Friday, August 3, 2012

Europe just the latest stop in a busy summer for KU’s Jeff Withey


Jeff Withey, who traveled to Greece, Germany and Macedonia last summer as a member of Athletes in Action’s all-star basketball team, now gears for an equally exciting adventure — a Sunday through Aug. 14 journey to Switzerland and Paris with Kansas University’s hoops squad.

“It’s something we will remember forever,” said 7-foot senior center Withey, who is somewhat of an international travel expert at the age of 22 — he also trekked to France during his high school days at San Diego’s Horizon High.

“Not too many times do people get to go to Europe paid for. It’ll be fun to be able to walk around and see everything. We’re going with people we like. We’re all good friends, so it’s pretty much going on a trip with all your friends to a new place.”

Withey is the right guy to ask about the differences in culture — and basketball — in Europe versus the U.S.

“You’ve got to get used to the bigger key,” he said of the international lane of 16 feet wide, compared to the collegiate lane of 12 feet wide. “Everybody likes to shoot jumpers and it’s a really physical way to play basketball so it’ll be good for us to see the different way to play.”

KU will play the Swiss National Team on Tuesday and Wednesday in Fribourg, Switzerland and French Club Teams on Aug. 11-12 in Paris.

“It’s going to expand our game and just going out there and experiencing the different food, the different culture, it’s always fun to do that, walking around. The cities are all historic, so it’ll just be a good time,” Withey said.

This trip figures to be a bonding experience for the Jayhawks, who have eight true freshmen on the roster to go with two red-shirt frosh.

“We lose our two best players in Tyshawn (Taylor) and T-Rob (Thomas Robinson) and so we’re going to be a new, completely different team,” Withey said. “We have eight freshmen, and they each bring something new to the table. Perry (Ellis, 6-8, Wichita Heights) was probably the most highly-recruited one and was a McDonald’s All-American.

“Just from what I’ve seen, he can do a lot. He can shoot the ball or play the post so it’s going to be fun playing with him. As far as everyone else, I can see them contributing a lot and I am excited to play some big games with them. The guys coming back (including seniors Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford, Kevin Young) ... we’ve been playing forever and going to the Final Four last year, we all got a lot of experience out of it, and I think that we have a good group of leaders that can bring the team back there.”

The trip to Europe caps a busy summer for Withey, who attended the Amar’e Stoudemire big-man camp in Chicago and LeBron James Skills Academy in Las Vegas to go with working several camps in Kansas.

“I got a lot of new moves going to the Amar’e camp and worked on a lot of drills and did a lot of things NBA people do, so it was a good experience and even getting to play against Amar’e Stoudemire himself, so it was really cool,” Withey said. “And then in Vegas we played a lot of pick-up, going up and down, playing games, and whenever you play 25 of the the best college athletes (working as counselors), it makes you better. It was a lot of fun and even though I didn’t get to play against LeBron, it was a good time. I’ve just been busy with a lot of practice, getting ready to go over to Europe, so it’s been a pretty busy offseason.”

Withey, who averaged 9.0 points and 6.3 rebounds a game last season — he had an all-time NCAA Tournament record 31 blocks — has fared well in pre-Europe trip practices, KU coach Bill Self said.

“Jeff is better. He will keep getting better,” Self said. “I don’t know if he’s a guy yet (that) you can pencil in 15 (points) and eight (rebounds) because he played off Thomas getting double-teamed so much. Jeff is going to be good.”

Kaun’s team 3-0: Former KU center Sasha Kaun scored three points and grabbed two rebounds in Russia’s 75-74 victory over Brazil on Thursday at the Olympic Games in London. He started and played 15 minutes. Russia, 3-0, will meet Spain on Saturday.

Recruiting: Xavier Rathan-Mayes, a 6-4 senior combo guard from Huntington (W.Va.) Prep School, has narrowed his list of schools to 10, reports. They are: KU, Baylor, UCLA, Illinois, Kentucky, UConn, Alabama, Florida State, Memphis and Texas. Originally from Canada, Rathan-Mayes is the No. 48-ranked player in the country. He will visit Kentucky today. UK is the only school on his list that has not yet offered a scholarship.


