Archive for Wednesday, September 14, 2005

New Orleans thankful for KU game

September 14, 2005


University of New Orleans basketball coach Monte Towe owns a roomy house just off the shores of Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana's historic, hurricane-ravaged city.

"I have a feeling it is not in good shape," Towe told the Journal-World on Tuesday.

He was speaking from the University of Texas at Tyler - the new, temporary home of UNO's players and coaches. The Privateers have relocated to the hospitable Texas town in the wake of destructive Hurricane Katrina.

"I have no idea how my area is doing," Towe said. "We'll lose a lot of tangible things, (but) it's my players I've been worried about. They are all back in class (at Tyler), and we've just learned we are definitely going to have a season in some form. So, there's a lot to be thankful about."

The fifth-year Privateer coach is most grateful that KU officials Tuesday finalized a deal to play UNO in a nonconference contest Dec. 29 at Allen Fieldhouse.

The Jayhawks will pay UNO $70,000 guarantee money and all the team's expenses for the one-time matchup that will give New Orleans valuable exposure on ESPN2.

"I have never heard of a better guarantee than what Kansas is giving up for this game. Thank you to everybody at Kansas," said Towe, whose team last played on ESPN two years ago during the Sun Belt tournament.

"This means a lot to our athletic department and our players. They evacuated with nothing except what was in the bag on their back. This gives them something to have on their minds besides what happened to their computers, their books, their belongings.

"Anything we can do to keep their minds off what happened is good."

Northern Arizona agreed to let KU out of its New Year's Eve game at Allen Fieldhouse. It's possible the game could be rescheduled.

"We left it open. We'll try to do something," KU senior associate athletic director Larry Keating said. "Mike Adras (Northern Arizona coach) is a great guy and understood what we were trying to do for New Orleans. Some of their kids were disappointed, but he was great explaining to them what we were all trying to do."

KU announced times and TV affiliations for all 31 games on its 2005-06 slate Tuesday. The last game to be contracted was UNO.

"With everything those coaches and players have gone through, we thought this would be a great opportunity to showcase their program," KU coach Bill Self said. "The fact that ESPN2 is going to televise it is one way to get word out about what these guys have gone through, and yet they still have attempted to have some sort of normalcy.

"We're glad to have our schedule complete," added Self, who last week agreed to play Yale on Jan. 4. "New Orleans returns one of the leading scorers in the nation from last season in Bo McCalebb (22.6 ppg), and Yale challenges for the Ivy League title every year."

McCalebb, a junior point guard from New Orleans, is one of the main reasons Towe asked Norfolk State to delay its game with UNO a year so the squad could accept the Jayhawks' offer.

"Bo heard we were going to turn it down and told me he wanted to play the game. If Bo wants to play it ... that's a no brainer," Towe said.

McCalebb is one of four players from New Orleans on the Privateers' roster.

"I love that city. It's my fifth year there. It's very depressing to see what happened," said Towe, who played in college at North Carolina State. "I have no burning desire to get back in there until it's doing a little better. The government is doing what it should, and people are being so nice. It's unbelievable the compassion being shown our program. It will return to being one of the top cities in the U.S. if not the world, in time - not right away, but in time."

¢ Slate facts: The completed KU slate features two home appearances on CBS: Feb. 5 versus Oklahoma and Feb. 18 against Missouri. It also has as many as 11 ESPN matchups, four ESPN2 contests, three ESPN-Plus Big 12 games and 11 Jayhawk Network appearances. KU will appear on ESPN's Big Monday three times with games Jan. 16 at Missouri, Feb. 13 at Oklahoma State and a home contest Jan. 30 against Texas Tech.

¢ Visit impressive: Bill Self impressed on his in-home visit with Chicago Crane High point guard Sherron Collins on Monday.

"I think Sherron was impressed," Crane coach Anthony Longstreet told "I'm near 50 years old, and I was impressed. Sherron just said to me, 'I didn't know they had that much history (at KU).'"


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