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View Full Version : Sasha Kaun Sucks, Right CoMoChief. This is a great read...


Ari Chi3fs
03-08-2008, 02:05 AM
I respect this guy on a whole other level.

LAWRENCE, Kan. – If only they’d given him more time to talk. Maybe then, Kansas forward Sasha Kaun would’ve told the rest of his story.
Perhaps he would’ve discussed that night 10 years ago, when his father was found dead – murdered, some believe – in the corner of a cold parking garage in Kaun’s native Russia.
http://d.yimg.com/a/p/sp/tools/med/2008/03/ipt/1204861606.jpg Sasha Kaun celebrates with Kansas teammates.
(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)



Kaun could’ve mentioned that emotional moment three years later when, at 16, he wrapped his arms around his mother at the airport, knowing that the hug would be the last they’d share for more than a year.


Or maybe Kaun could’ve explained how he blossomed into a top post player for one of the country’s most storied programs just a few years after playing organized basketball for the first time.


“When you look at all the things that happened that led Sasha to this point … it’s an unbelievable story,” KU coach Bill Self said.


Yet it’s a story that can’t be told in three minutes, which is the time Kaun was allotted for his Senior Day speech Monday at Allen Fieldhouse. Still, at least he got to say thanks.


Thanks to his coaches. Thanks to his teammates and fans. And thanks, most of all, to Olga, who waved to her son from Row 8 as he stood in the middle of the hardwood, clutching a microphone as a sellout crowd of 16,300 watched and listened.


“When I look at him running around the court during games,” Olga said through an interpreter, “I see this grown-up boy – this man!
“I can’t believe this is all real.”
<hr align="center" size="1" width="40%"> Shortly before midnight – as he raced through his neighborhood to comfort his mother – 13-year-old Sasha Kaun could see the lights from the ambulance flickering against the dark sky.


Minutes earlier he’d answered the phone and heard Olga sobbing.
“It was terrible,” he said. “She was in hysterics.” Kaun said his mother told him she’d become concerned when her husband, Oleg, failed to come home from work, and that her search for him had ended at the family’s single-car garage a few blocks away.


Olga entered and found Sasha’s father on his knees and unconscious. His body faced a wall, his torso sloped forward and his right hand was behind his back.


“A strange, awkward position,” Sasha said.
<!-- {PHOTO BEGINS} --> http://d.yimg.com/a/p/sp/tools/med/2008/03/ipt/1204862044.jpg
<!-- {PHOTO ENDS} --> Paramedics attempted to resuscitate him knowing there was little hope. On Jan. 16, 1998 – in the biting, unforgiving cold of Tomsk, Russia – Oleg Kaun was dead.


There were no clues, no witnesses. Instead of opening an investigation, Sasha said Russian authorities cited “gas poisoning” as the cause of his father’s death and moved on.



“We’ve never thought it was a suicide,” said Sasha, now 23. “He was a happy person. He wouldn’t have done that.”


Instead Olga believes Oleg was killed, and that the murder was somehow related to his job as a computer programmer for one of the largest banks in Russia. Not only did he create the programs used by the bank and all of its branches, but it was also Oleg’s responsibility to prevent hackers from getting into the system.


A few weeks before he died, Oleg told his wife that he was “having some problems” at work and that someone had broken into the program and was stealing money.


“Russia was very unstable during the 1990s – especially the banking system,” Olga said. “My friends and I have come to the same conclusion: Someone just got rid of Oleg so he wouldn’t cause any problems.
“Oleg was a very good person, very goal-oriented. Everyone loved him. He was handsome and he was respected as an expert.”


Throughout his college career, Kaun has chosen not to speak publicly about the death of his father, who he described as “very private.”
But earlier this week, as he reflected on the tragedy during an interview at Kansas’ Burge Union, Kaun was open and matter-of-fact when discussing Oleg’s passing and the way it shaped his future.


