It’s hard to make an exact comparison to other situations, but I will restate what I wrote on Twitter after the Jayhawks finished their scintillating comeback against West Virginia to clinch the outright Big 12 title: This streak, 11 years in a row and counting, is one of the most impressive in all of sports. That’s right, not just college hoops. I’m talking all of sports.
When you think about trends in college basketball over the last two decades, the number one thing that comes to mind is the proliferation of underclassmen departures to the NBA draft. More recently, the number of players who transfer between programs has spiked dramatically. So the hardest thing is to sustain a high level of success. Yet, Self has done it not just a couple of times, but 11 freakin' times in a row.
Shoot, it’s incredible that Kansas was able to win a title in the Big 12 just this year. In case you’ve forgotten, this team lost two players who were chosen among the top three picks in the NBA draft. It also lost its starting point guard, senior Naadir Tharpe. The current recruiting class is pretty good, but nowhere near the caliber of last year’s. Moreover, KU played that game Tuesday night against West Virginia without freshman forward Cliff Alexander, who is sitting out because of an NCAA issue, and its best player, Perry Ellis, who missed the second half because of a knee injury. Granted, the Mountaineers were also down two starters, but the Jayhawks still erased an 18-point second-half deficit to win and clinch the conference title outright.
My buddy over at CBSSports.com, Gary Parrish, told me that the next longest conference streak in America is two. That’s right, two. When this streak ends, it is unlikely we will ever see anything like it again. What Bill Self has done in Lawrence isn’t just impressive, it’s historic. And in today’s day and age, it should be darn near impossible.
SI Seth Davis
Big 12 VIDEO: Part Two Behind the Scenes With Coach Bill Self
Self: Selden's ankle is also not 100% & he will not practice today… Adds: Maybe we'll tweak some things at OU & have fun w/ it #KUbball
3/5/15, 12:16 PM
Asked Self if he would rest Frank Mason against Oklahoma with the other guys out ... he said Mason could rest on Sunday and Monday.
3/5/15, 12:19 PM
Self on Landen Lucas’ block at the end of regulation: “That was a stud play…And it won the league."
3/5/15, 6:17 PM
Finally got to play some country music in the weight room today, I know the guys loved it haha it kinda felt like my birthday.
On Tuesday night, Kansas celebrated another Big 12 championship after beating West Virginia 76-69 in overtime, and when the merriment had shifted to the Jayhawks’ palatial locker room, Kansas coach Bill Self searched for little-used junior forward Hunter Mickelson.
“You did good,” Self said, “But you always knew you would.”
“Of course,” Mickelson answered.
It was an unscripted moment between Self and a transfer who has played fewer minutes than he ever anticipated — but had just helped the Jayhawks clinch the outright Big 12 title with a perfectly timed performance.
With freshman forward Cliff Alexander missing his second straight game because of an NCAA issue — and leading scorer Perry Ellis sitting the second half because of a knee injury — Mickelson finished with eight points and two rebounds in 13 minutes. With the Jayhawks facing the prospect of a stunning home loss, Mickelson blocked two shots and recorded three steals while generally playing like a player who had not played a minute in 11 previous Big 12 games.
“We kind of needed to lock down,” Mickelson said on Thursday. “We were down for most of the game. That was kind of the deal. Defense leads to offense.”
…Moving forward, Mickelson’s playing time will likely hinge on Alexander’s status and Ellis’ health. But he should have an opportunity to prove his worth on Saturday, when the Jayhawks face Oklahoma with what will likely be just three available players in the frontcourt.
“We’ve seen (Hunter) for almost two years and he’s a very good player,” said Lucas, who could also see extended playing time on Saturday. “And I think that the time at Arkansas definitely showed that he’s capable of playing at a very high level. So it’s great to have somebody like that.”
For the moment, Mickelson says he’s still happy with his decision to come to Kansas. A Liberal Arts major, Mickelson said he’s on track to graduate next year, which means he’ll have one more season to earn a larger role.
“I’m happy here,” Mickelson said. “Like I say, I’ve kept a great attitude. The guys have been great, and everyone I’ve been surrounded by is good people. I’m definitely happy.”
Self confirmed Thursday that KU junior forward Perry Ellis won’t play after suffering a sprained right knee against WVU.
“He’s responding well to treatment and just exactly what the doctors said the other day. Hopefully in a week we’ll know if he can get out there and play,” Self said. “So not anything that’s been negative whatsoever. We’ll just have to wait and see, but hopefully by next Tuesday or so we’ll have a better feel on what his status will be for the Big 12 Tournament.”
Self also said there was no update on Alexander. The freshman forward has sat out KU’s past two games while the NCAA investigates an issue that could affect his eligibility.
“The chances of him playing on Saturday from our estimation, based on the little bit of information that we have, would be very slim right now,” Self said.
