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Archive for Sunday, December 29, 2002

Jayhawks inspired by fans of Raiders

December 29, 2002

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— It took Kansas University's team bus a long time to inch its way through thousands of Oakland Raiders fans tailgating in the Oakland Coliseum/Arena in Oakland parking lot Saturday morning.

It took long enough for the Jayhawks to gain some inspiration from the notorious boosters of the Silver and Black.

"They were yelling things, throwing things (at the bus). Yeah, it did fire me up. I'm a Chiefs fan ... for real," KU sophomore Wayne Simien said after collecting 17 points and 11 rebounds in the Jayhawks' 80-67 victory over the University of California at Saturday's Pete Newell Challenge.

The Challenge tipped off a couple of hours before the Chiefs-Raiders game at the Network Associates Coliseum, which shares a parking lot with the Arena.

Simien and the No. 19 Jayhawks (7-3) were as aggressive as NFL linebackers in storming to a 42-24 halftime lead.

The Golden Bears (6-2), who trailed by as many as 22 points, cut the deficit to eight in the second half, but the Jayhawks pulled away with an 8-0 spurt.

Now, about those Raiders fans ...

"We drove through all of 'em. They finally realized who we were and started booing," said KU forward Nick Collison, who had 16 points and 10 boards. "Jeff Hawkins is a Chiefs fan and started taunting 'em. He gave 'em the thumbs down. They started getting crazy, throwing stuff at the bus."

They threw, "pans, food, something hard," red-shirt freshman guard Hawkins said. "I was pointing at 'em and they were booing."

The Jayhawks' play -- which included the pinpoint passing of Aaron Miles, who collected 11 of KU's 22 assists -- drew the applause of several Jayhawk fans. On hand were Sacramento Kings forward and former Jayhawk Scot Pollard, plus the dad of former Jayhawk Drew Gooden, who hugged several players as they exited the floor after the game.

Saturday's game was set up originally for Gooden, a Memphis Grizzlies rookie who left KU a year early for the NBA.

"Obviously, in the back of our minds we wanted to give him bragging rights, so when he comes home we can say we had his home turf down," Simien said of Gooden, a Richmond, Calif., native.

It was a all-around effort for the Jayhawks. Miles had 16 points, Kirk Hinrich 14 and Keith Langford 12 despite suffering a broken nose in practice Friday.

The founder of the Challenge, Pete Newell, was duly impressed.

The 87-year-old ex-Cal coach asked coach Roy Williams for, and was granted, an audience with the Jayhawks in a victorious locker room.

"You are a wonderful team. You play the game the way it's meant to be played. It's great to see the passing," Newell told the winners. "I said before the season I thought you were going to be one of the Final Four teams, and now more than ever I think I'm going to see you in New Orleans."

Final Four teams need composure, and the Jayhawks responded after a 16-2 Cal run led by Amit Tamir sliced KU's 53-31 lead to 55-47 with 12:53 left.

Tamir, a 6-foot-11 sophomore from Jerusalem, hit three three-pointers, while 6-5 guard Brian Wethers scored seven of his 11 points in the surge.

Following a timeout, KU scored eight straight points. Simien had two straight slams to open the burst, and the Jayhawks had the game under control once more.

"The whole message was we weren't doing anything," Williams said of his lecture during that timeout. "We had to do two things. Wayne had just missed a free-throw jumper the possession before. We'd given up more offensive rebounds and they started making threes.

"I told Wayne, âÂÂ'If you are going to shoot, one daggum thing, don't shoot it short. Get it there and be aggressive with your shots.' I challenged 'em to do the job on the boards and get a hand in the shooter's face."

KU senior Collison had done a good job of guarding Tamir until that stretch. Tamir finished with 18 points on 4-of-7 three-point shooting.

"It taught Nick a lesson. We said, âÂÂ'Get all the way up on Tamir because he's a good shooter. He can't hurt you on the drive, but he can beat you if you allow him the three-point shot.'''

"They like to run screens. We did a good job early," Collison said. "The second half they started driving and kicking to Tamir. I didn't get as far out on the big fella as I needed to. I didn't get a hand up and he got going."

The Jayhawks hit 63.3 percent of their shots and outrebounded the Bears 29-27. Cal hit 43.5 percent of its shots, including eight of 16 threes.

KU returns home today to prepare for a busy stretch in the schedule. The Jayhawks will meet UNC Asheville at 7 p.m. Thursday at Allen Fieldhouse, UMKC on Saturday at Kemper Arena and Iowa State a week from Monday in Ames, Iowa.

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