Having been selected to represent Team USA in the 2015 World University Games, played in Gwangju City, South Korea July 3-14, the Kansas Jayhawks are hitting the hardwood in preparation by taking on Team Canada for two exhibition games on June 23rd and 26th at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO.
Usually Jayhawk fans are forced to wait until October for Bill Self and his team to kick off another season, but with the rare opportunity to be selected as the United States representative for the World Games, KU will have the advantage of gelling as a team in July.
Sprint has served as a home away from home for Kansas since its construction, and the Jayhawks have had plenty of success in Kansas City’s premier arena.
With the Power & Light district right across the street and plenty of Kansas alums living in and around the Kansas City metro, the atmosphere around both games will be as good as any regular season game.
What may different, at least aesthetically, will be the look of the Jayhawks, which will likely wear Team USA uniforms and colors. Although it is not yet known what the official uniform will look like, it will certainly not look anything like Kansas’ regular jerseys.
Unfortunately, newcomer Cheick Diallo and sophomore Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk will not be permitted to compete in either the exhibition or actual tournament games because they aren’t American-born citizens.
Junior Brannen Greene will also not be in uniform as he recovers from offseason hip surgery.
Incoming Freshman Carlton Bragg and LeGerald Vick—currently class of 2016 but likely to reclassify to 2015—will be able to play for the Jayhawks. Self has also added SMU starting point guard and AAC Player of the Year, Nic Moore.
With a depleted backcourt, Moore will add the depth Kansas will need on the perimeter and Moore runs a similar system at SMU (coached by Larry Brown and former Self assistant Tim Jankovich), which will make the transition relatively seamless.
As a whole, Self will more than likely run a stripped down offense in the tournament overseas, mainly due to the lack of team practice to prepare, but also for the sake of the arriving freshman which will not have spent much time on campus and around their teammates.
As for the games against Team Canada at the Sprint Center, fans will have the chance to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience seeing their beloved Jayhawks as Team USA. Not only that, but it’s a tremendous opportunity to increase KU’s exposure on a national level and to recruit fans which otherwise would not root for the Jayhawks.
Bill Self told reporters he had heard somewhere in the area of 5,000 tickets had been sold upon initial release for the Sprint Center games, which means plenty of tickets remain.
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