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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Out of the blocks

Can Aldrich, KU swat Lehigh?

Kansas center Cole Aldrich talks with media members in the Jayhawks' locker room at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, March 17, 2010.

Kansas center Cole Aldrich talks with media members in the Jayhawks' locker room at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, March 17, 2010.

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More first round content

Check out these stories for more insight before KU's game against Lehigh:

Speedy Collins in no hurry

Gary Bedore's KU hoops notebook

Lehigh basketball notebook

Lehigh not backing down

Videos

Video previews: Kansas vs. Lehigh

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Videos for Kansas' first-round game in the 2010 NCAA tournament against Lehigh.

— Cole Aldrich, who is storming toward Kansas University’s career blocks record in just three seasons at the tradition-rich school, can only imagine how many rejections Wilt Chamberlain had as a Jayhawk.

“Ooh, I’d say a lot. Wilt ... I mean, he scored a lot of points, grabbed a lot of rebounds, did a lot of everything,” said Aldrich, KU’s 6-foot-11, 250-pound junior center from Bloomington, Minn.

Aldrich enters today’s first-round NCAA Tournament game against Lehigh (8:40 p.m., Ford Center) with 246 blocks — 12 off the school record.

That record is not held by “The Big Dipper” — his total blocks in a two-year varsity KU career never will be known since blocks weren’t recognized as a NCAA stat until 1985 — but Greg Ostertag.

“The Big O” swatted 258 shots from 1992 to ’95.

“I think it’d be cool, really special to set the record because Greg is a great player and a real humble guy,” Aldrich said of Ostertag, who played 11 years in the NBA.

“On the court, he’s not one of those guys you ever want to play ’cause you know it’ll be a tough matchup for you.”

As tough a matchup as KU single-season shot block leader Aldrich (118 this year to Ostertag’s 97) presents to Lehigh tonight.

The Mountain Hawks (22-10) and star guard C.J. McCollum enter the paint at their own risk against Aldrich, who is honored when anybody mentions him in the same sentence as, say, Chamberlain.

“It’s special,” Aldrich said, “knowing he’s one player myself and a lot of guys who play basketball look at as not only one of the great players to play in college, but play basketball ever.”

Aldrich is nearing the one-year anniversary of an NCAA Tournament game in which he blocked a school-record 10 shots.

“I can’t say I have a favorite block, but I’d say Dayton was one of my favorite games just because of the triple-double and the fact it was such a big game for us,” he said of KU’s second-round NCAA Tournament victory over Dayton last March 22 in Minneapolis.

His 13-point, 20-rebound, 10-block effort versus the Flyers marked the first official triple-double in KU history.

Of course, Chamberlain had many back in the day when blocks were feared, but not recognized.

It probably should come as no surprise Aldrich, who has followed KU closely since his sophomore year at Bloomington Jefferson High, is a bit of a Chamberlain fan.

“Actually I found a Web site where he scored 100 points. There’s a Web site out there that has the whole fourth quarter on there,” Aldrich said of tape of Chamberlain scoring 100 points in Philadelphia’s 169-147 NBA victory over New York on March 2, 1962.

“I typed it in (search engine) and stumbled upon it and listened to it when I had nothing else to do. Wilt missed quite a few shots in the fourth quarter. He had 90 and missed three shots in a row. I was, ‘C’mon, Wilt,’’’ Aldrich added with a laugh.

Nobody in KU’s camp would be startled if Aldrich somehow rejected 12 shots against the Patriot League regular-season and postseason-tournament champs.

Lehigh’s tallest starter is 6-9 Gabe Knutson (9.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg).

Take it from Kansas State’s Jamar Samuels, it’s tough going against Aldrich inside.

“I tried to go inside and lay in shots, and Cole Aldrich is right there, like a big tree trunk standing right there trying to block your shot,” Samuels said.

“You go in there, and Cole tries to kill it. He tries to kill almost everything,” sophomore Marcus Morris said, adding, “of course,” when asked if Aldrich has batted away many of his attempts at practice the past two seasons.

“When he gets a chance to block ’em, he tries to throw them into the stands. Sometimes when you get a real good block, your mind-set is to throw it as far as you can, and he has done that a lot.”

Aldrich “will be a key in the tournament for us. He will be,” exclaimed senior guard Sherron Collins.

