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Archive for Wednesday, June 30, 2004

KU basketball officials planning Canada trip

June 30, 2004

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It takes time to plan a trip to a foreign country, even one as close to the United States as Canada.

That's why Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self on Monday gave the OK to senior associate athletic director Larry Keating to finalize a Sept. 3-6 foreign tour to Vancouver, British Columbia, which will include three or four exhibition games against Canadian college teams.

"At this point, we can't go beyond now and plan the trip properly," Keating said.

He soon will confer with a Las Vegas-based tour promoter on issues such as transportation, lodging, game opponents, game sites and game management.

"We can't wait until Aug. 15 to plan a trip like this," he added.

Keating doesn't know if the low-key exhibition games -- against schools

like Simon Fraser and University of British Columbia -- will be games fans would want to attend.

"Normally on the foreign tours to Europe, it's not common to have a huge following," Keating said. "I don't think they are expecting to play before big crowds. Usually you play at a school gym. There was talk of maybe putting this in a bigger venue (like General Motors Place), but I don't know if they'd expect to draw a crowd locally that time of year. Schools there (in Canada) are in football season, also.

"Kansas fans are unique," Keating added, referring to their desire and willingness to flock to games on the road, "so I don't know what they (organizers) will wind up doing. I don't know if they will charge admission. In many cases, when you play these games, if you want to go to the game, you just walk in and go to the game."

There's a good chance KU's exhibitions will be on the Jayhawk radio network, but TV would be a "longshot," Keating said.

"There might be a local station in Vancouver that might feel it's worthwhile," Keating said. "If they do televise there, there'd be the question of whether to bring it back here."

Frankly, the exhibition games aren't why college teams take foreign tours once every four years in accordance with NCAA rules.




"The main value is getting your team together and practicing 10 days prior to leaving," Self said. "Obviously, with a lot of young faces, it's a great time to bond and get guys prepared for practice."

The exhibition games -- one likely would be played Sept. 4, two on Sept. 5 and one on the 6th -- likely will resemble glorified practices.

"Typically, schools like Simon Fraser or British Columbia would use them to help prepare them for their Canadian seasons," Keating said. "The value for us is practicing 10 days. We have four starters returning and several freshmen who will play significant roles on what we feel could be a very good team."

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More on schedule: KU's exhibition games in Canada will mark the team's only appearances outside of Allen Fieldhouse until after the New Year. KU will play nationally televised nonconference games at Kentucky (Jan. 9) and Villanova (Jan. 22). The rest of the nonconference games will be played at home.

"It just so happens our two nonconference games are high-level games on national television," Keating said of the Villanova game to be shown on ABC or ESPN and Kentucky to be aired on CBS.

"Villanova had to get Wachovia Center (home of Philadelphia 76ers and Flyers) locked up because of hockey and basketball. They wanted to play when they were in school. We needed to play on a Saturday. It was one of the windows ABC and ESPN had available."

The Kentucky game also had to fit into an available CBS slot, which meant early January.

"The first road trip will be to Kentucky. There will not be many tougher places to play than there. There will be 22,000 Kentucky fans minus 50 on our comp list," Keating said.

"One thing coach said in talking about Canada: 'The trip will at least give the young kids a chance to get out (on the road.)' They'll get to experience that."

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More on New Year's Day game: KU will give fans throughout the country a basketball option on a day devoted to college football bowl games. The Jayhawks will play host to Georgia Tech at 1:30 p.m., Central time, on New Year's Day. The game will be shown on ESPN.

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Harrington to NIU?: Northern Illinois University on Tuesday announced the departure of director of basketball operations Steve Christiansen, who has been named head coach at Triton College. KU administrative assistant Sean Harrington is believed to be leading candidate to replace Christiansen. NIU head coach Rob Judson coached at Illinois, where Harrington played from 2000 to 2003. NIU is located in DeKalb, Ill.

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