Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self hopes freshman Andrew Wiggins will be named 2014 Big 12 Conference Player of the Year when the league reveals its annual award winners Sunday.
“I don’t think there’s a clear-cut guy,” Self said, beginning a discussion on which individual player deserves the league’s top honor.
“You can make a case for (Iowa State’s DeAndre) Kane. You can make a case for (ISU’s Melvin) Ejim. If you do that, you have two guys you make a case for Big 12 player of the year that haven’t had the same (team) success we’ve had.”
KU has a three-game lead over Oklahoma and Texas in the league race with one remaining. Iowa State is four back.
“To me, with our team 14-3 and the next best team 11-6, to me it’s almost a logical no-brainer,” Self added of Wiggins netting the award. “I don’t believe his numbers blow anybody away. That’s not who he is. To be the best player on a team that’s had quite a bit of success in the league, I’d have a hard time going in any other direction, not that other players can’t play as well.
“If there’s no clear-cut choice, I really think the best player on the best team ... certainly that’s the case with him,” Self added.
Wiggins is 10th overall in the Big 12 in scoring (16.0 ppg) and 18th in rebounding (5.8 rpg). ISU’s Ejim leads the league in scoring at 18.4 ppg and is second in rebounding at 8.6 rpg. ISU’s Kane is seventh in scoring at 16.7 ppg and 11th in rebounding at 6.7 rpg.
“I don’t think his mind-set has ever been to be a scorer, but his mind-set is to fit in,” Self said of Wiggins. “To me, being aggressive enough to score that much when defenses would be designed to shut him down, I thought, would be hard to do. It hasn’t been.”
A good example of Wiggins not trying to pad his stats would be Wednesday’s 82-57 rout of Texas Tech. Wiggins had nine points in 23 minutes.
“His whole mind-set is, ‘Hey, we’re fine. We’re winning big. It doesn’t make any difference,’” Self said. “A lot of times guys make postseason honors and things like that because they put up numbers in games that don’t matter, because it helps their season stats. In a situation like this when the game was in hand, it doesn’t matter to Andrew. I think that’s one thing that’s really cool about him.”
With Kansas’ 7-foot center Joel Embiid injured, West Virginia has a better opportunity at a major upset Saturday afternoon.
To no surprise, the Mountaineers had their struggles with size this season. Against teams like Texas, Kansas and Baylor, teams known to have an advantage with size and some 7-footers, WVU had issues on the glass and with interior defense.
With Embiid out for the rest of the regular season with a back injury, the Mountaineers should have an easier time on the inside.
…WVU will need to make its open shots and contain KU’s guards with Embiid out. While I’m not saying the Jayhawks do not have lots of depth throughout their roster, Embiid is a big-time loss.
The Mountaineers must take advantage of it and try to attack the rim. If Embiid were to play, you could make a strong case for how mismatch issues could potentially affect the result.
For WVU, the loss of KU’s freshman center does wonders. It certainly makes the task of beating regular season conference champion Kansas a bit easier.
But then again, it’s easier said than done.
Freshman Devin Williams was one player who looked forward to taking a rejuvenated game to his friend Embiid, who most experts say will be one of the first players taken in June's NBA draft.
"I call him Jojo," Williams said. "I know him well."
They worked out together and played against one another in pickup games in Florida last year.
Williams was a senior in his only season at Montverde Academy. Embiid played his junior season the year there before he transferred to The Rock School, but remained close with his former Montverde teammates last year.
"When you're 7-1, 7-2 and you block shots like he does and you're as athletic as he is, you're a big impact in every game," the 6-9, 255-pound Williams said. "But whether he plays or doesn't play doesn't change what we have to do and what we've got to accomplish."
…None of Embiid's success comes as much of a surprise to Williams.
"I'd seen clips of him before I worked out with him, and a lot of it was just based on potential," Williams said. "But he's, like, 7-2. You can't teach size. You really can't. He's just so big. Any time you're playing against somebody who's four or five inches taller that you, it's good to get a workout and to try scoring against a big guy like that."
…Williams, who was first team all-state among Florida's many independent schools and helped Montverde win the 2013 National High School Invitational Championship, averages 8.3 points and 7.1 rebounds, but is only shooting 40 percent from the floor.
