Archive for Sunday, October 14, 2007

Day after Late Night, Jayhawks get down to business

October 14, 2007

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There were no red carpets, bright scoreboard lights or crazed fans in the Allen Fieldhouse bleachers 11 hours after the 2007 edition of Late Night in the Phog.

Only a few relatives of Kansas University's basketball players and weekend benefactors supporting Bill Self's Assists Foundation joined KU's 17 players and coaches for the first official practice of the preseason.

"It was good, one of the better first days we've had," Self, KU's fifth-year coach, said. "It was spirited, crisp. We looked good for the first day. I'm pleased and optimistic."

Self was able to arrive for KU's football game against Baylor well before kickoff and even was able to conduct an interview on the Jayhawk Radio Network's pregame football show since kickoff was pushed from 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. because of heavy rain and lightning.

"I know it was raining, but we were inside a few hours. It's been a monsoon out here," Self declared, looking out the press box window toward a man-made lake on KU's future football practice fields under construction.

Back to basketball, Self pointed out the Jayhawks "are farther along than we've been at this stage since I've been here. The (NCAA) rules that allow two hours a week (of practice in offseason) : we've already gotten a few things in.

"We're starting at the beginning, building offensive and defensive schemes. We will work on being fundamentally sound. It's a gradual thing. We will not be a whole team, will not get everything in until after Christmas. Our package will be 60 percent, 70 percent complete when we start playing games. It takes time."

Hours earlier, the Jayhawks basked in the glow of Late Night in the Phog.

For players, the highlight of the night may have been arriving on the South end of the fieldhouse in luxury cars, then parading in front of "Survivor" winner Danni Boatwright, who interviewed some of the players as they walked on the "red carpet."

"It was something different. They hyped it up with fans on the side and cheerleaders. It felt good doing it," senior Jeremy Case said.

He was one of the players who was stopped and interviewed by Boatwright.

"She is a beautiful lady. She had me stuttering a little bit with that smile," Case said.

Case was unofficial MVP of the Jayhawks' intrasquad scrimmage, cashing all five of his shot attempts, including two threes, and scoring 12 points.

"I feel good about myself," Case said. "It was probably the most fun I've ever had at a Late Night, and it's my last one."

¢ Recruiting: Xavier Henry, a 6-foot-6 junior from Putnam City, Okla., attended Memphis' Midnight Madness on Friday. He has a top three of KU, Memphis and North Carolina.

"I'm taking it easy until next fall or winter," Henry told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. "I don't want to do anything too early."

Henry, the son of former KU player Carl Henry, has been to KU many times on unofficial visits. The team that signs Henry likely won't have him on campus long.

"I need to get to the NBA. I want a school where I can get in and get out," Xavier said.

¢ Thomas favoring KU?: Quintrell Thomas, 6-8 from St. Patrick High in Elizabeth, N.J., is on an official recruiting trip to UNLV. He is down to KU, Maryland, Rutgers and UNLV.

"Right now, it's all even until I take all my visits. I come back this weekend, and I'll probably make a decision by Friday," Thomas told Adam Zagoria of the Herald News in West Paterson, N.J.

Zagoria reports that "several people around the St. Patrick program indicated that Kansas was Thomas' favorite and that they expect him to end up there."

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