Top-seed Kansas will face No. 5 seed Maryland in the NCAA Championship South Regional Semifinals on Thursday at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky. Tipoff is approximately 8:40 p.m. Central time on CBS.
KUAD: Kansas vs Maryland Pregame Notes
LJW Tait: The Day After
NCAA Video: Best Dunks from Saturday
Former Kansas guard Aaron Miles made sure to watch every Jayhawks basketball game while playing for PBC Lokomotive Kuban last year in Russia.
One thing in particular stood out about Jayhawks guard Wayne Selden.
“I always used to say, ‘Man, he’s got to use his physicality more,’ ” said Miles, who is now the Jayhawks’ assistant director of student-athlete development. “A lot of times he used to try to be quicker than people, whereas, ‘You’re bigger than anybody — everybody. Just use your strength.’ ”
…The reminders from Miles came often. They could be in practice or also in games if he saw the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Selden leaning on a shot.
“Sometimes if you go off one foot, you get off-balance a little bit. So two feet, you stay on balance,” Miles said. “With him being a physical presence like that, it allows him to use his body. When he jump-stops, in my opinion, he’s able to put his body up against somebody, then he’s able to use his athleticism to jump over them.”
At 6 foot 1, Miles says he’d love to have Selden’s body type. Because he doesn’t, he mostly relied on quickness to score against stronger defenders.
Miles says Selden shouldn’t have to.
“Get a shoulder on their hip, by the defender’s hip, and don’t try to go faster,” Miles said. “Just keep them on that hip and explode up. Be on balance.”
On the opening tip, after Selden wrestled the ball from a UConn player, Miles was already out of his seat, hollering.
"Yeah Wayne," he yelled from the sidelines.
On the Jayhawks first defensive possession, Miles was out of his seat, constantly communicating with their guards, shouting things like "by yourself Frank" and "great job D’Tae" while sophomore guard Devonte’ Graham forced his man to catch a pass about 35 feet from the basket.
"I know he gets excited,” Kansas coach Bill Self said of Miles on Friday. “I think that he’s been really, really good with helping guys understand what it takes to be a really good player at this level."
As the encouragement from Miles continued, so did the Jayhawks’ pressure. That led to Kansas taking an early 18-5 lead.
“They got us out of our offense by denying passes,” Connecticut freshman guard Jalen Adams said. “They forced us to play a lot of one-on-one basketball, and we just weren’t playing our style.”
Then the energy became contagious.
Whether it was Traylor’s massive blocks, Selden’s thunderous dunks or Graham’s shimmy after a three-pointer, it was clear the Jayhawks were loose, focused and, most of all, ready to make a statement.
After Michigan State fell to Middle Tennessee State in one of the most shocking upsets in NCAA tournament history, the Kansas players met, informally, to discuss what had happened.
The message from the meeting was a simple one.
"When I saw them lose, I was telling the guys, 'Don't let it be us. Don't let it be us,'" senior forward Jamari Traylor said.
While a meeting like that might seem irrelevant or useless to a typical college team, for the last two years, it had been them.
…"We were really, really, really good in the first half," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "We've got four pretty consistent scorers, and if we get three out of four scoring the ball consistently, we've got a chance."
From the start, everything seemed to click for Kansas. The team was shooting better than 70 percent from three through the first 10 minutes and held an early 16-6 advantage on the boards.
At that point, junior forward Landen Lucas had as many rebounds as the entire UConn team. After the game he talked about his performance, as well as one particular person in the stands, his mother, who cheered him on the whole way.
"With the 33 on. Yep that was her," he said. "She's my biggest fan [...] She'll do anything to make sure she sees me play."
Points will be much tougher to come by in the paint than usual Thursday in Louisville, where Kansas faces the tallest and widest remaining team in the tournament, No. 5 seed Maryland. Ellis’ versatility will come in handy if the Terps make it tough to score on the block.
“Every three levels he can score at,” Ollie said. “And he’s coached very, very well, and the coach knows his strengths and really puts him in his strength areas.”
Even when opponents know his spin move is coming, Ellis executes it with such quickness and precision that it’s tough to stop. He’s back in the Sweet 16 after back-to-back disappointments in the Round of 32.
Ellis’ only other trip to the Sweet 16 came during his freshman season, when Michigan defeated Kansas, 87-85 in overtime. Ellis contributed eight points and five rebounds in reserve in that one.
