LJW Tait: The Day After
Landen Lucas has officially arrived for Kansas. The redshirt junior has tallied three straight double-doubles and is averaging 10.0 points, 12.0 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks during that span. There's two words to describe this kid -- glue guy.
Diallo, who had five rebounds and three blocked shots in seven productive minutes, explained his thought process on the breakaway dunk try.
“I was thinking, ‘I want to pass.’ As soon as I stepped to the free throw line, the lane was open. I was like, ‘I’m going to keep going,’’’ Diallo stated. “I said, ‘Let me go.’ It was too late, but my mind said, ‘Go, go, just go,’ but it was too late. That’s why I missed it,” Diallo added.
Diallo, who was 0-for-2 shooting Monday, also contributed to Saturday’s 76-72 victory at Oklahoma without scoring a point. He had four boards, a steal and a block in seven minutes versus the Sooners.
“At the beginning of the game, I was so excited because everyone was talking, ‘Oklahoma is the No. 1 team in the country.’ I was like, ‘We are the No. 1 team, too. KU is the No. 1 team, too.’ I was, ‘OK, we now are going to show who is the No. 1 team in the country,’’’ Diallo said.
“I did my job, blocking shots, rebounding, running the floor. The first half, I was playing well. The second half I didn’t get a chance to play, but we won. That’s all that counts,” he added.
…KU coach Self on Tuesday night’s Hawk Talk was asked if the Jayhawks’ trip to South Korea for the World University Games might have taken something out of the squad during its stretch of three losses in five games that preceded the current win streak.
“I can’t speak to the exact reason. I will say we have talked about that,” Self said. “I think there’s a great chance that contributed to us hitting a wall. I don’t know if we hit a wall, but we hit a hill. We didn’t explode up the hill or move up the hill with probably the same intensity we had before hitting the hill. All teams will go through it. Hopefully we got ours out of the way and we’ll push forward playing our best ball and most energetic ball moving forward,” added Self, who said he plans on cutting the time of each practice to keep legs fresh.
Kansas has managed to keep winning after losing two freshmen to the NBA last year, but the Jayhawks' top two recruits have spent most of the season on the bench while senior forward Perry Ellis leads the team in scoring. (He is on the Wooden and Naismith lists.) Next year's freshman class is much more loaded, and all of these senior POY candidates will be moving on. So things are likely to revert to the mean.
That's is all the more reason to savor this senior moment. These guys were not feted as young teenagers, their heads weren't inflated by high recruiting rankings. They had to come of age the old-fashioned way.
SI Seth Davis
There were a few times this season where the Jayhawks’ defensive problems—namely, their inability to control opposing guards off the bounce—seemed like too big of a red flag. But we were saying the same things about Duke in January and February of 2015, and remember what happened? The key here is to avoid writing off very good teams that have the potential to fix their flaws, and Kansas exhibited some of that potential in recent wins over Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Plus, senior forward Perry Ellis seems determined not to fade into the end of his college career, his offensive supporting cast can shoot as well as any team in the country, and the Jayhawks, despite their struggles with perimeter D, rim-protect better than any team in the Big 12. That, in the end, could save them.
SI Luke Winn: The Magic Eight
A few weeks ago, after its third road loss in three conference tries, the odds of Kansas winning the Big 12 title stood somewhere in the 10 percent range. Now's the part where Bill Self hands us a cat-'o-nine-tails and stands solemnly while we whip ourselves as penance for ever applying something so pedestrian as mathematical likelihood to the prospect of Kansas (not) winning its 12th-straight conference title. We should have known better.
There’s been a story going around for years that the when he was a ninth grader, Andrew Wiggins had shattered a backboard on a dunk at his local community court, the Dufferin Clark Community Centre. It was almost a myth that has now become an urban legend. He returned to the scene of the now-famous dunk and when asked about it, with a shy smile, he simply said, “I didn’t think I dunked it that hard really.”
That drew a laugh from the people gathered in the gym. Wiggins goes further to describe how scared he was to tell the staff that the glass backboard was in pieces on the floor and that he was the reason for it. It’s always an issue to replace rims and backboards at any community center when stuff like this happens. That was then. From now on, there will be no more issues with getting replacement glass at the Dufferin Clark.
Wiggins and adidas have come together to not only refurbish the community center court that he spent hours practicing on, they also have a multi-year investment as a way to give back to the community that jump-started the 2015 Rookie of the Year’s love for the game and provided a place to play.
At 3:16 a.m. on Jan. 22, Nick Bahe became a father. Less than four hours later, he had a doctor’s appointment regarding his own health.
“You go from this euphoric state of laying eyes on your baby for the first time to talking to the doctors about potentially maybe having cancer,” said Bahe, the former state championship quarterback at Lincoln Southeast and Creighton basketball guard.
