So far, the transition from Ukrainian club team basketball to international competition to college basketball/USA style hasn’t overwhelmed 17-year-old Kansas University freshman Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk.
“Svi has probably been as good as anybody in the last few days of practice,” KU coach Bill Self said of the 6-foot-8 guard who is listed as a probable starter for today’s 7 p.m. exhibition game against Emporia State after his six-point, three-rebound, 16-minute stint off the bench in the opener versus Washburn.
“I think he’s really made a conscious effort to try to understand what we’re doing. For him to focus in and get it — it’s a little bit harder (for him than) others to focus in and get it — because he doesn’t understand ‘Oklahoman English’ that well. He wasn’t taught that back in the Ukraine,” native Oklahoman Self added with a smile. “It takes him awhile to understand some of the things I’m saying, but he’s done very, very well.”
Self said unless he changes his mind on game day, Mykhailiuk will join Frank Mason III and Wayne Selden Jr., on the perimeter with Jamari Traylor and Perry Ellis starting in the frontcourt.
...“It’s hard to play guys if they don’t know what you are trying to do — the simplest of things when you put them in,” Self said. “It’s not that it’s complicated. You’ve just got a situation where one guy can totally throw off what everybody else is trying to do. We’re more concerned doing what’s best for our team as opposed to an individual being able to be out there to play. We’ll allow guys to play through mistakes, but they need to have a pretty good grasp of what we’re doing to have the confidence to let them play through mistakes.”
…Known for his shooting (he hit two of five threes vs. Washburn), Mykhailiuk has been hoisting a lot of shots before or after practice with a fellow newcomer.
“Me and Kelly (Oubre Jr) try to do it a lot,” Mykhailiuk said. “My expectation here is to be a good teammate, to help my team the best I can.”
As far as catching on to English, he actually speaks English, Russian and Ukrainian fluently.
“The whole language barrier sometimes gets him a little bit, and that’s kind of funny to watch,” junior Hunter Mickelson said, “but he’s a smart kid. He’s super young (turned 17 on June 10), but sometimes when you watch him practice it’s hard to tell. He’s got a great mind for the game. He makes quick decisions, ones you see older guys making he’s already making.”
…Former Colorado standout Shaun Vandiver is 40-45 in three seasons at Emporia State. His Hornets are picked eighth out of 14 teams in the Mid America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) 2014-15 preseason coaches poll. ... Last season, ESU went 18-13 and tied for sixth in the MIAA with a 10-9 record. ... The Hornets return two starters — junior guards Terrence Moore and Micah Swank — off last year’s team. Moore averaged 17.6 points and 4.0 rebounds per game and Swank 6.3 ppg. Other key returnees include sophomore G Jevon Taylor (5.7 ppg), sophomore F Jay Temaat (4.0 ppg) and sophomore F Josh Pedersen (3.4 ppg). ... KU leads the series 19-3. KU beat ESU, 88-54, in the last meeting on Oct. 30, 2012. Ellis scored 15 points and grabbed seven boards, while Lucas had six points and nine boards.
LJW Audio: Frank Mason previews today’s exhibition finale
Late in the first half, Kansas coach Bill Self called one of his set plays following a Washburn turnover.
It was a disaster from the beginning. Freshman Cliff Alexander popped out toward the perimeter before Perry Ellis pointed him toward his correct spot on the low block. The freshman Alexander then tried to establish position for too long and after five seconds was called for three in the lane.
Self’s scream could be heard across James Naismith Court.
“You’ve got to do what you’re supposed to do!”
The sequence, to a small extent, illustrates where the Jayhawks are as a team heading into Tuesday’s final exhibition game against Emporia State.
Though KU might have had younger players a year ago, Self commented earlier in the week how this team is further behind knowledge-wise than any other he’s had.
…The players have many places they can go for help. They can study the playbook on their own, talk with coaches about their questions or even watch video of each KU play on their phones or iPads through the DropBox app.
“The plays are a little confusing if you don’t really know what’s going on,” Mason said. “If you don’t pick them up, then coach … you won’t play if you don’t know what’s going on. It’s pressure to know the plays and know what we’re doing.”
In one sense, Self has plenty of time to figure out the questions looming over his rotation. What does he have in Mykhailiuk? Can freshman wing Kelly Oubre be an immediate factor? Who will start in the backcourt?
It’s still mid-November, and the Kansas staff believes Oubre and power forward Cliff Alexander will continue to develop as the season progresses. In another sense, the Jayhawks are a week away from facing off against No. 1 Kentucky next Tuesday at the Champions Classic in Indianapolis.
That puts some pressure on the process. But for now, Self will wait. The Jayhawks play Emporia State on Tuesday before opening the regular season against UC Santa Barbara on Friday night. And the competition for minutes will continue.
