KU AD: Box score, quotes, notes, videos, photos
KC Star photos
ESPN video highlights
Given the way No. 8 Kansas had played lately, they weren’t always pleasant thoughts.
That certainly changed Wednesday night, though, when Thomas Robinson had 20 points and 17 rebounds to lead the Jayhawks in an 84-62 blowout of the Sooners.
“I’m leaving out of here more excited about our team than before the game started,” Self said. “I didn’t think the last couple of weeks we had been that good. We’re going to have to be better Saturday night than we were tonight, but we were pretty good.”
…The Jayhawks haven’t lost to Oklahoma in the last nine meetings, and the last 10 at venerable Allen Fieldhouse, where they have won 19 straight overall. They have also gone 225 games without consecutive defeats, the longest streak in the nation. Duke is next at 110 games.
…“If we’re tuned in defensively and we’re rebounding the ball, I think we can beat anybody, and I think that’s going to be our focus these next couple weekends, guarding and rebounding the ball,” Taylor said. “We have to win these games. We have to. They’re important.”
The Jayhawks, 18-4 overall and 8-1 in Big 12 play, were coming off their first league loss, at Iowa State, and they were pushed on their home floor by Texas A&M in the previous game.
Throw in an uneven first half against the Sooners, and suddenly a team that’s been firm in its resolve for an eighth straight Big 12 championship stood on wobbly legs.
But Kansas took the second half by the throat, scoring the first nine times it had the ball. Some were artistic, such as Jeff Withey’s hook shots with his right and left hands. Others were vicious, such as a pair of Thomas Robinson’s slams.
It all worked and the defense was just as good with a Robinson steal, Withey block, Travis Releford’s tight coverage of everybody he checked.
Sooners coach Lon Kruger called two timeouts before the half was four minutes old.
…As the game turned into a KU lob-pass festival in the second half, minds drifted to Saturday’s matchup.
How will Kansas and Missouri defend each other in the front court with Robinson and Withey against Ricardo Ratliffe and Kim English? How much zone defense will the Tigers’ play? Oklahoma had some success in the first half with a zone against the Jayhawks.
Taylor admitted to thinking about the Tigers.
“It’s probably the biggest one we have on our schedule so far,” Taylor said. “Coach said in the locker room, it’s something we can start thinking about now.”
Both teams will enter the game in a good mind-set with Mizzou holding off Texas in Austin on Monday, and the Jayhawks playing their best ball, perhaps in two weeks, in the second half against the Sooners.
Kansas coach Bill Self counted Charlie Spoonhour as a friend. Spoonhour, the former coach at Missouri State, Saint Louis University and UNLV, died on Wednesday at 72.
...Jeff Withey finished with a career-best 15 points, a total that probably doesn’t make the seven-footer as happy as two rebounds disappointed him.
Border security is the dominant topic of discussion for Kansas fans this week.
Most of the chatter centers on Saturday’s trip to Missouri, KU’s final visit to Mizzou Arena before the Border War goes cold.
Before that, though, No. 8 KU had to avoid a sneak attack from the south. Oklahoma seemed up to the task for roughly 20 minutes, until the Jayhawks (18-4, 8-1 Big 12) turned on the jets and blasted the Sooners 84-62 at Allen Fieldhouse.
Admittedly, it was a challenge not to glance at the shiny object in the distance. This task became easier, though, with memories of a loss at Iowa State still fresh.
Thomas Robinson back to old self says Keegan
Keyed up by high-pressure defense, Taylor sped his team and ran right at Oklahoma’s interior. With six and a half minutes left in the game, he took an inbounds pass on one end of the floor, sprinted with the ball to the other end, shedding would-be defenders, and converted a lay-up before the Sooners were even close to ready for him. The possession transpired in no more than three seconds.
With Taylor drawing so much attention, junior forward Thomas Robinson was able to return to his usual state.
“To me, Thomas hasn’t been himself for three games maybe,” Self said. “But he was tonight.”
Robinson, who scored 19 points and corralled 17 rebounds, cleaned up missed shots by using his strength and size to displace the opposition. After all three of his dunks, he repeatedly beat his chest and raised his hands to the fieldhouse crowd, demanding more volume.
