Archive for Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Jankovich has new perspective on KU-KSU rivalry

January 13, 2004


Tim Jankovich stays in touch with his former Kansas State basketball teammates -- Rolando Blackman, Ed Nealy, Eddie Elder, Dean Danner and Randy Reed to name a few.

Guess how many of them razz the first-year Kansas University assistant about working at rival KU?

"Just every one of them," Jankovich said Monday at Allen Fieldhouse, where he helped Jack Hartman's Wildcats win two of three games against Ted Owens' Jayhawks from 1979 to '82.

"I've taken more than my share of grief from all of them. It's all been good-natured -- no true negativity. Everybody understands I'm lucky to be here."

Jankovich, who was a three-year starter at point guard and ranks as the school's eighth-leading assist man, has taken teasing from the current KU players, especially this week.

KU will meet Kansas State at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Allen Fieldhouse.

"Since the first day he got here," Leavenworth native Wayne Simien said of the ribbing. "We've got some old pictures of him and Rolando Blackman. They had the super-short shorts on. Coach Jank had like the bowl haircut, and looked like one of the Beatles. We were on that boy.

"We gave him a hard time, but he had a few good games in the fieldhouse and he always lets us know about that."

Overall, Jankovich's teams won six of nine games versus KU.

"Word has it he used to give it to the Jayhawks when he played in the purple," Simien said. "We joke about it a lot, but once the ball is thrown up, it's all good."

It's been all good for KU in the series lately.

The Jayhawks have won 26 straight games against KSU, including nine straight in Lawrence and 20 straight in Manhattan.

"I have no explanation. I don't even want to think about streaks in any way, shape or form," Jankovich said. "I don't even know what the streak is. We don't think about that."

Jankovich, who starred at Manhattan High, has been out of state the past several years -- working with Self at Illinois last year and at Vanderbilt three years before that -- but says he hopes the KU-KSU rivalry is as intense as when he grew up.

"I've been gone a long time. I hope it is still special. There could not have been a better rivalry for 30 years," Jankovich said. "For me personally, the game still means a lot. I'd be lying if I said it didn't have special meaning, at the same time the game is not about me. When we throw the ball up, it'll hit me. It's a big, Big 12 Conference game."

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