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Sunday, June 13, 2010

KU’s Releford working on jump shot

Kansas guard Travis Releford pulls up for a jumper during warmups before tipoff against Iowa State, Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2009 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Travis Releford pulls up for a jumper during warmups before tipoff against Iowa State, Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2009 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Kansas University sophomore basketball guard Travis Releford has one goal in mind when he hits the gym for individual, off-season workouts.

“The focus is on my jump shooting — the pull-up jump shot,” said Releford, a 6-foot-5, 205-pounder out of Roeland Park’s Bishop Miege High School.

“If I can make open shots, I’ll be able to play.”

He smiled when asked if pick-up game reports — and reports from last year’s practice sessions during his red-shirt season are true — that his range has improved dramatically.

“It’s true,” Releford said. “Confidence has a lot to do with it, not really changing my form, but little touch-ups on it (shot). I think red-shirting helped me a lot. I built up a lot of confidence and improved my shooting and all aspects of my game.”

He recently showed how determined he is to work on his jumper when he was spotted by an onlooker shooting on his own at night in Allen Fieldhouse with the lights off.

“Yeah, I’ve been in there several times alone,” Releford said. “It’s not pitch dark. I can see the rim. I’m just trying to get better and willing to do whatever it takes to help my team any way I can. Defensively, offensively I want to do whatever it takes.”

He’s following the advice of coach Bill Self, who encouraged Releford to work on his shot during his red-shirt campaign.

“We recruited Travis and said, ‘He’s pretty good. All he needs to do is work on his stroke,’’’ Self said. “He has worked on his stroke. He is a natural scorer. He is a high-level defender. He has a chance to challenge for a starting spot.”

Releford — who along with the rest of his teammates worked Self’s parent-child camp on Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse, Horejsi Center and KU’s practice facility — said Self has told him, “you can help the team a lot next year if you continue to improve. He told me to keep doing what I’ve been doing to become a better player and make my teammates better.”

Releford’s chances of significant playing time improved dramatically when Xavier Henry decided to turn pro after one season and recruit Terrence Jones elected to attend Kentucky instead of KU.

“With Xavier leaving, I wish him the best,” said Releford. “I wasn’t really paying attention to all the recruiting and who was coming in. I was hearing about it but not listening to it. It played out well for me. We’ll just take it and run with it.”

Releford is one of two red-shirts to be back in action this season. Senior guard/forward Mario Little is expected to vie for a starting slot.

“I’m very close to Mario. We had a whole year to sit beside each other on the bench to get to know each other,” Releford said. “Mario’s going to be real good. Taking this year off and competing with each other, being on the same team, seeing his improvement on ballhandling and jump shooting, he’s going to be real good.”

Little returned the compliment: “Travis has made a big jump from a confidence level. I feel Travis will be great playing the 3 (small forward), the 2 (shooting) guard, just like me playing the 2, 3, 4 (power forward) or wherever I’ll be at.”

Releford — he said he’s also improved his ballhandling for drives to the basket — will not be the only member of his family playing college ball next year. Little brother Trevor will be a freshman point guard at Alabama.

“He should be a real good player. He should have fun there,” Travis said, admitting that there was a time he considered transferring from KU and joining his brother in ’Bama.

“I talked to him about it a few times. It wasn’t really a big deal,” Travis said. “I’m happy here.”

Pollard’s take: KU’s basketball players would have to endure several long road trips in a given season if the Jayhawks join the Pac-10 or Big East or enter into an expanded league with Mountain West teams.

Former KU center Scot Pollard said that issue is overblown.

“Airplanes go really fast,” Pollard said Friday night at Self’s Basketball Boogie at College Basketball Experience in Kansas City, Mo. “After spending 11 years in the NBA, I know it’s not really that hard getting from one time zone to another. College athletics with the big dollar amounts they are involved with these days ... it will not be that difficult. They will bring more tutors on the road because there will be more dollars involved. College athletics is going to be a lot different in the next few years and years to come than in the past.”

Rock Chalk Classic on Thursday: The second-annual Rock Chalk Roundball Classic will be held at 7 p.m.,Thursday at Free State High. The benefit basketball game, featuring Pollard, Mario Chalmers, Darnell Jackson, Russell Robinson and others, will raise money for two Lawrence families currently fighting cancer. There will be photo and autograph opportunities after the game. Fans will have a chance to win autographed jerseys of each player.

Fans can purchase tickets in advance at the Great Plains Media studios on west 6th Street, the 23rd Street Brewery, Signs of Life, St. John’s Catholic Church, Heartland Community Church and Lawrence First Church of the Nazarene. For more information search “Rock Chalk Roundball Classic” on Facebook or visit KLWN.com. Send email questions to bhanni@lazer.com. To learn more about the beneficiaries, log on to fosterhopeinitiative.com and selflessgenerosity.com.