“He’s an All-American candidate for a reason,” Oklahoma junior forward Romero Osby said. “He’s big and strong. He does a good job of positioning himself down low and shielding people off with those shoulders that he has.”
Kansas forward Thomas Robinson has been asserting himself against the Big 12 and writers around the nation are continuing to recognize that as the country starts to turn its full attention to college basketball with football signing day and the Super Bowl passing this week.
Robinson leads the second ESPN.com College Basketball Player of the Year poll, comprised of actual voters for the Wooden, Naismith, Associated Press and Robertson Awards given out the rest of the season.
For those who missed the first poll, which Robinson led as well, here’s a recap of how it all works: Each pollster sends us their top three. A first-place vote is worth three points, a second-place vote worth two and a third-place vote worth one. Every voter is granted anonymity.
Fifty-three voters submitted ballots for the second poll, up from 50 in the first ballot. Here are the results:
ESPN.com has dusted off its lottery mock draft machine, which takes all the teams that would be lottery-eligible at this time and, based on the probabilities of each team to get the top pick, simulates the top 14 picks and then does a mock draft for those selections.
With only four wins this seasons, the Pistons are right now slated for a very high draft pick. Many have already said this June's draft will be as rich in talent as any class in year. Detroit needs a big man, and several talented bigs are available.
…In Round 4, Detroit slipped once again to fourth, but with Drummond off the board at No. 3, the Pistons went with Kansas forward Thomas Robinson, a player of the year candidate with a well-rounded game.
Detroit Free Press
A message from Frank Haith
For the first time, ESPN's College GameDay will be in Columbia for a Missouri basketball game on Saturday.
Doors open at 7 a.m. Saturday at Mizzou Arena, and the show begins at 9 a.m. The show is open to the public, and students who show up will receive priority seating for No. 4 Missouri's game against No. 8 Kansas at 8 p.m.
…With Missouri going to the SEC next season, Saturday night's Missouri-Kansas game will be the last time that the two rivals play in Columbia as Big 12 opponents. They play a second game in Lawrence on Feb. 25.
"This conference expansion, conference realignment, that's reality," Bilas said Wednesday. "But I find it hard to believe that Missouri and Kansas aren't going to play again. I'm not concerned about that."
Saturday also marks the first time the two rivals have met as top-10 teams since 1990, when they played twice when both teams were ranked in the top four. Missouri won both of those games.
"The hardest part about recruiting people to come to Kansas is just to get them here. Because once we get them here, the university sells itself," Weis said, first hawking facilities, academic support and other standard amenities.
"And of course, if there's a men's hoops game on Saturday . . . what better recruiting tool?," he went on, recalling defensive back and eventual signee Greg Allen's visit to historic Allen Fieldhouse. "You think about it. You bring a guy into that place when it's rocking and rolling, I mean what more needs to be said? I'm not like a lot of people who like to put one sport above another. I'm kind of a company guy when it comes to that."
Coach Weis in USA Today
The Warriors knew they were getting a terrific perimeter shooter when they acquired Brandon Rush. But come on, this terrific?
Outside the 3-point arc, the fourth-year swingman has been out of this world almost from the day he joined the Warriors in late December. But he's been absolutely ridiculous of late -- Rush has buried 14 of his past 17 attempts over seven games, including two huge bombs down the stretch in a 93-90 victory over Sacramento on Tuesday night.
Rush not only leads the NBA in 3-point percentage (32 for 54, 59.3 percent), he is on league-record pace. Only six players have ever shot better than 50 percent for an entire season -- Steve Kerr did it three times with Chicago -- and Chicago's Kyle Korver holds the league mark for a full campaign (59 for 110, 53.6 percent, with Utah in 2009-10).
The Warriors' all-time single-season leader is B.J. Armstrong (47.34 percent in 1995-96).
Only three players in the league are shooting 50 percent or better this season from beyond the 3-point line. Boston veteran Ray Allen is right behind Rush at 56 percent (42 for 75), and Atlanta's Marvin Williams is at 50 percent (23 for 46).
It remains to be seen how long it will last, but Rush won't overthink it. He's just going to ride it.
"I'm just catching fire right now," he said. "Everything is pretty much dropping in."