Staying four years in college has given Ellis his best shot at hooking on with an NBA team.
“These four years definitely helped me so much,” Ellis said. “I’ve grown so much each year, and it’s definitely benefited me, and I’m glad I did this, I chose to do this.”
The Terps advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2003 with wins over 12-seed South Dakota State and 13-seed Hawaii, which defeated Cal in the opening round. Survive and advance. That's the motto. But Maryland didn't make anything look easy. In the Terps' five-point win over SDSU, they allowed a late Jackrabbits run and committed turnovers on nearly one-fifth of their possessions. Against Hawaii on Sunday, the Terps held off a squad with solid fan support in Spokane, Washington. Melo Trimble's 24-point effort and relentless defensive pressure (Hawaii managed just 0.86 points per possession) set up the win. But we can't overlook -- or forget -- that 1-for-18 clip from the 3-point line. Yes, the Terps won. That's what matters. Few style points, though.
The Terrapins, who were ranked as high as No. 2 in the AP rankings before dipping to 18 in the final poll, are coached by Topeka native Mark Turgeon, who played for KU from 1983 to ’87 and worked on the staffs of both Larry Brown and Roy Williams.
“I hate we have to play Kansas. I’m just glad we’re there,” Turgeon said after Sunday’s victory. “They’re the best team in the country. We’ve got to get a quick turnaround. We play Thursday night, but we’re just excited to be in the game.”
Tipoff for the game will be approximately 8:40 p.m. Thursday in KFC Yum! Center in downtown Louisville. Winner advances to Saturday’s Elite Eight against Villanova or Miami.
“Maryland is without question one of the most talented teams in the country. They are very strong on the perimeter and play through both bigs,” KU coach Bill Self said Sunday.
Maryland boasts starters Diamond Stone (6-foot-11, 255-pound freshman), Damonte Dodd (6-11, 250, junior) and Robert Carter (6-9, 235, junior) with 6-9, 220 senior Jake Layman, a factor off the bench.
Stone scored 14 points, Dodd had five blocks, Carter nine rebounds and seven points and Layman 10 points and six boards against Hawaii on Sunday.
“They have been ranked nationally in the top-10 for the majority of the season. We know how talented they are, and certainly it will be a great test,” Self added.
As far as going against a familiar face in Turgeon, Self said: “Our fans will be very familiar with their coach because Mark (Turgeon) was one of the beloved Jayhawks during his time in Lawrence. I was a graduate-assistant coach at Kansas when ‘Turg’ was a junior. He has had a great coaching career and has really got that Maryland program on a very solid foundation.”
WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT THE SOUTH
1. Kansas is your national title favorite
Not that we necessarily doubted it, especially since the Jayhawks were the overall No. 1 seed on Selection Sunday, but the events of the last four days have Bill Self's team looking like the most title-worthy team left in the field. North Carolina, the betting favorite, has a brutal draw in Philadelphia with Indiana, Wisconsin and ACC rival Notre Dame. Virginia doesn't have to face Michigan State, but it does have a fierce Sweet 16 matchup with Iowa State and Oregon is arguably the second or third best team left in the West.
Kansas will be a favorite against Maryland and should feel good about its chances to outlast a talented Terps team that hasn't been in this spot since Mark Turgeon took over. Either Villanova or Miami will provide a monumental test, but Jayhawks fans have to like their title chances given the two performances in Des Moines against Austin Peay and UConn.
3. Maryland's long awaited Sweet 16 return has come thanks to free throws
Maryland hasn't been to the Sweet 16 since getting there five times in six years under Gary Williams from 1998-2003, including the 2002 national title run. Mark Turgeon finally did it with a 73-60 win against Hawaii, using a 14-0 second half surge to put the potential Cinderella from the Big West to bid and advance to the tournament's second weekend. It's Mark Turgeon's most talented team in the five years he's been coaching the Terps, and to have this season end with an upset to the region's No. 13 seed would have left a fan base starving for success "hangry" (hungry+angry) heading into the offseason.
While Rasheed Sulaimon and Diamond Stone were the new faces that had fans thinking 2016 could be the year for high-level success, Maryland punched its ticket to the Sweet Sixteen behind the player who decided to stick around. Sophomore Melo Trimble had 24 points, eight rebounds and three assists to the lead the Terps, getting 14 free throw attempts in 37 minutes and hitting 13 of them in a 90 percent team effort (28-of-31) from the line.
THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH
1. Wayne Selden, F, Kansas
You have to watch Wayne Selden. Have you not been watching Wayne Selden? What's wrong with you?!?!
Selden is the closest thing we have to a human highlight reel in the 2016 postseason, starting his tear with a dunk in the Big 12 tournament that turned his Uncle Anthony into a national hero and continuing with an insane alley-oop on Saturday against UConn that damn near rivaled the thunder he brought the week earlier.
But Selden's dunks aren't the only thing he's bringing to the Jayhawks right now. He averaged just 2.5 points per game in the NCAA Tournament prior to this year and now he's got 36 points in the last two games. Bill Self said that Selden is "as big a key as anybody" to Kansas' success and fans should be encouraged that he's playing his best basketball of the year in March.
…I could eat my words on Thursday night but I think that Maryland will put up a great fight but ultimately fall short against the Jayhawks. Kansas is too good, and has been too good in close and competitive games while Maryland has lost three of its last five games decided by five points or less.
Maryland, for as wildly inconsistent as its play has been, has been remarkably consistent from the free throw line through the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament. The Terrapins shot a combined 90 percent (hitting 52 of 58 attempts) from the charity stripe and knocked down their final 17 attempts against Hawaii.
That penetration, getting opponents into foul trouble and then converting at the free throw line has helped the Terrapins make up for lackluster defensive stretches and cold-spell shooting stretches. So, even if Maryland gets outrebounded (which it did against Hawaii and nearly did against South Dakota State), gets sloppy with the ball (24 turnovers in its two opening-round games) or struggle from range (it shot 24 percent combined against SDSU and Hawaii), one thing can be counted on: TTerrapins will attack and convert from the line.
Quotable: "No, I don't think so," Jared Nickens said when asked whether any other team is stronger mentally. "I'm pretty sure every team that's in this thing is mentally tough. It's not easy. ... We're confident in ourselves."
…The Jayhawks are a complete team. Even with All-American forward Perry Ellis, Kansas' most indispensible weapon and leading scorer, KU relies on no player for too much. Each starter possesses the skill to inflict damage at the most important moments, and the Jayhawks bring three to four players off the bench with equally diverse talents.
Kansas ranks among the nation's best shooting teams. And when it's hitting from outside, as occurred early in the second-round win over UConn, KU is perhaps as close to unbeatable as any team in the field. There's much more to the Jayhawks, though, from Ellis' silky smooth play to the explosiveness of Wayne Selden, court leadership of Frank Mason and athletic outside-inside duo of Devonte' Graham and Landen Lucas.
Quotable: "A lot of teams take on the personality of the head coach. I think sometimes the coach can take on the personality of the team. And in our particular situation, these guys, over an extended period of, time have played a certain way, and they have given us all confidence in how they played." -- Coach Bill Self
ESPN How they got to the Sweet 16
Here are the Campus Insiders Kansas vs. Maryland picks.
I don’t think anyone can stop Kansas right now. Both tourney wins for the Jayhawks were by significant margins. Even though Maryland beat Hawaii, it wasn't nearly as impressive as the Jayhawks' performance thus far. Kansas wins it.
The Jayhawks' journey will continue. Melo Trimble is a game-changing guard, someone who can take games over, but Kansas is the most complete team in the nation. Wayne Selden and Frank Mason will both find the stroke to help the Jayhawks advance.
Kansas has too much talent and is playing too well right now. The Terps will make it interesting behind a big outing from Melo Trimble, but Maryland is just another notch on the Jayhawks’ belt.
Why Kansas will win
The Jayhawks are tough because they can hurt teams in so many ways. Guards Frank Mason III, Wayne Selden Jr. and Deonte Graham all have the ability to take over games, and Selden, in particular, has been playing like a man possessed. He has been scoring and hitting the boards hard, and when he’s scoring in transition, the Jayhawks are special. Inside, senior Perry Ellis is a great scorer and rebounder, someone who can create mismatches when he is aggressive with the ball. He also has good range. When forward Landon Lucas is hitting the glass and protecting the rim, KU features the most balanced lineup in college basketball, and as long as Kansas avoids foul trouble on the perimeter, the Jayhawks will move on.
