The pressure was on Devonte’ Graham.
The stakes were high for the Kansas basketball guard near the end of the team’s practice Wednesday afternoon at Sprint Center, one day before the No. 1-seeded Jayhawks will take the court for a quarterfinal game in the Big 12 Tournament.
Thirteen teammates before him had tried and failed, and KU had two more shots at this. Graham lined up a few feet behind the half-court line and prepared himself.
“All right,” KU coach Bill Self shouted. “Gotta have a make!”
Graham dribbled one time, took two steps forward and launched a half-court heave with all the authority his 6-foot-2, 172-pound frame would allow.
“Ooh!” nearly all of Graham’s teammates exclaimed in unison. They had just as much invested in the attempt as Graham, as the shot was the last of a series of requirements Self needed to see from his Jayhawks (27-4, 15-3 Big 12). Five out of the 15 half-court attempts had to at least hit rim, and KU needed at least one make in there somewhere.
The consequence had the shot not fallen?
“No ice cream,” Self said.
Pregame Party and Pep Rally Info
Join Kansas Athletics, the Williams Education Fund and the KU Alumni Association for a pregame party and pep rally at No Other Pub (1370 Grand Blvd, Kansas City, MO 64106) across from the Sprint Center in the Power & Light District.
Thursday, March 10
10 a.m. - Pregame Party
11 a.m. - KU Pep Rally on main stage at Power & Light
11:45 a.m. - KU Pep Rally inside No Other Pub
KU Postseason Info
“Our guys will be really hungry to play just like everybody else was,” Self added, “because in order to be the Big 12 outright champions, it’d be nice to win both instead of just one.”
And, if playing among and against the conference’s best individual players isn’t enough to motivate the conference’s best team, the calendar might help do its part, too.
“You definitely get that feeling (it’s March),” KU guard Devonte’ Graham said. “You guys, all the media here. Rows are blocked off and stuff like that. You definitely get that feeling. It’s tournament time.”
…During the team’s last five games, KU has made 60 of 101 free throws (59.4 percent), which over the course of a full conference season would qualify as the worst in the Big 12.
Graham said the Jayhawks are working to right the ship in practice in one simple way: If a player makes 40 of his 50 free-throw attempts, he is done. Any less? Start all over.
…The Big 12 can boast the most in-demand tickets of any conference tournament in the country, at least according to one resale website.
One all-session tournament pass was going for $756 on Wednesday at SeatGeek.com, according to Nate Rattner, a content analyst for the website. It is the highest price for an average all-session ticket in the Big 12 Tournament since the company began tracking the information in 2011.
The closest competitor is the ACC Tournament at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C., in which an average all-session pass is going for $686.
“I think it’s a testament to how well the Big 12 teams are playing this year,” Rattner said. “And KU, having such a torrid second half, I think the proximity kind of drove up the ticket prices.”
During the regular season, only Duke ($286) had a higher average resale price than KU ($182), so fans outside Lawrence unable to make it to Allen Fieldhouse might be using the Big 12 Tournament as an opportunity to catch what will likely be very close to a home-court environment, Rattner said.
Kansas junior guard Wayne Selden Jr., has been named one of five finalists for the 2016 Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Wednesday.
Joining Selden as finalists are Brandon Ingram (Duke), Ben Simmons (LSU), Denzel Valentine (Michigan State) and DeAndre Bembry (Saint Joseph's).
The winner of the 2016 Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award will be determined by a combination of fan votes and input from the Basketball Hall of Fame's selection committee. Fans are encouraged to visit HoopHallAwards.com to cast their votes from March 11-25.
In sum, it is hard to run down Kansas when Kansas is forever chasing a level most teams can't hope to reach. "You can't ever be perfect and it keeps us driving forward," junior forward Landen Lucas says. "The last couple years, we've kind of settled as a team toward the [NCAA] tournament, but we haven't done as well as that team could have done. If there's been a year where he's definitely kept us pushing forward, it's been this year. You can see that. "
Results can't be guaranteed. But, based on almost a quarter-century on the sideline, the evidence suggests Self's approach guarantees a good chance at top-shelf success.
…The structure is sound and unwavering. Kansas begins practices with the same brief dribbling, passing and shooter close-out periods. Like the defensive shell drill and others that follow, these are mainstays. "It wouldn't be a practice if we didn't do them," senior forward Hunter Mickelson says. The routine is designed to create muscle memory. It insures against slippage in something as simple as footwork when running down a shooter, or guards and big men working in tandem to defend a certain action. This in part explains why Kansas has ranked in the top 11 nationally in defensive efficiency in 10 of its past 12 seasons, despite roster and talent fluctuations.
And that is a reflection of Self's guiding philosophy, which all but takes the relative talent of his team out of the equation: He just wants to make the other guys play badly.
"No matter what level you play to," Self says, "you have to make sure someone plays at a lesser level."
…It is not an ordinary job, of course, or else fans wouldn't show up four hours early to watch him talk. But Kansas's coach has a theory about why the gig permits him to remain unwound. "I would say, here, we have about the most realistic unrealistic supporters possible," Self says. What he means: Jayhawks fans are like most other fans, in that they think their place is the best place. But a history that includes names such as James Naismith and Phog Allen and Wilt Chamberlain also checks their expectations at least a little. They recognize what they're watching can't be the best it's ever been here.
