Texas Tech AD: Pregame notes
There’s always a chance Kansas University’s basketball team will put on a high-flying offensive display — featuring an assortment of lob-dunks and breakaway jams — on any given night in Allen Fieldhouse, a place where the Jayhawks have won 88 of their past 89 games.
The odds of such a show decrease a bit, however, when the opponent happens to be coach Billy Gillispie’s 2011-12 Texas Tech Red Raiders.
…“I know Billy well enough to know he’ll muddy it up,” KU coach Bill Self said in previewing today’s 7 p.m. home match-up between the No. 4-ranked Jayhawks (21-5, 11-2) and Red Raiders. Tech is coached by former Self assistant Gillispie, who is not against slowing the game to a crawl if necessary.
“When we played down there, he did a good job. It was 16-15 with five minutes left in the first half. We set ball back a few years in that first half,” Self added. The Jayhawks led, 35-20, at the break before scoring 46 points the second 20 minutes of an 81-46 rout of the Raiders on Jan. 11 in Lubbock.
“Of course in Manhattan, both the Jayhawks and Wildcats set ball back 15 or 20 years,” Self said of Monday’s 59-53 KU victory in Manhattan. “I don’t think winning ugly is all bad. This past Monday was a typical Big 10-type game. There were fewer possessions, and it was muddied up. That will be the same when we play Billy.”
Count Robert Lewandowski among those who never bought into the notion that this would be a so-called down year for Kansas.
The Texas Tech senior forward grew up in Overland Park, Kan., and watched as the Jayhawks reloaded year after year in pursuit of championship banners. Lewandowski was a freshman at Blue West High School when Kansas began its current streak of seven straight Big 12 Conference titles.
He also saw the Jayhawks’ power up close on Jan. 11, when Kansas handed Tech its most lopsided home loss in program history, an 81-46 drubbing at United Spirit Arena.
“It’s ridiculous how good they always are no matter what talent level they have, because they work their tails off,” Lewandowski said. “Growing up, it was good to watch.”
But Lewandowski’s awareness of Kansas’ long-standing excellence — which has continued this season despite the team losing three players early to the NBA draft — isn’t tempering the hope he has for the Red Raiders when they visit historic Allen Fieldhouse at 7 p.m. Saturday to face the No. 4 Jayhawks.
“It’s a good opportunity to play and mess someone’s season up,” he said.
Lewandowski downplayed any emotion involved in playing the final college game in his home state, against the school for which his younger brother, Pat, plays football — “For me, it’s just another game,” he said — preferring instead to highlight the opportunities he believes the Red Raiders (8-17, 1-12 in Big 12) have to end their season on a high note.
“Right now we are peaking at the right time, especially defensively,” Lewandowski said. “Our win-loss record wouldn’t display that, but letting up 47 points at home the last couple of games was something that we hadn’t done in a long time.”
Kansas coach Bill Self knows a bit about winning conference championships.
His previous seven Jayhawks teams either won the Big 12 regular-season title outright or tied for first. His first two Illinois teams tied for first in the Big Ten, and his last two Tulsa teams shared a first-place finish in the Western Athletic Conference and won another title outright.
Winning the league speaks to Self’s core belief.
“If you were to ask any coach in a league, they would say that your conference race is so important because that’s who you have to beat every year,” Self said.
No program in college basketball has accomplished that for a longer stretch than Kansas.
Saturday, if the Jayhawks defeat Texas Tech, Kansas will claim conference victory No. 1,000 according to school records, and is believed to major college basketball’s leader in this category.
Among the top 10 leaders in all-time victories, nobody has more conference triumphs than the Jayhawks’ 999.
Kentucky, No. 1 on the all-time victory list, has won 961 conference games. North Carolina, which joins the Wildcats and Kansas as the only programs with at least 2,000 overall triumphs, has won 907 in league play.
…And Self can separate the conference race from the postseason. Even with the 2008 national championship he said he “totally agrees that we’ve underachieved in the (NCAA) tournament.”
Losses like last year’s regional final setback to VCU, and the second-round bounce out to Northern Iowa in 2010 attest to that idea. But the Jayhawks will address those concerns when the circumstance presents itself.
For now, there’s a 1,000th lifetime conference victory opportunity that will be important to Self because it means Kansas will start next week no worse than tied for first in the Big 12.
“Playing really well over the course of 21/2 months carries a lot of value,” Self said.
