Archive for Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Illnesses burden Aldrich

Ailing junior worried about his grandmother

Kansas center Cole Aldrich drives past Michigan forward Deshawn Sims during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2009 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Cole Aldrich drives past Michigan forward Deshawn Sims during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2009 at Allen Fieldhouse.

December 22, 2009


Cole Aldrich has been reluctant to reveal any reasons for his so-so play so far this men’s basketball season.

“Me personally, I never make excuses for anything. You just keep on fighting,” said Aldrich, Kansas University’s 6-foot-11, 245-pound junior center from Bloomington, Minn.

The past several weeks, Aldrich been battling an illness, which coach Bill Self on Monday identified as bronchitis.

“I call it some crap in my throat,” said Aldrich, who takes an 11.3-point, 9.7-rebound average into today’s 8 p.m. home game against California. “It’s one of those nagging things.”

More importantly, the preseason All-American is facing a serious illness in his immediate family. Cole’s grandmother, Ann, has terminal lung cancer and is in hospice care back home in Minnesota.

“My grandma is not doing very well right now. She’s struggling,” Aldrich said after Monday’s practice. “I don’t know how long she’s going to live.

“I am hoping she’s still there when I go home (Wednesday for Christmas break). I’ll be home Wednesday, and hopefully I can see her,” he added of his dad’s mom.

Ann Aldrich turned 79 in August.

“It’s one those things you have to keep your head up and just keep on fighting through,” said Cole, who went 0-for-3 shooting and scored five points with 11 rebounds in Saturday’s victory over Michigan.

Cole’s dad, Walter, said it has been difficult to read his son’s emotions lately.

“He’s a tough kid. He doesn’t say much,” Walter said. “Him being sick ... he didn’t tell the coach or anything. I imagine it (grandmother’s condition) is in the back of his head, at least.”

Self said he has noticed that Aldrich, who tonight faces 7-3 Cal center Max Zhang, has been laboring physically on the court.

“I knew he didn’t feel great. After watching and studying him, he really doesn’t feel very well,” Self said. “He’s having a hard time breathing. He’s OK. He’s got a bug right now, which a lot of people get.”

Self has said Aldrich has a lot on his plate.

“I think there’s a lot of things going on with Cole that’s a little different than last year,” Self said. “The expectations bit is a small piece of it. I think family health is a big piece of it. Different personnel and roles (on KU’s team) are a piece of it. Him being sick is a piece of it. The combination of things has kept him from being as good as he can be. The last two practices, he’s been great. It’s a matter of time before he bounces out of it and has some big games.”

Senior Sherron Collins thinks winter break — the Jayhawks are free to leave town after tonight’s game, then report back Saturday —will help his buddy.

“Hopefully he stays inside. We all know how cold it gets in Minnesota,” Collins said with a smile. “We’ll just wait for him to get back. We need him.”

Collins says there’s no doubt Aldrich has been less than 100 percent the last four weeks.

“It has affected him a lot, shot-blocking, rebounding the ball,” Collins said. “I see him gasping for air more than he usually does. I’d never seen him use an inhaler before. He’s got to use one now. He has to get over that bug.”

Aldrich’s roommate, Tyrel Reed, says Cole “says he’s been sleeping fine. Once he wakes up, he’s tired and has a lot of stuff in his chest taking his wind away. He has the holiday to get to go home and see his family a bit. Hopefully he gets over it soon.”

Aldrich said he never considered taking any time off to try to shake the bug.

“There’s no time to sit out,” said Aldrich, who had final exams last week. “We’ve got a game tomorrow, then are fortunate enough to go home over Christmas and spend some time with the family. I’ll probably hit the gym, but get a little extra rest.”

As far as today’s challenge ... Zhang (4.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg) has eight blocks in his last four games.

“I’ve got the scouting report right here. Obviously, being 7-3, he’s going to be good,” Aldrich said of the 240-pounder. “He’s good. He’s kind of like Jeff (Withey) in a small little way. Jeff is good for our big guys in the post. He makes us think about the shots we take and contests them well.”

Aldrich would love to get off to a good start tonight.

“I’ll stay aggressive, post hard and continue to talk to our guards and get the bigs the ball,” Aldrich said. “I think we’ve got some great big guys and guards who can feed the post real well.

“I’m just happy to win,” he added. “It’s what it comes down to. I’m an unselfish person whether I get this number of shots or that number. As long as we win, I’m happy.”


mae 8 years, 6 months ago

Hang in there cole, your family has our prayers.

countrygirl 8 years, 6 months ago

That's a rough thing to have to deal with when you're a long way from home and then sick yourself. Prayers to you and your grandma Cole.

domino 8 years, 6 months ago

Having lost a loved one to lung cancer, I understand how tough it is. The Aldrich family will be in my prayers.

onceajhawkalwaysajhawk 8 years, 6 months ago

Cole - You and your family are in my prayers. Focus on the great things you and your Grand Mother shared together. She's lucky to have a grandson like you!

givingisfun 8 years, 6 months ago

Cole, my prayers and thoughts are also with you and your family. Also, here is a verse from the bible that has always helped me. "Let us run the race that is before us and never give up." Hebrews 12:1

Robert Rauktis 8 years, 6 months ago

Given age and non-smoking history, along with what looks like Scandanavian or northern European ancestry, Mr. Aldrich should think about having alpha-trypsin deficiency. Needless-to-say, in these people, just like smokers, bronchitis can linger and probably needs to be treated with greater attention to rest rest, along with antibiotics, than the usual twenty year old with a cough. Otherwise, it will linger.

ack 8 years, 6 months ago

Being raised by my Grandma i know how important they are to everyone in the family. My prayers to you and your family. I met your Dad and Mom last year at ;Sunflower so i know you are a close knit family. Nothing like good old Minneasota chicken soup and rest for that bronchitis...

JHawker 8 years, 6 months ago

You and your family are in our thoughs Cole. Take care of yourself, especially with the flu going around - it hits particularly hard with people who have had lung problems such as pneumonia or bronchitis. May you have a happy and healthy Christmas!

Daniel Speicher 8 years, 6 months ago

Cole, my grandma played a large part in my upbringing and I loved her very much. She passed away when I was 15 from lung cancer. I know how difficult it is to watch someone you love go through that. I can only imagine how hard it is to not be with her. I will be praying for you and your family.

I'm sure she's incredibly proud of you and the progress you've made in your life. Your attitude matches your talent pound for pound and that is something that she can feel a direct connection to. Keep your chin up, Cole. You've got an entire town full of fans who are behind you.

--Danny Speicher

Jerry Collins 8 years, 6 months ago

I think the above messages tell you how we feel about you. When you see your grandma, tell her a lot of Jayhawk fans are praying for her.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.