After reading in The Star about Kansas coach Bill Self’s hopes that the KU-Austin Peay NCAA Tournament matchup could create more awareness for the illness of Rhyan Loos, the granddaughter of Governors coach Dave Loos and daughter of Missouri assistant Brad Loos, KU graduate Camille Andress posted the story on Facebook and “challenged my fellow Jayhawks to donate to find a cure” based on the dollar amount of the point spread of the game.
She immediately heard from “quite a few who will donate,” she wrote, and was trying to steer them to sites where they could contribute, including the #RallyforRhyan Facebook page and mutigers.com/rallyforrhyan.
That’s right: KU alumni donating to a cause rooted in Columbia, a cause that obviously transcends sports rivalries but nonetheless makes a poignant statement.
“I love the idea of Jayhawks showing love to others, especially a Mizzou family!” wrote Andress, a 2004 KU graduate who is a licensed professional counselor in the Chicago area. “I can’t imagine what the family is going through, and my hope is truly that they would just feel the love that can come from even a rival and have their spirits lifted.”
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Andress also listed the hospital where Rhyan currently is being treated, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, as an option to donate to for those “less comfortable donating to a particular family” and more inclined to contribute to a cure for pediatric cancer — specifically neuroblastoma in the case of Rhyan, 6.
“It’s just an idea,” she added. “If a ton of people donate or it’s just me — I pray they feel loved!”
A more-relaxed Self
Kansas coach Bill Self says he’s changed the way he has approached the NCAA Tournament this season.
“I think I’m a little bit more relaxed and looser this year than what I have been the last couple of years,” Self said, “because our team’s playing better — or has been playing better — and we kind of limped home the last couple of years with injuries.”
KU played without center Joel Embiid (back) in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. The next year, forward Cliff Alexander was held out because of NCAA eligibility issues, while Perry Ellis was limited because of a knee ailment.
Self doesn’t believe this year’s team has felt pressure from being the overall No. 1 seed.
“What we talked about a lot, at least in the Big 12 and the Big 12 Tournament, was to validate what had transpired over the last two months, and they did that,” Self said. “But I don’t think it’s to the point that you need to validate anything any more. I think what you gotta do, you gotta play hungry and you gotta play aggressive and you gotta play loose and you can’t let other people play well.”
The book on UConn
Self believes his team’s next opponent, the ninth-seeded UConn Huskies, will be challenging to defend because of their guards’ ability to drive, force help and create contact.
The coach has expressed concern a few times this season about his team’s ability to stop dribble penetration.
“Certainly with the way we defended the ball today we’re going to have to correct that quite a bit,” Self said, “but we’ll be excited and get together a gameplan on how to best attempt to slow ‘em down.”
Kansas’ victory was its 31st of the season, marking the 10th time KU has reached that many wins. It’s now happened seven times under Bill Self.
The others: 33-5 in 2006-07 (lost in Elite Eight), 37-3 in 2007-08 (won NCAA title), 33-3 in 2009-10 (lost in second round), 35-3 in 2010-11 (lost in Elite Eight), 32-7 in 2011-12 (NCAA runner-up), 31-6 in 2012-13 (lost in Sweet 16).
KU also improved to 31-2 in its last 33 first-round NCAA Tournament games.
Selden breaks out
KU junior guard Wayne Selden not only made the first three-pointer of his NCAA Tournament career against Austin Peay, his 14 points surpassed his career point total in the tourney.
Selden entered Thursday with 10 points in four NCAA Tournament games, missing all five of his three-point tries.
He made a three pointer 16 seconds into Thursday’s game, ending the skid. Selden missed his other three three-point attempts but still finished 5 of 10 from the field.
Vahe Gregorian and Jesse Newell