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Archive for Saturday, February 21, 2009

Gary Bedore’s Kansas basketball notebook

February 21, 2009

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‘Born Ready’ in town

Lance Stephenson, a 6-foot-5 senior shooting guard from Lincoln High in Brooklyn, N.Y., is expected to attend today’s KU-Nebraska game as part of his official recruiting visit.

Stephenson, Rivals.com’s No. 7-ranked prospect, is considering KU, St. John’s, Maryland, USC and UCLA.

“There is absolutely no doubt that Lance Stephenson is one of the truly elite prospects in the class of 2009,” Rivals.com analyst Shay Wildeboor said. “He is one of the most explosive scorers in the class as well. During the regular season, he averaged 32 points per game. During the playoffs, Lance has averaged 48 points per game.

“Lance, without question, is a difference maker. He has the ability to get to the cup, hit the midrange jumper or do damage from the outside,” Wildeboor added of the McDonald’s All-American.

KU’s student campers are so pumped up over Stephenson’s visit, they have had a flier made for all camping groups to read.

“Lance is a big-time player and we need him at Kansas. If we get this kid, we could cut down the nets in 2010,” the campers’ flier read, asking everybody to chant his name and bring posters to the game.

Stephenson’s nickname is “Born Ready,” as in “born ready to play in the NBA.”

Dime Magazine had a cover story on Stephenson with the headline: “Lance Stephenson, Born Ready. This 17-year-old would be an NBA star right now.”

The magazine deemed him as a “player to watch” way back in the eighth grade.

“Ever since he first burst onto the scene as a 14-year-old, stories have come in from the playgrounds of NYC of Lance giving legit pros and ex-pros the business, everyone from Jamal Crawford to Joe Forte,” Dime Magazine wrote.

Stephenson told Zagsblog.net he could announce his college choice March 21 after the PSAL championship game at Madison Square Garden, assuming Lincoln gets there.

Little working 2 positions

KU junior power forward Mario Little said it’s been a challenge learning the small forward position the past couple weeks.

“It’s tiring a little bit. Trying to do both, not making the plays, getting yelled at a little bit,” Little said, adding, “It’s not real hard. The hardest part is defending. I’m not too worried about the offensive end. Defending up and getting beat is the main part, not offensively.”

KU coach Bill Self said there’s not a great difference between small forward and power forward.

“I get a little frustrated sometimes with our guys. They think they are locked into a certain position. If you pick and pop you are a perimeter player. If you play the post you are a perimeter player. He has numerous opportunities to play the perimeter, not as many if he was at the so-called small forward position,” Self said.

Huskers red hot

Nebraska, which plays four, sometimes five guards at a time, has won four of five games since a 68-62 loss to KU on Jan. 28 in Lincoln.

“They are hard to guard. It seems they have seven people on the court every time,” KU freshman Marcus Morris said.

“It always is,” Self said, asked if it was tough playing against a smaller team. “You always worry about that in the NBA or wherever. It creates problems when big guys aren’t used to defending on the perimeter. To me it’s always harder to guard small than big but on the flip side there are advantages (to being taller team). If you control the glass, isolate the post and get the ball inside. But chasing those little guys around, if they are making threes, it makes them pretty hard to guard.”

Facts

KU has won 38 straight games in Allen. ... KU leads the all-time series against NU, 165-71. KU is 48-7 versus NU in Allen Fieldhouse matchups. The Jayhawks have won 12 in a row versus the Huskers and 21 of 22. NU’s last win in the series was a 74-55 decision on Feb. 15, 2004 in Lincoln. ... KU trailed 34-29 at halftime in the last meeting, the Jayhawks’ 68-62 win on Jan. 28 in Lincoln. Sherron Collins scored 17 and Brady Morningstar 11. Ade Dagunduro had 24 for NU.

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