The University of Kansas men’s and women’s basketball teams will celebrate the beginning of the 2012-13 season at the 28th annual Late Night in the Phog Friday, Oct. 12, in Allen Fieldhouse.
The 2012 Late Night in the Phog, presented by Hy-Vee, will run from 6:30 p.m. to approximately 9:30 p.m. Admission is free; doors will open at 5:30 p.m. Seating will be on a first-come, first-serve basis. Children 12 and under will not be admitted without an adult, and the Fieldhouse doors will be closed when the arena reaches capacity.
With school in session, all university parking lots will be by restricted by permit only until 4:30 p.m. Public parking prior to 4:30 p.m. is available in the parking garage just north of Allen Fieldhouse with a $1.50 per hour rate.
As is tradition at Late Night, fans are encouraged to bring nonperishable food items, which Kansas Athletics will donate to “Just Food” of Douglas County.
For the sixth-straight year, Metro Sports of Kansas City will air Late Night as part of its Midnight Madness show. KU television hosts will be Nate Bukaty and former Jayhawk guard Greg Gurley. ESPNU’s Sean Farnham will be at Late Night providing live cut-ins for ESPNU’s Midnight Madness programming, which will run from 8 p.m. until midnight (Central) featuring 11 schools throughout the telecast. Additionally, KLWN Radio in Lawrence will provide coverage with Sean Levine and former KU great Bud Stallworth calling the festivities.
The entire Late Night in the Phog can be seen and heard via the internet via AT&T Jayhawk All-Access, KU’s online network via KUathletics.com.
Congrats Jeff Withey: All Big XII preseason first team, and Elijah Johnson HM
#Big12 MBB: #Baylor & #Kansas are the only two schools to have someone on the preseason all-conference team each of the last three years.
Arguably no Jayhawk will carry as much responsibility as Johnson. Along with being a team leader, the senior will move into the starting point guard spot vacated by the graduation of Tyshawn Taylor. Johnson started at shooting guard last season and was the KU’s third-leading scorer with 10.2 points per contest. He averaged 15.1 points in the last eight games of the season.
Johnson spoke with ESPN.com after a weightlifting session Tuesday.
As a senior and team leader, what’s the main message you want to get across to the newcomers?
Elijah Johnson: Be coachable. Don’t think you know everything. You’re here to play ball but you’re also here to learn. That’s what separates us from other schools and other programs.
You finished last season on such a high note. What did that do for your confidence heading into this season, and do you think opponents will be keying on you more?
EJ: I don’t feed into that too much. I always knew I could play to the level that I played at. It was just about waiting until my turn came around. It was just about being ready and staying ready and being humble about the situation. That was my approach to it. Anything I did didn’t catch me too off-guard. I just wanted to have an open mind and do what I knew I could do for my team.
I think teams probably will [key on me more]. But at the same time, my role has changed. People can be deceived by thinking they know what card is going to be played. Right now I’m not even focusing on myself, because I know that’s going to come around. I’m waiting for Coach [Bill] Self to talk to me more about that. I’m just going to be coachable and do whatever he tells me to do.
The key: The intimidator
Stat to know: 17.4 percent
Kansas did something remarkable during the 2012 NCAA tournament. It's not too much of an exaggeration to say the Jayhawks played their way into the national championship game despite being unable to make baskets.
In their five tournament games leading up to the showdown with Kentucky, the Jayhawks' shooting was awful. They made less than half of their 2s and just 24 percent of their 3s. Yet they won every game (albeit by slim margins against Purdue, NC State and Ohio State).
Bill Self's team won those games with defense, of course, and if I may be even more specific, they won those games with Jeff Withey. In those five tournament games, opponents scored just 296 points on 333 possessions, while making just 39 percent of their attempts from inside the arc. Self's shot-blocking big man was a big reason behind the ugly number recorded by KU opponents.
