LAWRENCE — In two-plus years at Kansas, Conner Teahan has one thing he'd take back.
He has never been a part of the Jayhawks' regular playing rotation, but that's not it. He is a prolific three-point shooter who has shot only 40 of them in his career, but that's not it either. Really, it all comes down to this: Teahan has had one chance to be the difference-maker in a KU basketball game — last year against Massachusetts at the Sprint Center — and he let that moment slip through his fingers.
Teahan, a junior walk-on from Leawood, got a rebound of a Sherron Collins miss near the basket with just seconds on the clock and KU trailing by one. He found himself in traffic, hesitated and was unable to get up a game-winning shot attempt. The Jayhawks lost 61-60.
"If I had one regret in my KU basketball career," Teahan said, "I just wish I would have — foul or no foul, miss or no miss — just wish I would have gone up with it."
KU coach Bill Self remembers the play well but said he never mentioned it to Teahan. Self conceded that he was way more frustrated with a few of Teahan's teammates, which is likely what led to Teahan playing at that juncture in the first place.
"What I took from it is just always be ready to play at any moment," Teahan said. "Before the UMass game, I talked to my parents on the phone and said, 'I'm not gonna be playing in this game at all.' Next thing I know, I was thrown in there. It's kind of changed my outlook."
Teahan's new mentality should serve him well this season as a fringe member of the rotation, especially early in the season while Brady Morningstar is suspended for suspicion of driving under the influence. With Morningstar out and Travis Releford and Mario Little redshirting, Teahan has been KU's sixth guard. It's not exactly what Teahan imagined for himself as a kid launching threes in his back yard, but he's content with a lesser role at his dream school.
"Whatever I can do to help the team is going to make me happy," Teahan said, "as long as we're winning. Sometimes, it's frustrating because I know that if I would have gone somewhere else I'd be playing more, but I'm kind of big into winning games, and that's what we've been doing here."
Self and Teahan agree that he has improved greatly since he came to Kansas. It would be hard for him to be much better at shooting threes — his freshman year, he made 12 of 20 — but Teahan says his added strength has made releasing the ball effortless. He has also worked to become a better ball handler. The tough thing is not being able to show the fans what kind of player he is.
"Just because people just see you sitting on the bench the whole time," Teahan said. "In high school, I was not expecting this when I got here. I don't get to go out there and compete in front of everybody. That's something I don't think a lot of people realize. My whole life, I've been one of the most competitive people I've known. Not being able to go display that is kind of frustrating."
Teahan considered taking a redshirt season this year, but once Little and Releford took that route, the Jayhawks needed Teahan for depth on the wing. He probably will take a redshirt year at some point to help him complete a degree in business finance or economics. Teahan says he would like a chance to play overseas when his KU career is complete.
Until then, he'll take the lesson from that UMass game and be ready at all times.
"I'm having a great time playing for the No. 1 team in the nation," Teahan said, "so I can't complain too much."