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Archive for Friday, January 20, 2006

Jayhawks take beating on radio, ‘Net

January 20, 2006

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Russell Robinson flipped on his car radio dial Tuesday, a day after Kansas University's overtime college basketball loss to Missouri.

What he heard was not music to his ears.

"It was a radio (talk) show. I don't even know which one. It was giving us a hard time," Robinson, KU's sophomore guard from New York, said Thursday.

"I listened about two minutes. I didn't want to hear it," he added of criticism of the Jayhawks, 10-6 overall and 1-2 in the Big 12 heading into Saturday's 3 p.m. home game against Nebraska.

Robinson said fan criticism was expected.

"If you are playing great, everybody loves you. If you're playing bad : you've got to take the good with the bad," he said. "Everybody has a right to their own opinion."

Plenty of college basketball fans have been voicing negative opinions about the Jayhawks, not only on the talk-show circuit but on Internet message boards.

"One thing I think has really hurt college athletics more than anything is the technology age. I think the Internet stinks," KU coach Bill Self said Thursday at his weekly media conference. "What happens on the Internet : some guys are sensitive, some are not. Some guys look at that stuff, some don't. The guys that don't usually perform better.

"If you are not used to anybody saying anything negative about you and you've grown up being the golden child and this is the first time they hear anything negative, it's, 'Gosh Almighty, I didn't know it was like this.' That's life. These guys are going through life right now."

Though criticism is part of life, Self hoped it didn't get out of hand.

"I just hope fans support this team, because this is a good team," he said. "We've had a tough run. Still, we need to stay the course and understand these guys will deliver. I'm a big believer in that."

One fan apparently had the nerve to say something to a Jayhawk in person in the wake of the MU loss.

Self wouldn't go into details except to say, "Somebody said something, not anything negative or malicious. It (player reaction) was, 'Gosh almighty, we're out there trying. We don't miss 'em on purpose.'''

Self said reaction to senior Christian Moody's two missed free throws at the end of regulation against Missouri was positive.

"He (Moody) told me last night he's had so much support from friends, people who have encouraged him," Self said. "It made him realize, 'Hey, I can work through this.'

"I told him (Michael) Jordan is remembered for all the shots he made to win games. Nobody talks about the shots he's missed. I watched (Larry) Bird miss two free throws at the end of a game. LeBron (James) missed one last night that could have sent the game into overtime.

"I know it hurts. It crushed him," Self said. "I told him I'd rather have him be the first on the line than anybody else in our program because he can handle it better than anybody else. He'll be fine. He can handle it."

Moody said he'd been flooded with support.

"I've gotten some great phone calls from old teammates, really a lot of encouragement from a lot of different people," he said, noting he had receive text messages and phone calls from ex-Jayhawks Michael Lee, Aaron Miles, Keith Langford, Wayne Simien, Nick Collison, Bryant Nash and Brett Olson.

While Robinson said he sometimes checked message boards - "sometimes when you are playing good you want to look at it, it gives you confidence other than that you don't want to get too down on yourself," he said - Self and Moody said no way.

"I try to stay away from that stuff," Moody said. "I've got some friends that read it, and they tell me about it. I use it as motivation. Definitely the team uses it as motivation when somebody has something to say. Everybody has their opinions. We're all ready for Saturday."

Of his use of the Net, Self said: "I wouldn't be able to tell you how to get on it now. I used to look at it because I thought it was good for recruiting. I used to look at message boards all the time. I realized it probably wasn't something I should do for self-confidence after losing against Iowa or something."

Self said the team was not down in the dumps following two straight losses. The fans might be, however. There were just six student groups camping out in the fieldhouse Thursday. Sometimes 30 or more groups camp before games.

"Guys : our confidence is not shaken," he told the media emphatically. "We perceive ourselves as a good team. Our players perceive themselves as good players. When you start wondering how other people perceive you : if you let those thoughts creep into it, that's when doubt can come into play."

Downs ill: Freshman Micah Downs missed practice Wednesday, not because of his sprained right hand, which has healed. He sat because of illness and was hooked up to IVs for fluid intake. He practiced Thursday.

NBA update on Rush: Brandon Rush, who entered college as a likely "one and done" player, was asked for an update about possibly declaring for the draft after one season.

"I'm not thinking about it," he said. "I'm worried about the rest of the season trying to win a couple of more games."

He said he'd tackle the NBA issue after season's end.

Shoulda shot it: Rush has seen tape of his passing up a shot and dishing to Darnell Jackson in the closing seconds of overtime Monday. The shot kicked off Jackson, and MU hung on for the victory.

"I should have shot it, definitely," Rush said. "Everybody said I should have shot it. Nobody is giving me a hard time about it. The fans are still there. I get messages from fans saying keep my head up."

Lester's back: Former KU player Lester Earl is back in school. Earl has enrolled in 13 hours of coursework, seeking a business degree. He last played professionally in Spain in 2004.

"I'm a student, not an athlete," Earl quipped, indicating knee problems forced his retirement. "I'm excited about earning my degree."

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