Kansas University freshmen forward Alexander "Sasha" Kaun is looking for a real battle in the paint every time he plays this season -- including practices.
While some freshman fight to make it to class on time, the first-year trio of Kaun, Darnell Jackson and C.J. Giles are fighting to land the "other" starting post position next to all-everything candidate Wayne Simien.
"Those three freshmen ... they should have a war every day to decide who gets to play next to Wayne," KU coach Bill Self said on his team's Media Day, adding that the position would be decided on a "rotational basis on the team's play."
Self reiterated those same thoughts at Big 12 Media Day. Junior Christian Moody's name was tossed into the mix as well.
If Self wants a daily battle, Kaun comes well prepared. With 250 pounds chiseled on to his 6-foot-11 frame, Kaun already has the physique of a veteran, while other freshmen often need several summers of weight-lifting to add needed bulk.
Kaun knows the starting job is there. He knows all about how much big men are required to run Self's system and all the opportunities for quick points as a freshman.
Yet he is strictly following a team-first policy during his rookie season.
"I just try to help the team get better any way I can. For me, it's anything to help the team," Kaun said. "I'm thinking about it (starting next to Simien), but as coach always tells us, the hardest worker will get it. It just depends who works the hardest."
The native of Russia averaged 7.3 points and 5.8 rebounds in his team's four-game exhibition in Canada in September, including a 20-point effort against Langara College.
During Late Night in the Phog, Kaun registered two points, four rebounds and a block.
Similar to the situation of Russell Robinson receiving point-guard pointers from Aaron Miles, Kaun -- and Jackson, Giles and Matt Kleinmann, as well -- has been listening to advice on how to be a better big man by one of the college game's best in Simien.
"When we play pick-up games (Simien) will help you a bit," Kaun said. "He's the man around here."
Only a couple of seasons will tell if Kaun can fill in as "the man" at the post position.
|Full name: Alexander KaunClass: freshmanHeight: 6-11Weight: 235Hometown: Melbourne, Fla.High school: Florida Air AcademyMajor: computer scienceBirthdate: May 8, 1985|