2008 Oct. 31 KU basketball practice
Kansas University junior guard Tyrone Appleton, who has been nursing a hip-flexor injury since the end of basketball Boot Camp on Oct. 10, finally was cleared to practice full time on Thursday.
"It was very tough sitting out, seeing my teammates go through the motions and not being able to do the stuff they do. Now that I'm back, it's good," Appleton, a 6-foot-2 transfer out of Midland (Texas) Community College, said Friday.
"Yesterday was tough, me going up and down the floor. Everybody else has been out there. It's my first time back. It'll take awhile (to get in great shape)," Appleton added.
Appleton said he suffered the injury slipping during a drill at the tail end of KU's Boot Camp conditioning.
Day after day he hoped to be back, but his hip wouldn't fully cooperate until Thursday.
"I wasn't getting scared (he might miss significant portion of season). Always in my mind I knew I'm a pretty tough kid. I felt I'd get back. It just took time," Appleton said.
"It was very frustrating for me. Coach (Bill Self) said to keep a positive attitude, don't rush it back, take your time and get healthy."
Appleton, who missed the scrimmage at Late Night in the Phog, might be ready for some minutes in Tuesday's exhibition opener against Washburn.
"He's been out three weeks. He's a little behind," Self said. "I think a week from now he'll be much more comfortable playing rather than trying to survive. We've put enough stuff in (where) it's difficult for a guy to step in and be totally comfortable right now. He has a chance to help us if he can pick stuff up quickly, which I think he can."
¢ ¢ ¢
Little update: Junior guard/forward Mario Little is still on crutches a week after total rest was prescribed for the stress fracture in his lower-left leg.
"He's definitely out for an extended period of time. We don't know if that's two weeks from today. We don't know if that's five weeks from today," Self said. "We're hoping he's a fast healer.
"We desperately need him to be healthy. He's so new that he doesn't really know what we are doing, so he is missing some very valuable practice time. It will set our team back a little bit. It also provides an opportunity for somebody to step up."
¢ ¢ ¢
Not thinking 'bout starters: Self said he's not close to picking a starting lineup for Tuesday's 7 p.m. exhibition.
"We have two starters now (Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich). They tell me you have to actually start five," Self cracked. "We've got to come up with three more in the next few days.
"To me, that is not really important. That hasn't been our goal at all, try to tell who the starters are for the exhibition game. We are just trying to get better and look at different combinations."
¢ ¢ ¢
Trick-or-treat: Sophomore center Aldrich had plans for Halloween night.
"I will take a family friend of ours' kids trick-or-treating. It's a tradition of mine to go out trick-or-treating every year on my birthday," said Aldrich, who turned 20 on Friday.
"I think maybe a gorilla costume, just a gorilla head," he said.
Will that be his disguise so he won't have to sign autographs?
"I'm pretty sneaky with my height that way," the 6-11, 245-pounder said.
¢ ¢ ¢
Halloween holiday: Sherron Collins said his son Sherr'mari was looking forward to Halloween back in Chicago.
"Actually he will be a SpongeBob SquarePants. I'm going to get some pictures," Collins said.
¢ ¢ ¢
Ugly moments: Self said the young Jayhawks have had some growing pains at practice.
"I am anxious to watch us play (Tuesday). I hope we are a better 'game team' than we are a 'practice team' right now," Self said.
"I have not been real pleased in practice, not because they are not trying. We are just careless. I think that's primarily youth, so hopefully when the bright lights come on, we'll perform a little bit better than we do in practice. Consistently lately we have not been quite where we were earlier, I think primarily because we are young and ready to play someone else."
Self said he felt the Jayhawks' style of play might eventually rival last year's quick pace, but no way the Jayhawks would be a run and gun unit just yet.
"Sometimes the faster young kids play, the more careless they become. We will not sacrifice taking care of the ball for the appearance of playing faster," he said. "We have to find ourselves a little bit. I think this team can play fast, don't get me wrong. To say we can play as fast as last year's team isn't true yet."
¢ ¢ ¢
Ankle's OK: Soph guard Conner Teahan is back after missing some time with a sprained ankle.
"I rolled it, nothing real serious, I was out a day and a half," Teahan said. "Everything is fine with me."