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Friday, March 2, 2012

Once a scout team player, sixth-man Teahan showing skills in games

Kansas guard Conner Teahan pulls up for a jumper over Texas A&M guard Dash Harris during the first half on Monday, Jan. 23, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Conner Teahan pulls up for a jumper over Texas A&M guard Dash Harris during the first half on Monday, Jan. 23, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Conner Teahan — who worked so hard for four years for the opportunity to play meaningful minutes on Kansas University’s basketball team — actually panicked a bit during the 2011-12 exhibition season when his dream became a reality.

“I was stressed out,” the former preferred walk-on out of Kansas City Rockhurst High said of learning he’d finally earned a slot in Bill Self’s regular rotation.

“I am cool with sitting the bench and winning. If I’m out there on the court, though, I want to help the team win. I didn’t want to be playing a lot and us losing. I did not want that at all.”

Teahan, as it turned out, made a smooth transition from scout team player to sixth man on a wildly successful team.

The slender 6-foot-6, 212-pounder scored 11 points in KU’s season-opening rout of Towson, followed it with eight points in a narrow loss to Kentucky, and after a so-so Maui Invitational, went for nine points against Florida Atlantic.

Teahan became a fixture in the rotation and has put together a solid body of work entering Saturday’s Senior Day contest against Texas (8 p.m., Allen Fieldhouse).

He has averaged 6.4 points (off 39.6 percent shooting; 36.8 percent from three) and 2.2 rebounds while logging 21.2 minutes a game for the (25-5, 15-2) Big 12 champion Jayhawks.

“I feel happy. I always was happy, but I just wanted to show I could actually play,” Teahan said. “You sit on the bench for a while and people forget. High school is high school, I’m not saying that (I was great) at all, but in terms of accolades, I don’t know if too many people have gotten (Missouri) Gatorade Player of the Year their junior and senior year.

“(You) come here, sit on the bench for a while and it’s like, ‘He can’t play ball.’ I wanted to prove that I wasn’t just a scrub on the bench. That’s kind of the main thing, but helping Kansas win — I love Kansas basketball. I really do.”

There actually came a time when Teahan thought maybe, just maybe, playing time simply wasn’t in the cards. So in a radical move, he elected to return to his high school roots and try out for the football team — as quarterback — during spring ball, 2010.

Teahan was starting QB at traditional-power Rockhurst, where he helped the Hawks to a state runner-up finish his junior year.

“I did kind of feel, ‘Maybe this basketball thing ... I might never play,’” Teahan said. “At the same time I felt comfortable with my football skills. I thought I could possibly get high up on the depth chart.”

He completed one of two passes in KU’s spring game, but failed to emerge as one of the top QBs on Turner Gill’s depth chart.

Thus he returned to basketball workouts — with a new spirit.

“It’s the best thing that ever happened to me,” he said of the KU football experience, “just because I started to work harder. I always worked hard, but every day I saw improvement on the (football) field because I hadn’t played in so long. I loved it.

“I told myself, ‘You’ve worked harder than you’ve ever worked, just keep it going with basketball.’ Over that time period I realized life was passing by. I wasn’t going to have opportunities like I had with basketball ever again, and I had to make the most of it.”

So Teahan red-shirted during the 2010-11 hoops season in advance of this breakout year.

“That was easy for him: Do you want to play or not play?” KU coach Bill Self said of the red-shirt decision. “I told him, ‘If you are going to be in our top rotation then you should play.’ When you look at some of the cats that we had I don’t think that was a hard decision at all.”

Self has been thrilled with the progress of Teahan — somebody he placed on scholarship two years ago, helping Conner shed the walk-on label once and for all.

“He has been great for us. He is a threat and you have to guard him,” Self said of the sharpshooter who is 6-for-6 from three in two games versus Missouri this season.

“I had a recruit tell me the other day when we played Missouri, he said ‘Coach, go back and look at the tape, and every time that Thomas Robinson got good touches on a certain block, Teahan was always on his side.’ It is pretty smart for a recruit to figure that out because they (defenders) can’t help off of it. So when you look at value, the value isn’t just Conner making shots, it’s the value of him being on the court. I think he carries great value.”

Teahan’s teammates knew that, if given an opportunity, he could help the Jayhawks win games.

