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Archive for Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Kansas University’s seniors will have one more hometown go-round

Kansas University men's basketball seniors, from left, Darnell Jackson, Rodrick Stewart, Russell Robinson, Sasha Kaun and Jeremy Case, wait to check in on Senior Night in March. Stewart, recovering from knee surgery, will coach his teammates in a barnstorming game tonight at Lawrence High.

Kansas University men's basketball seniors, from left, Darnell Jackson, Rodrick Stewart, Russell Robinson, Sasha Kaun and Jeremy Case, wait to check in on Senior Night in March. Stewart, recovering from knee surgery, will coach his teammates in a barnstorming game tonight at Lawrence High.

May 14, 2008

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KU seniors to play charity hoops game

The seniors from the National Champion Kansas basketball team have one game left on the Lawrence hardwood. It takes place tomorrow night at Lawrence High School as part of the Barnstormers Tour. Enlarge video

Kansas University men's basketball seniors, from left, Darnell Jackson, Rodrick Stewart, Russell Robinson, Sasha Kaun and Jeremy Case, wait to check in on Senior Night in March. Stewart, recovering from knee surgery, will coach his teammates in a barnstorming game tonight at Lawrence High.

Kansas University men's basketball seniors, from left, Darnell Jackson, Rodrick Stewart, Russell Robinson, Sasha Kaun and Jeremy Case, wait to check in on Senior Night in March. Stewart, recovering from knee surgery, will coach his teammates in a barnstorming game tonight at Lawrence High.

These days, two groups of basketball players dominate the brains of obsessed fans of Kansas University hoops.

Group 1: Darrell Arthur, Brandon Rush and Mario Chalmers and the intrigue of where they will be chosen in the NBA Draft inspires interesting conversation.

Group 2: Incoming high school recruits Marcus and Markieff Morris, Travis Releford, Tyshawn Taylor, Quintrell Thomas and junior-college signees Tyrone Appleton and Mario Little represent the unknown. They raise so many questions. At this point all anybody can do is guess at answers.

Who will arrive the most ready to play Division I basketball, based on his knowledge of the game and understanding of the effort level required to compete at the big-time level? Taylor.

Who has the highest ceiling? Marcus Morris.

Who has a shot at becoming a lock-down defender? Little.

Which player stands to benefit the most from Danny Manning's instruction? Markieff Morris.

As thoughts of NBA Draft choices and incoming Jayhawks clutter imaginations, the old reliables who formed the blue-collar backbone of the national champions have been having a blast and making a little money forming the latest rendition of the Kansas Barnstormers.

As usual, the KU Class of 2008, even with NCAA championship rings on their fingers, flies a steady path under the radar. Not a first-round draft choice among them. Not much draft buzz, though Sasha Kaun and Darnell Jackson are candidates for selection in the second round of the draft. Russell Robinson hopes to get a shot to play for pay somewhere. Rodrick Stewart is recovering from knee surgery. Jeremy Case wants to become a coach.

All five contributed to such a memorable Senior Night in their final games played in Allen Fieldhouse. They play for a different team now, one whose brief season comes to an end tonight. Former walk-on Brad Witherspoon, Robinson, Case, Jackson and Kaun represent the Kansas Barnstormers. One more time, they will entertain a Lawrence audience tonight in the Lawrence High gym, also known as The Jungle, a far more upbeat one than Upton Sinclair's.

The Barnstormers take on a team made up of area all-stars: Baba Diallo and John Schneider of LHS, Craig Rosenstengle and Weston Wiebe of Free State, Mike Berg of Baldwin, Eudora's D.J. Fritzel, Gabe Belobrajdic of Tonganoxie, Caleb Denton of Perry-Lecompton, Tanner Swafford of Basehor-Linwood and Lawrence High state champion Danielle Bird.

Obviously, the Kansas Barnstormers are favored to preserve their perfect record. For one thing, the Barnstormers have a prohibitive advantage in the coaching department. Too injured to play, Stewart will coach his former teammates. Radio personality David Lawrence, TV star Kevin Romary and I will coach the area all-stars. Another way of describing that trio: a former football star, a terrific golfer and a horrendous golfer.

In the second half, the Barnstormers will branch out from conventional basketball and try their hands at Harlem Globetrotters-type entertainment.

The basketball won't be at the same level as that played at Allen Fieldhouse, but the opportunity for personal interaction will be greater, the price of admission ($10) more affordable. Doors swing open at 5:30 p.m., when the players will be available to give autographs until 7:15. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30. At one table, "An Incredible Year," Sunflower Publishing's book on the KU basketball season, will be on sale.

Those not interested in autographs might want to stop by to thank Robinson for defining the word teammate to perfection, Kaun for his big game against Davidson, Jackson for keeping Julian Wright's early departure to the NBA from hurting KU, Case for his shooting exhibition on Senior Night, Stewart for filling in early before Rush was ready for full-time duty in the wake of knee surgery and Witherspoon for bringing maximum effort daily in practice.

Tons of tickets, which will be on sale from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at LHS and at the door starting at 5:30, remained as of Tuesday. Here's hoping the place is packed and, for one more night, the spotlight shifts to a special senior class, before minds drift back to thinking about the NBA Draft one minute, the incoming recruiting class the next.

Comments

mom_of_three 6 years, 7 months ago

And don't forgot the $10 proceeds will benefit the Devin McAnderson medical fund....

Confrontation 6 years, 7 months ago

I attended the last round of barn storming when Simien's class graduated. It was a lot of fun, and none of the KU players took the game seriously. The high school players like to pretend like it's a real game, but it's really about fundraising.

Jeff Kilgore 6 years, 7 months ago

P11, ease up on the area kids. Most kids can't start anywhere. Did you?

TopJayhawk 6 years, 7 months ago

I notice there are none from Topeka where there are real all-stars. State champs Hayden and High Park.. would mop up the others.

mom_of_three 6 years, 7 months ago

I think alm77 was thinking about all the incoming T's to keep straight, because I thought about the same thing...

opie8 6 years, 7 months ago

omg, the kshsaa all state team?! somebody set up the autograph booth for this pimp!

pimp11 6 years, 7 months ago

Kilgore- Actually, yes I did. Also was a member of KSHSAA All State team. Whats your point again?

mom_of_three 6 years, 7 months ago

The fundraiser is for the medical expenses for Devin McAnderson, a LHS alum and assistant football coach for LHS. He has cancer. There have been articles in the paper about his cancer from last fall. He is also Brandon McAnderson's brother. They are a great family and need the community support.

alm77 6 years, 7 months ago

Let me get this straight, I'm supposed to keep up with a Travis, a Tyshawn Taylor, a Thomas and a Tyrone? Oh, boy..... I still haven't gotten all of this year's freshman down yet.

pimp11 6 years, 7 months ago

TopJayhawk- My point exactly. Opie- get real; He asked, I told.

pimp11 6 years, 7 months ago

Area All-Stars??? Fritzel MAYBE started half the games at Eudora. Cant speak for the other kids the from the smaller schools; but dont classify them as all stars unless they are.

JHawker 6 years, 7 months ago

If only I weren't working tonight or writing a 25 page paper, i would definitely go to the game! that sounds like a lot of fun, a fabulous group of barnstormers and what looks like great all-stars, i've heard some really great things about LHS's Danielle Bird. Is there any more information about what the fundraiser is for??

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