KUAD: Kansas vs Oklahoma pregame notes
Audio: Coach Self on the Mike and Mike Show this morning
“I don’t know what else you do. This team has won. It is 19-3,” Self said. “We would take 19-3 before the season. Everybody would with the schedule we play. We’d take 19-3 right now. The problem is, we’ve played really poorly the last five days.
“We’ll get it back. We’ve got good players. We haven’t played as well as we should. We haven’t gotten them as prepared as we should the past week. Hopefully we’ll do a better job of getting a little mojo back going to Norman (for 3 p.m. game Saturday versus Oklahoma).”
…The Jayhawks, in compliance with NCAA rules on practice time, took their regularly scheduled day off Thursday — a day after opening 1-for-17 shooting and scoring just 13 first-half points versus the Horned Frogs (10-12, 1-8).
“The thing is,” Self said, “if we were going to have changes, we would have done that over Christmas break. You can’t change when you have one day of practice or two days of practice. You can tweak something or put something in that can help you a bit. The meat and potatoes ... that’s done.
“This is who we are. This is how we play. We do need to develop more of an identity we can hang our hat on,” added Self, who has complained about lack of toughness of late. “Still a lot of teams would like to be where we are at right now, although we are not happy at all where we are at because everything has happened negative in the last five days.”
By Thursday afternoon, Marcus Johnson had been inundated with calls. Family members. Friends. Old coaches. All concerned about his son’s state of mind.
“My phone has been ringing all day today,” Marcus said. “I had to shut it off to take a nap.”
It all reminded Marcus of a story from back when Elijah was in high school. He was a junior at Cheyenne High School, and he couldn’t make a shot all winter. The ball kept rimming out, and Elijah had to find other ways to help his team win.
“By season’s end, they were in the state tournament,” Marcus said.
There are more stories like that. Years ago, Marcus and Elijah left the family’s home base in Gary, Ind., to start a new life in Las Vegas. They did it by caring for each other, and working through the tough times. And that’s made the last few weeks difficult.
Elijah has drawn his fair share of pointed criticism — from KU coach Bill Self to the daily echo-chamber of social media — and for now, he hasn’t been able to emerge from the rut.
Marcus says his son may be putting too much pressure on himself. Elijah has always been a thinker. And the extra voices can just create more noise.
After the last week, the same might be said about the rest of the Jayhawks. These are uncharted waters for this fifth-ranked Kansas team, which followed a rare home loss against Oklahoma State with that debacle at TCU. Now a trip to Oklahoma awaits on Saturday.
…“Let him work it out. Because he will. He always does.”
What is it about this team that makes it so different from Self’s others, which all rebounded so well from tough losses? I racked my brain — dug through dead cells, piles of regret and the indestructible sweet tooth running around up there — in search of an answer. A basketball explanation would not suffice. It’s more than this team’s sub-standard point-guard play, more than the broken string of exceptional power forwards (Thomas Robinson, Marcus Morris, Darrell Arthur, a veteran Darnell Jackson, Julian Wright, Wayne Simien, Nick Collison/Drew Gooden).
Basketball reasons can explain Oklahoma State, not TCU. More is at play.
All I could come up with was that this is without question the nicest group of young men I have covered in eight seasons following Kansas basketball. The other rosters included some players who were rough around the edges, a few more than just the edges. You challenge the manhood of guys like that, tell them and the world they’re soft, and they’ll prove you wrong. Tell kinder men — that, by the way, is a compliment — they are soft, and they might just take it personally in the wrong way, withdraw into themselves and unwittingly prove you right.
TCU coach Trent Johnson was still hearing from friends across the country in calls, texts and emails late Thursday afternoon, a day after his Horned Frogs sent college basketball reeling with their upset of fifth-ranked Kansas at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.
But Johnson, 56, had already moved on. He was on the road recruiting with his assistants at 6:30 Thursday morning, giving him a tidy three hours of sleep in the wake of TCU's biggest win.
While Johnson was excited for his team, he had also moved on because one of those messages he received was that some of his players had missed class Thursday, while a couple others had their cars towed or slapped with a boot.
