Danes Great? Not So Much

The biggest threat the University of Albany Great Danes posed in their Tuesday night budget-maker with Kansas was presented during the announcement of the starting lineups.

Brett Gifford, Albany's 6-11 starting center, is from Columbia, MO. Jayhawk fans greeted him appropriately.

Quick note: One has to wonder how Albany's Gifford ever got out of Columbia. In 18 minutes – yes, the starting center played 18 whole minutes – he had four points and four fouls. He would've fit right in at another college located in Columbia.

Anyway, the game was over almost as soon as the boos for Gifford subsided. KU jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead on a dunk by F Markieff Morris, a short jumper by C Cole Aldrich and a three-point shot by G Sherron Collins. Albany tried to scrape back into it, but at 9-6, Kansas went on a 13-0 run. Albany's G Tim Ambrose made a nice twisting lay-up at the 9:20 mark, ending an eight-minute Great Dane scoreless drought.

The Jayhawks held a 40-19 halftime lead. Head coach Bill Self was pleased with the way his team played but there was still plenty for him to pick at. He said “silly” fouls and unforced turnovers gave away too many Kansas possessions.

“I thought we played good the first half, but we should've hung 50 (points), the way we shot the ball,” Self said.

The Jayhawks shot 65 percent from the field in the first half, including 6-of-8 from behind the three-point line. G Tyrel Reed came off the bench and looked like he was tossing golf balls through a hula hoop, going 3-of-3 from long range. He added a traditional three-point play in the second half to finish with 12 points, tying a season high.

“Some nights, you're off from the field and you can't find your rhythm, but tonight, that wasn't the case. Shooting's contagious. The whole team shot well,” Reed said.

KU finished the game shooting 56.3 percent, including 47.4% from behind the arc. Meanwhile, Albany threw their hat in the ring for the title of worst shooting team in the history of organized basketball by shooting 30 percent for the night (18-of-60).

“I thought we played pretty hard and I thought we played pretty good. I thought our first-shot defense was good. We did some good things. For the most part, that was a much better effort than we had in the second half against Arizona,” Self said.

Aldrich quickly asserted himself in the second half, thanks to plenty of touches from the Kansas back court. He scored 12 second-half points on his way to a game-high 20. He added six rebounds and three blocks, leading the Jayhawks in those two categories.

A good game was important for Aldrich after a disappointing performance in the loss to Arizona, Self said.

“Cole was good, offensively. He didn't handle a couple of double teams very well, but I thought Cole played well. That was a good bounce-back game for him.”

Self explained that it's not just Aldrich who should be benefiting from the concerted effort by the guard to feed the post. All the bigs should be getting more touches and putting the ball through the hoop more.

“We're trying to make more of a conscious effort to get (the ball) to (Cole) and to all our big guys. It's not the guards' fault that they aren't gettin' it; it's also the big guys' fault because they're not doing their job. We tried to give them some incentive to post closer to the basket, which will make (the basket) a much easier target,” the coach said.

Despite the improved effort and good shooting, lack of rebounding and inside presence were concerns once again for the Jayhawks against the under-sized, out-manned Le Grand Danois. Albany matched KU board-for-board, 34-34.

Aldrich said that this number once again points to an area in which the young Jayhawks must improve.

“We knew they were going to hit the offensive boards hard, and they got 18 offensive boards. They got 18 to our eight. So, they stole some extra possessions that way. That's one things we've really got to work on as big guys and as perimeter players: just hit our guy and go get the ball.”

The young Jayhawks will get another true test of where they're at this Saturday afternoon when they play the 14th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers at Allen Field House. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m., and you can watch the game on ESPN.

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