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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Gary Bedore’s KU Basketball Notebook

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Bechard, Kleinmann starting

Kansas coach Bill Self said he’ll start senior walk-ons Brennan Bechard and Matt Kleinmann in today’s 3 p.m. Senior Day game against Texas.

Of course, Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins also figure to open the game. That leaves the other starting slot to be filled by either Brady Morningstar, Tyshawn Taylor or Marcus Morris.

Morningstar and Bechard were teammates at Lawrence’s Southwest Junior High.

“Brennan’s been a good friend of mine. I’ve known him since he moved here (in 1998 after his dad, Ray, became KU volleyball coach),” Morningstar said. “He is one of the guys who will do anything coach asks.”

If Bechard and Morningstar start, “it’d bring back junior high memories,” Bechard said. “I’ve known Brady forever. Coach told me I’d probably start. I told him how much I appreciate it but all I’m worried about is winning the game.”

Bechard and Kleinmann will give short speeches after the contest.

“I’m nervous. It’s a good nervous, like before a special occasion,” Kleinmann said.

“Mine won’t be too long, I promise you that,” Bechard said of his speech. “A couple minutes and I’m out of there. I’m a little nervous. I’m not really that good at public speaking.”

Wrights in town

Self confirmed on Friday that Patrick and Holly Wright, the parents of Payton Wright, who died of cancer at the age of 5, are guests of the KU program this weekend.

A year ago, Dick Vitale’s annual cancer benefit event — which annually raises funds for The V Foundation for Cancer Research — provided proceeds to the Payton Wright Research Grant for Pediatric Cancer.

For information on the late Payton Wright and the fight to find a cure for the disease that is the No. 1 killer of children under 5, visit paytonwright.org .

Injury update

KU’s Aldrich (sprained right foot) and Taylor (bruised left big toe) practiced Friday and figure to play today.

“I’m all right. I’m a little sore,” said Taylor, who jammed his toe in the final two minutes of Wednesday’s loss at Texas Tech. “It hit the back of (a Tech player’s) foot. It didn’t bend. It locked. It’s swollen, nothing serious.”

Abrams matchup in question

Texas’ A.J. Abrams, who is the Big 12’s all-time leading three-point shooter, could present problems for KU’s defense today.

Who will guard Abrams, who averages 16.9 ppg?

“I’ve thought about it. I’m not going to tell you, but I’ve thought about it ... a lot,” Self cracked.

Last year, Mario Chalmers opened on Abrams. Collins and Brandon Rush also guarded Abrams, who scored 15 points versus KU in the Jayhawks’ 84-74 victory in the Big 12 Tournament final, and 14 in UT’s 72-69 victory over KU in Austin.

“We’ll use different guys to try to chase him around. It won’t be one guy’s job to guard him,” Self said.

Both Collins and Taylor predicted Morningstar would open on Abrams.

“I feel I let the team down the last couple games defensively,” Morningstar said. “I’ve got to get back on my game to help the team out.”

Of his roommate Morningstar’s play of late, Collins said: “Brady got out of character (Wednesday at Tech). He was not the same Brady. He’ll be all right tomorrow.”

Brothers together

KU’s Chase Buford this weekend has been reunited with his brother, Alexis Wangmene, a 6-7 University of Texas forward, who hails from Cameroon. Wangmene’s legal guardians are Buford’s parents, R.C. and Beth Buford.

“I’m going to see him tonight,” Buford said Friday afternoon. “I don’t think we’ll talk about the game at all. But I’m going to get to see him, for sure."

The Journal-World wrote a story on Buford and his brother last season. The story remains available online.

Undisputed title on line

A KU victory would give the Jayhawks the undisputed regular season Big 12 crown. A KU loss would open the door for Oklahoma and Missouri to gain a tie for the crown wins today. OU plays host to Oklahoma State; MU travels to Texas A&M.;

“It’d be really cool to clinch at home with the best league record we’ve had since we’ve been here,” said Self. His Jayhawks enter 24-6 overall and 13-2 in the league. Texas is 20-9, 9-6.

“We don’t want to share (title). They don’t want to share. We’re selfish and they are, too.”

“We don’t want to share with anybody, especially Mizzou,” Sherron Collins said.

The series

KU leads the all-time series with Texas, 15-6. The Jayhawks have won four of the past five meetings. The two teams have met in the last three Big 12 Tournament finales, KU winning each time. The last four games have been decided by 10 points are less.

“The way these two teams compete, it’s been made a rivalry,” KU’s Collins said. “It’ll be tough. They are scrappy, tough to beat.”

Last home game?

