KJ’s BB Newsletter                March 10, 2001 



After simply demolishing Kansas State, the Jayhawks seem to be back on track, now having won five in a row, following that disastrous stretch where they dropped 4 of 6.  Drew Gooden is back and in good form.  Boschee appears to have his stroke back.  If they grab the league tourney title, the Hawks are a possible 2 seed.


You’ve been there.  We all have.  Wake up and stub your toe getting out of bed. Go to the bathroom and you’re out of TP.  The car battery is dead.  Get to work and your hard drive has crashed.  Things just go from bad to worse the whole day.

The Cyclones had their “bad day” turn Friday afternoon against the Baylor Bears.  The first several times down the court the balls just weren’t falling for ISU and the Bears couldn’t miss.  Tinsley and Horton then started pressing and getting charging calls.  Soon, most of the starters were on the bench with three fouls each, with the Bears up by ten.  The second half just didn’t get any better.  You know the end - a complete disaster.  Too bad too, as the Clones were in position to grab a No. 1 or 2 seed, and were likely placed in the Midwest Region.  Looks now like a 3 seed in one of the other regions.

The Clones were ripe, I believe, for a humbling.  The players and fans were getting awfully cocky.  Don’t get me wrong, they are a great team and deserved to win the Big 12.  And the fans had a right to brag.  All I’m saying is that a big head will often bite you.  Hopefully, this loss will help the Cyclone squad, by not only giving them some rest, but also making them realize they have to come prepared for every game.  Perhaps, too, my Clone friends will be a little easier to bear.


On Friday afternoon I stopped by the office of my long time business partner, Mark Wheeler, an avid Hawkeye fan.  I suggested that the Hawks simply didn’t have a chance that evening against the OSU Buckeyes, who had been on a nine game roll, playing extremely well of late.  And, clearly the Hawkeyes had taken a swan dive in the past 8 games in Luke Recker’s absence.  He generally agreed, but said “You never know.  I think they’ll finally come alive.”

It had been a long day, so I curled up in bed for the 9pm start.  As predicted, the Buckeyes were clearly in control from the start and I nodded off by half time, believing that Iowa was destined for the NIT.  Fortunately, I awoke with about 5 minutes to go.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  The Hawkeyes were now ahead and in control.  With about 30 seconds to go, my phone rang.  I knew it must be Mark, as he’s never been one to turn down an opportunity to say “I told you so”.  It was, and he did.

Now at 20 wins, I hope that the Hawks are slated for the NCAA tourney no matter what happens today.  I’d sure like to see what they can do with Luke back, although he’s sure to be rusty after this long layoff. 


Actually it’s more sad news than bad news that the Drake Bulldogs finished the season with three losses, including a final loss to lowly UNI.  The Dogs were clearly a better team, but had a bad night.  On the bright side, however, coach Kurt Kanaski has the Bulldogs moving up in the conference.  They won more games this year (12) than last (11) in spite of losing four players (including two starters) mid-season.  Even though they will lose Aaron Thomas and Joey Gaw from the remaining complement, they return a strong group and Kanaskie has been recruiting well.  What they need more than anything, though, is for central Iowan’s to come to the Knapp Center.  It’s a great venue and the Dogs are fun to watch.


KU’s Luke Axtell is through.  The bulging disks in his back were finally too much for him to continue.  What a disappointment.  He had so much promise.  I remember watching him as a freshman for the Texas Longhorns.  He reminded me so much of Pistol Pete Maravich with those long curls, lanky body and ability to put the ball in the hole from anywhere on the court.  He had the sweetest shot, averaging 13.3 points per game and making the Big 12 All-Freshman team.

When he transferred to KU I couldn’t wait to see him in a Jayhawk uniform, raining in those threes. Early on he looked good, but then came that mysterious ailment (which has never been aired), limiting him to only 20 games last year.  This year he started with ankle problems and then had the back problems.  While he had his moments as a Jayhawk, overall his KU career was a bust.   In 39 games, he only averaged 7.0 points and 2.7 rebounds.