Bahe, the host of “Game Time” on 1620 The Zone, announced during Tuesday’s show that he’ll miss radio duties for a couple of weeks because of a tumor in his thymus gland.
Surgery was scheduled for Wednesday. Doctors will remove the gland, at which point tests will reveal whether the tumor is cancerous.
“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
Two weeks ago, Big 12 presidents and chancellors agreed to at least consider the ideas of expansion, a championship game and a conference network.
According to Oklahoma president David Boren, a vote on all three could happen as soon as this summer.
Boren told The Oklahoman on Tuesday that Big 12 leaders have agreed to make a decision on the agenda he has championed, which has centered on implementing a conference championship game, expanding back to 12 members and forming a conference network.
Kansas State hosts Kansas in one of the Big 12′s most heated rivalry games on Saturday, and K-State officials are hoping things don’t get too out of hand in the Octagon of Doom. The program dropped a new video in anticipation of the game today, but rather than trying to hype Wildcat fans up, it focuses on the importance of sportsmanship.
Eric Davis Jr. scored 15 points and sparked a flurry of first-half 3-pointers for No. 24 Texas as the Longhorns held off a late rally to beat visiting No. 10 West Virginia 85-78 on Tuesday night.
Davis made four 3-pointers in the first half and Texas (17-9, 8-5 Big 12) had 10 in the game in capping a regular-season sweep of the Mountaineers. Texas broke a two-game losing streak.
Texas coach Shaka Smart had implored his team to show more emotion heading in a tough, late-season gantlet of four ranked opponents in six games. Davis responded with perhaps his best half of the season after scoring seven total points in the previous four games.
Isaiah Taylor led Texas with 23 points and seven assists.
Tarik Phillip scored 19 points for West Virginia (20-6, 9-4), which dropped one game behind No. 2 Kansas in the Big 12.
Jaysean Paige, the Mountaineers’ leading scorer at 14.0 points per game, injured an ankle in the first half and never returned.
What Longhorns player would you expect to make a big 3-pointer and turn his hands upward into “three goggles,” a la Kansas’ Frank Mason? Who’s going to throw down a ferocious dunk and flex like Baylor’s Rico Gathers?
That’s OK, we’ll wait.
Texas has many favorable attributes. In league play, the Horns have been one of the best defensive teams in the league. NBA scouts are monitoring Isaiah Taylor and Prince Ibeh. Heck, this group has even improved at the free throw line.
It’s still missing the funk.
“I wouldn’t mind more guys demonstrating some swagger out there,” Smart said.
The Horns are still projected as a No. 5 seed in most NCAA Tournament bracket projections, but March is practically eons away.
From Texas’ perspective, the next six games are all winnable, especially with a roaring home crowd serving as the backdrop. The Horns simply have to get it done.
“I told them its amazing how much energy you can create if you want to,” Smart said, “if you are in the right place mentally.”
After two discouraging losses, Kansas State basketball coach Bruce Weber turned to the power of positive thinking.
Weber showed video highlights of positive plays to his players on Monday night, driving home the point that they have had success and can again.
The plan worked when Justin Edwards, Barry Brown and Dean Wade rediscovered their games to lead K-State to a 63-49 victory over TCU on Tuesday.
“We did a scouting report on ourselves,” Weber said, “but it was a good one where it was all good stuff. We showed them all their positive highlights and said, hey, this is you. You can be this good and play this way.
“We said do what you do and do it well. Everyone has to know what they do and that’s what we tried to show them (Monday) night on that tape.”
Different gym. Different town. Same circumstance. Same result.
Once more, the No. 13 Iowa State men’s basketball team squandered a late lead and dropped a close game on the road, 100-91 in overtime, to Baylor on Tuesday night at the Ferrell Center.
ISU fell to 18-8 overall and 7-6 in Big 12 play this year with those six conference losses coming by a combined 29 points.
Three of the road lossses occurred in overtime.
A year ago, against conference opponents, Iowa State was the league's best offense and eighth-best defense. After Tuesday, it is ... the league's best offense and eighth-best defense. Its chances of winning even of a share of the Big 12 title have drifted indistinguishably close to zero.
Which brings us, again, to the question: Is this a big deal?
If you're the type of fan -- and they do exist! -- who doesn't care about conference titles, to whom all that matters is March, the answer is still yes. Because if Iowa State's defense plays this way in the NCAA tournament, it will have to buck years of postseason precedent to make the Final Four run that has long eluded the team.
If you do care? Congratulations. You belong to the same subset of quiz takers as the Iowa State Cyclones themselves. Rest assured, that team badly wanted to win the Big 12 title. And unless it has one grand comeback still in store, Tuesday's loss was a very big deal indeed.
