TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- The first action of the season for the Washburn University men's basketball team comes Thursday against No. 1 Kansas in an exhibition tilt. For second-year head coach Brett Ballard, the game hits close to home.
This will be Ballard's first time on the other side of a game in Allen Fieldhouse after a two-year playing career with the Jayhawks and a seven-year coaching stint.
"I grew up as a KU fan, got to play there, got to coach there, so this will be my first time on the other side," Ballard said. "I have a feeling that part probably won't be quite as fun as my other experiences there."
Ballard's former boss, Jayhawk head coach Bill Self, said he hopes his former staff member gets the warm welcome he deserves at Allen Fieldhouse.
"He was very organized and very disciplined," Self said. "Peopled liked him and the players reacted well to him. He's replacing a legend and so there's not going to be another Chip (Bob Chipman). But Brett will be loved over there for a long time."
Ballard returns leading the preseason 3rd-place team in the MIAA and a Washburn team looking to build on a 22-10 season last year.
According to Ballard, his squad is ready for the challenge and for the opportunity to continue growing before the start of the regular season.
"It's a little bit of looking forward to it and a little bit of anxiety about what the reality of it is," Ballard said. "You're playing the number one team in the country.
"I want us to go in there and play hard. I want us to go compete, and I don't want them to play scared. You can't go in there and play scared... if they smell blood, it'll get ugly. We have to go in there and we have to get after it, and we have to go attack them. We've got to eliminate their transition and we've got to eliminate their dunks."