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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

jayhawker_97 2 years, 3 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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Ralster Jayhawk 2 years, 3 months ago

Yeah, baby...euthanize those mizZooCreatures (tigers)!

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Joe Satterwhite 2 years, 3 months ago

8 more games till we put the tiger to sleep

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mikehawk 2 years, 3 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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REHawk 2 years, 3 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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Chris Shaw 2 years, 3 months ago

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

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Ralster Jayhawk 2 years, 3 months ago

Does anyone know what type of offense Lon Kruger is running at Oklahoma? I havent seen Okla play yet...

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Tony Bandle 2 years, 3 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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Tony Bandle 2 years, 3 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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Bizzy0712 2 years, 3 months ago

Jayhawk Family, I need your help. For academic requirements I had to begin a blog. I will truly apreciate if you can coment on it a little bit. here is the link http://kuhoops2011.blogspot.com. Thanks for the support. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!!! F.O.E.

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Clarence Haynes 2 years, 3 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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bradynsdad 2 years, 3 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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William Blake 2 years, 3 months ago

Look at that beef on TRele's arms in the photo above. He's definitely improved his strength and that has helped bump him up another notch on defense. Glad to see more players realizing we have a deadly weapon in Hudy!

Keep it going, Travis!

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FinalFinal 2 years, 3 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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FSUJHAWK 2 years, 3 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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2 years, 3 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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yates33333 2 years, 3 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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jhox 2 years, 3 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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Brandon Pope 2 years, 3 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, 3 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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Joe Satterwhite 2 years, 3 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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matlockhawk 2 years, 3 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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