“We really haven’t had separation like I thought we would,” Self said. “Both inside and on the perimeter.”
“We’re not easing into it at all,” Kansas coach Bill Self said on Monday. “And we need to be ready and take advantage of these early-season opportunities.”
On average, Kansas’ final play card will consist of 75 to 90 things that KU can do on the offensive and defensive ends. For now, Self says, KU is closer to having 20 options and plays on offense. But much of that is Kansas’ base offense.
“For the most part, it’s basically meat and potatoes,” Self said. “That’s what we got to understand better. Our guys have got to understand and execute what we’re trying to do on both ends.”
Junior forward Hunter Mickelson, a transfer from Arkansas, finished with six points, four rebounds and two blocks during Kansas’ exhibition opener against Washburn. For Mickelson, it was his first game action in more than a year after sitting out last season.
“I could practice all day long, but I couldn’t put it into game,” Mickelson said. “So this year I can practice and hopefully whatever I learn in practice, I can show in the game.”
Usually it’s not nearly this difficult to come up with picks for preseason All-America teams and national player of the year. Maybe it’s because nearly all the top players in the country from a season ago either graduated (i.e., Doug McDermott, Shabazz Napier and Russ Smith) or left early for the NBA draft (i.e., Jabari Parker, Nik Stauskas and Nick Johnson).
The incoming freshman class didn’t come in with the same juice as the Class of 2013, which boasted Parker, Andrew Wiggins and Julius Randle.
That makes for no shortage of uncertainty when it comes to trying to predict a 2014-15 All-America squad. But that's not going to stop me. Here are my first-, second- and third-team All-Americans, along with a mid-major All-America squad. I'll start things off with my picks for player, freshman and coach of the yearoffer, plus picks for most improved player and impact transfer.
Player of the year: Jahlil Okafor, Duke
Freshman of the year (not named Jahlil Okafor): Cliff Alexander, Kansas
Coach of the year: John Beilein, Michigan
Most improved player: Kennedy Meeks, North Carolina
Impact transfer: Trevor Lacey, NC State
F Cliff Alexander, 6-8, 240 pounds, Fr., Kansas Jayhawks: Alexander could easily be a consistent double-double guy because of his NBA-ready body and ability to dominate from a physical standpoint. Alexander is a big-time rebounder who may not put up huge offensive numbers, but he’s a tough guy to stop when and if he gets the ball on the low block.
Quotable: “He’ll play a lot and get the ball because Bill [Self] likes to use his big men, and Kansas really doesn’t have anyone else outside of Perry Ellis who can score in the post," said one coach. "Cliff will be a monster, but the key for him will be staying out of foul trouble."
ESPN Goodman ($)
11/10/14, 11:32 AM
Student campers line Allen Fieldhouse concourse. Camping group Name of the Week: Svi-ing is Believing.
It's only the second game, so I'm holding out hope it gets better, but the best camping group name is "Christian Garrett Mingle". #kubball
(I also liked Manning the bench)
11/10/14, 8:04 AM
In Lawrence, Heading over to see one of my favorite coaches @CoachBillSelf I hope he has some coffee brewing! @KUHoops #RockChalkJayHawk
11/10/14, 10:48 AM
UK by a handful. More experience. ChrisRoseBBN: @GoodmanESPN what's you're early UK KU prediction?
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
For fans, arguably the most difficult part of Missouri’s transition from the Big 12 to the Southeastern Conference was the apparent conclusion of the legendary Border War with Kansas.
Changing conferences meant playing the Jayhawks a lot less frequently, if at all.
On Monday afternoon, it was announced during the Division I Women’s Soccer Selection Show that the Tigers (11-6-3, 6-4-1 SEC) had qualified for the NCAA Tournament. Their first-round opponents are the Kansas Jayhawks (15-5, 5-3 Big 12).
…“It (put a smile on my face),” he said. “We haven’t played them in three years so if we’re going to go somewhere, it’s a great place to go.
“I think (the rivalry) brings something extra to the game — it’s exciting.”
For the sixth time in program history, the University of Kansas soccer team earned a bid to the NCAA Division I Women's Soccer Championship it was announced Monday afternoon. The Jayhawks will host the Missouri Tigers in first round play on Sunday, Nov. 16 at 1 p.m., at Rock Chalk Park.
"I'm thrilled for the girls that they get this opportunity," said head coach Mark Francis. "Getting selected to play in this tournament is the result of a lot of hard work and dedication this year. And as if the stakes weren't already high enough, getting to play our rival Missouri will make this game that much more special. It should be a great atmosphere out here on Sunday."
