Niang was at the LeBron James Skills Academy last summer, and Bilas had the attention of a group of the country’s top players.
“He brought us in the huddle,” Niang said, “and he was saying something about that’s embarrassing for the Big 12 that Kansas can go out and win 10 (conference championships) in a row.
“All the Kansas guys were obviously grinning ear to ear, and I was sort of like putting my head down and looking away.”
The Cyclones’ best chance to keep their heads held high come March starts tonight (8 p.m., ESPN) when the Jayhawks, along with Bilas’ College GameDay show, visit Hilton Coliseum with first place in the early conference race on the line.
“You’ve got to pay them respect,” ISU junior Naz Long said. “Coach Bill Self is a legendary coach, that’s a legendary program but with that being said, we’re looking to be that team to break that streak.
“We’re coming into this game with a chip on our shoulder, and we’re eager to get this win.”
…Kansas is ISU’s most-played opponent in program history with 236 all-time meetings, passing Nebraska (234) and Missouri (233) last season. Kansas has won 176 of those games, with the first contest in 1908. During the Jayhawks’ decade-long conference winning streak, they’ve gone 19-3 against the Cyclones, though there’s not to much shame — or embarrassment, to use Bilas’ word — in losing to the league’s prevailing program.
“It’s an amazing accomplishment,” ISU coach Fred Hoiberg said of Kansas’ title run, “for a team in a power conference to win 10 consecutive championships in their league. It’s amazing. It’s a credit to Bill Self, his staff, his players.
“You take your hat off to them. It’s amazing.”
But, certainly, quite annoying for the other nine programs. The Jayhawks are what motivate so many midnight jumpers, summer windsprints and haunted dreams.
Fred Hoiberg knows his players will be turned up a couple notches. The trick is to find a way to temper that with the hoopla already inside Hilton Coliseum.
“It’s one of those games where you want to calm them down a little bit before they leave the locker room,” Hoiberg said. “They’ll be ready and I’m confident our guys will respond.”
After another slow start burned No. 11 Iowa State in its loss to Baylor, it’s got an immediate shot to right the ship when it takes on No. 9 Kansas on Saturday in Hilton Coliseum. Add the spectacle of ESPN College GameDay, paying its first-ever visit to Ames, to what was already an important contest for the Cyclones (12-3, 2-1) and there is a lot for the players to deal with.
“The fact that we’re able to do some things like this, that’s some of the things I wanted to be a part of coming to Iowa State, doing different things and things that haven’t happened here,” junior Naz Long said.
“It just shows the huge steps Iowa State has taken with their basketball program,” junior Georges Niang said.
The art of the upset is more than a good sound bite. It’s at the center of everything that will happen in Ames today.
It’s why ISU-Kansas is a growing rivalry, the games are more entertaining than a Louis C.K. comedy special, and ESPN is bringing its GameDay pregame show to Hilton Coliseum.
This contest grew into a primetime player in short order, one the nation, not just the Big 12 cares about.
“Kansas is the program in the Big 12 that everyone else is measured against,” Greenberg said. “Now all of a sudden, you have this Iowa State team that over the last years has been able to compete at that level and isn’t going anywhere.
“It becomes one of the premiere games across the landscape of college basketball.”
It didn’t take long for this rivalry to come a long way. An ISU win isn’t considered an upset anymore, not in Hilton Coliseum.
GameDay is a big deal. It’s a status symbol, the college basketball equivalent of owning a Mercedes-Benz. It’s means the program has arrived. ESPN only does a handful of these each season. It’s usually reserved for the blue bloods.
ISU got it over a Duke-Louisville matchup with two Hall of Fame coaches. This, if anything, anything shows how far the Cyclones have come under coach Fred Hoiberg.
…There was the Ben McLemore bank-in three to force overtime in Allen Fieldhouse in 2013. It was part of his 33-point night in the 97-89 Jayhawk win.