Withey's season totals for 2011-12 are impressive enough, goodness knows. But things get downright scary if you project his performance this season based on what he was able to do in the NCAA tournament against a very tough slate of opponents (Detroit, Purdue, NC State, North Carolina, Ohio State and Kentucky). Withey's block rate actually improved slightly, to the point where he blocked 17.4 percent of the 2s that opponents attempted during his minutes. And his foul rate went down to just 3.0 whistles per 40 minutes.
Self likely has the best defender in the game, and that's why I won't be the least bit surprised if Kansas has the best defense in the nation this season.
…Self is quietly telling people that McLemore may be the best freshman he's ever had at Kansas. And the much-improved Withey is a logical candidate for any national defensive player of the year awards this season. But if there is a key to Kansas' season, it may be Johnson's ability to handle the point guard position.
Johnson was patient enough to back up guys like Xavier Henry, Sherron Collins, Josh Selby, Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed in his first two years as a Jayhawk, but he came into his own as a junior. In fact, he averaged 15 points a game down the stretch of Kansas' run to the Final Four last season.
Now, the pressure will be on Johnson to not only score but set up his teammates, as well. While not a naturally gifted ball handler, he is a good passer and an effective ball mover in Self's offense. If he can grow into a playmaking guard, as Taylor did, Kansas has an excellent opportunity to go far in the NCAA tournament again. A spot in the Elite Eight is a realistic goal, and another run to the Final Four is a definite possibility.
ESPN Insider ($)
Which team has the best chance of ending KU’s incredible streak of Big 12 titles?
Dana O'Neil: I honestly make this pick without a lot of conviction, because until someone actually unseats Kansas I won’t believe anyone can. But forced to pick -- as I am here -- the team with the best chance this year, I have to go with Baylor. Scott Drew’s team is once again top-heavy with talent, with a ridiculously talented backcourt in the form of Pierre Jackson, Deuce Bello and Brady Heslip, plus a stud in big man freshman Isaiah Austin. Of course we heard this last season with the Bears and they still finished four games behind KU in the Big 12 standings. But if Baylor can put its game on par with its résumé, the Bears should and could be the one to finally stop the Kansas Big 12 monarchy.
We've discussed this before, but it's totally worth a refresher. In February, after Thomas Robinson and Co. sealed the deal, I wrote the following:
Saturday's win sealed Kansas's share of the 2012 Big 12 regular-season title. This feat marks the eighth straight time Kansas has won at least a share its conference regular-season championship. After Saint Mary's strong finish in the West Coast Conference, which felled Gonzaga's bid at an 11th straight WCC title, KU's mark is now the longest active win streak in the country. Per ESPN Stats & Information, the next-longest are, or were, Xavier's five-year run in the A-10 (which is coming to an end this week) and Murray State and Belmont's three-year runs in the OVC and A-Sun, respectively.
The Atlantic 10 is a good league. The OVC and A-Sun occasionally berth a challenger or two. Saint Mary's has pushed Gonzaga for years. But none of those leagues are as consistently deep or talented or difficult to navigate as the Big 12.
I mean, just think about that. It's insane.
The Atlantic 10 is a mostly high-major league with a few mid-major members. The OVC and A-Sun are mid-majors in the purest sense (which, as always, is financial). So is the WCC, even if St. Mary's (and now BYU) compete with the Zags at a high-major level. None of them is the Big 12, with its score of deep-pocketed foes and NBA-talent rich rosters.
Many times in his tenure -- probably most glaringly in the past three years -- it has seemed as though Kansas' reign of dominance had to be on the wane. In 2010, Self lost Xavier Henry, Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich, but the Jayhawks bounced back to win another title the following season. In 2011, Self waved farewell to the Morris twins and highly touted (if disappointing) guard Josh Selby, as well as senior guards Tyrel Reed, Brady Morningstar and Mario Little. And, of course -- despite a serious challenge from a brilliant Missouri team -- Kansas won the Big 12 title once more.