Rookie Marcus Morris did not travel with the team to San Antonio and instead continued his rehabilitation from a sprained ankle. Morris, who said he planned to go through Thursday’s practice, indicated that he has not been told if he will go on the six-game road trip that begins Saturday or return to the NBA Development League.
“I’m doing real well,” he said. “I’m rehabbing every day … trying to get back with the team. You just have to be a professional. … I’ll be happy to contribute to the team or sit on the bench or whatever they want me to do.”
LJW: Jayhawks in the NBA
Nick Collison GQ blog: The Exquisite Art of Rookie Hazing
VOTE for the Kansas Jayhawks student section
VOTE for Coach Self's Assists Foundation
A judge has refused to stay West Virginia University's lawsuit against the Big East while the conference's countersuit plays out in Rhode Island.
Monongalia County Circuit Court Judge Russell Clawges says staying the lawsuit until Rhode Island's courts decide the other case won't promote the interests of justice.
In a ruling issued Tuesday, Clawges also denied the Big East's request to dismiss WVU's lawsuit. He had rejected a different dismissal motion in December.
WVU is challenging the Big East's bylaws in a bid to join the Big 12 in time for the 2012 football season.
The Big East is countersuing in Rhode Island. That lawsuit argues that WVU breached its contract with the conference and should remain in the Big East for 27 months, as required by the bylaws.
I’m puzzled at the reaction to the closing moments of the Missouri/Texas game on Monday night, a game in which the Tigers won 67-66. For my taste, Missouri head coach Frank Haith is getting a little too much credit for the events of the final possession. For example, the reaction on twitter has almost universally praised Haith for throwing a zone defense at Texas after the Longhorns’ timeout with 27 seconds remaining. See also, this blurb from Andy Katz.
I suppose Haith deserves credit for throwing a zone at Texas out of the timeout prior to the game-deciding possession. But I’m really not sure. I mean, I have few reasons to make such a judgment, other than to say, “Missouri won, therefore Haith is brilliant!” However, unless Rick Barnes is lying, this move was anticipated. And besides, it’s not like it’s rare for a coach to change defenses out of a timeout late in the game.
There’s no denying that Frank Haith has done a great job this season. There are few teams in the country better than Missouri right now, and I’d say that whether the Tigers had won or lost in Austin. Mizzou was primed to be very good, but there’s something to be said for not screwing that up as a new coach. Especially when the hire had little support among the fan base. However, let’s not anoint Frank Haith as the basketball version of Bill Belichick.
Perhaps his move at the end of game was brilliant, but the outcome of the game was also influenced by random events out of Haith’s control. Giving him credit for the switch to zone is fine, but praising him for the outcome of the game is a bit much.
Someday soon, Billy Kennedy vows he'll respond to the cards and letters.
"There must be two, three hundred of them," the Texas A&M coach says, sifting through the piles of envelopes stacked side by side on the hardwood floor of his College Station home.
Some of the messages came from coaching colleagues such as Bill Self and Billy Gillispie. Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer -- a man Kennedy hardly knows -- sent a "get well" memo. And a Texas A&M professor had each member of his class sign an oversized card that Kennedy reads almost every evening.
"Thinking about you," one student wrote.
"Thank God for each day. It's all a wonderful gift," penned another.
Kennedy closes the card and places it on a dresser. Standing in the center of his home office, Kennedy is surrounded by dozens of plaques and awards he's won during his 27 years of coaching and, more importantly, by photos of former players. Jason Kidd and Tony Gonzalez from Cal stare at Kennedy from one wall. On another is a picture of his Murray State team beating Vanderbilt in the first round of the 2010 NCAA tournament.
Unbeknownst to her husband, Mary Kennedy decorated the room nearly three months ago while Billy slept upstairs, ordered to his bed by doctors. When he was finally was summoned from the bedroom, Kennedy discovered more than a spruced-up office.
He found a new motivation.
"I think my wife did it because she knew it would affect me," Kennedy said. "Seeing those pictures and having those memories … it was a reminder that my mission in life is to be a coach, that this is what I'm supposed to do.
"At that point, I knew I'd be able to keep going."
Charlie Spoonhour, the popular, homespun coach who took Saint Louis to three NCAA tournaments behind a prolific offense, has died after battling a lung disease. He was 72.
