Acronyms tend to trigger predictable images. Play the word-association game with several listed below and see if you don't spit out the same responses.
NORML: Grateful Dead.
RBI: Tony Perez.
ABC: Terri Hatcher.
AAU: Sloppy, selfish, playground basketball coached by sleazy guys seeking to ride a superstar's coattails all the way to a college coaching job.
Sometimes, that characterization of AAU basketball fits. And then there is the 17-and-under K.C. Pump N Run team, which operates at the opposite end of the spectrum. Structure. Discipline. Fundamentals. Those buzzwords capture the program run for the past six years by Dodge City native L.J. Goolsby, a former point guard at Mississippi and Wichita State.
His teams play as if they practice together daily. Short on flash and long on taking good shots, K.C. Pump N Run had an easy time getting past L.A. Pump N Run, which had just five players show up Friday night in Allen Fieldhouse.
The story pretty much remains the same at the Jayhawk Invitational. The pre-tournament hype centers on highly ranked national recruits that Kansas University wants to land. Spectators come out to watch those players. Another high-flying dunker from here or there creates a buzz. And K.C. Pump N Run sets more picks and makes the extra passes to work its way systematically to the tourney title. Goolsby's team has won the past three Jayhawk Invitationals, never doing so with the best talent. On offense, watching K.C. Pump N Run at times is watching a less loaded version of Kansas.
"We have a few sets they run, try to free up our guards with some ball-screens," Goolsby said with a smile. "We mix it up a little bit, but we do have a lot of what KU does. National champs. I hope it rubs off on us."
Lawrence High junior Dorian Green, a pitcher for the Lions, comes off the bench for K.C. Pump N Run. Last weekend, he played in Dallas, arriving with his father at 3:30 in the morning.
"He's playing baseball so it's hard to get him in the groove," Goolsby said. "He's only been to one practice because of baseball. He's a special talent. He's going to have a heck of a summer for us. He'll help us out a lot."
Goolsby said Green played so well in Dallas that several Div. I schools contacted him about the LHS guard.
"He showed that he can be a good point guard," Goolsby said.
Green played for the 16-and-under K.C. Pump N Run team last summer and played baseball. This summer, he said he will concentrate on basketball.
As usual, most of the buzz generated Friday night came from teams other than Goolsby's. Rodney Williams of New Hope, Minn., wowed the crowd with loud dunks. Derrick Favors, a 6-foot-9 power forward from Atlanta, showed why he is the No. 3-ranked recruit in the Class of 2009.
Meanwhile, K.C. Pump N Run played the game as it should be played and moved on. If Goolsby, a pharmaceutical salesman, ever moves on to a college coaching job, he will do so on merit, not by riding some unsuspecting teenager's talent to a better life for himself.