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Friday, January 6, 2012

Releford happy to set defensive tone for KU

Kansas guard Travis Releford and Kansas State's Jamar Samuels battle for a loose ball Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Travis Releford and Kansas State's Jamar Samuels battle for a loose ball Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Travis Releford completed a post-game interview with ESPN.com at center court of Allen Fieldhouse, then walked through the building’s fabled northwest tunnel with another reporter 45 minutes after scoring a career-high 16 points and grabbing a career-best 11 rebounds in Wednesday’s 67-49 Big 12 opening victory over Kansas State.

“To be able to put on the Kansas jersey and run out of this tunnel is what I always wanted to do. I’m having a lot of fun,” said Releford, a 6-foot-6 junior forward out of Roeland Park’s Bishop Miege High School. “I’m trying to do whatever I can to give us the best chance to win,” Releford added.

For the past three games, that’s meant playing — and playing well — despite some discomfort in his right foot, one he bruised in KU’s 63-47 victory over USC on Dec. 22 in Los Angeles.

He’s been wearing a walking boot the past week or so as the bruise heals.

“I did something to it in the (SC) game. I don’t even remember (how it happened),” Releford said. “It’s just a little bruise. I have to wear this boot to take pressure off it. It’s not bad at all. I’ll probably be in the boot a couple more days.”

Last Jan. 9, Releford suffered a severe left ankle sprain at Michigan.

That injury that forced him to miss five games and pretty much took him out of the rotation the remainder of his sophomore season.

Releford was expendable a season ago thanks to a deep KU roster. This year, he’s been counted on for 29.6 minutes a game and relied upon for his defense.

“That’s my role,” he said of guarding standouts like K-State’s Rodney McGruder, who hit five of 14 shots Wednesday en route to 15 points. “I feel if I come out and do that, it gives my team a better chance to win.”

His secret to success on ‘D’?

“Will and effort — wanting to stop the other team’s offensive scorer is something I just want to do, and I’ve been doing that this year,” he said.

He’s been on somewhat of a roll offensively.

Releford, who averages 8.8 points and 4.3 rebounds a game, tied a career-high with 14 points off 5-of-10 shooting (1-4 threes) last Saturday against North Dakota, then improved on his career-best mark with 16 points off 6-of-11 shooting (2-4 from three) against the Wildcats.

“It’s a long season. I don’t really pay attention to that,” Releford said of numbers. “Scoring and rebounding ... I just go out there and play and give it my all and that happens.”

It was suggested he might be more fired up than usual playing rival K-State.

“It’s one of our bigger rivals, but I was motivated because it’s the first game of conference,” Releford stated.

Of Releford, KU coach Bill Self said: “Travis set the tone the first half. He got on the floor twice (diving for the basketball). That was our whole deal, first one on the floor.

“He did a great job defending Rodney the first half (2-7 shooting, six points in 20 minutes); stealing us some extra possessions. He got five (of KU’s first seven) points off the bat which got his confidence going. He has not scored consistently, but tonight he was a factor on both ends.”

Next up for (11-3, 1-0) KU is a 1 p.m., tip Saturday at Oklahoma. The (10-3) Sooners are 0-1 in the league following Tuesday’s 87-49 loss at Missouri.

Vitale lauds TRob: ESPN’s Dick Vitale has named KU’s Thomas Robinson his leading candidate for college basketball’s player of the year.

Vitale writes: “When the Morris Twins declared for the NBA draft, coach Bill Self knew he would need Robinson as a dominant force and he has not disappointed. He has been a double-double man despite opponents knowing he would get the ball down low. His 30-point, 21-rebound game vs. North Dakota made him the third player in the illustrious history of Jayhawk basketball to put up a 30-20 performance.”

Vitale has UConn’s Jeremy Lamb his No. 2 candidate for midseason player of the year, followed by Jared Sullinger, Ohio State; Marcus Denmon, Missouri; Anthony Davis, Kentucky and Doug McDermott, Creighton.

Comments

matlockhawk 2 years, 7 months ago

Good article, great kid, and after picking us fourth last year, who really cares what Vitale thinks!?! Keep it up Travis!!

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archercc 2 years, 7 months ago

At least he did admit his error last year when KU started whipping up on everyone. Saying "the big 12 goes through Lawrence."