“We knew for a couple years of his ability to stretch the floor and knock down shots. At 6-6, he has a body that can bang and rebound,” said senior guard Tyshawn Taylor. “He had to wait patiently for his time, and he’s taken full advantage of it.”

Teahan — his older brother Kyle played football at Missouri State; younger brothers Chris (12) and Marcus (11) compete in a variety of sports including football and basketball — says his own sports career ends following this season.

Armed with two degrees — in finance and accounting — he’s going job hunting.

“I like finance better than accounting. It’s not as structured as accounting,” Teahan said. “I’ve wanted to work with people’s finances, help them get their situations in order and what they need to invest in. At the same time, I stress myself out enough. I think worrying about other people’s money would make me get a whole head of gray hairs,” he added with a smile.

The worrying apparently is a waste of time, like the worrying about how much he’d contribute as a rotation player.

“Great kid,” Self said, adding, “Conner will do well in life. I personally think any business, any company would make a smart move in hiring him.”

Comments

Michael Pannacciulli 2 years, 9 months ago

Thank you Connor. Looking forward to a strong finish on a nice year.

wrwlumpy 2 years, 9 months ago

Another great story . Connor gave up alot to be where he is. Think about it, the #6 man on the team that is ranked #3 in the country. Red shirting is an art at KU. Look what it did for Brady.

ku_foaf 2 years, 9 months ago

He had many scholarship opportunities and chose to play without one at KU. His maturity and experience have been well appreciated, and he can drop the 3!

SDSurferFan 2 years, 9 months ago

I would love to say the Missouri game wasn't his most important contribution this season in a game (although homeboy was clutch, on O and D). More important opportunities coming up.

craigers 2 years, 9 months ago

Can you imagine having Bill Self on your list of references in this area? People would interview you and call your references just to talk with him and then after Self is done selling the employer they not only want to hire Teahan but want to play basketball at Kansas!

cklarock 2 years, 9 months ago

Hahah so true! "Now Mr. Tehan, we know you've never flown an airplane, but after speaking with your coach, we'd like to give you a chance."

oldrocker 2 years, 9 months ago

I remember when Connor was a walk-on; he would come in at the end of a game and drain a couple of 3-point shots, and I would think, "Man, this kid can shoot!". Glad he is getting to contribute in a significant way this year.

Good luck, Connor!

FoCoCoHawk 2 years, 9 months ago

Six for six from three vs Mizzou in the last year of the Border War! That might get Connor free drinks well into the 2030's. Thanks for all you contributions, Connor. You play smart basketball in lots of little ways that often go unnoticed. Go out a National Champ.

Rock Chalk!

Tony Bandle 2 years, 9 months ago

If he runs into me, he'll get free drinks till the day one of us dies!! :)

REHawk 2 years, 9 months ago

"Teahan...has put together a solid body of work."
Congratulations, Conner, for your game input this season, and for the 5 years you have offered to the program. Best of luck in all future pursuits. Light up the scoreboard in St. Louis or wherever we will be playing in a couple of weeks. Might as well finish your college career in a blaze of glory.

Steve Reigle 2 years, 9 months ago

He's another I'm proud to say is a Jayhawk.

mikehawk 2 years, 9 months ago

I am sure there are a lot of companies in the KC area who would love to bring Conner Teahan to a meeting. He will always carry the celebrity of being a Kansas Jayhawk basketball player who was one of the stars in a game no one on either side of the line will ever forget. Without all four of his threes, we lose that game.

chalked 2 years, 9 months ago

Agreed. I'm guessing with his KU connections job hunting won't be much of an issue for CT.

Tony Bandle 2 years, 9 months ago

Zach Efron has purchased the rights to the "Conner Teahan Story" and will begin filming sometime next year with himself in the title role.

The current working title is " "Three Hand Luke."

Location filming yet to be determined since actual Kansas campus is so beautiful, no one would believe it was real.

Brad Pitt to play Coach Bill Self, with Scarlet Johannsen to play Cindy Self. Other casting includes Jack Black as AD Zenger, Halle Berry as Chancellor Grey-Little and Richard Kiel to play Lew Perkins.

Rated R: Language during timeouts.

ku_foaf 2 years, 9 months ago

Good one! There is a resemblance to Zach!

