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Archive for Friday, December 6, 2002

Two KU guards eagerly await trip to native city

December 6, 2002

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A standing ovation -- like the one Jeff Boschee received last year in North Dakota -- probably is out of the question.

Yet Portland natives Aaron Miles and Michael Lee figure to hear more cheers than boos before, during and after SaturdayâÂÂs Kansas University-Oregon menâÂÂs basketball game in Portland, Ore.

Tip-off is 2:30 p.m. Central time at the Rose Garden. The game will be broadcast on CBS.

Oregon basketball coach Ernie Kent said the expected sellout crowd would cheer KUâÂÂs Oregonians, who played at PortlandâÂÂs Jefferson High.

âÂÂOh yes,â Kent said. âÂÂThis state is knowledgeable about basketball and appreciative of kids like Aaron and Michael. Aaron is a local hometown hero.

âÂÂHe had a great basketball career here and did a lot for state of Oregon high school basketball. This is not an environment where people will boo him and get all over him. ThatâÂÂs not going to happen here. TheyâÂÂll be very gracious heâÂÂs back here playing, I think.âÂÂ

Miles and Lee sure hope so. After all, they watched in amazement last December as North Dakotans gave favorite son Boschee a pair of standing ovations before the KU-UND game in Grand Forks, N.D.

âÂÂI believe theyâÂÂll cheer for us,â said the 6-foot-1 Miles, a prep All-American who chose KU instead of UCLA, Arizona and, to a lesser extent, Oregon. âÂÂThere will be a lot of Jayhawk fans there. The game is in Portland and they like to cheer hometown players.âÂÂ

Lee agreed with his teammate.

âÂÂI think weâÂÂll get a good reception from the crowd,â the 6-3 guard said. âÂÂI think the crowd will appreciate us being home. I just donâÂÂt want to say (the reception) will be too great and have it be much less than that.âÂÂ

The Portland products, who each receive an allotment of four tickets but can borrow from their teammates, will have built-in cheering sections at the game.

âÂÂIf I wanted everybody I know to come IâÂÂd need about 50 at the minimum, which I donâÂÂt have,â Lee said. âÂÂI need to start around 50. Aaron might need 80 or something. He has more family, cousins and aunts than I do.âÂÂ

âÂÂI need like 100 or so,â said Miles, who exploded for a career-high 20 points Wednesday night in a 97-70 victory against Central Missouri State. âÂÂI have a lot of family and friends real close to me. Me and Mike will have to get as many as we can (from teammates) and split âÂÂem up.âÂÂ

Both players are relishing the trip home. The Jayhawks flew to Portland on Thursday night and will return after the game Saturday.

âÂÂMan, I just love it,â Miles said. âÂÂI canâÂÂt pick one thing, I just love going back and getting to see my friends and my family. I love having fun with my friends.âÂÂ

Ditto Lee.

âÂÂOther than family and friends IâÂÂd like to say my favorite thing about Portland is the Blazers, but they are off and on a lot of times,â Lee said of the cityâÂÂs NBA franchise.

Lee and Miles, who have been best buddies since second grade when they played on the same baseball team -- Lee was catcher, Miles a second baseman and shortstop Ãi¿½" followed pro basketball more than college as youths.

As such, they had no deep-seated desire to attend either Oregon or Oregon State.

âÂÂWe recruited Aaron, but we had Luke Ridnour in the program,â Ducksâ coach Kent said of his flashy, 6-2 junior from Blaine, Wash. âÂÂWe looked at getting two great point guards, but one of the two would have to sacrifice to move to the 2 (shooting guard).

âÂÂHeâÂÂd have been great in our program. WeâÂÂd loved to have him. HeâÂÂs a great kid, an in-state player. As it turns out he made a terrific decision because obviously heâÂÂs had an enormous amount of success at Kansas.âÂÂ

Brandon Lincoln, a 6-4 freshman guard, played prep ball with the KU pair at Jefferson.

âÂÂHeâÂÂs a great athlete, has great size. Aaron has talked to him a couple of times. IâÂÂm going to try to get a hold of him, talk to him a bit before the game,â Lee said.

The Ducks will be sky-high playing before an expected sellout crowd of 18,927. The previous record crowd to watch a college game in Oregon was 15,431 at last yearâÂÂs Duke-Portland game at the Rose Garden, where Oregon has played in the past.

âÂÂI think they are looking for redemption. They want to get us back,â Lee said. âÂÂIt should be a good game.âÂÂ

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