Rock Chalk Jayhawks Kick of the Basketball Season Tonight

Opening Night

Five-time defending Big 12 Conference champion Kansas opens up the 2009-10 exhibition season hosting Fort Hays State Tuesday, Nov. 3, at 7 p.m. The game will be televised on Jayhawk TV. Kansas is looking to win its 34th-straight exhibition contest and is 19-0 in exhibition games under head coach Bill Self. Like Kansas, Fort Hays State begins its exhibition season as well on Tuesday and is coming off a 20-9 season in 2008-09.

About Kansas

Preseason No. 1 in most national polls, Kansas returns its top nine scorers, including all five starters from last season's 27-8 team which won its fifth straight and ninth overall Big 12 regular-season championship. The Jayhawks advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 before falling to eventual NCAA runner-up Michigan State.

Senior Sherron Collins and junior Cole Aldrich are the Big 12 Preseason Co-Players of the Year for 2009-10.  Both also received mention among several preseason All America teams. Collins led KU in scoring last season with 18.9 points per game, while Aldrich averaged a double-double with 14.9 points and 11.1 rebounds.  Aldrich also recorded Kansas first official triple double during tournament play last year in his home state of Minnesota. Both Collins and Aldrich were All-Big 12 First Team selections a year ago.

Sophomore guard Tyshawn Taylor is another returning starter who averaged 9.7 points and 3.0 assists per game in 2008-09. Fellow sophomore Marcus Morris is returns as a starter at forward after averaging 7.4 points and 4.7 rebounds his freshman year.

Kansas will be without last years final returning starter in Brady Morningstar who is currently serving a suspension through the first semester.

Kansas'top reserves from last year include Tyrel Reed, Markieff Morris, Mario Little and Travis Releford. Many expect freshmen guards C.J. Henry, his brother Xavier Henry, Elijah Johnson and freshman forward Thomas Robinson to vie for playing time for KU early on.

Three players that won't see the floor for Kansas tonight are Jeff Withey due to transfer rules and injury along with Mario Little and Travis Releford who are both looking at the possibility of a redshirt season.

About Fort Hays State

Located in Hays, Kansas, and with an enrollment of 9,000, Fort Hays State returns three starters and five letterwinners from last season's 20-9 team which tied for third in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association with a 12-8 record. Senior forward Tim Peintner (6-6) is the top returning scorer for FHSU with a 12.3 scoring average. He led the Tigers in rebounds with 7.1 rpg per game last year. Other returning starters include junior guard Corbin Kuntzsch (6-4), who averaged 10 points and 5.6 rebounds last year and senior forward Ryan Herrman (6-6), who averaged 7.2 ppg and 6.2 rpg last season.

Kansas No. 1 in Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Preseason Coaches' Poll

For the second time in the Bill Self era, Kansas men's basketball is No. 1 according to both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' preseason polls released Oct. 29. This season marks only the second time in KU history the Jayhawks have opened the year No. 1 by the Associated Press.The other was Self's second season at Kansas in 2004-05. KU received 55 of a possible 65 first-place votes by Associated Press voters in garnering top honors.

Michigan State was second, including five first place votes and Texas third with one top vote.  Kansas received 27 first-place votes in the ESPN/USA Today Preseason Coaches' Poll. The Jayhawks are No. 1 in the poll for the third time in school history and the first since the 2004-05 season. KU was also No. 1 in the 1996-97 according to the coaches.

Kansas Coaches Pick to Win Big 12 Title

Kansas, the unanimous No. 1 team in the country in every preseason publication, is also the choice to win the conference title in a vote of the league's head coaches. The Jayhawks received all 11 possible first-place votes in polling for the 2009-10 season. Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own teams. Historically, this marks the ninth time in Big 12 history KU has been selected as the favorite. Six times in the 12 years the poll has been conducted the preseason favorite went on to win the title. Kansas has won nine of the 13 Big 12 regular-season championships including the last five. Last year KU was predicted third in the preseason coaches' poll.

Kansas Trio on Naismith Preseason Watch List

Kansas basketball senior Sherron Collins, junior Cole Aldrich and freshman Xavier Henry have been named to the 50-member Naismith Award Preseason Watch list for 2009-10 the Atlanta Tip-Off Club announced Oct. 29.

Collins and Aldrich were also named Wooden Award preseason candidates in August. Henry is on his first preseason list as a Jayhawk.

Kansas is the only school to have three student-athletes represented on the Naismith list, while five other schools have two candidates. 

Collins, who was on the same list last year, was an All-Big 12 First Team selection last season when he was third in the Big 12 with an 18.9 scoring average. The 5-11, 205-pound, Chicago guard posted 14 games of 20-plus points in 2008-09, including a career-high 32 points against North Dakota State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Entering his senior season, KU is 97-16 during Collins' career, including three Big 12 regular-season championships, two Big 12 postseason championships, two NCAA Elite Eights, three Sweet 16s and one national championship. 

Aldrich, who will be nominated for Academic All-American this season, was also a 2009 All-Big 12 First Team selection when he averaged a double-double with 14.9 points and 11.1 rebounds. The 6-11, 245-pound, Bloomington, Minn., center led the Big 12 in blocked shots with 2.7 per game. Aldrich recorded the first official triple-double in school history with 13 points, 20 rebounds and 10 blocked shots against Dayton in the second round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament before his hometown crowd at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis. Additionally, Aldrich's 94 blocked shots in 2008-09 are second on the KU single-season list.

Henry, (6-6, 225) was on most high school All-America teams last spring averaging 28.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.7 steals in leading Putnam City High School in Oklahoma City to the state championship. The two-time Oklahoma Gatorade Player of the Year was ranked as the No. 3 recruit by ESPN 100 Recruiting.

Kansas' Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich Named Big 12 Preseason Co-Players of the Year

Kansas teammates Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich have been named as the Big 12 Preseason Co-Players of the Year and Preseason All-Big 12 by the conference head coaches, it was announced Oct. 8. The selection of Collins and Aldrich marks the second time in Big 12 history (Brandon Rush & Julian Wright, KU, 2006-07) that the preseason player of the year accolade has been shared by two players. This year's KU duo are the fifth and sixth Jayhawks to be tabbed with preseason player honors, joining Wayne Simien in 2004-05, Raef LaFrentz in 1997-98 and Rush and Wright in 2006-07.

Nine Jayhawks on NBA Opening Day Rosters

Nine former Kansas Jayhawks have made opening-day NBA rosters, including four members of the 2008 National Championship team. Darrell Arthur (Memphis), Mario Chalmers (Miami), Darnell Jackson (Cleveland) and Brandon Rush (Indiana) from the 2008 NCAA National Championship team join fellow Jayhawk alums and NBA veterans Nick Collison (Oklahoma City), Drew Gooden (Dallas), Kirk Hinrich (Chicago), Paul Pierce (Boston) and Julian Wright (New Orleans) in the league.

Home Court Winning Streaks

Kansas, and the NCAA, has declared that games played at Allen Fieldhouse are its home designate so the Jayhawks take the nation's longest home court winning streak, 41-games, into next season. The 41-straight wins rank third on KU's all-time home win streak list and is the longest since the all-time high 62 from 1993 to 1998. The current streak started Feb. 7, 2007, with a 97-70 win against Kansas State. Exhibition
games do not count in the streak.

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