Kansas City, Mo. Colorado State sophomore guard Dorian Green, who grew up a big Kansas University basketball/football fan, today gets a chance to compete against his second-favorite school.
“It will be a little odd playing KU because in Kansas, there’s not much to do, so you entertain yourself with KU sports, especially basketball. In Lawrence, KU’s pretty much everything,” said Green, a 6-foot-2, 170-pounder out of Lawrence High School.
The Rams (4-2) and Jayhawks (8-0) will tangle at 5:30 p.m. today in Sprint Center in a game Green — the son of former KU football standout Darren Green — has been looking forward to for a long time.
“This is a week we circled on the calendar, definitely. It’s going to be weird at first, but it’s just going to be fun to come home and play,” Green said.
He has heard from hordes of family members and friends who are looking forward to the homecoming.
“I’ve been getting messages on Facebook and texts from friends saying they can’t wait until Saturday. Most of my friends from high school and growing up are going to KU, so I’m assuming I’ll see most of them at the game,” Green said.
He told CSU’s athletic-media-relations office that his dad’s side of the family recently purchased 25 tickets and that his mom’s side bought around 30.
“Pretty much all of the people I went to high school with go to KU, so I’m excited to see who shows up and just talk to some people I haven’t seen in a while,” said Green, a two-year starter for the Rams who averages 7.0 points and 1.8 rebounds a game.
Surprisingly, not too many of Green’s pals have requested tickets.
“It’s not too bad,” he said. “My family’s been trying to get an idea of how many people were going to go, so I know they bought a bunch of tickets.”
Green realizes the demand would likely be greater if the game was to be played in Lawrence.
“I think it would've been a unique experience to play at Allen Fieldhouse just because it’s one of the top five places to play in the country,” Green said. “Sprint Center’s going to be different and I’m pretty much just really excited to come home and play in front of my friends and family. Either way, I’m happy with it. I’ve never actually been in the Sprint Center, so I’m excited to go in there.”
Green — he spoke to KU’s coaching staff about perhaps walking on the team, but ultimately decided to pursue a scholarship offer at CSU — averaged a team-best 11.8 points a game as a freshman.
He not only started all 32 games, but led the Mountain West Conference at 35.0 minutes played per game and helped the Rams to a berth in the College Basketball Invitational Tournament. It marked CSU’s first postseason appearance since 2003.
“I kind of got thrown into the fire last year and got to play a lot right away and that really helped me,” said Green, who said he’s gained at least 15 pounds since his senior year at LHS. “I’ve put on some weight and matured and gotten stronger. College basketball’s just such a different level than high school and that’s really helped me.
“I can’t have asked for anything better than what I’ve been able to experience so far,” added Green, a 50 percent shooter who is down to 25.5 minutes per game so far this season.
He has no bragging rights at stake against individual KU players today.
“I don’t know (Jayhawks) them too well personally, but I’ll get to know them through scouting and during the game,” Green said.
He scored six points and grabbed four rebounds in Wednesday’s 90-83 overtime loss at Colorado. The Rams have also lost to Sam Houston State (92-81) and defeated Arkansas-Pine Bluff (82-51), Denver (77-66), Drake (78-67) and Fresno State (87-74).
CSU, which averages 81.3 ppg, is led by senior forward Andy Ogide (17.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 68.2 fg percentage) and senior forward Travis Franklin (16.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg). Iowa State transfer Wes Eikmeier, a sophomore guard, averages 8.2 ppg.
“Colorado we think is pretty good and that game was in Boulder. That tells me right there, they (Rams) are very capable,” KU coach Bill Self said. “It will be a good test for us. Dorian Green is a good player who is coming home. He’ll have everybody jacked up. Of course they’ll be jacked up anyway. I’m sure the crowd will be good. We need to play better. We have not played very well the last two weeks, to be honest with you.”
Green — he’s hit 13 of 26 shots including eight of 16 threes — realizes today’s matchup may be the Rams’ most difficult all season.
“Just to come in confident and be aggressive,” Green said of goals. “If we can be solid defensively and limit our mistakes, don’t turn the ball over, that’s going to help us a lot.
“For us, we always talk about being special and that’s winning big games, making the (NCAA) tournament and trying to win when we get there. That’s our goal.”
The series: KU, which has never met CSU, is 17-4 against the Mountain West Conference. KU beat UNLV, 75-56, in a second-round 2008 NCAA Tournament Midwest Region game in Omaha, Neb. ... CSU, which is located in Fort Collins, has an enrollment of 26,348.
Home away from home: KU is 9-2 in Sprint Center after winning the 2010 Big 12 Championship. KU went 4-0 in 2009-10, 1-2 in 2008-09 and 4-0 in 2007-08.
“The Sprint Center has been good to me so far so I like it,” said KU junior Tyshawn Taylor. “It’s cool. We have to get ready for playing away from Allen Fieldhouse. I think we're kind of spoiled, honestly. I feel so much more comfortable at the fieldhouse. I think it’s better that we play away more so that we can get ready for the away games.”
“It’s always good to play at different places,” noted sophomore Thomas Robinson. “I feel we are at home at Sprint Center.”
KU is 80-24 at KC’s Kemper Arena.
Interest: Green on walk-on recruiting interest from KU: “I know coach (Danny) Manning talked to my dad a little bit. But I didn't really get too deep into talking to them.”
Recruiting: DeAndre Daniels, a 6-9, 197-pound senior small forward from IMG Academies in Bradenton, Fla., is considering enrolling at a college in January. Daniels, who is visiting Kentucky this weekend, made recent trips to KU and Oregon. He is also considering Texas, Alabama, North Carolina State, UCLA and Baylor.
“He made a commitment to come to us for an entire year because he knew he needed to get bigger, stronger and more competitive to be the type of player he wants to be on the Division 1 level,” IMG Academy’s Andy Borman told Zagsblog.net. “Because of his hard work and success in the last three months, his dad and DeAndre and us are contemplating sending him somewhere at the semester. It’s not set in stone. We have sped up his recruiting process, so that if he does find a home at the semester, that he and his dad are very comfortable with, then he is going to go.”
Daniels’ coach said he could opt to play right away in college or red-shirt and wait until the 2011-12 season to compete.