KUAD: Kansas to host Oklahoma on Big Monday pre game notes
There are many reasons to love Kansas fans, but one of the best became apparent when I attended a charity event coach Bill Self had arranged for his foundation at which several college basketball voices were gathered to discuss the state of the game.
Along with Self, the speakers were Fran Fraschilla and Jay Bilas of ESPN and Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star. And, yeah, me too. Somewhere in the course of the evening — I apologize if you’ve heard me tell this story before — I had the occasion to ask the 500 fans in attendance if the Jayhawks’ streak of consecutive conference championships had great meaning to them.
I’m sure more than 500 hands were raised, because some in the audience lifted both.
…What Kansas is doing is not a streak. It is a dynasty. The roster has turned over how many times in that period? Not many of the star players remained four full seasons. Sherron Collins, the most underrated player in KU history, he did. But Cole Aldrich, the Morris twins, Mario Chalmers and Brandon Rush — they all left early. Xavier Henry stayed one year. It might be that way for a player or two on this season’s team.
It is so easily forgotten now, as we enjoy the talents of freshmen Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid and appreciate the quiet consistency of power forward Perry Ellis, that KU lost all five starters from last year’s Sweet 16 team, which entered the NCAA Tournament as a No. 1 seed but fell to eventual national runner-up Michigan.
How good is Self? This is his 13th year as a high-major coach, starting in 2000-01 at Illinois. In the previous 12 years — since the NCAA selection committee shafted his last, brilliant Tulsa team with a No. 7 seed — he never has coached a team that earned an NCAA seed lower than No. 4. There have been five No. 1s, a No. 2, two No. 3s and four No. 4s. That’s ridiculous.
We expect performances such as this from Self and Kansas, though because it’s what they deliver, every year. That does not mean it is not extraordinary.
After Saturday's win over Kansas State, Oklahoma still wasn't in a mood to concede anything.
The Sooners weren't ready to concede they were in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, after a win clinched a .500-or-better record in conference play.
OU also wasn't ready to concede the Big 12 title, though that hill is a pretty steep climb.
Sophomore guard Buddy Hield smiled wide when Monday night's game against Kansas was brought up following the win over Kansas State.
“I'm looking forward to it,” Hield said. “It's a must-win situation for us down there, and we need that win. We need that win. Whatever comes with it comes and leave no regrets when you're done.”
Kansas University junior point guard Naadir Tharpe remembers the excitement and enthusiasm, the utter frenzy in Allen Fieldhouse the last time the Jayhawks wrapped up at least a share of the Big 12 regular-season basketball championship at home.
“It happened my freshman year when we beat Missouri. That was the game that clinched it,” Tharpe said of an 87-86 overtime win over the Tigers on Feb. 25, 2012 — a game that gave KU a piece of its eighth-straight league title with two games left on the schedule.
“It’s my third year here. To be able to clinch at home, that would be good for the fans, good for Kansas, good for the players and most importantly, coach,” he added of Bill Self, who has directed KU to nine straight league titles heading into today’s home game against Oklahoma.
KU (21-6, 12-2) enters the 8 p.m. Big Monday battle three games up on Oklahoma (20-7, 9-5), Texas and Iowa State with four to play. So a win tonight would assure at least a share of a 10th-straight crown with three games to spare.
“It feels good,” Tharpe said. “It’s my third year, and in my third year being able to be the head guy and get 10 straight, you know ... it’s big time,” he said.
…“We’ve been fortunate here the last several years ... not every day you can clinch at least a piece of the championship at home,” Self said. “I think our guys will put forth the concentration to give us the best chance to do that. We will not take it for granted. It won’t be easy. OU will spread you and drive you. It’s what we have the hardest time guarding.”
…“They are coming off a big win,” KU senior center Tarik Black said. “They beat a team that beat us (KSU). I watched the beginning of that game. They were shooting well. We better be ready because this team (OU) is dangerous.”
It was late last summer, and Naadir Tharpe had a problem. So he did what any Kansas player does when something goes awry.