What's the worst thing a fan ever said to you?
I was at Kansas and had just lost all that weight. I was feeling good and came out in a Dri-fit [shirt]. A Kansas fan is yelling at me. "Hey Niang, I got something for you!" I glanced up and he whips out this pink sports bra, flinging it around his finger. "Do you need this, buddy?" I just looked down and was like, "I cannot catch a break."
What would be a successful season this year?
A Final Four run, take out Kansas or Oklahoma. Doing something that nobody thought we could do. Winning conference tournaments is cool, but I want to do something that was really hard to do.
ESPN Q&A with Georges Niang
There have been some high notes – including several wins in recent years over Big 12 kingpin Kansas – but Travis Ford's overall résumé is pretty average in eight years on the job, so it’s almost assuredly time for a change at a place that aspires to be better than average. How good is the job: Trails Kansas and Texas within the league, but better than most of the rest. Who might get the call: Feels like a Gregg Marshall job to The Minutes. Maudlin alum sentiment will be with TV/radio guy Doug Gottlieb, and Doug Gottlieb will do his best to stoke that sentiment.
Missouri (22). No sure thing that this job comes open, but the program has quickly become a quagmire under Kim Anderson. His record to date: 18-39. Anderson inherited a slew of problems from escape artist Frank Haith, including an NCAA investigation that resulted in the school self-imposing a postseason ban for this year. (Net result: Mizzou will miss one game in the SEC tournament.) But the former Division II coach hasn’t shown anything yet to prove he can get it done at this level. If Anderson has a chance to land local hotshot Michael Porter – the No. 3 recruit in the class of 2017 – that might earn him a third season. How good is the job: Iffy at present, which might also impact whether it comes open. If Mizzou can’t sell an attractive candidate on a program still working its way through the NCAA enforcement process, Anderson may get longer. Who might get the call: Jerod Haase of UAB might get a look, despite his Kansas roots. Maudlin alum sentiment died with Anderson.
Teams in the Big 12 lose. It's part of life in that league this season. Any season, really.
But the question is: If the Big 12 teams keep beating each other up, how much do you punish them?
Iowa State has lost three of five, but stands at No. 12. Texas has lost two in a row and remained in our top 25. Even Oklahoma has lost two of them, and there the Sooners stand at No. 3.
Seems our voters went with good competition playing good competition.
Voters: Eamonn Brennan (ESPN.com), C.L. Brown (ESPN), Sean Farnham (ESPN), John Gasaway (ESPN Insider), Jeff Goodman (ESPN Insider), Seth Greenberg (ESPN analyst), Andy Katz (ESPN.com), Joe Lunardi (ESPN), Myron Medcalf (ESPN.com), Dana O'Neil (ESPN.com).
ESPN Power Rankings
It is college basketball rivalry week, which means Duke and UNC will face off for the first time. Duke travels to Chapel Hill on Wednesday night, and ahead of the game, Duke students made the short trip to ask their UNC counterparts about the upcoming game. The catch: they asked about “UNC players” like Grayson Allen, Brandon Ingram, and former great Christian Laettner. The North Carolina students featured couldn’t see through the prank.
Virginia (21-5, 10-4 ACC) boasts largely impeccable credentials, from its 8-1 record against the top 50 in the RPI (including defeats of Villanova, Miami and West Virginia) to its stout schedule to its impressive play since some hiccups early in league play.
…Yet what the Cavaliers haven’t done is post a winning road record. They’re a what-if Grayson Allen traveling call away from being 5-4 rather than 4-5, but that’s life. Yet going back to 1994 (which is how far back the CollegeRPI.com archive stretches), good luck finding an eventual No. 1 seed with a losing record on the road.
…Every season is different, of course, and the parity at the top of the field could permit Virginia to snag a No. 1 seed even with a loss in one of those games. Yet even this year, the No. 1 seed contenders are largely thriving on the road. Villanova (8-1) and Xavier (7-2) are especially prosperous, and Iowa (5-3), Oklahoma (5-3) and Kansas (4-3) all own winning records for now.
…Two side notes: Only twice in the last 22 years has a team with a .500 road record earned a No. 1 seed: 2000 Michigan State and 2010 Duke, both of whom won the national title. And the last No. 1 seed to finish just a game over .500 (as Virginia aims to at this point) was 2007 Florida, which also snipped the nets on the final day of the season.
…As some caustically pointed out Saturday, Maryland (22-4, 10-3 Big Ten) won by losing. Wisconsin earned enough of a boost from beating the Terrapins in College Park to vault into the top 50 of the RPI. All of the sudden, Maryland has a top-50 road victory thanks to defeating the Badgers in Madison.
