Kansas University junior guard Brady Morningstar, who today makes his season debut after serving a nine-game suspension, admits it was difficult to watch from the bench.
“I have a funny story. I was walking (out of huddle) after a timeout. Some little kid asked me, ‘How come you are not playing?’’’ Morningstar related. “I had a boot on my foot (because of stress fracture). I pointed to the boot. He (child) was, ‘Oh, all right.’ I guess he didn’t know (of Morningstar’s suspension for arrest on suspicion of DUI).
“Everyone knows what the deal was. I’m not trying to hide anything. Now I’m eligible.”
Being from Lawrence made coach Bill Self’s punishment even tougher to take.
“You know a lot of people and they all have supported you. You let somebody down, you have to gain their trust back. I think I’ve done that for the most part,” Morningstar said. “The punishment ... I never questioned it. He knows what he’s doing. It’s why he’s one of the best coaches in the country.”
Self admitted Morningstar’s punishment may have been excessively harsh because of the timing, coming right after a fight between the football and basketball teams.
“He’s taken his medicine and moved on,” Self said. “I think he’ll be a better man because of it. I think it’s helped him mature and grow up. If that plays out to be true, then it wasn’t wasted.”
Freshman center Jeff Withey is eligible to play in his first game today. He sat out first semester in accordance with NCAA transfer rules. Withey doesn’t figure to play major minutes.
“It’s not a knock to Jeff. He’s behind seven weeks because he wasn’t able to practice (because of stress fracture in knee). He just started this week and was not able to go every day.
“He’s still a month away from really impacting our team,” Self said.
Self cracked a joke about Withey and Morningstar coming aboard. “Next to (Roy) Halladay going to the Phillies and (Cliff) Lee going to the Mariners, our acquisitions are about as good as anybody made,” Self said. “We didn’t have to give anybody up.”
New KU football coach Turner Gill will be introduced at halftime. ... KU athletic director Lew Perkins will present former KU great John McLendon’s widow, Joanna, with a $10,000 check from Kansas Athletics to the McLendon Foundation. ... Today’s game is billed as the “Green Game” with both teams wearing special warmups to show support for sustainability. ... A “Wave Cam” will be placed above the court for use by ESPN.
Taylor to start
Tyshawn Taylor will start today after coming off the bench the last two games. “I feel I earned it back,” said Taylor, who had been replaced by freshman Elijah Johnson. “Coach took me out for the right reasons.”
Breakfast in Allen
The Jayhawks will be up bright and early for today’s 11 a.m. start: “The fun thing is the fieldhouse will be packed. It’ll be a warm morning, one of those fun ones you really look forward to waking up,” KU junior Cole Aldrich said.
Senior Sherron Collins said he had just one final exam. “I’m a senior, baby,” Collins cracked. “It’s crazy. I remember when I first got here. It’s gone by fast. I wish it would have gone by slower.”