Coming off one of the most historic seasons in school history, Kansas opens its men's basketball exhibition season by hosting Pittsburg State, Nov. 1, at 7 p.m. at Allen Fieldhouse. Last year, Kansas 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. Pittburg State is coming off an 18-13 record in 2006-07 and a fifth-place finish in the Mid-American Intercollegiate with a 9-9 record.
Kansas returns 13 of 14 letterwinners and four of five starters from last season's 33-5 and Big 12 regular-season and tournament championships team. Kansas is the preseason coaches choice to win the Big 12 regular-season title and last week was No. 4 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' preseason poll. Two of Kansas' returning starters are seniors with 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 pgg) 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.
About Pittsburg State
Pittsburg State is coming off an 18-13 season in 2006-07. PSU returns three starters and eight letterwinners from last year's team, which placed fifth in the Mid-America Intercollegiate (MIAA) with a 9-9 record. Pittsburg State was selected third in the MIAA preseason coaches' poll. Returning starters include senior forward/center Croy Abercrombie, who led the Gorillas with a 14.5 scoring average, including 15.2 in MIAA play. Abercrombie is PSU's leading returning rebounder with a 5.9 rpg last year. Junior guard Carlos Taylor (10.1 ppg) and senior guard Michael Hutchingson (4.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg) round out the returning starters. Look for senior guard Keith Windom (7.7 ppg, 35 steals) to work into the starting rotation. Pittsburg State has six newcomers, including four junior college transfers, added to its 2007-08 team.
Kansas has won all six meetings with Pittsburg State, including two exhibition contests. This series dates back to 1944 when KU defeated PSU 35-21 and all six games have been played in Lawrence. The Jayhawks have won both meeting with the Gorillas during the Bill Self era. KU defeated PSU 103-73 in Self's first season of 2003-04 and 73-47 in exhibition play of the 2005-06 campaign.
Kansas will continue its exhibition season when its plays host to Fort Hays State on Tuesday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m. at Allen Fieldhouse. The game will be televised on the Jayhawk Television Network. KU officially opens the 2007-08 season when it plays host to Louisiana at Monroe on Friday, Nov. 9, at 7 p.m.