“I didn’t cry much when it happened,” Kaun said. “But after the funeral, at the reception, all these people came up to me and paid their respects. People started talking about the different things he’d done in life. That’s when it really hit me. There were a lot of things I didn’t know.”
One man told Sasha about the actions his father took to benefit the community. Another mentioned Oleg’s impeccable reputation as a computer programmer, adding that he was regarded as one of the best in Russia.
“I was sad that I’d never get the chance to find those things out on my own,” Sasha said.


Kaun reaches into his backpack and pulls out his billfold. Inside is a black-and-white picture of Oleg taken from an old passport. He’s wearing a sport coat and has mangy, black hair. Once or twice a week, Kaun looks at the photo says hello to his father through prayer.


Just like Oleg, Sasha has plans to become a computer programmer when his basketball career is finished. Despite the Jayhawks’ rigorous schedule, Kaun has managed to earn Academic All-Big 12 honors three times and will graduate in May.


Kaun puts away his dad’s picture and smiles.
“I definitely think I’m making him proud,” he said.
<hr align="center" size="1" width="40%"> As painful as Oleg’s death was emotionally, it also caused a change in lifestyle for Sasha and Olga, who was left alone to raise her only son.
“All of a sudden,” Sasha said, “it was just the two of us.”


Olga, though, was confident they would persevere because of a comment Sasha made moments after he arrived outside the garage on that dreadful January night.
<!-- {PHOTO BEGINS} --> http://d.yimg.com/a/p/sp/tools/med/2008/03/ipt/1204862601.jpg Kaun, left, pressures Florida Atlantic’s Xavier Perkins. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

<!-- {PHOTO ENDS} -->

“On that cold winter evening, his first words to me were ‘Mom, don’t worry. From now on I’m going to help you with everything,” Olga said. “That was the end of his childhood. He became very serious, very grown up.”


On nights when he used to hang out in the streets playing soccer, Kaun now found himself shopping for groceries. He’d clean the apartment between homework assignments and often cooked dinner for his mother, who had to work extra hours to pay the tuition fees of Sasha’s private school.
The routine worked well until high school, when Sasha fell into the trap that threatens so many children in single-parent homes. With so much freedom, Sasha said he became lazy and blew off homework assignments. His grades begin to slip right along with his work ethic. Luckily, the problems didn’t last long.


The summer before his sophomore year, Sasha received a call from a friend who’d just graduated from a high school called the Florida Air Academy.
Located in Melbourne, Fla., the boarding school had long been lauded for its efforts in attracting foreign students. Kaun’s friend said the school wanted to add more Russians to its student body and suggested he enroll.
“I looked at the situation and realized I could be doing a lot better in school,” Kaun said. “Going to the states was like a wake-up call. It was like, ‘Hey, you have this chance. Take it.’”


The only problem was that the situation would pull Kaun away from the mother with whom he’d experienced so much. But Olga Kaun knew an American education had more value than one obtained in Russia, where diplomas can be purchased off the street.


So she borrowed about $2,000 from her parents for a plane ticket and a Visa. Just like that – without knowing a word of English – Sasha was on a plane bound for Florida.


Years later, Kaun couldn’t be more appreciative of Olga’s decision. It’s one thing for a parent to send a child to a new high school on the other side of town or even a college in a different state.


But for a mother to allow a 16-year-old son to enroll at a school in another country shows how eager she is for him to succeed.


“It wasn’t all that tough for me,” Kaun said. “I liked challenges and experiencing new things. But it was difficult for my mother. I kept telling her that, if I didn’t like it after a year, I’d come home.”


But that never happened.


Kaun went 18 months before returning to Russia. Instead he and Olga talked twice a week on the Internet. In the meantime he was earning good grades in school – he aced Calculus as a sophomore – while continuing to learn more and more about computers.


“He was chasing his dream – just like his daddy,” said Aubin Goporo, a faculty member at Florida Air Academy. “The first time I met him I asked him what he wanted to be and he said, ‘A computer engineer.’ I asked him what else he may want to do and he said, ‘I don’t know, maybe own my own business.’”


Goporo pauses and chuckles. There was another reason he’d called Sasha into his office that day.


