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Archive for Saturday, November 9, 2002

junior forward after big man completes 12-minute run

November 9, 2002

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HeâÂÂs no Jim Ryun, Wes Santee or Glenn Cunningham, but Jeff Graves is a good enough distance runner to join Kansas UniversityâÂÂs menâÂÂs basketball team.

Graves, a 6-foot-9, 275-pound junior forward from LeeâÂÂs Summit, Mo., on Wednesday put on his track shoes and completed 61à ¼2 laps of the Memorial Stadium track in 12 minutes âÂÂ:quot; a standard that must be reached before a prospective Jayhawk becomes an official KU basketball player.

âÂÂWe have a new member of our basketball team. Jeff Graves passed the running test and I will start treating him nicer, being nicer to him,â KU coach Roy Williams said Friday at his first weekly press conference of the 2002-03 season. âÂÂHe made it Wednesday afternoon and I was really happy for him because I have been really tough on him.âÂÂ

Williams has been tough on Graves both in practice and in the media this semester âÂÂ:quot; ever since the former Iowa Western Community College standout reported at 293 pounds and failed several times to pass the running test that the other Jayhawks aced in August.

âÂÂIâÂÂve been pretty doggone tough on him in every scenario, but now heâÂÂs partially gotten over on the good side and gotten partially out of the doghouse. Now weâÂÂll see how he can play,â Williams said.

KUâÂÂs coach said Graves still has some weight to lose, but making the running test is a good first step.

âÂÂHeâÂÂs still way overweight. The number that everybody keeps saying (275 pounds) is still low,â said Williams, not revealing Gravesâ current weight. âÂÂHe is getting better. HeâÂÂs working harder. HeâÂÂs trying more.âÂÂ

Williams sensed some urgency for Graves to make his 61à ¼2 laps after the coach told Graves the only reason he played in last MondayâÂÂs exhibition game is he considers exhibitions âÂÂglorified practices.âÂÂ

âÂÂHeâÂÂs a bright youngster because he figured out when I said âÂÂ'glorified practiceâ he knew that meant he wasnâÂÂt going to play against Holy Cross, and the next game, and the next game, and the next game. If weâÂÂd have gone through 35 games or whatever and if heâÂÂd never passed the running test he never would have stepped out on the court,â Williams said. âÂÂHe knew he had to get it done so he might as well make up his mind he was going to.âÂÂ

So Graves passed the test with little breathing room Wednesday.

âÂÂWhen he came in Wednesday he had a smile on his face. We were all congratulating him, happy for him,â sophomore forward Wayne Simien said.

âÂÂNow he has something to get some praise about. HeâÂÂs been getting beat up a lot by the coaches and by the press a little bit. In the locker room weâÂÂve been trying to encourage him, motivate him as much as possible, because no matter how tough you are âÂÂ:quot; you can say those things donâÂÂt bother you âÂÂ:quot; but you can tell it was kind of getting to him.âÂÂ

Williams was glad to see a smile on Gravesâ face.

âÂÂHe was about as happy as IâÂÂve ever seen him immediately after that,â Williams said. âÂÂI have not had him on the blue (first) team a single day at practice, even as a sub. Now thereâÂÂs a chance he could get some time as a blue team member at practice now.âÂÂ

Williams explained why heâÂÂs been so miffed at Graves.

âÂÂHe made some huge mistakes in the offseason. He allowed himself to really get out of shape,â Williams said. âÂÂIt was very unfortunate he was involved in the (car) accident. Now he was going through a period he couldnâÂÂt condition because of the accident he was involved in.

âÂÂI was bad to him because I was so mad at him for the previous stuff. My only question (after the accident) was, âÂÂ'Are you OK?â And after I found out he was OK, then I went back to being mad at him again.âÂÂ

Williams said he had no set weight for Graves to reach.

âÂÂHeâÂÂs got to be able to go up and down the court a number of times without hurting us. But heâÂÂs still got several pounds to go to be able to do that consistently and to be able to play for long periods of time and he knows that,â the coach said.

âÂÂEven though his weight has not gone down as much as I would have liked to, I think his percentage of body fat âÂÂ:quot; which we are checking now âÂÂ:quot; I think it will show it has gone down.âÂÂ

Graves scored eight points with six rebounds in 10 minutes Monday against EA Sports. He could play more in TuesdayâÂÂs 7 p.m. battle against Washburn.

âÂÂHe will be considered just like everybody else,â Williams said. âÂÂI didnâÂÂt play him as much the other night. I didnâÂÂt think he deserved to go as much as the other guys. He was the last of the scholarship players to go in the game.âÂÂ

Everybody seems to think heâÂÂll eventually be a big factor for KU, which is thin off the bench on the inside.

âÂÂHeâÂÂs huge. HeâÂÂs just huge,â Simien said. âÂÂHeâÂÂs tough to get around in practice. He moves pretty well for his size. A lot of people expect him to be kind of out of shape, but heâÂÂs got good feet. I think he can definitely help us.âÂÂ

Graves is off limits to the press until his first regular season game.

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