There was the night those in Hilton Coliseum lost their head in 2013. It only involved a controversial late foul, Kansas’ Elijah Johnson dropping 15 points in the final minutes of regulation and overtime and an ISU fan charging at Kansas coach Bill Self after the game
There were two Kansas regular-season wins last year in which Joel Embid looked like the best basketball player on the planet, Andrew Wiggins threw out a 17-point, 19-rebound stat line and DeAndre Kane put up 21 points on a bad ankle.
There was the Big 12 tournament, where ISU got its 2014 revenge. The Cyclones played near perfect second-half basketball. Georges Niang dominated, scoring 24 points and ISU won 92-81 on its way to a Big 12 tournament title.
Yeah, it’s no surprise GameDay wants to be around for a series where Alka-Seltzer, or a stiff shot, is required if both fan bases are to survive the night.
This is a series made for the spotlight.
“Kansas is always Kansas,” ESPN analyst Jay Williams said. “There is a reason why they’ve dominated the league for so long … I’ve heard so much about this building and the magic of Hilton Coliseum. I think that plays into it too.”
The Cyclones have the Jayhawks’ attention. A few good years will do that. Plenty of teams were here before. Each one tumbled down the Big 12 standings while Kansas kept claiming Big 12 titles.
For this rivalry to take the next step, ISU must win a few more games and end the Jayhawks’ decade of dominance. That all can’t happen tonight. This is one game. It’s as much about GameDay and how this rivalry grew as where it can go.
For Hoiberg, it’s all about finding that little edge. After working four years in an NBA front office with the Minnesota Timberwolves, the 42-year-old came to realize just how important analytics could be when making basketball decisions.
It's all led to a little-known fact as ninth-ranked Kansas travels to face No. 11 Iowa State at 8 p.m. Saturday at Hilton Coliseum: Hoiberg’s ISU team — built on transfers and under-recruited gems — has put up better offensive efficiency numbers than mega-talented KU for four straight seasons.
“We’re at the point now where we just don’t question anything he says,” ISU senior forward Dustin Hogue said. “If he says it, I guess it works.”
It all starts with location.
Hoiberg — like many NBA coaches — has put an emphasis on avoiding 2-point jumpshots. The Cyclones cater their offense toward trying to get either shots on the rim or open 3-pointers.
“I feel like, to an extent, it’s outsmarting our opponent if they’re going to shoot long 2s,” ISU forward Georges Niang said. “If we play in a game and you’re going to shoot long 2s instead of 3s, it just mathematically doesn’t make sense, and there’s proven facts behind that.”
Hilton Coliseum, home of the Iowa State basketball team, is where super fan Melvin Weatherwax confronted Bill Self and screamed at the Kansas University coach after Elijah Johnson dunked with one second left in KU’s 108-96 overtime victory in 2013.
It’s where ref Darron George hurt his wrist trying to elude a swarm of students who stormed the court after a Cyclone win in 2012.
And it’s where former Jayhawk forward/Iowa native Raef LaFrentz was treated so rudely that hometown hero/ISU point guard/current Cyclone coach Fred Hoiberg publicly lashed out at the spectators after an ISU win in 1995.
Win or lose — regulation or OT — there’s rarely a dull moment when KU travels to Hilton, site of today’s 8 p.m. Big 12 battle between the No. 9-ranked Jayhawks (14-2, 3-0) and No. 11 Cyclones (12-3, 2-1).
“It’s a very hostile crowd — very energetic, passionate fans. It’s a fun place to play,” KU junior Landen Lucas said of Hilton, where KU has won two consecutive games and nine of 11 in the Self era.
“A little bit,” Lucas added, asked if the insults from the student section become personal, “but it’s just because they’re passionate, that’s all. I like that.”
