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Bill Self was fuming. His screams were laced with profanities. His face was red.
The outburst had started suddenly, after a technical foul on his most talented player. But now the anger was persisting. For an entire minute — and then most of another.
“This was an emotional deal,” Self said.
In Self’s world, most everything has a purpose. Words are crafted. Messages to players are calculated. But late on Friday night, after his top-seeded Kansas Jayhawks had dispatched No. 5 seed Iowa State 88-73 in the Big 12 Tournament semifinals at the Sprint Center, Self stood in a back hallway and let the world know a little secret. His first-half tirade was no mad-scientist power play. This was raw emotion, a coach fighting for his players.
“That was a ‘Mad T,’” Self said. “That was a ‘Mad T.”
If the outburst was unintentional, it also happened to be another stroke of genius.
…“I didn’t agree with the technical call on Ben at all,” Self said, “and certainly didn’t agree with the explanation. But John called it, and I should live with it probably more than what I did.”
But something happened after Self’s tirade — something that filtered down to the middle of KU’s bench. Iowa State had arrived on Friday night looking for payback, out to prove that KU’s first two victories over the Cyclones were the product of fluke shots and missed calls. Seventh-ranked Kansas, meanwhile, was just looking for confirmation.
And when Self freaked, the Kansas players took notice.
“We were gonna go out and play our heart out for him,” KU senior Travis Releford said.
In a feverish and emotional building, Kansas, 28-5, finished the first half on a small run, taking a 35-31 lead into the locker room. In the second half, with freshman Perry Ellis leading the way with a career-high 23 points, the Jayhawks simply took control.
…“It’s motivating for us,” Withey said, “to be able to go out there, on a neutral floor, and show them we’re Kansas and there are no flukes.”
This may have been the most unlikely night of all for Perry Ellis to change Kansas’ basketball team and alter what is possible for the Jayhawks the next three weekends. You don’t expect the quiet kid to be so comfortable in a brawl. Freshmen who disappear in tougher games aren’t supposed to dominate the toughest one so far.
A record crowd gave KU and Iowa State a standing ovation before they even tipped off, the hype and taunts and controversies from two classic games during the regular season making the third feel like a planned after-school fight. Nobody could’ve figured this would be Ellis’ night to blueprint Kansas’ national title hopes in what would turn out to be the No. 7 Jayhawks’ 88-73 win over Iowa State in the Big 12 Tournament semifinals.
By the time it was over on Friday, the KU fans in the crowd at the Sprint Center had chanted Ellis’ name at least two different times. He spun and he dribbled and he pushed back and he dunked. Before Friday, he had dunked twice all season. Against Iowa State, he dunked three times.
Ellis scored 23 points and missed just two shots. It was a perfect performance, or at least as close to perfect as you can be in a hectic college basketball game this time of year. TV kept him on the court after the handshakes. His name made it around the world on social media. He waved to the crowd and smiled as he ran off the court.
“It was just my turn,” he would say.
If this is the new Ellis, then this is a new Kansas team. A much better one. The talent has always been there. One of the facts of KU basketball is a big margin for error. Most places can’t live with a five-star recruit scoring five points a game on 42 percent shooting.
At Kansas, they win a ninth consecutive conference title that way and wait for him to grow into an All-America-level talent.
KC Star Mellinger
If Ellis were in the middle of thousands of people with a tornado in the distance, heading their way, he would be easy to pick out of the crowd. He would be the one who sports the face of a young man playing a video game, impervious to his surroundings. When his basketball playing days are over he might want to take up poker. His face tells nothing, but his ears must have been working just fine because they obviously heard what the coach said and his eyes saw the anger behind the words. Ellis’ stoic exterior notwithstanding, an “I’ll show him” fire had been lit.
Later in the half, the emerging freshman who led Wichita Heights to four state titles, showed the sort of stuff that made him the all-time leading scorer in Wichita's City League history for a brief stay until KU recruit Conner Frankamp pushed him into second place.
…If Ellis continues to produce, he’ll put smiles on so many faces, just not his own.
“That’s just him. He doesn’t show any expression at all,” Releford said. “He’s been that way the whole season. Even after the game when we tried to rally around him, he still had the same expression, like he didn’t go out there and have a 20-plus game. If he continues to play hard and play the way he’s been playing, we’re going to be tough to beat.”
Releford didn’t gain as much acclaim in high school, but he garnered a pretty decent buzz himself playing for Bishop Miege.
“I told him it’s a tough transition coming from high school,” Releford said. “With him being a McDonald’s All-American you have all the hype, and to come in and not get what he expected right away, I told him at Kansas you have to learn, you have to learn all the ins and outs of what coach Self wants from you and once you do that, the sky’s the limit for you.”
In the first 26 games, Ellis averaged 13.1 minutes, 4.3 points and 3.4 rebounds and made 39 percent of his shots from the field, 66 percent from the line. In the last seven, he has averaged 16.3 minutes, 10.1 points and five rebounds and has been a 65-percent shooter from the field and a 95-percent shooter (21 of 22) from the line. Obviously, he’s more than a straight-A student in the classroom, which is what he was in high school.
