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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Keegan

Don’t forget Aldrich

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Not everybody playing in his last game in Allen Fieldhouse gets to give a speech tonight. When you’re 6-foot-11, have the wing span of a man 7-4 and are blessed with great shot-blocking timing, you don’t have a Senior Night. It’s spent working for an NBA team.

Even though tradition dictates this night belongs to Sherron Collins, the mere fact Cole Aldrich turned down sure millions to return to play his junior season at Kansas is reason enough to bring down the house for him when he gets to hear his name announced in the starting lineup for the final time.

All eyes have been on Sherron Collins all week in anticipation of his final home game. Preparing outside that glare, Cole Aldrich has every bit the motivation Collins does, even more.

Aldrich, who will announce after the season that he will make himself eligible for the NBA Draft, never has lost in Allen Fieldhouse. He’s 54-0. He doesn’t want to make his final taste a losing one.

His father, Walt, will be sitting in the family section along with his wife and a small gathering of other friends and family in from Bloomington, Minn.

Game night won’t become official for Cole until he receives the same text message from his dad he receives before every game: “Have fun and kick (three-letter version of tail).”

Walt, a construction worker who earned money as a teenager working a paper route — late baseball manager Billy Martin, then managing the Minnesota Twins, was one of his customers — has been living in Lawrence since Late Night. Permanent work has been difficult to come by, and he plans to return home Friday.

One of Walt’s temporary jobs found him sitting next to a Missouri grad who couldn’t help but ask, “Why didn’t you send Cole to Missouri?”

Walt recounted his answer over lunch at his favorite Lawrence hangout, Jo Shmo’s on Mass. St.

“Let’s see, five national titles, 53 conference titles,” Walt said.

He thought back to a time when Cole was in seventh or eighth grade playing in an AAU game in, he thought, Memphis.

“Cole blocked a shot with his right hand, and the ball ended up in the hands of another player,” Walt said. “That player put up a shot, and Cole reached out and blocked it with his left hand.”

He has been blocking shots in bunches ever since, this season doing it with a missing front tooth.

If you’ve heard it once from announcers, you’ve heard it a trillion times: “The best way to neutralize shot-blockers is to take it right at them.”

In the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season in Minneapolis, Dayton employed that strategy, enabling Aldrich to make some KU basketball history. In front of the hometown folks, Aldrich scored 13 points, collected 20 rebounds and blocked 10 shots, the first recorded triple-double in KU history. Blocked shots weren’t tracked in the days of Wilt Chamberlain and B.H. Born, but plenty of quality players came and went since it became an official stat.

One of those players was named Paul Pierce. On his final game at Allen Fieldhouse as a junior, he scored 31 points. Aldrich likely won’t match that total, but you can bet he’ll be plenty charged up running through the tunnel for the final time.

Comments

Ted Toulouse 9 years, 5 months ago

I'm not naive enough to think that Cole will stick around for next year, but I still don't think you just come out and say he is leaving for sure. I guess it wouldn't be the first time Keegan eats his words.

Clarence Haynes 9 years, 5 months ago

Why didn't you send Cole to Mizzou?

Great comeback Mr Aldrich!

jayhawkintexas 9 years, 5 months ago

Tonight's game is going to be a man contest. Whichever team shows that they are the tougher and smarter men will win. I hope Sherron and Cole's final games in AFH are a blowout against K-State and they can celebrate their final games in style.

Martin Rosenblum 9 years, 5 months ago

If Cole is having his "Possee" at the game tonight, it sounds like he is treating this game as a final AFH appearance for himself.

But, I'm still hoping that he made his dying grandmother a promise that he would not leave early and would get his degree during his college playing days rather than finishing his requirements after leaving Lawrence. With his honors and acheivements academicaly, the thought of him making a mockery of the nomination by not participating in a graduation ceremony as a symbolic public culmination seems unthinkable and without humility.

Jeff Coffman 9 years, 5 months ago

Why would you send your kid to Misery...he didn't even mention final 4s, which at last count mizzou has 0.

I laugh at those conversations.

Jeff Coffman 9 years, 5 months ago

Why would you send your kid to Misery...he didn't even mention final 4s, which at last count mizzou has 0.

I laugh at those conversations.

Jeff Coffman 9 years, 5 months ago

Why would you send your kid to Misery...he didn't even mention final 4s, which at last count mizzou has 0.

I laugh at those conversations.

Robert Brock 9 years, 5 months ago

Aldrich is gone after this season. He has earned his way to The League as did Paul Pierce before him. We will really miss him but it is time for him to make a few bucks. In his honor I am going to eat a lot at Cici's Pizza.

Kye Clark 9 years, 5 months ago

if you're going to write this article about Cole, why not say this is probably X's last game in AFH as well? I realize he hasn't achieved the things that Cole has and hasn't earned the same fan appreciation, but his coming here (along with the maturity of the Twins) might prove to be what we need to win a NC this year, and that probably deserves to be recognized. And I think it's even less likely that X returns than Cole. All NBA mock draft boards I've looked at still have X as a top 20 pick.

