coach Bill Self - has turned some heads in taking on the role of intense team leader in the past few practices preceding today's 7:47 p.m. Final Four tipoff between KU (35-3) and North Carolina (36-2).

Rush at a workout in Lawrence earlier this week screamed at senior power forward Darnell Jackson, one of the guys who'll try to slow Tyler Hansbrough (22.8 ppg, 10.2 rpg) and the high-flying Tar Heels.

"We were on defense hedging ball screens. I told him to trap. He thought I said something else, so he yelled at me. I was shocked. It's not like him," Jackson said. "Brandon's said some other things lately to get the team going. It's good to see him take that leadership role this time of year."

Senior Russell Robinson - he's ready to take on the chore of staying in front of UNC point guard Ty Lawson tonight - has been amazed at Rush's fiery attitude.

"Brandon is such a laid-back guy," Robinson said, used to the Rush described by JaRon more than the in-your-face leader of late. "Everybody usually sits back and starts laughing when he gets emotional like that. It wasn't like that (the other day in yelling at Jackson).

"He's becoming vocal. Whatever he's doing : I advise him to keep doing it."

The 6-foot-6 Rush - he may be asked to slow 6-foot-4 Wayne Ellington (16.6 ppg) tonight - says indeed there's a method to his madness.

Remember, his next loss likely will be his last as a college player. It long has been assumed Rush will declare for the NBA Draft following his junior campaign.

"I've been more aggressive since the Big 12 tournament when coach got on me," Rush said. "I think it's a matter of me filling in the role (as leader). I've gotten more comfortable doing that at the end of the season. Somebody needs to be the leader."

So why'd he snap at Jackson?

"It was something on defense. He was surprised, I think," Rush said. "He was so surprised it's why he probably said something about it (to media Friday)."

Rush, who takes a team-leading 13.1-point scoring average into today's national semifinal game, says he realizes the Jayhawks will need to bring all-out intensity if they hope to stymie Carolina, a team that enters with a scoring average of 89.2 ppg.

"I think it'll be a defensive game, period," Rush said. "We are going to have to guard Tyler Hansbrough and their guards, too. I think whoever will get the most stops will win the game."

While it's expected the Jayhawks will throw several bodies at Hansbrough - "He's a part of their transition; he's a part of their rebounding; he's a part of everything," Self said - it'll be Robinson's job (and Sherron Collins') to slow Lawson, the 5-11 sophomore who has 163 assists against just 68 turnovers.

"He's the head of their team. The main thing is keep him in front of you," Robinson said. "It'll be hard to do that. I have to try to not let him get the ball where he wants to. The main thing is to play our game and try to get them out of their comfort zone."

Not many teams have been able to guard the Heels, one of the speediest teams in the land.

"If it gets to be a track meet," Robinson said, "we have to put our track shoes on."

The Tar Heels do resemble sprinters more often than not.

"I would say defending the first five to 10 seconds of the possession (is important)," Self said, "That may sound very simple, but that's very accurate, because they'll get shots up in that time frame. You have to slow them down first and foremost. It's easier said than done to get back.

"If you worry TOO much about getting back, it takes away your aggressiveness. We have to be who we are and that is in the very aggressive attack-type mode."

Aggressive - just the way to describe Rush these days.

"We've got a great opportunity if we come out and defend and rebound," Rush said. "We've got a lot of upperclassmen. Everybody needs to step up. Everybody needs to be a leader tomorrow."

It would not surprise Rush's brothers, mom and grandmother - who will be in the stands today - if the youngest of the Rush brothers continues to be that leader.

"He always wanted to be something special," JaRon Rush said. "It's every player's dream to win the national championship. At UCLA I wanted to win a national championship. It's his dream, and I think he can get it."

Even if he has to bruise some of his teammates' feelings in the process.

Extra! Extra! Write the headline

So, just how would you capture the euphoria of victory - or, god forbid, the agony of defeat - in just a few words?

As the Jayhawks get ready for their big game against North Carolina in the Final Four, we're giving everyone a chance to submit their suggested headlines for Sunday morning's paper.

Some advice: Be clever, descriptive and, of course, concise. Remember: Your optimistic words just might end up being prophetic.

