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Archive for Sunday, November 14, 1999

TRANSFER AXTELL MAKES DEBUT WITH KANSAS

November 14, 1999

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Kansas uses the traditional raising the fist when a player is tired or needs to exit the game.

But junior guard Luke Axtell, feeling a little on the tired side, went a step further to make sure he got the attention of Kansas coach Roy Williams.

"When you want out you're suppose to raise a fist," Axtell said. "I was so tired I leaned right in coach's lap to make sure he saw me."

Axtell, making his Jayhawk debut, played 12 minutes and scored 11 points in Kansas' final exhibition game -- a 119-44 win over the Australian Geelong Supercats.

Axtell had been sidelined the past two weeks with a broken bone in his left hand and was cleared to play against the Supercats after practicing the past couple of days.

But Axtell's limited practice time showed in the form of fatigue.

In the second half, Axtell had been in nearly four minutes when he became open for a three-pointer near the Kansas bench. Axtell missed the shot, but KU freshman Nick Collison rebounded and dished to a wide-open Axtell. Axtell again missed the shot and walked over to the Kansas bench after the play was over.

Instead of giving Williams the normal sign indicating he needed a breather, Axtell wanted to make sure he was taken out of the game.

"I went over to coach and I was like, 'I'm done,'" Axtell said. "I missed that first three and coach told me to shoot it again and I did, but I had no legs. I was really tired."

Williams and the entire Kansas bench got a kick out of Axtell's performance.

"He jumped about two newspaper sheets high," Williams said. "You could tell his legs were gone.

"I told him around here, we have a tired signal. You don't have to run over and beg the coach to get you out."

Although Axtell was tired while shooting the threes, Williams said he was pleased that the 6-foot-10 transfer from Texas continued to attempt the shot.

"When he missed one from the corner it came back to him I yelled shoot it again," Williams said. "I like guys who are tough enough who miss one and are not scared to shoot another in."

Axtell said his left hand didn't bother him during the game. He said at times the ligaments on his hand would hurt a little, but the break didn't cause any pain.

In order to keep some pressure off the broken bone, Axtell's middle and ring fingers on his left hand were taped together.

During his time on the court, Axtell occasionally grabbed his bandaged hand, including after a two-handed dunk in the first half. But he said the gesture wasn't because of pain.

"I don't know if that was a nervous habit or what," Axtell said. "I think I was just checking to make sure it was all right I guess. But it didn't hurt."

Axtell said his limited practicing the past few weeks had physically slowed him, especially in an area he wasn't to accustomed to while playing at Texas -- hustle.

"Here you have to hustle and at Texas it wasn't required," Axtell said. "And if you don't hustle here, you don't play."

Axtell's teammates, including sophomore Jeff Boschee, were thrilled to see Axtell finally on the court.

"I think he's just really relieved to get on the floor and play a college basketball game again," Boschee said.

Axtell said making his first basket in the game -- a jumper with 11:51 remaining in the first half really helped him.

"It's been a year and a half since I've played in a basketball game," Axtell said. "I was just pumped to be out there."

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