Archive for Monday, October 29, 2001

Practices challenging for Jayhawks

October 29, 2001


Kansas University's first 14 basketball practices have challenged not only the Jayhawk players, but the coaching staff as well.

"We have done a lot of teaching," 14th-year Kansas coach Roy Williams said. "We have four starters and Jeff Carey, the only five in the program who have significant minutes and significant experience.

"Then we go with guys who haven't played. There's a wide difference in knowledge there. Knowledge of what we're trying to do.

"It's made it difficult in that you want to go as fast as you can to challenge the veterans, but you don't want to go so fast you lose the other guys," Williams added. "You don't want to go too slow and stymie the veterans. It's been a little bit of a challenge to get it all accomplished."

Yet that challenge is what excites Williams, who calls the time between Late Night With Roy Williams (Oct. 12) and KU's first exhibition game (a week from Wednesday vs. EA Sports All Stars) by far his "favorite time of the year."

It's the time where there are few media obligations, few speaking obligations and few recruiting travel obligations.

It's time to simply teach, teach, teach especially freshmen Wayne Simien, Keith Langford, Aaron Miles and Michael Lee.

Redshirt freshman Jeff Hawkins is sidelined following arthroscopic knee surgery.

"To me the best thing about the four freshmen," Williams said, "is they are very good learners. They pick up things quickly. We've challenged em, pushed 'em harder than they have ever been pushed. We'll do it a couple more weeks and find out what happens.

"The thing with freshmen is you don't get a good comfortable feel until you go through a whole year, see how you respond within our philosophy," the coach added. "You are only tested in game conditions. It is an adjustment made constantly and continually."

How do the veterans see practice?

"Coach has tried to cut down a little bit (on time) and go harder when we are out there," senior guard Jeff Boschee said. "If a veteran screws up, he gets after him. We should know better. The young guys ... he talks to them more.

"Practice ... you've got to come to work every single day. You've got to be mentally and physically tough. Somebody every day is fighting for a position. "

Totally committed to the system this preseason is junior Drew Gooden, who admits he was somewhat rebellious in the past.

"More than any year I've been here, I really see what coach's emphasis is on," Gooden said. "My freshman year I was kind of not agreeing with coach on some things which was saying being hardheaded.

"My sophomore year I was buying into it more. Sitting out with the injury helped me," he added of missing five games with an injured wrist. "It was frustrating, yet a learning period, too. I knew I couldn't play and help the team win but seeing them from the sideline let me see what the coaches want.

"When you are on the other side you can dissect the game. I don't know if any time is good time to get hurt, but I still could come back at end of the year. When I came back, I was playing better defense than I ever had."

Williams notices a focused Gooden.

"Drew is more on page with us than he's ever been," Williams said. "Even when he was in his rebellious state, it was not rebelling like some do. He was a young kid and didn't understand what our long-range goal was, maybe didn't understand the big picture. That maturity he has is important.

"I probably vary, too," Williams added. "Some things I am patient about, some thing very impatient. Effort and concentration. I am not very patient waiting for that to happen."

Recruiting: Andre Igoudala, 6-6 from Springfield, Ill., had what his stepdad confirmed was a "good visit," to Arkansas over the weekend. The family told Igoudala would begin deliberating finalists Arkansas, Kansas, Boston College and Arizona and come up with a decision by the Nov. 14-21 signing period.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.