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actorman 2 years, 7 months ago

He actually picked us fifth, but your point is well taken.

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Joe Satterwhite 2 years, 7 months ago

i just gained some respect for dick vitale after reading that...maybe he isnt stuck up the ACC and Big 10's butthole as much as we thought.

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Alohahawk 2 years, 7 months ago

Not to be disrespectful to any out-of-state Jayhawks, but, as all those players from the State of Kansas who proceeded him, Travis Releford deserves all the respect Kansas fans can give him. It's always nice that we can cheer for the "homies" who work hard and earn their KU uniforms. Especially when they guard the trenches so well, as Releford has done this year.

I agree with numerous others who post on this board that Releford needs to demonstrate his offensive skills more often. Your bench days are over, Travis. KU needs everything you've got this year. Don't hold anything back.

Walk the walk, and Rock the Chalk, Travis!!

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addlime 2 years, 7 months ago

Good post. I don't think Alohahawk really differs in recruiting philosophy. KU is a world class program, and deserves world class talent. I just feel that its really important that KU continues to hit home runs when that world class talent grows up in its backyard. I'm really excited that they have more of that talent coming in each of the next two years!

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Alohahawk 2 years, 7 months ago

Mahalo, guys. And yes, I didn't mean to infer that KU should rely on just Kansas grown recruits. Just that it has been nice over the years that KU has been able to utilize some of the rare local talent (Simien, Reed, Morningstar, Etc.). They, moreso than those from other areas, would probably start out with that inner feeling of Jayhawk pride, which others develop over time. OAD's are almost a necessity to win championships, but if they didn't grow up locally and they leave after a year, they probably never quite have that gut feeling, that "win one for the Gipper" feeling, that a lifelong KU fanatic has from day one.

KU definitely needs the best there is to offer (worldwide) to retain our winning tradition. Even with the highest ranked recruits (ex. Kentucky), it's tough to win championships in NCAA basketball (or any sport).

I should also note that KU has had some very good, but not great local walk-ons (case in point, Conner Teahan), who could have played on scholarship elsewhere, but would rather warm the bench at KU than go elsewhere. That truly illustrates what local/Kansas pride is all about.

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JayHawkFanToo 2 years, 7 months ago

Don't forget that Teahan was a 2-time Missouri Gatorade player of the year (he is from Leawood, Kansas though) but was only a walk-on at KU.

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Brandon Pope 2 years, 7 months ago

I couldn't read that Vital quote without hearing his voice in my head. Is that weird?

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Alohahawk 2 years, 7 months ago

It usually tastes like stewed Wildcat and barbecued Longhorn. Oven-baked Tiger is only on the menu for one more season. And it used to include Buffalo Wings and roasting ears/corn-on-the-cob.

Served Ala Carte during the regular season, or banquet style during tournament play.

Won't know what dessert will be until the NCAA championship tournament rolls around. Perhaps some leftover Wildcat, or Tar Hell ala mode.

Have your bicarbonate of soda ready. They all cause indigestion, and sometimes, heartburn. :-?

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jhox 2 years, 7 months ago

If you've never taken the time to isolate on Releford playing defense, I'd recommend you take the time to do that next game. Just isolate on him, and don't watch the ball. It's a thing of beauty. I really believe he's the best on ball defender we've had at KU since Hinrich (and that's saying something as we've had some good ones over that time...guys like Russell Robinson, and Brandon Rush.) To me, the thing that seperates a guy like Releford from the pack is his ability to slide through screens, and recover when a ball handler has a step on him.

My only criticism of Travis is he really needs to work on his ball handling. That's the one and only thing that holds him back offensively. He's great at knifing into the lane, but he could be so much more effective if he had a better handle with his left hand. I'd also like to see him be a little less hesitant to take the open 3 point shot. He seems to have gotten tentative the past few games, and has passed up a lot of wide open 3's.

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Kye Clark 2 years, 7 months ago

+1

I have watched Releford on defense and you hit the nail on the head regarding his ability to navigate through screens. Not sure where I'd stack him up compared to others, but he is very good and doesn't get enough credit for it.

