NCAA Haaseketball opens |

NCAA Haaseketball opens

Michael Traum

Enough talk. It’s time to tip off. That’s what Jerod Haase and the No. 1-ranked Kansas Jayhawks are saying heading into today’s opening-round contest vs. Jackson State in the NCAA basketball tournament.

“I think everybody’s ready. There’s been a lot of talk and interviews. We’re ready to play,” Haase said Wednesday night from his hotel room in Memphis, Tenn.

Jackson State (14-15) gained an automatic berth by winning the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament. An underdog by as many as 35 points, Haase said the Tigers don’t get the respect they deserve.

“They’re actually more talented than people give them credit for. They’re very athletic,” Haase said. “We’re not going to wade into it. We’re going after it.”

According to Haase, the Jayhawks don’t plan to change their game plan – a strategy which has produced a near-flawless season campaign.

“We never get more than one or two days of scouting on the other teams. And we never change things for one particular opponent,” he said. “Our game is to get the ball inside and play great defense.”

Haase said his past tournament performances, which have bordered on inconsistent, don’t mean a thing this time around. In addition, the group hasn’t put any undue pressure on each other.

“All that stuff is good and fine. We just have to perform on the day we play. We’re confident in what we can do,” he said. “This is a totally unique situation. This team doesn’t need me to score 30 points to win. My defense will be there and I just need to make solid plays on offense.”

Years of high school and college preparation have brought Haase and the rest of the Jayhawks to the doorway of history – a title win would make Kansas the winningest team in college basketball history.

And that fact isn’t lost on Haase, who is firmly grounded in what got him to this level.

“I know there’s a little lake community rooting for me. I appreciate that more than anything else. I’m definitely excited. Let’s get this thing going,” he said.

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