Travis Releford likes being KU’s ‘Glue Guy’

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Travis Releford’s jersey will never hang in the rafters at Allen Fieldhouse. Mario Chalmers is the latest to join the likes of  B.H. Born, Wilt Chamberlain, Danny Manning and Paul Pierce in that rarified air, and he might not even be there had he not canned the miracle shot that preserved the Jayhawks’ 2008 national title run.

Stars at Kansas are relatively easy to come by, but very difficult to really know. The great ones go on to play professionally and become property of the world. Hardworking, loyal jack-of-all-trades types tend to live on as local legends, sometimes remembered only by long-term hometown fans with encyclopedic memories of seasons past.

That’s the kind of player Travis Releford seems destined to be. The fifth-year senior from Kansas City, Missouri is a classic ‘glue guy’: a program player who does the little things to help his team win. And that’s fine with him. In fact, it’s a dream come true.

“I’ve always wanted to be here,” Releford said of KU. “All through high school I knew I wanted to come. I’ve seen guys who played before me and how fans support the guys who go through this system. They graduate, and they come back to Lawrence and fans still show them the same amount of love as if they were still playing on the team today.”

The rewards of playing for a blue-blood team that owns the Big 12 and expects to be in the Final Four every season might seem obvious to you and me, but recent Bill Self recruits like Quintrell Thomas (UNLV) and Royce Woolridge (Washington State) have transferred rather than wait their turn. Releford averaged just 6.8 minutes per game as a freshman, then took a redshirt in the ’09-’10 season, when the late signing of blue-chipper Xavier Henry made it clear that he would see even less action if he wasn’t willing to bide his time.

When Henry did the expected and joined the NBA draft after a single season in Lawrence, Releford returned and began his quest for more playing time in earnest. He was up to 10 minutes per game in ’10-’11, then his floor time skyrocketed to 30.8 mpg the next season. At 6’6″, 210 lbs., Releford’s versatility and work ethic made him a crucial cog in the KU machine that made it to an unexpected berth in the national title game.

In tough games, when an opponent makes a run, Releford is the guy who’s supposed to help settle a young team down. It’s an important role on this year’s team. “Anybody can get rattled,” said KU head coach Bill Self. “The thing that I don’t like about it is that when we get the lead late, we can play passive. Or we can have some guys trying to make great plays instead of good plays.”

That’s where a glue guy comes in. Rarely the leading scorer, Releford is more often the player who makes the easy layup or grabs a contested long-ball rebound to buy his team some time to get un-rattled. Asked if he minds taking a backseat to his teammates, Releford was philosophical.

“That’s good for me, because if I come into the game and the other team’s not focused on me, I’m going to get up my shots and see what happens,” he said. “Get stops, control the ball and don’t make any dumb turnovers.”

It sounds easy, but the difficulties of being the glue guy were never more evident than in KU’s 85-80 home loss to Oklahoma State on February 2. It was a loss so frustrating that Bill Self tore into his team afterward, declaring that “We don’t have a point guard.” Releford did everything he was supposed to do, playing 38 minutes, dishing three assists to zero turnovers, canning both of the deep shots he attempted, and stealing the ball three times, and his team still lost. He finished the game with just eight points.

Never the focal point, Releford could easily side-slip the responsibility for tough losses. But that’s not the kind of guy he is. He’s the guy who got splinters on the bench, sat out a season, learned how to play within himself and earned a starting role on a top-ten team. He wants to be here, badly. He doesn’t cop out.

“At the beginning of the season, coach told us we were going to have bad games. But all those bad games, we’ve got to win them.”

That’s your classic glue guy talking.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

Albany suspends coaches 1 game for recruiting violation

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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — University at Albany men’s basketball coach Will Brown and associate head coach John Iati have been suspended for one game for an NCAA recruiting violation.

The school said Iati would serve his suspension Friday night against Yale, and Brown will miss Monday’s game against Oneonta.

The Level III violation occurred when Iati staged the national letter of intent signing ceremony of a prospective student-athlete. The recruit and his family were photographed wearing team-issued apparel.

The university said the violation was reported to the NCAA.

VIDEO: Colorado’s McKinley Wright gets a friendly bounce with buzzer-beater to beat Quinnipiac

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The iron was kind to Colorado’s McKinley Wright, as he was able to get a game-winning three at the buzzer to drop as the Buffaloes avoided an embarrassing loss to Quinnipiac in the opener of the Paradise Jam:

https://twitter.com/FloHoops/status/931690797992472576/video/1

Colorado was down by as many as 13 points in the second half, using a 23-9 run to close the game and escape with the 70-69 win.