He took out his cell phone, took a deep breath and dialed his coach.
Bill Self was on a summer golfing trip in Scotland when the call came through, and an anxious Tharpe tried to explain what had happened. He had gone to Chicago to visit teammate Jamari Traylor, and they had played in a pro-am summer game. They had done well — perhaps too well — and their names appeared in a local paper in Chicago.
For Traylor, a native of Chicago, it was fine. But for Tharpe, a native of Worcester, Mass., it was an NCAA violation — one of those esoteric rules that limits where players can play in the offseason.
As Self listened to the story, he remained calm.
“Coach doesn’t get on you right then and there,” Tharpe says, “because he wants to figure out how to fix the situation.”
But moments later, it was clear. This was something that even Bill Self couldn’t fix. Tharpe would have to miss at least one regular-season game, and Self suddenly turned on his starting point guard.
“Why would you do that?” Self told Tharpe. “That was dumb; that was dumb; that was dumb.”
…Self needed Tharpe to be a second voice on the floor, to lead with personality and charisma, to be just like all those other Kansas point guards during the Jayhawks’ historic conference title streak. For the next year, Self and Tharpe would need to grow closer than ever before.
But for a moment last summer, Self felt more like a dissatisfied dad.
“When you have that relationship,” Self says. “It’s a little bit like the point guard is your son.”
…Bill Self has coached many point guards. A future NBA star from Texas. A high school scoring machine from the Bronx. A 5-foot-11 dynamo from the streets of Chicago. But if there’s an original template for a Bill Self point guard — a Floor General 1.0 — Self may have stumbled upon it in a Tulsa sandwich shop in the summer of 1993.
Self, then 30, was a first-year coach at a moribund Oral Roberts program. Earl McClellan was a freshman from Providence, R.I., who had come to college to pursue a life in the church. McClellan had zero interest from Division I schools, but he still believed he could offer something to a college program. So when he saw the new Oral Roberts basketball coach stroll into a Subway for a late-night meal, it felt like fate.
McClellan was the young player that wouldn’t stop calling Self, “Sir”, and Self was the young coach who needed all the help he could get. Self invited McClellan to walk on, and by the end of the season, he was starting. Three years later, McClellan had helped Oral Roberts to the NIT, jump-starting Self’s coaching rise.
…McClellan created something of a rough template for a Self point guard: The intangible qualities can be as important as quickness or skills. If Self found the right blend of charisma and toughness, he could win with anyone — even a point guard he found in a Subway.
…“Mental toughness,” McClellan says, “that’s all he talked about.”
“Coach is hard on his point guards,” KU assistant coach Norm Roberts says, “because he wants them to take command in everything they do.”
From Deron Williams at Illinois, to Russell Robinson, Sherron Collins and Tyshawn Taylor at Kansas, Self became less concerned with the numbers. Instead, he found a soft spot for the kids who wanted to battle.
“You look at it at the end of the day,” Self says. “Well, he’s not a great shooter. He’s not the best passer. All he does is win. That to me, is what a point guard is.”
…This is life as Bill Self's point guard. All season long, Tharpe says, Self will ride you. He will poke and challenge ... and he will praise. Self admits he’s toughest on his point guards, but he’s also the most flexible. His guards get offensive freedom. They get the keys to a blue-blood program. And over time, they gain the most valuable tool of all: Self’s trust.
“I love coach Self,” Tharpe says. “He tests me a lot. He definitely gets me angry. I know I can’t fight my coach, so I just try to bring it onto the court.”
LJW Smithology: Getting reacquainted with the Sooners
By now, a handful of the notions advanced in November and December about the 2013-14 Kansas Jayhawks look hilariously quaint. No, this isn't the season Kansas will finally relinquish its stranglehold on the Big 12 regular-season title; the Jayhawks are 12-2 with a three-game lead on Iowa State, Oklahoma and Texas with just four games left to play. Yes, Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid are really, really good. No, the Kansas offense isn't too stagnant to be relied upon.
