Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Illnesses burden Aldrich

Ailing junior worried about his grandmother

Kansas center Cole Aldrich drives past Michigan forward Deshawn Sims during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2009 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Cole Aldrich drives past Michigan forward Deshawn Sims during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2009 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Cole Aldrich has been reluctant to reveal any reasons for his so-so play so far this men’s basketball season.

“Me personally, I never make excuses for anything. You just keep on fighting,” said Aldrich, Kansas University’s 6-foot-11, 245-pound junior center from Bloomington, Minn.

The past several weeks, Aldrich been battling an illness, which coach Bill Self on Monday identified as bronchitis.

“I call it some crap in my throat,” said Aldrich, who takes an 11.3-point, 9.7-rebound average into today’s 8 p.m. home game against California. “It’s one of those nagging things.”

More importantly, the preseason All-American is facing a serious illness in his immediate family. Cole’s grandmother, Ann, has terminal lung cancer and is in hospice care back home in Minnesota.

“My grandma is not doing very well right now. She’s struggling,” Aldrich said after Monday’s practice. “I don’t know how long she’s going to live.

“I am hoping she’s still there when I go home (Wednesday for Christmas break). I’ll be home Wednesday, and hopefully I can see her,” he added of his dad’s mom.

Ann Aldrich turned 79 in August.

“It’s one those things you have to keep your head up and just keep on fighting through,” said Cole, who went 0-for-3 shooting and scored five points with 11 rebounds in Saturday’s victory over Michigan.

Cole’s dad, Walter, said it has been difficult to read his son’s emotions lately.

“He’s a tough kid. He doesn’t say much,” Walter said. “Him being sick ... he didn’t tell the coach or anything. I imagine it (grandmother’s condition) is in the back of his head, at least.”

Self said he has noticed that Aldrich, who tonight faces 7-3 Cal center Max Zhang, has been laboring physically on the court.

“I knew he didn’t feel great. After watching and studying him, he really doesn’t feel very well,” Self said. “He’s having a hard time breathing. He’s OK. He’s got a bug right now, which a lot of people get.”

Self has said Aldrich has a lot on his plate.

“I think there’s a lot of things going on with Cole that’s a little different than last year,” Self said. “The expectations bit is a small piece of it. I think family health is a big piece of it. Different personnel and roles (on KU’s team) are a piece of it. Him being sick is a piece of it. The combination of things has kept him from being as good as he can be. The last two practices, he’s been great. It’s a matter of time before he bounces out of it and has some big games.”

Senior Sherron Collins thinks winter break — the Jayhawks are free to leave town after tonight’s game, then report back Saturday —will help his buddy.

“Hopefully he stays inside. We all know how cold it gets in Minnesota,” Collins said with a smile. “We’ll just wait for him to get back. We need him.”

Collins says there’s no doubt Aldrich has been less than 100 percent the last four weeks.

“It has affected him a lot, shot-blocking, rebounding the ball,” Collins said. “I see him gasping for air more than he usually does. I’d never seen him use an inhaler before. He’s got to use one now. He has to get over that bug.”

Aldrich’s roommate, Tyrel Reed, says Cole “says he’s been sleeping fine. Once he wakes up, he’s tired and has a lot of stuff in his chest taking his wind away. He has the holiday to get to go home and see his family a bit. Hopefully he gets over it soon.”

Aldrich said he never considered taking any time off to try to shake the bug.

“There’s no time to sit out,” said Aldrich, who had final exams last week. “We’ve got a game tomorrow, then are fortunate enough to go home over Christmas and spend some time with the family. I’ll probably hit the gym, but get a little extra rest.”

As far as today’s challenge ... Zhang (4.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg) has eight blocks in his last four games.

“I’ve got the scouting report right here. Obviously, being 7-3, he’s going to be good,” Aldrich said of the 240-pounder. “He’s good. He’s kind of like Jeff (Withey) in a small little way. Jeff is good for our big guys in the post. He makes us think about the shots we take and contests them well.”

Aldrich would love to get off to a good start tonight.

“I’ll stay aggressive, post hard and continue to talk to our guards and get the bigs the ball,” Aldrich said. “I think we’ve got some great big guys and guards who can feed the post real well.

