Blogging with the Kansas Men's Basketball Team (UPDATED March 27)
MINNEAPOLIS – As a fifth-year redshirt senior, Kansas men’s basketball center has seen it all as a Jayhawk. He has won an NCAA National Championship, has been to two NCAA Tournament Elite Eights, won three Big 12 Tournaments and five Big 12 regular-season championships. The Overland Park, Kan., native is going to provide some insight to his experiences with the Kansas men’s basketball team in a blog.
Kleinmann, an Academic All-Big 12 First Team member in 2009, is a member of the infamous Red Team in practice. These are the non-regulars who simulate the opponents’ offensive and defensive schemes. They are the unsung heroes for the Kansas men’s basketball program.
Kleinmann’s blogs are below.
March 27 Entry
16 Sweet Notes
2) Speaking of Pacers, we got a chance to watch the Heat and Pacers play at Conseco Fieldhouse. Highlight of the night? Rio intentionally sticking his foot out to try and trip B Rush during a break in the action, getting a big grin from B. Some things never change.
3) (Close second: B Rush hitting his coach in the head while trying to remove his warm-up top).
Speaking of shenanigans, today has seen a number of potential candidates for most creative prank:
4) One great feature of the NCAA tournament is the golf cart. Shuttling players inside labyrinthine mega-arenas, these chariots of fire are the ideal mode of transportation for lazy 19-22 year olds (or in Brady’s case, 31 year olds). So you can imagine the self-indulgent smiles on Chase, Markieff, and Quintrell’s faces when they snagged a seat on the back of one; that is, until someone snatched Q’s hat as the cart sped away. And left it in the middle of the hallway as, while disappearing around the next corner, Q looked back with the terrifying realization that he’d have to decide whether to leave the hat or hop off the cart. He chose the latter, and as we passed him headed the other way to find his hat, he looked none too pleased. He was even less so when he realized one of us had actually picked it up after he lost sight of it, saying, and I quote, “Who did it?… Ok, no ones talking, so somebody’s gonna get smacked.” Q, it wasn’t me, promise!
5) During a flurry of intense media scrutiny on Mario Little, Tyshawn took the time to completely unlace Mario’s shoe laces and re-lace them on again… backwards.
6) “Don’t bet on it.” No, that’s not what Coach Self said when asked at a press conference if Cole had a snowball’s chance in appearing on Dancing with the Stars…
7) …It’s what is probably still indented in Marcus Morris’s forehead after Sherron chucked one of the toy balls the NCAA hands out at his dome.
8) Speaking of Coach Self and press conferences, Cole told me of this entertaining exchange he witnessed from last week.
In the locker room pre-media frenzy, we had a pop culture quiz. I’m not sure what’s more embarrassing:
9) That Travis Releford could not correctly identify a single quote from the movie Friday, one of which even yours truly knew…
10) … Or, that Chase didn’t know who Helen Keller was.
11) Seriously, Chase didn’t know…
12) So today, I had the distinct pleasure of joining the noble pursuit on Facebook known as `1,000 Strong for Kansas’s Conner Teahan to win March Man-ness!’ What, you may ask, is March Man-ness? Behold, our very own Teahan is now a certifiable ladies man. And not like he was before, with all those junior high girls fawning over him.
13) Speaking of affection, I found this site online in preparation for the blog: http://matt-kleinmann.love.com. I know what you may be thinking, STOP. This blog is family friendly. I don’t know who’s behind it, but I know it’s not my mom (believe me, I checked). So who is my secret admirer/stalker? I don’t know, but at least I’m more loved than http://chase-buford.love.com.
14) A big Red Team shout out goes to Coach Barry Hinson, who’s done a wonderful job taking care of us on and off the court. He’s been all over the place this week, including setting up our team meals. How’s this for good eats: fully-loaded baked potato, bacon-wrapped filet mignon, and lobster with warm butter… all in our first meal.
15) This was going to be my linked RCJH for the blog, but it’s so cool I couldn’t leave it without a proper shout out. It may not sweep the YouTube nation, but this kid is a future Jayhawk for sure.
16) So sixteen notes. Took a lot longer than it should have, but the good news is that if I write this again, there will only be eight.
March 22 Entry
Thoughts from the Pine
After playing the entire state of North Dakota, we’ve had a little down time to gather our thoughts, eat, nap, go over the scouting report, eat again and nap some more.
Quick recap of the game and postgame activities:
Best haircut on the court besides Conner’s (though eerily similar): the North Dakota State Bison.
Most obvious halftime stat: Coach reminded us to keep throwing the ball inside to Cole because he was making a lot of his shots (read: dunks). The effort keeps Cole’s field goal percentage at 7/1000ths of a point above yours truly.
Best postgame quote: “Cole just walked through the back here as we were about to come on. I think I went into the fetal position thinking he was going to dunk on us again,” from NDSU Coach Saul Phillips. Ironically, that’s exactly the same reaction we have when we see him.