All these and more were driven home in Kansas' 85-54 annihilation of Texas on Saturday. But it's the last one -- about KU's offense -- that is especially worth dispelling in advance of Monday night's visit from Oklahoma (9 p.m. ET, ESPN), because against some odds, it is the Jayhawks' offense that will define their season.
…Since Big 12 play began, the Jayhawks have averaged 1.19 points per possession -- more than Wichita State has scored against the Missouri Valley. Only Duke and Creighton, the two best offensive teams in the country, have been better in conference play; Louisville is close. All three have a larger selection of stats-inflating bottom-feeders in their leagues. Save for TCU, Kansas has had no such luxury.
…For anyone who watched Kansas during this historic nine-year run of Big 12 supremacy, the makeup of the 2013-14 team has been a little jarring. Here we have a brilliant Jayhawks offense that doesn't shoot the ball all that well from outside, turns it over a bit too much, and is still brilliant all the same playing out in front of a defense that is uncharacteristically not amazing. It's a different formula, one Self has invented on the fly. But it's working, and pushing Kansas ever closer to a remarkable 10th straight Big 12 title, all the same.
Oklahoma at Kansas, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
With a three-game lead in Big 12 play with four games left to play, Kansas (21-6 SU, 15-12 ATS) is in range of its 10th consecutive conference title. A victory against Oklahoma (20-7 SU, 15-10 ATS) on Monday night at Allen Fieldhouse will give the Jayhawks no worse than a tie for the Big 12 crown.
In the first meeting between these teams, Kansas knocked off Oklahoma 90-83 in Norman on January 8. The Jayhawks were 6-point favorites in that spot, and the game flew OVER the 153-point total.
Line: Kansas -10.5, 155
When these teams met back in January, the Jayhawks shot 54.7 percent (29-of-53), hitting 8-of-16 three-pointers. Kansas cleaned up on the glass, outrebounding the Sooners 36-22.
Oklahoma’s start will be key. Kansas has the ability to blitz teams early. Oklahoma knows firsthand, having surrendered 50 first-half points to Kansas in the first meeting. In Saturday’s 85-54 win vs. Texas, Kansas sprinted out to a 46-18 halftime lead.
Jayhawks freshman guard Andrew Wiggins (team-high 16.4 ppg) is in strong form as he enters the homestretch of what could very well be his lone Big 12 season, considering his robust NBA Draft stock. Wiggins has shot 20-of-34 (58.8 percent) in the last three games. Freshman center Joel Embiid (11.1 ppg, 7.7 rpg) has also thrived recently; he blocked six shots against Texas.
Trends to note: The Sooners have covered in each of their last two games. … The Jayhawks are 15-11-1 to the OVER this season, while the Sooners are 14-10 to the OVER. … Kansas is 10-6 ATS at home this season and 13-10 ATS as a favorite. … Oklahoma is 9-3 ATS on the road and as an underdog this season.
The Linemakers’ lean: Oklahoma plays at the 10th fastest pace in the nation, and are 12th in terms of number of possessions. The Sooners are 14-10 to the OVER this season. Kansas shoots 50 percent from the field, and OVER has hit in eight of its ten home games with a posted total. Overall, they are 15-11-1 to the OVER. The Jayhawks were happy to run with Oklahoma in the season’s first meeting in Norman, so we don’t see any reason why they’ll want to slow it down tonight. OVER is the play.
On Saturday night, after his team won a basketball game by 31 points, after he scored 13 points and gathered in seven rebounds and blocked six shots, Joel Embiid hoisted a little girl into the air and posed for a photograph. He was working the rope line of autograph seekers, men and women and children alike, and he was wearing a hat bearing the logo of the Brooklyn Nets. He is a stunning physical specimen for a 19-year-old; he's a legit seven feet tall, and even the way he runs, legs churning, arms flailing, almost feels like a newsreel throwback to the era of Chamberlain and Russell.
Just looking at him, it's hard not to think about the vast theoretical possibilities of Joel Embiid's professional future. It's hard not to compare him to Chamberlain or Russell or Olajuwon or Duncan -- even his Wikipedia entry does it. Which may or may not be a problem in itself, since Joel Embiid is still a college basketball player.
