Archive for Saturday, April 5, 2003

Notebook: “Too many” questions fielded about Williams’ future

April 5, 2003

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Kansas University sophomore Keith Langford was asked how many questions he fielded about Roy Williams' future during Friday's 45-minute media session at the Superdome.

"Too many. Too many," he said.

He was asked by one reporter if he would like for Williams to simply say he's staying at Kansas.

"It would be good to hear that," Langford said, "but at the same time 100 percent of his focus is on winning. He is only thinking about Kansas. North Carolina is not on his mind. The only thing coming out of his mouth is Kansas."

Langford doesn't think Williams is going anywhere.

"Kansas is in the Final Four," Langford said. "North Carolina is a soap opera."

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No worries: KU point guard Aaron Miles on Williams-to-Carolina rumors: "We ain't worried about it. Right now his focus is 100 percent on tomorrow's game and on Kansas' program and Kansas' team."

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Lee, neither: KU sophomore Michael Lee was asked point-blank if Williams would stay at KU. "I don't know," Lee said. "I am trying to not think about that too much. I am focusing on Marquette."

Lee seemed to think Williams would remain on board.

"He assured us we have nothing to worry about. One hundred percent of his focus is on this team," Lee said. "He talked to us one time. That's it. He only had to tell us once."

It has been rumored there would be a mass player exodus if Williams left KU.

"I wouldn't leave," Lee said. "I don't know (about others). None of us have talked about anything like that. We're talking about Marquette and the Final Four."

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Hinrich on Wade: KU senior Kirk Hinrich is expected to open defensively on Marquette phenom Dwyane Wade, who had a triple-double in the regional final against Kentucky.

It's been speculated the 6-3 Hinrich could get in foul trouble guarding the 6-5 Wade.

"I'm not worried about that," Lee said. "Kirk is a very smart player, a smart defender."

Of Wade, Hinrich said: "I remember watching him on TV last year. I knew he was a great player, but I don't think I realized how good he was until I saw him this year. He's improved a lot."

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Lab rat: New York Giants team doctor Russell Warren, who performed shoulder surgery on Wayne Simien, said it was the largest tear he'd ever repaired.

"He brought in all the residents because he said they'd never see one like it again," Simien said. "I was like a lab rat out there," he said.

"He made me feel good because he said he did the surgery on Chris Webber and he's not having any problems with his shoulder," Simien said of the Sacramento Kings forward.

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Hanging out: KU's players took a walk Thursday night down Bourbon Street. "Not many people were out," Langford said. "I did buy some shoes. We're just chillin' at the hotel, walking around there."

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Senior leadership: Led by seniors, Maryland won last year's Final Four. KU is led by seniors Hinrich and Nick Collison this year.

"There are definitely similarities between Maryland's situation and ours," Hinrich said. "But I think we're a completely different team. We've been here. We know what the intensity is like in a Final Four game. Last year I remember playing against Maryland. The intensity level -- we had an intensity for two or three runs -- Maryland had it for 40 minutes. I think that's the main thing. You learn and take things from last year's experience."

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Play for pay: KU's players were asked about NCAA proposals to pay college athletes.

"Kirk probably isn't going to care any more," Miles said of departing senior Hinrich, "but I'd like to get paid. Actually I think being at Kansas, getting a scholarship is a lot for us. It's an opportunity a lot of people, non-athletes, don't receive. So that's being paid in a sense. But shoot, if I could get a couple extra dollars in my pocket, I don't mind."

"I would be kind of upset if they made the rule next year," Hinrich said with a laugh. "No, I mean playing college basketball, I think it's a reward enough, going to school, getting that experience. I think if you ask any player, obviously he wouldn't turn down getting paid. But I think it's good the way it is."

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Williams on Marquette: "We have a huge challenge in front of us. Watching the Marquette tapes ... I'm extremely impressed with their team. Even though I can say excited, there is a little bit of trepidation there, too. I'm not letting my team watch the Marquette-Kentucky game because it was scary and it provided me with some nightmares. I don't need any more nightmares.

"Their team has no holes. There's not one factor of the game you can aim at and say, 'We have a huge advantage here.' They can score outside with great shooters, score inside with (Robert) Jackson and Wade, other guys can take it to the floor, take it to the basket. It really is a team with no holes."

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Practice session short: The Jayhawks held a 45-minute workout Friday at the Superdome, then headed to Tulane for a more intense practice. KU's players entertained a throng of 5,000 or more KU fans with an array of dunks in a dunk drill.

"It's big," Collison said of the Superdome. "Once we get going and playing I don't think it (size) will be that big a deal."

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Grad rates revision: NCAA president Myles Brand said Thursday the NCAA should revise the way graduation rates are determined. Williams' take?

"There's no doubt in my mind they should be revised," Williams said. "I'll tell you the reason why. Jerod Haase went to California, then transferred to Kansas, got his degree at Kansas, was an academic All-American at Kansas. He doesn't count at Kansas or at Cal. Paul Pierce leaves and goes to the NBA. Not a bad deal. He signed a $70 million contract. I think each and every one of you in here would quit your job today for $70 million. Maybe not. Maybe you'd think twice about it," he added, smiling.

"I told Paul he still needs his degree because he needs to know how to handle that much money. I think when somebody leaves in good academic standing, that should be considered as well if they are going to the NBA."

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Graves comes long way: Jeff Graves on whether he ever thought he'd be a starter in a national championship semifinal game. "No, not really. Stuff happens and rare opportunities come to those who work hard. Now I just need to try to take advantage of them."

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Langford on winning a title for Williams: "It would be a big monkey off his back. He's accomplished a lot as a coach but this would be another step in his career. It would make it that much more special to be on the team that helps him win a championship."

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Size discrepancy: The 6-4 Langford on if he is asked to guard 6-10 Steve Novak: "Novak's got 22 shots in the tournament and what, 20 of those, have been threes?" Langford said. "If a 6-10 guy wants to stand out there and shoot three-pointers, that's not going to hurt us. He's not going to hurt us on the boards and not going to hurt us penetrating the lane."

Novak has hit 14 of 22 shots in the NCAAs, including 14 of 20 threes.

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