KC Star Photos
KUAD Recap, box score, post game interviews
...Finances help explain why Tuesday’s game wasn’t televised and Friday’s rematch isn’t scheduled to be broadcast. Kansas officials said the gate was a consideration and wanted as many Sprint Center seats as possible occupied.
About 8,100 were in attendance on Tuesday and a similar crowd is expected Friday. The gate from two games is expected to cover KU’s travel expenses to South Korea, as well as the Sprint Center facility rental and travel costs for the Canadian team to the Kansas City area.
It was just a sparring session in advance of a tournament that won’t budge the Kansas University basketball team’s 2015-16 record from 0-0. Consequently, heading into the night, it didn’t feel as if it meant anything.
Then the players started diving for loose balls and exchanging the lead by answering clutch shots with clutch shots and it felt for a while as if the gold medal was at stake.
Even with Team K-USA and Canada trading the lead in the fourth quarter, it wasn’t difficult to project the winner because this Bill Self team had something that the past two didn’t, a core of tough, unflappable players hardened by years of experience playing in big college basketball games.
Relentless point guard Fearless Frank Mason III, strong, smart, physical wing Wayne Selden Jr., highly skilled forward Perry Ellis and fifth-year strong man Jamari Traylor had been through too many battles to lose this one.
“I’m really good at creating my own shot, but at the start of the possession coach wants to me to create an easy shot for my teammates,” Mason said. “But once it gets down to five or six seconds, I know I can get a shot up.”
Mason sliced and diced his way through seams and had five assists to go with six rebounds. He also corralled a loose ball after two missed free throws by Perry Ellis late in the game, which led to a KU bucket.
After KU swatted away two late Canada shots, Mason grabbed a key defensive rebound and hit two free throws to ice it. His previous high-point total was 21.
“I though Frank was great,” said KU coach Bill Self. “I thought Jamari (Traylor) played well, but Frank ran the show. I think that’s the best he’s played at Kansas.”
Selden also scored just four in the first half before finishing with 13. This offseason, KU coaches have preached to Selden to use his body more to drive and score at the basket. He certainly did that, but it was his 3-pointer from the left wing that split the cords late in the third quarter and brought the KU faithful to their feet that gave the Jayhawks a 60-54 lead and a boost of momentum entering the fourth.
“Wayne made some unbelievable plays,” Self said. “That save he made on Frank’s 3 was probably as a big a play (as anyone had) in the game.”
“I felt pretty confident. I have to give props to my teammates. They did a great job screening, getting me in a great position to score. I just made a couple shots late,” Mason added.
Mason’s only glaring mistake was getting called for an 8-second count (instead of 10 seconds in college) as he walked the ball up the court with 3:04 left and KU ahead, 79-78. In other words, his crucial three to put KU up for good came after that turnover and ensuing bucket by Canada.
…“He did a great job controlling the pace of the game. He did everything we asked,” said senior forward Jamari Traylor, who scored 12 points and grabbed 10 rebounds with four blocks in 19 minutes.
“He was doing downhill drives. That’s what coach wants. It was opening other things up,” said senior forward Perry Ellis, who had 17 points, eight rebounds and two blocks in 25 minutes. “He was knocking down shots. It was big.”
Wayne Selden, Jr., was a fourth player in double figures with 13 points and six assists. SMU senior Nic Moore scored nine points with five assists and two steals in 29 minutes. Moore scored five of KU’s first nine points but overall went 2-for-7 shooting and 1-for-5 from three on a night KU hit five of 18 threes.
“Nic got off to a good start tonight, then didn’t find any rhythm after that,” Self said. “He deferred to Frank late which is good, but we don’t want that. We want Nic to make plays, too. Nic is good for Frank and Devonté (Graham, injured). He came in the first day and controlled the whole practice. He’s smart, talks. He’s little (5-foot-9) so he has to take advantage of intangibles. It’s a shame Devonté can’t play (in University Games in South Korea). He would have benefited from playing with Nic, as well.”
Didn’t matter, really. In the end, the game came down to individual skills.
One individual, actually.
Frank Mason flat took over. The point guard scored 16 of his game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter — yes, they play quarters, not halves — on 6-for-6 shooting. Mason’s career best in a regular-season game for KU is 21 points.
…But to the fans who gathered, it was inspiring. Enough so that they chanted “U-S-A, U-S-A’’ louder and louder as the second half wound down and Mason took over.
At first, Self played combinations he wouldn’t use on lottery tickets. The Jayhawks sputtered much of the first half, trailed 43-41 at halftime and looked as if they weren’t adequately prepared.
In large part, because they weren’t.
