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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Ex-Jayhawk Pugh all for KU

Despite CU doctorate, former forward not divided

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KU looks to bounce back

Bouncing back is the phrase of the day at Allen Fieldhouse. It's something the Kansas men's basketball team hasn't had to do all season until now.

Reader poll

Who do you now consider to be the favorite in the Big 12 men's basketball race?

  • Kansas 76% 3911 votes
  • Kansas State 22% 1146 votes
  • Texas 0% 12 votes
  • Texas A&M 0% 5 votes
  • Baylor 0% 32 votes
  • Someone else 0% 12 votes

5118 total votes.

— Dr. T.J. Pugh, who played college basketball at Kansas University and went on to graduate from the University of Colorado School of Medicine, will have no mixed loyalties today.

"I will not be sitting behind the KU bench wearing a Colorado sweatshirt," said Pugh, who played for the Jayhawks from 1995 to '99.

He, his wife, Amy, and 2-year-old son, Charlie, will be sporting Jayhawk apparel.

"I'm proud of what we did. I'm proud of what this team is doing," Pugh said of the 2007-08 Jayhawks, who take a 20-1 record into today's 2:30 p.m. (Central time) clash at CU.

Pugh was hoping to witness history in person today.

Had the Jayhawks defeated Kansas State on Wednesday, they today would be trying to tie Pugh's 1996-97 squad for best start in school annals.

That team, which boasted future NBA players in Paul Pierce, Raef LaFrentz, Jacque Vaughn, Scot Pollard, Billy Thomas and Ryan Robertson, opened 22-0 en route to a 34-2 season - the only losses at Missouri in overtime in Game 23 and against Arizona in the Sweet 16.

"It actually crossed my mind the other day. I remember it was a big deal when we went 22-0. I went down the schedule and figured when it might happen. I realized it'd be Boulder and I'd be at the game," Pugh said.

Pugh - who at 6-foot-9 has to be the tallest doctor in Denver (he's specializing in treating pediatric oncology patients and central nervous system tumors) - said he was rooting for Bill Self's Jayhawks to eclipse his team's record.

"I'd be extremely proud," Pugh said. "I'd wear my Jayhawk tie to work the next day. I'm so impressed with this team. I've watched them play when I can. Their discipline, depth, intensity, focus ... it's been impressive."

Equally impressed has been Pugh's KU roommate, Robertson, regional marketing director for The Hartford in suburban St. Louis.

"I've probably seen 10 games, 15 games," Robertson said. "I love watching them. A couple of games I shook my head at how impressive they were.

"I'm as excited about this team as everybody else. I'm a little more tempered because I've seen this story before. I know how it can end," Robertson added. "The crazy thing about college basketball ... as good as you can be for three months, it comes down to how good as you can be for three weeks (in NCAAs). The thing I learned during our great run in '96-97 is, enjoy the great ride. I hope these guys are enjoying their great run in the Big 12 destroying people, that it's a rare thing."

Robertson paused when asked if his '96-97 KU team could defeat this Jayhawk squad.

"Man, it's tough to compare eras and players," said Robertson, who played one year for the Sacramento Kings, entering the last game of the season after being on the inactive list all year.

"It's one of those fun arguments you can have. I'll believe in my heart of hearts we had the best team that ever played at the university. The reality is Danny's (Manning) team in '88 won a national title, and there were other ones. Rex's (Walters) went to the Final Four. Several teams and this one included have something to get into that argument. Ask me point-blank and, I'll say we're up there, but that's a debate for you and the fans."

On a lighter note, Robertson and Pugh believe they likely have one record all their own - the highest combined grade-point average for a pair of roommates in KU hoops history, both just under a perfect 4.0.

"I think we'd compete with anybody," Pugh said with a laugh. "We went back to Springfield (Mass.) for coach (Roy) Williams' Hall of Fame induction, and Ryan was cracking me up. We were arguing about it with C.B. (McGrath). Ryan said, 'After going through 8,000 years of school, my roommate was the Michael Jordan of academics.'"

