KUAD: TCU vs Kansas Pregame Notes (ESPN2, Mark Neely, Stephen Howard)
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“The last two games, it’s easier for (Landen) to play good than it is Cliff,” Self said. “Without being critical, Landen is much better against the zone. He has a feel on gaps. He’s much better in pressure, handling the ball, passing the ball than Cliff. It was easier for him to look better in the last two games than Cliff.”
Alexander suffered his bruised sternum while taking an elbow to the chest in practice earlier this season. The injury has persisted into conference play, and can be aggravated with contact.
“You have a bruised sternum, every time you get hit, it hurts,” Self said. “Then he has had some other things. But you know what, everybody’s got something, especially this time of year. To me, when people don’t feel good, obviously you want them to feel better and that stuff, but you also got to will yourself, ‘Hey, I’m fine.’
“As soon as you start believing something’s wrong with you, your brain will tell your body that it is. He doesn’t have anything that should remotely keep him from playing at a high level.”
The 6-foot-2-inch point guard had no points and a career-high three turnovers in nine minutes during the Jayhawks’ 62-61 loss.
It’s why, when asked to assess his own play lately, Graham spoke candidly.
“Pretty bad, to be honest,” Graham said Thursday. “I haven’t been myself lately. But it’s something that I can turn around, just making plays for others. It’s not something that’s really hurting me or anything, but I can play much better.”
…The Raleigh, N.C., native hasn’t played more than 15 minutes in any of KU’s last five contests. His three turnovers in nine minutes also matched the number of giveaways he had in his first seven Big 12 games — a stretch that totaled 150 minutes.
“Coach has just been telling me I haven’t been as aggressive as I was when I first came back,” Graham said. “He thinks I’m being too passive, and I kind of agree with him. I’m playing kind of soft, I think.”
Graham’s mini-slump also has affected Self’s use of Mason. The 5-11 guard played 37 minutes at West Virginia while facing a full-court press for most of the first half.
“He got so tired the other night,” Self said. “Most of the time if you bring it up, you’ve got to go full speed because you got two guys running at you.”
It’s the main reason Graham is so vital to the Jayhawks. The quick guard is KU’s best option to give Mason a breather, which could potentially lead to better play from the sophomore late in games.
“I do think we need a little bit more from him. That’s not being critical at all,” Self said of Graham. “That’s just factual.”
“It’s a process,” Mykhailiuk said Thursday, asked to summarize his freshman season. “I’m trying to be a good teammate, work hard every practice and help my team how I can.”
Asked if the fact he’s played college ball at such a young age has helped his confidence, he said: “I try not to think about that, because if I come here at 17 I think I can play at 17. It doesn’t matter what age you are.”
He said he’s a better player now than when he arrived at KU.
“I think I improved a lot because I practice every day with one of the best college programs in the nation with the best coaches,” Mykhailiuk said. “They help me every time. I think I improved a lot from the beginning.”
He said, “every day I guard Kelly (Oubre Jr.) or Wayne (Selden Jr.). They are really good.”
Mykhailiuk also practices on his own a lot.
“I’m trying to work every day when it’s possible,” he said. “When I’m not tired or if it’s a day off, I’m trying to go every time to the gym and shoot.”
As far as defense ... “Here games are more tough,” said Mykhailiuk, who played in the Ukrainian Basketball Superleague from 2012 to 2014.
“You need to be tougher physically and mentally. Defense is not just physical, it’s mental. You need to know how to move, where you need to be in some spots.”
Although his freshman year has ranged from scoring 11 points in 32 minutes in the Orlando Classic championship game, to rallying from 18 points down to beat No. 24 Florida in Allen Fieldhouse (his favorite moment as a Jayhawk), to sitting out for two-straight conference games, Mykhailiuk believes he chose the best spot for his future.
"I like it very much. I adjusted very quickly, I think," he said. "The people are more open, like in personality. Everybody has helped me."
Fraschilla, who compared Mykhailiuk to four-time NBA All-Star Doug Collins, provided numerous reasons why Kansas fans and NBA personnel alike should be so excited about, "the Ukrainian." He listed everything from his size, athleticism, and his feel for the game, and that he's a good shooter that can certainly get better. He's got a lot of things that NBA teams will like two, three, or four years from now.