That was indeed a good response by Walt Aldrich. Other acceptable responses would have been the women and quality of education.

Robert Brock 9 years, 5 months ago

Cole has made a big impact on the court at Kansas. Xavier? Not yet anyway.

Mike Kendall 9 years, 5 months ago

I would love for Cole to stay another year. Having said that though, it will be a personal and family decision. Whatever he decides, I will still respect Cole Aldrich. It will be icing on the cake if he stays!

slowplay 9 years, 5 months ago

"why not say this is probably X's last game in AFH as well?"...Because that is not a given. Right now I say it's less than 50%. On most draft boards he's dropped to the mid-low teens (BTW that's about where Aldrich was last year. Now he's a top 10 or even 5). That would get him about a about $1.5M salary. If he stays and becomes a top 5 pick (a very reasonable assumption), that will equate to about $4M to $5M. So, he roughly has about 3 million reasons to stay. Don't forget the brother factor. Although that could go both ways.

niemoth 9 years, 5 months ago

X is probably gone as well. He looks like a to 15 pick on most mock's right now, and I'm sure when we make another run to the Final Four with his help he'll move up the board a little. Just because he can possibly become a top 5 pick next year isn't a reason to stay (plus remember Giddens draft stock after freshman year, then stayed and look what happened). Cole didn't stay to move up to be a top 5 pick, he stayed to win another title. X knows we are not likely going to win next year without Sherron and Cole, so he's probably gone. Only way I think he stays is if he really loves Lawrence, so all you students do your best to keep him there. It's not like he's short on money with C.J. already getting a huge deal with the Yanks. As for mentioning him in this article just because it's probably his last game in AFH doesn't compare to Cole's last game in AFH. He may be a reason why we are a NC caliber team, but Cole is that reason more than he is. And you don't start writing articles on a players last game in AFH when they've only played in the building for one year. You do write articles on a player that's been there 3 years and never lost.

By the way, what was ESPN thinking not picking up this game at the start of the year. Can't believe I have to watch this on my computer. It's only the 2nd top 5 matchup all year. And I know K-State wasn't suppose to be this good, but they were predicted to be 2nd in the North anyway, so why ESPN didn't pick up both KU-KSU games is pretty funny. I guess they thought OSU-A&M or Wake-FSU were better games.

KGphoto 9 years, 5 months ago

Anybody else ever go three years undefeated in AFH?

KGphoto 9 years, 5 months ago

Anybody else ever go 55-0 for a career at AFH?

nobody1793 9 years, 5 months ago

X? Meh. Mario Little will probably have as big an impact next year as Henry has had this year.

David Reed 9 years, 5 months ago

given the financal troubles Cole's family is dealing with I think it's a forgone conclusion he is going league and as he should.he's given us 3 wonderful years

slowplay 9 years, 5 months ago

"Cole didn't stay to move up to be a top 5 pick, he stayed to win another title."...

Probably a combination of both. Don't delude yourself to think money did not come into play. Cole is in the exact scenario that I mentioned about Henry. Because he stayed, his earning potential has tripled (and when you are talking millions, that is a MAJOR consideration). You don't think the Aldrich's have a financial adviser? Same with Henry. And if CJ sticks around that could be a deal clincher for Henry.

COJHawk 9 years, 5 months ago

KGphoto...The four years I was a student at KU (fall'94-spring'98), KU was 58-0 at home. That was Raef, CB McGrath...can't remember who else...either way, that class was unbeaten. Funny that including all of those games, some Big 12 tourney games, some NCAA tourney games, and then games at Colorado where I live, I've never seen KU lose in person. How spoiled am I?

youowethehawks 9 years, 5 months ago

Maxhawk... I don't like your attitude. You will be forgiven in the eyes of the 'Hawk if you say 45 Rock Chalks (sans the "woo") and 4 Alma Maters. Pay Heed.

Michael Leiker 9 years, 5 months ago

Max - Hawks win this one going away. I like KS -10 tonight. Check my past posts, called OSU minus 8 on Saturday.

kerbyd 9 years, 5 months ago

I don't think it is a foregone conclusion that Cole is gone. He is still just a big kid who is loving being a college student and his dad has been without steady work for sometime. X on the other hand is probably gone IMHO. I think X is liking college a lot more than he thought he would, but his dad will be putting a lot more pressure on him to move on.

Steve Brown 9 years, 5 months ago

“Have fun and kick purple arse.”

Cole goes off tonight, erupts, terminates, dominates, Cole goes off.

Steve Gantz 9 years, 5 months ago

I didn't "lose" a game at Allen Field House until in 1988 KState came in with Mitch Richmond and beat us. It was a similar length home win streak. Hope that's not a bad omen for Cole and the Jayhawks. On the plus side, that season I seem to remember actually turned out quite well by the end of it!