Chris Shaw 9 years, 9 months ago

Jaybate, Can we get the Rick Steves, I mean Jeff Withey guide, to this European tour?

Tony Bandle 9 years, 9 months ago

God, I hope that picture is from Hawaii....Jeff looked like Ichabod Crane!!

He needs to look like Captain America!!

AsadZ 9 years, 9 months ago

Xavier Rathan-Mayes, a 6-4 senior combo guard from Huntington (W.Va.) Prep School, has narrowed his list of schools to 10, reports. They are: KU, Baylor, UCLA, Illinois, Kentucky, UConn, Alabama, Florida State, Memphis and Texas.

I'd like to see his list before he had narrowed it down

Tony Bandle 9 years, 9 months ago

LOL..UNBELIEVABLE!!. Xavier actually listed FORTY schools on his original list. However, he really blew an opportunity for "name recognition". The last school on his list was, of course, Xavier!!

Jack Wilson 9 years, 9 months ago

Perhaps he comes from the Karviar Shepherd school of list narrowing ..

Jack Wilson 9 years, 9 months ago

I take it then Withey isn't attending the Adidas Nations camp Aug. 3 -6 that was referenced in a prior article that said he "might decline" the invite. Did not see it mentioned in the article above. There was speculation he might be able to do both since the camp ended on the first day of the European trip.

REHawk 9 years, 9 months ago

Good memory, HEM. I wondered the same thing.

Steve Kubler 9 years, 9 months ago

As much as they have mentioned "team bonding" I expected he would be flying over with the rest of the team and missing that camp.

Marcia Parsons 9 years, 9 months ago

I think we have to wait for the Big12 office for that.

texashawk10 9 years, 9 months ago

I would imagine determining which games are on TV in what time slots.

jaybate 9 years, 9 months ago

Big Man U

Switzerland--don't know the Suisseland very well. Much better food than its reputation, though, if you will open up to it. High elevations good in summer, of course. Geneva and Zurich kind of grey and staid, but I've visited them both on the heels of France one time and Italy another. Best to go to Switzerland first, if you can, so you are not focused on the more Germanic restraint of the Suisse, and still savoring the marvelous cuisines of France and Italy.

Go into a bank for kicks and ask if they are the one that has the Nazi deposits still. Just kidding. They would not find it funny.

Maybe read a biography of Parisian salon keeper Germain de Stael who among other things helped topple Napoleon Bonaparte. Her pop had to flee France and live in exile in Switzerland, then later she did too. Her life in Paris was exciting, and she was kind of crazed, but her story helps one understand why Switzerland exists as it does. Wealthy individuals, both honest and the dishonest, need places to go to from time to time, when their home countries are unsafe for them. They also need places to hide their money and dodge taxes at certain times. And they need a cool place in summer when their home country is hot. Switzerland has built an economy on being such a haven, and a tourist destination for alpine activities. It also has a long history of master craftsmanship that is eroding but still existent. I can't recommend restaurants and hotels, because its been too long ago that I visited.

Don't make Swiss Army knife jokes. Its like making Toto jokes in Kansas.

jaybate 9 years, 9 months ago

Part 2

You might mention that you like their taste in fighter jets and say the F-18 is a fine plane. Might win you a brownie point or two for knowing they fly them.

Look for great chocolate.


France: where do I begin? Its probably where I would live, if I did not live in America. It feels like the America of Europe to me. It is a republic that is always in intense tension between liberty (the North) and fascism (Lyon), with a pleasure loving Mediterranean coast easing along in the heat, all in the vacuum of a collapsed former monarchical/church joint venture of order that ruled it for so long a frustrated Dumas had to write the The Three Musketeers to move things along. It is big for Europe. Lots of agriculture. Lots of wheat fields in the center and south, but about the size of a big American state like Texas, or Montana, I would suppose.