KUAD Soccer info
“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
…COACH UNDER PRESSURE: Last year was the year for Oklahoma State to be a serious contender. Not only did they get a gift with Marcus Smart returning for his sophomore season, but they teamed him up with Markel Brown, Le’Bryan Nash and a roster full of quality role players. But Michael Cobbins blew his achilles tendon, Stevie Clark got himself thrown off the team and Smart spent the season out of control, resulting in a No. 9 seed in the tournament and an opening round exit. Travis Ford has a massive buyout, but that doesn’t mean that his job is safe.
ON SELECTION SUNDAY WE’LL BE SAYING … : There’s a chance that three or four Big 12 teams end up in the Final Four.
I’M MOST EXCITED ABOUT … : The fact that the Big 12 is the lone power conference that still plays a double round-robin. Home-and-homes for the top five teams in this league will be fun.
1. Kansas: The Jayhawks are the most talented team in the league despite the fact that they lost two players that were picked in the top three of the 2014 NBA Draft.
2. Texas: The Longhorns have the best front line in the conference, and maybe the best front line in the country outside of Kentucky. Johnathan Holmes play at the three will be the x-factor.
3. Iowa State: The Cyclones could push for a league title if three things happen: Monte’ Morris pans out, Bryce Dejean-Jones buys in and Jameel McKay is a defensive difference-maker.
4. Oklahoma: This is assuming Tashawn Thomas is not given a waiver to play immediately. If he does get a waiver, the Sooners jump up to No. 2.
5. Kansas State: Marcus Foster is one of the best players in the conference, but question marks at the point and at center limit their upside.
6. Baylor: The Bears lost Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson, but Kenny Chery should be able to lead this group back to the NCAA tournament.
7. West Virginia: Getting Juwan Staten back for his senior season was huge, but losing Eron Harris hurt quite a bit as well.
8. Oklahoma State: Everything all falls on Le’Bryan Nash this season. Can he carry the load.
9. TCU: Kyan Anderson, Amric Fields, Trey Zeigler, Devonta Abron, Karviar Shepard, Chris Washburn. There is talent on this roster.
10. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders snuck up on some people last year, but after losing four of their top five scorers, they’ll have to prove it again this season.
NBC Sports Big 12 Preview
Scott Drew has taken the Bears to NCAA tournaments in 2008, ’10, "12 and ’14, but wants to go in an odd-numbered year for once.
“For some reason, Baylor basketball has never gone to the NCAA tournament in an odd-numbered year and has never gone in back to back years,” Drew said. “I like to accomplish firsts.”
USA Today: Bracketology preseason style
CBS Jerry Palm: Preseason Bracketology
In terms of perception, the story line in Austin has been flipped. One year ago, he was fielding questions about job security as his program temporarily lost its sheen -- after the only year in which he missed the NCAA tournament at Texas -- and critics griped over recruiting misses in the talent-rich Lone Star State.
This fall, Barnes, whose contract was extended through 2019, and his players are answering a much different but equally legitimate question: Will the talented Longhorns end Kansas' streak of winning at least a share of 10 consecutive Big 12 titles?
"It has really been a big change in perception the last year," forward Jonathan Holmes says. "It is like opposite ends of the spectrum."
As point guard Isaiah Taylor put it, "A lot of people thought he was on the hot seat. Blah, blah, blah. He went from that to Big 12 coach of the year (last season) and to getting a contract extension."
…In any event, players know the season is a long journey, but they'd like nothing more than to pry the Big 12 regular-season title away from Kansas, which again should be poised to compete for the league title.
"It actually is embarrassing that they won all those titles," forward Cameron Ridley says of the Jayhawks.
"To have a basketball program like Texas and to know we have not won any Big 12 championships (outright) the last 10 years," Taylor says, "that is embarrassing."
Ridley says the Longhorns have the nation's best backcourt. But the players don't want to get sucked into buying into the sudden hype. In fact, Lanier has emphasized with players the importance of not drinking what he calls poison, meaning don't pay attention to outside negativity or adulation.
The Longhorns went so far as to keep a bottle of fake purple poison in their locker room with a detailed label, which encourages only occasional use of social media and explains the dangers of basking in praise.
College basketball has retained talent — plenty of it — and will boast some championship-caliber, veteran-laden teams — hello, Wisconsin — but it will have not nearly the player visibility and number of household names it's had in years past.
This season marks the second time since 2003 that none of the 15 players who made the previous season's AP All-American teams has returned to school. This year's preseason All-America lists from various national outlets rarely reached a consensus on the sport's projected top players and potential national player of the year.
"I look at this year, and I think, 'Oh my gosh, we don't have any one-and-dones to talk about? You mean we're going to have to talk about teams? Oh my god! I hope the fans can survive,' " Notre Dame coach Mike Brey says, feigning shock. "There are some great stories of veteran guys out there."
