Friday, January 23, 2009

KU has many weapons


The Kansas basketball team is taking on the characteristics of a deluxe Swiss army knife. That’s good, because it can drive opposing coaches batty as they try to prepare defenses for the Jayhawks as the Big 12 season gets serious.

Center Cole Aldrich and guard Sherron Collins are the mainstay blades of this versatile weapon. Then there are other attachments that also show promise for KU’s carving up and agitating foes.

The Morris twins finally have stopped playing so dumb and seem to be grasping how they can use their athleticism to Bill Self’s advantage. For a while, it seemed Marcus and Markieff were way out of tune with the coaches’ preferred melody, the most costly errors being lousy ball-handling and softness at inopportune times. With steady improvement to enhance their recent progress, they’ll be two of those “stickies” on the Swiss knife to contend with, like the corkscrew and the nail file.

In defensive anchor Brady Morningstar and a maturing Tyrel Reed, KU has firepower as well as finesse to excel. Freshman Tyshawn Taylor with his quickness and versatility has only scratched the surface of how good he can be. More consistency and he’ll be on a par with Collins and Aldrich as hubs for success.

The injury-hindered Mario Little finally has begun to solve the mystery as to why some people kept saying he’d help so much. Long time coming; maybe he’s arrived. More bad news for the other league teams.

Haven’t even mentioned Quintrell Thomas and Travis Releford, who are struggling to find their identity, but have the wherewithal to help.

All of a sudden, there’s a 10-man package with tremendous potential. If it doesn’t get giddy, KU can win at Iowa State and Nebraska, beat Colorado here and go to the Feb. 2 Baylor showdown with a 6-0 conference pad. Who said the Jayhawks were doomed to a “down” year?

l Pundits rant and rave about quarterbacks Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford coming back for the 2009 Texas and Oklahoma football teams and ignore that Kansas’ Todd Reesing is the class of the Big 12 North. In his own way, he’s as big a determinator as the other two. He’s the only high-profile QB coming back in the North, and he’s the main reason KU should be favored over Nebraska, without Joe Ganz.

l Forget NCAA sanctions against Kansas because Bill Self foolishly talked to a basketball recruit in Springfield, Mo. It’s a mindless issue. Secondly, by the time godfather Lew Perkins calls in a few markers and sics attorney Rick Evrard onto the trail, no harm, no foul. You can bet Missouri, Kansas State and Oklahoma will try to raise hell, but Lew could have stuff in the files that would negate the thrust of their sabotage. Remember how these two orchestrated that last run-in with the NCAA to KU’s benefit?

l Some day, KU’s likely to remove the track in Memorial Stadium, lower the field for more seats and build a separate track stadium. Bob Tanner, a KU devotee in San Diego, notes there’s no contest for the namesake: Bill Easton, the local spiked-shoe icon. Tanner has written Chancellor Bob Hemenway about that and hopes Hemmie’s resignation doesn’t derail it. If Hemenway drops the ball, Perkins and Co. shouldn’t. Bill Easton Track is academic, mandatory.


actorman 11 years ago

Easton is an obvious choice, but you would have to think that Al Oerter would deserve some recognition as well, having been a four-time Olympian.

Michael Pannacciulli 11 years ago

...Jim Ryun and Billy Mills were pretty solid track stars also who should be considered for name rights.

Dirk Medema 11 years ago

Oerter, Mills, and Ryan were great athletes, but Easton is the coach that built the program. There are plenty of other great athletes, and Coach Timmons had a long and successful career there as well, but Easton is the coach that built the program. The sad thing about '09 FB is that even if we beat NU, which I agree that we should be favored to do, especially in Lawrence, NU should still win the N unless we can beat 1 or 2 of the big 3 S teams on our schedule. It would be nice if the FB schedule wasn't so imbalanced for us, but it is a factor none the less. Then we get to listen to the whiners again in '10 comment about us dodging the big 3 again.

jaybate 11 years ago

Easton may have built the program with the legendary athletes. Timmons may have carried it on. But I'm betting if you dig, you will discover that Allen preceded both of them as track coach. And wasn't it Phog who saw to it that the Memorial Stadium with a track got built? Wasn't it Allen's Folly that gave KU a superior track facility from the earliest days of intercollegiate track? Wasn't Allen's Folly based on the Olympic Stadium in Athens, Greece, from the Olympiad prior to Memorial Stadium being built? Wasn't that the first modern Olympiad? The Kansas Relays were able to become what they became, largely because of the facility they were held in. Easton couldn't have attracted the athletes he did had they had to perform in a wheat field. Memorial Stadium was as visionary and as far ahead of its time for track, as AFH later was for basketball. "If you build it, Ray, they will come." Substitute Forrest for Ray. Substitute a valley beneath Mt. Oread for a corn field in Iowa. Memorial Stadium gave Easton and Timmons the venue they needed to do what they did. Allen built it and, if memory serves me, preceded them as track coaches.Build a new track facility? Fine, name the track Easton, or Easton/Timmons track. Gotta keep the big donor happy? Name the lockerrooms/training table for the big donor. The stadium? Gotta be Allen Track and Field Stadium. He's the daddy of track, too. Forget, or deny, your daddy,and who are you? A bastard.Easton brought the great jocks.Allen built the great blocks.