For now, we'll stick with taking ideas for the national semifinal, the one pitting Bill Self and the No. 1-seeded Jayhawks against Roy Williams and his No. 1-seeded Tar Heels.

Show off your headlines by going to www2.ljworld.com/headline and leaving your suggestion in the comments.

Comments

JJHAWK 11 years, 10 months ago

Sevenyear:Umm . . . it might be you. But then again I don't have my glasses on yet.Go Hawks!

okjhok 11 years, 10 months ago

I noticed that yesterday, 7. Definitely trajan...been up since 5...can't sleep any longer. This day has been a long time coming. I'm gonna try and enjoy it. Let's get it done, boys.

jayharchitect 11 years, 10 months ago

So, bad news is I am out of the country and won't be around internet. Good news is, last year I was out of the country and couldn't watch during our end of year flurry. (First game I saw when I returned was the UCLA game)

sevenyearhawk 11 years, 10 months ago

"AND THEN THERE WERE FOUR"Is it me, or is that sign written in ... TRAJAN?!?

NH_JHawk 11 years, 10 months ago

Sounds like Rush is tuned into this game and the fact that these are (likely) his last collegiate opportunities. This is the passion and fire and hunger we were all wondering about after K-State, Texas, and OSU. There could be NO better time to find it than now.LET'S GET IT ON!! ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK!!

jhawkshocker 11 years, 10 months ago

Congratulations Jayhawks!!!!! We will be cheering youon here in Springfield, MO----although I'll be surroundedby tigger fans---that's ok though, I'll order an orangejuice.

Chris Weaver 11 years, 10 months ago

OH DEAR LORD B-RUSH - LET'S WIN THIS GAME!!!! ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK GO KU!!!

Kyle Crenshaw 11 years, 10 months ago

hey jhawkshocker... im in springfield, mo too!!! sadly i will be stuck working 5-11 at steve and barrys but luckily for me my boss is playing the game over the radio and puttin it on the intercom! ROCK CHALK!

lance1jhawk 11 years, 10 months ago

Lets all just say a little prayer...Our Father, who art in Lawrence,Hallowed be thy game.Thy tourney come,Thy championship will be done,in San Antonio as it is in Allen Fildhouse.Give us this day our deserved victories.And forgive us our turnovers,As we forgive Roy who double-crossed against us.And lead us not into defeat,But deliver us from East Coast bias,For KANSAS is the basketball kingdom,And the tradition,And the glory,For ever and ever.Amen!I figure alittle prayer couldn't hurt before this one!Rock Chalk JayhawkGo KU!!!

lance1jhawk 11 years, 10 months ago

seven - i think you're right, my wife receognized that sign as trajan too

okiedave 11 years, 10 months ago

Reporting in from Tulsa - It's weird down here.At the game with Looney Booney Un. in Stillwater this year, Self was wildly cheered by the Looney Booney fans.Yesterday the Tulsa World was ran several articles taking up more than a full page on Self, including interviews with his Tulsa Attorney (Campbell) who was quoted on the chances of Bill taking the OSU job as stating "never say never" and reporting it will take a lot of money to get Self down here (Self was asked about the quote yesterday and it pissed him off that his former attorney would make such a comment). I get the impression that Looney Booney U. fans are wanting NC to win the game and then start criticising Self about the loss and setting up a significant offer from Looney Booney. Regardless of the outcome today - Show your love for a great year. Let's disappoint Looney Booney U.Go Jayhawks.

Bob Houk 11 years, 10 months ago

As far as I am concerned this is the Championship game today, Roy never won the big one with us and hopefully he won't win the big one against us. This is our year, our turn, if our big guys all play like we know they can, you know our guards will always turn it up a notch at crunch time. We can beat these guys, I know it in my heart! 20 years is long enough for us to wait!ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK K U 1988/2008!!!!!

actorman 11 years, 10 months ago

"As far as I am concerned this is the Championship game today, ... I know it in my heart! 20 years is long enough for us to wait! ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK K U 1988/2008!!!!!"I hate to break it to you, Ksstreaker, but this is NOT the championship game. I hope people aren't satisfied by just beating UNC. Don't get me wrong, this game is HUGE. But we've been close many times--SEVEN title games and only TWO titles. So when you say 20 years is long enough you're contradicting yourself. It hasn't been 20 years since we got past the Final Four, only five years. And as great as it would be to beat Roy, this is only step one. Monday is step two. There are NINE teams that have won two championships (including KU), and only FIVE have won more. KU is elite in every category but one. It's time to join our rightful place among the elites. This is the year!!!

