Archive for Monday, October 16, 2006

Collison stuck in visitor’s locker

October 16, 2006

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The Chicago Bulls were the home team Sunday, meaning Seattle's Nick Collison had to dress in the visitor's locker room in Allen Fieldhouse.

"I've never been in here before," former Kansas University forward Collison said of the KU women's locker room.

"Nick, you've been in here before, quit lying," teammate Ray Allen needled before the game.

"No, I've never been in here," Collison insisted. "I tried to keep them (teammates) off the Jayhawk, but people wouldn't listen. There's too much going on."

It's a tradition for KU players to not step on the Jayhawk painted on the carpeting in the men's and women's locker rooms.

Meanwhile, ex-Jayhawk Kirk Hinrich of the Bulls was happy to be situated in the home-team locker room.

"I'm glad we didn't get stuck over there. Actually I've never been over there," he said. "I'm in the same locker I was at KU."

¢ Happy Hill: Former KU assistant coach Bob Hill, the Sonics' coach, visited with one of his former players - Calvin Thompson - and announcer Max Falkenstien before the game.

"It's so different. I'd not been in here in years," said Hill, who worked at KU from 1977-84. "Just coming back ... there are so many fond memories. I've said many times, everybody should have the opportunity to coach at a place like this. It's a basketball community and school. It was a wonderful opportunity to be part of it for eight years."

¢ Another Rush in the house: Seattle's Kareem Rush, the brother of KU's Brandon Rush, dressed but did not play because of a groin pull.

"I asked Kareem if he thought he was going to get booed," Collison said of Rush, a former Missouri standout. "It would be interesting to see if the fans made that connection."

Kareem thinks he'd have received polite applause had all players been introduced, not just the starters.

"My brother goes here. I'm part of the family," Rush said with a smile.

He worked out with Brandon for three weeks this summer in Los Angeles.

"I was always forcing him to his left," Kareem said, trying to help Brandon work on a weakness.

JaRon Rush, a third Rush brother, has just accepted a job as freshman girls B-team basketball coach at Blue Valley Northwest, where ex-Jayhawk Jeff Boschee is a boys assistant coach. Rush also will help with the varsity.

¢ Familiar faces: KU athletic director Lew Perkins shook the hands of three players he knew at his former school, UConn: the Bulls' Ben Gordon and the Sonics' Denham Brown and Ray Allen.

Perkins dined with Gordon and KU strength coach Andrea Hudy, another former Huskie, Saturday night in the Eldridge Hotel.

"I'm rooting for five kids today," Perkins said of the ex-Jayhawks and Huskies.

¢ Self on hand: KU coach Bill Self attended and sat on press row next to his wife, Cindy. Self received a big ovation from the crowd when introduced and shown on the video board.

"Mr. Collison ... have fun today," Self told Collison during warmups.

"Coach, how did you guys look at the scrimmage?" Collison responded, referring to Friday's Late Night.

"So-so," Self said.

Hinrich said he also visited with Self, Danny Manning and Brett Ballard of the KU staff.

¢ Robertson returns: Ex-Jayhawk Ryan Robertson also sat on press row and received a loud ovation when introduced.

¢ Watson awarded 32 minutes: Former UCLA guard Earl Watson, who played high school ball at KC Washington, had 12 points and eight assists in 32 minutes.

"I asked Earl if he wanted to start. He said, 'Coach, if I'm not going to start during the season, I'll come off the bench, my regular role,'" Hill said.

Watson purchased 130 tickets for the game.

"This is real important to me. I've not played in Kansas City since 1997," Watson said. "Coming back as an NBA player is huge."

Collison chatted with Watson on the flight from Seattle.

"Nick said he's trying to make sure he has the best game of his career," Watson said.

¢ Cute kid: Collison's baby daughter, Emma, wore a Sonics jersey before the game while being held by Collison's girlfriend, former KU track standout Robbie Harriford. Collison's mom, Judy, said the family had landed 17 tickets for the game.

¢ Fieldhouse not full: The crowd was listed as 12,758 though there actually seemed to be more than that in the house. The only empty seats were in the corners.

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