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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Oakland center stars on big stage

KU's Markieff Morris fights against Oakland's Keith Benson for the ball Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2009 at Allen Fieldhouse.

KU's Markieff Morris fights against Oakland's Keith Benson for the ball Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2009 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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KU vs. Oakland

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The Kansas men's basketball team takes on Oakland in Allen Fieldhouse Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2009.

Reader poll

Who do you think will lead KU in scoring this season?

  • Sherron Collins 26% 429 votes
  • Cole Aldrich 7% 126 votes
  • Xavier Henry 63% 1040 votes
  • Marcus Morris 1% 30 votes
  • Other 0% 8 votes

1633 total votes.

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Which sport do you watch most during Thanksgiving weekend?

  • Football 65% 510 votes
  • Basketball 29% 228 votes
  • Other 4% 38 votes

776 total votes.

One is 6-foot-11, 245 pounds and is a household name throughout college basketball. The other measures 6-11, 225 and somehow has managed to keep a low profile.

Both have NBA futures, and Wednesday night, during Kansas University’s 89-59 victory against Oakland at Allen Fieldhouse, the lesser-known of the two showed why.

Wednesday’s game wasn’t exactly billed as KU’s Cole Aldrich vs. Oakland’s Keith Benson, but that’s the way Benson, the Grizzlies’ junior, approached the battle. For one thing, it was a chance for him to play against the guy he roomed with this summer at the Amar’e Stoudemire Skills Academy in Phoenix. For another, it was a rare chance for a Summit League star to showcase his talent in front of a few more sets of eyes than usual.

“I’m not really known to the level he’s known,” said Benson, who finished with 20 points, six rebounds and four blocks. “So I just get excited about games like this, where I get to play on the big stage and show what I can do in front of everybody.”

Benson was good throughout Wednesday’s game. He showed a soft shooting touch (7 of 13 from the floor), was perfect at the free-throw line and, for the most part, avoided foul trouble long enough to log 37 minutes.

“I thought he played really well tonight,” Aldrich said. “I wish I would have played a little better against him, but he hit a couple of baseline shots where I thought to myself, ‘Man, you can’t play much better defense than that.’ He’s quiet. He’s a good guy. I like him a lot, and I thought he played a great game.”

If Oakland coach Greg Kampe had been able to rest Benson for just a few minutes longer, the veteran coach said his potential first-round draft pick might have put up even better numbers.

“I thought (Benson) showed well,” Kampe said. “I played him too many minutes. I would’ve liked to get him a little more rest. But I thought the only way for us to win was to keep him in there.”

For a good chunk of the first half, it was clear that the Grizzlies were not intimidated by the surroundings or KU’s glossy No. 1 ranking.

“We came here to win,” Kampe said. “We came here to win.”

Despite shooting just 25 percent during the game’s first 12 minutes, the Grizzlies trailed by just seven and seemed to be on their way to playing with the Jayhawks (4-0) for the entire night.

“We were controlling the tempo, keeping it slow, and we thought if we could rebound and not give up transition buckets that we could play with them,” Kampe said. “But then they come down and go dunk, layup, dunk, and, boom, it’s gone. All that work is gone because we made a mistake or two. It’s a learning experience, and that’s why we play these games, but we’re highly disappointed with the outcome.”

It wasn’t all about Benson for Oakland (2-3) on Wednesday. Derick Nelson scored 19 points on 4-of-5 shooting from three-point range, and Johnathon Jones added nine points and seven assists. But the Jayhawks’ focus seemed to center on and stay with the big guy until the end.

“Kansas guarded the hell out of him,” Kampe said. “They beat him up and doubled him all night. And they doubled him with size. In our league, he’s not going to see many 6-10 guys run at him on the double team. He’ll see 6-7 or 6-8 guys.”

Comments

Ralster Jayhawk 4 years, 4 months ago

Im not too worried about Cole Aldrich, who obviously is battling illness. Sherron Collins in same category. These 2 are the class of the Big12, and of the nation--being given 1st team AllAmerican honors. We know they took us as far as they could last year. And this year, it is clear, that they now have help. M2Twins especially, and X obviously. I personally think these minutes EJ is getting will be very valuable by late Jan/early Feb.

