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Archive for Thursday, July 26, 2001

Langford

July 26, 2001

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Dallas -- A month ago, Kansas University freshman-to-be Keith Langford wasn't sure if he was going to be selected for the Global Games.

In June, Langford sprained his ankle when he came down hard on a teammate's foot during a training session at Kansas. The injury left him out of commission for several weeks.

That didn't stop Langford, who still wanted to try out for the Global Games, which has quickly grown into one of the United State's premier international amateur basketball tournaments.

"There was no way that I was not going to try and play," Langford said. "I wasn't as effective as everyone else, but I know in college you can't pick and chose when you want to play."

His aggressiveness on the boards and ability to draw fouls while scoring impressed the coaches so much that they decided to give him a chance.

After getting three quick fouls in the opening minutes against Yugoslavia Wednesday night, Langford ended the half on the bench, scoreless, and unable to contain Stevan Nadejl, who had 22 points. By the end of the fourth quarter, Langford had 18 points, and held Nadejl to zero as Team Texas rallied from a 20-point deficit but still lost, 101-97, at Southern Methodist's Moody Coliseum.

"After I got the fouls, it just took me out of the game," Langford said. "I started forcing things. Then I just started to relax and let things come as they did. We played hard, but we waited too long for that in the end."

A left-handed guard, Langford jokes that his "bread and butter" in basketball is scoring inside, and it is his defense on the ball and footwork that gives him the most trouble.

Team Texas coach, Greg Glenn said Langford's instinct and coachable qualities far outweigh what he has yet to learn.

"He is going to be one special player at Kansas," said Glenn. "He is able to draw the contact so high in the air, get the foul and score. You can't teach that. I haven't seen anyone who can draw players to the basket like that."

During his first game Monday night against Puerto Rico, Langford drew two quick fouls, but was able to end the night with 13 points. Against Germany, Langford tied for a team high of 23 points with teammate Isaac Hines, who will play basketball at Lamar University this fall.

Even though Langford averaged 25.7 points, eight rebounds, four assists and was the leading scorer at Fort Worth's Crowley High School, he was still surprised by the talent he faced this week.

"I've got more respect for people who live overseas," Langford said. "I used to think that they weren't as talented as us, but now I realize they play hard and are more alike than I thought."

Langford has learned just how much harder it is to play against stronger, older national team players.

"You just can't slack up or you are going to get scored on," Langford said. "Especially here."

The Global Games, which started Sunday, will finish on Saturday with a single-elimination tournament among all of the teams.

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