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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Former KU center Sasha Kaun makes history with Olympic medal

Former Kansas University center Sasha Kaun displays the bronze medal he won with the Russian national team this summer at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Kaun was the first Jayhawk men’s basketball player since Danny Manning to win a medal at the Olympics.

Former Kansas University center Sasha Kaun displays the bronze medal he won with the Russian national team this summer at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Kaun was the first Jayhawk men’s basketball player since Danny Manning to win a medal at the Olympics.

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Sasha Kaun and 11 of his closest friends piled on top of each other at the top of the key in Olympic Park Basketball Arena after the final horn sounded in Russia’s 81-77 bronze medal victory over Argentina on Aug. 12 in London.

The Russian National Team members celebrated wildly after assuring their country’s first top-three finish in an Olympic Games since the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991.

“I was so happy. It means everything,” said Kaun, a member of Kansas University’s 2008 national championship team. “To be the first team in Russia history to go and win a medal is unbelievable. The way basketball has grown in Russia is fantastic,” added the 6-foot-11, 255-pound center from Tomsk.

The 27-year-old Kaun, who has three years remaining on a contract with CSKA Moscow that pays him over $1 million a year, averaged 7.8 points and 3.6 rebounds for Russia, which amassed a record of 6-2 and became one of the surprise success stories of the entire Games. Just to make the Olympics, Russia had to place in the top three in a 12-team qualifying tournament in early July in Venezuela.

The Kaun and Andrei Kirilenko-led squad went undefeated at that event and qualified with room to spare.

“It was different. You play so many games in a short period of time,” Kaun said of earning an Olympic bronze medal compared to claiming NCAA gold. “In the Olympics, you play for 14-15 days. It’s tough mentally and physically. The NCAA Tournament is six games. It’s a different format. The Olympics ... only a few get a chance to play in the Olympics.”

Kaun became the 10th KU men’s basketball player of all time to earn a medal and first since Danny Manning (also a bronze) in 1988.

“I am so fortunate to be considered with Danny. To be the first since Danny is phenomenal,” said Kaun, whose inside presence was vital in the victory over Argentina and its power forward deluxe Luis Scola.

“As soon as we won, I got texts. I heard from all the guys (on KU’s 2008 title team). The coaches all texted me. They were in Europe (Paris playing exhibition games).”

Kaun also was supported by a handful of KU fans who made their way into the London arena.

“There was a guy there who had a sign,” Kaun said. “After we got our medal, I posed for a picture (with KU fans) with him and his son. I think once you become a Jayhawk you are always a Jayhawk. I’m very proud to be part of the organization. It’s big.”

Kaun has not been able to squeeze in a trip to Lawrence this summer. He and wife Taylor (former KU soccer player Taylor Blue) recently moved into a house in Evergreen, Colo., which will be their new offseason home.

“My wife’s parents have always been here (Colorado). They have a house in Steamboat. I spend Christmas with her and her family,” Kaun said. “We love the area. The weather is great in the summer. We’re not too far away from Kansas as well.”

Kaun and his wife will return to Russia today for training camp for the upcoming season.

“This season will be tough,” said Kaun, who has had precious little recovery time. “I’ve had three or four weeks off all summer.”

He said it is still possible he’ll someday play in the NBA.

The Cleveland Cavaliers own his rights, but right now he has too good a deal in Russia to consider a return to the USA.

“I’m very happy to be in a good situation,” Kaun said. “I’m really blessed.”

Wherever he is ... he continues to keep track of the Jayhawks. Kaun and his wife last year flew from Russia to New Orleans to watch KU play in the NCAA title game versus Kentucky.

“Our coach gave us 2 1/2 days off, so I came up to Taylor and said, ‘Do you want to go see the game?’ It was crazy because literally we made that decision seven hours before the flight (departed),” Kaun said. “I called to see if we could get tickets and then we went and booked the ticket and got on the plane. It was an unbelievable experience to be there and experience it as a fan rather than a player. To support the coaching staff, the players and the team, I am really glad that I did it.”

Of the upcoming season, ’08 KU graduate Kaun said: “Last season was great. They’ll have a good team again this year. I expect them to do great things. Coach (Bill) Self is phenomenal. Last year, everybody in the preseason was like, ‘I don’t know how they’ll do.’ They won the Big 12 again and made the championship game. The coaches and players always do a great job at KU.”

This, that: KU commit Conner Frankamp, a 6-0 senior guard from Wichita North, won Friday’s three-point shooting contest at the Under Armour Elite 24 game in Venice Beach, Calif. Julius Randle, a 6-9 senior forward from Prestonwood Christian Academy in Plano, Texas, who is considering KU and others, won the slam dunk competition. After the competition, Randle told PrepForce.com that he would definitely make a recruiting visit to KU. The Under Armour game will be contested at 6 p.m., today, Central time, on ESPNU. ... Tyler Roberson, a 6-8 senior forward from Roselle (N.J.) Catholic, will visit KU on Sept. 7-9, Jayhawkslant.com reports. ... Chris Jones, a 5-10 sophomore point guard from NW Florida State College, will visit for the Oct. 12 Late Night in the Phog, Rivals.com reports.

