Archive for Wednesday, December 10, 2003

FHSU to work hard for money tonight

Guarantee good for athletic program, but Fort Hays State all but expects loss

December 10, 2003


There are at least 30,000 reasons Fort Hays State plays Kansas University every other year in men's basketball.

"It is something we need," FHSU coach Mark Johnson said of the $30,000 guarantee money, which helps support the entire athletic program at the NCAA Div. II school. "We are thankful to KU for the opportunity to play."

Johnson, whose Tigers suffered a 95-41 exhibition loss to KU Nov. 13, 2001, can think of just one negative in scheduling the Div. I powerhouse Jayhawks.

"We know we go into the season 0-1 when Kansas is on the schedule," Johnson said.

He's not conceding anything, but realizes it would take a minor miracle for the Tigers to stay with the Jayhawks tonight. Tipoff is 7 p.m. tip at Allen Fieldhouse.

"Obviously, we'd rather it be an exhibition game and not have it affect the record, but the game is so good for our entire athletic program we'd be happy to play it whether it be exhibition season, regular season," Johnson said.

In the future, Fort Hays State, Emporia State, Pittsburg State and Washburn -- who have rotated playing KU in the regular season the past 11 years, and in the exhibition season the past three years -- might play the Jayhawks only in practice games.

The NCAA is considering legislation prohibiting AAU and club teams from playing Div. I teams in exhibitions. If that legislation is enacted, KU likely would play two in-state Div. II schools in the preseason and none in the regular season. The past three years, KU has played one club team like EA Sports to go with an in-state Div. II team.

"I love playing the Div. II schools, but I want to play them as exhibition games, and they want to play them as exhibition games, so that would help them as well," KU coach Bill Self said.

"I think it'd better serve us to play two exhibition games against teams that can throw things at you where you have to play a certain way (to win). I hope the rule passes. Then we will keep rotating the four schools.

"These coaches at these schools have been good to Kansas. I would like to see everybody in the state benefit and do well. I hope we can do it, and it doesn't take away from our regular season, but they can still play Kansas every other year."

As far as tonight's matchup, FHSU brings a 4-0 record to town. The Tigers have beaten Bethany, Mid-America Nazarene, Central Christian and Panhandle State, all in home games and by an average margin of 32 points.

"One concern in a game like this is, we have to change how we play. We try to play an up-tempo game. That might not be too smart against Kansas," Johnson said. "If we can score early, we'll take it, but probably be more selective early in the shot clock."

Recalling that 2001 exhibition rout, Johnson knows KU can put away a team in a hurry.

"That was my first game as a head coach," Johnson said. "It was memorable."

He hopes tonight's game will be closer, but realizes the Jayhawks (3-1) will be intense after falling to Stanford Saturday.

"The last thing we wanted to do is play them coming off a loss. It gives them more incentive to play well. We hoped we could sneak in under the radar and just get by," Johnson said.

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