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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Youth movement

Pritchard stockpiles Blazers with draft picks

Portland Trail Blazers general manager and former Jayhawk point guard Kevin Pritchard speaks to reporters in a news conference in this file photo. Pritchard was reportedly fired by Portland on Thursday.

Portland Trail Blazers general manager and former Jayhawk point guard Kevin Pritchard speaks to reporters in a news conference in this file photo. Pritchard was reportedly fired by Portland on Thursday.

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"Boy Wonder" is bringing his young, exciting Portland Trail Blazers basketball team to Kansas City's Sprint Center on Friday night.

It's a Brandon Roy/Greg Oden/LaMarcus Aldridge-led squad expected to vie for an NBA playoff berth after last year's respectable 41-41 campaign.

"I believe our team is ready. I don't know if we are the best, but we are the youngest (team in NBA), that's for sure," said 41-year-old former Kansas University point guard Kevin Pritchard, nicknamed Boy Wonder for his relative youth and series of successful roster moves since 2006.

"Hopefully we are a team on the rise and will put on a good show," Pritchard added of the Blazers' 7 p.m. exhibition game against the Atlanta Hawks in downtown Kansas City.

Pritchard since 2006 has rid the organization of problematic players Zach Randolph and Sebastian Telfair while adding Roy, Aldridge, Oden, Rudy Fernandez, Jerryd Bayless and others.

"We've gone through a transformation where we were very successful, then had some tough times," Pritchard said, realizing fans suffered mightily in 2005-06 when the Blazers had an NBA-worst 21-61 mark.

"We said, 'Let's build a program, make it more like a college than gun for hire," added Pritchard, who served as Blazers' assistant GM in 2006 before being promoted the following year.

"We had to transform from an older roster to a young and exciting team. We felt the best way was to get good young players from the draft."

The most publicized draft pick in the Pritchard era has been Oden, the top pick in the 2007 Draft, who missed last season because of injury.

Expectations are high for the 7-footer out of Ohio State.

"He is a great kid. He wants to do well. He wants to please," Pritchard said. "The best way to describe him is he is a winner. He doesn't care about points, blocks, individual statistics. He cares about winning.

"It's not just Greg, we have so many young players. They need to understand their roles. We'll be challenged. We need to stick together."

As far as Friday's game ... the location is perhaps a bigger story than the meaningless exhibition contest. Kansas City hopes to attract an NBA or NHL team to the Sprint Center sooner rather than later.

"I look forward to seeing the Sprint Center. I heard it's unbelievable," said Pritchard, starting point guard on KU's 1988 NCAA championship team. "It's such a basketball-crazy area. I think it could (support an NBA team)," he added.

Pritchard led the Kansas City Knights to the ABA championship in 2001, joining the San Antonio Spurs scouting department the following season.

"Being with the Knights was an amazing experience," Pritchard said. "It was the minor leagues and by definition there are challenges. I got to learn from the bottom up. I learned to do a lot of different things that have been valuable to me.

"It's nice to be playing a game in Kansas City again. The challenge has been all the ticket requests - about 70. That's a good problem to have," he added with a laugh.

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Notes: Former KU forward Raef LaFrentz will not be playing for the Blazers on Friday night. He had right shoulder surgery in late September and likely will miss the entire season. "I feel bad for Raef," Pritchard said. "He is a great kid. We do believe this ... he'll get healthy again and continue to play if he wants to. What he does is gives us a veteran presence."

Comments

KGphoto 11 years, 10 months ago

Oooookaaaayy...A little TMI there jaybate. ;)

King_Kaun 11 years, 10 months ago

the greater threat is Coach Self leaving for the OKC Thunder NBA team. It's really not if....it's when...

jaybate 11 years, 10 months ago

KUFan90,I feel your apprehension, but it all depends on how much is spent. Anything can be turned into a palace with enough money. Trust me. I was a real estate consultant.Why do I believe this will work out favorably?They know its a problem and they know Coach Self will leave for OKC the second he thinks the housing is not going to be solved.He's got them.

Joe Ross 11 years, 10 months ago

Dear Lawrence Journal World...A hearty "thank you" for keeping us in the loop on former Jayhawk players! You have done a wonderful job with backgrounds on players past and present!Thanks again!

d_prowess 11 years, 10 months ago

I am curious to see the attendance numbers for this game. These are not exactly two teams with a ton of reasons to draw people to the stadium. There is young talent to watch for sure, but I think that will appeal more to the real NBA fan (how many do we have in KC?) and not to the casual fan.

100 11 years, 10 months ago

great article on Pritchard. He's always been a smart leader. One of the most underrated point guards in the history of the NCAA. Without his tenacity, we wouldn't have won it in '88, nor beaten Kentucky so soundly in Pitino's first year.

KUFan90 11 years, 10 months ago

New huts for the players? Slapping up some new drywall in Jayhawk Towers is like putting lipstick on a pig. I wouldn't be touting our "new huts" just yet. Self should have demanded a complete tear down and rebuild as part of his contract demands.