Comments

TimmytheJayhawk 1 year, 7 months ago

Congrats Sasha!!!! It has to feel great.

Such a great and loyal Jayhawk. I've seen you at move KU games than any alum... ever.

Might I suggest that you put some padding on that wooden beam in the background. Concussions are a serious issue, sir.

All the best! Timmy the Jayhawk!

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Mr_C 1 year, 8 months ago

Way to go Sasha. You are correct: Once a Jayhawk, always a Jayhawk. The word is "family"... and you're in. Best Wishes for continued success.

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phogphan2000 1 year, 8 months ago

Is anyone still holding out hope that Randle will end up a Jayhawk?

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jaybate 1 year, 8 months ago

Bulletin:

Great Plains Frack'n Crack Industries (GPFCI) has found coal under Allen Field House and plans to start fracking under the Monarch of the Midlands soon. In exchange for the right to inject water to fracture the coal layer and trigger catastrophic subsidence, GPFCI pledges to donate enough harvested coal gas to make the field house scoreboard energy independent by 2020.

Just jokin'.

AFH will be spared. :-)

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jaybate 1 year, 8 months ago

"Some Things Less Tedious than an OakvilleJaybateNightmare Post"

• filling out consumer satisfaction surveys

• watching a planning commission meeting on a local access channel

• removing cat hair from a shirt with strands of double stick tape.

• pushing back cuticles with paper clips during a PTA meeting.

• counting dust bunnies with a cellphone app called iAbacus.

• stirring artificial sweetener into weak coffee with a plastic fork.

• cleaning an electric toothbrush.

• talking about an intermittent short in a car with a "service technician."

• reading the instructions for a flashlight that you have already turned on.

• trying to pick up 15 fine pencil lead shafts dropped on a hard wood floor with gaps between the planks.

• reading about trace elements in any personal hygene product.

• recalling lectures on public speaking given by uninteresting persons.

• checkin Restaurant checks for tabulation errors.

• random fact intuition.

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OakvilleJaybateNightmare 1 year, 8 months ago

If anyone missed the under armor game with Frankcamp and all them, its playing again tomorrow (Sunday) at 9:30 p.m. Thats past Oakville and Jaybate's bedtime but the rest of us can enjoy it.

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manginorh00lz 1 year, 8 months ago

What rule did my comment break????

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JHAWKSWAG 1 year, 8 months ago

I used to always pass by Sasha in the tunnel after Sphar & Eaton that leads you up the steps toward Lindley. During the 08 tourney I passed by him a day or two after we beat UNC. I made my best announcer impersonation and yelled out SASHA KAUN...for it to echo throughout the tunnel. Ended by a leaping high five, such a nice guy he represents the KU brand well.. Rock Chalk!

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REHawk 1 year, 8 months ago

Roy and Bill certainly have the Jayhawk hoops program on a fine twenty five year roll. Fan support is terrific, and recruiting is well above average for a downhome midAmerica site which runs a clean operation. Sustaining a winning championship level program involves a host of varied factors. Tradition speaks volumes for the continuity of such annual success. At Kansas, coaches and players are supposed to win; and recent administrators have not diminished that enthusiastic sense of yearning for steady victories on the basketball court. Sasha speaks well of the tradition, camaraderie and excited expectations involving Jayhawk basketball. What a dandy phenomenon: a young kid from the Soviet Union arrives in Florida to receive an education and hone sports skills commensurate with his size; matriculates to KU, where he continues to develop, earns a degree and eventually plays a key role in the winning of a national title; then returns to his home country to help lead Russia to a bronze medal in the Olympic games. Someday he will likely encourage some other budding young European star to follow in his very footseps. Maybe his own daughter or son....

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duanep5ku 1 year, 8 months ago

Sasha congratulatons on the Olympic's.,and best of luck t you this year.

As to the supposed questions on this site would the fans be happy with Chris Jones. I myself would not mind at all if he came to KU if we don't get Cat Barber or Jackson.

The kid is a former 4 star and it has already been reported by some so called experts that Chris would be ready to contribute now probably more then option A,B would. So why not take him if He decides to come here. I know we the fans may always want the higher ranked kids but you can only recruit them. Where they choose to go nobody knows and the why.