Kansas at Iowa State (Saturday, 9 p.m. EST): Only one team besides Iowa State has won at Hilton Coliseum in the past three years. That's Kansas, which won an overtime classic in Feb. 2013 and edged the Cyclones against last season. For the Jayhawks to extend their win streak, they'll have to subdue a raucous crowd and an efficient Iowa State offense. Five Cyclones average double figures led by forward Georges Niang, shooting guard Bryce Dejean-Jones and sharpshooters Naz Long and Dustin Hogue. Kansas has improved over the course of the season as Frank Mason has solidified the point guard position and elite freshmen Kelly Oubre and Cliff Alexander have evolved into impact players. Oubre is averaging 13.6 points in his last seven games after hardly playing in November and Alexander is a defensive anchor who also provides low-post scoring and rebounding. A Kansas win would be a big step toward its 11th straight Big 12 title. The Jayhawks (14-2, 3-0) would be two or more games up in the loss column on every team in the league if West Virginia falls at Texas and Kansas State loses at home to Baylor.
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Let's clear the air on this Jay Bilas-Jamie Pollard thing — and yes, that's all it is. It isn't a flap. It isn't a controversy. It's not a firestorm or even a Kenny Chery stiff-arm against Monte Morris.
It's just a thing.
Jay didn't mean anything bad when responding to the Iowa State athletic director calling out Big 12 Conference football refs after a loss at Oklahoma State last October. He was just saying that to insinuate a grudge (some Cyclones fans still call it a conspiracy) — well, that might be going a smidge overboard.
"It was nothing to do with Iowa State," said Bilas, in town this weekend as ESPN's "College GameDay" finally discovers this phenomenon called Hilton Magic. "It was just that I thought it was a big leap to suggest or imply that there was something deep and sinister.
"I have no issue with Jamie Pollard or Iowa State."
…Bilas probably will have an opinion on the Big 12, too:
"Best conference top to bottom in the country," he said this week. "No other league offers as much resistance from everybody. The ACC, you can argue, is maybe better at the top, but it doesn't have the depth of the Big 12."
And about KU, a team that has won or shared the past 10 Big 12 regular-season titles:
"They're still Kansas," he said. "Not as powerful as perhaps they've been in the past, but they're good; not great, and not as good as they will be. It's the same with Iowa State."
Translated: It would behoove the Cyclones to win at home Saturday night — and shoot better than Wednesday night's 11-of-19 from the free-throw line — because it might not happen during the return game on Feb. 2 at Allen Fieldhouse.
Des Moines Register
If you're among the few who hasn't watched The Wrath of Cliff Alexander yet, here's the Vine:
SI Luke Winn Power Rankings (Kansas #5)
Bad news: It seems pretty clear that Perry Ellis can’t be the best player for a national championship contender. He just isn’t wired to be that guy. It looked like Kansas could have been his team, but he seems more comfortable filling in where he’s needed rather than being the alpha dog.
Good news: Ellis isn’t Kansas’s best player anyway. That’s because there’s a certain point guard playing out of his mind for the Jayhawks and BITCH HE’S FRANK MASON.
…The big question going forward is how much help Mason will consistently get from his teammates, which is something the rap warned us about: “I can’t do this shit alone, bitch, can you see him beat a nation?” Somebody has stepped up in each of Kansas’s recent wins, but no Jayhawk other than Mason has consistently brought it. When will a reliable sidekick emerge? How long until Kansas’s big guys start producing night in and night out? Hopefully it happens soon, because it’s my understanding that you don’t want to keep Frank waiting.
Grantland Mark Titus
“I think that Perry is just a fraction away from doing the things that we had envisioned him to do,” KU coach Bill Self said of the team’s second-leading scorer, who takes a 12.2 ppg average (to Frank Mason III’s 12.4) into Saturday’s 8 p.m., contest at Iowa State.
“I think one thing he has to do, he’s got to be a player that’s aggressive and believe that he’s the best player on the floor every night, because when he plays well, he is, and he’s proven that. I think Perry is going through a little bit of a situation where maybe we’re winning (14-2, 3-0) and maybe it’s OK for him to defer like he has in years past, because the end result has been OK. And that’s not good for us.” Self added.
The Jayhawks cannot be their best version of themselves without Ellis finding the best version of himself.
“I think he’s got to be our go-to guy,” Self said, “and I don’t think he’s far off.”
