Jayhawks unwind after beating Kentucky, advancing to Sweet 16

By Michael Phillips University Daily Kansan

March 19, 2007

Lawrence, KS (CSTV U-WIRE) -- After a grueling day at the basketball factory, Sherron Collins and Julian Wright unwound Sunday night with a round of bowling.

The blue-collar hobby is fitting for this year's Kansas team, which dismantled Kentucky 88-76 to advance to the Sweet 16.

"Every time we step on the court it's about business," sophomore guard Brandon Rush said. "We're trying to accomplish something."

Rush scored 19 points, but that number only begins to hint at the impact he had on the game. He hit key three-pointers that put the game out of reach while Kentucky's Randolph Morris was on the sideline with foul trouble.

"Sometimes the timing of making a three makes it mean so much more," coach Bill Self said.

Rush also gave the Jayhawks a lead in the opening minutes by hitting two three-pointers out of the gate.

"I just wanted to be aggressive, and try to make plays for my teammates and myself," he said. "I hit my first couple shots, and that got me going."

Kansas was also able to outrun Kentucky. For the second consecutive game, the Jayhawks opponent tried to win a running game, but Wright, a sophomore forward, and junior center Sasha Kaun were able to get back and make plays defensively, blocking that avenue of attack.

It was another dominating performance for the Jayhawks, who led by 20 with five minutes to play. The star players on each side attracted a handful of NBA scouts, including one famous one.

Chicago native Michael Jordan, who is a part-owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, received a standing ovation in the arena he helped to make famous. None of the Jayhawks met Jordan, but the team bus pulled up right next to his Range Rover.

"It was crazy, because at first we were just like, 'Look at the Range Rover,' and it had some rims in it," Collins, a freshman guard, said. "But then we saw in the rims it said MJ, so everybody started taking pictures of it."
 

 

He wasn't the only one impressed by the ride. Rush said that the rims inside the tires had "MJ" written out in diamonds.

"It was pretty nice," he said. When asked whether that's something he looked forward to getting someday, he replied, "Yeah, I hope so."

There will be plenty of time for flash when several of these Jayhawks make it to the NBA. For now, the gold rims and diamonds have been replaced by a helmet and lunch-pail attitude that has helped the team take care of business in the opening two rounds.

"It's a weird group in that, for a bunch of young guys, they have their eyes on the prize," Self said.

After the plane landed on Sunday night, Collins said that he would celebrate his birthday with fellow Chicagoan Julian Wright. On the court, the two fight for scoring supremacy, but at the bowling alley it's a little more lopsided.

"He wins most of the games," Collins said. "But I did beat him once."

(C) 2007 University Daily Kansan via CSTV U-WIRE