I do trust that Self can coach and fill the gaps as good as any coach that has been at Kansas in my lifetme of following the team. So Yes I will not be to worried about the team or the coach for the next few years, but with that said it still depends on if we land a good rim protector for 2013. Kansas fans the positive with combined Classes we have two good recruits coming in next year. Conner,Greene. Conner is a shooter not sure where he will play at Kansas. pg or sg but just find him a spot and let him shoot. B,Green a highly ranked kid, small forward type. So thats two ranked incoming and best of all we should still have Anrio Adams, Andrew White. Perry Ellis should be here still. Ben Mc, hopefully will stay another year, maybe. Kansas is solid in most area's for a few years or should be okay at 1,2,3 spots. I only hope we land a decent Rim protector and we should be good.

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oldalum 1 year, 8 months ago

It's hard to tell. Self will play him where he makes the biggest contribution. As for Sasha, I enjoyed the article. I was especially happy to hear that all the 2008 team sent him messages of congratulations. I love the way all the former players stick together.

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midwest_muser 1 year, 8 months ago

Is Frankamp a point guard or a shooting guard? What does he project to be at Kansas? If we had Barber, Greene, White...where would he play?

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Alohahawk 1 year, 8 months ago

Congrats Sasha on climbing so close to the top of one of sport's highest pinacles by winning the Olympic bronze medal. Add Mario's win in the NBA Championship and it has been a very good year for the 2008 KU BB team's alums. Sort of puts icing on the cake for that team's phenomenal success.

Add that to this past season's Jayhawks, competing in the NCAA championship game, and KU has some pretty good bragging rights for 2012. Past or present, KU's legacy of success can't be disputed.

KU may have placed fifth overall in ESPN's "50 in 50 Series", in which they evaluated the success of college BB teams from the 1962 season to the present, but it should be noted that during the Williams/Self eras (actually since 1988 I think they said), only Duke has out performed KU. Duke accumulated just one more point than KU during those seasons. And as of the 2007 season, KU has more points than any college team.

Final summation. From the above information KU's recent success stories can be attributed to one thing. A Big Rock Chalk salute to Head Coach Bill Self and his great coaching staff.

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Ralster Jayhawk 1 year, 8 months ago

Talking today to my fellow ku alum brother in law, as we are about to go to the Sherron Collins book signing today. He, along with some business buddies, met and was talking basketball with WSU's Gregg Marshall. He told me directly that Marshall is "no fan" of KU, and gave some examples of comments. We like Marshall's fiery competitiveness, and he has done well at WSU. I guess the anti-ku vibe is understandable. Marshall did offer good insight on NBA exec's prevailing thoughts on prospects: They give guards "2yrs pro" or "4yrs college" to prove they are NBA material. They give bigmen 8-10yrs to prove they "are not NBA players". I'm sure there are exceptions and unique counter-stories, but I thought that was interesting. And we know the NBA likes scoring enough to look past RussRob. And I always thought of Sherron as a 'tweener'...definitely a scorer, even going 30+ in a D-league game, but injury prone, and no above-rim game. Now look at healthy Selby--> all the swagger of Sherron, but has a ridiculous above-rim ability that he finally showed when healthy, and named the MVP of the entire D-league, averaging 20+ nightly. I've talked to Memphis Grizz fans who have some new-found hope for Selby. But, to me, Sherron and DJackson are right there on the edge. Wish I could do something to tip the balance their way, but its in their + fate's hands...

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obama2012 1 year, 8 months ago

Yeah....That's right.....report me. you conservative jocks can't handle the truth!!!!! You can't deal with a liberal that knows facts. Well.....here's a fact: Obama for 4 more years.....HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!!!!!

That's right.......4 more at least!!!! Then....we will get term limits removed so he can continue to serve the PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!! And there is absolutely nothing you can do about it!!!!!!!!!

You jocks will be crying in your beer on your sofas then!!!!!!!!!

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obama2012 1 year, 8 months ago

Kansas....what a joke! Any state that shows Romney up 20-25 points in polls is completely backwards!!! We are PROGRESSIVES!!!!!!!!! We represent the PEOPLE!!!!!!! And the PEOPLE are going to win in November!!!!!!!

OBAMA 2012!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Jack Wilson 1 year, 8 months ago

While it is a nice article on Kaun, the most interesting tidbit came at the end:

"Chris Jones, a 5-10 sophomore point guard from NW Florida State College, will visit for the Oct. 12 Late Night in the Phog, Rivals.com reports" -- Another one of Self's point guard backup plans (along with Frank Mason) to Barber and Jackson. There was news a while back that the unranked Mason received a KU offer (surely conditional).

We have pretty high expectations for our 2013 class .. Self says he wants a point guard and a post player. But how would you feel about Greene, Frankamp, Jones or Mason (PG), and, say, Junior Etou (PF - ranked 107), who we have also made an offer to (in case we don't land Lawrence, Shephard, Randle, etc.)?