In recent weeks, there have been plenty of reasons to worry about Ellis; plenty of reasons to concoct theories or search for explanations. There was a one-for-10 shooting performance in a 77-52 loss at Temple. There was a four-point effort in 31 minutes in a road victory at Baylor. There was Tuesday’s victory over Oklahoma State, where Ellis finished with just seven points on one-of-eight shooting.
Ellis’ teammates, though, say that’s just part of the story. The public sees the inconsistent performance on the floor. But you cannot see the Ellis who is staying after practice, working on his finishing, plowing through ballhandling drills, trying to beat this prolonged funk with old-fashioned elbow grease.
“Guys go through ups and downs throughout the season, and he’s working through one right now,” sophomore forward Landen Lucas says. “But the one thing I see that he’s doing — he’s getting in extra work at practice. He’s coming in and talking to coach. He’s trying to figure it out.”
For the moment, Ellis believes he will.
“Just keep shooting,” he says. “You’ll get past it.”
“Coach always says, ‘Second semester, you’ve had a semester of summer school, you’re pretty much sophomores now,’” Oubre said. “We look at it like that. We don’t call each other freshmen anymore. We feel like we’ve grown past that stage.”
Now, Oubre has emerged as Kansas’ most capable scorer, a slashing forward with a silky outside shot and short memory. Alexander is a bruising beast in the paint, giving Kansas not only some size but also some presence. And Graham is a point guard with the peerless court vision.
Mykhailiuk, possibly the youngest player in Division I hoops, is a proficient outside shooter who is capable of providing a lift off the bench.
…In the win over the Cowboys, Graham produced nine points while sharing the floor with fellow point guard Frank Mason, giving the Jayhawks a smaller, quicker and more explosive lineup.
At some points during that game, Graham also shared the floor with Oubre and Alexander, the trio of freshmen starting to play well beyond their years.
“We have great chemistry,” Oubre said. “We’re always together off the floor, and it kind of carries over onto the court.”
Self said he’s not surprised at how far his youngest players have progressed — this is hardly the first time he’s relied on freshmen. If anything, he thought they could have come along even quicker, but a brutal non-conference schedule may have held them back.
“How do you let guys play through certain things when you’ve got to win the game?” he said. “I believe it’s going to be an asset to our team moving forward. But earlier in their careers, I think that would be something that’s a little bit of a detriment to some of those kids.”
If the start of Big 12 play is any indication, Self may be correct. Those freshmen are no longer playing like freshmen, which ultimately makes a whole lot of sense.
There are a variety of factors that make an arena hostile. First, you need passionate fans. You also need a quality product. Sure, the size of the building can help, though bigger does not always mean better. One arena on this list holds only 6,000 people. Another seats nearly 20,000. I talked to players and coaches and also drew from my own experience of going to venues to come up with the Top 10 most hostile college basketball environments:
1. Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse -- It’s a no-brainer for the list, and a no-brainer for the top spot. It holds more than 16,000 people, and about 25 percent of the seats are reserved for students. It gets loud, the fans are rabid, and the Jayhawks are almost always good.
“Their fans are so loud and there’s just so many of them. It’s like you are trapped, everywhere you look.” -- Iowa State’s Georges Niang
ESPN Goodman ($) (Hilton Coliseum #8)
Monday’s festivities: KU athletics will honor former student-athletes who were instrumental in the desegregation of Lawrence during the late 1950s during Monday’s KU-Oklahoma game, to be contested on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Homer Floyd (football) and Ernie Shelby (track), who in 1957 expressed their intention to leave KU if some issues regarding discrimination in Lawrence were not addressed, will be introduced during the game. At 4:30 p.m., they will participate in a candlelight vigil at the Strong Hall Rotunda and walk with students from Strong Hall to the Kansas Union for a special social justice celebration. For more information on KU’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day activities, go to the Web address mlklawrence.com.
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.@SacramentoKings @BenMcLemore named December #NBACares Community Assist Award winner for combating childhood hunger! pic.twitter.com/2X8n8dFzQt
CBS: Wiggins becoming a player you just can’t miss
Cole Aldrich is one of the few bright spots for the New York Knicks.
