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Archive for Thursday, November 5, 1998

S PRESEASON POLL.

November 5, 1998

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Big 12 coaches and media seem to think alike.

League writers and broadcasters on Wednesday copied the league's men's basketball coaches in picking Kansas second behind Oklahoma State in the annual preseason media poll.

Like the coaches last week, the media tabbed OSU's Adrian Peterson player of the year, Oklahoma's Victor Avila newcomer of the year and Missouri's Keyon Dooling freshman of the year.

Both groups honored Peterson, Manny Dies, Marcus Fizer, Venson Hamilton and Kris Clack as preseason all-league players.

"There's no doubt people think we're going to back up. We've had more significant losses than anybody in the league for sure," KU coach Roy Williams said. "With the injuries we've had it gives them more reasons to think we'll back up."

The Jayhawks, who were picked eighth nationally in the USA Today poll released Wednesday, have won six of the past seven league crowns.

"The fact of the matter is we are not as talented as last year or the year before. We are not as healthy or as experienced as we'd like to be. But the people we play will not feel sorry for us," Williams said.

Injuries, opening lineup: T.J. Pugh (ankle surgery) and Ashante Johnson (knee surgery) are ticketed to miss four and six weeks respectively.

Also, forward Lester Earl, who says he's about "85 percent" following offseason left kneecap surgery, "still has not gone more than 50 percent of any practice since the season started," Williams said.

Earl says his jumping ability has been limited by his kneecap injury and resulting weak quad muscle.

Because of the injuries, expect a make-shift lineup to start the season. KU opens against the California All-Stars at 7:05 p.m., Saturday, at Allen Fieldhouse.

"If we had to play tonight I'd start Jeff, Ryan and Kenny, move Nick to power forward with Eric too," Williams reported on Wednesday's WIBW Sports Talk show.

That would be freshman Jeff Boschee at point guard, Ryan Robertson at shooting guard, Kenny Gregory at small forward, Nick Bradford at power forward and Eric Chenowith at center.

"The injury situation would put Jeff in that situation," Williams said. "Jeff is having a good preseason, but if we'd not had the injuries, I don't think he'd start for us."

Janisse no longer at point: Senior Jelani Janisse, who played point guard sparingly last year, will work at shooting guard and small forward this year.

"Jelani hurt his elbow and missed a day of practice, but he's been OK," Williams said. "We moved him to more a wing player to try to use his defensive capabilities. I'm anxious to see how he performs in a new spot on Saturday night. He could still be an emergency point guard."

Carey ready to go: Freshman Jeff Carey figures to see some immediate playing time at power forward and pivot.

"He's a bright youngster who has had a good preseason. He tries to do things the right way," Williams said of the 6-9 forward from Camdenton, Mo.

"It's been a struggle. Without other big guys, we've asked Jeff and Eric to practice without subs," Williams said. "To be honest, I am anxious to see how he responds in our exhibition Saturday and again Tuesday. It's a huge jump for him playing at this level."

London expected to play: Freshman shooting guard Marlon London (back injury) has missed about half the practices this season.

Will he play Saturday? "Yes, unless something happens Thursday or Friday at practice," Williams said of Chicago native London.

Fellow frosh shooting guard John Crider of Horton "has worked extremely hard to make himself a basketball player," Williams said. "It's a huge change -- the intensity level, how much quicker, faster and bigger everybody is at this level. John ... we'll have to see how it goes with the exhibition games."

Big 12 media poll, USA Today top 25 in scoreboard.

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