Jayhawks Entertain in Early Scrimmage

Thanks to next weekend's trip to Vancouver, British Columbia the University of Kansas Men's Basketball team was able to treat fans to an early glimpse of this season's edition of the Jayhawks. Saturday afternoon roughly 1300 loud fans packed into the Horejsi Family Athletics Center for a 30 minute scrimmage that had all the feel of a regular season event thanks to the band and cheerleaders on hand.

After a short warm-up period, the team was broken up into Blue and White squads. Starting for the Blue were Aaron Miles, J.R. Giddens, Nick Bahe, Wayne Simien and Sasha Kaun while the White countered with Keith Langford, Jeremy Case, Michael Lee, Christian Moody and Moulaye Niang. Rounding out the Blue team were Alex Galindo, C.J. Giles, and Matt Kleinmann while Russell Robinson, Stephen Vinson and Darnell Jackson completed the White squad.

In a bit of a unique scrimmage, the teams remained the same for two 10 minute halves as the White scored a 53-51 victory. Leading the way early for the White were Lee (11 points) and Case (seven points) who nailed several perimeter jump shots while Langford played the early role of distributor and slasher to the tune of 13 points and six assists.

Perhaps the most impressive performance, though, was turned in by the six-foot-eight freshman Jackson who asserted himself on the offensive glass after a tentative start to finish with 11 points and five rebounds (all offensive) during the first 20 minutes.

Not surprisingly it was Simien who led the way for the Blue squad as he toyed with his teammates on the low block and facing the basket from as far as 16 feet in going for 10 points and six boards. Adding additional offensive punch were Giddens, who nailed a trio of long threes en route to 11 points, while Miles and Bahe chipped in with nine a piece.

Afterwards, Giddens wasn’t surprised that his buddy from Oklahoma had gotten off to such a quick start.

“Jackson, that’s my ace right there man,” said Giddens. “Darnell, he’s really going to be a beast who bangs and does the dirty work. I think that’s really going to help us.”

For his part, Jackson played the role of cool customer and seasoned veteran and claimed that he wasn’t intimidated by the crowd and caliber of competition.

“I’m not scared out there, I don’t care who I’m going against I’m going to play hard. I’m going to crash the boards, block some shots and play hard no matter who is out there or who is watching.”

Following the first 20 minute game, the teams were mixed up again for a 10 minute “overtime” that saw a very athletic Blue team consisting of Miles, Giddens, Simien, Jackson, Lee, Giles and Robinson outrun the White team made up of Langford, Case, Bahe, Niang, Moody, Galindo, Kaun, Kleinmann and Vinson 36-26.

Once again it was up to a freshman, actually two of them, to turn some heads as Robinson and Giles came alive. After coming up with only a rebound and a turnover during the first 20 minutes, Giles scored on a few nifty jump hooks and got active on the glass to score seven points and haul in five boards while adding in a pair of blocked shots -- including one emphatic pancake job on Kaun -- during the bonus period.

While Giles was patrolling the paint, Robinson entertained fans with a particularly inspired stretch that saw him score eight straight points while handing out a pair of nifty assists. Robinson also came up with a couple of steals and displayed why he has been highly touted as a defensive threat.

Not surprisingly, Head Coach Bill Self was in a pretty good mood following his team’s effort and was particularly pleased with his freshman.

“For five practices in and not knowing what they’re doing I think they did well, they’ve all got good instincts and Russell’s got great instincts,” said Self. “Our three big guys when they figure out how to score with angles and you know we don’t know how to defend at all but they’ll be decent defenders because they’re big enough to alter or block shots and they should be decent rebounders. Alex can really shoot the ball, he was nervous today early but showed he could shoot it late. I think all five have a chance to be in our rotation.”

Final Scoring- Keep in mind that players switched teams after the first twenty minutes, so rather than break things up we’ll just list each players cumulative scoring from the scrimmage.

Simien 17, Miles 16, Langford 15, Kaun 15, Lee 14, Jackson 13, Giddens 11, Bahe 11, Robinson 11, Case 10, Galindo 10, Giles 7, Moody 5, Kleinmann 4, Niang 4, Vinson 2.

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