“Did you ever think about making a living playing basketball?” Goporo asked Kaun.
No, Sasha said. Never.
<hr align="center" size="1" width="40%"> From the day he arrived on campus, everyone at Florida Air Academy knew Sasha Kaun. At 6-foot-10, he was easily the tallest student at the school – and the ironic thing was that he had never played organized basketball.
Kaun’s inexperience was glaring during his first few weeks on the court. He said he felt “lost” when the team tried to run plays, and the fact that he spoke little English made it impossible for him to understand Goporo, who is also the school’s coach.


Physically, Kaun, then 175 pounds, didn’t have the strength to match up against anyone in the paint. One day in the weight room, he said he attempted to squat 135 pounds but fell over as soon he lifted the bar from the rack.


Kansas assistant Joe Dooley remembers watching one of Kaun’s practices during his sophomore season.
<!-- {PHOTO BEGINS} --> http://d.yimg.com/a/p/sp/tools/med/2008/03/ipt/1204862143.jpg Kaun dunks against Miami (Ohio). (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

<!-- {PHOTO ENDS} --> “Anyone who says they saw him as a sophomore and knew he was going to be a good player is lying,” said Dooley, an assistant with New Mexico at the time. “But with big kids you can never tell. You never know how they’re going to develop.”


Still, even the ones who improve rarely do so as rapidly as Kaun, who began logging extra hours in the weight room and gym. Kaun might have had an advantage when it came to size but, even today, he credits hard work – and not natural ability – as the main reason for his success.


“He’s one of the most disciplined kids I’ve ever coached,” said Goporo, who counts Florida’s Walter Hodge among his proteges. “He doesn’t say much, but he pays attention to everything that goes on around him. You won’t find many players smarter than Sasha.”


After just two years of organized basketball, Kaun began excelling on the summer AAU circuit. A standout performance at the Boo Williams Invitational catapulted him near the top of college want-lists across the country. In the end, Kaun named Kansas, Duke and Michigan State as the finalists for his services.


Not that the Blue Devils and Spartans ever stood much of a chance.
Goporo, who had become Kaun’s mentor, had long been infatuated with KU coach Bill Self when Self was coaching at Illinois. Goporo traveled to Chicago to listen to Self speak at clinics. He had an Illini backpack and subscribed to the school’s newsletter. When Self came to Florida to visit Kaun he noticed Goporo had a picture of him on his screensaver.


“I tried to hide it but it was too late,” said Goporo, laughing. “College basketball has become such a business. It’s hard to find someone who’s going to put his career aside and take care of you as a human being. But I knew that’s what Sasha would have with Coach Self.”


Kaun averaged 8.2 points while starting all but four games as a sophomore. His scoring average dipped to 5.9 a year ago, when nagging injuries stymied his progress.


Still, Kaun, at 250 pounds, has developed a reputation as one of the Big 12’s strongest players in the paint. Rarely does he get outmuscled, and right now he’s on pace to achieve season-highs in both points and blocks despite losing his starting job to Darnell Jackson.


Self said Kaun is having his best season ever for the 27-3 Jayhawks, who can clinch their fourth straight Big 12 title with a win Saturday against Texas A&M.


“This is the healthiest he’s been,” Self said. “He’s was prepared to come in and have a good year. He hasn’t had lower body problems like he’s had in the past. There were two summers in a row where he couldn’t work out because of health reasons.


“In my mind he’s a starter. Since he hasn’t been starting he’s playing at a higher level and Darnell has been playing at a higher level. So in the long run the move has helped our entire team.”
<hr align="center" size="1" width="40%">

Back at Allen Fieldhouse, Kaun is standing at center court, still clutching that microphone. He begins to address his mother and then cuts a joke.
“She probably won’t understand half of what I say,” Kaun said, “because she doesn’t speak much English.”


Olga doesn’t mind. She and Sasha have spent plenty of time together the past few months. Because she wanted to be present for all the big events during her son’s final semester of college – Senior Day, the NCAA tournament and graduation – Olga has been living in Lawrence since December.


