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Archive for Thursday, March 3, 2011

Gary Bedore’s Kansas basketball notebook: Senior speech highlights

Kansas senior Mario Little gave his senior speech after his last game at Allen Fieldhouse on Wednesday, March 2, 2011.

March 3, 2011

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Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self

Kansas coach Bill Self talks to reporters after the Jayhawks' 64-51 victory over Texas A&M on March 2, 2011.

‘I want to thank … ’

Here are some highlights of the postgame speeches of KU’s three seniors, Mario Little, Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed.

Little: Little broke down, bent over to the waist, and sobbed when attempting to thank his 85-year-old grandmother, Hazel Lucille, for helping raise him.

“I want to thank my grandmother for everything she’s done for me. Everything I do is for her — (I give) my whole heart and soul for my grandmother,” Little said.

Of his three-year KU career, the Chicago native, said: “I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs, had to battle through injuries and all types of stuff this year. I want to thank everybody for supporting me and not giving up on me.”

Little’s speech, by the way, went 10 minutes.

Morningstar: The Free State High graduate, who attended prep school a year and red-shirted a year at KU, had the quip of the night thanking coach Bill Self.

“Coach Self ... people look at you like a father figure. You are more like a brother to me because we are about the same age.”

Morningstar broke down and cried when thanking his sisters.

Morningstar’s speech went eight minutes.

Reed: The Burlington native mentioned growing up just an hour or so from Lawrence as a KU fan. He cried when discussing Self.

“I thank coach Self for giving me the opportunity to fulfill my dream, play at the University of Kansas like I always wanted to,” Reed said.

“There’s moments in my career he was on me. I didn’t know how to respond: ‘He hates me. He will send me to Burlington. I’ll never play ball anymore.’ There’s no better place to play in America and no better coach to play for.

“It’s so special for me to be here at KU. I grew up an hour away. I was Paul Pierce in my backyard. I was so thankful coach Self offered me a scholarship here. At first I was scared, a small, white kid from Kansas. I didn’t know if I was going to fit in. With my teammates’ and coaches’ help, I was able to succeed thanks to them.”

Reed’s speech lasted 10 minutes.

Pre-game ceremony recap

Little, Morningstar and Reed were introduced with their families in that order to a shower of flowers tossed by KU’s cheerleaders.

O’Keefe Little, uncle of Mario, bounced up and down as he exited the northwest tunnel onto the court with Mario as well as Mario’s mom, Margie, and Hazel Lucille.

There were no tears during the pregame. Mario Little jokingly put one of stems of the red roses between his teeth. Reed also picked up a rose and pretended to bite it.

Faces in crowd

Former KU coach Larry Brown attended and sat next to former Texas A&M and Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie. Brown was introduced at the 13:50 mark of the first half to a standing ovation. ... Mike McCarthy, head coach of the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers, attended, as did former KU wide receiver Kerry Meier of the Atlanta Falcons.

Turg on the big screen

Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon, a former KU point guard, was included in KU’s pregame video. Turgeon watched and smiled at his inclusion.

Everywhere a sign

Some signs in the fieldhouse for Senior Night included. ...

Kiss Me Tyrel; Luck Be a Brady Tonight; Pay Heed to Reed; We Have the Need For Reed; Reed It and Weep; My Dear Mario, No. 23.

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