Archive for Tuesday, November 21, 2000

KU walk-on Zerbe plays like Pierce?

Transfer forward scores six points in three minutes against Boise State

November 21, 2000


It took Chris Zerbe a few seconds, but he finally thought of a Kansas University player he resembles.

After Kansas' 101-61 win over Boise State on Monday night, Zerbe, a first-year forward, picked Paul Pierce.

Paul Pierce???

"Well, we wear the same number," Zerbe said, smiling.

Indeed, Zerbe is wearing Pierce's No. 34 after transferring to KU from Hutchinson Community College.

Zerbe actually did display a few Pierce-like moves while scoring six points in only three minutes of floor time.

After entering midway through the first half Zerbe quickly scored on a layup after a nice pivot to the basket.

Zerbe left the game shortly thereafter, but returned in the final minutes to score on a short hook shot. Then he hit a little baseline runner.

"That was just Hutch instinct," Zerbe quipped about the hook shot. "Just go after the ball, get it and put it in."

Zerbe, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound junior, transferred with the hope of walking on and helping the team in practice. That dream came true, and games like Monday far exceed what he expected.

"Coach (Roy) Williams made it clear when I came here that it was going to be very, very tough to get playing time," Zerbe said. "But I've been able to get some minutes, and it's been great."

In fact, Williams has been so impressed he recently awarded Zerbe a full scholarship. Whether the scholarship will last depends mostly on Kansas' future recruiting classes.

"If I don't get one next year, it doesn't matter," Zerbe said. "I could have walked on at Wichita State and probably gotten some more minutes. But this is where I want to be."

Zerbe, incidentally, wears Pierce's number because he has worn No. 34 since his sophomore year at Andover High.

This is not high school or junior college, for that matter any more, but Zerbe says he's no longer awestruck about being a Jayhawk.

"It took awhile to feel like I actually belong here," he said. "For a while I didn't. But the guys have really helped me fit in, and coach expects the same effort from me as everyone else."

Williams was pleased Zerbe had an opportunity to contribute.

"His mom and dad were here watching him play, and you like to see things like that," the Kansas coach said.

Actually, Zerbe's parents were not there, but a couple of cousins were. His parents watched on television.

"I always call them after the game," Zerbe said. "I tell them how much fun it was, and that they wouldn't believe the rush you get playing in front of a crowd like that."

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