Expect Texas Tech to run down the shot clock as much as possible before thinking about the basket. It worked for a while at Lubbock earlier this season before the Jayhawks ran away late in the first half. Kansas should dominate in all phases, and coach Bill Self should get his bench, especially point guard Naadir Tharpe, more minutes.
The No. 1 rule for a player in a shooting slump is not to think about the shooting slump.
In this aspect, Kansas guard Elijah Johnson, he of the cold right hand, is in line. Kind of.
“It’s something I don’t really think about,” Johnson said. “I know it’s going to happen. I don’t try to think about the future. I just play every day. Something’s going to happen. I think I’m too good of a player for nothing to happen.”
So, yes, Johnson doesn’t worry about his offensive struggles, but he’s certainly aware of them. He isn’t relied on as one of KU’s primary threats; not on a team with Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson.
But Johnson has yet to rattle off what coach Bill Self calls a “stretch.” Travis Releford had his stretch earlier, scoring 70 points in four games. Jeff Withey is in his stretch now, totaling 61 points in his last three games.
Johnson will get another opportunity to get going Saturday against Texas Tech.
“I’m still waiting for that stretch,” Self said. “Every player has a stretch for the most part. And his hasn’t come yet. I’m excited about that stretch because I know it’s coming.”
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Kansas Athletics is excited to partner with Wayin, to run a five-day contest leading up to the Border Showdown contest in men's basketball against Missouri. Who wouldn't want to win a signed basketball by the 2011-2012 KU basketball team? Well now is your chance!
The contest will be hosted through the KU Athletics facebook page (at Facebook.com/KUathletics) and will run from Sunday, Feb.19 at noon until Friday, Feb. 24 at noon. This contest will consist of fifty trivia questions (ten per day) and cover five different categories: KU/MU history, player trivia, coaches trivia, Allen Fieldhouse trivia, and random history. Be one of the top three people on the leaderboard to win the grand prize! Test your knowledge and Wayin on the Jayhawks!" Sign up at Wayin.com using Facebook connect to register or go to Facebook.com/KUathletics on Sunday and register through the "Wayin on the Jayhawks" tab.
When it comes to the Border War rivalry with Missouri, Kansas University women’s basketball coach Bonnie Henrickson is like many other KU coaches.
She may not spit fire like the late Don Fambrough used to and may not be asked about KU-MU as often as men’s basketball coach Bill Self, but she still paints the same pictures as those guys.
Today, when the Tigers and Jayhawks tangle at 1 p.m. at Allen Fieldhouse for what could be the final time in the long and storied history, Henrickson will look to lean on a little extra motivation for the home team.
“We tell ’em about (Quantrill’s) raid and the history, and we try to explain that when we go over there they’ll have people at the game who only go to one game a year and they pick that one because it’s us,” Henrickson said. “But since they’re leaving the league, we’ve got another little nugget to dangle out there this year.”
With the Tigers headed to the SEC later this year and no future match-ups between the two schools on the horizon, today’s showdown is big for both squads. For some players, such as senior Aishah Sutherland, today’s game will mark the end of a four-year war against Mizzou. Of course, with the regular season winding down, Sutherland faces games like that every time out.
“I’ve looked at every team that I’ve played lately as if this is the last time I’ll play them,” Sutherland said. “And I want to do well in my last game against them. But with this game, there’s a lot of history, and people want to bring up the story and get you emotionally into it.”
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A two-game span that appeared at first glance to rival the first weekend of February 2007 has turned into the Texas A&M men's basketball team playing spoiler.
In 2007, then-No. 10 A&M beat No. 6 Kansas 69-66 in Lawrence, Kan., on a last-minute 3-pointer by Acie Law IV for A&M's lone victory at Allen Fieldhouse. Two days later, A&M ran roughshod over Texas and Kevin Durant in front of 13,196 screaming Aggie fans at Reed Arena. With those two victories, A&M lifted itself into first place in the Big 12 and earned a program-best No. 6 national ranking.
Lofty expectations and recent history meant Saturday's Missouri game and Wednesday's Kansas game had championship ramifications written all over them before the season began. A&M (13-12, 4-9) and Kansas were picked to share the conference title with No. 3 Missouri picked to finish fourth.
No. 3 Missouri (24-2, 11-2) and No. 4 Kansas (21-5, 11-2) have held their end up.
