Archive for Thursday, March 13, 2003

Notebook: Niang hopes to put ‘freshman wall’ behind

March 13, 2003


Moulaye Niang has caught his second wind, seemingly at just the right time -- down the homestretch of the college men's basketball season.

"I hit the freshman wall a couple of weeks ago," said Niang, Kansas University's 6-foot-10, 215-pound freshman from Senegal, referring to the fictitious "brick wall" of fatigue first-year players experience midway through their freshman seasons.

"I've never been through this before. I never lifted weights before I came here. I never banged with these kind of players. I hit the wall, but now I'm back where I was, fresh and ready to go."

Niang, who had not played in three of KU's previous five games, logged nine minutes -- hitting a key second-half jumper -- in the Jayhawks' 79-74 victory Sunday at Missouri.

He says he's ready for this week's Big 12 Conference tournament -- KU meets either Iowa State or Texas A&M; at noon Friday in Dallas -- and next week's NCAA Tournament.

"I am scared of nobody," Niang said. "I'm ready to play."

He may be needed on the inside, especially with forward Wayne Simien sidelined because of injury and Jeff Graves prone to foul problems.

"I will try to do my best taking care of the ball, doing little things, getting rebounds," Niang said. "I can box out and get rebounds to help this team."

He hadn't sulked during recent stretches of inactivity.

"Coach has to play who will help the team," Niang said. "Coach knows what is best for the team. I was not ready after hitting the freshman wall. I've been practicing better and am ready to go."


Teleconference: Wednesday, KU coach Roy Williams spoke to Big 12 reporters assembled in Dallas via teleconference. The Jayhawks practiced in Lawrence, then flew to Dallas via charter Wednesday night.

KU will practice today in Dallas in preparation for Friday's opener.

"We're very pleased with what happened during the 16-game regular season," Williams said. "We know we've got our work cut out this weekend. Hopefully, we'll get down there and play very well.

"Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich are pretty doggone good and we've put it in their hands."


Delay: KU's charter flight was delayed 30 minutes out of Topeka because of hail and lightning Wednesday night. The Jayhawks made it safely to Dallas.


No. 1 seed?: Williams still isn't thinking about KU landing a No. 1 seed for the NCAAs.

"I really have not been concerned with a seeding process whatsoever until after the game Sunday," Williams said of the Big 12 championship game, which precedes the NCAA Tournament selection show. "If you are No. 1 seed, you have had a great, great run, but I haven't put too much time in it at all and not talked to our team one single time about it."


Recruiting: Jordan Farmer, a 6-2 junior guard from Woodland Hills, Calif., tells Shay Wildeboor of Farmer is considering KU, Arizona, Florida, Stanford and Gonzaga.

Some other juniors the Jayhawks are expected to pursue next school year include: Lyndale Burleson, 6-3, Seattle; Marvin Williams, 6-8, Bremerton, Wash.; Kalen Grimes, 6-8, Florissant, Mo.; Darnell Jackson, 6-8, Oklahoma City; Kevin Langford, 6-8, Fort Worth, Texas, the brother of KU's Keith Langford; Gabriel Pruitt, 6-2, Compton, Calif.; Arron Affalo, 6-5, Compton, Calif.; Josh Heytvelt, 6-8, Clarkston, Wash.; and Marcus Monk, 6-6, Leponto, Ark. KU will have three scholarships to give next year.

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