Visiting different regions even helps you understand the French influence on the midwest and Kansas. In the time of my childhood in Kansas, I spent a lot of time out of KC on family farms on weekends in eastern Kansas, about 40 miles south of Lawrence in the Marais de Cygne river valley. The farms were very run down and not neatly kept as those in northern Kansas, or Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin. I always felt a bit ashamed of the delapidated wood post fences and the junk heaped in the farm yards, and so on. It wasn't clean and tidy. And the farmers were not clean and tidy either. But there was something earthy and wonderful about the relaxed standards of order and cleaniness, too, and the way the live stock and pastures looked so old fashioned. I just thought it was the land that time and prosperity forgot. And it was to some extent.

jaybate 9 years, 9 months ago

Part 3

But then I visited Burgundy to drink the wine and do the usual tourist things and to my surprise, when I drove around northern Burgundy in the country side I found a place that looked for all the world like the run down farms and delapidated fences of eastern Kansas' Marais de Cygne river valley, west of Ottawa. There were Charlois cattle like those that had been imported some into Kansas, but not any herfords that I saw. But the feel of the farm yards and the junk strewn around and the grizzled old farmers looked just like home to me. Certain parts of Ireland also has some of these qualities too. So: I have always assumed that that part of eastern Kansas had had a lot of Irish and French settlers in its early formative years. The farther we travel the more we learn about where we have come from.

So France won me over not just as a magnificiently civilized and cultured country, with all the art and food one could ever dream of, plus Le Mans race track, plus the battle fields of Normandy, Verdun and Belleau wood, but it had piece of it that showed what part of my beloved childhood Kansas had descended from.

Note: on my family farms, which were run down and not very valuable, there were old stone fences and old stone foundations and stick frames and osage orange hedge rows grown wild from lack of tending. It was all a carbon copy of what I saw in rural burgundy the first time I went to France a couple decades ago. I saw the area outside Beaunne. It was remarkable.

Where would I visit in France?

Avoid Paris in summer unless you are bucks up and staying in the best hotels and have your own air-conditioned transportation (both of which work to crush the joy of walking Paris). Rick Steves back door style, which I prefer, even now that I can afford better, takes you into a just too f'ing muggy Paris. Paris in July is just like Kansas in July, only the humidity never seems to burn out of the air, as it used to in Kansas as July turned into August.

jaybate 9 years, 9 months ago

Part 4

I also never go to France except in early spring, or early Autumn. France has even more cotton wood trees than Kansas and I am allergic to cottonwood seeds and agricultural mold in a big way, so I try not to go in late spring/early summer.

But it is better to go to France then than not go at all, so what I do in the hayfever season there is stay on the coast as much as I can. Fly into deGaulle, rent a classically French car (which gets increasingly hard to do as cars are becoming homogenized now on both sides of the Atlantic), and drive as fast as you can along the Seine to Hon Fleur, or somewhere you like on the Atlantic coast, recover from jet lag in one town for 2-3 days, then start working your way across Normandy, then Britanny, in the usual tourist destinations, then down the coast
to Rochelle. Not everyone like Rochelle, but its sort of a dividing line between northern Europe and the northern most reaches of the Moorish empire and it shows in the architecture. If you're in Rochelle in July, you get to see real Parisians on real vacation escaping the heat of Paris in Rochelle). The vast open air cafes around the small harbor with the to middle ages turret towers guarding the bay are really a treat at night.

Somewhere along the way before Rochelle, you see Mont Saint Michel and eat poulet cooked in that weird undrinkable apple brandy they love so, then down to Biaritz and St. jean de Luz on the southwest coast. Don't be intimidated by the word Biarritz. Its an old beach and tourist town with a nice casino and if you look closely you can find tell tale signs of the US military operating a college for soldiers after VE day waiting to be shipped home. But mostly it is just a neat old town with a small surfing culture.

jaybate 9 years, 9 months ago

Part 5

Again, if its hayfever season, or too hot, stay on the coast and head down into Spain, or cut up into the Pyrennees and bolt across to Pamplona, which will be HOT, and then to the Mediterranean where it will be hot and look a lot like Southern California with cassoulet and castle turrets, but have beaches to dip in. The Atlantic coast is cool in summer, but everywhere else in France but high in the Alps is HOT and HUMID north of provence, and dry and hot in Provence.

