Archive for Monday, March 3, 2008

Hello, goodbyes

After one-year hiatus, Senior Night back at KU

Kansas defenders Sherron Collins, left, and Sasha Kaun force a turnover from Kansas State guard Clent Stewart during the first half of the Jayhawks' 88-74 victory Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse. Kaun is one of five seniors who will be honored at tonight's Senior Night game against Texas Tech.

Kansas defenders Sherron Collins, left, and Sasha Kaun force a turnover from Kansas State guard Clent Stewart during the first half of the Jayhawks' 88-74 victory Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse. Kaun is one of five seniors who will be honored at tonight's Senior Night game against Texas Tech.

March 3, 2008

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Kansas University seniors, from left to right, Darnell Jackson, Rodrick Stewart, Jeremy Case, Russell Robinson and Sasha Kaun will be honored, and each will speak tonight after the Jayhawks' game against Texas Tech at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas University seniors, from left to right, Darnell Jackson, Rodrick Stewart, Jeremy Case, Russell Robinson and Sasha Kaun will be honored, and each will speak tonight after the Jayhawks' game against Texas Tech at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas defenders Sherron Collins, left, and Sasha Kaun force a turnover from Kansas State guard Clent Stewart during the first half of the Jayhawks' 88-74 victory Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse. Kaun is one of five seniors who will be honored at tonight's Senior Night game against Texas Tech.

Kansas defenders Sherron Collins, left, and Sasha Kaun force a turnover from Kansas State guard Clent Stewart during the first half of the Jayhawks' 88-74 victory Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse. Kaun is one of five seniors who will be honored at tonight's Senior Night game against Texas Tech.

Senior class

¢ Jeremy Case, 6-1, 190

¢ Darnell Jackson, 6-8, 250

¢ Sasha Kaun, 6-11, 250

¢ Russell Robinson, 6-1, 205

¢ Rodrick Stewart, 6-4, 200

Senior class at a glance

Here are some accomplishments of Kansas University's senior class of Jeremy Case, Darnell Jackson, Sasha Kaun, Russell Robinson and Rodrick Stewart:

¢ A 107-23 overall record which averages out to 26.8 wins per season.

¢ Three Big 12 regular-season championships (tie with Oklahoma in 2005, tie with Texas in 2006).

¢ Currently tied with Texas for first in the league race.

¢ Two Big 12 postseason tourney titles (2006 and '07).

¢ Part of KU's 50th conference title, the most in NCAA Division I.

¢ Part of KU's 1,900th all-time victory.

¢ Part of KU's 600th all-time victory in Allen Fieldhouse (earlier this season).

¢ Won 33 games in 2006-07, fourth most wins in school history.

¢ Raced to 20-0 start this season, third best start in school history.

¢ Advanced to Elite Eight of the 2007 NCAA Tournament.

¢ Robinson ranks fifth in career steals (227), ninth in assists (461) and 20th in three-pointers made (87); Kaun ranks eighth in blocked shots (140); Jackson ranks 32nd in career rebounds (543);

Darnell Jackson, who hadn't scripted his Senior Night speech as of midday Sunday, scheduled some serious soul-searching for Sunday night and all day today.

"I'm not going to wing it. It's coming from here, straight from my heart," Jackson, KU's 6-foot-8, 250-pound forward from Midwest City, Okla., said on the eve of the final home game of KU's senior class of Jackson, Jeremy Case, Sasha Kaun, Russell Robinson and Rodrick Stewart.

"I have a lot on my mind," added Jackson, who has been mourning the recent death of his cousin, "(but) I'm not gonna stand up there like Wayne did and talk for two hours. I don't want everybody to fall asleep."

Jackson was jokingly referring to his freshman year, when Wayne Simien's senior speech lasted more than 20 minutes.

Recognizing the late 8 p.m. start of today's home finale against Texas Tech and wanting to add some sanity to the speech-giving, coach Bill Self has put a three- to five-minute limit on the senior speeches.

The players and their parents also will be recognized with the annual shower of flowers immediately following the national anthem.

"Everybody will be tearing up and crying," said Seattle native Stewart, who will be part of an all-senior starting lineup tonight.

"It's going to be great to hear my name called for the last time. I probably won't get any sleep tonight thinking about it," added Stewart, who started seven games earlier in the season with Brandon Rush and Sherron Collins both out due to injuries.

Robinson has started all 29 games this season, Jackson 24 and Kaun five. Case will be making the first start of his KU career.

"I'm not nervous at all," Case said about his starting the game and the speech after the contest.

"I feel a little sad, not too sad. I've been here a long time, and after it's over I'll be ready for the next step," added the McAlester, Okla., native who plans to get into coaching. "I feel I've learned a lot. I've enjoyed my time here. I wouldn't change it for the world."

That's what he'll convey during his speech.

"It will not be long. I don't have a whole lot to say. I am going to thank everybody and tell them how I feel about Kansas basketball."

All the seniors will have immediate family members in town. Two of Robinson's closest buddies from his hometown of Bronx, N.Y., also will be in the Allen Fieldhouse stands. They also attended Saturday's high-energy, 88-74 victory over Kansas State.

"They said it was a life-changing experience for them," Robinson said of a game in which the 16,300 fans rocked the building in helping the Jayhawks enact revenge for a previous loss to the rival Wildcats.

"I will try to keep it (speech) short and sweet," Robinson noted. "The years went by really fast. It seems like a blur. Luckily I took a lot of pictures of my teammates, experiences and memories we enjoyed together."

