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Archive for Sunday, November 11, 2007

UMKC running (and gunning) for Jayhawks

November 11, 2007

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It figures to be bombs away for the University of Missouri-Kansas City during today's 7 p.m. nonconference clash at No. 4-ranked Kansas University.

"We are a team full of shooters (running) the West Virginia offense," said UMKC senior guard Tim Blackwell, lauding the style of play of first-year coach Matt Brown, who served as assistant at WVU the last five seasons.

"There are a lot of cuts, drives and kickouts coming off screens. We come out and shoot."

That was evidenced in UMKC's 94-51 exhibition rout of Harris Stowe State, a game in which the Kangaroos launched 30 threes and hit 10.

Former Cameron (Mo.) High standout Blackwell - who happens to be best friend of KU junior guard Brandon Rush - unfortunately won't be able to fire up any shots in his first and only game in Allen Fieldhouse tonight.

Like Rush, who is recovering from ACL surgery, Blackwell will miss the game. He's serving a suspension for violation of team rules.

"It would be fun to add to my college experience," said Blackwell, who has played three years at UMKC after playing in three games at Creighton University. "It's disappointing. I'll talk to Brandon. I'm sure we'll have a conversation at the game."

Blackwell had many conversations with former K.C. Rocktown AAU teammate Rush in late May when his buddy tore his ACL.

"He called me after it happened. I could tell instantly it was not good news," Blackwell said. "He was down about it. It was a couple of weeks before the (NBA) Draft."

Rush's mood brightened after June 1 ACL surgery.

"He was upbeat. I was surprised how upbeat he was sitting around and not being able to move around all summer," Blackwell said. "He really wasn't ever down. I've heard with ACLs there's a lot of pain. He said after two weeks there wasn't pain. Maybe his is different."

Blackwell - he first met Rush at a youth tournament when Blackwell was in sixth grade and Rush fifth - said he would expect Rush to be playing in games "by the end of the month."

"I think he has a good chance, depending if he comes back 100 percent," Blackwell said of his buddy fulfilling his dreams to play in the NBA.

Blackwell, meanwhile, is hoping to get on the court as soon as possible.

"He's been hurt," Rush said of his friend who had some back woes before the suspension. "He's a good shooter. He competes. He does everything.

"He's a good guy, my best friend. It's disappointing we both can't play. We were looking forward to that game. I know he was looking forward to coming into the fieldhouse and playing against us."

UMKC is making its debut under its first-year coach.

Blackwell said to look for big things from senior forward Brent Stephens, junior forward Dane Brumagin as well as freshman guard Reggie Hamilton.

Stephens and Hamilton had 16 points apiece in a 94-51 exhibition victory over Harris Stowe State, while Brumagin had four points and four rebounds. Guard Akeem Hemingway scored 20 points with six assists, while guard Nathan Balch contributed 15 points.

KU coach Bill Self said UMKC will present problems tonight.

"They run a variation of the Princeton offense," Self said. "They are very well schooled, and all of their big guys can shoot. It will be a challenge for Cole (Aldrich) and Sasha (Kaun) to get to their big guys. Our mind-set needs to adjust a little bit. If the other team can't score, then you can't lose. Right now we look like a team trying to outscore people."

¢About tonight's game: KU has won all three meetings with UMKC in a series that dates to 1992. The Jayhawks won, 108-62, in 1992 in a Golden Harvest Classic game at Kemper Arena. KU won, 79-68, on Dec. 28, 2001, in Allen Fieldhouse and, 100-46, on Jan. 4, 2003 at Kemper Arena. Located in Kansas City, Mo., UMKC has an enrollment of 14,221. The team competes in the Summit League, formerly known as the Mid-Continent Conference. Colors are blue and gold. ... KU is 13-4 against Summit League teams. ... Brumagin is UMKC's leading returning scorer with a 9.6 average in 2006-07. ... Tonight's game is part of the Jayhawk Invitational, a round-robin tournament that involves KU, UMKC, Arizona, Northern Arizona, Washburn and Adams State.

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