A&M, thanks to an injury-ridden three months and a slow start under new coach Billy Kennedy, can still have a say in who might win the Big 12, but it won't be the preseason favorite Aggies. While the front-running Tigers and Jayhawks have been cruising along, the Aggies barely know who will start from game to game after senior David Loubeau and junior Elston Turner.
A&M has had to live off moments such as Tuesdays' run at Texas Tech when the Aggies held the Red Raiders to 14 points in the final 26 minutes to win 47-38. A&M trailed 24-9 before beginning the rally that earned the Aggies their first Big 12 road victory of the season.
BOTTOM LINE: It’s easy to forget now that prior to their Jan. 16 meeting, Texas A&M had won eight straight games against the Tigers. Winning today in Reed Arena, a place where Missouri’s heralded senior class has never won, will be difficult but doable. The job will get harder if banged up leaders Dash Harris and Khris Middleton both play and look like their normal selves, but both played against Missouri earlier this season and the Tigers still won.
Kelsey Barlow's Purdue basketball career is over, and teammate D.J. Byrd has been suspended for Sunday's game against seventh-ranked Michigan State following an incident at a West Lafayette bar.
The disciplinary actions handed down by coach Matt Painter resulted from Barlow being asked to leave the Where Else Bar early Friday morning for poor behavior, and Byrd being arrested at the same site on suspicion of public intoxication.
Barlow, a junior from Indianapolis, had been suspended for the 2011 NCAA Tournament for "conduct detrimental to the program" and was reinstated last summer on the condition that he exhibit exemplary behavior.
“A couple of my biggest weaknesses as a person and a coach are, at times, I speak with a lot of honesty, I also care too much and I think I’m hard on myself.’’
While his players were unavailable for interviews because of a change in travel plans stemming from a chance to practice in the Devaney Center on Friday, according to a team spokesman, Weber downplayed any questions over an eroding fan base, spoke about player relations and discussed job security.
With athletic director Mike Thomas making the rounds on sports talk radio and not publicly backing his coach, Weber likely needs a big finish to save his job.
“I love Illinois,’’ Weber said. “I want to be the coach here. I want to finish my career here. Do I want to do better? No doubt about it.
“I know I’m a good coach. I’ve been part of championships and done things here at Illinois that no one else has done. I hope I can get through to these guys. That’s my whole thing in life.
“One of the most rewarding things was the hundreds of texts, emails from fans, former coaches and colleagues. Sometimes it got tears in your eyes because of the things people said. It was so positive.’’
With a Big Ten title shot on the line, Michigan's game against Ohio State tonight is big.
But with ESPN's "College GameDay" on hand, a national TV audience and as much hype as a Michigan game has gotten in years, Ann Arbor will be firmly at the center of the college basketball consciousness.
It's the first "GameDay" appearance for Michigan, and an opportunity to vault into the conversation of being on par with some of the top teams in the conference.
Analysts Jay Bilas, Digger Phelps and Hubert Davis marveled at the improvements Michigan has made and the anticipation of tonight's showdown.
"We've gone to Michigan State, we've gone to Ohio State and a number of Big Ten schools, but we haven't come here," Davis said. "(Michigan fans are) passionate about their sports and their team and it's a big game."
Among the biggest changes on campus is the addition of the Player Development Center and the renovations to Crisler Center, putting Michigan on par with some of the top programs in the country.
"The contrast between what was here before and what's here now is pretty dramatic," Bilas said. "Not to overly dramatize it, but of the facilities I saw in the Big Ten, this was at the bottom of the ladder and now it's up with anybody's."
Davis said that with a spot in the NCAA Tournament all but assured, Michigan has as good a chance as anyone to win the title, but with some caveats.
"They can win a national championship; I think they're good enough to win six games in the NCAA Tournament," he said. "An issue is big front lines. We were just talking about the big-time teams like Kentucky, Syracuse, UNC, Baylor and Kansas — they don't have depth but they have big front lines."
Davis cited one factor that could make Michigan vulnerable for an early exit.
"Michigan is last in the country in free throw shooting attempts," he said. "That's got to change. There's no way they can win six games in a row playing that way. Those guys are too good not to be able to draw fouls and get to the free throw line more. It can't happen.
"They can play that style, but you've got to hit all your threes and nobody can do that — VCU (a 2011 Final Four team) couldn't and they hit everything."
The mock selection committee exercise is the NCAA’s annual opportunity to give media members an inside look at the process of selecting, seeding and bracketing America’s favorite tournament.
