Just 2,200 fans showed up for Saturday night's Converse All-America basketball game at Allen Fieldhouse.
While the crowd was tiny, the fans made a lot of noise when Kansas signees Ryan Robertson and T.J. Pugh made their first appearances -- in the pre-game three-point contest.
"When I got up for the three-point contest, it was tough to walk over there," Robertson, a 6-5 point guard from St. Charles, Mo., said, referring to the first station. "The fans were cheering. My legs were shaking. It's something I'm going to have to get used to. I'm sure it's something all freshmen go through."
Robertson didn't reach the finals, nor did 6-9 Omaha native Pugh, who skipped the slam dunk contest, instead choosing to shoot threes.
"I can't jump. That's part of it," said Pugh, who was joking. "I can dunk, but not like some of those guys. Tall guys can't win those things anyway. It's always a shorter guy."
Future Oklahoma player Nate Erdmann, a 6-5 former Hutchinson CC player, beat out 6-5 Shawn Bankhead, a future Iowa State player, in the dunk finals. Lonnie Cooper, a future Louisiana Tech guard, won the three-point contest over runnerup Adrian Peterson of Oklahoma State.
Pugh and Robertson played well during the actual game. Pugh scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while Robertson had 18 points and six assists in the Big 12 team's 143-140 loss to the national all-stars.
"I wanted to come out and make a good impression," Pugh said. "The loss is tough to take. I hope we don't have too many of those here the next four years."
Robertson entered the game with a different attitude than the one he took into the McDonalds All-America game. In that contest, he had just one point.
"I learned a lot from that game," said Robertson, who hit six of 11 shots Saturday. "I went into that game with more a passive attitude. It showed me I need to be a little more aggressive.
"I wish we could have won the game tonight, but I was glad I was able to put in 18 points. All-star games are about giving the crowd a good show, but you've got to score some, too. It's an all-star game. Everybody is capable of scoring."
Actually, the players were extremely unselfish for an all-star contest. One time, the nationals' Donald Watts turned down a breakaway dunk opportunity, instead flipping the ball off the backboard so a trailing Ashante Johnson could slam.
"It's a great thing, all-star games," Robertson said. "You get to scout your opponents in the Big Eight and the Big 12 and get to know them."
And get to play before KU fans.
"I just wanted to let the fans know for four years I'll be out there busting my butt for coach Williams," Robertson said.
"The fans were great," Pugh noted. "I didn't expect this many would be here. It'll be different next year," he added, grinning, realizing sellouts will be the norm next season.