Sunday, February 12, 2006

KU freshmen ‘really good’


Without looking at the box score, Kansas University coach Bill Self was able to accurately rattle off the combined points, rebounds and assists of his three freshmen starters after Saturday's 88-75 victory over a fiery Iowa State team.

"Everybody played fine, but I thought our three freshmen were really, really good," Self said of Mario Chalmers, Brandon Rush and Julian Wright. "I think they combined for 52, 23 and 11, which is pretty good out of a pretty young threesome."

Chalmers (23 points), Rush (16) and Wright (13) were the team's three leading scorers.

"They're freshmen in name only," Self said. "They've played enough minutes. They've been through enough tough times and had good moments and bad moments. There's no reason to think when we don't perform well it should be because of freshmen mistakes."

KU (17-6 overall, 8-2 Big 12 Conference) has won 14 of its last 16 games.

"The biggest thing is, those three young guys are playing to their talent level, whereas before they probably weren't," Self said.

Often, Wright plays like the most athletic, least experienced player on the team, such as Saturday, when he contributed nine rebounds, four assists, four blocked shots, a steal and five turnovers.

"I didn't expect us to be perfect," Self said. "I expect it to be an adventure every time we play, every time Julian touches it, a whole lot of things, but I do think all three are playing the way we envisioned them playing. Julian is going to find a way to get on the stat sheet. Unfortunately, not all those columns are favorable columns."

He wasn't complaining about Wright, just telling it like it is.

"I think he's a really good player, and I think he's really good against zones because he can just pass the ball," Self said.

Wright's a blur on the baseline and has outstanding leaping ability. He used both qualities to attempt a reverse layup. It bounced out, and that earned him a spot on the bench.

"He's got a guy (Rush) who shoots 50 percent wide-open in the corner, and he wants to shoot that crap, but he's going to do that sometimes," Self said. "... Right now, things are going pretty well for all three of them."

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