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Archive for Saturday, February 2, 2008

Ex-Jayhawk Pugh all for KU

Despite CU doctorate, former forward not divided

February 2, 2008

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KU looks to bounce back

Bouncing back is the phrase of the day at Allen Fieldhouse. It's something the Kansas men's basketball team hasn't had to do all season until now. Enlarge video

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— Dr. T.J. Pugh, who played college basketball at Kansas University and went on to graduate from the University of Colorado School of Medicine, will have no mixed loyalties today.

"I will not be sitting behind the KU bench wearing a Colorado sweatshirt," said Pugh, who played for the Jayhawks from 1995 to '99.

He, his wife, Amy, and 2-year-old son, Charlie, will be sporting Jayhawk apparel.

"I'm proud of what we did. I'm proud of what this team is doing," Pugh said of the 2007-08 Jayhawks, who take a 20-1 record into today's 2:30 p.m. (Central time) clash at CU.

Pugh was hoping to witness history in person today.

Had the Jayhawks defeated Kansas State on Wednesday, they today would be trying to tie Pugh's 1996-97 squad for best start in school annals.

That team, which boasted future NBA players in Paul Pierce, Raef LaFrentz, Jacque Vaughn, Scot Pollard, Billy Thomas and Ryan Robertson, opened 22-0 en route to a 34-2 season - the only losses at Missouri in overtime in Game 23 and against Arizona in the Sweet 16.

"It actually crossed my mind the other day. I remember it was a big deal when we went 22-0. I went down the schedule and figured when it might happen. I realized it'd be Boulder and I'd be at the game," Pugh said.

Pugh - who at 6-foot-9 has to be the tallest doctor in Denver (he's specializing in treating pediatric oncology patients and central nervous system tumors) - said he was rooting for Bill Self's Jayhawks to eclipse his team's record.

"I'd be extremely proud," Pugh said. "I'd wear my Jayhawk tie to work the next day. I'm so impressed with this team. I've watched them play when I can. Their discipline, depth, intensity, focus ... it's been impressive."

Equally impressed has been Pugh's KU roommate, Robertson, regional marketing director for The Hartford in suburban St. Louis.

"I've probably seen 10 games, 15 games," Robertson said. "I love watching them. A couple of games I shook my head at how impressive they were.

"I'm as excited about this team as everybody else. I'm a little more tempered because I've seen this story before. I know how it can end," Robertson added. "The crazy thing about college basketball ... as good as you can be for three months, it comes down to how good as you can be for three weeks (in NCAAs). The thing I learned during our great run in '96-97 is, enjoy the great ride. I hope these guys are enjoying their great run in the Big 12 destroying people, that it's a rare thing."

Robertson paused when asked if his '96-97 KU team could defeat this Jayhawk squad.

"Man, it's tough to compare eras and players," said Robertson, who played one year for the Sacramento Kings, entering the last game of the season after being on the inactive list all year.

"It's one of those fun arguments you can have. I'll believe in my heart of hearts we had the best team that ever played at the university. The reality is Danny's (Manning) team in '88 won a national title, and there were other ones. Rex's (Walters) went to the Final Four. Several teams and this one included have something to get into that argument. Ask me point-blank and, I'll say we're up there, but that's a debate for you and the fans."

On a lighter note, Robertson and Pugh believe they likely have one record all their own - the highest combined grade-point average for a pair of roommates in KU hoops history, both just under a perfect 4.0.

"I think we'd compete with anybody," Pugh said with a laugh. "We went back to Springfield (Mass.) for coach (Roy) Williams' Hall of Fame induction, and Ryan was cracking me up. We were arguing about it with C.B. (McGrath). Ryan said, 'After going through 8,000 years of school, my roommate was the Michael Jordan of academics.'"

¢ Happy Roby: CU senior guard/forward Richard Roby likes playing for former Denver Nuggets and Air Force coach Jeff Bzdelik.

"He is a great guy on and off the court. If you need anything, you can trust him. He will do whatever it takes. He expects a lot out of us, too," said Roby, who first met Bzdelik through his half brother, Kenyon Martin, who played for the coach with the Nuggets.

"My brother said he's happy he's my coach here and told me to take full advantage of it."

¢ Better than record?: KU coach Self says CU presents great challenges despite its 1-5 league record.

"It's a huge game for us. It's a game historically we have played well out there," said Self of the Jayhawks, who have won nine straight and 36 of the past 37 games in the series. "This is a different team. They are running all new stuff. It (Princeton offense) is a little complicated.

"Although I am concerned about Colorado and its players, we have got to have the right psyche going out there and really look forward to playing, which I think we will because we've got a bad taste in our mouths now (after Wednesday's loss at KSU). Going to Boulder is not an easy 'W.' This is a much improved ballclub."

¢ KU to be motivated: Brandon Rush was asked if KU would try to take out its frustrations on the Buffs.

"We won't be angry, we're just going to take it more seriously than we did at K-State. We'll just get out and pressure more and just run our stuff," Rush said.

¢ Hamilton likes KU: One of the top high school juniors in the country is planning an unofficial visit to Kansas.

Jordan Hamilton, a 6-7 small forward from Los Angeles Dominguez High, says he wants to attend one of KU's upcoming games at Allen Fieldhouse.

"They will be in my top five when I trim my list," Hamilton tells Shay Wildeboor of Rivals.com.

He's considering KU, Texas, UConn, USC, Cal and Syracuse.

The country's No. 8-ranked prospect in the Class of 2009 averages 31 points and 14 boards a game.

¢ Appleton down to three: Tyrone Appleton, a 6-3 sophomore guard from Midland (Texas) College, tells Kentucky's Rivals.com Web site he hopes to make his college choice, "real soon. Maybe in a couple of weeks."

Appleton is considering KU, Kentucky and Iowa State. Earlier, he had considered San Jose State.

"I don't have a favorite. They're all even right now," Appleton told CatsPause.com. "I'm looking at playing time, mostly, and stuff like that."

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