Finding a decent pick-up game in Camdenton, Mo. isn't easy. Just ask Jeff Carey.
The sophomore forward found that out after heading back home for a little relaxation over the summer.
"I had to play against a bunch of old guys." Carey said.
Carey, beginning his second year on the court for the Jayhawks after red-shirting his freshman year, headed back to Lawrence in June when he started summer school.
Carey said that during that time, he worked hard in the weight room and on to court developing a more fundamentally sound game.
And entering the final season of the century, Carey said he is starting to see where he fits in with the Jayhawks. He even said he had a good role model the past couple of years to mold his game after.
"I really think I have to become a T.J. Pugh type of player," Carey said.
Carey said Pugh's ability to rebound, ball handling and tough defensive play were some of the things that stuck out about his former teammate.
"I learned about the toughness he had," Carey said. "He always found a way to get somewhere real quick and box somebody out and those are some of the things I'm going to have to do."
"Even if I'm tired, I have to run back and play tough on defense and that's something I learned from T.J."
Carey, like Pugh, doesn't find himself to be a dominant scoring power for Kansas.
"I don't have to score a lot of points or do anything spectacular," Carey said. "I don't think I'll be a leading scorer or anything like that, but I need to be in there rebounding and setting screens."
With the addition of forwards Nick Collison and Drew Gooden, along with healthy returns for Ashante Johnson and Lester Earl all fighting for playing time, Carey feels this type of contribution might better help the Jayhawks in crucial situations.
"We have a lot of big guys this year that gives us a lot of depth," Carey said. "I just need to go out there and do the things I'm capable of doing and whatever coach wants me to do."
Carey said he found it hard to adjust to playing college basketball after sitting out an entire season. He said he really got used to facing teammate and roommate Eric Chenowith, along with former Jayhawk Raef LaFrentz every day in practice.
"I learned that you really have to go out and play against players other than just the ones you practice with to get better and that's something I missed," Carey said. "Last year I got to play against players other than just Eric and I struggled at times because there were guys stronger or faster than him that I had to adapt to."
Carey didn't necessarily net a lot of minutes in his first season on the court. While averaging 5.5 minutes per contest, Carey contributed with 1.5 points a game.