Mr. Zenger does look a little like a very skinny Jack Black, no offense intended to our fine AD.

Jaws as Lew?? What an insult to a great actor! It seemed Lew was doing great (or his BB & FB coaches) until the sleazy side showed. What an embarrassment he was at the end.

lurkerhawk 2 years, 8 months ago

and stiff competition from Jared Leto to get the spot

ku_foaf 2 years, 9 months ago

I had forgotten! He is the last of the championship team!

Make_Ur_Free_Throws 2 years, 9 months ago

It's always nice to see Conner drive the lane too, when he does. Good things usually happen! Plus you can usually count on him for free throws when fouled. My wife has always been a fan! Keep up the great work Conner! (-:

rwhawk 2 years, 9 months ago

I want to know who the recruit was that noticed Connor influence on the defense...pretty good Bball IQ to pick up on something like that.

Alohahawk 2 years, 8 months ago

Latest on the CBSsports.com ( College BB page) POY poll: TRob now leading Davis 54% to 35%. Draymond Green fading with 11%.

Got to believe there are some true Jayhawk fans stuffing the ballot box. Yee Haw!!!

jaybate 2 years, 8 months ago

Conner is a very good basketball player who has had eventually to learn how to play on the job, just like every other KU rotation player has had to do.

Sometimes the numbers and injuries work for you.

Tyshawn came in when there was a need for a two and not much depth there.

Tyrel caught a break, when Elijah grew a couple inches, matured slowly, struggled with wildness, two years ago, and then was needed to backup Tyshawn last season.

Conner didn't catch a break.

Conner, once he matured physically, came into the three when every year it seemed there was Brady Morningstar, an experienced guy who shot 40% from trey, defended exceptionally well, and protected like no body's business, and an OAD--first Xavier, then Josh. And throw in a guy like Mario Little and its not hard to see why he struggled to break through.

Many, even occasionally me, have groused about him this season missing defensive assignments and having slow feet, and struggling from trey, but if you look back and compare his first season playing in the rotation with quite a few players in the past, frankly, he's progressed pretty well.

If Conner had gotten this opportunity, when he was a red shirt sophomore, the way Brady did Self's "rebuilding year" back with Sherron and Cole, i.e., if he had been as ready to play as Brady was that season, then Conner would now become a player somewhat like Brady--a guy who would become as tough as crab grass to keep out of the line up next season. Each season, new guys would come in and each season Conner would steadily get a little better and protect better, and shoot a higher percentage, and somehow, or another, Conner would wind up getting 20 mpg despite the influx of 4-5 star types Self keeps dragging in each year.

But Conner didn't get his break until this season--his last season of eligibility.

jaybate 2 years, 8 months ago

So we don't get his crab grass years, as we did with Brady and Tyrel.

We get one year of occasionally fitful progress coupled with some solid games and an under recognized effect of keeping the sagging double and triple teams off TRob. We get a sixth man who never gets a shot at capitalizing on his play this year to become a much more polished 20-25 mpg man behind a 4-5 star often struggling to find his way.

I am very grateful Conner Teahan loved KU basketball enough to come here without a ride, when some sanctions cut into our scholie count, and finally become a contributing member of our team, despite the long wait.

The team that he is in the rotation on just won our 8th Big 12 championship.

Only one of those teams went on and won an NCAA ring.

Conner is in some pretty good company now.

He won a title playing.

And what's more, he still has a chance to win a ring; that's something seven of those other title teams cannot say.

Go, Conner, go!

This team, maybe more than any other KU team in Self's tenure, is playing for all of us that never quite got our shots and believe we might have done it if things had broken a little differently.

We are with you and all of your teammates.

You got the title.

And I for one believe you can get the ring.

And when you do, there are seven of those title teams, no matter how many 4-5 stars and Mickey Ds they had, they are going to have to step aside for you guys.

At Kansas, we believe.

Kevin Whelan 2 years, 8 months ago

Conner... I'd like to see you around the KU baketball program a lot longer. I think you should consider a coaching career. You're a natural leader, you have a great basketball IQ, and an irreplaceable 5 years of experience on the bench already. Give it some thought. I think you'd be a great coach! Best wishes!

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