Collins has great confidence in his fellow team leader, who takes an 11.2-scoring, 9.9-rebound and 3.5-block average into today’s game.

“I see players get frustrated (taking it in the paint to Aldrich) all the time,” Collins added. “Even if he doesn’t block the shot, he alters it. He’s the best I’ve played with ... ever.”

Aldrich, who takes an aw-shucks attitude toward blocks — “I just try to help out our guards and be the last line of defense if they happen to get beat” — perfected the art through hours of practice.

“In high school, I had quite a bit. It was my little thing,” he said. “I’ve been doing it a long time, but honestly I had no idea I would come here and challenge (for records).”

In perhaps the highest form of flattery, KU coach Bill Self said there’s no question Aldrich is the best collegiate shot blocker he ever has seen.

“Michael Ruffin was good, but he was undersized at Tulsa,” Self said of the 6-8, 245-pounder. “At Illinois, we didn’t have anybody like that. Since we’ve been here, we haven’t had anybody like that. Cole is by far the best I’ve had a chance to work with.”

If there’s one negative, it’s that Aldrich bats some of his blocks out of play.

“He’s better than most, but still not as good as what he can be as far as keeping balls alive,” Self said. “The best shot-blockers have a knack to be able to block it to an area where their teammates have a chance to go get it. Cole is well above average in that area.”

He tries to keep the ball in play, but, hey, a big guy sometimes has to do what he’s got to do to keep the blood pumping.

“I actually like throwing them in the stands,” said freshman center Jeff Withey, who figures to take over the shot-blocking torch from Aldrich next season. “Cole ... I’m sure he’d like to keep them all in play because that way you get an extra possession. In the moment, you never know (what will happen).”

There’s a lot of instinct involved in blocking shots.

“Cole gives me a couple tips here and there about jumping later, not jumping too soon,” Withey said, “but I’ve not learned too much. I averaged about 7 1/2 in high school. It’s what I like to do.”

Maybe Withey will challenge Cole’s single-season block record as soon as next year?

“I’m gonna try,” Withey said, quickly adding, “Cole is definitely one of the best shot-blockers I’ve seen, if not the best. There’s good defenders in the NBA, but for right now, he’s really good.”

And he’s ready to begin his quest for a second national title in three years.

“We know Lehigh is good,” Aldrich said. “We’re just really excited to get started. This is the best time of year. The main thing is to get out there and have a lot of fun.”

And maybe block 12 shots in the process.

Comments

dynamitehawk 10 years, 3 months ago

I'm sort of superstitious, which is why Cole should swat that damn microphone with the #13 out of his face.

NH_JHawk 10 years, 3 months ago

Time to dance. Let's get it on and bring home the hardware!

5yardfuller 10 years, 3 months ago

I guess Bedore never reads Bill Mayer's columns. Mayer has been writing for years about Wilt Chamberlain's block totals, which were kept track of. Chamberlain had 182 in 1956-57 and 120 in 1957-58 for a career total of 302. They are not official totals but at least they should be acknowledged rather than writing "his total blocks in a two-year varsity KU career never will be known."

Kyle Crenshaw 10 years, 3 months ago

had a crazy dream last night... down 81-85 with 41 seconds left sherron makes a driving layup, 83-85. we steal it with the press but cole misses the easy bunny layup but it is tipped back out to X who steps into his shot and nails a 3 from the top of the key with 15 seconds left...then i woke up

James122 10 years, 3 months ago

The game will not even be close, KU wins by20+!!

Go Hawks!!

justinryman 10 years, 3 months ago

Perhaps it's not the blocks by Cole that need to be worried about, but the offensive prowless by the big guy. But everyones game rises just a little bit more come "The Dance" so I think we as fans will be alright.

Rock Chalk

John Strayer 10 years, 3 months ago

This game better not be close...a blow out with the reserves getting lots of minutes would be very nice prep for Saturday's game.

hawksince51 10 years, 3 months ago

I'm also superstitious, especially about the first round after Bucknell and Bradley. I don't like the no.13 mike or comparisons to Chamberlain, a tragic figure who never won it all. Cole is a winner because unlike Wilt he is a team player, a serious student, and a much better person. ROCK CHALK!!

ParisHawk 10 years, 3 months ago

Interesting, Wilt's number at KU was 13. Some of you have said you wanted payback against Syracuse; why can't Cole "win one for Wilt"?