The 6'11" 250-pound center is developing into a competent NBA player during a dismal season for his franchise.
He's not putting up extravagant numbers, but he's competed consistently for New York—scoring 5.7 points and grabbing 5.1 rebounds while posting a player efficiency rating of 15.81.
The 26-year-old has gone from potential draft bust to respectable role player in his tenure with the Knicks.
“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
Lt. Kelvin Cusick tells The Associated Press that Anthony was arrested at 5:46 p.m. on Friday. He said Saturday that Anthony faces a misdemeanor solicitation charge that's punishable by up to 180 days in jail.
Cusick says the 47-year-old Anthony was released Friday evening. No further details were available.
According to the NCAA website, Anthony was scheduled to announce the Michigan State-Maryland men's basketball game Saturday in nearby College Park, Maryland.
SMU has received a Notice of Allegations from the NCAA that includes accusations of academic improprieties within Larry Brown's men's basketball program, multiple sources told ESPN.
Sources told ESPN that SMU is expected to meet with the NCAA's Committee of Infractions later this year.
In the same month that 12 other Division I schools quietly faced lower-level competition in the Bahamas, UK's more prestigious contests at the posh Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island were shown live on ESPN's SEC Network.
But the trip—and the competition—came at a steep cost. Expense reports acquired through a Courier-Journal open-records request show that in addition to its own travel, UK paid for the flights, meals and lodging for all three teams it faced. It is believed to be the first time a college basketball program has ever gone to such lengths for an exhibition series.
UK's own team expenses were eye-opening, too, from coach John Calipari's $1,550-per night Atlantis hotel suite to a $23,855.50 reception dinner that included a band and an open bar.
The total cost of the trip was $792,845.68. By comparison, an expense report acquired in an open records request showed that North Carolina's Bahamas trip last summer cost $154,825.91. Portland State, meanwhile, paid a total of $37,714 for its seven-night stay.
"I needed professional-level teams," Wildcats coach John Calipari said this season. "I needed men. I needed experienced, physical guys that knew how to play. That's what this team needed, which is different. That's why most teams don't do what we've just done."
UK offset some costs by providing flights, lodging and tickets for 57 UK boosters who donated $6,000 apiece, contributing a total of $347,047.30. UK also received $17,962.28 in ticket revenue. Even with those adjustments, the final expenses were $431,836.10, nearly three times more than North Carolina's entire trip.
Complete ESPN Networks schedule
Big 12 Composite Schedule & Results
@realchalktalk (VASJ=Carlton Bragg)
HoopHall Classic (Schedule, results, more)
Live Stream Schedule for HoopHall Games
Five of ESPN 100’s top 10 players headline the event: No. 1, PF Ben Simmons (Montverde, Fla.), No. 2, SF Jaylen Brown (Wheeler, Ga.), No. 5, PF Ivan Rabb (Bishop O’ Dowd), No. 9, Chase Jeter (Bishop Gorman), and No. 10, C Stephen Zimmerman (Bishop Gorman). Additionally, Jayson Tatum (Chaminade, Mo.), the No. 1 recruit in the junior class, will also play.more
Simmons has signed with LSU and Jeter with Duke. Brown, Rabb, and Zimmerman remain uncommitted. Additionally, Florida, Florida State, Ohio State, Penn State, Syracuse and Wake Forest signees will also participate in the event.
ESPNU’s all-day coverage from Blake Arena begins with the first game. Mike Couzens, recruiting director Paul Biancardi, and reporter Jeff Goodman will call all the game action. Bob Picozzi and Cory Alexander, Oak Hill alum, will anchor Recruiting Nation courtside in-between games.