jayhawkintexas 11 years ago

The basketball team is getting better but let's keep our feet on the ground untill we have beaten somebody big on the road (Oklahoma or Baylor). We still have too many turnovers, give up too many offensive rebounds and are lacking in transition points.Naming a new track field after Coach Easton is probably the right thing to do with a ring of honor in the stadium for Oerter, Mills, Ryun, Santee, Cunningham and the others. It would be really cool to have statutes of those great athletes in a colonnade around the outside of the stadium.

mdfraz 11 years ago

dagger, if we take care of business and win all of our north games, which at this point I would say we would be favored to do, even if we lose to all three south teams, we are still 5-3. We would need a little help, obviously to keep NU from winning the north, but assuming we beat them, that's one loss, then they still have to play OU, so probably two losses, and they have Mizzou, at Baylor, and TTU at home in addition to the rest of the north (including at Colorado). I have to think unless NU is way better than I anticipate and can replace Ganz with an effective QB, they don't do any better than 6-2, and more likely 5-3 or worse. If they are 5-3 like us, we win with the head to head. That's VERY preliminary of course, but making predictions is about all we can do in January.

Lance Hobson 11 years ago

Wow, I need to review my KU history. I love that scene in "Running Brave" where Bill Easton is so nervous he can't watch Mills competing so he's out on the concourse pacing.

d_prowess 11 years ago

I love the Lew comments in the article. For all those that don't like him, the things stated above are exactly the intangibles that he brings to the program. He raises his own money and uses it with out apology. So hate on him for this, but he is just doing his job. Lastly, if anyone thinks play play in the Orange Bowl without him, you are crazy. I personally am glad to have Perkins at KU Athletics.

jdavidholt 11 years ago

Thanks, Bill, for finally reporting that the track is gone -- hopefully in a year or two.Inspite of all the great things the track program has done for KU, the football program deserves a first-class facility . . . and the definition of a first-class football facility does not include a track! (And for all the track program whiners, you deserve your own facility, too. The statues idea is a good one. Now, we're all happy.)

Scott Oswalt 11 years ago

Are Thomas and Appleton ever going to come around? All they get is scrub minutes and don't really impress when they are on the court. Does Taylor take all of Appleton's minutes and Little/Releford take Thomas time? Think if they could contribute 5 or so points a game. I guess the bench would be deeper than Self would like, but I would try throwing Appleton in there toward the end of the 1st half to see if he can get a few buckets.

jaybate 10 years, 12 months ago

Dear Bill,Many weapons make light work.

Bruce Brock 10 years, 12 months ago

Something special needs to be named after Al Oerter. He was the greatest competitor in Olympic history. Won two of his four gold medals ('56, '60, '64, '68) with injuries, including torn rib cartilage in Tokyo in '64. I haven't experience torn rib cartilage myself, but have heard it's extremely painful -- and probably no other sport twists one's rib cage more than throwing the discus. Then in middle age he actually qualified as an alternate to the 1980 Olympic team. Kansas has been blessed with many terrific athletes, but Oerter's accomplishments are second to none.

jaybate 10 years, 12 months ago

JHawk252,Michael Phelps is the greatest Olympic athlete. Fourteen Gs (the man has no peer).Carl Lewis remains the greatest combo track and field athlete. Nine Gs (including four long jump Gs).Paavo Nurmi remain the greatest track athlete. Nine Gs.Ray Ewry remains the greatest field athlete. Nine Gs. (least known Olympic great of 1900, 1904 and 1908 Olympics who won his Gs in standing high jump, standing long jump, standing triple jump--events discontinued in 1930s--hid records were never broken.)Al Oerter remains the greatest discuss/javelin/shot put (weight man) athlete in history. Four Gs in four olympics.Hell, yes, something should be named for Al Oerter!

jayhawkintx73 10 years, 12 months ago

Why don't they call the Sunflower Games the Al Oerter Sunflower Games?

Bruce Brock 10 years, 12 months ago

Jaybate, good points and I'm sure accurate accounting. My assessment was more qualitative than quantitative. I know Phelps and Lewis were heavy favorities in most of their events, and probably the others were as well. They also were able to put up larger medal totals because they competed in more than one event. The "greatest competitor" tag applies to Oerter because he was not the favorite in three of his Olympics, had one shot at gold per Olympiad, and delivered.

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