“It was a pretty bad scouting report,’’ Mason said. “We just believed in ourselves.’’
“It's a great opportunity to have a chance to bring our league and our players down here to see where we compare,” said Canada's Chris McLauglin, who led the visitors with 15 points and eight rebounds. “We wanted to give it everything we've got and I think we did a good job.”
As is the case with so many KU games, no matter if they're at home, on the road or at a neutral side, Craddock said the pro-KU vibe in the building played a huge role in the Jayhawks pulling away in the final few minutes.
“I heard it was about 8,000 or 9,000 (fans),” Craddock said. “But it felt like about 30,000 people. I can see why everyone says the Jayhawks have such great support.”
As for Craddock's assessment of a veteran KU team that was still missing a few key pieces?
“They're a good team,” he said. “They made some shots down the stretch and we missed. Credit goes to them. They played a good game and deserved the win. We have to learn how to execute a little better down the stretch.”
“We’re playing without probably four of our top eight or nine,” Self said. “You don’t have Devonte’, Greene or Svi, so you don’t have your shooting team. And Cheick obviously is a difference maker who will have a great chance to start at the pivot for us.”
Team Canada had spent the previous four days working out in Lawrence. On Tuesday, the Canadians arrived at the Sprint Center with a roster filled with standouts from the Canadian equivalent of the NCAA — and the matchup was tight throughout.
“I was really hoping I could play everybody about 20 minutes, but they were actually better than what I thought they would be,” Self said. “When their roster showed up, and I didn’t see (Melvin) Ejim on it or (Brady) Heslip or some other Canadian kids, I’m thinking, ‘Who are these guys?’ But they’re the best players from their respective universities.”
…In all, the Jayhawks will play eight games during the tournament — five during pool play and three guaranteed games during a medal or consolation round. Self has offered his stated goal: Win the tournament. But he likely won’t deviate from his stated plan: Focus on development, split up the minutes, shuffle the starting lineup each game.
For one night, it ended with a victory.
“I just want the kids to go over (to Korea) and have fun,” Self said. “See what happens and compete.”
KC Star (link also has video highlights)
Immediately following an 8-second violation, Frank Mason shouted in frustration for his careless mistake under the new FIBA rules. Canada went on to take a one-point lead on the next possession with under three minutes to go.
It would be their final lead of the game.
“That was as much Nic (Moore) not getting rid of it, but we will do better at that,” coach Bill Self said. “I told them before the game the rule differences. I shouldn't expect them to know all the differences if I don't know them, and I certainly didn't."
KU played some zone to go with its staple of man-to-man defense. “Our zone is good, obviously. They made threes every possession against it,” Kansas coach Bill Self quipped. “We ended up playing man. It was better for us.”
Lagerald Vick and Carlton Bragg, the two Kansas Freshman eligible to play in the World University Games, each got their first taste of what it’s like to play “when the popcorn’s popping,” to use an expression from Brannen Greene. The two didn’t have an overwhelmingly strong impact on the game, but they did show flashes of how good they could be, according to Self and senior forward Perry Ellis.
“You can tell Carlton’s going to be really good. That’s obvious,” Self said after the game. “And Lagerald is a freakishly long, quick-twitch athlete, that, when he gets comfortable, will be very good too.”
“I really like [Bragg’s] game,” Ellis added. “He was out there hustling.”
The two finished with a combined eight points and five rebounds, shooting just 4-of-16 from the field, but each had their moments on the court. Bragg was quick to get up and down in transition, and he impressed the crowd with a couple of nice passes and his all around hustle. Vick, on the other hand, had a couple of timely baskets, including a shot right at the buzzer of the end of the first half, to pull KU within two.
Tuesday was a glorified scrimmage, with Self admittedly keeping the scouting and defensive details light and the accent on energy, on fun, on playing hard and on putting on a good show for the reported 8,235 in attendance.
Which it became. Eventually.
There was a bit of a summer-ball feel, summer-ball improvisation, summer-ball defensive slips and summer-ball brain cramps. Which is perfectly understandable, given that a guard from SMU (Nic Moore) and Florida Gulf Coast (Julian DeBose) are wearing Kansas jerseys this summer as injury/international replacements. At one point in the first half, the Mustang lobbed it over to the Eagle for a layup, and thousands of Jayhawk fans went nuts. Only in America, baby.
Other principals slid right into their old, comfy slippers. Perry Ellis was Perry Ellis (17 points, eight rebounds); Jamari Traylor was Jamari Traylor (12 and 10, respectively);
…The kids ain't half bad, either. Tuesday was more or less the competitive debut of heralded freshman forward Carlton Bragg (four points, four boards in 13 minutes) and backcourt classmate Lagerald Vick (four points in 14 minutes), and you could see the goods, raw though they still may be. Bragg's deep jumper with 5:06 left in the third period put KU up 52-51 and brought the locals to full voice.
