Jayhawk Men's Basketball Hosts Louisiana Monroe Friday
Nov. 8, 2007
ULM vs. Kansas
It’s opening night for Kansas as the Jayhawks are looking to win their sixth-straight season opener against the Louisiana at Monroe (ULM) Warhawks, Friday, at 7 p.m. A KU victory would give the Jayhawks 16 wins in their last 17 season-opening games and mark Kansas’ 35th straight home-opening win. Kansas defeated Fort Hays State, 93-56, in its final exhibition game on Tuesday. ULM also opens its regular season in Allen Fieldhouse and is coming off an 18-14 season in 2006-07.
Coming off one of the most historic seasons in school history, Kansas is loaded heading into 2007-08. Last year, the Jayhawks finished 33-5 (14-2 Big 12) and recorded the school’s 50th all-time conference title, the most in NCAA Division I and KU’s 1,900th all-time victory. Kansas returns 13 of 14 letterwinners and enters the season No. 4 in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ preseason polls. Two of Kansas’ returning starters are seniors — guard Russell Robinson and center Sasha Kaun. A Cousy Award finalist last year and on the honors’ preseason watch list for 2007-08, Robinson averaged 7.2 points and led KU with 161 assists in 2006-07. Kaun averaged 6.9 points and 3.8 rebounds his junior season and ranked among the Big 12 leaders with his 48 blocked shots. Junior guard Mario Chalmers scored 12.2 points per game and led the Big 12 in steals in 2006-07 with a school season record 97. Two-time All-Big 12 First Team selection Brandon Rush is the other returning starter. Rush had surgery on his right ACL in June and is expected to return Dec. 1, give or take a month. Look for sophomore Darrell Arthur (9.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 56 blocked shots) to step into the starting role for the departed Julian Wright. Sophomore guard Sherron Collins (9.3 ppg) played a major role last season and will be looked upon the same in 2007-08. Seniors Darnell Jackson and Rodrick Stewart should also see playing time this season. Jackson averaged 15.3 minutes per game last year with a 5.5 ppg and 5.1 rpg., while Stewart played in 30 games with one start his junior campaign. Look for freshmen Cole Aldrich, a center from Bloomington, Minn., and guard Tyrel Reed, a guard from Burlington, Kan., to see time early in the 2007-08 season.
On Tuesday, ULM won its lone exhibition game of the season with a 93-58 route of Millsap in Monroe, La. ULM’s bench scored 45 points in the victory and the Warhawks were led by senior guard Jonas Brown who had 20 points. Junior guard Tony Hooper scored 17 and freshman forward Raphelle Turner added 15 points in the victory. Hooper and Turner each pulled down six rebounds in the game and Hooper had four steals. ULM returns 11 letterwinners and all five starters from last season’s 18-14 team which tied for the Sun Belt Conference’s West division title with an 11-7 league record. ULM was selected to win the same division this season in its preseason coaches’ poll. Hooper, a preseason all-conference pick, is the Warhawks’ top returner as he averaged 15.4 points and had a team-high 53 steals in 2006-07. Senior guard Jordan Payne averaged 12.4 points in a non-starting role last year and was second on the team in scoring. Other returning starters include Brown – 12.3 points per game; senior guard Lance Brasher – 10.4 ppg and was second on the team with 5.8 rebounds per contest; junior forward Afam Nweke – led ULM with 6.9 rebounds per game to go along with his 5.1 scoring average; and sophomore guard Brandon Roberts – 9.7 ppg.
Kansas and ULM are meeting for the first time in men’s basketball. KU is 17-3 against current membership of the Sun Belt Conference – 2-0 vs. Arkansas Little Rock, 3-1 vs. Denver, 1-0 vs. Florida International, 1-1 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette, 3-0 vs. Middle Tennessee, 2-0 vs. New Orleans, 2-0 vs. South Alabama and 3-1 vs. Western Kentucky. KU last faced a Sun Belt team when it defeated New Orleans, 73-56, on Dec. 29, 2005. The Jayhawks will face antoher Sun Belt member Florida Atlantic on Nov. 28 in Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas plays host to UMKC on Nov. 11 in its first game of the Jayhawk Invitational. Tip from Allen Fieldhouse is set for 7 p.m. The Invitational will also include KU games against Washburn (Nov. 15), Northern Arizona (Nov. 21) and Arizona (Nov. 25). All four Jayhawk Invitational games will be played in Allen Fieldhouse.