King_Kaun 11 years, 10 months ago

d_prowess - I almost forgot. Arthur got a DNP - coach's decision for the first 2 games of the preseason.NOT GOOD.this means he is in the dog house...gee...wonder why...http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/boxscore?gameId=281007010

d_prowess 11 years, 10 months ago

Slightly off-topic, but still NBA related:Rush played 27 minutes last night but only shot 2-9. Hopefully that was just first exhibition game jitters and he calms down a little. Also, Aurthur didn't play in their first exhibition game. Does anyone know why? Is he hurt?

Lance Hobson 11 years, 10 months ago

Pritchard was great for KU and was huge in '88. He's at the top of many statistical categories still.Glad to see guys from that '88 team doing so well.

jaybate 11 years, 10 months ago

Dear Memphis, KU is about to get that pro team in KC you say that its been missing for its recruiting.What did I tell you?And could the franchise be Portland? Sweet! Run by a KU guy, who won a ring with Danny.What the hey! KU integrating basketball opps vertically. Classic public-private joint venture. D1 KU Jayhawks. NBA Kansas City Jayhawks, er Kansas City Trailblazers, er Kansas City Super Corridors. Hey, maybe Coach Self will be the first person to coach in college and in the league AT THE SAME TIME!!!!! Enjoy your edge, MemPUSS. Its going to be gone shortly.New huts for the players.New L franchise for KC. Always superior education.Always superior players in the pros.Always more wins and rings.Always better coaches.Always, always, always superior BBQ.***EOF(Note: threw that last line in for the old tech nerds who remember Fortran.)

Ryan Sullivan 11 years, 10 months ago

I love your passion jaybate. Believe me, I do. But to steal a line from someone, I can't remember who said it, "I don't give a sh*t about...Memphis". Who really cares what they're doing. So long as that grease ball Calamari is coaching there, he's always going to be able to attract some talent. If he can get I kid that we were after, honestly, I wouldn't want that him. Henry...Wall...Thomas...anybody. You have to wonder what the incentive would be to choose Memphis over Kansas. I'm sure we'll run into to Memphis year in and year out, on the recruiting trail and even in the tournament. But at the end of the day, we're Kansas and they're Memphis. No comparison.

King_Kaun 11 years, 10 months ago

d_prowess - I have tickets to this game. I am very excited for the same reason this article was written...the Blazers are a young and exciting team! However, to those of you who think the Blazers could relocate to K.C....better wake up! Trust me, the Blazers wont be moving anywhere. However, teams that COULD be on the move include the Kings, Hornets, and Bucks. However, the most likely situation for K.C. to get a team would be through expansion. Honestly, K.C. is on the very top of the list for a city-in-waiting for a franchise. (Only because of the red tape involved in a Vegas franchise.)

Dale Kroening 11 years, 10 months ago

As far as Rush,look what Indies other shooting guards did as well as the whole team.The whole team had a horrid shooting night,and I dont think its a big deal.NO just clamped down on the defense.

Dale Kroening 11 years, 10 months ago

News: Arthur (hamstring) missed Tuesday's preseason game, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports.Spin: He has already returned to Grizzlies practice, so a return Wednesday or Thursday could be possible.

jaybate 11 years, 10 months ago

MichAveJHawk,Normally, I would say you're right about who gives a fecal dropping about Mempuss, but...Some of their brain dead came to us. One of them, shunngunn youngin' even took advantage of my prior decent objectivity about Memphis. He talked nonsense and nonfact about recruiting. I felt exploited by him. Next this "mouth-breather" named ChildeEnder showed up feigning brain function and waxing arrogant. I do not want other school's brain dead to watch these two and think that they can also come here and excrete all over our virtual sidewalks. I WANT persons from other schools to post here, but ONLY if they do so respectfully and to discuss the reality of basketball. I decided to take a stand, even though I'm too old for this sort of thing and my wife gets mad at me when I do it. I will probably not get sex for a week now, but some sacrifices have to be made for the legacy. The grail has to be defended. If celibacy is the price, it has to be paid. :-)

jaybate 11 years, 10 months ago

KGPhoto and MichAveHawk,Do not fear TMI. It was all in jest. I am in fact a Benedictine Monk and have been quite celibate for almost 40 years now. ;-)

Ryan Sullivan 11 years, 10 months ago

jaybate-I love it. Maybe a little TMI, but I love where your priorities are at. And I can't fault you for defending our turf. I rarely take part in blogs, but I do read through them once and a while for kicks. I notice how there's alot of Mizzou fans always blogging on KU-related blogs on espn.com, for example. Haters! Just like the fans of alot of schools who try and make themselves feel better about their own programs by talking whatever trash their simple minds can think of about ours. Everytime I read one of those posts I smile a little, even if the comments tick me off. I'm glad to be a jayhawk so I don't have to resort to hating on other programs to make me feel better. I'm not telling you what you should do or think, I can tell you're a huge fan and I dig it. That's just my own perspective. Rock Chalk!

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