I was born on the 13th and the only time I ever had a jersey number I chose 13. Decide it's good luck :)

craigers 10 years, 3 months ago

This is gonna be fun. Too bad they start at 8:40pm tonight!! Too long to wait!

Robert Brock 10 years, 3 months ago

Lots of big men swat shots. The fact that he uses the block to control the ball and get KU in transition is what separates him from the rest. He's almost Bill Russell-like in that respect.

tstanlick1909 10 years, 3 months ago

Really want to win another national title

100 10 years, 3 months ago

Dynamite,

Don't forget we buried those 1957 demons in 2008, not only beating Memphis for the big one, but also beating UNC 40-12 in the first few minutes of the game. Not to mention passing them on the all time win list. The '57 UNC game can be talked about reasonably now, without the extra hubbub....

As KU fans, let's not forget Wilt had a first year head coach who didn't vary from his gameplan & who drew up the worst play in the history of basketball to get the winning bucket in the triple overtime (an entry pass to a non-cutting/ no-picks-set-for-him Wilt at the lane elbow with two Heels hawking him, the pass, a lazy floaty pass at practically Wilt's elbow that gets swatted away, really, Coach Harp, that's the best we could do?)

If we had any sort of a killer instinct (via Phog) & Phog's gametime adjustments Wilt would've won 3 NCAA titles for the Jayhawks.

That's the facts.

Harp was great & changed college basketball with the full court press & John Wooden can credit 10 NCAA championships to Harp & in fact did credit him for his full court press at times in his career...

But Harp was following Phog.... and didn't have time to really "build" a program, greatness was expected from him in his first year....

Harp I will always have a deep fondness for -- a great man & a great Jayhawk who himself played on a team that almost won it all for the Jayhawks.

But it was he, as a coach, who couldn't win the big one. He was hired at the wrong time. He wasn't a bad coach, in fact he was a pretty good one...

However....

he wasn't Phog.

As fans we need to start seeing that 1957 championship game as it was -- a coaching experiment that shouldn't have happened so early...

Harp was a great Jayhawk, but Phog was a phenomenal coach, just as Wilt was a phenomenal player.

In today's game, with today's players, there is no Center I'd rather have than Cole Aldrich. And no point guard I'd rather have than Sherron Collins. And there is no coach I would rather have than Coach Self!

So, all I'm saying is this...

If 1957 was flushed away thanks to 2008...

Why not flush 1958 (what should have been another NCAA championship), with 2010?

As of 2008, it's time to gain the NCAA Championships in honor of our great coaches & players of the past that just missed!!!!!

So...

Flushing 1958 begins with taking care of Lehigh tonight...

Rock Chalk Jayhawk

jaybate 10 years, 3 months ago

<p>KUSports.com Question: Can Aldrich, KU swat Lehigh?

jaybate answers:

Is Sherron Collins the best point guard in KU history?

Can Cole Aldrich block shots and rebound?

Are Marcus and Markieff the best composite 4 in America?

Is Tyshawn Taylor quick?

Can Xavier Henry score outside and inside?

Can Tyrel Reed shoot 3s and defend?

Can Brady defend and trifectate?

Can TRob and Withey give Cole 5 minutes of rest and are they going to be monsters by committee at the 5 next season?

Should CJ Henry come back next year with that trey gun of his?

Is Elijah Johnson going to be a terrific PG next year?

Are Mario Little and Travis Releford the two best red shirts in America?

Does KU have great looking cheerleaders with brains?

Can Bill Self coach?

Can Joe Dooley concentrate on X's and O's?

Can Danny Manning coach bigs?

Can Kurtis Townsend recruit?

Can Barry Hinson work alumni?

Can Lew Perkins squeeze money out of court-side seats?

Does Kyle still look like Rick Moranis?

Does Brett Ballard alliterate?

Can Chancellor Bernadette Grey-Little chancel?

Does Roy Williams KU teams run the secondary break?

Did Larry Brown steal Danny Manning out from under Dean?

Was Ted Owens a good guy?

Was Jo Jo White's foot in bounds?

Did Dick Harp invent pressure defense?

Did Wilt Chamberlain score a hundred points in a game?

Did Phog Allen invent basketball coaching?

Did William O. Hamilton, who coached KU for ten years (1909-1919), who went 125–59 and who won five conference titles, really establish the consistent excellence of KU basketball?

Did James Naismith invent the game?

