Releford returns home to Kansas City for third time this year.
- Nov. 28, 2012
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Travis Releford’s forearms are a canvas. Wrapped around them in ink are the fountains, buildings and landmarks that dot the landscape of his home: Kansas City, Mo.
Wherever his travels have taken him in his five years as a member of the Kansas basketball team, from Maui to New York City, the senior guard can look down and for a moment, he’s home.
“I always want to represent where I’m from,” Releford said. “It always reminds me of where I’m from.”
Releford returns to his home for the third game this season when the Jayhawks play Oregon State at the Sprint Center on Friday.
In his last trip, he created more fond memories of the place. His play sparked Kansas to the championship in the CBE classic, and he was named the most valuable player in the tournament along the way.
“Just from excitement of being able to play back home and my family and friends supporting me, it was a great feeling,” Releford said. “I think that had an impact on why I played so good.”
In addition, Releford’s scoring outburst, where he’s averaging 17.7 points over the past three games, has helped open up senior center Jeff Withey down low, helping the center to a 25-point outing in the championship game and a triple-double in their first game after the tournament last Monday.
“My teammates are finding me and getting me open lots of the times. It’s not me making the moves; it’s them finding me and easy buckets for me,” Withey said.
But outside of Releford’s two-game performance when he brought the Sprint Center to its feet with his play, the Jayhawks have had difficulty consistently creating offense.
Part of the Jayhawks’ issues on offense stem from the guards inability to penetrate the paint and draw fouls, getting them to the free-throw line.
The teams three starting guards, Releford, senior Elijah Johnson and freshman Ben McLemore, are averaging just over eight trips to the free-throw line combined per game — far too few for Kansas coach Bill Self’s liking.
“That to me is probably as telling of a stat to me as why we’ve been pretty inconsistent,” Self said.
Attacking the paint will be important, as Oregon State is one of only a handful of teams that can roll out a lineup featuring multiple players that stand at least 6-foot-10.
Kansas can attack the paint and get to the free-throw line by forcing the Beavers’ big men to foul, both by getting them off the court and onto the bench in foul trouble and by forcing the defense to collapse, opening up shots for easy Jayhawk baskets.
“We watched film yesterday, and it’s shown us a lot of things that are correctable and showing us ways that we can put ourselves in position so we can get to the line,” Releford said.