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Archive for Sunday, November 5, 2006

Bedore: Kansas the talk

November 5, 2006

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I swear I wasn't trying to eavesdrop on fellow passengers as we patiently stood in line awaiting the start of the cattle-call boarding procedure on Southwest Airlines.

Yet, being the inquisitive - OK, nosy - sports writer I am, I couldn't help but stand at attention early Friday morning at Kansas City International when strangers began discussing Kansas University basketball.

It seems some of the folks flying to Chicago had attended Thursday's 99-69 exhibition victory over Washburn in Allen Fieldhouse.

"Does it look like KU has a good team?" one flier asked another.

"They have two good teams - their second five could win the Big 12," was the response.

I didn't butt in to give my opinion on the matter, yet had to admit to myself that guy might be right. Thursday's starting five of Russell Robinson, Mario Chalmers, Brandon Rush, Julian Wright and Darnell Jackson is as good as it gets.

The second five that took the floor Thursday - Sherron Collins, Darrell Arthur, Rodrick Stewart, Brady Morningstar and Matt Kleinmann - would not win the league title.

However, add the injured Sasha Kaun and Jeremy Case and formerly suspended C.J. Giles to that mix and, yes, you have a possible league champ.

Anyhow : another person in line wanted to know how freshman Arthur looked.

"Unbelievable," was the response, the Jayhawk fans shaking their heads in amazement.

Had I butted in, I'd have agreed with that assessment. The 6-foot-9 Arthur, who reminded Robinson of Wayne Simien, reminded me a little bit of Drew Gooden with higher upside. Arthur, as KU coach Bill Self pointed out, is darned athletic, perhaps the most athletic player Self ever has coached.

Arthur is dangerous because he can stroke the mid- to long-range jumper and hit the blocks. He cashed one three in two tries, prompting Self to say he approves of Arthur's hoisting beyond the arc.

"I don't mind if it's within his range," Self said. "He can make that shot."

Arthur is a much better shooter than, say, the troubled Giles.

And, yes, his name came up in the KCI line, also.

A woman who recognized me from somewhere wondered aloud whether Giles would be back with the team. I told her "yes," and I felt an announcement was imminent.

"Good," she said. "He should get a second chance to make something of his life."

I have mixed feelings about the matter. I would have understood had Self decided to boot Giles for academic and behavioral issues, including missing a morning practice just a couple days into the season for gosh sakes.

Yet I also have been around long enough to realize it takes an awful lot for a coach to remove a scholarship player from the roster.

Self has given the lanky junior a break. Giles still has a chance to get his act together and make some money playing the game of basketball, at this stage Europe a more likely destination than the NBA.

He'd better embrace this chance. Another screwup and he'll be gone. This team is too talented to have major distractions sidetrack it from its chase of Big 12 and national honors. Just ask the folks in line at the airport. They'll tell ya the same.

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