Williams takes and makes jump shots, but has had a hard time converting near the basket. He also has 47 turnovers, a lot for a low post player and more than every WVU player other than Juwan Staten and Eron Harris, who both play and handle the ball considerably more.
"I guess I've got to be more patient and take more selective shots," he said. "I think I rush it a little bit and get a little bit overaggressive sometimes. I've just got to learn to be patient and poised and make the right decisions. I can't be overaggressive, but I've got to continue to be aggressive."
Still, the Mountaineers conceded long ago they don't have anyone who can score inside. They aren't beholden to Williams scoring in the paint to make things easier on his teammates on the perimeter or even drawing defenders outside to open driving lanes for Staten. Huggins said WVU recruited Williams "because we thought Devin could be an elite rebounder."
"He's starting to understand his role more, and we definitely need him to be on the glass," Staten said. "Whether he's scoring points or not, being on the glass is something that he must do."
Charleston Daily Mail
VIDEO: Bonnie Bernstein conversation with Bill Self
ICYMI VIDEO: Bonnie Bernstein with a behind-the-scenes look at Allen Fieldhouse
LJW: Big 12 Supremacy, year-by-year look back
Nice video interview with Coach Harbaugh by local KC news in AFH. Article also included at link.
At no point this season have Kansas University women’s basketball players and coaches felt any lower than they did following their home loss to in-state rival Kansas State nine days ago. In a season full of self-inflicted setbacks, this one carried some shame with it, because the Jayhawks fell behind 21-0.
That same confounding start might actually have an upside, though, because KU gets a rematch with the Wildcats at 6 tonight in Oklahoma City, site of the Big 12 Tournament. Coach Bonnie Henrickson thinks her No. 8-seeded Jayhawks got a good draw in the No. 9 seed Wildcats.
“(It’s) another shot at ’em and a chance to make up for a game that we got off to such a poor start,” she said. “Plus, it’s a great opportunity for us to play another rivalry game in the tournament.”
Kansas (12-18) actually won on K-State’s home floor, 71-64, on Jan. 25, before losing eight of the next 10 games to end the regular season. Henrickson thinks the third meeting between the rival programs provides a unique opportunity.
“It’s two-fold, first of all, just the rivalry, and it’s the rubber match for this season after we both won on each other’s floors,” the coach said. “And then just the magnitude of the tournament. Somebody’s going home.”
Vote for Wiggs for the Wooden Award
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Big 12 / College News
TULSA!! CONFERENCE USA CHAMPIONS!!!
Florida Gulf Coast escapes with a 69-64 victory over ETSU and will host the A-Sun title game against either Mercer or USC Upstate.
3/7/14, 9:06 AM
Crazy stat: If UK loses at Florida, Wildcats will have 12 SEC losses in last two years -- same number Billy Gillispie had in his 2 seasons.
Last month, when the Canadian and U.S. Olympic men’s hockey teams faced off in Sochi, we here at Extra Mustard had a bit of a back and forth between American editor Sam Page and Canadian editor Dan Treadway. The Canadians won that one, and last night, towards the end of the first half between the Michigan/Illinois college basketball game, the Canadians might have scored another victory.
While the Illinois faithful were trying to taunt Canadian Nik Stauskas (who plays for Michigan) with chants of “USA,” the 20-year-old shooting guard buried a deep three to basically silence crowd.
And then he strutted off the court with a smirk on his face too. Damn.
Lost Lettermen (OK State fans did the same lame thing to Wiggins and Embiid in Stillwater.)
South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner announced on Thursday that coach Frank Martin has been suspended for Saturday's game at Mississippi State because of "inappropriate verbal communication" with an athlete.
Martin was caught on camera during Tuesday's loss to Florida cussing at freshman guard Duane Notice -- apparently yelling "Answer the f-cking question, a--hole!"
USA Today: Is college basketball coaching behavior in decline?
Q: What does it say that, during the so-called 'Year of the Freshman,' so many of the top-ranked teams and teams projected to earn high seeds in the NCAA tournament are veteran-laded squads, like yours? Does it show the importance of having experience on a roster?