"Did I think some of this stuff could happen today? No question," he said. "But when this program is where it needs to be and we're winning and competing at a high level consistently, I won't have to worry about this stuff. Today, I'm not very happy and that's just the way it is. Right now, this is a teaching point."
For Johnson, this is just the first step toward what he hopes to accomplish at TCU. And part of getting there, he said, is learning how to handle prosperity. Never mind the stunning upset, which according to CBSSports.com's Jerry Palm, was the biggest in 20 years. He tweeted: "In terms of RPI difference between the teams, TCU's win is the biggest upset in the 20 years I've been tracking numbers."
Forget 20 years; Johnson has already forgotten.
"We have to learn how to deal with success," Johnson said. "That's part of being mentally tough. It's all part of the process in terms of how you deal with prosperity. You can't win on the floor if you're not winning socially and academically. There's no way around that. And these guys have to deal with it."
But the coach and his players were thrilled with a DMC-record crowd of 7,412, which included a spirited 1,100-seat student section. That made the court-storming at the final buzzer even sweeter.
…"Every guy should have been in class, on time," he added. "Every guy should have had some sleep. I don't care if we beat the Lakers last night. I don't care, that's just the way it is. I'm not being negative, these are just cold, hard facts."
FW Star Telegram
Both teams have lost their last two games, and like Kansas, Oklahoma suffered its worst loss of the season this week, an 83-64 embarrassment on the road at Iowa State.
That sets up Saturday's game with the seven-time defending Big 12-champion Jayhawks as either the best of times or the worst of time for the Sooners.
It's not a very reassuring thought to think of an angry Kansas team that will be coming to town and want to take out its frustration on an Oklahoma team that is currently going through its own struggles. On the other hand, you've got to think that the Sooners are due for a breakout game after two consecutive extraordinarily poor shooting performances at home against Kansas State and on Monday at Iowa State. And what a momentum swing that would create if the Sooners could be the third straight team to take it to perennial conference kingpin Kansas.
Here is something else to cause you to pause: The last time Kansas lost three baskeball games in a row in the same season was 2005 - the same year, incidentally, that OU last beat the Jayhawks in Norman. And the Sooners were the last team to hang a third consecutive loss on the Jayhawks. Before traveling to Norman that year, Kansas had suffered back-to-back losses to Texas Tech and Iowa State.
So the outlook for Saturday's Big 12 game with Kansas is suddenly not as gloomy as it once appeared. One thing is certain on Saturday: One of these two teams is going to break out of its losing slump. And if the Sooners are able to withstand the Kansas tornado certain to come their way from Kansas on Saturday afternoon, the threatening skies will begin to clear a bit over the second half of the conference schedule.
KUAD: WBB hosts WVU Saturday pregame notes
An Overland Park man whom a federal prosecutor once accused of selling marijuana to some members of the University of Kansas basketball team pleaded guilty Wednesday to his role in a drug conspiracy.
But neither Samuel Villeareal III, 33, nor the prosecutor who made the initial allegation mentioned anything about a KU sports connection during the hearing in Kansas federal court.
Villeareal pleaded guilty to a single drug conspiracy count and faces a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence.
“Are you pleading guilty today because you are indeed guilty as charged?” asked U.S. Magistrate Judge James P. O’Hara.
“Yes, sir,” Villeareal replied.
Authorities charged Villeareal and 43 others last year with conspiring over a four-year period to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine and more than 1,000 kilograms of “high grade” marijuana in Johnson and Douglas counties.
The KU angle never was part of the main drug case, court records showed.
VOTE for Wooden Award nominees McLemore & Withey
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Winners of the inaugural Naismith Student Section of the Year Award in 2012, the University of Kansas student section has advanced to the semifinal round of this year's contest with 15 other institutions vying for the top prize.
Jayhawk fans will now have a say in determining the most deserving student section by voting for the Naismith Student Section of the Year Award.
