Mario Little has been working out with Kansas University's 'bigs' during pre-Canada-trip basketball practice sessions.
Those in the know say the 6-foot-5, 210-pounder out of Chipola (Fla.) Community College has fared well inside in the absence of 6-9 Markieff Morris and 6-8 Marcus Morris, who have yet to be cleared for practice by the NCAA Clearinghouse.
"A player that has impressed me with his aggressiveness so far is probably Mario Little. He's very aggressive and has a knack for scoring around the basket and getting his shot off," KU sophomore guard Tyrel Reed said Thursday at Allen Fieldhouse.
"I'd say Mario is the biggest surprise to me, and he's banged up with some nicks and bruises. I think once he gets healthy, he'll be a lot more explosive, even more than he is now. He is physical enough to get down there and bang with the big guys."
KU's only true bigs in camp are Cole Aldrich (6-11, 245), Matt Kleinmann (6-10, 250) and Quintrell Thomas (6-7, 240).
"He was a 4-3 (power forward, small forward) in junior college," KU coach Bill Self said of Little, whose bumps and bruises haven't kept him from practicing. "He is probably more comfortable there than on the perimeter. (But) you know as well as I do, against big players, limited size can certainly hurt you if you are playing against 6-9, 6-10 guys. He is a good player. We can move him around a lot like we did Julian (Wright). He's just not near as tall as Julian."
Until the twins are deemed eligible to play, the Jayhawks, who play two exhibition games Saturday (McGill University, 10 a.m. Central time, Montpetit Hall; Carleton University, 6 p.m., Scotiabank Place, Ottawa), will definitely be lacking in team size.
"We will play small," Self said. "We've got Quintrell, who is coming along fine. There is a learning curve for him. What it does is forces us to play Mario at the 4 and play small, which we'll do a lot anyway. It hasn't totally revamped how we are going to play, but has certainly made us look at how we are going to play, at least offensively. We've not talked at all about defense yet."
Self remains pleased with sophomore big man Aldrich.
"He has taken much more of an active role. He's looking to score every time he touches it, which is good," Self said. "He's confident. One of the negatives about the twins not being here : I wasn't planning on giving Cole that many reps. It's such a long season. He's almost got to be out there a majority of the time, at least now. He's doing great."
Self said he also has been pleased with the work ethic of junior guard Sherron Collins during camp. However, Self still does not think Collins will play Saturday or Sunday (vs. University of Ottawa, 6 p.m., Montpetit Hall).
"Since school has started (last Thursday), he's done everything we've asked him to do," Self said of the player who had arthroscopic left knee surgery last April 22 and reported overweight to campus. "Unfortunately for him, he's not in good-enough shape to practice, let's be real candid. As far as attitude and effort since he's been here, it's been very good."
Collins has practiced in scrimmage situations, but contact has been limited.
"My hunch is no," Self said asked if Collins would play in Canada.
¢ Nothing new on twins: Self said there are "no new developments" regarding the Morris twins' eligibility status. "If we hear something, you guys (media) will hear what we hear. It's a long process when you've got multiple schools (attended) like they did. Everything is lined up. They (Clearinghouse) have the information. Hopefully it'll be soon. I've said that for a week, though," Self said.
¢ All work: This trip to Canada will be a short business trip for the Jayhawks, who arrive in Ottawa about 7 p.m. today. They play a rare day/night doubleheader Saturday and a single game Sunday, then return home early Monday morning.
¢ Teahan update: KU sophomore walk-on Conner Teahan has reported in top shape.
"The last couple months I put on 10 or 12 pounds," the 6-5, 215-pounder out of Kansas City (Mo.) Rockhurst High said. "I think it's muscle. You never know, though. I think my endurance (is strong). There's stuff I can do now I couldn't do last year, especially at this time. I feel comfortable I can be out there a long period of time. I will not settle on that now. We have a long way to go until the season."
¢ No set plays: Self said the Jayhawks, who ran 50 offensive sets last year, will run none of them in Canada.
"We're running our foundation, just our foundation," he said. "It's brain freeze time with some guys, everything is so new. Even though it's not complicated to us it's still foreign to them."
¢ Games not on TV: The games in Canada will not be televised. They will be aired on the Jayhawk radio network. Information is available at kuathletics.com.