A: Yes and no. I think there are certain guys who come in as freshmen and make an enormous impact during the year. We saw that here with Brad Beal, and what he did in the NCAA tournament. We lost to Louisville to get to the Final Four. He was a major part of that. I think you look at Anthony Davis and (Michael) Kidd-Gilchrist at Kentucky, what those two guys were able to do. You look at a guys like (Duke's) Jabari Parker, what he's been able to do. Tyler Ennis at Syracuse. I do think, certainly, as a coach you want it all. You want a talented, experienced player. But if a guy doesn't have experience and is really, really, really talented and he's a competitor, he can still make a huge impact. I think Joel Embiid has done that (at Kansas). I think (Andrew) Wiggins has done that. Now, there are going to be some ups and downs. There are going to be some growing pains, things they're going to learn. Kansas might be 1, 2 or 3 in the RPI. They're playing a lot of young guys — (Wayne) Selden, Embiid, Wiggins — there are going to be some growing pains. But you know going into playing those teams, they're capable of beating anyone on any given night.
USA Today: Q&A with Billy Donovan
Hawai’i was in Santa Barbara last night to play a college basketball game when a moronic douche bro was spotted in a most unnatural element.
Most of the time, moronic douche bros can be found somewhere near the keg at a local house party, or surrounded by 10 of their closest bros on whatever train car you happened to step onto on the way to some bangin’ club where they will not be admitted because they are douche bros.
Last night, a douche bro decided to break away from his pack and rush the basketball court by himself, to predictably terrible results. It all started when Brandon Spearman of Hawai’i was given a technical foul, and his coach Gib Arnold came out onto the floor to argue. Let’s let the video take it from here:
Over the next week-and-a-half, Las Vegas will be hosting four different conference basketball tournaments, beginning with the West Coast Conference at the Orleans Arena this week. Next week, the Pac-12 (MGM Grand Garden Arena), Mountain West (Thomas & Mack) and Western Athletic Conferences (Orleans Arena) will all have their champions crowned in Las Vegas as well. It’s evident that Vegas is a big enough draw to pull folks from Seattle to Albuquerque into town to support their teams.
Best of all for the traveling alumni and fans, betting action on all the games is taken at every sport book. That reminds us: Isn’t the NCAA involved in a lawsuit with the NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB to stop sports betting in New Jersey? Doesn’t it look bad for its case if it allows hundreds of student/athletes from over 40 different colleges to stroll through casinos that have legal books taking bets on their games?
To be clear, the NCAA has no jurisdiction over conference tournaments. The conferences can do what they want, and what they want is full crowds from the participating schools. San Jose or Anaheim can’t help the draw, but Vegas can. Disneyland is magical, but once a decade is usually enough for most folks.
If the NCAA did have control, these tournaments would not be taking place in Las Vegas, with the possible exception of the Mountain West since one of its members calls the city home.
THE SQUAD OF FBI agents rolled up to the Houston town house in full arrest mode. They broke into pairs, fanning out to cover three doors and several windows that looked like escape routes. With everyone in place, the lead agent took a deep breath, gripped his service Glock and whispered into a tiny transmitter: "Execute."
Two firm knocks rattled the front door.
Inside, Brandon Johnson roused himself from sleep. It was April 9, 2011. His alarm clock read 5:50 a.m. Who the hell was hammering on his door at this hour?
"Brandon Johnson, this is the FBI!"
Johnson climbed out of bed in his boxer shorts and opened the curtains to see a dozen men in blue-and-gold flak jackets surrounding his house. He rushed to his front door, where an agent not much older than the 24-year-old Johnson was waiting with the Glock squared right at him.
Johnson tried not to panic: The cops were always arresting the wrong people, he reasoned. The best thing to do was to follow their orders and straighten it out when everyone was calm. So he threw on some clothes, let them cuff him and took a ride in the backseat of their sedan to their Houston headquarters.
Moments later, he sat in a locked interrogation room, and the young agent walked in with a laptop. He set it on the table and started to play a recording. Johnson heard his voice coming out of the computer.
Uh-oh, he thought. This is gonna be bad.
ESPN the Magazine: Portrait of a point-shaver
Billion Dollar Bracket signups begin
Big XII composite schedule (includes results, highlights, stats)
ESPN College GameDay Schedule
2013-14 TV Schedule
Had a great time in Lawrence these past two days! Thank you so much Jayhawk Players,staff,fans,and board for making it worth while!
