Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Notebook: Lawrence’s Justin Roberts receives pregame ovation; KU football player could walk on

Kansas assistant coach Norm Roberts talks with his son, Toledo guard Justin Roberts following the Jayhawks' 96-58 win over the Rockets on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas assistant coach Norm Roberts talks with his son, Toledo guard Justin Roberts following the Jayhawks' 96-58 win over the Rockets on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Normally when an opposing player is introduced at Allen Fieldhouse, he draws a few boos or no reaction at all from the home crowd.

That was not the case on Tuesday night before KU's 96-58 drubbing of visiting Toledo, when Toledo sophomore Justin Roberts was introduced as a surprise starter.

“I thought it was cool he got the start,” KU coach Bill Self of the son of Kansas assistant coach Norm Roberts. “He played fine and made a couple of shots there late. That was great for Justin.”

Roberts, who spent several years of his life around Self and the Kansas program said hearing his name called by the Allen Fieldhouse public address announcer was a thrill.

“It was everything I thought it would be,” said Roberts, who learned he would start Tuesday's contest last Sunday. “I didn't expect to get a standing ovation when they called my name.”

After the game, Toledo coach Tod Kowalczyk explained his decision to go with his sophomore point guard in the starting lineup, despite the fact that Roberts entered Tuesday averaging just 7.5 minutes per game this season.

“He deserved it,” Kowalczyk said. “When you come play in a place like this, his hometown, his dad's on the bench; to be perfectly honest, that was an easy decision. I made that decision in the summer.”

Although Roberts' team was overwhelmed for most of Tuesday's game, the Lawrence High grad finished with four points and two assists in 16 minutes.

Azubuike assaults

While shooting 6-of-9 from the floor for 12 points and five rebounds in 24 minutes on Tuesday night, KU sophomore Udoka Azubuike threw down a handful of his signature dunks during the runaway victory.

Two of them came during KU's knockout, 32-3 run on back-to-back plays and left Kowalczyk perplexed about how his team even could have handled it on a night when KU senior Devonte' Graham lit up the gym for a career-high 35 points.

“If you help too much, they just throw it up to the big fella and he dunks everything,” Kowalczyk lamented.

There was one point, with 8:49 to play in the game, when Azubuike caught a soft lead pass from Graham and had no one on the same side of the court as him. That paved the way for a monster two-handed slam and could have been an opportunity for Azubuike to try to bring the rim down.

Instead, he soared to the hoop like normal but quickly pulled his hands off after viciously throwing the ball through the hoop. The play was reminiscent of Azubuike's adjustment in Italy last summer, when he nearly destroyed an Italian rim in KU's exhibition opener overseas.

Football reinforcement?

Self on Tuesday night confirmed that the Kansas basketball program was exploring the idea of adding KU football player James Sosinski, a 6-foot-7, 260-pound tight end on David Beaty's team, to the roster as a walk-on.

Self said Sosinski practiced one day this week and added that they would allow him to practice for another week to see how it goes. Sosinski averaged 19.1 points and 12.6 rebounds per game for South Mountain Community College in Phoenix before coming to KU.

Although KU is not in bad shape in terms of practice bodies, with transfers Dedric Lawson, K.J. Lawson and Charlie Moore sitting out, the Jayhawks have been down to just nine eligible players in games during the early part of the season. Sosinski could provide another body late in games that would allow Self to put more of his rotation guys next to him on the bench.

The potential roster addition also could be key in moments where KU's current big men find foul trouble given that withheld freshman forward Billy Preston missed his sixth game of the season Tuesday night and KU currently is operating with just two true big men.

At 6-7, 260, Sosinki instantly would become the second biggest body, in terms of girth, on the KU roster, behind Azubuike (7-0, 280) and ahead of Mitch Lightfoot (6-8, 210). Preston stands 6-10, 240 and potential early arrival Silvio De Sousa is 6-9, 245.

Better late than never

Tuesday night marked the first Allen Fieldhouse game for Ruby White, of Kansas City, Kan., who saw her first live KU game in their home gym at the age of 101.

White, who now gets around in a wheelchair, visited KU's practice earlier in the day and later was honored with a roar from the crowd and a live shot of her from her seat on the video board.