In Provence the French turn more Mediterranean and deliberate and the transition parallels the experience of going from the PNW to Socal, or from New England to the American south. Provence cooking is like Italian cooking without polenta and pasta, but with quite a bit more complexity. The best Italian cooking is bewitchingly simple. The best French cooking is bewitchingly complex.

The French Riviera is split between the super rich havens and the tourist junk. It is a visual treat, but I like the rural and interior parts of Provence more than I like the Riviera, but then I tend to like rural places more than cities in all of France. I'm not sure many people love the rural life of France as much as I do. I would rather wake up in an attic of an old farm house hearing cattle and roosters and a tractor, than the awakening bustle of a French town, but I try to experience both when there.

My high point in Provence, beside the food, was walking on and putting my hand on one of the stones of the Pont du Gard aqueduct on the Gard river north west of Arle, if I recall correctly. It was built by Gaulic slaves of the Romans. It was one of the Roman water projects that they brought to conquered regions. They were big infrastructure guys just like American empire builders are. I can't say why, but touching a stone laid by a slave (probably one dreaming of a time when there would be no slavery) 2000 years ago change my life forever.

jaybate 9 years, 9 months ago

Part 6

A lot of people love chateau country up north near Amboise in the center of the country, but castles have never done much for me. They represent over building and extravagants and much like McMansions of today, grew quickly obsolete in France. They were often built by some aristocrats from Paris that had made a killing in some kind of empire scam and they got on the wrong side of the King, or the church, and went down to Amboise to create their own little version of one of our rich man's ghettoes. The chateaus are worth a quick look, one or two of them, but the great memory i have of Amboise is still their jars of rillete, on good bread. Rillete is poor mans pate, or fois gras. It is shredded pork in rendered pork fat with some seasonings. It is so much better than pate, if you have a real love for hearty, low brow food like I do. Rillete has been gussied up in certain high end shops here in America, and they've ruined it of course. It is the French Equivalent of really greasy bar-b-cue, though it is exceedingly bland, not spicy at all. But you slap it on some bread and gobble it down and it is soooooo good, even as your arteries are plugging up.

Meat pastry anywhere in France is something to eat and get hooked on when you're on the move.

Hmmm, what else, well, its pretty cool to go to Colmar and another little town in the Alsace, quasi German region on the border of Germany and eat sher croute--the french version of sour kraut. And even if you hate sour kraut German style, you will love the French version.

I have not drifted down the Dordogne River valley and that's next for me. Also, I have not taken a barge around France, but I hope to do that in a few years. A barge and bike would be just about a perfect way to see the center of France IMHO.

In Paris, just get Rick Steves book and go where he says, unless you know someone who knows the city. The Louvre is good, but if you've already seen the Uffizi in Florence and are only passingly interested in art, don't kill yourself in Louvre. It has great stuff, but how much great stuff can you stand? :-)

jaybate 9 years, 9 months ago

Part 7

I have a better time in the Musee d'Orsay where all the impressionists are hung. More casual. Not wrecked by that awful I.M.Pei pyramid at the Louvre. Also, you don't get the feeling of walking through a museum full of stuff sacked by Napoleon and dragged back to Paris there either. I just don't love emperors, or kings, or unitary deciders. :-)

The Pompidou Center is worth seeing to understand what a great young architect who has not yet found himself, like Renzo Piano, can do terrible to a city with a too high concept building. Fortunately, Renzo was second banana on that monstrosity and gets to share the blame. Even more fortunately, Renzo kept getting better and now makes brilliant buildings where ever he goes.

