Archive for Sunday, August 22, 2004

Sophomore making case for playing time

Backup guard hopes summer workouts translate to larger role for KU this season

August 22, 2004


Back home in McAlester, Okla., this summer, Jeremy Case did plenty of thinking.

Case, a sophomore men's basketball player at Kansas University, thought about ways to improve his game, how to get bigger and stronger, and pondered redshirting his second year in Lawrence.

By the end of the summer, Case said he improved his ballhandling skills and shooting touch. He also gained about five pounds of muscle. He still is uncertain whether he will suit up or take a red-shirt season this year, however. Red-shirt players can practice with the team and not lose a year of eligibility, but they can't play in games.

"If it comes down to where I'm not really going to get that many minutes a game, then yeah, I'll definitely consider that," Case said of taking a redshirt season.

Seventeen players are on KU's roster -- eight of them perimeter players -- and coach Bill Self said he expected to red-shirt at least one player for the 2004-2005 season.

Self said it was unlikely he would red-shirt any of the six freshmen, and he hinted that one or two guards might red-shirt.

So there is Case, still pondering his move. He has plenty to factor into his decision, too. Case had a productive offseason. He spent his summer playing ball with players from Oklahoma City University, the college team his father, Win, coaches. The 6-foot guard now is tipping the scales at 170 pounds.

"Jeremy crushed the weights when he went home," said J.R. Giddens, KU's other sophomore from Oklahoma. "He's gotten a lot bigger. He's upped his bench press and his strength. Jeremy Case is confident away from playing. When you're a shooter and you're not getting as many shots as you normally do, it kind of knocks down your confidence and you feel pressure.

"I think he had a lot of pressure to hit shots, not that coach put it on him but on himself because he's one of the most competitive people on this team. I think he's going to have a good season for us. He's stronger. He can shoot. He just needs to learn how to get his shots off and get a feel for the game, get some time out there on the court. I think he'll be a good ... no, great player for KU."

Whether Case improved enough to earn more playing time remains to be seen.

Self said he hoped to use KU's trip to Canada to give playing time to the freshmen and returners who didn't play much last year. That's something Case was looking forward to.

"Getting experience is what really counts," said Case, who averaged 3.9 minutes per game in 21 appearances as a freshman. "(The trip) is going to be kind of like an evaluation. I'm hoping I get more comfortable playing, not getting very nervous, and get comfortable playing with everybody else."

It's possible Case won't play at all in Canada. An NCAA rule states players who compete in exhibition games cannot take a red-shirt season to save a year of eligibility, so Self said if there was a 10-percent chance of somebody redshirting, he would not play in Canada.

Regardless of his playing status, Case said he would work hard in KU's practices prior to the trip and try to prove he deserved to play a larger role on this year's squad.

"I need to get better at ballhandling, bringing the ball up," Case said, "and I need to get better defensively. One other thing that will definitely help me get more time is making shots."

Self says that is a strength of Case's.

"If you are playing 'Horse' you don't want to play this cat," Self said. "Ask our guys how he shoots it at practice. He's working, getting stronger. He didn't play a lot last year. He's just time away. He will have a big impact on our program."

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