Does the Pope like tall, pointy hats?

Do the owners of the Fed want to subordinate nation states?

Is war immoral but profittable?

Should BeakofLight be rotated home to watch the games at The Wheel and write his novel?

Will the sun come up tomorrow?

Yes to all of the questions and, yes, KU will defeat Lehigh.

Rock Chalk!!!

Mike Kendall 10 years, 3 months ago

Cole train is a beast when he is on a roll. Jayhawks stick with your game plan and the game should be a blowout. Rock Chalk!

Mike Kendall 10 years, 3 months ago

Jaybate---

Do you know who will be announcing the KU game tonight? Thank God it isn't Dick Vitale!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

stravinsky 10 years, 3 months ago

I dunno how many blocks Cole will have this game -- I Imagine Lehigh is going to try very hard to stay far, far out of the paint. They're one of the better 3 point shooting teams, 40.1% throughout the season, for 10th in the nation (scouting report, kenpom.com). Granted Cole's domination in the paint as well as the typical giant killer blueprint (riding on the three and hoping for a good day, basically), I'd expect them to really focus on outside shooting.

That said, whether cole gets two blocks or ten, I expect we'll play some good defense against these guys. Ken Pom predicts us winning by almost thirty, and that certainly wouldn't shock me. Just don't go for 100 guys, it's bad karma! Put in the reserves and let EJ, Withey, T-Rob, and CJ get some playing time.

Darsves 10 years, 3 months ago

I really hope he is able to reach it, but that's still a lot of blocks to have to cover. Cole is an unbelievable defensive presence, so I'm sure he can.

BTW, in that picture, did Cole get a new tooth? When did this happen?

Mike Kendall 10 years, 3 months ago

Slayr---totally agree with your last post. A lot of the higher seeds having trouble with their opponents right now.

Darsves 10 years, 3 months ago

Slayr/mikendal - I agree with both of you. KU needs to come out and prove to everyone that we are the best and most dominate team in the field of 64. There have already been upsets and very near upsets. Villanova almost lost to Robert Morris and Vanderbilt is down by 2 with 2 minutes or so to go and Baylor is in a fight with Sam Houston. We need to knock our opponents out early and keep our foot on their throats and prove to everyone why they don't want to play us.

jaybate 10 years, 3 months ago

The rumor is that CBS has hired Nancy Landon Kassebaum Baker to do play by play, President Obama to do commentary and Kathleen Sebelius for the sidelines for all KU games.

Chris Shaw 10 years, 3 months ago

Go UTEP! I'm bummed I got the Richmond game wrong! I wouldn't have minded getting the Nova/Robert Morris game wrong. Robert Morris absolutely got robbed the last 3 minutes. I don't know how that RM coach didn't get any technicals. What an absolute nightmare of an officiating job.

Chris Shaw 10 years, 3 months ago

Mikendal: You're in trouble with your Vandy pick! Ouch!

Chris Shaw 10 years, 3 months ago

Craigers: Good Picking so far! I like your picks! I can't believe you got UTEP and Murray State like me. I hope you and I are correct with the UTEP picks to the sweet 16.

jaybate 10 years, 3 months ago

What KU needs to do today?

Get back.

Guard the trey stripe.

Give them their treys 1-2 feet farther out than they like.

Let Cole block their shots into the next century.

Fastbreak on offense because of rebounding edge.

Cole and Marcus do quick outlet passes.

If no shot on break, hold up, let Sherron and Tyshawn and X drive, and feed Cole whenever they collapse,

Repeat.

Next.

Chris Shaw 10 years, 3 months ago

I like the repeat part, Jaybate! How come no bracket picks? I was looking forward to your picks.

Dan Harris 10 years, 3 months ago

Living in Texas forces me to watch the damn Longhorns! F$%#@#$%$

zaveay15 10 years, 3 months ago

I think cole will have a monster tournament. I also think he has not had the best year and i DO strongly believe he will be back next year. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

Mike Kendall 10 years, 3 months ago

kushaw--- Yea, I'm screwed, what can I say? Sometimes one has to go out on a limb---I thing my limb broke! The SEC isn't doing so well with Vandy and Florida going one and done. I wonder if that puts any more pressure on the young Kentucky team? Any thoughts?