Why Maryland will win
The Terrapins are starting to hit their stride at just the right time, and this team can be dangerous, especially when guard Melo Trimble is productive. Trimble has been in a shooting slump pretty much all season, but he is starting to get to the line more and using his quickness to keep opponents on their heels. Trimble will be tough to contain, and fellow guard Rasheed Sulaimon is an experienced scorer who is willing to take the big shot. Maryland’s bigs is what sets them apart. Forwards Robert Carter and Jake Layman, and center Diamond Stone all bring different skillsets to the floor. Stone is a quality post scorer, Carter can get to the rim and is a solid rebounder, and Layman is a stretch-4 who can hit the glass. The key for the Terps will be to play as a team. They did that in the second round vs. Hawaii, showcasing the kind of balance that can be tough to beat, and if Trimble is sharing the ball and Stone is productive, the Terps will have a shot.
Kansas vs. Maryland Prediction
Kansas is absolutely rolling, and the Jayhawks’ consistency will stand in contrast to Maryland’s uncertainty. On paper, the Terps are a good matchup for KU, but their chemistry has been shaky all year. Kansas plays better as a team, and it will be enough to push the Jayhawks to the Elite Eight.
Unless you are of a certain age you might be wondering why Bill Raftery keeps referring to "trailer for sale or rent" when Jamari Traylor plays are noted. Cue Roger Miller:
Yet there is something else about Kansas—which I witnessed firsthand. In touring the facilities and speaking at both a class on race and sports as well as a sports symposium, I saw something I have never seen at other big state basketball schools: utter engagement of the athletes with the academic world and campus life. I am cynical about college sports and this cynicism is well earned. Amateur athletics in this country is a cesspool of exploitation and the NCAA lords over this flaming trash heap like an old man with a sawed-off shotgun in a rocking chair. That man in the rocking chair, its $2-million-a-year President Mark Emmert, runs this multi-billion dollar cartel with no sense of morality or higher purpose. Far too many schools reflect this absence of a sense of moral mission beyond winning games and securing ever more lucrative contracts for their coaches. I’ve seen and heard too many stories of so-called student-athletes on a conveyer belt, with no one having any kind of interest in their future beyond what they can do to put the rock in the hole come March Madness.
But then I saw Kansas. The class I witnessed had basketball and football players fully engaged with the rest of the students, their books as dog-eared as anyone else’s. The evening keynote address was from 6-8 p.m. Practice ended at 6 p.m. and every member of the team was in their seats along with 500 other people by 6:15. Keep in mind, at the time of this writing the Jayhawks were the No. 2 basketball team in the country, getting ready for March Madness. Professors told me stories matter-of-factly about the academic work of several Jayhawks now in the NBA. I know schools where the NBA-caliber players don’t know their teachers and the teachers could not care less about the students who they are passing on to the next grade. But here, I was able to walk through the athletic academic center and saw serious engagement across the board.
Final day to VOTE for CLASS & Wooden Awards!
Kansas junior guard Wayne Selden Jr., has been named one of five finalists for the 2016 Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award.
Kansas senior forward Perry Ellis has been named one of five finalists for the 2016 Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award.
VOTE HERE DAILY! (Final day 3/25)
Joel Embiid is back in Qatar. This time, the 76ers center has some team personnel with him.
Embiid left Philadelphia this week and will spend the next several weeks at Aspetar, an orthopedic and sports medicine hospital located in Doha, Qatar. He had a lot of success there, and the team wanted to send him back for more treatment, according to a source.
The Trail Blazers rookies Luis Montero and Cliff Alexander from the Santa Cruz Warriors of the NBA Development Leauge, the team announced on Sunday.
Montero and Alexander played four games with the Warriors while on assignment in the D-League since March 10. Montero averaged 16.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 3.0 turnovers a game. He shot 41.2 percent from the floor and 38.2 percent from the three-point line. Alexander averaged 15.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 4.0 blocks while making 52 percent of his field goals.
"More than anything else it's an opportunity for them," Stotts said of his rookies getting some experience in the D-League. "They've put in a lot of hard work and it's an opportunity to get some quality game action."
Yahoo Sports: Morris twins battling each other for playoff berth
“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!”
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The Grind Session National Tournament, which features Kansas University recruiting targets Thon Maker, Josh Jackson, DeAndre Ayton and others, will be held Thursday through Saturday at Free State High School.