Spoonhour, who also coached at Missouri State and UNLV, died Wednesday, said Chuck Harker, the funeral director at Walker's Funeral Home in Chapel Hill. Spoonhour was diagnosed in 2010 with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which required a transplant at Duke University Medical Center in nearby Durham, N.C.
In 19 seasons as a Division I head coach, Spoonhour was 373-202.
He built his reputation at Missouri State, then known as Southwest Missouri State, where he was 197-81 with five NCAA tournament appearances from 1983-92. The school planned a moment of silence during a pre-game tribute to Spoonhour before its game against Wichita State on Wednesday night.
"The entire Missouri State University family is deeply saddened by the passing of Coach Spoonhour,'' athletic director Kyle Moats said. "His legacy is one of class, distinction and achievement, and he will be dearly missed by the many lives he touched in his many endeavors.''
Former UCLA star Reeves Nelson was released Tuesday by BC Zalgiris after five weeks with the professional basketball team in Lithuania.
In six games, he averaged 2.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 10 minutes. He shot 28 percent from the field, 56 percent on free throws and was 0 for 5 on three-pointers.
According to Jonathan Givony at DraftExpress.com, Nelson is eligible for the 2012 NBA draft, but he isn't expected to be selected.
Last season the 6-9 forward was UCLA's leading scorer (13.9 points per game) and rebounder (9.1) and chosen first-team All-Pac-10.
Before the season, Nelson was featured on a Sports Illustrated cover and was considered one of the brightest stars in the Pac-12. He drew comparisons to former UCLA star Kevin Love.
However, things turned quickly and Nelson began to torpedo a promising career.
On Nov. 15, UCLA suspended Nelson for two days and he sat out one game after he was late for a team meeting and exhibited behavior that was deemed insubordinate.
After being reinstated Nov. 16, Nelson missed the team flight to Hawaii three days later where the Bruins played in the Maui Invitational. He lost his starting job and was a reserve in the next five games. He tallied a season-high 12 in a 72-56 loss to Kansas.
Rupp Arena, Kentucky's famed basketball home since 1976, has survived the wrecking ball.
Instead being razed and replaced, Rupp Arena will be renovated. Lexington officials plan to spend more than $250 million renovating the downtown arena and building a new convention center to would anchor a 46-acre arts and entertainment district.
"The renovation will maintain the historic character while maintaining the gold standard that is expected of Rupp Arena, both architecturally and symbolically," the city's task force wrote in its final report.
…Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari said a renovated Rupp Arena would meet his program's need for a "gold standard" of a venue.
"I want to make sure whatever my players touch is state of the art and the best in the country," Calipari told the Herald-Leader. LOL "historic character"
To imagine college basketball today without the dunk is like imagining college basketball played by guys in short shorts. It’s silly. You could sell 21st-century fans on games played on Mars before you could sell them on games without dunks.
But I have one question. Are we certain that college basketball had it wrong from 1967 through 1976? Not from a marketing standpoint, but from a basketball standpoint.
Is dunking fair? Defenders can’t touch the rim or even the net. It’s goaltending if they do. But a certain offensive player — the guy with the ball — can touch the rim. The dunk is basically a suspension of a long-existing rule.
In the same way that Jabbar (as Lew Alcindor) provoked a rule change (no dunking), Bob Kurland of Oklahoma A&M in the 1940s provoked a rule. Goaltending. The rim became neutral territory. A veritable Switzerland. Stay away from it. Can’t touch a shot on its way down, and can’t touch the rim or the ball when it’s on the rim. It’s a great rule. It’s a rule that has to exist, for the game to continue in any form of sanity.
And yet, that rule is suspended in the name of marketing. Dunks, which by definition are offensive goaltending, which by definition are someone with their hand on the rim or their hand on the ball while it’s on the rim, are allowed.
I’m not arguing to go back. It would be a marketing disaster, in college and the NBA. Fans have come to expect dunks. Fans have come to demands dunks. Dunks are much like the extra step on layups. They’ve become part of the game, in the name of offense, and to change things would disrupt the cosmos too much. An entire cottage industry within the NBA exists on dunking.