Would make things look a touch different, wouldn't it?

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jaybate 1 year, 8 months ago

Since 8 of 10 of my teams from 6th to 10th grades football and basketball teams won championships, and finished second the other two times,with good but not the best talent, I have been fascinated by how teams win a lot. After an injury knocked me out of football, and my teammates in football went on to win two state championships, I was forced to conclude I was not the key. :-)

Ask what the ingredients of winning teams are and having "all the pieces" is one frequent answer.

But ask what are the pieces and answers get varied, but usually include: talent at every position, every game MUA talent at two or three positions, depth, the right schemes offensively and defensively, avoidance of injury, some luck in matchups and timing of good shooting streaks, and good chemistry.

Ask what makes chemistry and things get fuzzy. Unselfishness. Love. Upperclassmen and young turks. Leader types. Impact types. Glue types. Instant energy subs. Driven types. Keep it loose and fun types. All these things combine to give chemistry.

But at the top programs with the top coaches many, if not all of the above, are assembled rather skillfully each season, yet few can consistently win place or show most seasons.

Why?

Hunch: Every team needs a few "winners" on the floor, plus a coach that is a winner.. Guys who actually have the gift of knowing how to win. KU's 08 team had two: Mario and Sasha. Guys that know how to win win wherever they go, and go wherever they can win. It is two sides of the same coin. They have earnestness and seriousness and insight into winning others lack.

So: why don't coaches always include two winners on each team?

I believe winners exist, just like geniuses do, but they are hard to identify.

There are a few winners, and a lot of players who look like winners, but really only won because they were playing with some winners.

Put another way, not everyone with a ring is a winner.

As a school boy, I had two coaches that could and did identify winners. One would have played on exceptional talent alone. The other was an average talent. But because our teams had these two winners, we always had an edge over more talented teams that lacked such winners. Winners by themselves cannot overcome a team without talent, but they rarely play for such teams anyway. They play to win. Literally.

Winners cannot always push their teams to win place or show, but the dead give away there are winners aboard is the team that plays significantly above its apparent talent level on a consistent basis.

Winners find ways to win, when talent and execution are not enough.

I am increasingly convinced that the reason some less talented teams win rings, or finish unusually high is only partly a product of matchups and talent levels and so on.

Its the winners that are tipping the scale.

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obama2012 1 year, 8 months ago

Romney is up like 25 points in Kansas....why?? All of you on here are pathetic. Probably a bunch of white,overweight exjocks that lay around on the sofa drinking beer all day. It's voters like you that are against Obama. How pathetic.......your whole lives revolve around Kansas basketball!!!!

I like KU the team.......but Kansas???? What a joke. Backward place. No surprise Obama does not even have a chance here.

Lame......Losers........Big L!!!!!!

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REHawk 1 year, 8 months ago

Sasha, the Jayhawk Nation was cheering for you. You have been a true prince for Jayhawk Hoops. Best of all good things for you and Taylor. Come back to Lawrence often.

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JHAWK34TRUTH 1 year, 8 months ago

" once you become a Jayhawk you are always a Jayhawk "

So true. Jhawk nation wish you the best!

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Kenneth Johnson 1 year, 8 months ago

Two of those ten players who won medals, actually won two (Al Kelley won in '52 and '60, while Bill Hougland won in '52 and '56).

It might be mentioned that, in addition to the 10 men's players that won medals as players, there were three other former KU men's players who won medals as coaches (Adolph Rupp in '48, Phog Allen in '52 and Dean Smith in '76), and Darnell Valentine was selected for the 1980 team, but the US team decided not to participate because of the USSR's invasion of Afghanistan.

And, then there's the fact that Lynette Woodard won a gold medal in 1984

3

notigers4me 1 year, 8 months ago

Way to go Sasha. Way to represent yourself, your country, and the Hawks. We are all proud of you.

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april28 1 year, 8 months ago

What a great young man and what a great life he has built for himself. He deserves a house in the mountains since he has to spend 8 months a year in Russia!

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gimmetheclaw78 1 year, 8 months ago

Seriously, can we ban this idiot? ^ Get a freakin life, man.

Way to go, Sasha!

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Scott MacWilliams 1 year, 8 months ago

Way to Rock the Russian Chalk, Sasha!!

It's always great to see all the Jayhawk alums tearing up the hardwood, but Olympic Bronze is amazing. Nice add to your 2008 NC ring, no doubt.

And we love especially that you made the trip to 'Nawlins to see the 2012 edition of the Jayhawks put the squeeze on Calimari and Kenstinky. A few missed bunnies, and we'd had another ring.

We'd love to see you here in the NBA, but it sounds like you'd have a hard time finding a better deal over here, at least for now...

And you're right, you are a Jayhawk forever, even in Russia!
Love ya, Sasha!!

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