Also, something to keep an eye on---saw the K-State/North Texas State game. It was a physical game. Samuels and Pullen both got major bruises. Pullen looked like he hurt his tailbone. Could be interesting how they feel when they play that 2nd Round game on Saturday.

Good luck Shaw, on your bracket!!!!!

Chris Shaw 10 years, 3 months ago

Mikendal: Yeah, it's so hard to pick these things. Just when I thought my Miners pick looked good at halftime they lay an egg the first 6 minutes of the second half. This is why these mid-major really athletic teams are 50/50. You never know which team is going to show up. No discipline what so ever.

Chris Shaw 10 years, 3 months ago

Butler on a 22-4 run since halftime. Damn it! What a tease!

Chris Shaw 10 years, 3 months ago

I hate it when teams go stupid! UTEP has gone completely stupid after 6 point halftime lead.

Chris Shaw 10 years, 3 months ago

Well, my UTEP pick looked good for 20 minutes. Shelvin Mack is on fire. 6 freakin 3's in the second half. WTF!

FairgroveJayhawk 10 years, 3 months ago

March madness is freaking killing me. Villanova almost loosing in over time to RM?

2 hours 28 minutes until the dance really begins.

newyorkjayhawk 10 years, 3 months ago

In no way, shape, or form is this post an indication that I believe Kansas will come away from this tournament with anything less than the national title trophy. We are the best team in the country in terms of skill, athleticism, preparation, season-long accomplishment, tradition and most importantly - character. Please don't read this as an indication that my appetite for victory is satisfied, nor will it ever be. After winning the big 12 regular season, big 12 post season tournament, and ncaa national titles in 2008, i could never explain how badly i wanted that trophy to come right back home to Lawrence again in 2009. That demand is only stronger for this year.

But I couldn't be more proud of this team, and regardless of their accomplishment in this tournament, I think it's important, over these last few hours before tipoff to understand how spoiled and ridiculously lucky we are as Kansas fans. We have the greatest coach in the nation, and he never demands the spot light. We have the most competitive leader in the country, and his senior night speech indicated that he quite simply appreciated the university and its fans as much as we appreciated him. We have the best center in the country, who just so happens to be an academic all american on top of his other accomplishments and early season distractions. In spite of finding difficulty in ultimately assigning our starting 5 and top 8 rotation players, and in spite of pre-season indiscretions and early season illnesses... this team went 32-2, won the regular season and post season tourney title for the top ranked conference in the country, and drew the number one seed overall in the tournament.

Only one team wins each year and it's sometimes not the best team that does so. I will not be able to sleep if Kansas misses out any games between now and April 5th. But I couldn't be more proud of a team, how they competed, came together, handled the target on their back and a #1 rank for all but 3 weeks out of the season, and act like gentlemen throughout the year. We fans are indeed lucky.

Head Coach Bill Self, staff, and players... I thank you for the amazing year and eagerly anticipate another incredible ride through the NCAA tournament. Rock Chalk Jayhawk Go KU.

jaybate 10 years, 3 months ago

kushaw,

Got too busy. My picks for Final Four are:

UCon Vileanova Syrexcuse KU

The FF goes:

Vileanova upsets Syrexcuse KU takes UCon

KU takes Vileanova

Hang banner.

Repeat.

:-)

Chris Shaw 10 years, 3 months ago

Jaybate: Funny! Did you see the robbery Nova had today? I feel bad for that Robert Morris squad.

barryaug 10 years, 3 months ago

Georgetown looking to be an early exit???? That works for me. Lots of close games and a few upsets already. Jayhawks need to come out focused and show the world they are ready to win it all. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

BCRavenJHawkfan 10 years, 3 months ago

I am wearing an assortment of (lucky) KU garb. Played golf earlier today and wore the Jayhawk golf shoes. Also have a clothing change waiting in the wings if needed at halftime. (Pssssst. Ohio building their lead against Georgetown, shhhhhhhh.

Ron Franklin 10 years, 3 months ago

Anybody know if this game can be seen online?

Dan Harris 10 years, 3 months ago

Anyone know of any feeds! Im dying in Texas!

Dan Harris 10 years, 3 months ago

Ok I know its early but WTF! 2 pts in the first 5 min? come on guys wake-up!

Jason Flowers 10 years, 3 months ago

Does anyone know where you can buy the Adidas warm-up long sleeve shirts the Jayhawks wear before they take the court? The blue and red one? I cant find it anywhere...

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