Archive for Thursday, November 17, 2005

Kansas’ Jackson ‘stung’ by suspension

November 17, 2005


Darnell Jackson showed up for weights in the morning, practice in the late afternoon and classes on Kansas University's campus the hours in between on Wednesday.

He did so, however, with a heavy heart.

Jackson, KU's sophomore power forward, was pained by his NCAA-mandated nine-game suspension for accepting about $5,000 worth of benefits from a KU booster in his hometown of Oklahoma City.

"This has stung him pretty hard," KU coach Bill Self said Wednesday, hours after meeting with Jackson and the rest of the squad about the 6-foot-8, 250-pounder's suspension, made public Tuesday night.

"The guy really needed something fun and positive to happen. With everything he's been through lately, this is something he was looking forward to," Self added, referring to Jackson having a stellar season in honor of his grandmother, who died following a May 29 car wreck in Las Vegas, and his mom, who suffered broken bones in the accident.

"I told the team today it speaks volumes of his character. He's had his mind elsewhere, has this hanging over his head. Still, he's doing well in school and playing the best ball he's ever played. He understands there have to be rules, you have to live by rules, even though he didn't know he was in violation of them."

Jackson accepted gifts from KU graduate Don Davis, who he met in OKC in 2002.

KU's squad members will support Jackson - "I know he's definitely taking it hard, but he'll be fine," Russell Robinson said - but the show must go.

KU will meet Idaho State at 7 p.m. Friday at Allen Fieldhouse, then play Arizona on Monday in Maui.

"We've talked about it as a group. It's something he has to roll with, take his medicine and move on," Self said. "He's mature enough to do that and will do that."

Jackson, who declined interview requests Wednesday, will continue to practice but won't be able to play until Dec. 22 against Northern Colorado.

"It will be a challenge for Darnell," Self said. "We're in Maui. He's at home. We're in New York (Dec. 6 against St. Joe's). He's back here. He has his body in great shape. He'll have to do some things on his own to make sure he's in game-type shape.

"I think it'll make him hungry. He'll do everything he can to push Sasha (Kaun) and C.J. (Giles) around where they are prepared to play."

Self plans to start Kaun and Giles in the frontcourt Friday to go with perimeter players Jeff Hawkins, Brandon Rush and Russell Robinson.

Christian Moody and Julian Wright will be the back-up big men, with walk-on Matt Kleinmann also available.

"It makes Christian and Julian's minutes go up," Self said. "Julian was our most improved player from the first exhibition game to the second when you talk about grading defensively, doing majority of things right.

"Christian needs to be more aggressive. He played 28 minutes and hasn't had a field goal yet. He hasn't put himself in position to make one yet. Christian will always be a glue guy. He is a guy who allows other players to do what they do."

Giles said the Jayhawks must step it up without Jackson.

"We will miss everything about him," Giles said. "We have to move on. What I know of Darnell, when something happens, he'll work harder than he did before. He'll be back."

¢ Boosters off limits: Self said the Jayhawks players are warned each year not to have contact with boosters.

"We talk about that all the time. Compliance does a great job showing us do's and don'ts. We have monthly meetings with compliance on the latest hot points.

"This was a unique situation. A relationship was established well before college recruitment," Self added. "It didn't fit the criteria for a prior relationship, but there are not too many out there like this. This is a guy who was his spiritual mentor, a guy like a pastor to him, and he saw him as a father figure in life, which he didn't have one."

Jackson is from a single-parent home.

"He didn't see this guy as a Kansas guy, he saw him as a friend, but it's still wrong," Self said.

¢ Everybody to play: Self said no Jayhawks would red-shirt this year - that is, practice but sit out games in order to gain an extra year of maturity and eligibility.

"It does no good to red-shirt Darnell. The penalty would still be imposed next year. I can't see anybody in the group red-shirt. I think we'll need all our pieces to be as good as can be," Self said.


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