A junior with NBA aspirations, Collins was asked if he’s thinking this might be his final game in the fieldhouse.

“All I’m thinking about is Texas and trying to win the conference championship. I’m not thinking NBA,” Collins said.

Comments

optichawk 10 years, 10 months ago

The boys got a lesson that came about the right time. Those teams that lost to Bradley and Bucknell didn't have a chance to redeem themselves after their loss to teams they should have dominated. I don't subscribe to the whole "young" thing. At 30 games, you are no longer given "freshman mistake" status. So, use the Tech game as a learning experience and if you get beat by a better team with better players and coaching, then so be it. Good luck today vs. Texas, remember the Mizzou game and play like you did less than a week ago.

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

optichawk,

Between the ears, you are right to say KU's players are pretty experienced after 30 games.

But you are young as long as your body is young and weak, regardless of how much experience you have in the brain case.

This team is incredibly immature physically. Sherron is the only one with a man's body on the team. Maybe Little, though its tough to tell, because he is in such poor shape.

The rest?

Boyz this year.

Men next.

No more caving in from fatigue, with ten minutes to go next year because you're boys taking poundings from men. No more Sherron being in just good enough condition to play his minutes, unless its full court pressure, or a ball control opponent. Sherron, if back, will not work out at Crispy Creme next summer. He will be able to go 40 two days apart.

No more Cole being manhandled, because of lack of upper body strength. Get your nose rearranged and your body treated like a punching bag for a season, and you understand you are in a war requiring the armor of muscle mass, not just mental toughness. Mental toughness without muscle mass just means you get beaten to a pulp heroically. Cole will probably add 15 pounds on top and deliver the beatings next year.

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

No more Twins being pushed around like 98 pound weaklings at the beach. No more Tom Izzos laughing at them for how soft they are. They will be cut and buff with 15 extra pounds a piece. They will want a rematch with Cheegan State just so they can give Ratso Izzo some players that need dental work.

No more Brady and Tyrell relying on just finesse. They too will be much stronger from the waist up next year.

You defend an opponent with your legs.

You attack and manhandle an opponent with your upper body and arms. Sharp elbows are not enough. A willingness to mix it up is not enough. You need hard muscle that turns contact into impact...sudden impact.

Except for Sherron and Little, our entire team is upper body and cardio vascular challenged this year.

Not next. A year's maturity and weights, plus the most intensive conditioning program any KU team has had to endure, will correct this deficiency. Coaches never forget seeing their players get tired 10 minutes from the end of a game, as has happened several times this season. Coaches rightly believe there is no excuse for not being able to go the distance. Self underestimated how much conditioning this team needed. They were young. He didn't want to abuse them. He won't make that mistake again.

And remember how much stronger Jackson, Kaun and Arthur looked their last year on campus; that is where these guys will have to be next year, for this team to really be a dominant team, and not just a challenger. People already forget how physically intimidating that threesome, plus the brawniest 3 ever, Brandon Rush, were. Nobody out dished the roughness on them last year. If this year's bunch can't become men physically next year, then KU's dreams for greatness will have to wait one more year.

Bigs have to be big...not fearing any man.

Hulking out at a Pitt, when the need arises, instead of being hulked on.

In today's game, with today's zebras, this is how it is.

Michael Auchard 10 years, 10 months ago

Of his roommate Morningstar’s play of late, Collins said: “Brady got out of character (Wednesday at Tech). He was not the same Brady. He’ll be all right tomorrow.”

Excuse me, pot? You're calling the kettle black here...

Dirk Medema 10 years, 10 months ago

I think Sherron's comment in context called the entire cookset black for the TT game.

As for physical maturation, for the most part it is right on target. We may see some change from the 19 yo F&S, but I would question how much physical change we'll see in a 22 yo Soph. And even the ability of a 19 to grow the way that you imply takes a different intensity. Sherron's physicality was borne on the grid-iron, and while you don't have to be a FB player to develop it, it is definitely a different intensity than what is naturally developed playing BB. Not more or less intense as much as different. It is the stick your chest out, I'm coming thru the brick wall and you too if you're standing in the way mentality.

Unfortunately, I think many of the players envision themselves as skilled than strong - they don't have the brick wall mentality. It isn't that skills are bad, but skills without the physicality allows your opponent to strip the ball out of your hands when you go up for a dunk, or knocks you enough that you are shooting 2 FT's instead of And1. Throwing around some iron, or medicine balls, or whatever also changes your head, so that you're not whining when you're bumped or a call doesn't go your way. Maybe the trainers/coaches can arrange for some full contact, no-blood-no-foul games with a few of the FB players during the off-season.

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