“I’m just happy to win,” he added. “It’s what it comes down to. I’m an unselfish person whether I get this number of shots or that number. As long as we win, I’m happy.”


CrimsonPhoenix 10 years, 10 months ago


We're thinking of you and your family, Cole, get better soon!

jayhawkboogeyman 10 years, 10 months ago

Hard times for him. I am surprised he's playing so many minutes with lung problems. Hopefully we can handle Cal without much from him and some time away will get him healthy and let him deal with the familial situation.

Jaminrawk 10 years, 10 months ago

I've had bad bronchitis and it will really drain you. I imagine playing up tempo at that size with breathing problems will take away from your game.

Dyrk Dugan 10 years, 10 months ago

if he's in this bad of shape, i don't expect him to play much tomorrow. that's what i hate about these "nagging" injuries or's never fully addressed so the speculation runs rampant.

like during football season. Jake Sharp actually had a cracked fibula, the lower leg bone opposite the shin. i think if we had been told that before the end of the year, we might have had a different idea about how he was playing....or even if he should have been playing.

We'll keep Cole's grandmother, Cole and his family in our prayers.

kufan80 10 years, 10 months ago

It is evident that Cole has been struggling with his breathimg while he has been changing possessions during games and returing to the bench for time outs.

Yet he hasn't made excuses and has fought hard on the court.

The Jayhawk nation will wish a him quick recovery. The medical staff will know what is best for him.

Our prayers and thoughts go out to his grandmother and her family concerning her illness. We can have confidence in the hope we have in Christmas.

God bless you and your family, Cole.

Joe Baker 10 years, 10 months ago

Tough having a sick gma, finals and playing for a b-ball powerhouse.

Get yourself in good health and thinking of your family big fella!!


Joe Baker 10 years, 10 months ago

Can they let him take off ASAP? He could jet out right after the game on Tuesday or maybe this is a great time to let Withey step up with the twins and let Cole go now to be with his family?

He's not going to be much good with his physical and mental state.

suttonku 10 years, 10 months ago

Withey is not ready, not healthy enough yet. As much as I criticize Cole its really only because I have high expectations of him. I like the guy and I think he has great potential. I knew he was going through the stuff with his Grandmother and I knew it was affecting his play. We will need him on Tuesday for sure because we do have such a height advantage in that game with him. I predict a huge game for him on Tuesday, playing with a heavy heart.

UmbertoConforti 10 years, 10 months ago

He has had trouble breathing for several months. When someone suggested asthma I thought that might be correct. He needs to try sinus medicines and see an ENT soon. Certain nasal sprays should help a great deal. If they are legal, according to NCAA rules, he could use some before games. I personally know KU has a great medical school. Surely, its physicians can help. Is he eating all right? Believe it or not this is important.

Joe Baker 10 years, 10 months ago

Maybe he'll dedicate this game to Grandma Aldrich!!

Go Cole!

canuckhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Jayhawks everywhere are pulling for you Cole (on and off the court). I sure hope you get home with enough time to spend some of your break with your Grandma.

This kid is one of the best that college sports has to offer.

4jhawks4ku 10 years, 10 months ago

Cole should be given time off to get healthy. We'll need him down the stretch plus his family needs him now. We can get by for the next few weeks. Bronchitis slows you to a crawl believe me I know. We got plenty of bigs to tide us over till then. Get healthy Cole, as long as it takes.

Matt Bowers 10 years, 10 months ago

The only reason I can see HCBS playing Cole is for mental preparation for the tournament. Yes, I know that he has already experienced two before now. His first was with a team that could carry him, last season with a team that exceeded expectations, now with a team that he is supposed to carry. That is the only reason I can think of.

It is great to know that there is a player that is able to keep it together like this and for the most part produce. It reminds me of when big-dub was going through his rough patch. Maybe HCBS is able to help these young men weave a positive out so much negative.

Rock Chalk

Ben Kane 10 years, 10 months ago

funny, i was going to post earlier that it sounded like some sort of bronchial problem. Since I've had them in the past I'm familiar with it and the way they've talked about cole lately made me think that was it.

tough problem to get over, really nothing that will fix it except time. If he can play through it, all the better. imagine how beastly he'll be in March.