The NCAA’s investigation into the eligibility of Kansas freshman Cliff Alexander is related to possible impermissible benefits received by at least one member of Alexander’s family from a third party, a source has told The Star.
Alexander, a 6-foot-8 freshman forward from Chicago, has missed two games after the NCAA alerted KU of the issue last week.
Yahoo! Sports reported Thursday evening that the possible impermissible benefits stemmed from a possible relationship with an NBA agent.
Kansas coach Bill Self said Thursday that Alexander was unlikely to play on Saturday at Oklahoma and there was no update on the case. Self previously expressed hope that the situation could be resolved by this weekend. Self has declined comment on specifics of the case.
How can anyone make sense of this chaos? On any given night, every team in the Big 12 can look national title good, NIT bad, and everything in between. What started as a curiosity ended up an obsession: WHO THE HELL IS THE SECOND-BEST TEAM IN THE BIG 12???
And then it hit me: Maybe the answer has been right in front of my face the whole time. Maybe the second-best Big 12 team is the one program I never considered. Maybe it’s Kansas, and maybe the best team is someone else. Sure, the Jayhawks won the conference title, but even Kansas fans will admit this team isn’t that special. What if another team is actually better than Kansas and the Jayhawks only won the Big 12 because it’s impossible to beat them in Allen Fieldhouse? What if they were just luckier with injuries? Or what if the Big 12 suits rigged the title race because a conference whose slogan is “One True Champion” can’t have a four-way tie for the basketball crown right after a tie for the football title kept the Big 12 out of the playoffs?
Even if Kansas really is the best team, the Big 12 POY can’t go to a Jayhawk. There’s no way to justify giving it to Frank Mason over Georges Niang, Buddy Hield, or Rico Gathers. And Perry Ellis can’t get it because I’m pretty sure the Big 12 bylaws state that the POY can’t be someone who was hated by half of his own team’s fan base two months ago. So let’s stick with the theory that Kansas isn’t the best team, let’s figure out who the best team is, and let’s give the Big 12 POY to the best player on that team. If we’re ruling out Kansas, it’s hard to argue against Iowa State, because the Cyclones are second in the conference standings, which … well, I guess Oklahoma is, too. But Iowa State beat Oklahoma, and Oklahoma … beat Iowa State. Hmmm. Well, Baylor is only a game behind those two and the Bears swept the Cyclones. So maybe Baylor is the best team and the Big 12 POY should go to Rico Gaaaannnevermind — Baylor was swept by Oklahoma State, which was in turn swept by both Iowa State and Oklahoma. SON OF A BITCH.
Maybe Kansas really is the best team. Now that we’ve got that figured out, there’s just one tiny question left to answer: WHO THE HELL IS THE SECOND-BEST TEAM IN THE BIG 12???
Dunk City will not return to the NCAA tournament this March. Thompson missed the third FT, and FGCU falls 63-62 in the A-Sun semis.
Big 12 / College News
National Basketball Players Association general counsel Gary Kohlman said "quite likely the union will be taking a radically different position" than the NBA on the age issue, which will almost certainly be a contentious point between the sides when they sit down.
"If they were white and hockey players, they would be out there playing. If they were white and baseball players, they would be out there playing," Kohlman said. "Because most of them are actually African-American and are in a sport and precluded from doing it, they have to go into this absurd world of playing for one year.
"That's just total complete hypocrisy."
Kohlman made the remarks while appearing on a panel about college athletics at a sports law conference sponsored by the firm Cozen O'Connor.
Syracuse men's basketball coach Jim Boeheim was suspended nine games and his program will lose 12 scholarships over four years as part of sanctions issued Friday by the NCAA as the organization released findings from its investigation into the school.
As part of the penalties handed down, Boeheim will sit out the first nine ACC games of the 2015-16 season. In addition, Syracuse was placed on probation for five years, from March 2015 to March 2020. The men's basketball program was forced to vacate all wins in which ineligible players played from the 2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07, 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons. The program will not be forced to vacate its 2003 national championship.
In all, 108 wins will be vacated by the team, which drops Boeheim's career wins total from 966 to 858. Boeheim had been second on the list of all-time wins by a Division I men's basketball coach, but he now falls to sixth, behind Jim Calhoun.
Rico Gathers snared 11 rebounds and swatted four shots, but the pro scout watching Baylor's game at Oklahoma State didn't care.
To him, it was meaningless that the Bears forward led the nation in rebounds, and he didn't care that he'd learned to pass out of the post.
The comments he scribbled in his notepad weren't critiques of Gathers' shooting form or predictions about how he'd fare against standout NBA post players.
They were about whether Gathers had the ability to excel on Sundays in front 80,000 fans...in the NFL.
"I don't think there's any question he could do it," the scout said. "Tight end, defensive end...just look at him. He belongs on a football field."
That the 6'8", 280-pound Gathers has caught the attention of the NFL should hardly come as a surprise to anyone who has watched a Baylor basketball game the past three seasons.
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