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Archive for Saturday, November 1, 2008

Juco transfer Little has big expectations

November 1, 2008

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The problem with being a Kansas University basketball player named Mario, especially in the wake of the events that transpired in last April's Final Four, is that you have to be specific.

Oftentimes when Mario Little, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound transfer guard, introduces himself by first name only to someone in Lawrence, he'll get a funny look.

"I'm just Mario Little," he'll quickly clarify. "I already know what you're thinking. I didn't hit 'The Shot.'"

When you happen to share a first name with the man who made what might be the biggest shot in Kansas basketball history, it's important to differentiate.

In name alone, Little arrives in Lawrence with some pretty hefty adidas to fill. Add to that the expectations that come with being the nation's No. 1 junior-college prospect, as well as the Big 12's preseason newcomer of the year, as he recently was tapped, and Little enters his first season as a member of the Jayhawks with ample expectations.

"There's pressure," Little admits, "but it's good pressure."

As a sophomore last year at Chipola (Fla.) College, Little averaged 15.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists in helping the Indians to their fifth-straight conference title. And so far this year, he hasn't had much trouble making the transition from junior college to Division-I powerhouse.

During the team's trip to Canada in early September, he was third on the team in scoring with 12.7 points per game, and in one game finished with a team-high 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting.

Heading into the season, Little is trying to prepare as best he can. He sustained a stress fracture in his lower left leg during KU's trip to Canada, and was expected to miss two to four weeks of drills, including KUs two exhibition games.

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