The last time Kansas men’s basketball forward Jamari Traylor played in Manhattan, he received national attention after a Kansas State student bumped him during a court-storming following the Wildcats’ 70-63 victory.
Traylor says he’s not concerned with something similar happening this season when KU plays K-State at 5 p.m. Saturday in Bramlage Coliseum (ESPN2).
“If we win, we don’t have to worry about it. It’ll just be all right,” Traylor said. “We’ve just got to take care of business.”
Traylor, along with KU coach Bill Self, downplayed the significance of last year’s incident when asked if that could potentially be used as motivation.
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Self, who was temporarily pinned by fans against the scorer’s table in last year’s aftermath, spoke at his press conference about how great rivalries are the result of two teams’ fanbases not liking each other. And when that happens, oftentimes individuals act poorly when they get excited or upset.
To Self, that’s not bad sportsmanship. It’s just human nature.
“That situation that happened last year is not a factor, and we’ve had situations where we didn’t handle ourselves right. That’s not a factor,” Self said. “You know, the factor is you’ve got hopefully 10 guys out there at a time competing against each other and keeping everything within the lines.”
The comments from Self and Traylor are a contrast from that of K-State’s players, who spoke openly about being upset by KU guard Brannen Greene dunking in the final seconds of the Jayhawks’ 77-59 victory on Feb. 3 at Allen Fieldhouse. K-State guard Justin Edwards went as far as to say that the action was “kind of like they were just throwing stuff in our face.”
Instead of off-court incidents, KU’s players seemed most fired up to reverse recent history. K-State has won two straight against KU in Bramlage.
“I feel like we’re ready for this, because I haven’t won there,” KU junior Wayne Selden said. “We’re excited to get down there.”
Though K-State is one of the toughest road games for KU each year, Self believed his team’s recent struggles in Manhattan were more a result of something else.
“I don’t know if it’s a building as much as it is the players that have been playing on it,” Self said. “I think their crowd gives their players a lot of confidence, a lot of energy, just like our crowd does, and I think we’ve caught them the last couple of years when they’ve been really good. I mean, they’ve been really good.”
Self vowed to focus his players’ energy on making K-State play poorly instead of the fans or other outside factors.
“I’m just here to play,” Traylor said. “I’m just going to play, and then whatever happens outside the court, I don’t have any control over that.”
And Traylor says he won’t be worried about what might potentially happen after the game if KU loses. He watched part of K-State’s home upset over No. 1 Oklahoma two weeks ago when the fans stayed in the stands, partly because of increased security.
“I feel like it was OK. Nobody got hurt or anything after the game,” Traylor said. “But my mindset is on winning anyways.”