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Archive for Sunday, March 23, 1997

S VAUGHN LEARNS LESSON TOO LATE

March 23, 1997

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— B.J. Williams and Jerod Haase missed driving layups. Raef LaFrentz clanged an alley-oop dunk.

Some strange things happened in Kansas' 85-82 season-ending loss to Arizona on Friday night at Jefferson Civic Center, that's for sure.

"Lob passes that are usually automatic, putbacks that are usually automatic, plays that are usually automatic, jump shots that are usually automatic weren't automatic," KU senior point guard Jacque Vaughn said. "Plays just didn't convert which makes it tougher to take."

Thanks to Billy Thomas and Ryan Robertson, who hit a late three-pointer apiece, KU nearly wiped out a 13-point deficit in the final 3s but at the same time Ryan and Billy gave us a big lift (seven threes) and Paul gave us a lift (27 points). The seing for two minutes to go in the game," Vaughn said.

"It's the lesson you learn. You don't want to learn 'em with a loss but sometimes it happens that way."

Vaughn said he hoped KU's returning players would learn something from the loss, KU's second against 34 victories.

"It is a different season from regular season to the postseason and I hope the younger players are learning it's basically three two-game tournaments you have to concentrate on," Vaughn said. "Hopefully they'll learn it this time. It took me some time to learn it and I still came up short."

Vaughn did not reach a Final Four in his four years at KU. Yet the senior class of Vaughn, Haase, Williams and Scot Pollard did win 115 games against 21 losses. No group of seniors won more in their KU careers.

"To go 22-0 and win 34 games ... even though we came up short, I think we'll still be a special team to remember," Vaughn said. "We accomplished a lot of things a number of teams never get to accomplish."

A brilliant student, Vaughn hopes to play NBA basketball next year. One NBA scout says KU's floor general remains a mid to late first-round pick, which is where he was rated when he elected to spurn the draft and return to KU for his senior season.

"It's been a great career for me and great opportunity for me," Vaughn said. "I've definitely enjoyed myself and at the same time I felt I represented myself and the University of Kansas the way I should have."

He said he hopes nobody blames coach Roy Williams for the loss to UA.

"They are going to say that," Vaughn said of criticism of the coach for not taking the team to a national title, "but at the same time he does not deserve that. He's the fuel, the passion behind all of us. I've learned so much from him, not only on the basketball court but about life."

Vaughn isn't the only Jayhawk senior with NBA dreams. One scout says Pollard could be a mid first-round pick, while Haase might be tabbed in the second round. Williams does not figure to be drafted, but could play in Europe. Interestingly, the seniors combined for just 12 points Friday night.

"Right now it stings a lot," said Pollard. "Perhaps in a few years, I'll be able to look back on my college career and be proud of being a part of a great team."

He didn't score in his final game. He played just 20 minutes because of foul problems, whistles Vaughn disputed.

"I think our big men didn't get the best treatment down low," Vaughn said, diplomatically referring to the officiating. KU made eight of 13 free throws to Arizona's 17 of 27. "It was tough to get it inside. Our players were not in great position down low I think because of that."

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