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Jack Wilson 2 years, 7 months ago

I've mentioned this before .. I think he's the best defensively in the Self era (which probably makes him the best in a long, long time). I may be overstating it. But it makes the DVR well worth it. Jhox pointing out his ability to recover is dead on. He cuts off the path to the basket as good as I've seen.

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yates33333 2 years, 7 months ago

Against K-State Releford played the game we all thought he could play but hadn't been. Let's hope this is the beginning of another outstanding Jayhawk having a great year. Taking care of the ball is not as easy on the court as when you are in the stands or watching on TV. You can't be defensive when on the offense. You must initiate play. Releford overall had an excellent game.

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2 years, 7 months ago

“Travis Releford completed a post-game interview with ESPN.com at center court of Allen Fieldhouse…”

In case anyone is interested, here is a link to a post-game write-up with the above mentioned interview video embedded in it:

http://espn.go.com/blog/collegebasketballnation/post/_/id/43673/kansas-thumps-rival-k-state-again-67-49

It was with Jason King, formerly the KU beat writer for the KC Star, and more recently, college hoops writer for Yahoo Sports. No surprise he is at ESPN now with his talent.

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FSUJHAWK 2 years, 7 months ago

Travis is such a key to any success we have this year. If he keeps up the intensity as if every game is the first or last game of the season he will do great things. That being said, i am confident his years of sacrifice, hard work and positive attitude will pay off. Thanks Travis!

RCJHGKU!!!

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FinalFinal 2 years, 7 months ago

I wonder if Releford would let a guy like McNamara go off in a national title game. I hope not.

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Jack Wilson 2 years, 7 months ago

He would have been guarding Carmelo Anthony, would be my guess. But it's hard to stop the 25 footers McNamara was drilling in any case. He was on fire at the right time.

Now, if we would have hit 70% of our free throws ....

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Chris Shaw 2 years, 7 months ago

The way this team has defended the "3" this season............I have no doubts that McNamara would have gone off!

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2 years, 7 months ago

I loved Roy Williams, however one of the most maddening things that occurred while he was our coach, was how we guarded the “3”. If there was a defensive stat for wide-open three-point attempts allowed, I think we would have led the nation with the highest number every year he was here.

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Jack Wilson 2 years, 7 months ago

Travis has worked hard to make sure his arms were as big as hers ....

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Alohahawk 2 years, 7 months ago

Perhaps, with TRob around, everyone, including Hudy, feels they need to step it up. Imagine trying to compete with Mr. Universe everyday in the weight room.

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bradynsdad 2 years, 7 months ago

On a separate note, it's shocking that with the returning players and the five star recruits that Sean miller has brought in Arizona is having a rough season. I think Derrick Williams sold Sean miller to a lot of kids. There is no reason they shouldn't be in the top #25. Always helps me to realize how good of a coach self is.

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Alohahawk 2 years, 7 months ago

Yep. Saw that UCLA beat Arizona last night. And UCLA isn't worth the bathroom paper so far this year. Since KU played UCLA, Reeves has been kicked off, and J. Smith, their center, went down with an injury before the Arizona game. And Arizona still couldn't beat them. Ha! Problem is, Arizona will probably make the NCAA's simply because the Pac 12 is so down this season. Colorado is leading their conference at the moment.

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Clarence Haynes 2 years, 7 months ago

I was on the bus here in DC discussing the K State game with McGruder's uncle and (while he expectedly was a bit disappointed) I was telling him how much of a force that Travis was in containing Rodney. The intense defensive effort of Travis, EJ, and TT will make the job for our bigs much easier and could very well be the edge that we need in Conference play.

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Tony Bandle 2 years, 7 months ago

Years ago, my good friend Wilber Nether and I got to sit and talk with Dick Vitale in the atrium of the Lawrence Holiday Inn. Away from the camera and the lights, he was a charming, thoughtful guy who carried on an inciteful conversation.

This media clown act of his is a shame because, he could bring so much value to the broadcast if he let his true personna come through.

This was during the Roy Williams era and he couldn't express enough how much he admired the Kansas legacy, record and fan support. He said that Kansas did it the right way and was an example of pure class.

Because of that conversation many years ago and his tribute that night to Nick Collison against Texas, I will always cut that crazy old dude a little slack.

Think of it this way...at least he is not Billy Packer!!!!