The quickness, power and raw athletic ability of Cliff Alexander’s game is stunning. Watch Alexander play for 32 minutes and the sports fan in everyone takes over. This season’s controversies recede into the background, and all that remains is a greedy wish to see his next astounding athletic feat.
Alexander, the Sun-Times Player of the Year, traveled the country this season and provided high school basketball fans with countless memorable dunks, blocks and even rebounds. The Curie senior is poised to become a top-five NBA draft pick after just one year at Kansas. Alexander and Young’s Jahlil Okafor, last season’s player of the year, are considered Chicago’s best big men since King’s Thomas Hamilton and Rashard Griffith in 1995. For the next 20 years, area big men likely will be compared to Alexander and Okafor — Alexander as the gold standard for speed, power and athleticism; Okafor for technique, poise and polish. “[Alexander] was absolutely physically dominant in terms of strength and explosiveness, and everything he did was to help his team win,” said Frank Burlison, one of the most respected basketball scouts in the country. “There was nobody close to him in terms of how well he played when I watched him this year, and there is nobody like Alexander that will be in college basketball next year.” -
…It took Alexander, a 6-9 forward, four years of hard work to get to that point. He arrived at Curie as a 6-6 overweight freshman with no basketball skills. In fact, he had played more football than hoops. He didn’t turn to basketball until eighth grade. “When we first saw him, it was like watching Bozo,” Condors coach Mike Oliver said. “He couldn’t run. He couldn’t even catch the ball.” Despite the lack of ability, Alexander was recruited heavily out of junior high — by high schools and gangs. “His mother was looking for a situation where she could get him out of the community he lived in [West Garfield Park],” Oliver said. “It’s not the best place to raise a kid. He’s been a target for gangs, they want to recruit him, they are always looking for some big guys for protection.”
Latillia Alexander, Cliff’s mother, figured that Curie was in a more stable neighborhood and that it was close enough to home but far enough away to keep him out of trouble. Oliver took Alexander under his wing. He drove him to school every day and taught him the game. “[Oliver] has been tremendous over these last four years,” Latillia said. “He’s always been there for Cliff.”
Alexander learned how to dunk freshman year. He mastered the basics. His mother started to notice the improvements his sophomore year. “He couldn’t hit a layup freshman year, so I was surprised with how he started playing,” Latillia said. The summer after his junior year, Alexander exploded into the national rankings, and the recruiting circus began. It ended in November, when Alexander picked up an Illinois hat, put it down and put on a Kansas hat. After the news conference, Alexander said his teammates had told him to pull the trick. Alexander doesn’t want to discuss the incident anymore. Oliver wants to set the record straight. “I’m really upset with Illinois people,” Oliver said. “The hat trick was an honest mistake. That kid was so nervous he didn’t know what hat he was putting on. He lied to make it look like he wasn’t doing something stupid. That wasn’t Cliff. He made a mistake. He was nervous, so he told a lie, which is what children do.”
Oliver said that Alexander never had any ill will toward Illinois. In fact, Oliver said that an hour before the announcement, Alexander told him he wanted to go to Illinois, that. “He talked to me that morning and said he wanted to go to Illinois,” said Oliver. “I don’t know what happened in that last hour.”
After the news conference, Alexander told Oliver that he thought Kansas coach Bill Self could get him to the NBA quicker than Illinois coach John Groce. “Illinois was my first option and the place I wanted to go for a long time,” said Alexander. “But Bill Self and his history of developing players made the decision.”
High school basketball players are more accustomed than ever to dealing with the media. Many high-level players are polished quote machines by their sophomore year, confident and smiling in front of television cameras. That isn’t Alexander. “Cliff has had about 24 months to learn to deal with stardom,” Oliver said. “Jabari [Parker] and [Jahlil] Okafor, they were born into stardom. With Jabari, his dad was an NBA player, so he was going to be an NBA player. Okafor’s cousin was an NBA player, so he was going to be an NBA player. Cliff doesn’t have that background. It’s a difference in background. All Cliff had was negativity, and those other kids had positivity. He had plenty to be nervous about.”
Eventually, Alexander will become more media-savvy. He’ll have plenty of guidance with that at Kansas. High school had to be about basketball. There was no other choice. “It’s a great story,” Oliver said. “A kid that’s not as talented as the other kids but improves so much and works so hard on the court that he becomes one of the best players ever in Chicago high school basketball. It’s just remarkable.”