Guy’s 29 lead Virginia past VCU, 76-67

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Kyle Guy was never hesitant when Virginia needed a basket, and because he wasn’t, the Cavaliers were able to hold off VCU, 76-67 on Friday.

Guy scored a career-best 29 points and hit two 3-pointers in the final three minutes after the Rams closed to within three, bringing roars from a soldout crowd at the Seigel Center. The first 3-pointer gave the Cavaliers a 66-60 lead, and the next one pushed it to 74-67 with just 41 seconds remaining.

“It was a blast,” Guy said. “This is one of the better environments I’ve played in.”

The Cavaliers won by taking care of the ball, committing only five turnovers, and by cashing in on VCU’s mistakes. The Rams turned the ball over a dozen times, and Virginia outscored them 16-2 off turnovers and 18-0 on fast break points. Those advantages helped them overcome a 36-26 rebounding disadvantage.

The Cavaliers (3-0) also made 10 3-pointers, with Guy accounting for half of them.

“Any time you’ve got a guy like that, get him going early and he becomes a buzz-saw,” VCU coach Mike Rhoades said of Guy.

“We got some good looks and then Kyle put on a heck of a shooting clinic with the shots he was making,” coach Tony Bennett said.

Ty Jerome also hit from long range in the closing minutes after VCU (2-1) closed to within 68-64 with just over 2 minutes remaining.

After Guy made it 66-60 with 2:55 to play, Issac Vann scored made it 66-62 with a driving basket, but Guy hit a pair of free throws and, after a driving basket by Williams, Jerome followed with his third 3-pointer of the game. Jerome added 13 points and seven assists for Virginia.

Vann led VCU with 19 points, Johnny Williams had 14 and Khris Lane 12.

“If you told me 48 hours ago, three days ago, four days ago it would be a 2-minute game, one-possession game, 2 minutes, I would have taken it,” VCU coach Mike Rhoades said. “… I want this to sting for about an hour. Make it hurt for an hour and let’s use this and get better.”

The Rams left after the game for Hawaii and the Maui Invitational.

“It’s a tough loss, a learning experience and we’ve got more basketball coming up this week,” Vann said.

THE BIG PICTURE

Virginia: The Cavaliers had little trouble with VCU’s pressure, turning the ball over just five times and outscoring the Rams 16-2 off turnovers. They also outscored the Rams 18-0 on fast break points, but they were beaten on the backboards 36-26. VCU had 10 offensive rebounds, but just six second-chance points.

VCU: The Rams averaged 94.5 points in their first two games, but are still working to integrate what first-year coach Mike Rhoades wants them to do on offense and defense. Johnny Williams can be a force driving to the basket, and transfer Vann gives them another quality 3-point shooter. They cam,e into the game forcing an average of 14 turnovers.

UP NEXT

Virginia is at home on Sunday against Monmouth.

VCU faces Marquette in the Maui Invitational on Monday.

Pro golfer, Wisconsin fan Steve Stricker does not like J.P. Macura

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Wisconsin resident, Badger fan and pro golfer Steve Stricker was not happy after UW lost to Xavier on Thursday night.

For starters, his team lost.

That sucks.

Then J.P. Macura went and rubbed it in everyone’s face, doing the Gator Chomp at the student section after he threw down an alley-oop with less than a minute left:

Stricker was not having any of it:

Me?

I loved it.

And maybe, just maybe, the fact that Wisconsin’s entire student section spent the game telling Macura that he’s an a****** had something to do with his reaction.

Also … how many middle fingers do you see in this picture?

Thank you Badger fans. What a hostile environment.. I appreciate the love

A post shared by Jp Macura (@jpmacura) on

Lonnie Walker hurt as No. 11 Hurricanes beat A&M 90-59

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CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Highly touted freshman Lonnie Walker IV twisted his left ankle Thursday night, and coach Jim Larranaga was sore himself after the latest lopsided win by the 11th-ranked Miami Hurricanes.

Larranaga said Walker wasn’t seriously hurt, and the coach seemed more concerned about his team’s effort and focus in a 90-59 victory over Florida A&M.

“I didn’t think we were very good from start to finish,” Larranaga said. “We need to play a whole lot harder, and better defensively. We looked sluggish. I told the team I was extremely disappointed in our effort.”

Walker was assisted to the locker room in the first half after stepping on another player. The Hurricanes are scheduled to play La Salle next Wednesday in Walker’s hometown of Reading, Pennsylvania.

“We won’t know for a couple of days, but I think he’s fine,” Larranaga said.

Is he likely to play in the next game?

“Oh, he’s going to play in Reading,” Larranaga said.