Jeff Graves took his coach's pregame words to heart Wednesday at Allen Fieldhouse.
"Coach (Roy) Williams challenged us to step it up on defense, and I think we did that," said the 6-foot-9, 250-pound Graves, who busted a slump of sorts by grabbing eight rebounds and plucking five steals while scoring four points in Kansas University's 85-45 victory over Texas A&M.;
Graves, who had four fouls in 26 minutes, had scored just 11 total points with 12 rebounds since power forward Wayne Simien had returned to action three games ago.
Graves said Wednesday he was just beginning to bounce back from the recent death of one of his good friends, who tragically shot himself.
The funeral was last week.
"I'm feeling better, but you always have thoughts about your best friend," Graves said. "I'm not sure what happened to him. There are a lot of mixed stories and stuff."
Graves admits he has been hurt by comments by some of his teammates of late, questioning his dedication to hoops.
"I just don't think they understood what I was going through. They didn't really understand what I'm looking at," Graves said. "I'm a grown man. They need to worry about themselves.
"I'm OK with them. They tell the truth about some things, but there are certain things in my life going on. I do (wish they'd understand). You can't really be mad. You can always forgive, but you can't forget."¢
Olson on team next year: Senior walk-on Brett Olson will be back next season, so he won't give a speech at Saturday's Senior Day. Williams told Olson, a 6-7 senior from Chanute, that he could return to the team.
Olson, who has a year of eligibility remaining, has a 4.0 grade-point average and will take graduate-school classes next school year while applying for med school.
"I'm excited about staying with the team another year," Olson said. "I think Christian and Steven were more excited than me," he said of walk-ons Christian Moody and Steven Vinson.¢
Stats, facts: Nick Collison grabbed his 1,000th career rebound, the fourth Jayhawk to do so. ... Bryant Nash had a career-high 12 rebounds in 20 minutes. ... Texas A&M;'s 45 points tied for the fewest scored by a conference opponent in the Williams era. Colorado scored 45 in 1992. ... KU's 40-point margin of victory is biggest in conference play since a 47-point win over Baylor in 1998.¢
Bow tie: Look for Kansas coach Roy Williams to wear a bow tie during Saturday's KU-Oklahoma State game at Allen Fieldhouse.
"If my wife can find one that goes with my suit," Williams said.
The National Assn. of Basketball Coaches has asked all college head coaches to wear bow ties Saturday in honor of Mount St. Mary's coach Jim Phelan, who Saturday will coach his final regular-season game against Central Connecticut State.
Phelan, known for wearing bow ties, has 829 career victories in 49 seasons.
"Jim Phelan Bow Tie Day" is sponsored by the NABC, of which Williams is outgoing president.
"I do not know him very well at all," Williams said. "I admire what he's accomplished. To last as long as he has in this business today as long as he has is mind-boggling to me. He never lost his own integrity or sacrificed anything to try to jump to a bigger and better place."¢
Gibson to announce today: Daniel Gibson, a 6-3 guard from Houston's Jones High, will announce his college choice in an 11 a.m. news conference today at his high school. Jones is expected to choose either Texas or KU, with Oklahoma also in the running. Mike Sullivan of rivals.com said late Wednesday night that Gibson had not yet informed the coaches of his decision, but two sources close to the situation indicated Texas was the likely choice.¢
Williams a Naismith finalist: Williams is one of 25 finalists for the Naismith Coach of the Year Award. Texas' Rick Barnes, Oklahoma's Kelvin Sampson and Oklahoma State's Eddie Sutton are also on the list.
The award will be presented on April 11 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.¢
KU-MU tickets on sale: Some general-admission tickets are available for the KU-Missouri game a week from Sunday at Hearnes Center in Columbia, Mo. For tickets call 1-800-CAT-PAWS.