Best postgame bathroom conversation: Seeing if I could impress Coach Manning, I dropped my little bit of knowledge about Wilt The Stilt from my last entry. Not only was he not surprised, he corrected my assessment: Wilt didn’t play for the Red Team, the Red Team played on Wilt’s Team.
Most creative prank: Sherron keeping Quintrell stuck in the revolving door leaving the Metrodome yesterday after shoot around by jamming his shoes into it.
Best media day moment: Over the years, reporters have loved to dig for an angle. This year’s flavor of the tournament appears to be how Sherron has evolved as a leader. At one point during the open-locker-room media frenzy, Tyshawn and I were side by side answering the same questions when he finally leaned over to me and jokingly asked when they were going to ask about him or the game. Feeling like a wise old fortune cookie writer, I told him, “It’s only a matter of time.”
And it has certainly been true, it was true with A Dot, was true with Russ Rob, and was true with Rio. That’s the great thing about college sports, and why places like Lawrence are so special. I’ve seen guys from all over the world come here, from the city (Sherron) to the suburbs (Julian) to, well, somewhere in Siberia (Sasha). And they all leave here with something more than a Big 12 Championship or a degree (though they get those too); they leave with a life changing experience that’s as much fun to be a part of as them sinking a life changing shot.
March 20 Entry
If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then consider this my homage to Mark “The Shark” Titus and his hilarious Trillion Club. Titus understands what it’s like to be a college athlete, and more importantly, a bench-riding walk-on whose job description includes laying bone-crushing screens, turning showers on, and worrying less about how many points he scores, and more on how many people he can make laugh. I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve been reading and laughing nonstop since being introduced to the Trillion Man March by the second fastest white guy I know, a fellow Blue Valley West and KU athlete, and a singing and dancing sensation, Matt Baysinger. Thanks Matt.
I was asked earlier this week by Chris Theisen, our media relations director, to try and describe `my experience at KU’. There’s something bittersweet about it, because one way or another, the end of my season, and thus my career, is fast approaching. In a month I’ll either be helping fellow senior Brennan Bechard pick out the design for our next National Championship ring, or I’ll be looking into my future job/graduate school opportunities…. preferably both.
This is my first attempt at writing something that will be read by more than my parents or professors. When thinking of things to write about, there’s almost too much to cover: I could talk about how great the fans have been, or what it feels like to make a deep run into the tournament, or what our preparation has been like for this week, or even what it’s been like playing for Coach Self for half a decade. All of these are worthy candidates for potential future installments.
However, I thought I’d take this opportunity to introduce some of the members of the legendary Red Team. Webster’s defines Red Team `red tçm as having tenacious defense, prone to fouling, and generally less goofy looking than their blue team counterparts. Wilt Chamberlain has been grandfathered in as the most famous Red Team alumnus, after being the only member to ever be drafted to the NBA, while still on the Red Team. Current Red Team hobbies include taking care of business in FIFA `09, Union meetings, and getting buckets against a 2-3 zone.
Besides myself, fellow members include:
:Chase Buford Son of former Jayhawk coach R.C. Buford and brother to Alexis Wangmene of Texas, Chase is considered a “tweener” for the Red Team. In the past, he was considered a “big”, thus developing the second wettest fade away the world has ever seen, behind only this guy. Career highlights include a between-the-legs bounce pass, while double-teamed no less, to yours truly for a dunk one day in practice. His second greatest highlight includes blocking this guy, which directly leads to his third greatest achievement, his uncanny resemblance to Baylor center Josh Lomers.
:Conner Teahan Conner is the poster child for the All-American kid. He just needs two weeks and he’ll be throwing touchdown passes for Coach Mangino. Hailing from Leawood, Kansas, and a member of the Maroon Team, along with newcomers , and , Conner typical betrays his fellow Reds by sometimes switching sides during practice, usually because Coach Self continues to stress enthusiasm and energy, something Conner has in Travis RelefordTyrone AppletonQuintrell Thomasabundance. But how can you hold that against a guy whose sweet shot is only exceeded by his sweet hair? We sure can’t.
:Brennan Bechard “Who’s house? Ray’s house!” Brennan is the son of KU Volleyball coach Ray Bechard, and an all around hustle guy. Brennan also was the prize recruit in the package deal of two of Lawrence’s finest, Brennan and Brady Morningstar (Brady, a 28 year old sophomore, can trace his own roots back to Red Team greatness). While you may think Brennan would get a big head with all the success he’s had here at KU, he, along with roommate and former Red Teamer , has become one of the Brad Witherspoongreat ambassadors of KU basketball.
Last and not least, Jordan Junemann and Jeff Withey. Jordan has become a team favorite, especially among Assistant Coaches and Kurt Townsend. Jeff, a midseason transfer from Arizona, has brought an element to the Red Team Bigs that it has lacked in all the years I’ve been here: long arms and jumping ability. He has excelled in the post against Cole, where his Kyle Kellershot blocking ability has proved valuable.
So that’s it for now. I don’t know when, or even if, the next installment will be, but hopefully this has given you an entertaining glimpse of what it’s been like to live the dream by playing for Kansas basketball.