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Archive for Monday, November 9, 1998

S EXHIBITION VICTORY OVER THE CALIFORNIA ALL-STARS.

November 9, 1998

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Kansas sophomore Kenny Gregory converted 14 baskets during the Jayhawks' exhibition basketball opener on Saturday night.

Half of the 6-foot-5 sophomore's buckets came off crowd-pleasing slam dunks.

Meanwhile, 6-foot-8 Lester Earl hit for seven baskets, including three slams in the Jayhawks' 96-89 victory over the California All-Stars.

Suffice it to say both players had dunks that proved worthy of any ESPN highlight reel.

"That's my roommate," Earl said, boasting about Gregory. "We sit there at our apartment and talk about dunking all the time. We talk about the McDonald's All-America game in 1996, my dunk contest. We talk about the game in '97, his dunk contest.

"He dunks with power with one hand. I dunk with power with two hands. We are like two different power jammers, I guess."

Earl used his left hand to complete his best dunk Saturday night.

"It's like I do everything on the court with the left hand," Earl said. "I block shots with my left hand. I dunk with my left hand. It's a little odd to me. I never understand why. It's basic instinct. You just go out and jump. The first think you think about is putting the ball in the hole."

Gregory also just does what comes natural.

"It's fun to get out there and do that," Gregory said. "I'm just fortunate my teammates get me the ball in a position where I can dunk at times."

His final bucket was a layup making one reporter ask if he'd run out of gas late in the exhibition win.

"No, at that point I had gotten tired of dunking a bit," Gregory said with a smile. "I had so many, I get tired of people thinking I am only a dunker."

Gregory and Earl do not count their slams.

"Our competition is not on the court, it's in our room," Earl said. "It's what we do on Tech or Playstation."

The two like to play computer sports games.

"Not basketball. I don't like basketball games," Earl said. "We play boxing and football. I usually win the fighting game. He wins every now and then. In football -- Game Day 99 -- we equal out. I'll win five in a row and he'll win five in a row."

The two players are allowed to pick pro teams in "Football Game Day 99."

"I usually play with the Chiefs, I don't know why, or Denver," Earl said. "Kenny goes with Minnesota or San Francisco."

Earl gives Gregory the nod for his dunks in Saturday's exhibition game.

"He has (the advantage) now. I am 85 to 90 percent," Earl said. Earl had offseason surgery to repair his left kneecap. "Kenny's back is feeling pretty good and I'm happy about that. He's worked hard to keep his back healthy. We can only hope it stays that way."

Gregory has a degenerative disc in his back that bothered him a lot his freshman year, not much this season.

"My injury ... I've had no swelling for a month now. I'm trying to get my quad stronger," Earl said. "It surprised me tonight. A couple of times I jumped off both feet. The first lob from Nick (Bradford) I didn't think I could dunk it. I guess if I'm mentally into the game and do not worry about it (leg), I can do it. I proved it tonight."

KU coach Roy Williams likes Earl's and Gregory's dunks as much as the fans, as long as they go in. Yet he wants to remind fans both players are not 100 percent physically.

"The worst thing, I don't want people to have too big of expectations about the youngster," Williams said of Gregory. "Kenny has a bad back. There will be times his back bothers him. Lester ... tonight is the first time all season he jumped off both feet and made a dunk. He jumped off both feet the other night and missed it. He didn't get up high enough. A lot of times in a game you get that extra adrenaline and better bounce.

"The biggest shame is people will look at that and say he's 100 percent. Lester is nowhere near 100 percent with his jumping ability. Everybody thinks of the highlights and not of the lowlights. There were more lowlights than highlights in that game. Hopefully the team can focus and say the fabulous plays are great but don't think they mean something. It's just two points."

The Jayhawks will meet Australia's Geelong Supercats at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday at Allen Fieldhouse.

-- Gary Bedore's phone number is 832-7186. His e-mail address is gbedore@ljworld.com

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