¢ Happy Roby: CU senior guard/forward Richard Roby likes playing for former Denver Nuggets and Air Force coach Jeff Bzdelik.

"He is a great guy on and off the court. If you need anything, you can trust him. He will do whatever it takes. He expects a lot out of us, too," said Roby, who first met Bzdelik through his half brother, Kenyon Martin, who played for the coach with the Nuggets.

"My brother said he's happy he's my coach here and told me to take full advantage of it."

¢ Better than record?: KU coach Self says CU presents great challenges despite its 1-5 league record.

"It's a huge game for us. It's a game historically we have played well out there," said Self of the Jayhawks, who have won nine straight and 36 of the past 37 games in the series. "This is a different team. They are running all new stuff. It (Princeton offense) is a little complicated.

"Although I am concerned about Colorado and its players, we have got to have the right psyche going out there and really look forward to playing, which I think we will because we've got a bad taste in our mouths now (after Wednesday's loss at KSU). Going to Boulder is not an easy 'W.' This is a much improved ballclub."

¢ KU to be motivated: Brandon Rush was asked if KU would try to take out its frustrations on the Buffs.

"We won't be angry, we're just going to take it more seriously than we did at K-State. We'll just get out and pressure more and just run our stuff," Rush said.

¢ Hamilton likes KU: One of the top high school juniors in the country is planning an unofficial visit to Kansas.

Jordan Hamilton, a 6-7 small forward from Los Angeles Dominguez High, says he wants to attend one of KU's upcoming games at Allen Fieldhouse.

"They will be in my top five when I trim my list," Hamilton tells Shay Wildeboor of Rivals.com.

He's considering KU, Texas, UConn, USC, Cal and Syracuse.

The country's No. 8-ranked prospect in the Class of 2009 averages 31 points and 14 boards a game.

¢ Appleton down to three: Tyrone Appleton, a 6-3 sophomore guard from Midland (Texas) College, tells Kentucky's Rivals.com Web site he hopes to make his college choice, "real soon. Maybe in a couple of weeks."

Appleton is considering KU, Kentucky and Iowa State. Earlier, he had considered San Jose State.

"I don't have a favorite. They're all even right now," Appleton told CatsPause.com. "I'm looking at playing time, mostly, and stuff like that."

Comments

woodhawk 6 years, 7 months ago

Glad to hear T.J. is doing so well. He's one of my all-time favorite Hawks.

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Ben Kane 6 years, 7 months ago

relax turd, he's just saying they need to step it up on a day to day basis.

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Jacobpaul81 6 years, 7 months ago

Hey boys, you were good, but the 1986 team was the best team in KU history. Calvin Thompson, Cedric Hunter, Danny Manning, Greg Dreiling and Ron Kellog. That's by far the greatest starting 5 in KU history. If the 3 pointer had been in play, no one would have beat them. Thompson and Kellog averaged 30 points a game without the 3! With the 3 in play, it'd be no contest.

In my humble opinion, the 96-97, 07-08 and the legendary 51-52 team are duking it out for second place.

=)

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Jeremy Bolinger 6 years, 7 months ago

I truely believe the media needs to stop doing interviews with Brandon Rush. While I think his intentions are good, he just sounds like an idiot. Why would you take any game lightly, especially at your rival school? Who guaranteed a victory? Who you have beaten 24 straight times? I know the "streak" had to end sometime, but damn, I'd rather have it end playing 100% than only 85%. Maybe he needs to man up every game and bring it every game, so he won't look like a fool when he jumps to the nba next season.

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Ed Fox 6 years, 7 months ago

People - Brandon and this team didn't think KSU could beat them. They didn't respect Beasley any more than he respected them. They thought they were on a magical run and that things were destined for them. Because of that, they didn't take the game as seriously as they should have, figuring that 24 years of history would get them the W. It didn't, they now realize that they're not quite as good as they thought they were and as good as a lot of the commentators were saying that they are. I have a feeling, because this reminded them of the UCLA loss, etc. that they will refocus and be just fine.