Indeed, coaches and administrators point to the cliché that will hold especially true this season: The name on the front of the jersey might matter more than the one on the back. What can — and should — shine in a season like this are great teams.
I sent text messages to two NBA front office members on Monday afternoon, asking them how many times UK could defeat the 76ers in a 10-game series. Their responses essentially just confirmed that there is no consensus in this debate.
"[Kentucky would win] maybe five times," one said. "They are deep!"
"Odds are the Sixers would beat [UK] every time," the other said.
And so we were back at the start. I called ESPN college basketball analyst Seth Greenberg, who is allowed to speak on the record, and got a view from the college side.
"No, they couldn't beat an NBA team," Greenberg said of UK. "They have a collection of NBA players, but they couldn't beat an NBA team at this point. It's a different game. There's a lack of understanding of just how good those [NBA] guys are."
I tend to side with Greenberg. Remember, three months ago UK lost to a Dominican Republic team whose rotation included former UK forward Eloy Vargas and former UofL guard Edgar Sosa. That Dominican team was not an NBA-level team by any stretch.
UK coach John Calipari took to Twitter on Monday and said his team would get 'buried' by an NBA opponent.
Former Tar Heels football player Tydreke Powell called into North Carolina radio station WJMH this morning and provided some interesting details about the academic misconduct that allegedly involved hundreds of UNC athletes.
Powell quoted former football coach Butch Davis as telling players, "If you all came here for an education, you should have gone to Harvard," while explaining that players were directed to take classes in the now-notorious AFAM department.
Powell says he took a paper class, and that "everybody knew" the nature of them. He also told the WJMH hosts that players were instructed to fail learning disability assessment tests so as to ensure players would be provided assistance during tests and for note-taking.
When asked about UNC basketball coach Roy Williams, Powell called Williams a "snake," and said students sought out classes in which basketball players were enrolled because that was a sure sign there'd be no actual work involved.
Finally, Powell threw in an anecdote about how a female student did all the work for one athlete, after which "we all ran a train on her."
Wednesday marks the start of the early signing period for the 2015 class, and while a number of big names will sign their scholarship papers and officially end their recruiting process, there are still a number of questions surrounding the week.
ESPNU will televise a one-hour Recruiting Nation: Basketball Signing Day Special (6 p.m. Eastern). Point guard Isaiah Briscoe, No. 13 in the ESPN 100, and center Skal Labissiere, No. 11 overall, will declare their college destination during the special. Briscoe is expected to pick Kentucky, St. Johns, or UConn, while Labissiere is expected to choose between Baylor, Georgetown, Kentucky, Memphis, North Carolina, and Tennessee. ESPN recruiting analysts Paul Biancardi and Hamilton will join the show.
Do fans really perceive elite high school basketball players as attention freaks who want to capitalize on the inevitable free marketing, er, media attention that accompanies waiting until the spring to sign a National Letter of Intent?
“People say a lot of things like that, but it’s, honestly, crazy if you think about it,” said Brown, a small forward at Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.) who is the top ranked uncommitted senior in the country. “But I’m definitely not the ‘attention’ guy and I definitely didn’t want to have to wait; I’m just not ready to pick a school yet.”
…“People think it’s all about going on visits and coaches telling us we’re the greatest player ever,” said Brown, who’s mulling over offers from Kentucky, Kansas and UCLA, among many others. “But it can definitely get stressful. There’s a lot that comes with it.”
…Stephen Zimmerman’s mother, Lori, concurred.
She stepped in to run Zimmerman’s recruitment process to allow him to maintain some degree of normalcy. Zimmerman, a senior center who is ranked No. 10 in the ESPN 100, has taken official visits Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky and UCLA.
“I am so jealous of our friends whose kids have already committed and are signing early,” Lori said with a laugh. “It’s over for them and they’re all relaxed! This situation is craaaazy; definitely not something that you choose to stay in for extend time. Every time Stephen comes back from a visit I’m like, ‘Did you feel it? Is that the one?’ He’s always like, ‘Mom, I don’t knoooow.’ It’s tough on these kids.”
Plus, on the most basic level, players want to be sure that they won’t have to repeat the taxing recruitment process after their freshman year.
Makes sense since, according to an NCAA report, nearly 40 percent of Division I men’s basketball players who were freshmen in 2010-11 left their original school prior to their third year in college.
The culprits are cliché; Twitter “experts” churning the rumor mill, message board “gurus” who “know” where players will inevitably land, etc.
Still, in the end, Brown solidified playing the Signing Day waiting game with five words that are as simplistic as they are dead-on.
“We just don’t know yet,” he said.
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