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Friday, July 1, 2005

Former players say Giddens will be missed

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It has been rumored that J.R. Giddens and Keith Langford clashed during their two years as teammates at Kansas University.

Not so, said Langford, who Thursday said he was "very surprised" Giddens had decided to transfer to a to-be-determined school in the wake of the May 19 Moon Bar melee.

"Me and J.R. were always in good graces. I'd love to see him continue in a Kansas uniform," Langford said from Fort Worth, Texas, where he's getting ready to play for the Dallas Mavericks summer-league team.

"Everybody has run-ins on the court, talk here and there. Nothing out of the ordinary. Me and J.R. ... we're closer than a lot of people think."

Langford said the flashy Giddens, who showed a lot of emotion on the court after firing up three-pointers, had no major problems with anybody on the squad.

"Everybody got along fine, aside from arguments every team has. It never conflicted into a fight or anything," Langford said.

Langford, who wasn't in Lawrence at the time of the Moon Bar melee, in which Giddens suffered a slashed artery in his right calf, said he hoped Giddens would avoid any charges in the case which also involved some other individuals getting hurt.

"I really hope he is (innocent)," Langford said. "I understand people do run through human emotions, things like that do happen. I mean a fight is a fight. I hate it, but it happens. I don't think that J.R. is that type of person."

Langford said Giddens leaving the program was "a little different. You'd not seen anything happen like that in my first couple of years (at KU).

"The last couple of years, they brought in different players and coaches (after Langford's first coach, Roy Williams left for North Carolina). There's nothing wrong with our program now, but it does show changes can affect situations.

"It's not to say none of this would have happened if coach Williams stayed. It could have happened at any time. It's coincidental it happened now."

Langford said he was happy Self now had a roster almost entirely full of his own players.

"Everything is going to be fine when everybody is here that coach Self recruited," Langford said. "Even though J.R. never played for coach Williams, he went through the recruiting process with him. Now with Julian (Wright), Mario (Chalmers), Micah (Downs), guys like Russell (Robinson), coach has the guys he recruited."

Langford said he wasn't sad that Giddens had to shop for a new school.

"No, not at all. A transfer can be a big positive for a person," Langford said. "The type of person he is, he can bounce back. J.R. will definitely play in the NBA eventually. It goes without saying.

"It might be best he put his career on hold a year (sitting out after transferring in accordance with NCAA rules). He'll heal up and get back that same enthusiasm."

¢ Bahe shocked: Former KU walk-on Nick Bahe, who was working out in his native Lincoln, Neb., Thursday afternoon, didn't know of the news back in Lawrence until a reporter informed him.

"Wow," he said. "I hadn't heard about it yet. That's really surprising."

Bahe said he didn't expect the situation ever to come down to Giddens and Kansas parting ways.

"The reaction is total shock," he said. "I think we all thought J.R. would be a Jayhawk for life. It's an unforeseen event and it's very unfortunate."

Bahe, who chose to transfer from KU in April and now plans to play for Creighton, said KU certainly would miss the energy Giddens brought to the court during his two years at Kansas, but he added that the KU program would survive and move forward.

As for Giddens' decision to transfer? Bahe knows all about choosing that route when the situation calls for it. In Bahe's case, he wanted a better chance at being an impact college basketball player.

"Coming from a guy who transferred, I can say that certain circumstances call for certain actions," Bahe said. "J.R. knows what's best for him. If he thinks that leaving is the best thing for him, I wish him the best."

¢ No comment: KU's current players had no comment Thursday. KU coach Bill Self said they were off limits to the media until after the July 4 holiday because of final exams.

¢ Outsider's opinion: Frank Burlison, who is doing the preseason rankings for Lindy's Magazine, said he would rank the Jayhawks in the Nos. 25-40 range in the preseason, about the same as if Giddens was returning.

"I could move them upward or downward. I've talked to a lot of league coaches who say Kansas could be in the (Nos.) 3-4 range (in Big 12). After Texas and Oklahoma, they could be as good as anybody in the conference. If they are, there that puts you in the top 25 or so in the country," added Burlison, a columnist for the Long Beach Press Telegram. "The loss of J.R. is a loss they can compensate for with Wright and Downs and Chalmers coming in."

Reader poll

How do you think J.R. Giddens' departure affects the KU basketball team?

  • It will make the team better not to have the distraction that Giddens had become. 54% 3162 votes
  • Little change - we lose the distraction, but also the points. 18% 1085 votes
  • It'll hurt. We lose scoring and an experienced player. 15% 891 votes
  • Who cares? 11% 642 votes

5780 total votes.

Of the program getting a possible black eye, Burlison said: "I look at this as an isolated incident. I assume it's not any kind of pattern. Kansas' program under Roy Williams, and Bill Self and Bill's program at Illinois, Tulsa and Oral Roberts haven't had any problems."

¢ Next stop?: As to where Giddens will land, it has been rumored he might tap Arkansas, Tulsa, Oral Roberts or maybe even Texas Christian and play for former KU assistant Neil Dougherty.

Giddens said Thursday night he had no comment but might talk after he picked a school.

¢ Former KU player and assistant coach Jerry Waugh on the situation: "This whole thing has sullied the program. It's something we're not used to. Throughout the years the Kansas program has been above the whole thing. We've had some problems, but nothing embarrassing with the program.

"I think Bill took the right stand. They got together and did the right thing.

"Years ago we didn't hang out at beer joints. Not just the athletes, but in general you didn't do that and our team didn't do that. Times have changed. It's a different environment. Still the kids in past years have honored the programs by being careful in what they did in a public display. This has kind of broken that. As an ex-player and coach I thought it reflected poorly on the program. To me I think this will work out fine. It clears the air."

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