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Steve Brown 4 years, 4 months ago

drgslyr: agreed. I heard Pittman not only improved but also lost a 'ton' of weight and he's a beast this season. Glad we draw them once in season then if in march not until indy. In same league as Texas may actually help us toward our goals for 3 banners.

you are all correct our depth will help us with the long season journey. unfortunately depth doesn't mean as much tourney time due to extended TV time outs.

40-0 why not, one bite at a time.

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William Blake 4 years, 4 months ago

Let's see this match-up in March. Benson will be worn out from playing so many minutes in a long season with his light frame, while Cole keeps his stamina because he worked his lower body this past summer and is over the swine flu.

This game with Oakland had the perfect outcome... we won the game and Cole had an off game which will make people question his ability so he'll have plenty of stimulus, especially down the stretch in March. All the east coast (KU hating) media will be all over Cole because of this game.. questioning his ability to face a big man. Perfect food for Cole.

Let's see how Cole does against Pittman this year! I've heard that Pittman has improved, too. I think Cole is definitely stronger in his lower body, and that doesn't show up as quickness, but will show when he posts his man.

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mandomax 4 years, 4 months ago

It's probably swine flu....

Benson proved to be a bit much for Aldrich last night, but I think he would make most Div. I big men look slow on defense. Benson is a featherweight big (221 at 6'11" according to Oakland website) with amazing quickness. He also shot .622 from the field last year, good enough for 4th best in the country.

As dagger noted, Cole will continue to have problems with quick bigs. Hopefully Marcus and/or Markieff twins can provide some help, and Withey seems like he will be able to match up nicely against those League-bound, athletic bigs. Hopefully they are ready by tournament time.

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Dirk Medema 4 years, 4 months ago

It seemed well documented that CA & SC have both had the flu. Cole's on the tail end, while Sherron's seems to be just starting.

I also seem to recall Cole's Hudy-time this summer being rather well documented as well. In his case, he concentrated on his lower body strength in order to improve post-play/pitman. Cole has in the past, and will likely continue to have a less effective game against quicker, more athletic 5's (4's playing 5 - '09 MU) b/c he just isn't - and that's okay. I thought he adapted his game wonderfully in those situations so that he limited the impact of the opposition while maintaining control of the lane.

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oldalum 4 years, 4 months ago

He's been fighting flu symptoms all week according to Self. I've seen him doing a lot of coughing into his towel on the sidelines. He's probably short of wind and energy.

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ParisHawk 4 years, 4 months ago

lighthawk,

I too thought of mononucleosis. If true, that would last a while. Would be nice if someone could confirm or (preferably) deny...

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Steve Brown 4 years, 4 months ago

Benson: Nice game. well done. We appreciate fine play.

risking wrath of jh nation here goes: Cole: rewatched the tape wanted to view how you walked during timeouts. Seems you've lost some zip. Perhaps just a cold bug, if more then... 1. Vit B-12 injections once week for 8 weeks. 2. Get larger pillow, help relieve the pain in your shoulder and down your arm. You favor it when you walk. 3. Gargle warm salt water 2x day, keep tooth area from infection. Did you know Wilt died from heart infection initiated from bad tooth. 4. If mononucleosis then no B-12 rather up the Vit. C tablets to over 500 mg daily. plenty of water. Of course do NOT do or take anything w.out advice and consent of trainers

sooballs: too late for last summer gym time, good idea though. perhaps too much fried walleye & potato cakes in off season. He does seem a bit lethargic- likely temporary.

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soobawls 4 years, 4 months ago

Actually coach, we didn't start the game doubling him but after he proved Cole could not guard him we had no choice but to start. Cole needs to ask himself if he did everything he could to get better in the off season because from where I'm sitting it looks like his skills have improved but not his body. The twins should have grabbed him when they were heading for the weight room.

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