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Archive for Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Fresh from Europe, Jayhawks already looking ahead

August 15, 2012

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It took Kansas University’s basketball players, coaches and support staff members about one-third of the time to return from Europe as it took to get there.

The Jayhawks — who flew commercial from Paris to Chicago at 11:30 a.m., (4:30 a.m., Central time) Tuesday, then caught a connecting flight to Kansas City, Mo., at 4 p.m. — touched down at KCI Airport about 5 p.m.

That’s total travel time of 12.5 hours.

On the way to Switzerland on Sunday, Aug. 5, weather-related problems on the East Coast forced the Jayhawks to miss a connecting flight to Zurich and spend the night in Washington, D.C. The Jayhawks finally made it to Switzerland after being re-routed to Germany at 10 a.m., Swiss time last Tuesday — travel time of about 38 hours.

“It went very well,” KU associate athletic director Jim Marchiony said of Tuesday’s return. “Everybody’s a little tired, but it was a great trip.”

Chicago freshmen Milt Doyle and Jamari Traylor remained in the Windy City to spend a few days with relatives before start of first-semester classes Monday. Senior Elijah Johnson and sophomore Naadir Tharpe caught flights in Chicago to Las Vegas and Boston, respectively.

The Jayhawks, who did a lot of sightseeing on the just-completed trip, opened with two victories against the Swiss National Team before dropping two games to French pro teams.

KU coach Bill Self called it an “unbelievable trip. It’s been a lot of fun. Paris is a great place to be. Switzerland was great. We didn’t practice (in Europe after 10 practices in U.S.) so there’s no way we could look good, but still we’re at Kansas, a place that never loses back-to-back games, so that shouldn’t happen either. We’ll take some good things from it.

“I think if anything, it tells us how hard we need to work because we’re not very good right now. I’m not sure anybody’s any good in early August, but we’re certainly not. Our veterans need to really step up because there’s no reason why we should have lost back-to-back games,” Self added.

Obviously the players had a blast on their European vacation.

“Basketball-wise it meant a lot,” said freshman forward Perry Ellis, who averaged 10.3 points and 5.5 rebounds in 14.5 minutes per game over four games. “For a lot of us it was our first time coming overseas. Getting together and bonding ... it was a good experience for us. We always want to win, but still it was a good experience for us.”

“In the locker room, the players all talked about how this is a learning experience,” noted frosh forward Zach Peters, who averaged 5.0 points and 6.3 boards in 14.5 minutes a game. “We have a lot of guys rotating in and everybody is going to learn. What we talked about is how we are working toward March. It’s not about right now. We’ve still got to stay positive and play harder. We’re going to stay positive on it,” Peters added.

Noted senior center Jeff Withey, who averaged 10 points and 8 rebounds while logging 22 minutes a game in three games, said: “We’re going to build off this. It’s only going to get better. It’s going to be a long time before we are all playing great together. It’s going to happen.”

The Jayhawks’ next formal team activity will be Boot Camp conditioning near the end of September. Late Night in the Phog will be the official start of practice on Oct. 12 in Allen Fieldhouse.

Frankamp back: Future KU guard Conner Frankamp, a 6-1 senior from Wichita North, says he’s back on the court fully recovered from a left foot fracture that cut short his AAU season in mid-July. Frankamp said via text message he’ll definitely be able to play in the Under Armour Elite game Aug. 25 in Venice Beach, Calif.

Barber, Williams update: Anthony “Cat” Barber, a 6-foot-2 senior point guard from Hampton (Va.) High, will visit North Carolina State on Sept. 1-3, TheWolfPacker.com reports. Rivals.com’s No. 9-rated player also is considering KU, Louisville and Alabama.

No. 41-rated Troy Williams, a 6-6 senior small forward from Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., and Barber, are considering attending the same school. KU recently entered the mix for Williams.

“We’re about 50/50 on it,” Williams told Zagsblog.com, referring to being a package deal. “We’re going to talk about it more. We’re going to try and either commit and sign in November. If not, we’re going to just wait until the spring.”

Of KU, Williams said: “I’ve been keeping in touch with coach (Bill) Self and coach (Joe) Dooley a lot. They’re also recruiting Cat, too, so they’re looking to get us together.”

Williams, who will visit Alabama this weekend, also is considering Indiana, South Carolina, Arkansas, Georgetown, Memphis and Ohio State.

Lee to visit UCLA: Marcus Lee, a 6-10 senior forward from Antioch (Calif.) Deer Valley High, will visit UCLA this weekend and Cal-Berkeley on Sept. 1, SNY.tv reports. The country’s No. 33-rated player also has KU, Duke, Kentucky, Louisville and Indiana on his list.

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