"He's an immense talent," Fraschilla said. "We may be talking about the best NBA prospect on the roster. We're looking at a kid who, by the time he is 21 or 22, could be a 6-foot-8, athletic, tough, hard-nosed scoring guard. The likelihood is that he will be in the NBA, but we're talking about a kid whose best basketball is still seven or eight years away. So what he's doing in Kansas as a freshman is incredible."
Rock Chalk Weekly
The Nuggets and forward Thomas Robinson have verbally agreed on a contract buyout, ESPN reports.
Robinson was shipped from Portland to Denver earlier Thursday and seeked a buyout in order to pursue a bigger role with another team. He averaged 3.6 points and 4.2 rebounds in 32 games with the Blazers.
After a busy trade deadline that saw the Sixers deal away point guard Michael Carter-Williams and forward K.J. McDaniels for draft picks, it is now clearer than ever that sidelined rookie center Joel Embiid is the face of the franchise and the team's centerpiece.
Embiid, the University of Kansas product chosen by the Sixers with the third overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft likely won't play a single minute this season as he recovers from a fractured foot, but that hasn't lowered the team's expectations for his short-term and long-term future.
"The guess and it is only a guess to how good he can be is the reason that we drafted him," Sixers head coach Brett Brown said of Embiid during a radio interview with Jon Marks and Sean Brace on 97.5 FM The Fanatic Thursday afternoon. "I think his upside is imminence. There's a competitive, dirty side of him that I've fallen in love with.
"He's aggressive. He hates to lose. All that wrapped up in a seven-foot, plus body that is extremely mobile. The future for him can be as bright as he wants it to be or that his health will allow it and we're extremely excited."
There had been some speculation that the Sixers weren't thrilled with how Embiid has handled himself as far as his weight goes through the course of his rehab. Some reports said the 20-year-old had ballooned to nearly 300 pounds.
Brown summarily dismissed those reports Thursday.
"There were some misconceptions out there and false reporting as to what he actually weighed," Brown said. "Those were untrue. We're moving forward at a progressive and aggressive pace with his weight that still needs to be better. We're moving forward with his skill-set while he can move a little bit more and more each day.
"It's coming around more each day with his shot. We're getting him excited to where he can actually be on a court and not just a zero-gravity treadmill or doing work in a deep-water pool. Those things allow him when he's on the court to be able to do things in a real way."
Wiggins’ introduction to the NBA has become a family affair. Once his trade from Cleveland to the Wolves was finalized last summer, the family packed up their Toronto-area home and moved to the Twin Cities to be near Wiggins.
Though he’s flourishing on the court, runaway favorite for Rookie of the Year honors and superstar-in-the-making "” Wiggins is still a teenager at 19. He credits his family for helping him adjust to his new environment.
"Going through something like this, first year in the NBA," Wiggins said, “It’s always good to have family beside you, supporting you, comforting you."
Wiggins’ older sister Stephanie and older brother Mitchell Jr. live with him at his home. His parents, Mitchell and Marita, and two younger sisters, Angelica and Taya, live in their home 10 minutes away. The only family member not here is older brother Nick, who plays for the Utah Jazz’s D-League team in Idaho.
"We see [Andrew] every day," his father said. "œHe wanted us close. We try to give him his freedom and his independence."
Wiggins’ parents felt their sons age, he turns 20 on Feb. 23, made it important for him to be surrounded by family while adjusting to life as a professional athlete.
"He’d still be in college if the world was normal," Mitchell said.
Kansas women's basketball had three student-athletes earn a spot on the 2015 Big 12 Academic All-Conference Teams, as announced by the league on Thursday morning. Sophomore Caelynn Manning-Allen was named to the first team, while sophomore Jada Brown and senior Natalie Knight were selected to the second team.
“Pay Heed. The game you love began here. Respect those who came before you. Make their legacy your own. Because destiny favors the dedicated. And rings don’t replace work. In this game you don’t get what you want. You get what you earn. We are Kansas. Together we rise. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!