Fox Sports Keeler
The seamless integration of Kansas’ color palette with America’s creates a stellar look. Grade: A-
Beginning Thursday, supporting the U.S. national men's basketball team means you're also supporting Kansas basketball.
The Jayhawks -- who face Canada twice before representing the United States at the World University Games in South Korea -- make it a little easier for fans to identify them as Team USA with their new, patriotic uniforms.
World University Games Schedule
“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 decision by the committee Wednesday in Indianapolis could be a watershed moment for college underclassmen and their coaches if players opt to return to school. Committee chair Dan Guerrero, who is also the UCLA athletic director, told ESPN that if the proposal is implemented it would be in place for the 2016 draft.
Under the proposal, which was a coordinated effort by the NCAA, the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the NBA, underclassmen would be allowed to attend the Chicago pre-draft combine in May, get evaluated by team personnel and given a true reading on their draft status. The players would then be able to decide if they wanted to stay in the draft or return to school. They couldn't sign with an agent, though.
The current draft rules don't allow a player to return to college once he officially declares for the NBA draft. The NBA would still have an early-entry deadline of late April and an official withdrawal date of 10 days before the draft, as per the collective bargaining agreement. But the NCAA would then have its own withdrawal date moved up from the week after the Final Four to sometime in mid-to-late May.
College basketball's myriad rule changes for next season don't have every coach singing praises of the new game to come.
Among them: Vintage college hoops grouser Bob Huggins. West Virginia's coach isn't all about that new style of play, really. Huggins said the following on Monday's Big 12 teleconference with the media. (Hat tip to NewsOK.com for transcribing.)
"I thought we had a great game," Huggins said. "I don't know why we're doing what we're doing. You watch the NBA Playoffs and it comes down to throwing the ball to the best player in the world and letting him play. You think about the guys we consider the great coaches of all time and they ran great offense. They really controlled the game with their offense and I think the more and more we reduce the shot clock, the more and more the best players are always going to win. Can't run a lot of offense."
To be clear here, Huggins is purely referring to the shot clock going down from 35 to 30 seconds, and if being unable to get into your offense in 30 seconds is a problem, the shot clock is the least of your worries.
“You're going to come down and run a quick hitter into a ball screen or spread everybody and drive it. I think everybody's tired of watching 40 free throws a game but it's going to end up that. That's just the nature of what it is when you have to spread people and not run offense. ... I'm puzzled with the infatuation with the NBA. We keep going in that direction (but) I think we have a game that's a lot more pleasing to the eyes. So I don't understand why we continue to go that direction. There's something to be said for people who do a great job of guarding and playing in the half-court."
The philosophy that college basketball is "more pleasing to the eyes" than the NBA is the reasoning of only college basketball coaches and the strictest of college hoop diehards. Better, bigger, faster talent makes for a better watch. College hoops has its inherit charms and styles that make it great, but to argue the game was aesthetically superior to the NBA in the past decade is a fool's call. The game needed revamping, and thankfully that's finally come.
Oklahoma State basketball coach Travis Ford has announced the Cowboys will take on Florida in the 22nd annual MetroPCS Orange Bowl Classic on Dec. 19 at the BB&T Center in the Sunshine State. Oklahoma State and Florida have combined for four national titles and 11 trips to the Final Four.
Tip time will be announced at a later date.
"We're tremendously excited to take on a program with the tradition of Florida, and to do it at the Orange Bowl Classic makes it even that much more special," Ford said.
This will be OSU's first appearance in the Orange Bowl Classic, and just the third all-time matchup between the Cowboys and the Gators. The two programs last met in the Elite Eight round of the 2000 NCAA Tournament, when Florida took down OSU, 77-65. Florida won the only other meeting, 74-69, on Dec. 28, 1993 in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Ferguson, a rising high school senior from Dallas, evoked a few oohs and aahs during an evening session last week. Not because he made a shot, but because he missed one. Throughout the entirety of the camp, no player was as hot from long range as Ferguson. Miller estimated Tuesday that Ferguson had made 80 percent of his three-point attempts in both scrimmages.
"He's the best shooter in the Class of 2016," said ESPN commentator Fran Fraschilla as he watched a scrimmage from the sideline. "But he's so long and athletic and active, too. He can help a team in a lot of ways."
The fifth-ranked player in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.com, Ferguson has taken unofficial visits to Baylor, Kansas, Louisville and Arizona and is planning more visits for later this summer. He said he doesn't have a leader.