…In another era, in another system, it seems pretty clear that both Wiggins and Embiid might benefit from one more year in college, that it might afford them a chance to establish their own identities outside of the professional templates already being placed on them. But that's not how the system works at the moment, and unless the NBA players association bends, that might not be how the system ever works. The very idea of the one-and-done rule is universally reviled among college coaches and administrators, and no one can do much of anything about it. And so you either adapt, or you die, and this is why even Duke's best player, Jabari Parker, is a likely one-and-done; this is why every elite program in the country has now come to recognize this fact and has recruited within the system.
…And perhaps you could argue that it's always been that way at Kansas -- that the pressure to win now has never waned -- but during the Texas game, I kept glancing at the wall of Allen Fieldhouse above me to the left, a row of retired numbers. The last one on the end was Mario Chalmers, who played three years before leaving. In fact, no one on that wall played fewer than three years at Kansas. And it made me wonder: If Embiid and Wiggins win a national championship and then leave for the NBA, do they get their numbers retired, too? How will one-and-dones ultimately fit into the lore of a place like Kansas, a team that plays on James Naismith Court on Naismith Drive, a school that plies itself on tradition more thoroughly than any other program in the country?
"Our young kids have done a good job of staying in the moment," Self said on Saturday night, but you can feel that moment passing quickly, and you can feel that moment being swept up by the allure of professionalism. And maybe college basketball can survive within this shadow, but I'm not sure if it will ever feel quite the same.
Sports on Earth Weinreb
Happy Birthday to my dude @evan_manning5 !! Nothing better than shooting for "10 straight" on your birthday.
Talk about being outnumbered. Downstairs on Saturday afternoon in the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center, I was with Lions assistant basketball coaches and former Kansas teammates Jeff Boschee and Nick Bradford and former Jayhawks coach Ted Owens when members of Bradford’s family joined us.
As Nick introduced his family to Owens, Boschee looked at me, knowing I’m a life-long Missouri Tigers fan, and smiled as he asked, “Jim, you feeling a little uncomfortable?”
Owens, who turns 85 this July, came to Joplin with his friends Mr. and Mrs. Chris Lincoln. Chris, sports director at KTUL-TV in Tulsa, was a Missouri Tigers broadcaster when he worked in Columbia in the 1970s, and he never dreamed 40 years ago that he would one day be a friend and chauffeur for a Kansas coach.
The purpose of the trip to Missouri Southern was two-fold: Ted sold and signed copies of his autobiography released late last year, “At the Hang-Up,” and he wanted to congratulate Robert Corn on his 25-year career with the Lions.
…“Just being a part of a great tradition that started with Dr. (James) Naismith all the way through Dr. (Phog) Allen and the great coaches who have followed, I have the fondest memories of that place,” he said. “It’s a place that absolutely loves the game and appreciates the game. And they are pretty fair. They appreciate good plays on the part of the opponents. It was a terrific experience.”
LJW: Now This is a devoted Jayhawk fan!
Vote for Wiggs for the Wooden Award
There were comebacks. There were technicals. There were dazzling individual efforts. And there were enough jaw-dropping highlights to fill an entire “SportsCenter” segment.
But more than anything, as the Trail Blazers dispatched the Minnesota Timberwolves 108-97 Sunday night before 19,458 at the Moda Center, there was one incredible and indelible performance by Thomas Robinson.
The power forward who can’t seem to keep his powerful body on the court, had a career night against the Timberwolves, using a mix of hustle and muscle to record 14 points, a career-high 18 rebounds, two blocks and two assists.
He was also important. For much of the first half, the Blazers looked lethargic and listless as Kevin Love (31 points, 10 rebounds) punished them all over the floor and the Timberwolves — who led by as many as 18 points — made minced meat of their shaky defense.