Each and every night she sleeps on the couch in Sasha’s living room. He also doesn’t mind that she cleans his dishes, does his laundry and occasionally cooks pelemeni, a Russian ravioli.


“I am proud that my son did not fail,” Olga said. “I’m proud that he showed manhood and patience and is getting an education here – just like his dad. I think the tragedy that occurred in our family helped form my son’s character and helped him fight against everything to reach great accomplishments.”


Kaun will graduate May 18 with a degree in computer science. Beyond that, he’s not sure what’s next.


An NBA scout said last week that Kaun – because of his size, strength and intellect – might be selected in the second round of this summer’s NBA Draft. If that doesn’t happen, he could almost certainly earn solid money playing basketball overseas.


Kaun isn’t thinking that far ahead. On Tuesday, he couldn’t stop talking about the Big 12 title race, the NCAA tournament and Kansas’ chances of winning the national championship.


"I just want to prove to CoMoChief, that he doesn't know what the **** he is talking about." said Kaun "Besides, what kind of douche like Mizzou football and KU basketball. In Russia, he would be swimming with fishes."



But most of all he kept bringing up the emotions of Senior Night, the ovation he received and the sense of love he and his mother felt inside Allen Fieldhouse.


Lawrence may be thousands of miles from Russia. Still, now more than ever, Sasha Kaun couldn’t feel more at home.



http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaab/news;_ylt=AuEom0Y2M83gwVi8YF57aErevbYF?slug=jn-sasha030708&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

irishjayhawk
03-08-2008, 09:36 AM
Great find and read. Thanks!

Mr. Laz
03-08-2008, 09:56 AM
wow ..... whoduthunk that Kaun would actually know who GheyMoChief was ROFL




i expect Kaun to play in europe for a couple of years then play in the NBA ... he'll be a solid backup center for years imo.

JBucc
03-08-2008, 10:04 AM
Sasha Kaun? Isn't that a figure skater?

Skip Towne
03-08-2008, 10:16 AM
Kaun is a very talented guy outside of basketball. Imagine trying to get a college degree in computer science when you don't speak English. Anyone wanting to hear the senior speeches can do so at KUsports.com message board. Kaun has an accent and sounds like Ahnold.

chagrin
03-08-2008, 10:25 AM
Hey thanks for posting this - Russian Banks are the most corrupt organizations in the world, this is a very unfortunate and common theme over there.

I'm glad he and his mother made it here.

doomy3
03-08-2008, 10:38 AM
Great read. Thanks for posting.

Braincase
03-08-2008, 10:46 AM
The last few games, I've really enjoyed watching Sasha play. His quickness and footwork are the best it's ever been. He's been a beast on defense and has frustrated alot of players. forcing them to alter shots, and neutralizing them on the boards.

CoMoChief is entitled to his opinion, but right now I disagree with his position.

CoMoChief
03-08-2008, 10:49 AM
I read this article yesterday when my friends posted it on my facebook wall.

Good read, but he's still is a terrible terrible basketball player, which is what my argument has been all along. I got nothing else against him other than that.

CoMoChief
03-08-2008, 10:51 AM
Kaun is a very talented guy outside of basketball. Imagine trying to get a college degree in computer science when you don't speak English.

Koreans do it all the time. this is nothing new. Have of my computer classes were all filled with foreigners who couldn't speak any English at all.

doomy3
03-08-2008, 10:55 AM
Koreans do it all the time. this is nothing new. Have of my computer classes were all filled with foreigners who couldn't speak any English at all.

Maybe you should stick to English classes. I see those Koreans are rubbing off on you.

afchiefs
03-08-2008, 10:59 AM
Sasha Kaun? Isn't that a figure skater?

No, He's that tiger from Jungle Book!

This will make it harder to root against KU but I'll manage.

Good Read.

Who would of thunk?

Skip Towne
03-08-2008, 11:08 AM
Koreans do it all the time. this is nothing new. Have of my computer classes were all filled with foreigners who couldn't speak any English at all.