By visiting www.facebook.com/ILoveCollegeHoops, Kansas fans can vote once per day for the KU student section as the top student section in college basketball. Semifinal round voting, which has been reset to zero for the 16 semifinalists, is open through Feb. 22, 2013.
The top eight recipients from the semifinal round of public votes will be sent to the Naismith Awards Board of Selectors for a final vote. The Naismith Awards Board of Selectors will review criteria such as the student section's name and attendance, the total fan vote, as well as photos, video and a write-up submitted by the nominating school which will aid in determine the winning student section. Complete details on the selection process can be found at www.facebook.com/ILoveCollegeHoops.
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“I’m not in charge,” Walton said when asked if Howland’s time had run out in Westwood. “If I were, things would be different.”
Asked directly by ESPN play-by-play announcer Dave Pasch if he was a Howland fan, Walton said, “No.”
The conversation began with Walton saying UCLA had “the smallest footprint of any of the UC campuses” and then repeatedly making fun of the crowd size at Pauley Pavilion .
“They should just announce that everybody can come down closer and fill in the empty seats,” Walton cracked about the sparse audience.
Like skyscraper elevators that skip the number 13 in superstition, perhaps the next Associated Press and coaches' polls on Monday should start with No. 2. It would be symbolic in this season without a clear-cut best team to leave the top spot vacated, as no one really deserves it, and it also would alleviate the curse of No. 1 that seemingly inflicts every team to occupy it, almost instantly.\
For the fifth straight week, the top-ranked team in the nation lost. Indiana was the latest to fall from that perch, wasting an eight-point lead at Illinois in the final three minutes before losing 74-72. The Hoosiers became the latest "No. 1-and-done" when a complete defensive miscommunication on a inbounds from the baseline corner allowed an uncontested -- and I mean uncontested -- layup for the Illini win. It was such a screw-up that the Hoosiers didn't even react after it happened. They instantly knew how bad it was.
Iowa State lost a player when Maurice Jones, formerly of Southern California, failed to get academically eligible.
He was declared ineligible at USC, and never regained that eligibility. NCAA rules say a transfer must be in good academic standing before transferring.
Iowa State lost its appeal to the NCAA to declare Jones eligible.
Grantland: What Makes Larry Brown Run?
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2/7/13, 3:18 PM
Assistants from Kansas & Georgetown are watching 2014 G Rashad Vaughn today, @PeteKaffey tells @SNYtv
Then there were three. Aaron Gordon (Archbishop Mitty High School, San Jose, Calif.), Jabari Parker (Simeon Career Academy, Chicago, Ill.) and Andrew Wiggins (Huntington Prep, Huntington, W.Va.) constitute the remaining contenders for this year’s Naismith Boy’s High School Player of the Year, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced today. Parker has committed to play at Duke University for the 2013-2014 season, while Gordon and Wiggins remain undecided on a college choice.
The candidates were selected by basketball journalists from around the country, who form the Naismith Trophy national high school voting academy. The selections were based on player performances during the 2012-2013 basketball season. The winner will be recognized at the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Naismith Awards Banquet on Tuesday, March 19, 2013, in Atlanta.
The potential of Andrew Wiggins, the Canadian basketball phenom considered the best high school-aged player in the world, is layered in hyperbole.
Recruiting analyst Tom Konchalski says that Wiggins can be the "Michael Jordan of Canada." Former Canadian national team coach Leo Rautins says that Wiggins has the potential to be an NBA All-Star and, perhaps, someday battle for MVP. Steve Konchalski, Tom's brother and a long-time fixture with the Canadian national team, says that Wiggins can be the best player the country has ever produced.
Wiggins, a senior at Huntington (W.Va.) Prep, is choosing between Florida State, Kentucky, UNC and Kansas and is said to be leaning toward Florida State. The son of a former NBA player and a Canadian Olympic sprinter, no one will question the 6-foot-8 Wiggins' genes or athleticism.
But Wiggins must carry with him the burden of a country's basketball hopes, its legacy of underachieving players and a reputation for only playing hard when necessary.
"When the big games come, I show up," Wiggins said. "I'm more than ready to play. When we play a team I know we're going to blow out or anything like that, I'm not as motivated."
