Seizing the Moment

Conner Teahan has always kept pushing to become a better athlete. But after trying out for the Kansas football team as a quarterback in 2010, his work ethic was elevated to a new dimension.

While Conner Teahan eventually gave up football, he became even more driven and passionate about basketball.

"I would not be where I am today on the basketball court if not for football," the 6-6 KU senior guard said. "I was so far behind, I was just working and working and working as hard as I could to try to catch up. It didn't work out. ... I've always been a hard worker, that's something I feel I pride myself on is working hard, but I just brought it to a whole another level when I was out on the football field.

"I was like, ‘Hey, if do this in basketball, there's not going to be anything that can stop me.' I just got to go out there and realize even if the days get frustrating or maybe I'm not getting better, just keep a positive mindset, keep working hard, and see what happens."

After redshirting last season, Teahan is now ready to make it happen on the hardwood during his fifth year on campus. Teahan, who has averaged just 3.6 minutes per game during his collegiate career, is expected to start when KU opens exhibition play against Pittsburg State on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Allen Fieldhouse with Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson sitting out the two exhibition games for violating team rules in the offseason.

After four years, Teahan has finally got his chance and is ready to seize the moment.

"I take the same attitude every day. I just do what I can to make the team better as a player," said Teahan, who should be the team's sixth or seventh man this season. "It's exciting to know I'm going to be able to contribute, because I haven't really been able to do that in the past. It's something I'm looking forward to and hopefully I can step into some of the guys' shoes who left last year."

While Teahan is excited about more playing time, he stressed this isn't about him.

"I always try to keep the goals of the team ahead of mine," he said. "I obviously have my own goals and want to achieve those, but at the same time, I don't want to be so selfish as to hurt the team to achieve my own."

Teahan can certainly achieve his own goals while also helping KU this season. He knows he's a much better player after redshirting last year.

"I feel like I've improved a lot," Teahan said. "I worked really hard on my dribbling, defense, and improving my stroke also. On top of all those things, it's being a leader, being a vocal leader and kind of showing guys, ‘Hey, I'm here to work.'"

The former Rockhurst High (Mo.) School star said he learned a great deal from his redshirt season, in addition to putting "myself in a better situation to help the team out this year."

"It really kind of put my life in perspective because I was sitting there and just like, ‘Every day that goes by, you lose. You got to work every single day and make every day the best you can make it.' That's kind of the mindset I took with redshirting. ‘Hey, I got to get better every single day if I want to play next year.' I'd go to every practice, on game days, whatever it was, I just worked to become a better basketball player and make the most of my time here."

Teahan will likely spend time this season playing primarily at small forward but also see action at the four spot with KU's thin frontline.

"He's a tough matchup because he can shoot it so well," KU coach Bill Self said. "He's been good."

Teahan said he "hopefully can be a clutch knock down three guy, a glue guy who just kind of keeps the team going and does whatever the team needs."

"If we need a stop on defense, hopefully I can help out," he added. "If we need something on offense and get it running ... you kind of got to be a calming (influence) out there. I'm a fifth-year (player), 23 years old. I'm a little bit more mature than some of these guys and hopefully I can bring some maturity and just help the team in any way possible."

For Teahan, the time has flown by since arriving at KU in 2007 as a walk-on (he's now on scholarship) following a heralded career at Rockhurst. He said playing at Kansas has been a very rewarding experience "being a part of something bigger than yourself."

"We have this quote up there (in the locker room)," Teahan said. "I think it's (Theodore) Roosevelt, who said, ‘It's amazing what you can do when you don't care who gets the credit.' That's really the truth because every year we have guys who sacrifice. ... That makes a big difference."

Teahan has certainly sacrificed playing a minimal role after coming to KU with big expectations. He's learned to persevere and maintain a positive attitude.

"It's been a humbling experience," he said. "I definitely thought I'd play more. I don't like to say it like that. I'm not trying to be stuck up about my playing time or anything, but it's definitely been a humbling experience. I came from a high school where I was playing all the time. You know what, that's how all these guys are. You have to deal with adversity and hopefully at the end, you become successful from it."

Teahan has a chance to become very successful this year on the court. Above all, he'd like nothing more than to finish his career with KU's eighth straight Big 12 title and another national championship. Teahan, who was a freshman on the 2008 NCAA championship team, believes this young Jayhawk squad can truly thrive if it bonds together.

"There's basketball talent everywhere," Teahan said. "If you can get some people to come together as a team, a team can really achieve anything, especially with the players we have here. It's going to depend on how well we buy into the system, believe in coach Self, believe in each other because we have a great team here if we want to be a great team. If we set our minds to it and not let anything get in our way — no distractions— then the opportunities are limitless." Top Stories