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Galindo Comes Through… Finds Hard Work Will Impress Coach

Galindo Comes Through; Freshman's 14 Points Help Fill In For Simien

By JASON KING The Kansas City Star

23 December 2004
Copyright © 2004 The Kansas City Star. All rights reserved.

He may not have emerged from the chimney wearing a Santa suit. Still, Alex Galindo arrived Wednesday at Kemper Arena bearing the perfect holiday gift for his Kansas teammates.

A freshman from Puerto Rico, Galindo came off the bench and scored a career-high 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the Jayhawks' 73-62 victory over Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the Yellow Book Shootout.

Galindo's performance couldn't have come at a better time for the No. 2 Jayhawks, who only 48 hours earlier had learned that star forward Wayne Simien would miss the next four to six weeks because of an injured thumb.

Asked if he took Wednesday's game as a personal challenge, Galindo said: "Yes I did. With Wayne out, I knew someone was going to have to step up. I wanted to be that person. Hopefully my performance today will give me the chance to play more often."

It certainly may -- especially if the 8-0 Jayhawks continue to play with the smaller, guard-oriented lineup they employed against Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

KU coach Bill Self opted to start 240-pound power forward Darnell Jackson in place of Simien. But Jackson picked up two quick fouls and played just six minutes. C.J. Giles, another freshman, saw 15 minutes of action off the bench and finished with six points and four boards.

Most of the time, though, Kansas went with a quicker, more athletic lineup that at one point featured guards Keith Langford, Aaron Miles, Michael Lee and Russell Robinson with the 6-foot-7 Galindo -- who's normally a wing -- at forward.

"I wasn't surprised we played that way," Miles said. "We practiced like that all week. It may change a little if we're playing a team that has two big, tall forwards. But basically that's probably how we'll have to play until Wayne gets back."

Kansas' attack was met with mixed results. Langford scored a team-high 21 points in the fast-paced scheme and Miles dished out nine assists. But the Jayhawks barely won the rebounding battle and, with freshmen in the lineup, struggled defensively.

The Panthers, 6-3, kept things close by sinking 11 three-pointers, including six by guard Ed McCants.

"One thing we learned is that we're not very good defensively," Self said. "I think right now we just need a few days off so we can get our batteries re-charged. This is a tired team, or least we looked like it tonight."

Kansas led 42-29 at halftime and was up 48-32 shortly after intermission. That's when Wisconsin-Milwaukee went on a 10-0 run that suddenly made the game interesting. McCants made five of his six three-pointers in the second half, when the score got as close as 66-59.

The Jayhawks finally pulled away but, even then, they didn't do so in impressive fashion. Kansas played the final 8 minutes, 21 seconds of Wednesday's game without scoring a field goal.

Instead KU did its late damage from the free-throw line, making nine of 10 foul shots during that span and icing the game.

Kansas was just 13 of 24 from the free-throw stripe on the night.

"We just couldn't put them away," Langford said. "Not that anyone would admit it, but I'm sure there are some of us that were already thinking about going home for Christmas. But it says a lot that we were able to stay focused enough to pull off the win. Our freshmen really helped up out tonight."

Langford was mainly referring to Robinson (career-high 12 points) and Galindo hadn't played more than nine minutes in a game before Wednesday. Galindo made two of his five three-point attempts and was perfect on all four of his free throws. Even when he misses, Galindo's picture-perfect form made him fun to watch.

"He's got a sweet stroke, doesn't he?" Self said after the game.

Galindo, who originally signed with Texas-El Paso, may have been hailed as a three-point ace when he signed with Kansas in May. But he proved Wednesday that he's more than just a shooter.

Time and time again, Galindo darted from the wing into the paint to snare rebounds. Four of his seven boards were on the offensive end -- and his first two baskets came on tip-ins.

"Alex saw this as an opportunity and we went after it aggressively, not passively," said Robinson, Galindo's roommate. "He maximized the situation."

Langford said he wasn't surprised by Galindo's performance, reminding reporters that Galindo would've contributed earlier if not for a groin pull that forced him to miss nearly a month of practice.

"We needed someone to step up, and tonight, Alex was that guy," said Langford. "I like his calm demeanor. Being from Puerto Rico, he doesn't understand the magnitude of the situation. He just goes out there and has fun."

Still, as pleased as they were with the victory, the Jayhawks realize they need to get better -- fast. Ninth-ranked Georgia Tech visits Allen Fieldhouse for a 1:30 p.m. showdown on New Year's Day.