…Multiple people around Wiggins hinted that there's a chance he'd choose Florida State, where both his parents attended, for a more low key college experience. Fulford said that Huntington Prep played six games in the state of Kentucky this year and drew nearly 35,000 people total in those games.
"We played in North Carolina, we had seven or eight people in Carolina shirts," Fulford said, noting that North Carolina and Kansas are also suitors for Wiggins. "We're in Kentucky and we've sold out three 6,000 seat gyms. They're crazy. They're crazy in a good way. They show how much they want you. It's overwhelming. He just hates attention."
…As a proud Canadian with a strong affinity for the national team, Wiggins could become perhaps the country's brightest non-hockey sports star. "He can be a brand," said Tom Konchalski.
But there's already questions as to how the brand has been handled. Just three years ago, Wiggins spent two months at a school in North Carolina run by Ro Russell, the controversial Canadian AAU coach.
"The bottom line is that he was with me in North Carolina for a couple of months," Russell said of Wiggins. "That's all I have to say about the situation. I have no time for calls for people to do dumb investigative reports."
In a 45-minute documentary on a television show called the The Fifth Estate -- Canada's version of 60 Minutes -- former players at Christian Faith Academy, accuse Russell of asking them to make up documents in order to enter the United States and putting them in some courses that the NCAA wouldn't accept. (Watch the video here). The players claim they lived with little supervision, and when asking Russell when they'd attend class he'd tell them "next week." (The families claim in the video they thought they were attending Christian Faith Center Academy, a brick-and-mortar school in Creedmoor, N.C. Their payments went to Christian Faith Academy, which Russell called "my academy." The NCAA has no record of that school.)
At least two players there under Russell, Texas commit Kevin Thomas and Kansas commit Braeden Anderson, did not qualify academically after attending Russell's school. "Not even close," said a school official of the transcripts from Russell's school.
When asked about those two players, Russell referred back to The Fifth Estate video. "You're too late," Russell told SI.com. "They already did all that crap. They already had their turn. If you're going to call for that, it's a waste of time and old news."
The principal at Christian Faith Center Academy, Gloria McKain, declined comment on the extent of the school's involvement with Russell. According to the NCAA, Christian Faith Center Academy is under an "extended evaluation period to determine if it meets the academic requirements for NCAA cleared status."
How such a talented player potentially could be sent to such a volatile situation epitomizes the futility of Canadian basketball for years. Fulford said that Wiggins is on track to qualify.
"He's fine," Fulford said. "He took his PSAT and scored a couple points over. He's in good shape."
…After Wiggins returned to Canada, his association with Russell dwindled. Wiggins began playing AAU ball for the CIA Bounce program, which has taken control of Canada's top players as Russell's influence has waned. For years, Russell controlled most of the top players in Canada to questionable results. The list of high-profile Canadian busts includes Theo Davis (Gonzaga and Binghamton), Olu Famutimi (Arkansas) and Duane John (Missouri and New Mexico State), many of the highest-ranked players the country produced. Even players like UConn's Denham Brown, who had a decent college career, failed to live up to Russell's billing as the most complete player to ever come out of Canada.
Some Canadians that Russell mentored, like Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph, ended up as first-round NBA draft picks, though Joseph is in the D-League. Myck Kabongo's career at Texas, however, has been derailed by illicit agent involvement.
For almost 34 years, I have told anybody who would listen that Ricky Ross is, without a doubt, the greatest City League basketball player.
Two state championships. McDonald’s All-American. Ross was such a great scorer, passer and rebounder.
But now there is doubt. Thanks to North senior guard Conner Frankamp, who blitzed East with a 48-point performance Tuesday night to add to his ever-growing legend, Ross as the greatest in City League history isn’t such a slam dunk.
What better way to help me sort out this debate than to sit with Ross as he watched Frankamp, which is what we did Tuesday.