Comments

JacquesMerde 11 years, 5 months ago

Pollard is correct. College sports will be even more commercial. I think it is time to start openly paying all the players. The major collegiate sports are alive in name only. They have been dying for years. It should be the NAPA (national association of professional athletics) instead of NCAA. After all you can't pay huge salaries to commissioners, factotum, ADs, coaches, and university presidents without big income. I don't know why some clever lawyer hasn't started organizing college athletes into a union.

leonard 11 years, 5 months ago

"Airplanes go really fast,” Pollard said...I know it’s not really that hard getting from one time zone to another...They will bring more tutors on the road"

They might even shoehorn a couple of fans on the plane...since there will be darn few willing to make the ridiculously long trek to the west coast.

The Pac-10 would be a horrendous decision...regardless of the witless statement by Scott "Phileas Fogg" Pollard.

10pm kickoffs...no home team fans in attendance...with pay per view as the only option to see the game. Maybe that clever lawyer should start organizing the fans into a union as we seem to be the ones with no representation.

KU08 11 years, 5 months ago

Leonard, I was thinking the same thing, but the late games would be pretty rare. A 16 team conference would have a West and an East division. We would be in the East division with more regionally similar teams. Therefore, approximately 80% of our games would be the same as we've always had in the Big 12.

KEITHMILES05 11 years, 5 months ago

The mere thought and mention of MW is stupid. Leave that alone as it will NOT happen!

tical523 11 years, 5 months ago

Just a gut feeling, but this years team is going to have some of the best team chemistry we have seen. Other than Selby, who seems like a good kid, there is nobody on the team who will feel entitled or a need to be "the guy". . . . Mario Little will be an unexpected stud and a great leader for us. We are full of huge talent and small egos, with guys that are just willing to put in the work to help the team. Can't wait.

KU08 11 years, 5 months ago

My gut feeling is we go undefeated in the last conference season of the Big 12. Nebraska gets beaten cumulatively by 180-80.

Annette Lee 11 years, 5 months ago

TT is the guy that could feel entitled after some wins but HCBS can sit him...

lee3022 11 years, 5 months ago

Brady was still a critical part of our defense. He is the 5th year senior that Coach trusts and I will be surprised if he doesn't play similar minutes to last year.

Tony Bandle 11 years, 5 months ago

Thank God for an article that actually had some basketball in it.

It's a bit of an aximoron but the only constant in life is change. Whatever happens, Jayhawk Nation will adapt and excel. Let's just hope our administration puts us in a good position to make this transition easy.

Matt Bowers 11 years, 5 months ago

ralster, I've always liked your blogs. I think we need to be dangerous from a football standpoint. It is for time the state of Kansas to back KU football and try to recruit some outsiders.(fans) That is the key to what conference we land. I personally want to be in the SEC b/c of the possible match-ups. Here's hoping we have a great basketball season and an even better football season. People need to attend the games and travel well.

Rock Chalk

KU1992 11 years, 5 months ago

Can we not turn the lights on for these guys? We have top notch facilities and this is one of several articles talking about them shooting in the dark. I even knew where the light switch was for my high school gym if I needed to use it.

Lance Hobson 11 years, 5 months ago

There are college athletics and then college football. Football is becoming a pro sport and the greed surounding it is ruining college sports as we know it.

Chris Shaw 11 years, 5 months ago

Man, I sure wish I could get into these basketball articles during the summer. Usually, I am pretty excited, but with all the conference talk, it takes away some of the luster. Keep it up, Releford.

lee3022 11 years, 5 months ago

The thing Coach loves most is competition within the team. Mario and Travis appear primed to compete and support each other in the bigger wing position. The missing element of last year's NCAA tournament was outside shooting. They need multiple options to allow for a bad night from one or two players to be covered by others.

I do like not having the dependence on just two stars this year. This team has the potential to be better than last year. And maybe looser as well. The bulls-eye is gone and they can wreak vengeance on the league while it still exists with a seventh straight league title.

As far as the conference realignment goes the unsaid threat to all of this is the reaction to major conference upheaval by congress. Although they cannot agree on anything else, the opportunity to come together and deal with the rampant greed on the football power schools might lead to a revoking of tax exempt status on athletic income with perhaps an exemption for the average income of schools (say mid-major). That would help level the field if that $20M per year TV money costs $10M in tax. It would also in a small way reduce the deficit. The rich are getting richer and the little guy is getting squeezed out completely. Of course this sort of tax hurts KU as much as any others so I hope that the shuffling is minimized.

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