“Our whole deal with him is to be aggressive, be aggressive,” Self said. “He’s one of the those kids that as soon as you say run, he’ll run faster. As soon as you say jump, he’ll jump higher. … Tonight they played behind him on the post and he was able to get catches. And that’s what he can do. I mean, he played great. But the plays he made are plays that I think he can consistently make if he just stays aggressive and stays confident.”
Honestly, Iowa State seemed to be the most amped for the first semifinal game Friday at the Big 12 Tournament.
Fuming over bad calls in its last matchup with Kansas, as well as blowing an opportunity to upset the Jayhawks in Allen Fieldhouse, virtually every Cyclone declared the showdown with KU a grudge match.
Little did they know Bill Self would step in and light the biggest fire.
Self lost his temper, maniacally, and yet swung momentum as Kansas stomped Iowa State, 88-73.
Self’s angry rant became an instant classic. The expressions, the positions, the language — detectable even for those not versed in lip reading — were all priceless.
…To gain control, the Jayhawks needed to match the emotional pitch that fueled the Cyclones to an early eight-point lead.
In providing the spark, Self borrowed a little from Earl Weaver, without going as far as Bobby Knight.
The meltdown began with 9:39 left in the first half. Ben McLemore was slapped with a technical after making a 3-pointer in front of the Iowa State bench. McLemore was cited for something unsportsmanlike by referee John Higgins, though the Big 12 declined to let a pool reporter speak to the crew afterward.
“I didn’t agree with the technical call on Ben at all,’’ said Self, “and certainly didn’t agree with the explanation.’’
The crew took almost two minutes (clock time, not actual) of excessive heat from Self, who was upset the T resulted in McLemore’s second foul.
“Certainly at that moment,’’ said Self, “when it takes your best player out of the game and gets him his second foul, that’s a pretty big play.’’
In any other workplace, there would have been enough violations to take Self to the H.R. office and sit him in a corner.
At Sprint Center, Self not only stayed in the game, he helped decide it by inspiring his team.
“He didn’t do it for no reason. It worked,’’ senior guard Elijah Johnson said.
…Tyler Self, a walk-on guard who happens to share the same address as the KU coach, has heard his dad bark before. At one point, Tyler even helped restrain Bill on the sideline. Later in the half, at the end of a timeout, Tyler was actually chatting on the floor with Higgins. Maybe he informed the ref his dad is not a madman.
Asked if he has ever seen his father that mad, Tyler said, “Probably. Not in recent memory, though.’’
With four minutes and forty seconds left in Perry Ellis’ career game, Naadir Tharpe looked to throw an entry pass to his smoldering hot freshman.
But the freshman was wise enough to know it wouldn’t end well.
“No, no , no,” Ellis yelled.
Tharpe obliged and swung the ball to Travis Releford on the wing. A few seconds later, Tharpe was in the same situation. But this time Ellis had position and Tharpe had a passing lane.
The pass was made, and Ellis turned and scored while a whistle was blown. Ellis made the free throw to give the Jayhawks a 12-point lead over Iowa State.
“He’s learning angles,” KU assistant Norm Roberts said. “At Wichita in high school he wasn’t playing against the type of players he’s playing against. It’s a learning experience.”
One of Roberts’ particular duties is to work with KU’s big men, and perhaps that’s why he wasn’t surprised in Ellis’ 23-point outburst. He wasn’t surprised that Ellis helped lead the Jayhawks to their 88-73 win over Iowa State in semifinals of the Big 12 Tournament.
“There are times in practice where he’s unbelievable,” Roberts said. “He’s the best player out there, but that will be a short spurt.”
…Ellis played a season-high 28 minutes and was 10-12 from the field after Kevin Young was forced to watch most of the game for the bench due to a leg injury.
“I just tweaked my leg a little bit,” Young said. “I’m fine.”
Question: If Kansas and/or Miami wins their conference tournament, would either/both be ahead of Duke on the seed line? Me thinks so.
K-State vs KU in KC? 46 of 49 won by KU?…biggest game in Sunflower State Rivalry since Elite 8 in 1988 #AMIRIGHT? #EMAW #KUBB
I like KU over K-State again, but truly it might come down to fatigue. Lot of talk about how tired OSU was today. Who survives? KU-KSU?
McGruder made eight of 14 shots while showing off the skills that made him an all-Big 12 first-team selection. He drove to the basket for layups, he caught passes in mid-air for alley-oop dunks, he got the free-throw line, he sank mid-range jumpers, he hit a three-pointer and he grabbed nine rebounds.
Clearly, he wanted another shot at a tournament title. The Wildcats will take on the Jayhawks, which beat Iowa State on Friday, for the championship at 5 p.m. Saturday.
“We have a shot, but I’ve been here before,” McGruder said. “You can’t get excited. You just have to keep your poise and go in there ready to play.”
“I still remember it three years ago,” added senior Jordan Henriquez. “I was cheering my guys on. It was one incredible year and I was just a freshman. I was able to spectate and be able to see what it looked like and how it felt to be out there playing for a Big 12 championship. Even though our guys fell short, we feel like we have another shot.”