Ross, who still looks to be in playing shape at 51 (Ricky Ross is 51???), had seen Frankamp once before, when Frankamp was a freshman. I invited Ross to Tuesday night’s game because I was curious what Ross thought about the kid that eclipsed his City League single-game scoring record two seasons ago and looks like a cinch to become the league’s career scoring leader.
…What brought Ross off his bleacher seat, though, was a pull-up three-pointer by Frankamp in the third quarter. Ross stood and clapped, for some time.
“He came up really hard in transition, stopped and took that three-point shot,’’ Ross said after North’s win. “That was really impressive.’’
Ross was into every move Frankamp made. He was also captivated by a tough game, which was tight and physical until North established a small cushion late.
Shortly after it ended, Ross and Frankamp met and shook hands, for the first time, on the floor of the North gym. Ross told Frankamp how much he enjoyed the game and Frankamp paid his respects to Ross.
“I know about him, that he was a City League great,’’ Frankamp said. “And one of the best players to ever come out of Kansas. I’ve heard about what a great shooter he was and the range he had.’’
“He exemplifies a lot of hard work,’’ Ross said of Frankamp. “It seems like he puts in – especially with today’s world with the computer technology and Facebook and those things – it seems like Conner has really shied away from all of that and put in a lot of hours of work.’’
...As Ross can attest, you don’t become a shooter by making Facebook posts.
“I was very impressed with (Frankamp),’’ Ross said. “I just think that he really, really loves the game by looking at his body language. I mean really, really loves it.’’
Ross said he still gets approached often by people who remember him as a player at South, one who later went on to play one season at KU and finished his college career at Tulsa. If anyone can relate to the buzz Frankamp has created, it’s Ross. South’s games, especially those against Heights and Antoine Carr back in the day, were some of the most well-attended games in City League history.
Wichita Eagle Lutz
Ross was 6-foot-6 with guard skills. He was such a tremendous scorer that he has never gotten the credit he deserves for the other aspects of his game, especially passing. He was a tremendous passer and, although he averaged 27.1 points per game as a junior and 31.7 as a senior, he passed a lot. Ross played on outstanding teams for the Titans, with quite a few other good players. In fact, guard Mike Sims was, like Ross, an All-State player during the 1978-79 season.
Many of those who saw Ross play at South have a hard time believing anyone could rise to his level as a high school player. Trust me, so did I. Until I watched North’s Frankamp, the most prolific scorer in City League history.
With all due respect to the other great players in the league’s history – and a special nod to former Heights point guard Darnell Valentine – the debate about the best ever seems to boil down to two: Ross or Frankamp?
Those in the Ross camp like to point out the stiff competition and wealth of outstanding players who were in the City League at that time. It’s true that Ross had to contend with the likes of Valentine, Antoine Carr, Greg Dreiling, Aubrey Sherrod, Chris Boyd, Calvin Alexander, Doc Holden, Les Pace, Mike Boushka, Karl Papke, Greg Williams, Greg Dreiling and Jeff Konek. Ten of those guys played Division I basketball. The City League was loaded during the Ross era.
…Those who dismiss Ross’ college career as disappointing probably shouldn’t. His problem was trying to live up to the hype. The comparisons to Michael Jordan, which at the time were not outlandish. The notion that Ross was a lock to become an NBA superstar.
Under the weight of those expectations, he fell short. Most would.
Ross may have lacked the self-discipline to realize his NBA dreams. He probably wasn’t as good a defender as he could have been. A few of his City League contemporaries did make it to the NBA, but he didn’t.
That has always made me sad. But Ross doesn’t share that sentiment. He is thankful for everything he got out of basketball, he said. He didn’t follow the path so many of us thought he would follow, but he wound up in a good place. He doesn’t show a hint of bitterness.
It makes me wonder how far Frankamp will take basketball. It’s so difficult to tell and Ross wouldn’t even think about trying to make a prediction. He knows all too well about the potential pratfalls and detours.
As they were shaking hands after the East-North game the other night, Ross wished Frankamp well. They had their picture taken together before Ross disappeared through the door and out of the North gym, back to a life that perhaps didn’t turn out like he thought it would.
Wichita Eagle Lutz
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