The Dunk Doctors are in the NBA now, not on college campuses, and dunks A’s popularity are a reason for the NBA’s popularity of the last 30 years. Julius Erving, Michael Jordan, LeBron James. Generation after generation of stars have soared through the air, thrown down the ball and lit up NBA box offices. You don’t go messing with that cash cow.
But just remember what the dunk is, at the core. A suspension of the rules. An exception to the accepted order of the game.
On Saturday, students from Brigham Young were assessed a technical foul for misbehavior during its game against St. Mary's College. Numerous spectators engaged in throwing garbage and other objects onto the court during and after the game, which St. Mary's won 80-66.
At the conclusion of the game, more boos showered officials and hundreds of objects were thrown by spectators.
BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe issued a statement Monday via email to encourage fans to show better sportsmanship, but no formal apology has been issued.
BYU students contractually promise to "respect others" and "use clean language," then act the opposite, and no one has to apologize?
It's a perfect example of casting the mote out of your brother's eye when you've got a beam in your own eye.
USU students heckled players, and the university issued a formal apology for its students' actions. Consider the mote cast out of the eye. BYU students physically attack officials, and the university emailed its student body and stated, "We cannot engage in poor sportsmanship."
But the Wildcats brought it at their end, too. Combined, the teams were 30 of 93 from field, and 4 of 32 from 3-point range.
..Both teams had a chance to win before the second overtime. Jesuit’s Xavier Coleman missed a short runner just before regulation ended, sending the game into overtime tied at 33-33. Then Lucas, who hit eight consecutive free throws during regulation and led Westview with 17 points, missed two foul shots during the first overtime, which ended at 35-35.
Our northern neighbors of Canada have been producing a steady stream of elite basketball prospects recently and St. Benedict’s Prep guard Tyler Ennis may be the best of the bunch in the Class of 2013. Nolan Shulman, the authority on Canadian prep basketball, certainly would agree with that assumption.
“He was routinely the best player on the floor at every stop on the circuit this summer,” Shulman, National Recruiting Analyst of Flagrant Fouls and Editor-in-Chief of the Ultimate Recruiting Handbook which concentrates on Canadian basketball prospects, told NBE this fall. “His overall floor game is as good as any Canadian point guard we’ve had in the last six years, a group that includes Junior Cadougan, Cory Joseph and Myck Kabongo. He understands the strengths of his teammates and always puts them in a position to be their best.”
…As for his recruitment Ennis tells NBE that there is no shortage of big-time college programs already in pursuit. His recruitment will likely continue to grown in stature as the St. Benedict’s season morphs into the anticipated AAU travel season, which will have college coaches back on the road beginning in April for the first time in several years.
“Arizona, Kansas, Syracuse, UConn, Memphis, Virginia, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Louisville, Villanova [and] NC State are the offers that have caught up with me recently,” said Ennis of what his recruitment is currently looking like.
The Class of 2012 received a significant boost Wednesday when Nerlens Noel (Everett, Mass./Tilton), the No. 2 overall recruit in the Class of 2013, told ESPN.com that he will rejoin his original classification and graduate this spring.
The move will make Noel eligible to play college basketball this fall.
"I just thought over the season that I thought I was getting a higher level of competition and was working on my game," Noel said. "I reclassified because I was hurt but I feel like I'm ready to play at the next level."
Two weeks ago, Noel was the dominant big man at the HoopHall Classic, which helped him make his decision.
"I kind of put me over the top but it was on my mind for a while," Noel said.
Noel and Jabari Parker (Chicago, Ill./Simeon) were battling for the top spot in a loaded 2013 class. With the change, Noel could pass Shabazz Muhammad (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman) and take over the No. 1 spot in the Class of 2012.
Noel has already been to Providence and Connecticut and will visit Syracuse on Feb. 11.
"I'm ready to do it. It's a short window of time to pick a school and that's a concern to get out there and visit and maintain all my schoolwork," Noel said.
Noel said he will also visit Kentucky, Florida, Georgetown and North Carolina.
National Prep School Invitational Feb 2-5 schedule and live stream
Nike EYBL Schedule
Check here for the NCAA Recruiting Calendar
ESPN HS TV schedule
My 2011 Legends of the Phog, KC Prep Invitational, KU Alumni games, & Jayhawk Invitational Videos now on Youtube