Welcome to the "Kansas in Korea" introductory blog post. Journal-World photographer Mike Yoder and I arrived in Gwangju at 10 p.m. local time on Sunday following about 29 hours of travel, starting from when I picked him up in Lawrence and we drove the Kansas City airport.
The Jayhawks are scheduled to make it into Gwangju around 2 a.m. on Tuesday (noon Central time on Monday). They'll be staying in the Athlete's Village, which is a set of high rise buildings about 20 minutes from Mike and my hotel in the heart of Gwangju. Below is a photo I found, via the official Gwangju Universiade website.
After making our connection flight in San Francisco, we took the same plane to Seoul as the Team USA women's basketball team and the head of the USA's delegation, Gary Cunningham, who coached for two seasons at UCLA following 10 years as an assistant under John Wooden.
Cunningham said the biggest transition for KU will be the physicality allowed by referees in the low post. He added that the Serbian team, who KU will play at 10 p.m. Central on July 7, has a lot of size and is usually one of the best teams, while the Russian team, which is in a different pool, is known for its finesse, but it has tons of skill. One of the tiebreakers includes point differential, which Cunningham said cost some USA teams in the past because they didn't run up the score as much as they could have.
We ran into Switzerland's athletes at the Incheon Airport in Seoul, including their men's basketball players. Yoder shot a photo of them, which can be seen below.
It's easy to tell the World University Games are a big event in Gwangju. There are signs everywhere, buses go around the clock to shuttle media and athletes to where they need to go and the main facilities are state of the art (we haven't seen the basketball arenas yet).
It should be a great experience for the Jayhawks. They'll get to play some tough competition and they'll get a chance to bond outside of their comfort zones in a different country.