But just before the halftime buzzer, Robinson made a few hustle plays — chasing offensive rebounds, leading the charge on defense — and the Blazers fed off the energy, using a quick 8-0 burst to take some mojo into the locker room. From then on, it was a different game, as the Blazers — starting with that run — outscored the Timberwolves 56-26, a streak that lasted all the way until the 5:56 mark of the fourth quarter.
…A little over three minutes into the quarter, Minnesota guard Corey Brewer leaked out on a fast break and looked ahead at nothing but a mammoth dunk. But as he charged toward the rim, Robinson came out of nowhere, elevated and emphatically rejected the one-handed dunk attempt with his right hand. The ball bounced out to Victor Claver on the perimeter and he started a fast break the other way, pushing the ball ahead to Wesley Matthews. As Matthews approached the three-point line, he tossed a lob toward the rim and Will Barton leaped and finished the highlight with a tomahawk dunk.
The Moda Center went ballistic, the Blazers’ bench went bananas — Robin Lopez was running in place with quick little steps like a cartoon character — and Portland led 92-84 with 8:39 left.
“T. Rob got the big block, Wes found me for the dunk, and it was just pandemonium,” Barton said. “Part of a big run that we needed, and it kind of sparked us to put them away.”
…Robinson became the only player in the NBA this season to record at least 18 rebounds and seven offensive rebounds off the bench, and he's the first Blazers player to corral at least 18 rebounds as a reserve since Joel Przybilla did so in 2008. It was his first double-double in Portland and fourth of his career.
“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
The arithmetic is simple, really. With only 10 teams, anything above five bids is likely to produce an NCAA team in the bottom half of the Big 12 standings. This flies in the face of my longstanding belief that teams should be at least .500 in league play to qualify for at-large consideration (conference tournament games included). But it will be hard to argue against either the Bears -- with nonconference wins over Colorado, Dayton and Kentucky -- or the, ahem, "smarter" Cowboys (wins over Louisiana Tech, Memphis and Colorado) as tourney participants.
What such league woes effectively do is eliminate a bubble team's margin for error. Including the conference tournament, Baylor in all likelihood needs at least three more wins (in a minimum of five games) and Oklahoma State as many as four victories in the same window to have the odds in their favor on Selection Sunday.
ESPN ($) Lunardi
Texas Tech hopes to have 10,000 students in attendance on Tuesday when the Red Raiders take on Kansas State at 6 p.m. in United Spirit Arena.
The students, after setting attendance records during football season, have already set one during basketball when more than 4,000 showed up to support Tech against Kansas a week ago.
“We’re really excited,” head coach Tubby Smith said. “We know how important filling the stands here at Spirit arena is. The student body has been great all year long. Fans and students are realizing that there’s a lot of excitement around Red Raider basketball and this is a real happening in town. We’d appreciate it if they got out here in full force. I know there’s going to be a lot of events, a lot of opportunities to win prizes.”
Texas Tech athletics, in conjunction with University officials, look to offer an incentive for students to fill up the arena as they will have over 30 chances to win cash and prizes during the game.
Students have a chance for big money — $10,000 or $10,000 towards a new vehicle courtesy of Reagor-Dykes Automotive.
However, the $10,000 won’t just be given away.
Four half-court shots each are in place for both the cash and money toward a new vehicle.
A trip for two to Tech’s game against Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse is up for grabs, as well as two sets of four tickets each to Red Raider football games against Baylor and TCU.
Five sets of four tickets will be given away to see the Texas Rangers on May 20, and five $100 United gift cards will be available as well.
Also, the dorm with the most students will receive a shopping spree for Under Armour gear using Tech garage sale items.
There comes a time in every season, whether it's at the end or the beginning of the end, when the reality is impossible to ignore and the inevitable is too much to overcome. It sounds like that moment may have come Saturday afternoon for West Virginia.
If the actions during an 88-75 loss to Baylor didn't illustrate the predicament the Mountaineers find themselves in late in a season that's suddenly heading in a very different direction than it was two weeks ago, than the words left no secret about what's happening inside the Coliseum.