The 11 teams that will compete are: Athlete Institute (Mono, Ontario), Prolific Prep (Napa Valley, Calif.), Sunrise Christian Academy (Wichita), 22ft. Academy (Greenville, S.C.), Hillcrest Academy (Queen Creek, Ariz.), Advanced Prep International (Dallas), Word of God (Raleigh), Quality Education (Winston-Salem, N.C.), Victory Prep (Houston), Victory Rock Prep (Sarasota, Fla.) and Evelyn Mack (Charlotte).
Here’s the schedule of games followed by a description of the teams.
Thursday, March 24 (play in games): Sunrise Christian v. Word of God, 5:30 p.m.; Athlete Institute v. 22ft Academy, 7 p.m.; Victory Prep v. Evelyn Mack, 8:30 p.m.
Friday, March 25 (quarterfinals): API v. Victory Rock, 4 p.m.; Prolific Prep v. Victory Prep/Evelyn Mack winner, 5:30 p.m.; Hillcrest v. Sunrise Christian/Word of God winner, 7 p.m.; Quality Ed v. Athlete Institute/22FT Academy winner, 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 26: Semifinals 10 a.m., 12 p.m; championship game 7:30 p.m.
Athlete Institute: Features KU target Thon Maker, a 7-foot senior, who also is considering Indiana, Arizona State and others. His brother Matur, is a 6-10 junior who is a major college recruit. AI also features seniors Nikola Djogo, a 6-7 Notre Dame signee, and Cole Long, a 6-7 UMBC commit.
Prolific Prep: Features KU prospect Josh Jackson, a 6-7 senior who is ranked No. 1 in the class of 2016 by Rivals.com. He’s considering KU, Arizona and Michigan State. The team also boasts 6-8 UConn signee Vance Jackson and 6-5 Utah signee Devon Daniels. Top juniors include Abu Kigab, a 6-6 native of St. Catherine’s, Canada considering KU, USC, Oregon, Baylor and others, plus 6-9 Ira Lee, who is considering Arizona, Cal, Texas and others.
Sunrise Christian: Features Oklahoma signee Kameron McGusty, a 6-5 shooting guard, ranked No. 43 in the Class of 2016, as well as junior Isiah Jasey, a 6-10 forward who is considering KU and others.
22ft Academy: Features 6-10 South Carolina signee Sedee Keita and 6-5 Mississippi State signee Eli Wright. Jordan Bowden (6-5) is considering Eastern Kentucky, Utah, Southern Miss and others.
Hillcrest Academy: Features KU target DeAndre Ayton, a 7-foot junior ranked No. 1 in the Class of 2017, who is also considering Duke, Kentucky and others. Senior point guard Julian Payton (6-0), who holds an offer from Texas Southern, is the son of former NBA player Gary Payton.
Advanced Prep International: Features former Alabama commit Terrance Ferguson, a 6-6 senior, who is ranked No. 12 in the Class of 2016. Ferguson has KU on his list of schools. The squad includes 6-5 Baylor signee Mark Vital, 6-10 Cincinnati signee Nysier Brooks and junior Billy Preston, a 6-10 forward, who is considering KU and others. He’s ranked No. 6 in the Class of 2017 by Rivals.com. The team also boasts the country’s top junior guard, 6-3 Trevon Duval, who is ranked No. 5 in the Class of 17.
Word of God Christian: Features Rawle Alkins, a 6-4 senior ranked No. 9 nationally who has committed to Arizona. Also, Blake Harris, a 6-2 junior who is considering LSU, Wake Forest and others.
Quality Education: Features Deshawn Corprew, a 6-5 senior who is being recruited by N.C. State, Virginia Tech and others as well as 6-5 junior Ranathan Embo. Quality Education big men include 6-9 senior Papa Ndiaye, who is considering Oklahoma and Mississippi State as well as 6-9 senior Malik Brevard and 6-7 senior Marsellis Purvis
Victory Prep, TX: Features KU target Jarred Vanderbilt, 6-8 junior, who is ranked No. 11 in the Class of 2017. He’s also considering Kentucky and others. Coach of Victory Prep is Rodney McCray, who won an NBA title with the Bulls in 1993.
Victory Rock: Features 6-10 Gorjok Gak, who is headed to Oklahoma State, plus 5-7 Long Beach signee Loren Christian Jackson.
Evelyn Mack: Features Darius Webster, 6-7 from Bronx, N.Y., and Isahia Whaley, 6-10 from Gastonia, N.C.
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