Phoenix native Royce Woolridge admits the winter of 2010-11 has provided a shock to his system.
“Not too bad. I’ve got some new jackets and stuff, but it’s a little cold, definitely,” said the 6-foot-3, 182-pound freshman guard out of Sunnyslope High.
“I’ve been learning a lot,” Woolridge added, not referring so much to the climate, but competing at the high-major college level. “It’s been a great experience for me to be able to practice with all the players and learn from them.
“The biggest challenge is defense and learning where to be defensively, but everybody on the team is helping me work on that,” added Woolridge, who has logged an average of 3.9 minutes a game in nine of KU’s 16 games. He’s scored nine points with nine assists against three turnovers.
“Defense is probably the hardest part, to get it and understand it. Coach (Bill Self) gets on everybody because he wants perfection when it comes to defense. That’s one thing he wants us to be perfect at.”
A natural scorer who averaged 30.2 points per game last season, Woolridge has been working at both shooting guard and point guard on the scout team at practice.
“I wanted to see if there’s other things I could do to help the team out. I feel if I worked on my point guard skills I’d have both aspects of my game and it’d help my game out,” Woolridge said.
“I’ve learned so much already. I’ve learned I’m capable of doing things I didn’t think I was capable of doing because they (teammates) push me harder to work on my game more.”
Woolridge, who is not part of the rotation, said he’s never second-guessed his decision to play and not red-shirt this season.
“I knew I wanted to play a little bit this year and have a little bit of experience,” he said. “It wasn’t really like a decision thing. It was just something that happened. I’m just happy to be part of the team and be able to be around all these players and like an organization like this. That (playing time) is nothing that’s a problem at all with me. I’m just happy to be here.”
Self had no problem with Woolridge electing to play this season.
“I didn’t talk to him a lot about it. If we want to red-shirt him moving forward we can red-shirt him moving forward,” Self said. “Royce has shown some flashes of doing some good things. He’s behind in some areas. He’s also behind some guys we think are pretty good. Russell (Robinson) didn’t play as a freshman and there’s some other good players that didn’t play much as a freshman. Hopefully he’ll continue to get better and mature physically and do a couple things where he can be part of our rotation moving forward.”
KU junior Marcus Morris likes what he’s seen from Woolridge.
“He is always trying to make us better. He’s a great kid. He’s going to be one of the better players to come out of Kansas,” Morris said.
Woolridge, who has kicked homesickness, admits he misses one individual greatly — his mom, Victoria.
“Whenever she gets a chance. I think two or three times already,” Woolridge said of the times his mom has visited Lawrence. “Whenever I can get her out here to come see a game or something, she always comes out here. It’s kind of hard not to have my mom here, but it’s still cool, because I still talk to her all the time. I miss her, of course, but it’s cool to at least keep in touch with her and hear from her all the time.”
Releford update: KU sophomore Travis Releford, who sprained his left ankle in the first half of Sunday's Michigan game, is doubtful for today’s 1 p.m. game against Nebraska.
“It’s a little disappointing, because I thought he would be back by now. We all did, and he's worked hard getting treatment, but it still may be a couple more days,” Self said.
Self said it was not a high-ankle sprain.
“Just a sprain. Pretty severe one, though,” Self said.
Brown off NU team: NU junior reserve guard Kamyron Brown, who was suspended 10 games in November and December for unspecified reasons, on Friday was dismissed from the team.
Happy to be here: NU junior guard Caleb Walker attended Hutchinson High School and Butler County Community College. Playing in Allen Fieldhouse today fulfills a dream.
He told the Lincoln Journal-Star he attended basketball camps at KU as a youth and thought about becoming a Jayhawk.
“Definitely when I was a kid because I was kind of a big KU fan,” he said. “That place is crazy,” he added of the fieldhouse. “It’s going to be nice having a chance to play in that building on Saturday.”
Superman not needed: Coach Doc Sadler’s Nebraska team led KU by four points with 13 minutes left in last year’s 75-64 loss in Allen. The Huskers went 2-14 in league a year ago; KU 15-1.
“As I told the team, I think this is the first year since I’ve been here that every time we go on the court, we should have the mind-set that we don’t have to play like Superman to win,” Sadler told the Journal-Star. “We had our opportunities (Wednesday in 77-69 loss at Missouri) but we did not get it done. I know the players are disappointed. I’m disappointed, but it's over.”
Today: KU’s 1971 Final Four team will be honored at halftime today. Also, members of the 1952 title team will be recognized during a timeout.