Hoop Time notebook (OKC edition)

(Originally posted: Thursday, 10:52 p.m.)

Bison coach Pat Flannery’s midseason leave of absence is old news to Patriot League fans, but here in Oklahoma City, it is a new story to the midwestern media.

During tonight’s press conferences, questions about Flannery’s stress problems were posed to Flannery, Bucknell players Charles Lee and Kevin Bettencourt and Kansas coach Bill Self.

Flannery, who has said he will discuss things more candidly after the season is over, gave the most comprehensive explanation of the situation he has done publicly so far.

“It got to a point where it wasn’t as fun as it was supposed to be. I wasn’t communicating with my family and my kids,” Flannery said. “I just hit a wall and when I did, I got the help I needed.”

Counseling was part of the process. Taking some time off to step away from the situation also helped.

Self said he could certainly relate to what Flannery went through. Although he has never had to take time off, “the family doctor told me ‘you better change some things quick or you are going to have to.”

Through it all, Flannery said he came to a realization. “Basketball is not who I am, it is what I do. And that was not the case before,” he said.

Flannery said never missed a practice. And he was open and upfront with the kids about what was going on.

“It has been a real teaching tool,” said Flannery. “We need to make sure that this game doesn’t become bigger than our lives.”

Bettencourt said in the long run it was beneficial. “It was something he needed to do and we were there to support him,” he said. “When he did get back, seemed to bring the team closer together.”

Flannery said he has enjoyed every game since his return. “I have really taken a different perspective in some ways. I will never change the way I am about the game and about loving the game,” he said.

“It was the external things that were mounting that I let affect me. Once it affects you and you feel like it is affecting your players and your family, that was time to take a look at what I could do.”

IN OR OUT -- That is the question everyone is asking about Kansas guard Keith Langford, who injured his ankle in the Jayhawks’ final regular season game against Missouri.

A serious flu bug that forced him to spend three days in the hospital complicates Langford’s return. Langford got out of the hospital and returned to practice, only to reinjure the ankle. Then, on top of that, he had a second go-round with the flu.

Yesterday, Kansas coach Bill Self said Langford’s status for Friday was doubtful. Today he was a little more optimistic.

“I didn’t think before today Keith would be able to do anything today, but he practiced briefly and shot for about 30 minutes, which was very encouraging,” Self said. “I anticipate once the adrenaline gets flowing, physically he could play. But the reality is he hasn’t done anything in the past two weeks. The ankle won’t be 100 percent this weekend; it’s probably about 80 percent.”

Self said although Langford was better physically, he has concerns about conditioning and stamina after doing almost nothing for two weeks.

“I don’t know if he has the strength to play,” Self said.

Bucknell’s Charles Lee, the guy most likely to draw the Langford matchup on defense, would have none of Self’s sandbagging though.

“This is the big dance, of course he is going to play. He is a senior. He’s going to go out there and give it his all,” Lee said.

That has been the Bison’s expectation all along.

“The whole week in practice we prepared for everybody on their roster,” said Lee. “Anything they throw at us, we will be ready for.”

In all likelihood, Langford will play as much as Kansas needs him to. No doubt Self hopes he will not need to play the 6-4 senior any more than he has to. The ideal scenario for Kansas would have Langford get a run in, break a sweat, but not much more, saving him for Sunday’s second round.

Senior Michael Lee, said he expects to start again in place of Langford. Lee’s 4.3 points per game is a considerable dropoff from Langford, whose 14.7 ppg is second on the Jayhawks team.

WRIGHT STUFF -– Flannery confirmed he spent some time on the phone this week with is old Bucknell teammate Jay Wright, the coach at Villanova.

Villanova beat Kansas handily back in January. But Flannery said there was not a whole lot of advice he could take from Wright, nor much he could learn from watching film of that game because Villanova’s style is so different from Bucknell’s, especially on offense.

“We were able to gauge (Kansas) offensively a little. We could tell a little about their quickness since we had played Villanova,” Flannery said.

IN THE ZONE -- The word all season has been the way to beat Kansas is to play zone against them.

Flannery is not so sure.

“Everybody tells me they don’t shoot the basketball. But every time I watch them, they seem to go in,” Flannery said.

The stats seem to back that up. On the year, KU shot 48.6 percent from the floor, 39.2 percent from three-point range.

By comparison, American led the Patriot League in field goal percentage, shooting 45.2 percent. Bucknell was the league’s best three-point team, hitting 37.6 from the arc.

FILED UNDER MISCELLANEOUS –- All eight teams held public shootarounds in the Ford Center Thursday . . . The teams also held regular practices at other venues nearby . . . Flannery ran Bucknell through a series of easy drills during the Bison’s shootaround . . . Kansas, on the other hand, wowed the fans with a dunking exhibition at the end of their workout . . . A limited number of tickets were made available today at the Ford Center. Reportedly, there were fans camped out overnight in line to get them. With Oklahoma State almost next door and Kansas also an easy drive, tickets have been in heavy demand . . . As is always the case for big events, police are promising heavy enforcement of scalping laws. And in Oklahoma, those laws are very strict. Tickets can not be resold for more than 50 cents over their face value . . . Some creative OSU and KU fans found a legal way to pay extra to insure they got tickets. When they called Bucknell to try to purchase some of the Bison’s allotment, they were told that tickets were being made available to Bison Club members first, before they would be sold to people from out of the area. As a result, the Bucknell booster organization now has about a dozen new members with midwestern zip codes

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