It was apparent early, and often, that the selection committee loves its committee-speak—the questions, sayings and catchphrase they use as their guides throughout the process. The NCAA folks who make the “real” selection committee event happen were on hand, and we used the same software that committee uses up to Selection Sunday.
Here’s an inside look at the selection process, as told through committee-speak (all these things were voiced at one time or another by either NCAA executive vice president Greg Shaheen, committee chairman Jeff Hathaway or NCAA media services guru David Worlock. For brevity’s sake, that trio will henceforth be known as “the NCAA staffers.”).
NCAA RULE-Failed drug test=3game suspension. Automatic. Usually what is going on when players sit out 3 or more games.Violation of TeamRules
Twitter reports for Landen Lucas 23 points 17 rebounds 10 assists 5 blocks vs Sunset last night
Box score not online yet
There are a lot of different ways to try and stop North junior Conner Frankamp.
You can face guard him.
You can double team him.
Usually doesn’t work.
You can just foul him whenever he gets the ball.
He’ll just hit all of his free throws.
So, in a novel approach Friday night, Kapaun Mount Carmel coach John Cerne decided that in order to beat the Redskins he’d treat Frankamp — the No. 5 scorer in City League history — like anybody else on the court.
“We knew he was going to go off at some point,” Cerne said. “So we took the approach that we were going to make his teammates beat us. We put one guy on him until he got really rolling and then we just grinded it out from there.”
And that worked, as the Crusaders avenged an earlier loss to North with a 54-49 victory despite Frankamp’s 35 points — although the Kansas commit hit just 1 of 9 three-pointers.
“Conner had a great game but he missed some threes that he usually knocks down,” North coach Gary Squires said. “But we need other guys to step up. Give Kapaun credit for keeping us on our heels all night.”
Bishop Gorman allotted no time for nostalgia or celebration after Friday’s 102-83 victory over Palo Verde in the Sunset Regional Championship.
The six seniors who have made the Gaels the most dynamic local hoops team in recent memory all soared in their final high school game in Las Vegas.
They nonchalantly exited court right after shaking hands with the Panthers, however, almost as if nothing meaningful happened.
“It’s one step in the process,” Shabazz Muhammad said. “The regional is fine, but we want to win state.”
The Gaels are headed to the state tournament after winning their fourth straight regional title. Gorman travels to Reno next weekend in search of what they were denied of last year — a Nevada state championship.
"(Ellis) has been a starter in all of those games and he's had some really big games just this month," said ESPNHS Deputy Editor and panel member Mark Tennis. "It's just too bad Heights couldn't get out of Kansas this year. If he would have had just that one game against a big opponent, that would have improved his candidacy tremendously."
It's also interesting to examine the case of leading vote-getter Shabazz Muhammad of Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas). Last season at this time, the 6-foot-6 junior wing was in fourth place in the tracker behind front-runners Michael Gilchrist (Kentucky), Austin Rivers (Duke) and Bradley Beal (Florida). Muhammad garnered 43 points and appeared on seven ballots, but when Bishop Gorman faltered in its quest for a state title, Muhammad's point total pummeled to 12 in the final tracker.
"Shabazz took control of this race in the middle of January when he had that big game back east (against DeMatha) at the Hoophall Classic," Tennis said. "If they blow it again and don't win the state title, it would be a big black mark on his resume and career because he's been such a great player in Nevada."
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Lavin returned for four games in November, setting his recovery back significantly. He has regained the strength to recruit, fundraise and represent the program occasionally with the media. He said he has heard rumors that he has designs on the Southern Cal job, where head coach Kevin O’Neill is 6-21, but completely discounts it.
He is focused on the future of the Johnnies, where the six-man rotationneeds serious reinforcements. Grass-roots sources say he is in on 6-8 former commit JaKarr Sampson at Bridgton (Me.) Academy and 6-9 Chris Obekpa from Long Island’s Our Savior New American. Former Texas A&M point guard Jamal Branch already has transferred and is enrolled.
“I’ve recruited harder this year than I have at any point during my coaching career,” Lavin said. “In previous years there was the in-season complete focus on practices and game preparation. The modified schedule lets me spend the majority of the time and energy on the recruiting trail. We’re making headway and we’re confident we will secure an outstanding 2012 recruiting class.
“If there’s been a silver lining in this unprecedented season it would be the amount of time I can commit to the lifeblood of our program, which would be recruiting.”
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