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Kansas University's basketball players credit former Jayhawk guard Jacque Vaughn for some of their inspired play against North Carolina on Saturday night.
Vaughn, a reserve who won a world championship last year for the hometown San Antonio Spurs, recited an inspirational poem for the Jayhawks during one of the squad's practices at the Spurs' training facility earlier this week.
"The message was basically, 'Seize the moment,''' said KU freshman walk-on Chase Buford, whose dad, R.C., is the Spurs' general manager and was an assistant coach on KU's 1988 title team.
"It was a good poem. He had it down," noted junior Brad Witherspoon, who said Vaughn had the poem memorized. "He said, 'You guys are on the mountaintop right now. Seize it.'''
Noted junior Mario Chalmers: "Jacque Vaughn spoke to us. He said we're close to the highest point of the mountain. Keep moving up.'''
KU coach Bill Self said, "It was really cool when Jacque talked to our team. Jacque is as good a guy as there is. What a great ambassador he has been for our university."
Sound familiar: When Memphis John Calipari talked about how Chris Douglas-Roberts needed to improve when he arrived at Memphis, he used words similar to those KU coach Self has spoken about Brandon Rush in the past.
"My challenge was to get him to defend better," Calipari said. "The challenge for us and for himself is to improve his perimeter shooting, which he has. The last challenge is the motor, that I'm sprinting that floor, I'm never jogging, to play at that level. When he hits that, you're going to see, you know, that he is as good as anybody in the country."
Douglas-Roberts and Rush, both projected first-round NBA Draft choices, will be matched up against each other for much of the night.
"I would imagine Brandon probably shoots it a little bit better, and maybe Chris drives it a little bit better," Calipari said.
Manning to be inducted: KU assistant coach Danny Manning is one of seven to be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame on Nov. 23. He will be joined by Nolan Richardson, Jim Phelan, Billy Packer, Arnie Ferrin, Charles Barkley and Dick Vitale.
"We're very proud of him. And of course he's very deserving," Self said of Manning, who, as coach in charge of the scouting report on Memphis, declined to be interviewed Sunday.
Best wishes from buddies: Self was able to visit with some close friends who made the trip to San Antonio after KU's victory over Carolina on Saturday.
"My wife had a little get-together in our (hotel) suite for all the people that came to San Antonio that I wouldn't get to see," Self said. "Basically I get back (from game), walk into the suite, there's 40 people there. I can say hello to everybody, give them a hug, then I can be out in 20 minutes. That was probably the highlight of the night. I was able to touch everybody in one setting as opposed to everybody coming around at different times and really not wanting to focus on that. There wasn't much celebrating last night."
Recruiting rivals to meet: Memphis and Kansas are rivals on the court tonight and recruiting every night. "We go against Kansas more than anybody else in recruiting," Calipari said.
The two are after Oklahoma City sensation Xavier Henry, son of former KU player Carl Henry. The coaches can't discuss specific recruits in accordance with NCAA rules.
KU recruited Memphis' Derrick Rose and Douglas-Roberts, but neither made official campus visits.
This is the year: Self long has believed in his team.
"Not very often do you combine talent, experience, depth, toughness, so many things," he said. "You know teams like this, I think Cal (Calipari) alluded to this also, teams like this don't happen every year. I've known that since the first day of practice."