At this point, almost regardless of competition (see: 2010 Kansas State), it doesn't make sense to predict the Jayhawks to do anything other than win their conference title and finish the season with a top NCAA tournament seed.
The Kansas Jayhawks are the Apple of college basketball. Every quarter, every season, they deliver.
…Were this almost any other program in the country, I would currently be writing about how many questions there are about this team. I would be counting the reasons for uncertainty -- the former glue guys who will now take on leading roles, the readiness of the newest faces, if McLemore is worthy of his considerable hype. I would be scanning the Big 12 and maybe even arguing that Baylor is the more talented team, and thus the more likely Big 12 title contender.
And none of that would be wrong, specifically. But it wouldn't be right, either.
Because it would be glossing over one simple fact: This program absolutely owns the Big 12. And that as long as Self is around -- which will be a very long time -- you can't predict anything for Kansas except success.
ESPN Three Big Things
Kansas senior Angel Goodrich was named to the 2012-13 Preseason All-Big 12 Team while teammate and fellow senior Carolyn Davis received honorable mention honors, as released by the league office in a vote of the conference's head women's basketball coaches. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own players.
"I'm really excited for Angel and I have so much respect for the coaches in our league and for them to tip their hat to her is quite an honor," KU head coach Bonnie Henrickson said. "This league has such elite players and for Angel to be recognized as one of the top-five players in our conference is a testament to the work she has put in and just how talented she is.
"Angel and Carolyn are special players and we are excited about those two and the potential they have. We look for them to have fantastic senior years and lead this program again."
He's one of the few familiar faces in training camp.
Yet even Markieff Morris is looking like a new player.
The Suns second-year power forward said he added 13 pounds of muscle to his frame this offseason.
"The better shape I'm in," Morris said, "the more I can play, the more I can contribute to the team on defense and offense."
Coming into this year, he was already expected to play a big role, more so now given the uncertain future of Channing Frye.
Head coach Alvin Gentry has noticed a significant difference in last season's first round draft pick (13th overall).
"He worked extremely hard this summer," Gentry said. "He's improved his overall game."
The work started immediately.
Morris said he spent the entire summer in Phoenix, working out with his twin brother Marcus, drafted with the very next pick by the Houston Rockets.
"I feel a lot better about my game, about my confidence," Morris said. "Summer League definitely helped me a lot."
Morris averaged 19.8 points and 9.8 rebounds in five Summer League games; three times he scored 21 or more points and twice he posted double-doubles.
Morris was among six rookies to average at least seven points and four rebounds last year; while his 4.4-rebound average was the best by a Suns rookie since Amar'e Stoudemire in 2002-03.
"For me, it's more of a confidence thing," he said. "As long as my confidence stays up I feel like I have the ability to do anything."
Former KU forward Julian Wright will be playing basketball this season for Israeli League team Maccabi Rishon-LeZion, Wright reported Wednesday on Twitter. Terms were not disclosed.
Kansas 2012-13 Schedule
Big 12/College News
Bill Self, Manning said, prepared him for the challenges he’s now facing in his first year with Tulsa.
“I learned so much from Bill Self and his interaction with people, how he pushed his teams, how he challenges his team, the work ethic needed, the types of drills that can help your team bond, the different play calls and the different mindset of the staff,” Manning said. “All those things come into play [now].”
That experience helped Manning remain focused when Tulsa’s top guards -- Jordan Clarkson (16.5 ppg) and Eric McClellan (8.5 ppg) -- announced they were transferring shortly after he arrived. Scottie Haralson (11.1 ppg) is back, but Manning will clearly need time to reload. That, he said, is his focus, not the departures.
“I knew there would be other things on my plate in terms of the young men who wanted to be a part of the program,” Manning said. “If they don’t want to be there, it’s kind of good riddance, good luck. Let’s just concentrate on the young men that want to be there.”
How many NCAA bids does the Big 12 get this season?
