Monday, November 26, 2007


Keegan: Rehab dividends obvious


Hawks survive OT scare, 76-72

Amidst all the Border Showdown hype, the Kansas basketball team was at home tonight with the always dangerous Arizona Wildcats.

Audio clips

2007-08 Nov. 25 KU-Arizona Basketball

Brandon Rush made sure to have a boring summer full of tedious exercises. As a result of that, thousands of basketball fans had a blast Sunday night in Allen Fieldhouse.

Even the NBA scouts, notorious for beating the rush to the parking lot, stayed until the end of Kansas University's 76-72 overtime victory against Arizona. That's how entertaining a basketball game, warts and all, was played the night after the overachieving football team's national title hopes vanished in Kansas City, Mo.

Rush, restricted to "15 to 20 minutes," according to coach Bill Self, in the early portion of the season as he works his way back from June 1 ACL surgery, played a whopping 36 minutes, the best of those coming at the end.

If Rush hadn't poured his heart into rehabilitating his knee, he wouldn't be playing yet, much less carrying his team to victory.

"I was in the weight room non-stop," Rush said, "or I was running. It started getting boring after a while."

But he stuck to it, and it has paid off.

In Sunday's overtime period, Rush darted into the passing lane to tip the ball ahead of him, ran it down and dribbled it in for a dunk that put Kansas up six points with 2:22 left. And 45 seconds later, he caused the night's biggest eruption by getting way up there to throw down a Russell Robinson alley-oop pass.

If Rush's 55-footer at the regulation buzzer had gone in, instead of softly falling off the front of the rim, he still would have been applauded for giving his team more than it had any reason to expect of him this early.

By the end of his long night, he had contributed 17 points and a team-high eight rebounds. He's not all the way back to his old ultra-quick self and probably won't be for another six months or so. In some ways, though, he has made himself a more skilled basketball player. He wasn't sitting around feeling sorry for himself after undergoing major knee surgery. Even when he was sitting around, he made it useful.

"I did a lot of shooting, a lot of shooting in chairs when I first did it," Rush said. "I was just shooting in chairs non-stop. Then I started working on ball-handling drills when I could start running and stuff. It helped me out a lot."

It shows. Rush has gone to his left more smoothly, and in 64 minutes he has made five of eight 3-pointers and has just three turnovers.

"I think my shot is better, and my left hand is a lot better than it was," Rush said. "I don't even turn the ball over that much now like I used to."

When assigned to guard Arizona's talented Chase Budinger (27 points, six of 12 3-pointers), Rush couldn't slow him.

"I still need to work on my defense," said Rush, who had developed into KU's best defender last season. "I let Budinger get too many open looks."

Self said Rush "just isn't ready" to resume his duties as the team's lock-down defender, but Rush will keep chasing that goal.

"I've got to get it in my mind I can do it, I can do it," he said, sounding like he was trying to talk his knee back to full speed. "I'm just a step slow right now because of the whole injury thing, but I'm going to get back in that lock-down defensive mode."

He said he is about "85 percent" of the way back, which makes him better than at least 85 percent of college basketball players.


actorman 15 years ago

"If Rush hadn't poured his heart into rehabilitating his knee, he wouldn't be playing yet, much less carrying his team to victory."

But that can't possibly be true. After all, according to Bill Mayer, the only reason Rush came back to KU was because of his "loyalty to Big Blue - Blue Cross-Blue Shield, that is, or whatever health insurance covers the Kansas University athletic department ... Brandon and his minions weren't about to divorce themselves from the university with about a $100,000 surgical bill staring them in the face. They'll pursue repair and healing on KU's nickel." He was clearly being selfish to come back and there's no way he'll really be able to help KU. Just see Mayer's column of June 1. He had all the answers then, about how resentful Rush's teammates were about him coming back and how it would be a horrible distraction for the team. And we all know that Bill Mayer is never wrong.

cklarock 15 years ago

Brandon Rush represents KU very well as a student-athlete. Were he truly the mercenary Meyer painted him to be, he wouldn't have stuck with his schoolwork, staying eligable when everyone thought he was going to the league.

Rush makes us proud, Mayer just makes us cringe. I'd call his half-baked "git them kids off my lawn" old man LJW rants fish-wrapper, but we're land-locked, so we'll call it fertilizer.

Jonathan Andrews 15 years ago

Excellent point, actorman.

LJW should assign Mayer to write a follow-up, crow-eating article on Rush's dedication to KU.

Go Brandon! Go Self! GO KU!

JBurtin 15 years ago

I wouldn't care if he had come back just to get his surgery and rehab paid for. For one, who could blame him, nobody would pass on that deal. For two, he's played great basketball for us and silenced his critics by being one hell of a team player.

rgreene 15 years ago

Find me one person who, if put in Brandon's shoes days after tearing his ACL, would have opted to stay entered in the NBA Draft instead of coming back to KU and having the school pay for the surgery, and they would be tagged a complete liar.

It was a no-brainer decision that anyone would have made. No one should bash the kid for making the smart choice.

actorman 15 years ago

Exactly. Maybe you can take up crooner's suggestion and get your fellow J-W writer to eat some crow???

JHWKNMIZRY 15 years ago

Most people go to school to improve the rest of their lives with occupations that they like and to improve their financial situation. If I were a probable draft pick and I didn't leave school for a few million dollars I feel that I would have failed at both of those reasons. By the same token, there is nobody involved in KU athletics that I like and respect more than Danny Manning. But if Danny's injury would have happened in his senior year instead of his rookie year it would have cost him a fortune . He's good enough he would still have been ok ,but few people have the heart of Danny.

It's a little bit like playing at Arrowhead instead of Memorial Stadium. It's about money.

I agree with Crooner about the "make up/crow eating" story.

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