Skip to content

Travis Releford likes being KU’s ‘Glue Guy’

Feb 6, 2013, 2:00 PM EDT

Travis Releford AP

Travis Releford’s jersey will never hang in the rafters at Allen Fieldhouse. Mario Chalmers is the latest to join the likes of  B.H. Born, Wilt Chamberlain, Danny Manning and Paul Pierce in that rarified air, and he might not even be there had he not canned the miracle shot that preserved the Jayhawks’ 2008 national title run.

Stars at Kansas are relatively easy to come by, but very difficult to really know. The great ones go on to play professionally and become property of the world. Hardworking, loyal jack-of-all-trades types tend to live on as local legends, sometimes remembered only by long-term hometown fans with encyclopedic memories of seasons past.

That’s the kind of player Travis Releford seems destined to be. The fifth-year senior from Kansas City, Missouri is a classic ‘glue guy': a program player who does the little things to help his team win. And that’s fine with him. In fact, it’s a dream come true.

“I’ve always wanted to be here,” Releford said of KU. “All through high school I knew I wanted to come. I’ve seen guys who played before me and how fans support the guys who go through this system. They graduate, and they come back to Lawrence and fans still show them the same amount of love as if they were still playing on the team today.”

The rewards of playing for a blue-blood team that owns the Big 12 and expects to be in the Final Four every season might seem obvious to you and me, but recent Bill Self recruits like Quintrell Thomas (UNLV) and Royce Woolridge (Washington State) have transferred rather than wait their turn. Releford averaged just 6.8 minutes per game as a freshman, then took a redshirt in the ’09-’10 season, when the late signing of blue-chipper Xavier Henry made it clear that he would see even less action if he wasn’t willing to bide his time.

When Henry did the expected and joined the NBA draft after a single season in Lawrence, Releford returned and began his quest for more playing time in earnest. He was up to 10 minutes per game in ’10-’11, then his floor time skyrocketed to 30.8 mpg the next season. At 6’6″, 210 lbs., Releford’s versatility and work ethic made him a crucial cog in the KU machine that made it to an unexpected berth in the national title game.

In tough games, when an opponent makes a run, Releford is the guy who’s supposed to help settle a young team down. It’s an important role on this year’s team. “Anybody can get rattled,” said KU head coach Bill Self. “The thing that I don’t like about it is that when we get the lead late, we can play passive. Or we can have some guys trying to make great plays instead of good plays.”

That’s where a glue guy comes in. Rarely the leading scorer, Releford is more often the player who makes the easy layup or grabs a contested long-ball rebound to buy his team some time to get un-rattled. Asked if he minds taking a backseat to his teammates, Releford was philosophical.

“That’s good for me, because if I come into the game and the other team’s not focused on me, I’m going to get up my shots and see what happens,” he said. “Get stops, control the ball and don’t make any dumb turnovers.”

It sounds easy, but the difficulties of being the glue guy were never more evident than in KU’s 85-80 home loss to Oklahoma State on February 2. It was a loss so frustrating that Bill Self tore into his team afterward, declaring that “We don’t have a point guard.” Releford did everything he was supposed to do, playing 38 minutes, dishing three assists to zero turnovers, canning both of the deep shots he attempted, and stealing the ball three times, and his team still lost. He finished the game with just eight points.

Never the focal point, Releford could easily side-slip the responsibility for tough losses. But that’s not the kind of guy he is. He’s the guy who got splinters on the bench, sat out a season, learned how to play within himself and earned a starting role on a top-ten team. He wants to be here, badly. He doesn’t cop out.

“At the beginning of the season, coach told us we were going to have bad games. But all those bad games, we’ve got to win them.”

That’s your classic glue guy talking.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

Latest Posts
  1. Three-star 2015 forward cuts list to seven

    Sep 20, 2014, 11:29 PM EDT

    Area Codes Basketball Area Codes Basketball

    Three Mountain West programs and one Big Ten program among the schools on the Las Vegas native’s list.

  2. Western Kentucky junior guard Ayinde Sprewell’s highlight reel (VIDEO)

    Sep 20, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT

    Ray Harper Ray Harper

    The nephew of Latrell Sprewell will play his first season at WKU.

