Archive for Sunday, February 10, 2002

Hinrich has been magical since landing Potter tag

February 10, 2002

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It would appear Kansas University fans are into the Harry Potter thing with Kirk Hinrich, and who can blame them the way Hinrich has been playing lately?

A sign hanging in the north end zone of Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday read: "Harry: Take Us to the Quidditch Final Four."

Hinrich saw the sign, but was a bit baffled. He knows about the NCAA Final Four, of course, but the Q-word is gibberish to him.

"I don't even know what that is," Hinrich said after scoring a career-high 28 points in Saturday's 108-81 trashing of Texas Tech.

Forgive Hinrich if he doesn't know that Quidditch is a game played by wizards in the Potter books. After all, Hinrich has been pretty busy doing wizard-like things with a basketball.

In the four games since the Texas A&M "Reed Rowdies" began chanting "Harry Potter, Harry Potter" at the KU junior guard, Hinrich has played the best basketball of his career. The Sioux City, Iowa, product has averaged 23.3 points while making 12 of 17 three-point goals and 25 of 26 free-throw attempts in games against Missouri, Colorado, Kansas State and now Texas Tech.

Thank you, Tim Floyd. KU fans can thank the former Iowa State coach's decision to bolt Ames to become head coach of the NBA Chicago Bulls for Hinrich coming to Lawrence. Hinrich had committed to ISU, but changed his mind when Floyd left.

Can you imagine Kirk Hinrich in an Iowa State uniform?

"I don't even want to think about that," backcourt mate Jeff Boschee said, smiling.

Boschee doesn't want to think about it because he doesn't want to have to guard Hinrich twice and perhaps three times during a season.

"It would be a tough matchup," Boschee conceded.

During Hinrich's sizz, opponents have been throwing bouquets like confetti. Missouri's Quin Snyder called Hinrich the best player in the Big 12 Conference. K-State's Jim Wooldridge gushed: "He's a great player. He really is. There are some great guards in our league, but he's really, really good."

That brings us to Texas Tech coach Bob Knight, who witnessed a classic Hinrich perpetual-motion performance firsthand for the first time on Saturday.

"So, coach Knight," a media-type asked, "what did you think about Kirk Hinrich?"

"This is a team game," Knight retorted. "If Hinrich did the 100-yard dash in 9.1, I'd comment."

Oh.

Come to find out, Hinrich has never been timed in the 100, or so he says, and if he were he certainly wouldn't be close to the world record.

"I'm pretty fast with the basketball," Hinrich said with a grin, "but I usually ran the 200 or 400 in track."

Knight, by the way, was  at least in my opinion  one-upped by KU counterpart Roy Williams. Knight's explosions are legendary, and he had one Saturday after an offensive goal-tending call went against the Red Raiders.

Knight didn't throw anything, though. Williams did.

With about nine minutes remaining and the Jayhawks languishing in a non-focus mode, Williams bolted out of his chair, raced down the sideline and screamed for a timeout. Williams often calls a 30-second timeout just before halftime to set up a last play, but a full timeout is rare indeed.

Then, when the starters were seated, Williams picked up a towel, reached as high as he could and slammed it to the floor in front of them.

"He kinda spiked it," Hinrich said later.

Momentarily, Williams commenced to chew his players up one side and down the other.

If Williams has been more enraged with his team's play this season, I haven't seen it. Moreover, it's hard to believe Williams' went ballistic in a game in which the Jayhawks matched their highest scoring output of the season.

Williams was a model of decorum when the Jayhawks rang up 108 points against Division II North Dakota, but there was never any danger Kansas would lose to the Fighting Sioux.

Texas Tech posed a larger threat than North Dakota, but in reality nobody is really posing much of a threat these days to Harry Potter Hinrich and the Jayhawks' Goblet of Fire.

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