Archive for Friday, February 27, 2004

Padgett promises to keep plugging

February 27, 2004


It's that time of year when slumping first-year major-college basketball players like David Padgett are asked, "Have you hit the freshman wall?"

"I don't know if it's happened to me," said Kansas University's 6-foot-11 center, a 52-percent shooter who has made 12 of 32 shots (37.5 percent) and grabbed 22 rebounds during his last five games.

"Obviously I get tired. Everybody does. The season is so much longer than high school."

The Reno, Nev., native missed five of nine shots -- some from point-blank range -- in Monday's 82-67 loss at Texas.

"The first half they just rolled out. It was one of those nights nothing could go down," Padgett said.

"I need to attack the rim a little more. Sometimes I have a bad habit -- I won't say taking it up soft, but not attacking the rim like I can. I need to get out of that habit."

KU junior Wayne Simien, who has been on fire with 20 or more points in four of his last six games, remembers the rigors of his freshman season --and how early stellar play soon can fade.

Padgett had 13 points and 10 boards against Tennessee Chattanooga in KU's season-opener, then posted 19 points and eight boards against Fort Hays State and 15 points and nine boards against Villanova in three early season KU wins.

"So much is expected of freshmen being thrown in the fire," Simien said. "He had an opportunity to get some double-doubles early.

"Then came tougher, big-time college games. It's a lot of pressure on him. David's his own toughest critic. If he plays hard and gives effort like he always does, he'll be fine."

KU coach Bill Self agrees, noting Padgett, who averages 7.1 points and 5.0 rebounds, including 6.6 points and 4.5 rebounds in Big 12 Conference games, will benefit greatly from an offseason weightlifting program.

"David has to get stronger. He hasn't been able to do anything with his lower body for two years (in high school) because of injury," Self said. "We'll put some pounds and strength on him. I think he's done great and is going to be terrific. He works hard and is a tremendous young man. He's prepared and I think the sky is the limit on what this guy can do."

Self said Padgett, who has 39 blocks this season, would become an offensive threat.

"David's a guy that will become a terrific face-up guy and is going to be a guy that is a terrific back-to-the-basket guy," Self said. "He's good at both, but strength is going to benefit him over time. He's a great runner and good rebounder, but has potential to be a great rebounder.

"He can score over both shoulders, make the 17-foot jump shot and now all he has to do is put everything together. He is time away from doing so."

  • NCAA hopes: Kansas, which has a 16-7 record against Division One teams, has an RPI rating of 18 this week. The Jayhawks still could land a 4 or 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament, depending on how they finish in remaining games against Oklahoma and Nebraska (home) and Missouri (away), plus the Big 12 tournament.

KU is 0-3 versus top 25 RPI teams; 5-2 against teams with RPIs between 26 and 50 and 3-2 against teams 51 to 100. KU's strength of schedule is an impressive 13th in the U.S.

  • Recruiting: KU still is in the running for Tyler Hansbrough, a 6-8, 220-pound junior forward from Poplar Bluff, Mo. Hansbrough, who has visited Florida, Missouri and North Carolina, tells he will visit Duke, then possibly KU, Arizona or Kentucky.

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