Have of them?

chiefqueen
03-08-2008, 11:30 AM
Have of them?


He's obviously only taking enough English to graduate.

CoMoChief
03-08-2008, 11:36 AM
Have of them?

oh sorry.........half. is that better cripple?

Skip Towne
03-08-2008, 11:37 AM
oh sorry.........half. is that better cripple?

You need to move to Arkansas. You'd fit right in.

Ari Chi3fs
03-08-2008, 11:41 AM
Considering he is still LEARNING the game, I think he is doing quite well. Most kids start playing when they are in single digits... he didnt start until his sophomore year. Working with Danny Manning has helped a lot.

He will play in Europe a couple years, then join some NBA team for 8-12 years. And I will probably buy his jersey wherever.

POND_OF_RED
03-08-2008, 12:03 PM
You can't look at a College senior and say they are just learning the game so that's why he isn't that good. The guy is almost 7 feet tall and he still can't rebound. He has some of the worst hands I have seen even for a big man. He misses too many open shots within 3 feet of the basket. He has gotten better but he still sucks. It's cool to root for the guy, but don't sit here and say he's any good.

CoMoChief
03-08-2008, 12:11 PM
You can't look at a College senior and say they are just learning the game so that's why he isn't that good. The guy is almost 7 feet tall and he still can't rebound. He has some of the worst hands I have seen even for a big man. He misses too many open shots within 3 feet of the basket. He has gotten better but he still sucks. It's cool to root for the guy, but don't sit here and say he's any good.

Thank you.

schneider221
03-08-2008, 12:42 PM
Koreans do it all the time. this is nothing new. Have of my computer classes were all filled with foreigners who couldn't speak any English at all.

Rip him for his game all you want but are you really going to say this is nothing special. Try to get those Korean kids to play big time D1 basketball and still get something like a 3.5 gpa in a tough subject while just now learning English.

btw its pretty amazing how well he speaks with his grammar and pronunciation for his senior speech.

Ari Chi3fs
03-08-2008, 01:46 PM
This is now the main story on Yahoo's front page.

Braincase
03-08-2008, 02:42 PM
I read this article yesterday when my friends posted it on my facebook wall.

Good read, but he's still is a terrible terrible basketball player, which is what my argument has been all along. I got nothing else against him other than that.

I challenge you to name a better Div. 1 big man, majoring in a technical discipline, English as a second language, and didn't start playing basketball until he was 16.

Yeah, that's what I thought.

Mr. Laz
03-08-2008, 03:59 PM
oh sorry.........half. is that better cripple?
cripple???

WTF is that .... if he is injured then you are a real POS.

if fact i hope you experience the same injury as some serious karma.

Lzen
03-08-2008, 04:49 PM
Nice story. I posted it in the game thread yesterday. But that's okay. It deserves a thread of its own. I just didn't want to be responsible for whining Kitties.

CoMoChief
03-08-2008, 05:37 PM
Rip him for his game all you want but are you really going to say this is nothing special. Try to get those Korean kids to play big time D1 basketball and still get something like a 3.5 gpa in a tough subject while just now learning English.

btw its pretty amazing how well he speaks with his grammar and pronunciation for his senior speech.

I have never bashed Kaun for anything he has done off the court. I just think he's a horrible basketball player. And it shows.

Reerun_KC
03-08-2008, 05:51 PM
I have never bashed Kaun for anything he has done off the court. I just think he's a horrible basketball player. And it shows.
I bet 1000$ he could posterize your ass in a game of basketball.....

I would like to see you and him square up in a game one on one.... :doh!:

CoMoChief
03-08-2008, 05:57 PM
I challenge you to name a better Div. 1 big man, majoring in a technical discipline, English as a second language, and didn't start playing basketball until he was 16.

Yeah, that's what I thought.

Hey I give the guy credit for what he's overcame in his lifetime, but that still doesn't mean he doesn't suck.

Like i said. I never have bashed him for anything he's done off the court.

Let's be honest, he's 6-11 and can't rebound for shit.