I am really not very knowledgeable of Paris beyond the guide book stuff. It is a great city, but I require a local in all great cities to take me around and really wake me up to the innards of a great city (where the mafia dons live, where the bodies are buried, when the stock market started, where the secret societies meet, usual stuff) before I will spend much time there. I have yet to meet and befriend a Parisian who would be there and take me by the hand. Just between you and me much of Paris is too Georgian for my tastes. Napoleon put a bureaucratic stamp on the city that only the neighborhoods escape. I know, I know, I am supposed to love everything about Paris, and I do love much of it. But walking some of the streets feel like walking some of the bureaucratic building lined blocks of Washington DC. The older parts of Paris, and the newer parts of Paris are wonderful. But those endlessly repeating patterns of what I call Georgian style buildings oppress and bore me. And the only way to escape the oppression is to sit and look at hotties at the cafes. But the truth is: real Parisians are pretty buttoned down. Try a ride in July on the Metro and you'll see they concede little to the heat. So: its not as fun as, say, Rome to sit and people watch and sip. And there is no real, true Parisian cuisine that I could discern. Paris simply tries to excecute its regional cuisines even better than the regions do, but a real epicure could probably prove me wrong. Great, great city to eat in, but why not go to a region, find a French mama running a small establishment, and enjoy it for half the price the way it was meant to be?

Oh, one more thing. Go to Chammonix. Ride up to the Mer du Glace, ski it, then come down and eat raclette. Just do it. Don't ask why. It worked for me. I now own a raclette cooker and eat raclette at least a half dozen times each winter.

Never saw a basketball game in France. I like the real thing in Lawrence. Just like I like I don't care much for Bernaise sauce outside France. Somethings just don't translate.

Rock Chalk!

Jack Wilson 9 years, 9 months ago

BigManU: You are to blame for this, parts 1 - 7.

Like the hooker in the short skirt, you were just asking for it.

I had to google "raclette" for God's sake .. JB provides facts that ensure that we all "learn something new everyday."

So tell me, how is raclette different from nachos? Just dipping with a regular potato instead of a fried one? Would a Frenchman gasp at that suggestion?

On a lighter note, how about that Milton Doyle?

jaybate 9 years, 9 months ago

raclette = raclette cheese melted on boiled golden potatoes with various sliced meats + cornichon pickles plus local brewski = au bon.

And the raclette cooker will also do bacon and eggs on a morning after tying one on.

Chris Shaw 9 years, 9 months ago

HEM and Jaybate: Good stuff! HEM, I couldn't resist, especially with the Jayhawks traveling to Europe. Jaybate, excellent. I am also a fan of the Musee d'Orsay and much more so than the Louvre. I am also a fan of the French Riveria, but if you can handle the 2.5 to 3 hour train ride around the bend into Italy, the Italian Riveria (Cinque Terre) is less tourists and much more localized, which I prefer. Always have wanted to go to Switzerland...........on the bucket list.

jaybate 9 years, 9 months ago

jaybate News Service (ins):

Dateline: jaybate's keyboard

Slug: jaybate alias interview with jaybate alias

jaybate: Great to see you.

jaybate: It is what it ain't, as Strikewso, might not wish me to say, in a second attempt to satirize the cliche and so serve his interests in calling attention to how stupid the cliche is.

j:So: what up? What's on your mind?

j: It occurs to me that this maybe the first time in internet history that an alias has interviewed itself.

j: Yep, we'll have to work to avoid an echo chamber effect. Now, why did you want your alias to be interviewed by itself?

j: Simple. I just wanted it to say it will be away for awhile catching virtual rays and working on its novel.

j: Its first novel? not yours?

j: Yes.

j: Your alias is working on a novel?

j: Yes.

j: That's not possible. Real persons have to write novels. Alias can't.

j: Maybe, maybe not.

j: On vacation?

j: That would be an affirmative.

j: Don't use that borderline glib tone with me. Its as bad as "it is what it is."

