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Archive for Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Full house expected for hoops banquet

April 11, 2006

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No tickets remain for tonight's Kansas University basketball awards ceremony set for 7 p.m. at the Kansas Union Ballroom.

A capacity crowd of about 700 fans will join coach Bill Self in applauding the 2005-06 Jayhawks, who won a share of the regular season Big 12 Conference championship and claimed the postseason league tournament title before falling to Bradley in the first round of the NCAAs.

"We're excited to honor a group of guys that played at a very high level the vast majority of the season," Self said of his 25-8 Jayhawks, who finished with 15 victories in their last 17 games.

"They improved so much and set the foundation for extremely high expectations next year. My favorite thing about this team is the improvement," he noted. "We're obviously disappointed with our loss to Bradley, but to see how far they came in a short amount of time makes us proud.

"It should be a fun night. Hopefully, we'll have a lot of people there."

Freshman Brandon Rush, who led the team in scoring (13.5 ppg) and rebounding (5.9 rpg), enters as favorite to win the Phog Allen Most Valuable Player award, with assist leader Russell Robinson (152 in 33 games) a possible dark horse. Robinson was the team's third-leading scorer at a 9.3 clip.

Players and coaches vote for MVP, best defensive player, most improved player and the Mr. Jayhawk Award. Various other awards are decided by statistical categories.

"We had more than one guy challenge in all areas," Self said, not revealing the winners.

"To me, the Jayhawk Award, which is named for Danny Manning, is our team's biggest honor. It represents more than basketball, going to the person who represents Kansas the best as a player, as a competitor and as a performance guy, as a student and as an ambassador."

Self said the 6-foot-6 Rush, who hit 47.4 percent of his floor shots, including 50 of 106 threes (47.2 percent) "statistically had the best year of any freshman I've coached.

"I don't think I ever had a young guy who over a period of time was consistently better than Brandon. Unfortunately, I don't think he finished the season the way he played the first 80 percent (of games). He played at a high level all year long. Winning at K-State and the Kentucky game, beating Oklahoma in a big comeback ... no question Brandon keyed us in a lot of games. As the season went on, Russell, Julian (Wright), Mario (Chalmers) all elevated their games and it became more balanced (team). We had three good freshmen by the end of the season."

Patterson picks St. John's: Avery Patterson, a 6-4 sophomore shooting guard from Iowa Western Community College, has verbally committed to St. John's. He chose former KU assistant Norm Roberts' Red Storm over Cincinnati and Miami of Florida.

KU's coaches made a trip to Council Bluffs, Iowa, last week ostensibly to begin recruiting Patterson. Arizona, Michigan State and Indiana also started recruiting the guard in recent weeks.

"They just got into it a little too late," Iowa Western coach Jim Morris told the New York Daily News of the schools that failed to land Patterson.

Barnstorming Tour info: KU's seniors have announced dates for their annual "Barnstorming Tour" of the state.

Jeff Hawkins, Christian Moody, Stephen Vinson and student manager Moulaye Niang will compete at Burlington High at 7 p.m. on Wednesday and at Wichita East at 7 p.m. on Friday. The Barnstormers also will visit Hays High at 2 p.m. on Saturday; Hutchinson High at 7:45 p.m. on April 18 and Leavenworth High at 7 p.m. on April 21. Tickets can be purchased at the individual high schools.

The Barnstormers are hoping to play a game at Lawrence High. No date or time has yet been set.

Wednesday starts signing period: The late signing period in recruiting runs from Wednesday until May 17. KU, which signed guards Sherron Collins and Brady Morningstar in the early period, has two scholarships to give. KU is awaiting word from Darrell Arthur, 6-9 from Dallas' South Oak Cliff High. Arthur's high school coach said Monday he did not expect the player to sign a letter on Wednesday. He's considering KU, Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma. Various published reports have him also possibly considering Arizona, LSU and Florida.

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