Kaun - his mom Olga has been in the United States since early January - will be on hand tonight.

She and her son both saw the "Wrath of Kaun" video during Saturday's victory. The video spoofing Star Trek's "Wrath of Khan" plays on the center scoreboard after monster dunks or blocks by the 6-11, 245-pounder out of Tomsk, Russia.

"She thought it was funny but didn't get all the words," Kaun said. "I looked up and saw it. It's definitely fun. We definitely have the best fans in the world. They were a great part of us winning."

The fan support has helped this senior class total 107 victories against 23 losses. The seniors have won three straight regular season Big 12 titles, two straight postseason tourney crowns and are currently tied with Texas atop the league with two games left.

"They've won 82.3 percent of their games. That's a ridiculous amount for any class to do that well," coach Bill Self said of his first recruiting class (Case is a fifth-year senior; Stewart arrived as transfer from USC in 2004-05).

"You always hope guys will pan out to be what you thought. Out of Russell, Darnell, Sasha .. all have equaled and exceeded what I originally had planned for them when we recruited them. I knew they'd be good. I had no idea they'd be as good as they are and represent the university as well as they have. All will graduate in four years and are great ambassadors for the school.

"There were no McDonald's All-Americans," Self added. "These guys came in and gave their heart and soul to this place. It's been a fabulous class. I hope everybody ... our fans, players and coaches need to make sure they go out right on Monday. It won't be easy. We're playing a team in Texas Tech (16-12, 7-7) that is coming in very confident after the way they played against Texas. They controlled that game," he said of the Raiders' 83-80 victory over the Longhorns on Saturday.

Comments

jhawk4life51 7 years, 1 month ago

Congrats Seniors!! Thank you for all the great memories, you guys did things the right way.

craigers 7 years, 1 month ago

Self will need to bring in some heart after this year. These guys have kept the passion going on the court. You seniors are fabulous. Thanks for being so enjoyable to watch.

mom_of_three 7 years, 1 month ago

I remember seeing Darnell Jackson watching Danny Manning's basketball camp one year, and the kids immediately recognized who he was. he did a couple of dunks, and gave some kids autographs. I think he was surprised at the attention.

tyson travis 7 years, 1 month ago

Need to re-emphasize that together with their outstanding contributions on the court, the article noted that all will GRADUATE in four years! Nice to note that we haven't lost sight of the fact that this is all supposed to be about getting an education. Thanks, guys, we love you and appreciate the sacrifices you've made to get the team and yourselves to where you are now. Go Blue!

SoupBone 7 years, 1 month ago

This year's seniors...they are what college basketball is all about! They are all very impressive young men who have made the most of their abilities and opportunities.

Kudos to Bill Self for running a great program and kudos to all these young ambassadors of KU basketball!!

kansas778 7 years, 1 month ago

Four year record: 107-23 and counting. Three time Big 12 champs or co-champs and counting.

A great class and job well done!

AlligatorMama 7 years, 1 month ago

You will all be missed! Thanks for 4 great years!!!

Armen Kurdian 7 years, 1 month ago

I think Kaun may have a decent shot at play in the NBA based on this year. Two years ago I would have said no way...but he is so much more aggressive, and he's stronger. He's also been playing smarter, because so often you see him where he needs to be, w/in 5 ft. of the basket. Anyone think I'm out to lunch?

labmonkey 7 years, 1 month ago

Good guys. I doubt there will be any classless speeches like Arron Miles's.

hail2oldku 7 years, 1 month ago

I just hope that the one year hiatus brings some sense back to this activity. I'm all for the recognition and everything, but at the same time this has gotten out of hand a bit the last few years.

I feel the same way about the skits at Late Night. Too long, little/no creativity any more, etc.

I'm starting to turn into that grumpy old man.

jhawkrx10 7 years, 1 month ago

As a fellow 4th year KU student (can't say senior becasue I'm in a 6 year program), I have had the opportunity to watch these guys from the beginning. There were times where I was frustrated with their play but overall, I don't think there could be a better overall class of guys. Sure there are individual talents out there that may be better, but as a team (which is what the game is about) they have had amazing successes, both on and off the court. I am sad to see them leave, but know they will all be successful in whatever they choose to do. I'll be sure to be at the game tonight, giving all 5 of them a standing ovation, along with the other 16,299 fans that will be in attendance.

Congrats seniors, thank you, and best of luck!

duckschooler 7 years, 1 month ago

Great job seniors, I can't imagine how they feel. I'm at the high school level and playing football on my senior night was something special. All the emotions going through my body and all the thoughts of the future it only happens once. Make the most of it.

Sean Livingstone 7 years, 1 month ago

Thanks for the great jobs! I hope everyone will do great in NBA to continue your great work and so that we won't be missing you all afterall!

xyz 7 years, 1 month ago

Last time to hear "New York, New York!!!!!!" at Allen. I will miss that special touch for a special player!

Here's to a great Senior nite for 5 great Hawks, a big win against Tech, and a big sendoff as we hit the road to the Big Dance!

Jeff Kilgore 7 years, 1 month ago

What a group! Jayhawk fans have really enjoyed the past four years and wish all of you the best. My son, a KU Sr. and I have talked a lot about your effort and class. YOU WILL BE MISSED!!! Good luck tonight, at Sprint, and in the Big Dance.

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