2007-08 Jan. 10 KU men's hoops press conference
Mario Chalmers, who has missed just one game in his three-year Kansas University basketball career, hopes to sit out no more.
"I feel good. I'm good to go. I practiced today. I'll play Saturday (at Nebraska)," said the 6-foot-1 junior guard, who dressed but did not enter Tuesday's game against Loyola College because of a strained groin.
"It is something where I hurt it at USC when we played there (on Dec. 2)," Chalmers explained. "With treatment it got better. Then I landed on it wrong at practice (Monday) and tweaked it. They wanted me to be cautious. That's what happened. Now I'm ready."
Chalmers, it seems, has been a man on a mission since he and teammate Sherron Collins were cut from the U.S. Pan American Games team July 15 in Philadelphia.
"I don't think he took it as a losing effort. I think he took it as a learning experience like I took it as a learning experience," Collins said Thursday.
Collins offered a story that indicates Chalmers' competitive spirit.
"As soon as we got back from the tryouts, it was like 1 o'clock in the morning, playing a video game. We were talking about the whole thing, then went and worked out. That's how mad we were we didn't make the team."
Chalmers noted: "When I first heard I got cut I was sad at first. I really wanted to make the team. Then I was angry, but I looked at it as an opportunity for me to come back and work on what I didn't do well, and that was shooting the ball - try to get ready for the next game."
The next game for Chalmers is Saturday. Collins said he wasn't surprised Chalmers has returned from injury so quickly. Apparently he's one of the hardest workers on the team.
"I wasn't here his freshman year, but I heard he didn't work at all in the weight room and he's real lazy, but that's a normal freshman when you're not used to doing all those things like I was last year," Collins said. "I was really lazy until I woke up and lost the weight and did everything coach asked me to do."
More on Rush: KU coach Self was peppered with questions at his weekly news conference about his challenging Brandon Rush at halftime of Tuesday's game for not being more aggressive on offense.
"I've never seen something of less significance get more media play," Self said. "Every one of you (media) ran stories about me being so frustrated because he's not aggressive. I hate to play for a coach who wants you to shoot the ball more," Self added with a smile.
"Putting himself in position to score will help his team more. I think when he's aggressive or coming off screens ready to score as opposed to ready to catch, I think it'll be beneficial to all of us."
Self was asked if he's penalized Rush at practice for lack of aggression.
"We probably should put him on the treadmill more often. That worked for a brief amount of time a couple years ago," Self said.
Rush, like Self, doesn't understand what all the commotion is about.
"I'm surprised it became a big deal in a little 'B-game' we played the other day," Rush said. "With conference starting it'll get tough. I have to make plays. He was right. I did play unaggressive last game. I've been shooting a lot at practice, as much as anybody else," Rush added.
Self wants it made clear he "loves" Rush.
"Brandon has been great. He's done everything I want him to do. Gosh he's coming off an ACL surgery. It's just time for him to take another step," Self said.
Firing up Rush: An easy-going guy, Rush on Thursday said the only times he "gets mad" is when defenders score on him.
Teammate Collins said there are ways to incite the mild-mannered junior.
"He has agressiveness. He just doesn't show it at times. Somebody ticks him off he gets a little look on his face, and that's when we know he's ready, it's time to go," Collins related.
Does Collins try to get Rush mad?
"All the time. All the time," Collins said. "When you see him get a little timid you'll say something to him, and he'll say, 'All right, all right.' It gets him going.
"Somebody might foul him hard or say something to him. You say the wrong thing or foul him the wrong way, he's going to get after you."
Of the look in Rush's eyes the times he's intense, Collins said: "I love it. He does so many things. We feed off of him."
Langford back in NBADL: Former KU guard Keith Langford scored 25 points in his first game since returning to the Austin (Texas) Toros of the NBA Developmental League. Langford, who recently was cut by the San Antonio Spurs, hit 10 of 18 shots and five of five free throws with seven rebounds and seven assists in Thursday's 117-105 victory over Albuquerque, N.M. Also, Billy Thomas, recently cut by the New Jersey Nets, has been reacquired by the Colorado 14ers of the NBADL.