Big 12 / College News
Now, things are getting interesting.
Kansas’ Perry Ellis misses a layup at West Virginia. Iowa State’s Georges Niang banks in a shot at Oklahoma State.
The Jayhawks lose on the road on Monday. The Cyclones win away from Hilton Coliseum on Wednesday.
Kansas is one game up in the Big 12 standings with five conference games left. The Big 12 title, all but handed to Kansas days ago, was just pulled back.
…“We got our mojo back and we know how to win on the road now,” guard Monte Morris said.
They’ll need to do it again.
Any hope of ISU being the New England Patriots and Kansas being the Seattle Seahawks in a comeback story revolves around additional road wins.
Three of ISU’s final five games are on the road. The team that needed to refind its road magic needs to hold onto it over the next two weeks.
…No doubt, Kansas is still the heavy favorite to win the league. The Jayhawks are still the Jayhawks. Plus, they are a game up and have the easier schedule with three home games.
Just don’t tell the Cyclones that. They aren’t thinking that way.
“We got to win out,” Morris said. “I mean, see where the chips fall after that. Kansas is a tough team, but they’ve got a few tough games coming up. Hopefully, (other) teams can make something happen, but we got to win out.”
It’s honest and realistic. ISU has a chance. It may be a puncher’s chance, but it’s a chance none the less. It may only be around for a weekend. It may turn into an unexpected rally that will live on in ISU lore.
Either way, it makes Saturday’s game at Texas more interesting. Win and the opportunity sticks around.
The Big 12 has made it abundantly clear that, at least for the moment, the conference is very comfortable with 10 members and has no desire to expand beyond that number.
It’s well-known that Houston, meanwhile, craves a spot at the Power Five table. An overtures made by UH at the conference have been rebuffed thus far, with the league going so far as to state that, if they were to expand, they’d look east instead of west in deference to West Virginia.
At least one very powerful person at UH wants to change the conference’s mindset, and wants to do it the way most powerful Texans know how: bully and/or threaten their way into achieving their goals. Or, more specifically, have a very powerful entity bully its way for you.
In a meeting with the editorial board of the Houston Chronicle, Tilman Fertitta, chairman of UH’s Board of Regents, suggested that the Texas state legislature should pressure and/or threaten the Big 12 into giving UH a spot in the conference. And by suggested I mean he just flat-out said it.
“Put pressure on the presidents; say, ‘If you don’t do this, we’re not going to fund you for this,'” Fertitta said of the state legislature’s role in meeting his goal. “It’s just the way it is. That’s the way to do it. …
“Be a big boy, step up and put this school that has almost 50,000 students and is so high-profile, has so many of the top schools in the United States, it’s a tier one university — we belong in the Big 12. We’re a big, major school with an unbelievable history in athletics and academia.”
Another very powerful individual at UH, however, seemed to distance herself from the board chair’s tack.
“I don’t want to go there on that issue,” Renu Khator, UH president and chancellor of the UH system, said at the same meeting.
Why would Houston suddenly be demanding state legislature get involved in pressuring the Big 12? We reported on rumblings last year that Memphis and Cincinnati would be announcing a move to the Big 12 sometime around the NCAA tournament and now Houston is all of a sudden trying to get politicians involved in finding a new home for the Cougars as March Madness quickly approaches.
Regardless of the reasoning behind the decision to publicly spit in the face of the American Athletic Conference, it's not good business. You do this stuff behind closed doors. The American is a league that deserves respect for all it has accomplished in such a short time. But that has to start with its own members before anyone else will even consider showing it respect.
Poor West Virginia. The Mountaineers are out in the middle of nowhere, "all by their lonesome". The closest team to WVU is Iowa State, which sits over 880 miles away. That has hurt the Eastern-most Big 12 member in many ways including limiting the number of road games Mountaineer fans can attend. Traveling over one thousand miles to see a 2 hour or four hour game isn't a day trip. It's also hurt recruiting - to a point. Players like to have their families be able to see them play and most families can't get time off to travel two days in the middle of the week to see their child play. Texas was supposed to open up new recruiting territories for the Eers, but instead, most of Holgorsen's biggest recruits this year came from Ohio and Florida. West Virginia wants teams closer to them, not farther away. Speaking of schools closer ....
