Zurich Kansas University senior center Jeff Withey wasn’t a fan of the international basketball rules regarding goaltending when he played in Europe last summer during an exhibition tour with Athletes in Action.
“For a big, I think that’s a little weird. If it’s hanging on the rim, you can knock it off or dunk it,” Withey said. “(I’m) just trying to make that a conscious effort to remember, if it is hanging on the rim, to go up and get it.”
Try as he might, 7-footer Withey said he never interfered with a ball above the basket last year during eight games overseas.
“When you’re playing, you’re so used to these rules,” Withey said. “But I’ve definitely seen a lot of Europeans do it. It definitely makes you mad, because you’re like, ‘Come on.’”
Sophomore point guard Naadir Tharpe agreed that the goaltending rule would be the most significant change KU would face during the Jayhawks’ four exhibition games. KU opens with a noon (U.S. Central time) game against the Swiss National Team today in Fribourg.
“Everybody’s going to be looking like, ‘What the heck is going on?’” Tharpe said. “But that’s the way it’s played.
“It’s regular basketball. It’s still the same game. You’ve still got to put the ball in the hoop. We all know what to do.”
The Jayhawks also scrimmaged with an international basketball Saturday to try to get used to it prior to its tour.
“If it’s brand new, it’s very slippery and it’s really hard to play with. The one we were playing with (Saturday) was broken in. Those feel like normal,” Withey said. “If they’re broken in, they’re fine.”
KU freshman guard Andrew White said he’d been shooting with the new ball over the last week.
“No excuses,” White said. “We’re going to get out there, and we’re going to play with whatever they give us. It’s a little different, but we’ll adjust to it.”
A few of the trip’s other rules changes include: 10-minute quarters; 24-second shot clocks; eight-second half-court violations; five-second allowance for free throws; and extended trapezoid lanes.
Travel talk: Before his team left for Europe, Withey said he was looking forward to experiencing different cultures.
“I’ve been over to Europe a couple of times, but every time I’ve been, I’ve been stuck in a hotel and just playing basketball,” Withey said. “Coach (Self) has told us we’re going to be able to go out and sightsee, experience everything. I’m definitely looking forward to that. I’m going with all my best friends, so that’s going to be a good time.”
Withey mentioned the Eiffel Tower in Paris as one of the sites he most wanted to visit. The Jayhawks will head from Zurich to Paris on Thursday courtesy of high-speed rail.
“I heard the food is a little weird,” Withey said of France, “but I might try a snail or something like that.”
Today’s game: Today’s KU-Swiss National team game will not be televised. It is not available on radio. The Journal-World will have a live blog of the game available at kusports.com. The game is supposed to tip off at noon Central time. That’s 7 p.m. in Switzerland.