Several people in attendance rose to their feet to cheer White finally making it to a game as KU's public address announcer shouted, “Welcome to the Fieldhouse, Ruby.”

This and that...

Tuesday's victory pushed Kansas to 6-0 for the first time since the 2010-11 season, when the Jayhawks opened 10-0. It marks the sixth time in the Bill Self era that a Kansas team has started 6-0... KU now has won 24 consecutive non-conference games in Allen Fieldhouse... Kansas now leads the all-time series with Toledo, 3-0 and is 14-1 against current members of the Mid-American Conference.

More news and notes from Kansas vs. Toledo

By the Numbers: Kansas 96, Toledo 58

By the Numbers: Kansas 96, Toledo 58


Brian Skelly 3 years, 4 months ago

If that kid from the football team is walking on, I wonder if they think/know that Preston isnt going to be playing?

Jeff Coffman 3 years, 4 months ago

Now I understand... coach Beaty recruits basketball players not football players...I was just confused.

Len Shaffer 3 years, 4 months ago

That's not fair, Jeff. He RECRUITS football players; he just doesn't DEVELOP them ...

Freedman Moor 3 years, 4 months ago

That's not fair, Len. HE DEVELOPS football players, he's just AWFUL.

Jeff Foster 3 years, 4 months ago

So we get Cunliffe in a couple of weeks, but I've not heard anything about him regarding how he looks in practice, what he can add other than depth at the 2, 3, maybe 4? How is he looking? Hopefully Preston's situation will be figured out soon, but the longer this drags on, I'm afraid a long suspension looms. At least he's getting time served now so if it's at semester or after Christmas, it won't seem as long.

Shannon Gustafson 3 years, 4 months ago

Considering what we say in the overseas games, and that Self hasn't said much about him, you can expect he won't see many minutes this year, especially since we're so deep at his position, and that Garrett has shown he's an elite defender (which Cunliffe certainly is not, his defense appears to be Greene-like at this point). He's also missing all of the "easy" games early in the year where minutes are spread out more evenly.

Rick Golden 3 years, 4 months ago

Why are we looking at a walk on? To me this is a lot of red flags do they know something about Preston's situation. and also Silvio De Sousa not being available 2nd semester??????

Jerry Walker 3 years, 4 months ago

C'mon're smarter than that...aren't you?

Bryce Landon 3 years, 4 months ago

Dave Armstrong and Chris Piper showed Ruby White and told about her on the Spectrum Sports telecast. So cool she could come to Allen Fieldhouse!

Robert Fast 3 years, 4 months ago

Back in the late 60's we had Vernon Venoy who would play football & then move to basketball when the season was over. It always excited the crowd because Vernon would shave his head for the basketball season. Can't say he was a great player but he was a beast in many ways & always fired up the crowd.

Andy Tweedy 3 years, 4 months ago

Don't need to go back to the '60s, the 1988 team had Clint Normore and Marvin Mattox and that worked out really well. Normore had a big shot in the national championship game even!

Freedman Moor 3 years, 4 months ago

There was also a quaterback for the the team, Mario [Something] that played under roy.

John Swift 3 years, 4 months ago

I used to play tennis with Vernon in PE classes. You should have been across the net from him when playing doubles. You just wanted to duck if he got a high lob at the net. Very imposing doubles partner.

Bob Thompson 3 years, 4 months ago

I would think if Preston received the car, or got a sweetheart deal, from a booster he won't be playing this year. If it was an agent, then their is a good chance he will just sit a few more games with community service or something and be ready to go by the time the Big 12 starts.

Harlan Hobbs 3 years, 4 months ago

I would encourage everyone to watch the short interview with Mitch Lightfoot. He is one brilliant young man who has a bright future in whatever field of endeavor he chooses. Congratulations to his parents, who undoubtedly are very proud.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 4 months ago

When did Lightfoot become a 'true' big? I've been impressed w/his heart and play so far but the cupcake schedule is about over.

Humpy Helsel 3 years, 4 months ago

Sounds like Coach has decided it might be best to take out an insurance policy. You always lose something if you have to use your insurance to help cover a loss, but it is always better than having no insurance whatsoever.

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