Eurekahwk 10 years, 10 months ago

UmbertoConforti, did your teacher tell you that nasal sprays help or do you actually know from experience? While I agree that everyone should ensure clear sinus passages, I would go with natural water irrigation with sea salt. Since nasal sprays are a steroid, I'm not sure they would pass the NCAA's rules anyway. But then again, that's not going to help Cole's lung inflamation, is it?

Steve Brown 10 years, 10 months ago

Eurehawk: spot on re: see - ENT and nasal saline irrigation 2X daily.

Prayers and thanks for all grandmothers- grandsons: especially Cole and his at this special time. I've lost all my grandmothers and miss them dearly to this day.

refresh memory: didn't DBlock heart fist for his grandma.

ParisHawk 10 years, 10 months ago


3 heart fists, one for grandma, one for ma, one for Don Davis...

ParisHawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Concerning Cole, respect and prayers. I trust he is playing because he and his family want it that way.

masonhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

If you have ever had the chance to meet Cole you know he is a special guy. In this very hard time just know that all of Jayhawk nation is behind you.

jhawkr1 10 years, 10 months ago

God bless Cole Aldrich and his family. This will only make him a stronger and better man. Keep fighting the good fight

nurserita 10 years, 10 months ago

Cole--as a grandma and a hospice nurse, I'm sure your grandma is very proud of you! Be sure to tell her how much she means to you when you see her. Maybe you could dedicate this season to her--that would really be special to her in her dying days. Also, listen to your docs and take care of yourself. You are a special guy. God bless you and keep you and your family in His care. Merry Christmas!

CaramelMacchMan 10 years, 10 months ago

It means a lot that Cole is staying for this Tue game...

In my opinion, Cole should be with his family and forget about the game.

Kye Clark 10 years, 10 months ago

I'm with some of the posters here that suggest Cole take off immediately and go see his grandma. Some things are more important, and I wouldn't want him to have any regrets if he played and god forbid she passed before he had a chance to see her again.

Mike Kendall 10 years, 10 months ago

I am with 316--Cole needs to leave (emergency leave) if HCBS is okay with it. My thoughts and prayers are with you Cole. Go KU! Beat Cal!

kerbyd 10 years, 10 months ago

A lot of inhalers and some nasal sprays contain "steroids" but they are not anabolic steroids, which are pretty much banned from all sports, (if they check for 'em).

DSommersby 10 years, 10 months ago

Cole - Wishing all the best for your Grandma. Hope you feel soon and have a wonderful Christmas back in Bloomington with your family and friends!

DSommersby 10 years, 10 months ago

Cole - Wishing all the best for your Grandma. Hope you feel better real soon and wishing you a wonderful and Merry Christmas, back in Bloomington, with your family and friends!

actorman 10 years, 10 months ago

Knowing that he's been going through so much, it's remarkable how well he has played. A shame that people have felt the need to criticize him, and comparing him to Chenowith is downright cruel.

Tony Bandle 10 years, 10 months ago

Having cared for a wife with terminal brain cancer for a year, I know what that kind of emotion drains from out from you. I'm not sure what to recommend to Cole except try to focus on the love that you and your grandmother share.

Maybe, HCBS could substitute Condor a little more frequently and, when he is in there, go to a 2-1-2 zone to help conserve his strength and keep him in good rebounding/shot blocking position.

Geez, soobawls, your first two sentences are about as heartfelt as I've seen on this site. Why did you have to post the last one, even if it is true???

Aligned 10 years, 10 months ago

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Cole is the same person and player today that he was while dominating the paint last season, and I can assure you that he'll be dominating again soon. Maybe as soon as tonight.

Dennis Mahorney 10 years, 10 months ago

Sorry Cole...I do hope you get to see Her soon.....

ParisHawk 10 years, 10 months ago

My utmost respect to all of you who have shared your own losses. May all possible consolation and happy memories be yours during the Christmas season.

kennethst 10 years, 10 months ago

I agree.......Cole should go. Many things are more important than basketball-especially family.

