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Archive for Thursday, October 18, 2007

Rivalry hot topic at Media Day

Kansas guard Brandon Rush smiles as he prepares for a television interview during the Big 12 men's basketball Media Day festivities Wednesday at the Kansas City, Mo., Marriott Country Club Plaza.

Kansas guard Brandon Rush smiles as he prepares for a television interview during the Big 12 men's basketball Media Day festivities Wednesday at the Kansas City, Mo., Marriott Country Club Plaza.

October 18, 2007

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Big 12 players pick their favorites

At Wednesday's Big 12 Men's Basketball Media Day in Kansas City, Mo., Ryan Greene caught up with 11 conference hoopsters to get their take on who's the team to beat in the league this year and who they'd pick as preaseason Player of the Year. Enlarge video

KU basketball team to KC for Big 12 media day

This morning the KU men's basketball team joined the rest of the Big 12 conference in Kansas City for the Big 12 media festivities. Enlarge video

— Just a freshman, Michael Beasley wasn't one of the three players asked to represent Kansas State at Wednesday's Big 12 Men's Basketball Media Day at the Marriott Country Club Plaza Hotel.

Back in Manhattan, the 6-foot-10, 235-pound phenom was unable to repeat his summertime quote that surely will be plastered on Kansas University's bulletin board prior to the KU-KSU game on Jan. 30 at Bramlage Coliseum.

"We're gonna beat KU at home. We're gonna beat 'em at their house. We're gonna beat 'em in Africa. Wherever we play, we're gonna beat 'em," Beasley uttered at an alumni event in Topeka.

Second-year Wildcat Bill Walker had his buddy's back on Wednesday.

"I mean, that's what we think," said Walker, who like Beasley was one of the top five players in the country in his recruiting class.

"In order to do it, you first have to think about it. That's what we're doing. We're starting to get that confidence and swagger that we can line up and beat anybody."

An outgoing, likable guy who deems himself 100 percent recovered from ACL surgery, Walker grinned when asked if he'd guarantee a KSU victory in Manhattan and in the March 1 match in Lawrence.

"I'm pretty sure we'll win. I'll predict it. I'm not scared to say it. I'm a man. I can live up to my words," Walker said. "I'm saying we'll beat 'em ... both places ... don't put that in there," he added, upon further reflection.

"That's adding ammunition to the court. I'll say it will be a great game this year. It won't be as easy (for KU) as it was last year. They are still the team to beat. We have the utmost respect for those guys over there. That's why we have to say these things. That's the team we're gunning for."

Walker beams with pride when talking about the 2007-08 'Cats.

"They (Jayhawks) have always had the top-tier players, and they've had that edge in that, but I think the tides are turning. I feel like we've got the same amount of talent that they had, and they were an Elite Eight team last year, a game away from the Final Four. I feel like if we can compete with them, then we're on our way."

The Jayhawks, who had little to say about former coach Bob Huggins' guarantee of a KSU win in Manhattan last season, were not incensed when asked of Beasley's boasts.

"We take that to heart. If somebody will challenge us like, 'We're going to beat you,' it's like, 'OK, that's fine,''' KU senior power forward Darnell Jackson said. "Actions speak louder than words. We're going to have fun with it and play."

"I try to not think about that. We'll just wait for the game and see how the game comes out," KU junior Brandon Rush said, adding, "K-State has one of the top recruiting classes in the country coming in with Mike Beasley leading the way. We're looking forward to that rivalry this year."

KU coach Bill Self indicated Frank Martin's first KSU team should be a dandy.

"They've got terrific players," Self said. "It (renewal of rivalry) is good for our league. Kansas State has probably not had talent in there like that since back ... I may be wrong about this, but since Mitch (Richmond) was there (late 1980s). I think it definitely spices up the rivalry. Bob (Huggins) did that by his personality and success rate."

Jackson added: "They will have a great team. I've heard a lot of about Beasley. They say he has a little Julian (Wright) and LeBron (James) in him. I'm excited about getting to watch him play and play against him. Walker is a great player. It's going to be a lot of fun."

On both Jan. 30 and March 1.

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