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. Five-star Class of 2015 center commits to Maryland

    Mar 27, 2015, 8:32 PM EDT

    (Kelly Kline/Under Armour) (Kelly Kline/Under Armour)

    Class of 2015 five-star center Diamond Stone committed during a surprise announcement on Friday night.

  2. Cat Barber records an assist while lying on the ground (VIDEO)

    Mar 27, 2015, 8:28 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    One of three assists in the first half for Cat Barber.

  3. Aaron Harrison says finger is sore, but won’t be a ‘big factor in the game’ against Notre Dame

    Mar 27, 2015, 7:45 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Aaron Harrison left Thursday night’s game briefly with a finger injury.

  4. Indiana AD backs Tom Crean again, but says Hoosiers ‘not where we want to be’

    Mar 27, 2015, 6:50 PM EDT

    AP AP

    For the second time this month, the Indiana athletic director backed the school’s head coach.

  5. Back at the point where last season ended, No. 2 Arizona looks to end its Final Four drought

    Mar 27, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Arizona hasn’t been to the Final Four since 2001, but all involved are focused on Wisconsin and not that streak.

  6. Florida junior Michael Frazier II declares for 2015 NBA Draft

    Mar 27, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Frazier is projected as a second round pick.

  7. Rutgers sophomore forward to transfer

    Mar 27, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    AP AP

    The 6-foot-7 forward has two years of eligibility left.

  8. Sources: Rick Barnes not expected to return to Texas

    Mar 27, 2015, 3:36 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Rick Barnes has been with Texas for 17 seasons.

  9. Steve Lavin and St. John’s ‘mutually agree’ to part ways

    Mar 27, 2015, 2:39 PM EDT

    Steve Lavin's three seniors have the NCAA tournament in their sights (AP Photo) AP

    Lavin had been with the St. John’s program for five years.

  10. Steve Prohm agrees to an extension with Murray State

    Mar 27, 2015, 1:31 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Prohm was one of the hottest names on the coaching carousel.

  11. Indiana freshman Max Hoetzel to transfer out of the program

    Mar 27, 2015, 12:43 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Two transfers in one week is not a good thing.

  12. The making of the Final Four court (VIDEO)

    Mar 27, 2015, 11:20 AM EDT

    Print

    It’s pretty cool to see this process in action.

  13. Wichita State assistant Steve Forbes to take over at East Tennessee State

    Mar 27, 2015, 10:31 AM EDT

    STEVEFORBES150X2201

    Forbes spent two years as an assistant at Wichita State.

  14. Tennessee fires head coach Donnie Tyndall after one season

    Mar 27, 2015, 9:08 AM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpte3owi1njbhnjg0mtc2yjbkzdgzmdzhnzm2mtbjytc1 AP

    Tennessee has parted ways with head coach Donnie Tyndall after only one season.

  15. Tourney Snacks: Kentucky, Notre Dame win in Midwest; Arizona, Wisconsin advance to set up Elite Eight rematch

    Mar 27, 2015, 1:45 AM EDT

    (AP) AP

    The Elite Eight will feature a rematch in the West Regional between Arizona and Wisconsin and Kentucky battling Notre Dame in the Midwest Regional.

  16. Updated tournament records: Kentucky moves SEC above .500

    Mar 27, 2015, 1:00 AM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Kentucky’s win also means that the Big 12 is down to one team: Oklahoma.

  17. No. 2 Arizona pulls away from No. 6 Xavier, setting up West regional final rematch

    Mar 27, 2015, 12:59 AM EDT

    (AP) AP

    Arizona played slightly better on both ends of the floor in the second half, and they’ll take on No. 1 Wisconsin as a result.

  18. Kentucky responds to Daxter Miles Jr.’s pregame comments

    Mar 27, 2015, 12:48 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    If you are going to talk, you better be able to back it up