Kansas Says Goodbye to 2012 Seniors
March 5, 2012
Lawrence, Kan. -
When the final buzzer sounds tonight, Kansas basketball fans will salute seniors Tyshawn Taylor, Conner Teahan and Jordan Juenemann for the last time in Allen Fieldhouse. Between the trio are five conference titles (all outright), three Big 12 Tournament championships, a 157-22 overall record including a 71-10 mark in Big 12 play and an 85-1 record in games played in Allen Fieldhouse.
Each senior has a different story, but each shares the bond of a team no matter his individual role within that team.
"With all of the guys that we have on our team this year," said Juenemann. "There is something cool about working with each other, lifting, going to practice every day and just making each other better. You have that bond together."
For Juenemann, his time to shine was often in the weight room and on the practice floor pushing his teammates to the limit so that they would be prepared when stiffer competition took the floor at game time.
"I just came out every day and put my best foot forward," said Juenemann. "I just tried to give everything I had some way, somehow to the team."
In doing so, Juenemann was granted a scholarship by Kansas head coach Bill Self prior to the start of the 2012 spring semester after originally walking on to the program in the fall of 2008.
"It's so nice of coach," said Juenemann. "My freshman year I had high hopes and dreams of earning a scholarship. Leading up to this semester and earning a scholarship after putting in all those years of hard work, it was very rewarding."
Juenemann has taken advantage of his limited time on the court. The Hays, Kan., native scored a career-high seven points in four minutes against Texas Tech in Allen Fieldhouse on Feb. 18.
Like Juenemann, Teahan is a Kansas native and dreamed of playing for Kansas his entire life. Teahan, a five-year member of the Kansas squad, is the lone holdover from the 2008 National Championship team. A freshman that season, Teahan played sparingly, but enjoyed the ride as much as any other member of the team.
"It was an awesome experience and a really high note to start a career on," said Teahan. "Every year has been really, really exciting because I honestly thought I would have had another one (championship) by now, just the way the last two years have gone."
Even with a championship under his belt, the Rockurst High School graduate wanted to experience being a member of the playing rotation so he took a redshirt last season in hopes of contributing on the hardwood this season.
"It wouldn't have meant as much to me if I had sat on the bench the entire time," Teahan said of his career. "It would have meant a ton to me. I don't want people thinking I didn't have fun being on the team. I solely sat out last year just in the hope that I would be able to play a decent amount of minutes this year. I'm playing more than I had ever known I would be needed to. That's been a lot, a lot of fun and I appreciate it a lot."
This season Teahan is averaging 21.2 minutes a game while sinking 37 percent of his shots from behind the arc including a perfect four-for-four against Missouri last Saturday. The Leawood, Kan., native says that he owes much of his improvement to his teammates, coaches and the training staff.
"Freshman year I came out here and I was like, `What is going on?'" said Teahan of the adjustment to competitive environment at KU. "I could definitely hold my own in practice and everything like that, but that team was so ridiculous. We've had a bunch of teams like that."
Taylor's story is a little bit different from his fellow seniors. The Hoboken, N.J., native guided the perennial power St. Anthony High School to an undefeated record as a senior in 2008 before walking into the starting point guard role at the University of Kansas. Taylor was named to the Big 12 All-Rookie Team by the conference coaches and the Big 12 All-Freshman Team by the media following his first season.
"I came from a great high school program so I was a little more prepared than some other guys," said Taylor. "And I walked into a really good position where (the team) had a lost a lot of guys and needed someone to fill in."
Taylor didn't let his early success prevent him from continuing to grow as a player and a person in his four-year career donning the Crimson and Blue.
"I've put in a lot of time," Taylor said. "Four years is a lot of time nowadays. I have so many memories and I'm trying to make more. (It has been) four years of fun, ups and downs, growing up--just a little bit of everything. I guess just the stuff you go through in college."
A rarity in the current climate of college basketball where players head for the NBA after only a couple of years, Taylor is a throwback player that has taken advantage of his considerable experience. He is averaging over 16 points a game for the Jayhawks this season and took over on the court at the right time to help Kansas capture its eighth-straight conference title.
Each of the three seniors noted the level of brotherhood that has existed in the Kansas locker room during their stints in a Jayhawk uniform; a camaraderie that each will remember long after their respective careers have ended even though it started before they even arrived on campus.
"It goes back to even before I got here," said Taylor. "They just kind of take you under their wing so as soon as you get here you feel like you've known these guys forever."
As this year's three seniors' careers come to a close at Kansas, they will each reflect on the friends and mentors they earned in the program. They will also reflect on the strong fan base that cheered them on through each home game and watched them from as the team hit the road.
"Our fans are like none other," said Juenemann. "We have a packed house every night. I'm really going to miss that."
Senior speeches are a tradition at Kansas as each graduating player takes a turn speaking to the home crowd following their final contest on Naismith Court. Juenemann has given some thought to what he will say when it is his turn to speak.
"I am going to have a lot of people to thank around the department and from my life," said Juenemann. "My family is going to be there and I will just try to express how amazing it was for me. I grew up as a Kansas kid out in the middle of nowhere and to come here and have my dreams fulfilled at this university and to wear Kansas across my chest, I'll just try to explain that to the fans."
Taylor has not given much thought to what he will say on Senior Night. He says he is nervous to speak after the game as he does not do well with public speaking, but Taylor believes he has a solution.
"I'd rather do it on Twitter or something," joked Taylor. "I wish I could just give my speech via Twitter."
For Teahan, it won't be the fear of the crowd that makes it hard for him, but rather finding the right words to say.
"Sometimes I sit here and think about what I'm going to say during Senior Night," said Teahan. "But what do you say to the people that have made the last five years the best years of your life?"
It's a tough question to answer, but each senior will try after the game when he grabs the microphone and strides out to center court to say goodbye to the Jayhawk faithful.
-written by Alex Folsom, Kansas media relations student assistant