CoMoChief
03-08-2008, 06:00 PM
I bet 1000$ he could posterize your ass in a game of basketball.....

I would like to see you and him square up in a game one on one.... :doh!:

Im 6-2 and he's 6-11, who the **** do you think is gonna win 1 on 1?

Since when did I ever say I was a better center than Kaun?

I'd bet my entire life that I am a better shooter. Hell I'd nail more 3's before he could make any shot within 5 ft.

ROYC75
03-08-2008, 06:05 PM
I read this article yesterday when my friends posted it on my facebook wall.

Good read, but he's still is a terrible terrible basketball player, which is what my argument has been all along. I got nothing else against him other than that.

Terrible basketball players don't play pro basketball ........ they play sandlot and pick up games.

He will make a nice amount of change in the NBA or over in Europe.

Bet you can't find any, I say any Div. 1 or II coach that would not like to have him on his team , either as a starter or as a backup player.

Go ahead and name me one coach that would say this ?

Ari Chi3fs
03-08-2008, 06:30 PM
There really isnt a need to argue with CoMo, I guess. He is obviously confused about life.

CoMoChief
03-08-2008, 06:32 PM
There really isnt a need to argue with CoMo, I guess. He is obviously confused about life.

Yes I am absolutely confused with life because I am on a msg board arguing over a basketball player who doesn't start.

Wow you're smart.

CoMoChief
03-08-2008, 06:35 PM
Terrible basketball players don't play pro basketball ........ they play sandlot and pick up games.

He will make a nice amount of change in the NBA or over in Europe.

Bet you can't find any, I say any Div. 1 or II coach that would not like to have him on his team , either as a starter or as a backup player.

Go ahead and name me one coach that would say this ?

I don't have a problem with him being a backup player.

I can also bet that there are D II centers out there that are better than Kaun too. Of course I don't know who they are because no on pays attention to DII bball unless you go to a DII school.

ROYC75
03-08-2008, 08:54 PM
I don't have a problem with him being a backup player.

I can also bet that there are D II centers out there that are better than Kaun too. Of course I don't know who they are because no on pays attention to DII bball unless you go to a DII school.


:shake: Do you ever trip over your tounge ? You did here ! Terrible, he sucks, horrible, etc but yet you say you HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH HIM BEING A BACKUP PLAYER .

What ?:doh!:

A wise Indian once said , Man who speak with crooked tounge, me no trust !

CoMoChief
03-08-2008, 09:46 PM
:shake: Do you ever trip over your tounge ? You did here ! Terrible, he sucks, horrible, etc but yet you say you HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH HIM BEING A BACKUP PLAYER .

What ?:doh!:

A wise Indian once said , Man who speak with crooked tounge, me no trust !

He does suck, I didn't contradict myself at all. I've said many times before he should be the last big man option in the rotation. If that means he doesn't play then so be it. Aldrich is clearly better and needs to play more than he does, Kaun just does nothing but take away Aldrich's minutes he could have to get better.

KcMizzou
03-08-2008, 09:58 PM
I kinda get what Como's saying. While Kaun's not as bad as Como thinks... he really doesn't have a strong presence in the paint.

For example... look a a guy like Jevon Crudup. (I know you KU guys will probably grill me because he played for Mizzou) The point is, he probably had less talent than Kaun, definitely had less size, yet... if you drove into the lane against him... you knew you were going to be challenged.

There's a certain aggression that Kaun lacks. He just doesn't seem to have much fire or attitude.

Not that I wouldn't welcome him to this season's Mizzou squad.

KcMizzou
03-08-2008, 10:01 PM
Kansas has always been a finesse team anyway... so maybe you don't need that.

I'm just saying I think you guys would be unstoppable with a badass in the paint.

Ari Chi3fs
03-08-2008, 10:03 PM
Yes I am absolutely confused with life because I am on a msg board arguing over a basketball player who doesn't start.

Wow you're smart.

No, you are confused about life since you are a MUron and Gheyhawk.

I doubt there is such a thing as a Duke/UNC fan. You, are one gay mofo.