KJ’s Basketball Newsletter                                            December 15, 2000


After hearing the score of KU’s 84-53 loss to Wake Forest last Thursday, I was glad that my duties as Kiwanis club President kept me away from the tube that evening.  What a slaughter!

Then after watching the Hawks schlep through the first half of Tuesday’s game with DePaul, I’m sure everyone, players and Williams included, had some doubts about the quality of this years team.  Their defense was porous and they didn’t have any scoring punch.   Gooden was Wooden!

However, those Iowa boys, Kirk Hinrich supplying the defense and Nick Collison pouring in the offense, brought the Jayhawks back from 9 down at the half to a 75-69 win.  They had some help, of course, but clearly they led the way with their smart and gutty play.  While Gooden was almost totally ineffective offensively from the field, he made up for it by playing tough defense and scoring 11 for 12 from the line, greatly bumping his 50% season free throw average.

There is no question that KU has missed Kenny Gregory, this year’s go-to guy, who was having an All-American year until missing the last two games with a foot injury.  With Luke Axtell also out with a sprained ankle, the Hawks are a little shorthanded.  Hopefully the second half of the DePaul game is evidence of their learning to play without them.


The game was every bit as good as billed.  Close all the way.  The bottom line, however, was that Dean Oliver outplayed All-American Jamaal Tinsley, leading the Hawks to a win over the Clones.  Luke Recker and Reggie Evans continued having all-Big Ten years (Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside).  Nonetheless, both squads are pretty good this year and fun to watch.  Baring major injuries, look for both teams to finish in the upper echelon of their leagues and go at least a couple in the NCAAs.

Des Moines Register columnist Mark Hansen stirred the pot with a game day article about how much Alford and Eustachy disliked each other.   But, contrary to last year’s matchup, both coaches were on their best behavior, before, during and after the game.

The Hawks are King in Iowa this year, having beaten Drake, UNI and ISU.


What a shame that all-time KU great Raef LaFrentz (KU ’98) has to be saddled with the Denver Nuggets, a perennial loser with a poisonous team situation, exacerbated by has- been coach Dan Issel.  If Raef’s ever going to become the star he can be, he needs to go to a winning team that will utilize his capabilities as a forward and provide some positive support.  Hey Dan, he was great at KU because he didn’t have to play center (and put up with your kind of crap)!  The whole team sided against Issel for the way he has treated LaFrentz, skipping a practice en masse.  The next outing, LaFrentz scored 28 points and 13 rebounds.

What about that Paul Pierce (KU ’98)?  He’s just going crazy this year, averaging 25 points and 9 rebounds.  Clearly having an all-NBA year with the last place Celtics.

The Utah Jazz have to be every Jayhawks’ favorite NBA team this year, with former Jacque Vaughn (KU ’97), Greg Ostertag (KU ’95), and Danny Manning (KU ’88) all joined by almost-KU recruit DeShawn Stevenson.  Vaughn, by the way, is finally getting some good minutes, playing behind aging all-star John Stockton.  In spite of those scarred knees, Manning is getting quite a bit of playing time, providing some key scoring and leadership at important situations.

Have you seen that Scot Pollard (KU ’97)?  Always a little strange, he’s now sporting a kind-of chinese style top knot.  Quite frankly, it’s a big improvement over the blue nail polish.  Nonetheless, he’s doing a very credible job as backup to Vlade Divac, Sacramento’s starting center.  I love the way this team plays basketball, and I can’t help but believe that Pollard’s a big contributor to their overall positive attitude.

Have you heard about the new NBA franchise, the Kansas Phog?  Pierce at shooting guard and LaFrentz at power forward, with Ostertag and Sacramento’s Scot Pollard double-teaming at center, Vaughn leading the way at point, and Manning playing small forward.  Sometime Pacer Rex Walters (KU ’93) adds firepower from the perimeter.  If not necessarily a championship caliber team, it sure would be fun to watch!


I looked over the latest Sagarin Ratings, as of Dec. 14.  Not that I think they ought to be ranked higher, but I’m curious as to why  KU is ranked 8th, with a 6-1 record against the NCAA’s 17th toughest Div. 1 schedule, while Charlotte is ranked 5th with also a 6-1 record, but  against the 101st toughest schedule.  Also how could Wake Forest (ranked 3rd) have played the 228th toughest schedule, considering that KU was one of them??  Sagarin ranks Iowa 24th (with the nations 170th toughest schedule).  Big 10 rivals ahead of them are Michigan St. at 4th, Illinois-11th, and Wisconsin at 16th.  ISU is ranked 35th (against the 247th ranked schedule), with KU and Oklahoma (32nd) ahead.  Sagarin  certainly doesn’t like Drake, ranking the Bulldogs 196th.