Some thoughts...from Allen Fieldhouse
Gary Bedore, Journal-World KU men's basketball beat writer
"Brandon Rush looked great in his return from ACL surgery. Obviously Rush deserves credit for his hard work in rehab to be back at this point in time. Also, KU's medical staff and team doctor obviously deserve kudos for their work with Rush. KU started very poorly at the free throw line, but steadied itself after Rush entered the game. On to Northern Arizona."
Tom Keegan, Journal-World sports editor
"Brandon Rush's return to action was seamless. Without the brace, it would have been difficult to guess he was coming off such a serious knee surgery. But the play of the night belonged to Russell Robinson, who soared to block a 3-point attempt from one-time, big-time high school recruit and Prince look-alike Angel Santiago, a transfer from Dodge City Community College who sat out the first half and showed a lot of talent until Robinson blocked his shot and fired a pass upcourt to Rodrick Stewart for a dunk."
Ryan Greene, KUSports.com editor
"One thing I noticed about Brandon Rush tonight on the offensive end was that he talked more in 12 minutes on the floor than I'd ever heard him talk before during a game. At one point, he dropped a pass down into Darrell Arthur and told him "go left, go left" and then was hollering at him after Arthur's turnaround jumper - to his left side - gave Rush credit for an assist. Rush played like someone hungry to get back on the floor and end his college career with a bang. Tonight was step No. 1. Now we see if he keeps it up."
Inside the numbers
12: Six weeks from now, the only thing this game will likely be remembered for is the 12 minutes Brandon Rush played in the first half, scoring seven points, collecting three rebounds, dishing two assists and recording a steal and a block. More importantly, he looked comfortable in doing so and not the least bit timid.
9: Rodrick Stewart finished with nine points, four rebounds and four assists in his first start of the season. His first half struggles were completely wiped from memory after he polished the highest part of the glass in the second half while atoning for a turnover by pinning what was looking to be an open court layin by a Washburn guard against the glass. It turned into a transition three for Conner Teahan. Once Stewart settled in, he was solid.
14: Not to be lost in the shuffle when talking about replacing Sherron Collins should be Tyrel Reed, who played a valuable 14 minutes by scoring eight points, grabbing two rebounds, dishing two assists and recording a steal. The freshman looks completely comfortable running a transition offense and can defend so far well enough to earn the minutes he's getting.
24: Sasha Kaun's final stat line looks great - 12 minutes, 10 points, seven rebounds. But 10 of those minutes, all of those points and five of those rebounds came in the second half. He sat down early after picking up two quick fouls, including one which coach Bill Self called out for having been 75 feet away from the basket. Avoiding early foul calls has never come easy for Kaun. But he can certainly stay away from the ones on the other end of the floor.
36.1: While Bill Self is still not totally pleased with his team's defense, the Jayhawks did hold a team they should be holding to a lower field goal percentage to just that. The guards defended pretty well, and the big men played to their size advantage. While the offense started slow, the defense kept Washburn from gaining too much steam.
Just in case you missed it...
Bill Self let out a little bit of a smile late in the first half after Brandon Rush soared to the rack and missed on a finger roll, crashing to the floor afterwards. Rush scooped himself up quickly, gathered the loose ball bumbling around between Darnell Jackson and some Ichabods and dumped it in off the glass. You've got to wonder if Self even thought Rush would look that comfortable right from go.
Hopefully you didn't miss it...
The attendance figures will still say 16,300 on the final stats because of the game's sellout status, but there were plenty of seats to be had. The ones on hand, though, gave Rush a raucous standing ovation when he ripped off his warmups to check in with just over 16 minutes to go in the first half. Rush admitted afterwards that the fans' expression of joy sent chills throughout his body.
They said it...
Bill Self on Brandon Rush's showing: "I thought he was probably as good a performer as we had tonight. We didn't play very well at all, especially the first half, but Brandon was a big bright spot for us, and I thought he looked pretty good...He got knocked down, and that needed to happen, and he went to the goal hard one time, and that needed to happen, in traffic...I thought he did some good things, and I was really happy for him...You can tell he's not quite what he was, but he'll get there. A lot of it is just timing and confidence, but I'd have to watch the tape. I thought he did some good things."
Bill Self on the timing of Rush's return: "It's really not soon, guys. Instead of 26 weeks, it's 24 because he's been ahead of every scheduled test they've done on him. I don't think we're pushing the envelope, to be honest with you. I guess anything can happen, and obviously there's always an element of risk anytime you play somebody when they're coming back from a major injury like that, but he's got to get out there and do some things, and the doctors and trainers have said that, and he knows that, and in order for him to have the type of year we think he can have, he's gonna have to get out there, look good, not look good, be inconsistent and go through that phase, because he's gonna go through it no matter what."
Brandon Rush on his return: "I would have liked to play a lot more, but due to the trainers and doctors, I could only play 12-15 minutes. I used all of that in the first half. I didn't have no concerns... I was a little nervous, because I hadn't been out on the court in a while instead of at practice...I got chills through my body and stuff, so (the standing ovation) felt real good...I think the whole thing was my dedication to rehab, me going in everyday, two times a day. Things came out pretty good...I think (Washburn) thought I was gonna be a little more timid, but out of the gates, I'm gonna have to learn how to deal with it, get in the paint, make some plays...I'm not 100 percent. I'd say about 85, 80, I haven't got my whole explosion back yet."
Mario Chalmers on Rush's return being a spark for the offense: "I think it was good, because I think they surprised the crowd when they subbed Brandon in, he got a standing ovation, and the crowd started getting into it more and we fed off the crowd, so I think that's how we got a little bit of a run."
Rodrick Stewart on Rush's performance: "Brandon did excellent, if it was a test, I'd have to give him an A, because he was that spark. As crazy as it sounds, he was a spark off the bench. He really helped us get a little bit of momentum going in the first half. The game was real close until he came into the game, we ran the score up a little bit because he was being aggressive."
Rodrick Stewart on his huge late block: "I was saying either I was gonna get this block or I'm gonna come out of the game. I definitely had to get the block, because I turned it over trying to throw it to Darnell."
Rodrick Stewart on calming himself and performing in the second half: "Second half I was just relaxed. First half, just hearing my name called, I was kind of in awe. I was definitely nervous for the game since it's been awhile since I started...(My teammates) told me just play like you play in practice, and everything will come easy to you."