And turd - calm down. They didn't feel disrespected because they didn't think that KSU was worth feeling disrespected by. They didn't give KSU enough credit (as many around here didn't) and thought they would blow them out. Once the game started and things started going wrong (between shots not falling, KSU shooting above their heads, and horrible ref'ing) they freaked out a little cause it hadn't happened yet this year. They've experienced it again, they know what they're going to have to do from here on out, and I have a feeling Coach Self will remind them of KSU every day until April.

Cut the kids some slack, they just didn't see that happening.

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esque 6 years, 7 months ago

notabandwagonfan, isn't it every fan's and reporter's desire to hear honest answers from program participants when interviews are conducted? Everybody professes to dislike the canned, cliche'd responses most coaches and players routinely provide to the media. But occasionally a player or coach provides honest, insightful responses to questions only to be criticized by some for doing so.. While you might find Rush's statements distasteful or maddening, they appear to be honest insights into his thoughts about the game..At this point, you shouldn't be surprised at that type of statement spilling from his lips. After three years of watching and listening to him, I've long ago concluded that Rush is a bit of a flake. Many of his responses lead to some head-scratching on the part of the readers. He does not, nor will he likely ever have that tough mental approach or killer instinct necessary to make him a truly great player.

I have accepted this and would suggest that you do as well...keeps me from pulling the remaining hair I have out.

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Dirk Medema 6 years, 7 months ago

Too bad that Appleton, a 6-3 sophomore guard from Midland (Texas) College, will make his college choice, "real soon. Maybe in a couple of weeks." If he's looking at playing time, mostly, and stuff like that," he won't find out what's available from KU until April - who declares. PT could be wide open with strong tourney and early entries, or it could be clogged.

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Dirk Medema 6 years, 7 months ago

Maybe the saddest aspect of this team is still the lack of leadership. Whose going to step up to BR and tell the leading scorer to pull his head out of his arse and be a true NBA caliber player with his NBA potential talent. Mario may question his "no one is going to have to remind me to be aggressive ever again" comments to the press, but was he doing it to Brandon at KState or just to reporters.

Darnell needs to grab Russell, Mario, and Sherron by the collar (preferrably all at the same time), with his nose 2" from their faces, and demand the ball in the post. FEED ME THE BALL! Or maybe Russell, Mario, and Sherron need to stick a shoe up his a$$ (preferrably all at the same time), and tell him to move his fat a$$ and create some space to feed him the ball. 2 shot attempts is lame.

The teams mentality leading up to the game seemed to be "there's no pressure. We're relaxed. Just rolling thru the season." So they spent the week not trying to put extra pressure (nervousness) on themselves, and played that way; relaxed.

When I ran (track & cross country), the lead group on my HS team had a question/response tht we would pose to one another in the second half of a long race(2 miles or more). Not the first half, because anyone can run half a race, and not the very end, because anyone can sprint to the finish. The 3rd 1/4 is what's tough though. So the leader would ask another teammate, "How you feel?" The only reasonable answer at that point is, "Give me pain!" The pain is a runners biggest competition, so it has to be attacked. Who on this team is yearning to attack the competition?

Beasley & Walker were a huge part of the competition. We got Walker out of the heart of the competition, but we never attacked Beasley with our bigs so he didn't pick up even his first foul until mid-2nd half. He figured out that Sasha's D was too much for him down low (even Cole a little bit), so he took him (them) outside and burned from 3. We were never smart enough to do the same to him; attack his weakness. Pound the post and get him some fouls.

R, M, S all attacked the basket, but the ref's weren't calling any of the hack. We never fed the post tho, so DJ only has 2 shots, and Beasley has about as many fouls.

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Mitch_4_KU 6 years, 7 months ago

Its Saturday.... the opponent is "Clod"arado so maybe we should forget Wed. and get back into palying like we can.... I hope the guys are not as obsessed with KSU as the posters here are.

Rock Chalk

God save the Quin!

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Lance Hobson 6 years, 7 months ago

Geez, Pugh was a terrible player but good to see he is doing well and representing KU well He was the epitome of the clod white players Roy Williams always recruited. Ironically, it was the horrible shooting and the out of control Jaque Vaughn that caused us to lose to Arizona in '97.

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