Andy Katz: I wrestled with how to handle the Big 12 teams in the preseason Top 25 poll I recently submitted. I ended up having just two: Kansas and Baylor. But don't read into that in terms of the depth of this conference. I'm confident that four teams will be in the tourney for sure in KU, Baylor, Texas and Kansas State. I will be surprised if Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and West Virginia aren't pushing for a bid come February. But I'll safely say six out of 10 teams will get bids and that's as good a percentage as probably any conference in the country.
ESPN Big 12 Discussion
The Pacers have hired former Notre Dame/UNC etc. coach Matt Doherty as a college scout.
Texas Tech is expected to decide in the coming days what to do with its head-coaching position this season.
The official start of practice is Oct. 12. Red Raiders officials say a decision on the interim coach is imminent.
ESPN Tip-Off Marathon schedule
2012-13 Early Season Events List
Great talk with 2013 F Aaron Gordon. Said he's "really excited" to be visiting Kansas next weekend.
Asked Aaron Gordon where he thought the Harrison twins would end up, he said, "Well since I already know, I'll hold off on guessing." Hmm...
Roddy Peters, a 6-foot-4, 180-pound point guard from Suitland High School in District Heights, Md., on Tuesday received a scholarship offer from KU coach Bill Self during an in-home visit. Other schools to offer Rivals.com’s No. 39-rated player: Georgetown, Maryland, Xavier, Memphis, Rutgers, Seton Hall, UCLA and Virginia Tech.
“Coach Self, a big part of his presentation to Roddy was, if you look at some past Kansas teams, they’ve always had a number of ball handlers,” Suitland coach George McClure told Rivals.com. “When Kansas won the (NCAA) championship in ’08 with Sherron Collins, Mario Chalmers and Russell Robinson, and some other guards, Self had three guys right there that would have been very good point guards on any other team.
“But because of Self’s system, he can put multiple ball handlers on the court at one time. That was definitely a big selling point for Roddy.”
Peters, who visits UCLA this weekend following recent trips to Xavier and Rutgers, likely will choose a school shortly after his Oct. 19-20 KU visit, his coach indicated.
Those developments have left Frank Mason (Petersburg, Va./Massanutten Military Academy) at the top of coach Bill Self's wish list. Mason is a post-graduate guard who previously signed with Towson during his senior season at Petersburg High, but he reopened his recruitment after opting to do a year of prep school.
Mason holds offers from Virginia Tech, Providence, Rutgers, UTEP and South Carolina, among others, but has held off setting up any official visits until he first visits Kansas.
That official visit was initially scheduled to take place this past weekend until a last-minute delay with the NCAA Eligibility Center caused the trip to be pushed back a week. Now Mason is expected to be in Kansas from Thursday to Saturday, and if all goes well he could presumably have a decision shortly afterward.
Massanutten head coach Chad Myers said Mason has been a terrific addition for a post-graduate program that hopes to be among the nation’s best this season.
“He’s been really good,” Myers said. “He competes every day, plays really hard and enjoys working out and being in the gym every day.”
Tony Edwards said he knew that the truth would come out, but that “things just had to run their course,” which made for a headache of a waiting game.
Recently, that game came to an end when the NCAA cleared Edwards, a prestigious AAU coach, stating in a letter that there was "insufficient evidence available to establish a current association" between Edwards and ASM Sports agency or agent Andy Miller.
In July, Edwards, who coached the SEBL All Stars (Clinton, N.C.) 17-and-under team, made national headlines when an email leaked that seemed to link Edwards and representatives from three other AAU teams to a prohibited association with Miller. As a result, SEBL had to cut ties with Edwards in order to participate in NCAA-certified events, and the other three teams were banned from competition.
Draft Express HS Class of 2014 Scouting Reports, Pt 1
My 2012 KU Alumni games, 2011-12 Border War, Legends of the Phog, KC Prep Invitational, & Jayhawk Invitational Videos, Late Night in the Phog, and more now on YouTube