And the simple fact is that the FOX family of networks wants to add teams in the Eastern time zone. West Virginia is the only team in a conference that FOX has first tier TV rights for (Big 12 and Pac-12). That means FOX and FS1 must supplement early games in major sports like football and basketball with "leftover" games that ESPN or CBS haven't claimed or worse, pay ESPN or CBS to get content. No business likes to pay a competitor and FOX is no different. With the PAC-12 providing content to air in the Mountain and Pacific time zones and the Big 12 providing games for the Central and Mountain, the networks want and need programs in the Eastern time zone. Simple business says that the one with the money is the one who makes the decisions. So the truth is that neither Bowlsby or even the mighty Texas is making the decision here.
While BYU and Boise State are both quality programs, neither is a good fit for the Big 12 in terms of business.
North Carolina fans are a lot like Kentucky and Kansas fans. UNC's supporter base isn't content with just getting into the NCAA tournament, or even with reaching the second weekend.
They want national championships. They expect Final Four appearances.
But even in the shadow of Wednesday night's loss to Duke -- in which the Tar Heels looked like the better team for much of the game -- the chances are beginning to look more and more remote that UNC will hang banners in the Roy Williams Era. For the third straight season, the Heels are not going to finish first or second in the ACC. For the third straight season, barring an unlikely run of consistency over the next month, North Carolina (18-8) will finish with double-digit losses. Not since Frank McGuire struggled at the beginning of his tenure in the mid-1950's has a single UNC coach presided over three consecutive seasons of 10 or more losses.
Though this is still a top-25 program, when has that ever been enough in Chapel Hill?
“They were the most feared program out there,” one high-major head coach said. “Now they aren’t even in the top five.”
Can North Carolina get back to being North Carolina again? To answer that question, you have to determine how it got here and what's fueled the downturn.
…Kinston (N.C.) High School small forward Brandon Ingram is ranked 12th in the ESPN 100, a smooth, long wing and a heck of a young offensive player. Roy Williams and his staff are in the mix for Ingram, who could certainly help give the Tar Heels another guy who can make shots from long distance. However, even though Ingram is mentored by former UNC star Jerry Stackhouse, the Heels are but one of several teams vying to secure his services for next season. With Duke, Kansas and Kentucky also pursuing Ingram, there are no guarantee he'll end up in Chapel Hill.
You’ll also hear UNC mentioned as a possibility for the top-rated player still on the board, Georgia wing Jaylen Brown. But no one truly expects Brown to land in Chapel Hill next season.
For a while, North Carolina was the place recruits wanted to go. The Michael Jordan Factor certainly aided the school’s recruiting efforts, and so did the history, tradition and the lure of playing in the ACC and on Tobacco Road.
But things have changed.
…Williams turns 65 in August. He's younger than Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim, neither of whom look to be going anywhere, and two years older than Rick Pitino. But those close to Williams have whispered about how worn down he looks from the events of recent seasons, including the P.J. Hairston episode and the academic scandal. He had a tumor removed from his kidney in 2012, and his wife, Wanda, has dealt with recent health issues as well. Then there’s the passing of Williams' mentor, Dean Smith, earlier this month that Williams has had to cope with.
And of course, the academic issues are far from over. The recent independent report into the academic transgressions that occurred in Chapel Hill basically take him off the hook in terms of his knowledge of the so-called “paper classes,” but many are skeptical about Williams' awareness and involvement.
Does Williams really want to go in front of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions to explain himself at this twilight stage of his career?
Then there’s the on-court drop-off. The Tar Heels have won 25 and 24 games in the past two seasons. They haven’t advanced past the first weekend of the NCAA tourney in either, and if they slip one spot from their current projection of a No. 4 seed, they're likely to again be an underdog, relative to seed, in the round of 32.
This Carolina team is 8-5 in the ACC, which is something to boast about if you’re Notre Dame, Florida State or perhaps Clemson. But North Carolina and its fan base expects more. Excellence.
