There’s a good chance best friends Jordan Juenemann of Kansas University and Jason Ball of Fort Hays State will guard each other in Tuesday’s 7 p.m. exhibition basketball game in Allen Fieldhouse.
“I was thinking about that today,” Juenemann, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound senior, said of being assigned to stop his 6-1, 170-pound Hays grade-school, middle-school and high-school teammate/buddy. “I like him so much, but when it’s out on the floor, it’s business. After the game, it’ll be all laughs and smiles, not during the game.”
Ball — who says he and Juenemann are “dead even in 1-on-1 games on the driveway” throughout the years — agrees that “once the game starts, it’s business. Afterwards it’s back to being best friends.”
KU is coming off Tuesday’s 84-55 victory over Pittsburg State.
Fort Hays State, meanwhile, fell to Kansas State, 90-60, on Sunday in Manhattan.
“Jason is probably the best shooter I’ve played with. He’s a pure shooter like Conner (Teahan),” Juenemann said.
Of course, Ball returned the compliment: “Jordan’s a strong player. He has good ball-handling skills, a good defensive player with the ability to knock down the open shot. He’s pretty well-rounded.”
A walk-on, Juenemann figures to land significant playing time for the second consecutive game. Called on to play point guard with Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson serving two-game exhibition suspensions, Juenemann scored four points, grabbed five rebounds, dished one assist and committed two turnovers while logging 15 minutes against the Gorillas.
“It was fun running the point. I always wanted to do it,” Juenemann said. “Being a little short(handed), a lot of guys do have an opportunity to play more.”
It took the Jayhawks a while to shake Pitt State last week. KU, which also was without Thomas Robinson (hyperextended knee), led by just five points at halftime.
Self said Sunday that Robinson has been practicing and likely would play against FHSU.
“Coach talked to us while we were preparing for the game. We know we are Kansas,” Juenemann said. “No matter what, whether regulars or reserves, we are practicing with those guys every day, and we are coming out here representing so much that’s bigger than ourselves.
“There’s a sense of pride when you put on that jersey or get out on the court to perform no matter who we are playing. We have to come out with that swagger and confidence and trust ourselves.”
Fort Hays State won the MIAA last year and is picked to place third in the 11-team league this season. There are five Kansans on the Tigers’ roster.
“I’ve been a Kansas fan all my life. I still am,” said Ball, who has worked out with the KU players many times thanks to his friendship with Juenemann. “I’ve always been a Fort Hays fan, too. I kind of wanted to stick around and play in front of the hometown crowd.”
Juenemann played four minutes, Ball two minutes in KU’s 107-68 victory over Fort Hays State on Nov. 3, 2009, in Allen.
“It’s playing at a different level. In my opinion, it’s the best place to play college basketball in the country,” Ball said.
A good place to catch up with a best buddy, as well.
“I’m looking forward to seeing him,” Ball said.