Oh, that dicey Rice free throw shooting. Surely even Uncle Ben wasn't that poor a foul shooter.
In Monday night's 88-61 loss to Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse, the Owls bricked 17 of 28 free throw attempts. Their field goal shooting wasn't so hot, either -- 24 of 64 for 37.5 percent -- but coach Willis Wilson could live with that.
"Our shooting woes didn't bother me as much as our free throw shooting," Wilson said. "You have to have somebody who wants to step up and make the first one. Free throws can have a strong impact on the scoreboard and on your attitude."
Even Jarvis Kelley Sanni, who scored a career high 25 points, was afflicted. Kelley Sanni, a 6-foot-9 fifth-year senior who spent his first two seasons at Arizona, missed seven of 10 charities.
"It's like a chain reaction," Kelley Sanni said. "One guy misses and everybody misses."
Although he played his first two years at Arizona, Kelley Sanni had never played against Kansas before. Two years ago when KU edged Arizona, 83-80, in the NCAA Tournament, Kelley Sanni was sitting out the obligatory transfer year after switching to his hometown Houston school. He was a junior at Rice last year when Arizona stunned the Jayhawks, 85-82, in the NCAA tourney.
"I was surprised Arizona beat 'em last year, but I was more surprised the year before when Kansas beat them," Kelley Sanni said. "I had a lot more friends on that team."
Kelley Sanni lamented that one of his current friends, senior guard Bobby Crawford, was unable to play Monday night because of a sprained ankle suffered in preseason practice.
Crawford, who spent his first two years at Michigan before transferring, is the only Rice returnee who scored in double figures (11.8) last year.
"If Bobby was playing it would have made a difference," Kelley Sanni said. "He's our best player point-blank. He can get me the ball inside so I don't have to create so much."
Noted Wilson: "Jarvis has been around and he played a great game. Crawford could have given us that kind of performance. He just isn't available."
Crawford isn't the only injured Rice player. A couple of other Owls are also on the disabled list.
"We're short on depth and we're short on confidence," Wilson said. "It's amazing how injuries can impact your program. You take Raef LaFrentz or Paul Pierce off of Kansas, and they're a different basketball team."
Freshman Mike Wilks filled in nobly for Crawford. Wilks finished with 11 points -- he was the only other Owl in double figures -- and was credited with eight assists while playing the entire 40 minutes.
"Our young fellows played hard," Kelley Sanni said. "It was our second game and we were coming to Kansas and our young guys aren't McDonald's All-Americans. Wilks played well. I think he's going to be one of the best in the country."
Meanwhile, Kansas does have McDonald's All-Americans, notably LaFrentz, Pierce and freshman Eric Chenowith. All three posted double-doubles against the Owls.
"Their inside guys are as good as there are," Wilson said.
-- Chuck Woodling's phone message number is 832-7147. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.