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Alohahawk 2 years, 7 months ago

Perhaps we could give Dukie V. a break, if he didn't promote the ACC, and Duke and N. Carolina so much.

Must admit, his TRob ranking at the top as POY is surprising.

I doubt very much that the network big wigs instruct DV on which teams he will forecast to win conferences. If his 4th place conference prediction had occurred this year, instead of previously, most of us wouldn't have felt so insulted. Just sayin'.

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Jim Roth 2 years, 7 months ago

His admiration of KU went east with Roy.

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Woody Cragg 2 years, 7 months ago

The wife & I attended a cocktail hour with KC sports people, Gene Bartow, Lee Hunt, writers, former athletes, & politicians which was followed by a Vitale motivational speech to the UMKC team at the Midland Theatre. Hard to beleive this was almost 20 yrs back, but he was a very soft-spoken, polite, and short I might add, gentleman. Nothing at all like the image he portrays. IMO too many TV producers & directors feel the need to make a "personality" out of even the weatherman. So it goes. Hey guys...somewhat off topic but here's a link to a super bowl Doritos commercial created by a neice's boyfriend. http://www.mansbestfriendcommercial.com/ He's a real young kid, but in the running for a monstrous payday if he wins. And it's a cool ad too, cute, creative, subtle and tasteful. Plus if you vote for any of the 5 finalists, you have a shot at winning some $$$ from Frito-Lay. And Matt will appreciate it too. Check it out. Like when we voted last year for Tyrel, you can vote everyday. Also, pass it on all you like. Thanks.

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Tony Bandle 2 years, 7 months ago

Checklist for Oklahoma on Saturday;

1] Despite their humilation at Missouri, DO NOT take this team lightly. 2] Pound that ball inside and pound the boards. The formula applied to KSU should work against everyone. [BenMac, Jamari, Christian and Niko.....hack away!!] 3] When you get the big lead, work the clock and take the good shot. Patience pays. 4] Kevin, Justin, Naadir..be ready because this game could be a blow-out and you may get some substantial P.T. 5] If Billy Tubbs is there [and I'm not sure he is even alive] but if he is...flip him the bird for me!! 6] Rock Chalk Jayhawk Go KU!!

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Alohahawk 2 years, 7 months ago

+1

Early game, not evening. (9 AM - Hawaii time)

Away game, always tough.

Lon Kruger coaching, who I respect but haven't liked since he grew up a K-State Wildcat.

Oklahoma has a good W/L record, 10 & 3, so they're no pushover.

Next game after a very emotional win over cross-state rival (Well, rival, in theory anyway.)

Need to keep the pedal to the medal. "First Loose Ball"

RCJHKU!!!

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Chris Shaw 2 years, 7 months ago

I seriously can't name one player on OU's roster this year outside of Lon Kruger!

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REHawk 2 years, 7 months ago

Terrific game, Travis, right from the get-go. You are following in the footsteps of Brandon, and beginning to be more fully recognized for all the peripheral contributions outside of the scoring column. Keep up the great work! Your patient wait now pays dividends.

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mikehawk 2 years, 7 months ago

I'm telling you, I live here in Oklahoma and they are laying for us. They know we are "down" and the talent level is not what it has been. While OU has no names you have heard of, Lon "Chaney" Kruger has them playing disciplined, well-coached ball. Hopefully, the team is over the K-State victory, because the fans are not. Can we come out with the intensity we had Wed night? I doubt it. We will have to have other things happen to win. Their fans are hungry to get over the horror of the past 4 or 5 years and they are really excited to see their new coach's team. Beating KU is just what the OU doctor ordered. The crowd is going to be rowdy down here.

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Jeeveshawk 2 years, 7 months ago

I wouldn't worry about it. HCBS is a great coach and won't let us play cocky and think about the KState win during the OU game.

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Joe Satterwhite 2 years, 7 months ago

8 more games till we put the tiger to sleep

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jayhawker_97 2 years, 7 months ago

to perform double double against Frank's team (while suffocating one of their best shooters) is not an easy task. we've seen him & TRob can be lethal offense combination. Travis sets up screen for TRob, or Trob make a room for Travis to penetrate inside! let's just hope his solid performance was not motivated by playing against KSU and his level of confidence stays high. this is Travis we have been expecting all along. go Jayhawks!

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