Given Williams' track record, there is still a chance the Tar Heels can get back to that tier, that he can weather the storm of external distractions and on-floor mediocrity that has seeped into one of college basketball's blue-blood programs.
Though if Williams can get Carolina back to that elite level, it will be the type of major win this program hasn't experienced in a surprisingly long time.
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The University of Akron men's basketball team (17-9, 8-5) has a problem -- not really a performance problem, as they've won the Mid-American Conference three of the past six years and reached the NCAA tournament. It's an attendance problem, and the school has resorted to offering its students $5 per game on their student accounts to show up at James A. Rhodes Arena for the final three home games, plus a $5 bonus for all three.
Watch head coach Keith Dambrot make his pitch in the video above prior to the Zips' 68-66 loss to Toledo Wednesday night, when only 687 showed up (total attendance was 3,351), short of the 800 that would have triggered the $5 payment.
Now, devoted Zips fans can earn only a sad $10 if enough of their peers show up for games against Miami of Ohio on Saturday and Ohio next Friday (as the three-game $5 bonus is now squashed).
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Gorman’s crowd had numerous slams to cheer about throughout the evening. Jeter started the dunking clinic when he streaked through the lane and found a laser pass from Zimmerman to jam in the first quarter.
Zimmerman, who had 16 points and seven rebounds, later topped him by throwing down a high-arching lob pass from sophomore guard Charles O’Bannon in the second quarter. Senior forward Nick Blair, 18 points and seven rebounds, put in his own entry for the dunk sweepstakes when he flushed a putback in the fourth quarter.
“It’s just two points, but it gets us hyped,” Jeter said. “Scoring in ways like that and motivating our teammates is what propels us forward.”
Dunking is often the most efficient way for the Gaels to score — unless they get too fancy. Rice was more caught up on the ones they missed after the game, which included a pair of one-handed attempts and another acrobatic move from Zimmerman.
“We just need to finish the dunk,” Rice said. “Sometimes they are high school kids and they get a little exuberant. They see the basket and they try to do a little too much. We need to focus and stick to fundamentals.”
Las Vegas Sun: Gorman reaches Sunset Regional title game
A McDonald’s All-American, Rabb is considering Cal, Arizona, Kentucky, Kansas and UCLA, and has already visited Kentucky and Arizona. He will sign in the spring.
“We are setting up an official with Cal the 27th. We plan on visiting both UCLA and Kansas,” Tami Rabb said.
ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported on ESPNU last month that Cal coach Cuonzo Martin offered Rabb’s high school coach, Lou Richie, a job at Cal when Martin was first hired, but Richie declined. Still, Cal is heavily in the mix.
“I have the best relationship with Cuonzo Martin,” Rabb said then. “Him being so close, I can basically go up there whenever I want.”
Where should Thon Maker spend the 2015-16 basketball season?
In the opinion of several NBA personnel, the 7-footer from Orangeville Prep (Ontario) who has been compared to Kevin Durant and Kevin Garnett would be best served by going to college for at least a year, as opposed to playing professionally overseas.
“In my opinion he should go to college,” one NBA executive told SNY.tv. “It is a low-risk move. If he goes overseas you never know what kind of coaching he will get, what the strength program will be, etc. If he goes to college he is almost guaranteed to be coached well because of all of the top schools recruiting him, and those schools all have development programs in place. No guarantee of that anywhere else.”
2/19/15, 8:03 PM
Dennis Smith Jr (@Jhooper_3) tells ESPN he’s looking at seven schools: Duke, UNC, Ohio St, Kansas, Wake Forest, N.C. State and Miami.
McDONALD’S ALL-AMERICAN GAME, April 1, United Center, Chicago
ESPN NATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL CHAMPIONSHIP, April 2-4, Christ the King, Queens, N.Y. & Madison Square Garden
NIKE HOOP SUMMIT, April 11, Moda Center, Portland
KENTUCKY DERBY FESTIVAL, April 11, Freedom Hall, Lexington, KY
JORDAN BRAND CLASSIC, The @JordanClassic is set for Friday April 17 at the Barclays Center at 7p.m, proceeded by the International (2:30pm) & Regional Games (4:00 pm) All times Eastern
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