The Matchup: Our Savior New American (Centereach, N.Y.) forward Cheick Diallo vs. Huntington Prep (Huntington, W.Va.) forward Thomas Bryant
The When: Jan. 18, 2 p.m. ET
The Intrigue: Diallo is ranked No. 7 overall in the ESPN 100 and Bryant is ranked No. 16. Both players are bruisers in the paint who bully opponents into submission and have an affinity for finishing plays with rim-rocking dunks. A head-to-head matchup could mean early foul trouble for one so it’s paramount that someone establishes himself early. Which will it be?
The Matchup: Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) center Daniel Giddens vs. Villa Angela-St. Joseph (Cleveland, Ohio) forward Carlton Bragg
The When: Jan. 19, 1 p.m. ET
The Intrigue: Giddens, an Ohio State signee, controls all things in the paint for the Warriors and Bragg, a Kansas commit, does the same for the Vikings. Both players ferociously attack the rim, swat shots and rebound, but Bragg gets more touches than Giddens offensively. Can Giddens slow Bragg’s production and give it back?
The Matchup: Montverde (Montverde, Fla.) forward Ben Simmons vs. Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) frontcourt duo of Chase Jeter and Stephen Zimmerman
The When: Jan. 19, 3 p.m. ET
The Intrigue: Simmons, an LSU signee, is the consensus No. 1 overall player in the country; Jeter, a Duke signee, is ranked No. 9 overall and Zimmerman checks in at No. 10. Simmons has yet to be even slowed down this season, dominating teams to the tune of 30 points and 12 rebounds a game. But Jeter and Zimmerman form arguably the most talented, physically imposing frountcourt in the country and have the athleticism to give Simmons fits. If they can accomplish that tall order, the Gaels may very well be able to pull off the upset.
Rivals Thursday TOC recap (free)
KU coach Self went on a recruiting trip to the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions in Springfield, Missouri, on Thursday night. Ivan Rabb, a 6-9 senior from Bishop O’Dowd High in Oakland, California, competed at the tourney with juniors Malik Monk, 6-3, Bentonville (Arkansas) High; V.J. King, 6-7, Paul VI High, Fairfax, Virginia and Harry Giles, 6-10 Wesleyan Christian Academy, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Rabb is ranked No. 7 in the Class of 2015 by Rivals.com. Giles is ranked No. 2, Monk No. 6 and King No. 18 in the Class of 2016.
1/15/15, 1:13 PM
We're excited to announce TWO tournaments this summer! The Jayhawk Invitational will be May 1-3 and the Jayhawk Summer Finale July 22-25.
Where does Maker want to be? The NBA is the obvious answer, but there are some decisions to be made before he can get to the next level.
And he's not the only one involved in the decision-making process. How much control does Maker have over his own future?
"He doesn't, unfortunately," one coach involved in his recruitment said.
"Ed is doing everything," said a source with knowledge of Maker's recruitment.
There are myriad options for the next step in his story: graduating in the class of 2016; reclassifying to the class of 2015; playing in Europe or Asia for a year a la Emmanuel Mudiay. There's also the unorthodox option of reclassifying and then doing a postgraduate year at Orangeville Prep. It would enable Maker to go straight to the NBA without playing in college or overseas.
Maker doesn't have a specific deadline for making a decision about his future, but he plans to take a closer look once the first semester of the school year ends and he can see where he stands academically. If he reclassifies, he would immediately become one of the most sought-after prospects in high school.
"That's what we're trying to do," Smith said regarding reclassifying. "We've been pretty forward with that."
Maker said playing overseas for a year is not an appealing option.
"I've been watching college ball for a while," he said. "And it just causes me to think about that, reclassifying. So I can get ready for college ball.
"The college decision, I can't wait for that," he added. "That's what I'm really focused on."
Kansas and Kentucky are the schools most often mentioned, but he has also visited Missouri, Duke, Louisville and Maryland. Indiana and Wake Forest are recruiting him as well.
He might not ever get there, though.
"I don't think he ever sees college," said one high-major assistant coach, estimating the odds that Maker will play college basketball at less than 50-50. Coaches with knowledge of his recruitment are split: Some think Maker will go overseas, others think he'll do the postgrad year, whether by choice or because of potential NCAA questions.
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