Kye Clark 9 years, 5 months ago

slowplay - something you are not taking into account at all is the impending labor situation in the NBA that every expert says will inevitably lead to a lockout in 2011. X came to college with one goal in mind - as a one-year stepping stone to get to the NBA. Someone mentioned JR Giddens on this board, and I think that's a pretty good comparison. X struggled, hit a freshman wall, where for a 10 game stretch (the Cornell game through the 2nd Nebraska game) he shot 26% from the field. If he comes back and has a sophmore slump comparable to that he could potentially play himself out of the first round all together with GMs now drafting less on his high potential and now on more of a known product. Now do you think that the Henry's are going to put X at twice the risk? For a shot at moving up the draft board a handful of spots? Not likely. If he can go in the first round, he'll go, ensuring himself of a contract before a new collective bargaining agreement is in place which could have ramifications far beyone the couple of million more he could maybe make by being a lottery pick. The situation with Cole is totally different. Cole came into this year with academic goals, and he knew that barring injury he really couldn't do much damage to his draft status. Height & wingspan don't go into slumps.

Ron Prichard 9 years, 5 months ago

One of Walt’s temporary jobs found him sitting next to a Missouri grad who couldn’t help but ask, “Why didn’t you send Cole to Missouri?”

...

“Let’s see, five national titles, 53 conference titles,” Walt said.

BEST COMEBACK EVER!!!!!!!

Ron Prichard 9 years, 5 months ago

I guess all caps doesn't work when you post? Oh, well...I included enough exclamation marks to make the point.

milehighhawk 9 years, 5 months ago

I'm not sure I like this article so much.

Cole hasn't made an announcement yet, and I think it's premature to do it for him.

Steve Brown 9 years, 5 months ago

Cole delivers best speech in AFH with TP FG% R A & BLocks!

Tonight COle erupts.

slowplay 9 years, 5 months ago

icthawkfan316, I did take the labor situation into account. In fact, it could prove to be in Henry's favor. The CBA bargaining will not affect rookies who already have restricted monies. The owners are looking to end long term guaranteed contracts and use a model similar to the NFL. 1 or 2 years of guaranteed money and anything longer to be laced with performance incentives and team options for renewal. In any event, the CBA doesn't expire until after the 2011 season. "If he comes back and has a sophmore slump comparable to that he could potentially play himself out of the first round all together".. This is possible but not common. I can't believe another year under Coach Self will result in a sophomore slump. That said, you can bet he is going to get a lot of counseling before he declares. As a mid-teen projection he also faces the risk of falling out of the top 20 re. Mario Chalmers (picked at 34). It was projected he would go before Arthur who went at 16. Then it was Denver who looked at him at # 20. Then, finally Miami picks him up at 34.

Waylon Cook 9 years, 5 months ago

Keegan said he was leaving last year too..........

kufankam 9 years, 5 months ago

icthawkfan316,

while it may make sense to compare the flow of X's season with that of Gidden's, i just have such a hard time putting their names in the same context. they are SOOOO opposite when it comes to the type of kid/player that the other is. JR was so selfish and uncoachable where X is the epitomy of coachable and a solid team guy. like i said, i get what you were saying as far as their buildup and ensuing struggles... i just thought it was worth mentioning how far they are apart in other areas...

Milhawkee 9 years, 5 months ago

"Walt, a construction worker who earned money as a teenager working a paper route — late baseball manager Billy Martin, then managing the Minnesota Twins, was one of his customers — has been living in Lawrence since Late Night."

What does this sentence even mean?

tis4tim 9 years, 5 months ago

icthawkfan and slowplay,

I have thought about the lockout being a factor in X and Cole's NBA aspirations as you both have. Check out this article from a few weeks ago on potential labor impasse. It changed my opinion about the urgency underclassmen should feel in declaring after this season. Maybe it will yours too. Rock Chalk!

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/columns/story?columnist=sheridan_chris&page=lockout-100215

KU by 15 tonight. No way they drop this game on senior night, against the Kitties, with a 58 game home win streak intact, an outright Big 12 title in the balance, in Collins' last home game, with his family in attendance, and me in my lucky shirt. Rock Chalk up another W! Book it.

tis4tim 9 years, 5 months ago

Funny, my post occurred at 4:44...it's a sign!

Kye Clark 9 years, 5 months ago

slowplay - "I can't believe another year under Coach Self will result in a sophomore slump."

see Tyshawn Taylor

Xanthe Sherman Swan 9 years, 5 months ago

This is Sherron's night, not anyone who may not be here next year's night. I understand the pull of big money but I think it takes away from Senior night when you start throwing that stuff in.

These kids have had an awesome year. If they want the recognition of Senior night then stay the 4 years. Graduate. I appreciate all these guys and have nothing against someone going early if that is what they need to do but don't expect the fans to be sharing this special night with them.

Mark Wooden 9 years, 5 months ago

I wonder how much more money 3 out 4 National Titles get you in the league instead of 2 out of 3.

NBA talent pool is full now, they don't need to push these kids to go Pro early and sit for 3 years before their potential is needed

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