Chad Conover 11 years, 10 months ago

Most experts are picking UNC. Good! Now KU- just play loose, have fun and prove the experts wrong!

ChicagoJHawk 11 years, 10 months ago

um, I think you're overanalyzing bhann's quote just a little bit actorman. I think he realizes this isn't the championship game but you know what he means! We haven't won the championship in 20 years, that's what he was talking about. Every KU fan knkows we've been to the final four since then!I always said a final four means nothing to me. I used to always say we've come so close too many times & we need to win it this time but I've changed the way I look at that. If we go out there today & play like I know we're capable of we can definitely win! Even if we don't I'll still be proud of every one of those guys on our team. It's only Self's 5th year so if things don't go as planned I'm not going to hate on him.The only other thing I have to say is REBOUND, REBOUND, REBOUND, REBOUND!!!! ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK GO KU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

esuyat 11 years, 10 months ago

I agree with cconn--we always play better when we're the underdog. Stay loose, Hawks and go get 'em! Rock Chalk!!!!!

William Cormode 11 years, 10 months ago

I dont know if we would be here with Julian on the team. D-Jack wouldnt have stepped up and he does all of things Julian couldn't. There are plenty of scorers on the team we needed a role player like Jackson this year.

Chris Weaver 11 years, 10 months ago

three keys today -turnovers - ku hawking the ball from some careless carolina ball handlersperimeter shooting - if we start dropping them from deep early, it will open up our inside gameb-rush attacking the rimthose are the three things i want to see early and often.ROCK CHALK !!!!

Jacobpaul81 11 years, 10 months ago

Was it necessary to add (and Sheron Collins) to Bill's comment? If Bill said, "its russel's responsibuility" then according to Bill, it's russel's job. If you're implying Bill isn't telling the whole truth, then say it. But the fact of the matter is, if Bill feels russel's the key to slowing him down, the Russel's the key. There's no need to insert your own input. How do you know that Sheron will even guard him? Once again, it's another example of the low level Lawrence Journalism is conducted upon. You'd think with the quality of journalism school KU has, we might actually have some decent sports journalists.

lance1jhawk 11 years, 10 months ago

jacobpaul -The (and Sheron Collins) means that Coach Self said "it'll be Robinson's job and his", his referring to Sheron. Editing involves clarifying who Coach Self meant by 'his'. Bedore is not inserting his opinion.

okiedave 11 years, 10 months ago

The zebras are letting Memphis and UCLA play. Hopefully, Kansas can use its depth for a runnin' game.

jayhawkinATL 11 years, 10 months ago

One hour away...now the butterflies are settling in.

justanotherfan 11 years, 10 months ago

Ladies and gentlemen, the witching hour is upon us...

Mitch_4_KU 11 years, 10 months ago

Holy Sh*t, I am so nervous I am about to puke.Go HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bob Houk 11 years, 10 months ago

Come on Actorman, you know what I was talking about. We have to play them one at a time. Chicago JHawk could see what I meant. I have watched every KU game that was televised and am considered here in good old Moran Kansas, the #1 KU fan around. Like I told the K-Staters at the country club today, that were giving me crap about wearing so much Crimson & Blue. I just told them, I at least I wear Crimson & Blue all year not just when they are winning big. Go Jayhawks, we will even have to play tougher, as they just announced not Sherron tonite as he turned that bad ankle again. Rock Chalk Jayhawks-KU 1988/2008

Bob Houk 11 years, 10 months ago

Sorry about saying Sherron was out, didn't read about poor Rodrick, sorry Rodrick. Sherron and the hawks are playing inspired!!!!!!Go Hawks!!!!!1988/2008

didjabuti 11 years, 10 months ago

Ok, I couldn't help my self. The quotations ended before talking about Russell and Sherron guarding Lawson. It was just a segue (sp?) into the quote from Robinson.

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