After a week off, WVU was soundly outplayed inside, gave up another alarmingly high shooting percentage and lost for the third time in four games - and the losses are by 14, 17 and 13 points. Afterward, Bob Huggins didn't talk to his team about NCAA Tournament possibilities. He instead questioned their "commitment to excellence."
…"We had a week. They all have iPads. They all have all the breakdowns and the breakdowns for the people they're going to guard. I'm not sure what they did. Maybe they played Spider on their iPads, but they sure as hell didn't watch tape."
WMC also highlighted a study of female sports journalists — still a rare breed, despite the fact that more women than ever are sports fans. Sure, Meredith Vieira got the chance to host the Olympics in primetime last week, but she was the first woman ever to do so and it was only because regular host Bob Costas had double pinkeye and first-choice replacement Matt Lauer was too tired.
An Associated Press Sports Editors-commissioned report by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport found that there was an increase in women of color sports journalists, but it still wasn’t enough to merit more than an F grade for gender representation in columnists and editors. And the majority of female columnists and editors worked for ESPN, which the report notes has made an effort to diversify its newsroom. Without ESPN, things would be far worse. As it is, 90 percent of sports editors are white and 90 percent are male.
And, it should be noted, the few female sports reporters we do have get to deal with Bleacher Report’s regular slideshows of the “50 Hottest Female Sports Broadcasters from Around the World” “20 Sexiest Sports Reporters of 2012,” “20 Sexiest Local Sports Broadcasters” or “40 Hottest College Football Reporters.” (Two of those lists were written by a woman, so there’s one female sports journalist byline, I guess.) Not to mention harassment from fans, the athletes they cover and even their own colleagues. Sports journalism is a uniquely difficult beat for the few women that are lucky enough to get the job.
It’s not just the journalists who tend to be white men; their sources are, too. According to Media Matters, non-MSNBC Sunday morning shows were more likely to feature a white man than a white woman or minority of either gender combined. (MSNBC, led by the Melissa Harris-Perry Show, was much more inclusive.) Another study showed that male sources in New York Times front-page stories outnumbered female sources 3.4 to 1 in January and February 2013.
Big XII composite schedule (includes results, highlights, stats)
ESPN College GameDay Schedule
2013-14 TV Schedule
A Chicago Public Schools spokesperson confirmed Sunday that Curie is being investigated for possibly using ineligible players in the city championship game Friday.
According to Curie coach Mike Oliver, CPS was aware of the possible infraction before the title game began, but allowed the Condors to play. Curie beat Young in four overtimes.
“It’s an embarrassment if they try and take this back,” Oliver said. “It makes the city of Chicago and Young look like sore losers. [At 3 p.m.] they are asking about eligibility. But if they cancel the game they have to give back almost $60,000. So they let us play the game, get the money and then make us forfeit? That isn’t right.”
Oliver and his team arrived several hours late to Chicago State. They were waiting at Curie, unable to board the bus. Phillip Perry, Curie’s principal, told Oliver that the team had to wait because CPS Law Department had asked for Curie’s roster. Perry said someone called the CPS claiming Curie had ineligible players.
“The kids kept asking ‘Why haven’t we left?' '' Oliver said. “They wanted to get there and see the sophomore title game (at 4:30). At 5:00 the team started getting pretty worried. They knew we didn’t have enough time to get to the game, get dressed and warmed up. This was the city title game, there is a lot going on. At 5:30 [Perry] came in and said ‘Go to the game, we will deal with this on Monday.' ''
At 6:50, before Curie even arrived at Chicago State, Young coach Tyrone Slaughter was told to have his team take the court.
“I didn’t know what was going on exactly, what the particulars of the investigation were,” Slaughter said. “We knew it was something more than just them being late.”
Oliver said Young principal Joyce Kenner approached him after the game and told him Young had nothing to do with the investigation.
“We’re just trying to be happy right now,” Oliver said. “We are going to school tomorrow as the city champs. We can’t control if they want to take it away.”
The Illinois High School Association will have to determine if Curie is eligible for the state playoffs, which begin next Monday. According to a statement, they are awaiting the results of the CPS investigation.
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