Archive for Friday, February 6, 2004

Jayhawks’ Miles on a mission

Unselfish point guard thinks pass, team first

February 6, 2004


Statistically, Kansas University junior point guard Aaron Miles has played like a man on a mission the last three weeks.

Ask him if he's still trying to prove himself, however, and he snaps back quickly.

"I've got nothing to prove to anybody," Miles said, taking on a look of annoyance at the suggestion that his 70 assists and 18 turnovers in the last seven games have any personal meaning.

It would seem Miles proved himself long ago by taking the Jayhawks to the Final Four as the starting point guard in each of his first two seasons, but his critics ripped his jump shot and called him a weak link.

Miles' accomplishments often were dusted aside as he shared the backcourt with current Chicago Bulls starter Kirk Hinrich.

"I think he was sometimes overshadowed," said junior guard Michael Lee, Miles' longtime pal from home in Portland, Ore. "People put a lot of emphasis on his shooting a lot of times. But at the same time you had a freshman who went to the Final Four, who was averaging five or six assists, and he was leading his team.

"He was a floor leader for his team, and I don't think he got the credit enough. But it's starting to come."

Miles' jump shot is neither pretty nor feared -- he's made 40.1 percent of his shots and 28.3 percent of his three-pointers -- but his passing is both. Midway through his junior year, Miles has 627 career assists, fourth all-time at Kansas, and rapidly is zeroing in on Jacque Vaughn's school-record 804 career mark.

"Aaron is a true point guard that thinks pass first, shoot second and does a really good job of setting people up, especially in the full court," first-year KU coach Bill Self said.

Miles is averaging 7.28 assists this year, second in KU history only to Vaughn's 7.68 average in 1995. In league games, his mark of 9.57 dishes a game is more than double that of runner-up Will Blaylock (4.43) of Iowa State.

"He's just so quick," senior forward Jeff Graves said. "He takes those little pitty-pat steps and he's gone."

Miles' playful exuberance and flashy grin are ever present when things are going well for the Jayhawks (14-4 overall, 6-1 Big 12 Conference). When tensions mount and the game is on the line, it is Miles who is shouting out orders, scowling at an official or jawing with an opponent.

That isn't arrogance, Wayne Simien said. It is leadership.

"When Aaron brings energy out there," Simien said, "everyone kind of feeds off that."

Teammates call Miles' personality "inspiring."

"I attribute our losses to my lack of energy," Miles said, "especially the Nevada game and this last one (Iowa State)."

Said Graves: "After practices and after games that we've lost, he really takes it upon himself to be like, 'It's my fault. I didn't bring the team together.' I look at that and I realize this guy really means business."

Miles' businesslike nature comes from winning almost 83 percent of his career games (77-16).

"My teammates believe in me. They've always believed in me, and that's the most important thing," Miles said. "That's all I play for -- to win."

  • Boschee update: Former KU shooting guard Jeff Boschee is living in Lawrence this school year, but is not attending classes, since he already has his degree.

He has been working out daily while awaiting the start of his second season with the Kansas Cagerz of the USBL. An opportunity with the Asheville (N.C.) team of the NBDL fell through when that team decided to sign Rusty LaRue instead.

"Hopefully I'll get to play in the (NBA) summer league. If not, I've talked to (TCU) coach (Neil) Dougherty about being a graduate assistant next year. I'd like to give it (the NBA) a shot and if that doesn't work out become a grad assistant."

  • Camping resumes today: The snowy weather kept the student campers out of Allen Fieldhouse one day. Camping was suspended Thursday but will resume at 9 a.m. today.

  • Recruiting: Leo Criswell, a 6-8 junior from Kansas City Piper High made an unofficial recruiting visit to KU for Monday's Missouri game and sat behind the Jayhawks' bench. His early list includes KU, Arizona, Arizona State, North Carolina, Oklahoma and others.


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