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Friday, March 18, 2011

KU basketball players fans of NCAA tourney, too

The Kansas Jayhawks held an open practice session Thursday at the BOK Center in Tulsa. The team faces Boston University in a second-round game of the NCAA Tournament, Friday.

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Tyshawn Taylor ready to embrace starting role for Jayhawks

Tyshawn Taylor talks about the strengths of KU and his role on the Jayhawk team during locker-room interviews Thursday at the BOK Center in Tulsa.

Travis Releford ready for tournament

After a red-shirt season last year, Kansas forward Travis Releford is ready to play a role in this year's NCAA Tournament.

Boston players discuss their reactions after realizing they had to play KU

KUsports.com asks Boston players: What was your reaction after you saw Kansas next to your team's name on Selection Sunday?

— With about five minutes remaining during Thursday’s media session, all interviews in the Kansas University locker room came to a screeching halt.

“Ohhhhhhh,” was the only sound that could be heard bouncing off the walls of the cramped quarters inside the BOK Center, where top-seeded KU will take on No. 16-seed Boston University at 5:50 tonight.

The reason? Princeton’s Dan Mavraides had just hit a step-back jumper that tied the game with Kentucky at 57 with 36.7 to play. For the next few minutes, reporters and players alike watched one of two televisions situated in the KU locker room, waiting to see if the 13th-seeded Tigers could knock off mighty Kentucky.

Though their vertical jumps are higher and their dunking ability a tad more impressive, when it comes to the NCAA Tournament, even the Jayhawks are just like everybody else.

“We’re fans, too. It’s exciting to watch games like this,” junior forward Markieff Morris said.

Added freshman guard Josh Selby, who’s experiencing the tourney for the first time: “We want to see who wins and who loses, so I think everybody wants to watch the games. But we have to focus in, do media (interviews), practice, and I guess we have to see the scores on ESPN SportsCenter at the end of the day.”

Not this one. The Jayhawks were able to watch the Princeton-Kentucky thriller play out in its entirety before taking the floor for a light practice in front of hundreds of adoring fans. On the next possession, Kentucky freshman Brandon Knight drove the ball to the rim and hit a scoop shot off the glass to put the Wildcats ahead by two with two seconds to play. The dramatic drive drew similar cries from the Jayhawks, who did not tip their hand as to which team they were pulling for.

“Like any other person in America, you want to watch the Cinderella stories and the teams that weren’t as heralded during the season,” senior guard Tyrel Reed said.

At the same time, a big reason these guys pay such close attention is that they know so many players on other teams.

“There’s a kid named Lamont Austin who plays for Morehead State, and I didn’t realize he played for them, and he was on my Pump ’N Run (AAU) team, with (KU teammates) Travis (Releford) and Conner (Teahan),” Reed said. “So you learn some things, too.”

Releford referenced the same player, whose team shocked fourth-seeded Louisville earlier in the day, but added that he also knew one of the Cardinals as well.

“When the TV’s on, it’s kind of hard to keep your eyes off of it,” Releford said.

After a Princeton timeout, the Tigers inbounded the ball, looking for one last miracle. As the ball reached halfcourt, a Princeton player heaved a shot toward the rim. With the shot — and the game’s outcome — hanging in mid-air, one of the twins yelled out, “You never know, you never know.” The shot fell short. Kentucky survived.

Back to focusing on Boston.

Comments

Alohahawk 8 years, 8 months ago

It was a nice day of basketball, what with the higher seeds in KU's region losing.

But you can't have everything you want. I always root against Kenstinky, and especially Poacher Cal. With all their OAD's, they were very close to "one and done" in the tournament on Thursday. They got lucky against Princeton, but they'll play a much better team on Saturday. Hope they get walloped.

REHawk 8 years, 8 months ago

What a terrific first day of close games and upheavals!

hayjawk 8 years, 8 months ago

Ky. almost gave us an oppurtunity to narrow the gap for all time wins, so close. I believe we are maybe 14 games behind, does that sound right? Had they fallen in the first round, we might have reduced the gap to single digits through the rest of the tourney. Anyway, GO JAYHAWKS !!!

Alohahawk 8 years, 8 months ago

+1 My thoughts exactly. We've already gained 6 back this year.

Greg Lux 8 years, 8 months ago

The big difference between this year and last year is BALANCE. We have 5 go to guys instead of one and it a huge advantage this year. How many teams have two post players who can step out the shot 3's with great numbers. How many have two white guys who are not only great defense stoppers but terrific offensively also. How many team have two starting quality point guards.and lastly how many have a McDonald all american who doesn't even start. This team is all about balance and energy. The reason I believe they will do very very well in the tournament is the Balance they play with and the unselfishness they exhibit on the floor and off.

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