Kansas swept K-State in the regular season, but both teams tied for the Big 12 championship with 14-4 league records. The Wildcats have said they didn’t enjoy sharing that trophy with their in-state rival, and have said winning a prize they can keep all to themselves supplied them with motivation them this week.
“This is for all the marbles,” K-State guard Shane Southwell said, “to break the tie that was in the regular season.”
Both teams finished 14-4 in the regular season, which made them co-champions by Big 12 rules. Since then, the Wildcats have heard from some who contend the championship should have an asterisk because the Jayhawks won both regular-season meetings.
“A lot of people feel like we didn’t deserve it because they swept us,” Spradling said. “We need to go out there and show that we earned a piece of that.”
…“They’re just another great team we’re going to face, just like Oklahoma State, just like Baylor,” K-State guard Angel Rodriguez said. “They are well coached and they really play together. They’re a great team. They’re better than a lot of teams, pretty much all the teams in our league, but we can compete with anybody.”
BOTTOM LINE: The better seeded team has won four straight Big 12 tournaments, and Kansas, 8-1 in tournament finals, has won five in a row. Bet against Kansas at your risk.
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A record crowd of 19,610 filled the Sprint Center for the semifinals.
Kansas in Big 12 championship games
1997: Kansas (1 seed) 87, Missouri (10) 60
1998: Kansas (1) 72, Oklahoma (3) 58
1999: Kansas (3) 53, Oklahoma State (5) 39
2002: Oklahoma (2) 64, Kansas (1) 55
2006: Kansas (2) 80, Texas (1) 68
2007: Kansas (1) 88, Texas (3) 84, OT
2008: Kansas (2) 84, Texas (1) 74
2010: Kansas (1) 72, Kansas State (2) 64
2011: Kansas (1) 85, Texas (2) 73
Kansas State in Big 12 championship games
2010: Kansas (1) 72, Kansas State (2) 64
3/15/13, 9:09 PM
Marcus Smart passes on the pregame handshake with Will Spradling during starting lineups. No love lost here.
Calipari no longer sits on the top spot of the all-overpaid list, which he occupied the previous two years. His long-coveted national championship last season pushed him down into the No. 2 spot. The new champion: Missouri head coach Frank Haith. Now in his second year with the Tigers after a seven-year run at Miami, Haith has two NCAA tournament appearances on his resume, none past the second round. His .611 career winning percentage is 80 points below that of the typical million dollar-plus coach. At $1.6 million, Haith’s salary is comparable to those of Josh Pastner of Memphis, John Thompson III of Georgetown and Mike Montgomery of California, all of whom have put up better career numbers.
Following Haith and Calipari in the overpaid parade: Baylor’s Scott Drew (.573; three tourney appearances in 11 years, $1.76 million), Michigan’s John Beilein (.612; seven tournaments in 21 seasons; $2.3 million), and, yes, Louisville’s Rick Pitino, whose impressive 27-year college career includes five appearances in the Final Four and a national championship at Kentucky in 1996. Still, at a whopping $4.8 million, Pitino’s salary is out of whack with other top coaches.
Yes, you can be a great coach and still be overpaid. The state of Kentucky’s two biggest stars can attest to that.
Forbes Most Overpaid Coaches 2013
Pressey says Miz will have no confidence issues going forward, "next game" in NCAA "is for all the marbles ... We're going in to win it all"
Pressey's comments come off as laughable and immature, especially after the team lost yet another close game after controlling play for most of the contest.
Sure it is good to hear that the team's leader is confident, but he is unrealistic as well.
Nobody, even the most passionate of Mizzou fans, believes that this Tigers team can win six pressure-packed games in a row, which is what it takes to win the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers can not even beat a very mediocre Ole Miss team, so why would anybody expect Mizzou to beat the nation's elite on the grandest stage?
Pressey's comments may symbolize the main issue this team has had all season long. This Mizzou team thinks it is better than it really is and won't completely sell-out and do the work and make the sacrifices necessary to fix the issue.
Pressey's failures during late-game situations are proof.
St Louis Sports Minute
A towel draped over his head and his eyes filled with tears, sophomore guard Ryan Harrow sat in a despondent Kentucky locker room Friday night and tried to make sense of a performance that likely sealed the Wildcats’ postseason fate.
Harrow shouldered the blame for Kentucky’s ugly 64-48 loss to Vanderbilt in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament, a loss that may well keep the Wildcats out of the NCAA tournament for only the second time in the past 22 years.
“I didn’t start off well, and it just trickled down to everybody else. I apologize,” said Harrow, who suffered through a nightmarish 2-of-15 shooting night, many of his misses drives to the basket.
“Of course, we want to get to the [NCAA] tournament, because if we play well, we can beat anybody. I basically just messed it up for us.”
UCLA's chances of a deep NCAA tournament run took a major hit Friday when second-leading scorer Jordan Adams was lost for the season with a broken bone in his right foot.
Adams' injury occurred on the final play of the Bruins' 66-64 victory over Arizona in the semifinals of the Pac-12 tournament on Friday night.
Creighton joins new Big East
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