LAWRENCE — Conner Teahan put on a Kansas jersey for the last time on April 2. While helping his team reach the NCAA national championship game, the senior guard for the University of Kansas men's basketball team contributed to the school's third straight 30-win season. Teahan is the only player on the team who had been in a championship game before this year. He was a freshman on the team that won it all in 2008. Although it might be the biggest thing on his mind right now, basketball is not all Teahan thinks about.
Teahan is a fifth year senior because he red-shirted during the 2010-2011 basketball season. He completed a business degree in finance last year and will graduate in May with an accounting degree. He said he didn't want to take two more years of school right now to get a master's degree but is thinking about taking the Certified Public Accountant exam. He is currently a teaching assistant for Finance 305, Survey of Finance and Finance 417, Business Valuation, both taught by business professor Lisa Bergeron.
"Being a TA has helped me understand finance better," Teahan said. "I already did a bunch of group work and being around other projects every day helps me better understand it."
Bergeron says Teahan makes a great TA.
"Over the course of the semester I got to know Conner and realized how bright he is and how hard he works," Bergeron said. "He really gets the concepts and is able to communicate them to the students."
Still, it's difficult to separate the two parts of his life. Teahan says the older he's gotten the more organized and mature he's become at balancing basketball and school.
"What coach Self always says is taking care of business off the court directly correlates with on the court," Teahan said. "If you're responsible and don't leave anything to chance, you'll be the same way on the basketball court and if you can take care of business on the court, you'll be less stressed out."
While Teahan is learning about finance from Bergeron, she is learning a few things from him as well.
"I have learned some fundamentals of basketball," Bergeron said. "I coach little ones and I would ask Conner for some tips and drills. He would help me out, sometimes with a polite chuckle at my novice questions."
Bergeron said Teahan could've taken easy classes just to fill his schedule this year, but what really says a lot about him is that he took difficult classes and will earn a second degree because of it.
"He is truly a student-athlete," she said.
One of the biggest lessons Teahan has learned from basketball is about facing adversity, both on and off the court.
"There will be times in life when things aren't going your way or a job is tougher than you expected," Teahan said. "You can't give up. You have to keep going."
Bergeron can attest to that.
"I have seen Conner tired, frustrated and, on a couple of occasions, slightly overwhelmed," she said. "But never did that slow him down."
"Conner serves as a great role model for my kids as a student and as an athlete," Bergeron said. "He did not see much playing time in his first four years, yet he still worked hard, kept a positive attitude and kept his chin up. Now he has finally gotten the opportunity to play. I always tell my boys to work hard and they will get their chance. Conner has proven that."
This year's basketball team has exceeded all expectations. That is not only a testament to the coaching ability of head coach Bill Self and his staff, but to the players as well. The same drive that has gotten Teahan and his teammates to the final four serves him well in all the other aspects of his life. However, none of this is what makes Teahan special Bergeron said.
"It is not that Conner is one of the best athletes in the country. It's not that he is a great student," Bergeron said. "It's that he is truly a great person."