Withey and Morris twins can pick up the slack.

Jaybate- I see your tireless work for the Kansas Nation continues......we are lucky to have you. Have a great holiday!

thmdmph 10 years, 10 months ago

soobawls, you're forgiven for all the BULL and CRAP that were dissed. Except when you called me pansy.

thmdmph 10 years, 10 months ago

“Me personally, I never make excuses for anything. You just keep on fighting,” said Aldrich. That should earn everybody's respect. Cole, you da man. Our thoughts are with you and yours. Be strong and we're behind you all the way.

Rick Arnoldy 10 years, 10 months ago

She could linger for two weeks, she could be gone by the time I post this. It is emotionally and physically draining to sit by someone’s bedside wondering “when?”.

If basketball is his stress outlet, then so be it. It’s not up to the people on this board to decide what Cole should or should not do.

Mike Kendall 10 years, 10 months ago


Pansy is a respectable name, that is, if your good friends with Pee Wee Herman!

Hey, a little sarcasm to break up the morning blahs!

Go KU! Beat Cal!

thmdmph 10 years, 10 months ago

mikendal, how did you know? Pee Wee's my homeboy.

Mike Kendall 10 years, 10 months ago

Cool, swell, wonderful--isn't that special?! I hummed a few bars of the "Pee Wee Herman song," better known as, Tequila!

Steve Brown 10 years, 10 months ago

Hope CA isn't driving home as weather channel shows major winter blast coming to states between Minn and Mt. Oread - rather he take 737.

Mike Kendall 10 years, 10 months ago


Weather will affect a lot of people who planned on traveling in the midwest. The East Coast was a mess the last few days.

gchawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Cole, our thoughts and prayers are with you, you're definately one tough hombre. Nurserita, what a great post. I think you hit a chord with a lot of people here with your comments, thanks.

RokChok75 10 years, 10 months ago

I can't speak for them, but i would like to think that Cole's family would like for him to display the strength and positive mindset that he has tonight. Be a BEAST as long as you can breath! TCOB against Cal, and be safe travelling home to be with your family.

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago


And a merry, merry Christmas to you, too.

Bill Klein 10 years, 10 months ago

Nowadays, there is so much posturing when it comes to either the physical or mental state of an athlete. If you don't say anything and his performance is sub par, well then you come out later and bring it up. today's athlete is under such intense scrutiny, from the fans, and the press that it's a wonder we really know what's going on, except it's very easy to say after a poor performance that he played terrible. It use to be that we would know if an Aldrich is sick or having family issues before a game, we acknowledged it and let them play. Not any more, the press instead of just mentioning it would go into it every darn minute of the game.

Jonathan Andrews 10 years, 10 months ago

Best wishes to you and yours over the holiday, Cole.

VegasJhawk09 10 years, 10 months ago

I am no longer in Vegas. I feel fortunate to be back in KU land and able to see the games on the local tele. Rock chalk Jayhawk, Go gettem Cole! We got your back man.

Hawktacular 10 years, 10 months ago

Don't be bitter, soobawls, be better. Best to Cole and his g-ma.

UmbertoConforti 10 years, 10 months ago

Eurekahwk. Glad you don't practice medicine. Major cause of bronchitis is nasal drainage. Hope it doesn't turn into pneumonia. Saline solution is effective at least 20 percent of the time.

yates33333 10 years, 10 months ago

I know nothing about medicine so I checked this in American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery home page. It claims to include: "Everything you need to provide the best ear, nose, and throat care."

"Most cases of sinusitis respond promptly to medical treatment and are not serious. However, an infection that is in the sinus is also very close to the eye and to the brain. Extension of a sinus infection to the eye or brain is rare. Furthermore, it is not healthy for the lungs to have infected mucus dripping down from infected sinuses. Bronchitis, chronic cough, and asthma are often aggravated, or even brought on, by sinusitis."

Steve Brown 10 years, 10 months ago

over break stay far away from any friends or walleye restaurants that may be smoking, as that air aggravates the condition greatly.

get well and peace be with your grandmother, as she has at least one very special grandson.

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