"We really need to pick it up between now and January 1," Langford said.

Self Gets Galindo To Earn His Time; KU Freshman Alex Galindo Finds Hard Work Will Impress Coach Bill Self


4 January 2005
Copyright © 2005 The Wichita Eagle. All rights reserved.


After Alex Galindo arrived in the United States before his junior year in high school from his native Puerto Rico, one of the first words he learned was "thanks."

That wasn't quite the polite word Galindo used in November after Kansas coach Bill Self kicked the6-foot-7 freshman out of practice.

But now nearly two months later, Galindo has a different perspective.

"When you are angry, you don't always think," Galindo said Monday. "I wasn't working hard. I didn't accept it very well. I know it was wrong. When you are young, you get frustrated when you are asked to do things you don't want to do.

"(Self) was tough on me, but it helped a lot. Now things are better."

In other words, "Thanks."

As KU goes into its Big 12 opener Wednesday night against Texas A&M, Galindo has been a key part of the Jayhawks' adjustment without power forward Wayne Simien. At the same time, Galindo is making his case for more playing time when Simien returns from his thumb injury.

"Like any other freshman, I don't want to blow him up too much," senior Keith Langford said. "But Alex is doing well. Not just scoring points, but being tough and active."

In KU's two victories since Simien went out, the Jayhawks have had to go small a lot with lineups that included Galindo. He has responded with a total of 20 points and 14 rebounds in 43 minutes.

His most noteworthy moment came in Saturday's 70-68 victory over Georgia Tech when he broke the scoring ice in overtime for KU by hitting a three-pointer as the shot clock ran down.

Shots like that can do wonders for a guy's confidence. And certainly Galindo's confidence was sagging in November after he missed the first few weeks of practice with a groin injury.

"His attitude was never bad," Self said. "But when you're out that long and come back and don't think you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, you lose some confidence.

"I was hard on Alex early because I didn't think he was doing the things he needed to do to earn minutes. In my opinion, he's done those things."

The 205-pound Galindo arrived with a sparkling reputation as a perimeter shooter. But it's his rebounding the past two games that has put a twinkle in Self's eye.

"He has a nose for the ball," Self said. 'He's one of those guys where the ball seems to find him. And he's not scared to lead with his nose.

"He's in there battling and scrapping. He's not the strongest guy in the gym, but he's certainly playing tough."

Playing baseball and volleyball -- particularly volleyball -- was Galindo's game growing up in Mayaguez, P.R., where his father is a retired director of recreation for the city. But by 14, basketball became his game.

As Galindo excelled in hoops, opportunities opened for him to come to the United States and attend St. Benedict's Prep in Newark, N.J. One of those who help bring him to this country was Sergio Rouco, who would later become an assistant coach at Texas-El Paso.

That began a chain reaction that now has Galindo at KU.

While Galindo's mother, an English teacher in Puerto Rico, helped him with his homework over the phone, he quickly brought along his game on the court.

Last year, KU was recruiting J.R. Smith, one of Galindo's teammates at St. Benedict's. Smith later signed with North Carolina, then opted for the NBA Draft. Meanwhile, UTEP's Billy Gillispie, one of Self's former assistants at Illinois and Tulsa, was pursuing Galindo.

"I liked Alex when we were watching Smith," Self said. "But I knew Billy had worked hard and was going to get Alex. I thought if we did recruit him, we'd just muddy the waters for Billy."

Gillispie, however, left UTEP after last season for A&M -- the same unbeaten Aggies who will be in Allen Fieldhouse on Wednesday. Rouco also left UTEP to take the head coaching job at Florida International.

Gillispie's departure opened an NCAA loophole for Galindo to get out of his signed national letter with UTEP. And following a good senior season, Galindo didn't hesitate to jump through it.

After taking a look at Georgetown, Rutgers and Pitt, he picked KU in May.

Even if Rouco had stayed at UTEP, Galindo said: "I would have reopened my recruiting. I felt I could play at a higher level."

And now he's proving it.

"He's a great shooter and a tough defender," Gillispie said. "When we signed him, we thought he could play for anyone in the country. It's playing out that way."

Now to get in game shape.

After playing a total of only 27 minutes in the first seven games before his increased load the past two, Galindo said: "My legs are not the same. When I shoot, sometimes they aren't there.

"But they'll get better. Everything is getting better."

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