Archive for Sunday, July 29, 2001

Sunflower State Games: Hoops homecoming

Woodberry makes triumphant return to KU

July 29, 2001

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Former Kansas University basketball player Steve Woodberry thinks Jayhawk basketball fans are a well-behaved bunch.

Sure, some of them might be a little blasbout the game when Kansas is beating some no-name school by 45 points. But anyone who doesn't throw coins, batteries or other small, hard objects at him is fine in Woodberry's book.

Top CIty's Troy Douglas, of Topeka, rises above his competition
during the quarterfinals of the men's 19-over basketball tournament
at the Sunflower State Games. Top City toppled the Pistols, 77-59,
on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.

Top CIty's Troy Douglas, of Topeka, rises above his competition during the quarterfinals of the men's 19-over basketball tournament at the Sunflower State Games. Top City toppled the Pistols, 77-59, on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.

"Last year we won the finals for the Lithuanian league," said Woodberry, who plays professional basketball in Lithuania. "We won it on the other team's court, and after the game we were getting coins and other thing thrown at us. We had to get a police escort."

Woodberry, a guard on KU's 1991 and 1993 Final Four teams, was at Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday playing basketball in the men's 19-over division of the Sunflower State Games. He helped his team, Goddard Chiropractic, beat The Weapons, 81-72, at 11 a.m. and then defeated the Circus 65-34 at Southwest Junior High.

Woodberry ended the final game with more than 19 minutes left in the second half when he sank a three-pointer that put Goddard up by more than 30 points, invoking the mercy rule.

His team won both its games on Friday, beating the Topeka Blazers, 86-65, and the Heartland All-Stars, 71-61.

"I'm doing this to stay in shape," he said. "I've been playing all summer and this team here is with some of my old high school teammates. They've lost a little bit, but they can still shoot the ball and that's all that matters."

Five players on the Goddard team played basketball together at Wichita South High. One of Woodberry's best friends, Rod Pryor, played with him in high school and in the SSG.

"He's pretty much the same," Pryor said of Woodberry. "He's a better player and he's gotten stronger, but not much else. He's still fun-loving and gets along with everybody. He'll even make you mad sometimes."

Woodberry and his teammates did a lot of talking during their games on Saturday, but not to the other team. There was a lot of good-natured jaw-jacking among the players.

Jordan Brown of Pittsburg loses his mouthpiece as Gardner's Gregory
Curtis makes his move during the Sunflower State Games. Brown
defeated Curtis for third place in the 10-under boys 77-89-pound
wrestling tournament Saturday at Free State High. More SSG coverage
on page 3C.

Jordan Brown of Pittsburg loses his mouthpiece as Gardner's Gregory Curtis makes his move during the Sunflower State Games. Brown defeated Curtis for third place in the 10-under boys 77-89-pound wrestling tournament Saturday at Free State High. More SSG coverage on page 3C.

And a lot of the time Woodberry was making fun of his friends or hearing it from them after missing a three-pointer.

"I was pretty vocal back in high school," he said. "These guys know me. It's nothing personal out there."

Last weekend Woodberry scored six points in 16 minutes for Philadelphia in its 96-89 overtime win against Atlanta in the NBA summer league.

"He definitely wants to make the NBA," Pryor said. "If he didn't he wouldn't have played with the Sixers. He's making the right strides to do so."

The NBA might be a possibility, but Lithuania is where Woodberry expects to be next year; and he is fine with that.

"The competition level is good over there," he said. "In places like Spain and Italy they've got some really good players."

After winning the championship in the Lithuanian league, his team Zalgiris went to the finals in the Northern European league, but fell short in a third league.

"We play an NBA-type schedule," Woodberry said. "There's about 80 games, but I hope they shorten the season up. Still, it's like a 10-month vacation playing over there."

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