J: Sorry, I didn't mean to. It is what it is. Ooops, I mean, well, I'm not sure what that cliche means and Strikewso thinks it means nothing at all. So strike that.

j: So what about this novel you mention? What can you tell us about it?

j: It will have a beginning, a middle and and an end.

j: That will be better than quite a few first novels. Alas, your alias will never finish it.

j: Maybe, maybe not.

j: What's it about?

j: Aliases at a sports web sit watching what becomes of America.

j: Well, at least you're not being too ambitious. What's it really about?

j: Aliases at a sports web site watching what becomes of America.

j: What makes you think your alias knows what will become of America?

j: Its an American.

j: I'm an American, too, and I don't know what will become of America.

j: Yes, you do. You're just not ready to think about it yet. But I am.

jaybate 9 years, 9 months ago

j: I know what I know and I know I don't know what will become of America.

j: It may also be about not knowing what will become of America.

j: Let me get this straight. It will be about knowing what will become of America and about not knowing what will become of America, is that correct?

j: Yes and no.

j: Will JayDogger have a part in it about being a holocaust denier?

j: No, he will not have a part in it about being an holocaust denier. And no one knows if he is a holocaust denier or not. I know I don't know if he is, because I asked him and he did not respond.

j: Do you know anything about JayDogger?

j: I only know he doesn't like what either one of us posts very much. And he likes to imply we are crazy, which make me think he maybe. I am using this conceit of divided personality in an alias to kind of poke good natured fun at JayDogger, and at ourselves.

j: Anything else you are working on?

j: Re-reading The Pale King by David Foster Wallace.

j: Too brainy. And the guy offed himself.

j: I also read Consumer Reports last night to learn which weed whacker was rated a best buy.

j: Which one was it?

j: I don't remember. I decided that the summer was so dry, and the grass was so brown, and BlownJay was so blown, that I ought not whack the weeds, since they were the only things growing and adding any green to the lawn.

j: I see.

j: Did you ever watch the old TV western spoof "Alias Smith and Jones" with Peter Duell I think it was?

j: No, but see here, I am the alias that is asking the questions and you are the alias answering them.

j: I am not sure how that can be since we are ostensibly the same alias divided in two in a sort of spoof of Post Modernist deconstruction and alienation. Anything else?

j: I said stop asking the questions. I'm supposed to ask the questions.

j: So ask.

j: What time is it?

j: Time to catch our plane.

j: Am I going with you?

j: I don't see how you can help not going with me, do you?

j: I said not to ask the questions.

j: Okay.

j: Well, then, I love to travel, and I go where you go, so that concludes the jaybate alias interview of the jaybate alias.

(Note: All fiction. No malice in the palace with the brew that is true and false.)

REHawk 9 years, 9 months ago

Marais de Cygne River Valley. Ah-ha! Much of my adult life has been entangled in one way or another with building and living near the waters of the Marais de Cygne. Cultural kinship....

Martin Rosenblum 9 years, 9 months ago

LJW Staff:

I just realized something. You guys HAVE to read every word that Jaybate writes here! Just when some of us start drifting after the third or fourth segment, your responsibility and obligation is to partake of every single word that is penned by your most prolific pontificater. I have newfound respect while also being truly sympathetic for your challenge, since coming to this realization.

Surely you must juggle many emotions and reactions when seeing that he has just posted a comment. We, the readers have the choice to read at a fast pace, savor every sentence, skim the paragraphs for lucid thoughts and even skip over complete posts. But, you poor bums can't opt out. How do you do it? Is there a rotation roster for his posts where each week someone pulls "Jaybate duty"? Or, is it a penalty for late story submissions, etc?

Please let us know what your approach is to the "Jaybate situation".

ku11 9 years, 9 months ago

Jaybate, you should write for Fromer's

John Randall 9 years, 9 months ago

... or any place other than KU sports ...

Seriously, you too often sound like "Overprivileged. and proud of it." You do realize that humility is a virtue, non?

Mkultra 9 years, 9 months ago

I need a Jaybate FAQ does his name mean to "debate" or "mastur" ?

Ian Emerson 9 years, 9 months ago

I like how his stories take forever and never really have a point

jaybate 9 years, 9 months ago


You realize you often write like some one who is very resentful of anyone having a better time than you, independent of money.

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