Phuture is now

Basketball season starts with skits, scrimmage

There was “Dancing with the Stars,” as well as dunking and scrimmaging with ’em during Friday’s Late Night in the Phog in Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas University’s junior class of Jeremy Case, Sasha Kaun, C.J. Giles, Darnell Jackson, Russell Robinson and Rodrick Stewart “waltzed” their way to a dance competition victory over the Jayhawk sophomores, who “tangoed,” and freshmen, who twirled to the “swing” in front of judges Bill Self, Danny Manning and Aaron Miles.

“I don’t know if dancing can be a highlight, but I think the guys actually did a pretty good job dancing with the young ladies,” quipped KU coach Self, not enthralled with the squad’s 20-minute intrasquad scrimmage won by the Blue team, 26-23.

“The waltz, the jitterbug, the tango. We just try to educate our guys. You get the full cultural experience at Kansas,” he added, commenting on the skit spoofing the TV series of the same name.

As far as the dancing … “I don’t know. I’d say Julian was pretty good,” Self said of soph Wright, who also had the best effort in the dunk line drill, taking off from just beyond the free throw line to jam.

Wright missed three of four shots for the losing team in the scrimmage, but did dish three assists.

“He passed it well. He didn’t shoot it,” Self said. “He said those shots slipped. Nobody played great. Nobody played bad. It was pretty much, ‘Get through the 20 minutes.’ The guys were nervous. There was no warm-up. We didn’t look very good.

“We were fortunate in nobody got dinged up (injured). We’ll get after it pretty good tomorrow (at morning practice),” Self added.

There were some scrimmage highlights.

Frosh guard Sherron Collins showed some quickness in taking it to the hoop, while Darrell Arthur had four rebounds and four points, though he missed four of five shots.

C.J. Giles and Darnell Jackson scored eight points apiece, while Sasha Kaun had seven and six boards. Rodrick Stewart added five rebounds from the guard position.

“Sherron made things happen. Shady (Arthur) got off to a good start. You can’t judge from that (scrimmage). That was a good way to get the jitters out,” Self said.

As far as the entertainment portion of the evening … a highlight was Self’s short speech to the 16,000 fans. He entered through the northwest tunnel at 8:15 p.m., pumped his fist and said: “Late Night at Kansas is the standard everywhere, and you fans are the reason why.

“Our guys ever since the middle of April have been counting the days for this night, and we are excited about it as you are. Last year our guys were young. We started slow, but played great at the end. This year we are older, more mature. We’ve got some fresh faces who can really play. We’re going to have a lot of fun.”

Later, he told the media: “Actually I thought the crowd tonight was the highlight. The place was full or close to it. They were great.”

Several recruits attended Late Night in the Phog, including blue-chipper Kyle Singler, a 6-9 forward from South Medford, Ore., who has a list of KU, Duke and Arizona. Singler sat next to Cole Aldrich right behind KU’s bench. Aldrich, 6-10 from Bloomington, Minn., has orally committed to KU.

Also on hand: Senior Tyrel Reed, 6-3, Burlington; juniors J’Mison Morgan, 6-10, Dallas; Travis Releford, 6-4, Overland Park; Jeff Withey, 7-0, San Diego; Tyler Zeller, 6-10, Washington, Ind.. as well as sophomores Tyler Griffey, 6-8, Ballwin, Mo.; Jordan Dumars, a forward from Detroit.

Fundraisers who were part of Bill Self’s inaugural ASSIST foundation event:

Jim and Fern Badzin; Fred Ball and his son, David; Jack and Candy Clevenger; Tom and Janie Grant; Tom and Julie Kivisto; Kent McCarthy and his father Charles; Dean Piearson and his wife Cheryl Womack; Bill Prichard and his daughter Jane; Miles and Paula Schnaer; Lance and Molly Snyder; Adidas and Miller Distribution of Kansas.

Tidbits: Highlight videos were shown of KU’s players in the NBA as well as a historical video which signaled the return of Roy Williams to KU lore. Williams, whose picture has rarely been seen in videos since his leaving for North Carolina, was shown several times in the history video. … The Harlem Wizards basketball team entertained the fans as did the Seattle SuperSonics’ mascot Squatch, who at one point tossed Nick Collison jerseys into the stands … Gates opened at 6 p.m., 14,000 or so fans immediately settling into their seats, a couple thousand more drifting in before the men’s skit.