Despite weird developments basically every night, despite the constant change at the top of the polls, despite the anybody-can-beat-anybody narrative that persists, the truth is that the teams that were supposed to be good are mostly good, and the teams that were projected to win the leagues that matter most are mostly on track to win those leagues.
So remember that when you get your bracket.
Yeah, the Round of 64 might be wild. And the Round of 32 could be, too. But by the time we get to the Elite Eight and Final Four, we could be staring at familiar faces because, turns out, this season hasn't been nearly as unpredictable as lots insist. It's been wacky and full of daily surprises, sure. But when you take a step back and look at the big picture -- and especially when you look at the top of the conference standings -- what you see is a picture that suggests this unpredictable season is actually going about the way most predicted it would go.
Why does the RPI love the Pac-12?
Have you ever had a friend who dated a person you find mostly unappealing? Or been a parent bewildered by his or her offspring's choice of mate?
That's how the Bubble Watch feels every time it looks at the Pac-12's RPI page. We sit there, rubbing our chin, wondering what on Earth the RPI sees in him. The RPI shouts back at us, wide-eyed and defiant: You don't know the Pac-12 like I do! You could never understand! I love the Pac-12!
And make no mistake: The RPI loves the Pac-12. On Tuesday morning, 11 of its 12 teams ranked 80th or higher in the RPI. Jerry Palm's aggregate conference RPI rankings place the Pac-12 second behind the Big 12. The ACC is third. The Big Ten is sixth. The Pac-12 is a good, deep, league, with maybe just one truly bad team (sorry, Washington State), but those figures remain eye-popping.
…After digging through nonconference schedules and RPI breakdowns, the data basically backs this up. On average, the Pac-12 scheduled 4.1 games per team against teams rated 200th or below in the RPI. The only major conference with fewer cupcakes per member was the SEC (3.6) -- which in recent years hired former NCAA vice president Greg Shaheen to spearhead a league-wide RPI scheduling effort. Meanwhile, the Pac-12 scheduled the most nonconference games per team against the RPI top 25 (1.4) of any of the leagues we tracked.
It went 3-14 in those games. Not important! What is important is that the Pac-12, as a whole, didn't drag itself down with dead RPI weight in nonconference play. It also managed to play more high-quality teams than most major leagues. The differences are fractional. Specifics vary. But with the RPI, it's all relative. And it all adds up.
ESPN Mag: Why Power Agent Don Yee Wants To Blow Up The NCAA
Big 12 Composite Schedule & Results
The carnival mirror reflecting Thon Maker's NBA potential has produced wildly varying images over the years. At 16, he was once viewed as the game's next Kevin Durant. At 18, "scouts weren't seeing it" with him, according to ESPN's Fran Fraschilla. Just this past summer, we heard he's a "high lottery pick" after a few standout performances at the NBPA Top 100 Camp and Under Armour All-America Camp.
And this is all before he's played a single college game.
Currently a senior at Orangeville Prep in Canada, Maker has mesmerized with his upside and disappointed with flaws. He's already one of the most polarizing NBA prospects in recent memory.
A 7'1" power forward with a 7'2 ½" wingspan and the ability to face up and score, it's clear what makes him so intriguing. In Toronto this past weekend, Maker was named to the All-Tournament team at the Basketball Without Borders Global Camp, where coaches and scouts packed a gym filled with young international up-and-comers.
…Regardless of where he's at fundamentally, his tools and effort should naturally translate to impact play right away at the Division I level. With his college recruitment in full swing, he told Scout.com's Evan Daniels that UNLV, St. John's, Notre Dame, Arizona State, Indiana and Kansas remain in play for next season. According to ESPN's Jeff Borzello, St. John's and Arizona State are "making the hardest push for him."
Quite frankly, I'd be worried about Maker joining a team that didn't offer adequate talent to complement his skill set. He'd be better off playing to his strengths alongside established scorers and playmakers rather than stepping into a high-usage role that could potentially expose weakness.
…Becoming a Jayhawk could give him the best chance to showcase his inside-out versatility.
VIDEO NBA.com: Thon Maker
Potential recruits don't base their decisions on message boards. In fact, I've actually never heard of a recruit that even reads the message boards unless he was the topic of the posts himself.
However, fan support, DEFINITELY impacts recruiting.
For recruits, fan support comes by the energy in the gym, the buzz among the student body as they're walking around campus and the feel of the community when they go out to eat.
…As for those who want to complain on message boards, even in the midst of unprecedented prosperity, my advice would be to do what the recruits do...act like they're not even there.
Recruiting Calendar (updated for 2016)
Late Night in the Phog
Bill Self Camp KU Alumni games
60 Years of AFH Celebration
Legends of the Phog game
2011-12 Final Border War
KC Prep Invitational
and more, now on YouTube