  3. Recruiting heavyweight jumps into mix for five-star 2015 point guard

    Sep 20, 2014, 7:50 PM EDT

    ISAIAH BRISCOE,BRUNO SANSIMONI ISAIAH BRISCOE,BRUNO SANSIMONI

    The elite PG from New Jersey had his first in-person meeting with Kentucky head coach John Calipari on Thursday.

  4. In-state point guard becomes West Virginia’s second 2016 commitment

    Sep 20, 2014, 6:18 PM EDT

    Bob Huggins AP

    The South Charleston HS floor general was one of the state’s best players last season, and he could prep for a year before joining the WVU program.

  5. High-scoring guard verbally commits to Stephen F. Austin

    Sep 20, 2014, 5:03 PM EDT

    Brad Underwood Brad Underwood

    The son of a former national champion has made a name for himself by scoring 28 points per game as a junior.

  6. Mount St. Mary’s gives extension to head coach Jamion Christian

    Sep 20, 2014, 3:35 PM EDT

    jamion christian Getty Images

    Mount St. Mary’s rewarded head coach Jamion Christian with an extension.

  7. Gonzaga releases a loaded non-conference schedule

    Sep 20, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Wichita State v Gonzaga Getty Images

    Gonzaga has one of its deepest teams of all time and the Bulldogs are challenging themselves with a difficult non-conference schedule.

  8. Bradley forward Auston Barnes charged with domestic battery following August arrest

    Sep 20, 2014, 12:45 PM EDT

    Peoria County Sheriff's Office Peoria County Sheriff's Office

    Bradley forward Auston Barnes has been charged with misdemeanor domestic battery following an August arrest.

  9. Pittsburgh 2016 commit Maverick Rowan re-opens his recruitment

    Sep 20, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT

    adidas adidas

    Pitt and head coach Jamie Dixon no longer hold a commitment from a former 2016 recruit.

  10. Three-star center has four official visits set

    Sep 20, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT

    Under Armour Under Armour

    A three-star forward has four schools that are heavily involved.

  11. Mixtape of elite 2015 shooter Matt McQuaid (VIDEO)

    Sep 20, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Nike Nike

    Matt McQuaid can really light it up from the perimeter.

  12. Summer highlights for five-star center Stephen Zimmerman (VIDEO)

    Sep 19, 2014, 11:50 PM EDT

    Nike EYBL Nike EYBL

    Stephen Zimmerman is ranked the No. 10 overall recruit by Rivals.

  13. Record number of tents camped out for Kentucky’s Big Blue Madness (VIDEO)

    Sep 19, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    Via @_Shanabon Via @_Shanabon

    Kentucky fans camped out on Monday in order to officially camp out for tickets on Wednesday morning.

  14. Rhode Island big man returns to the floor for 2014-2015 season

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:45 PM EDT

    Rhode Island v Butler Getty Images

    The Rhode Island forward is eligible after missing the 2013-2014 season.

  15. Maryland transfer eligible this season at Georgia Tech

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:00 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The 6-foot-8 forward has two years of eligibility remaining.

  16. Georgia Tech will hire former Marshall coach, promote another assistant

    Sep 19, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT

    Tom Herrion AP

    The Yellow Jackets have added two new assistant to the coaching staff this offseason.

  17. Syracuse won’t know Dajuan Coleman’s status until November

    Sep 19, 2014, 5:25 PM EDT

    Villanova v Syracuse Getty Images

    The Orange holds the first of two exhibition games on Nov. 2.

  18. South Carolina lands commitment from three-star power forward

    Sep 19, 2014, 4:08 PM EDT

    Scott Stuart/Rivals Scott Stuart/Rivals

    The Roselle Catholic (New Jersey) product picked the Gamecocks over Seton Hall and Rhode Island.

  19. Former Chattanooga assistant to join UAB coaching staff

    Sep 19, 2014, 2:46 PM EDT

    Chattanooga Athletics Chattanooga Athletics

    Interestingly enough, UAB visits Chattanooga December 22.