The Jayhawks coaches issue the similar messages to every prospect they recruit: You're not going to be the greatest player ever to wear the jersey. And Self is keenly aware he won't be the program's most legendary coach. He is confident enough in his ability to produce the results the fans crave, yes. But since he may never be elevated to the ethereal basketball plane inhabited by those who came before him, he is somewhat freed in other respects. "If you do it the right way over time," Self says, "they're O.K. with that."
If only he could be, too.
"It's not that he just wants to win," Tyler Self says of his dad. "He really, really hates to lose."
Bill Self is a prisoner to his own ambition. Enough is never enough. He wishes he weren't that way, that he could enjoy the successes more than he does, or at least more than he despises the failures. The streak of 12 straight titles, which is one shy of UCLA's record run of 13 from 1967 to '79, the likely spot in the Hall of Fame ... these make him happy, but only to a point.
If you want to know what keeps him going, it is April 7, 2008—the night Kansas won a national title. "There's only been one game where the win has felt as good as the losses have felt bad," Self says. "There's only been one."
…So he's asked the question now, on the day the calendar turns to March again. Can Kansas give you all the challenges you need? Is this place enough?
Bill Self's answer, which comes without hesitation, makes you wonder if anything will ever change at all.
"I think so," he says. "Because as good as it's been, I think it's getting ready to get better.”
SI Campus Rush
Kansas men's basketball legend Clyde Lovellette died Wednesday evening in North Manchester, Indiana, where he lived, his daughter Cindy confirmed with KU officials. Lovellette, who had been battling cancer, was 86.
A two-time All-American center, Lovellette scored 33 points and grabbed 17 rebounds to lead Kansas to an 80-63 win over St. John's in the 1952 NCAA championship game. In the process he set a then-NCAA?Tournament scoring record and earned most outstanding performer honors.
Also in 1952, Lovellette and six Jayhawk teammates helped lead the United States to the gold medal at the Olympics in Helsinki, Finland. Kansas coach Phog Allen was an assistant coach on the team.
"Clyde's passing is a big loss for anyone who has ever supported Kansas Athletics," Kansas Head Coach Bill Self said. "He was a great player, a national champion and Olympic Gold Medalist. He was a beloved teammate and a great ambassador for his alma mater. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."
Lovellette was elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in May 1988 and the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012. His KU jersey was retired on Feb. 15, 1992, in a ceremony honoring the 1952 NCAA title team.
A native of Terre Haute, Indiana, Lovellette became the fourth Jayhawk to be named a consensus first-team All-American, and was also named All-Big Seven in 1951 and 1952.
Today, Lovellette ranks as the fourth all-time leading scorer in KU history with 1,979 career points, and as the No. 10 all-time leading rebounder with 813. In 1952, Lovellette became the only player in NCAA history to lead the nation in scoring (28.4) and play on the NCAA National Championship team.
Following his career at KU, Lovellette played one year of AAU ball, then embarked on a 12-year NBA career with stops at Minneapolis, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Boston. He retired from basketball in 1964. Lovellette was a four-time NBA All-Star and won three NBA titles – in 1954, 1963 and 1964.
VIDEO: Chalmers leaves game with leg injury
The Windsor Express have announced the addition of Sherron Collins to the playing roster. Collins, a product of the University of Kansas, and last with the Texas Legends of the D-League, formerly played with the Charlotte Bobcats of the NBA in 2010-11.
While with the Kansas Jayhawks, Collins was named an All-American and the Big 12’s 6th Man of the Year, and was the recipient of the John Wooden Award, presented to outstanding college basketball players who also maintain scholastic eligibility.
Collins dressed for the Express in their 106-104 loss to the A’s in Orangeville. He put up 6 points, cleared 1 rebound, and dished for 3 assists in 16 minutes of play. Collins will make his home debut again against Orangeville, on Sunday March 16, wearing No. 4, as he did in Kansas.
The 28 year-old adds depth for the Express at the point guard position, as the team prepares for the playoffs.
Tyshawn Taylor playing in Venezuela (Page is in Spanish)
“Pay Heed. The game you love began here. Respect those who came before you. Make their legacy your own. Because destiny favors the dedicated. And rings don’t replace work. In this game you don’t get what you want. You get what you earn. We are Kansas. Together we rise. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!”
Big 12/College News
Is it possible the Sooners need rest more than a three-day run at the Big 12 Tournament?
“We’re going to win it,” Spangler asserted before the question was even finished. “It’s something we haven’t done in our career. We’re going to go up there and fight hard for three games.”
“Our goal is to win at least two or three games in the tournament and try to get that No. 1 seed,” Woodard said, referencing the NCAA carrot that is still out there with a strong showing this week. “A 2-seed would be OK, but we want the 1-seed.”
When OU guard Buddy Hield became the first player since Raef LaFrentz to repeat as Big 12 Player of the Year this week, he was asked what he knew about the former Kansas Jayhawk.
“He played for Kansas is all I know,” Hield replied. “It’s pretty tough to do this back-to-back. You’ve got to be locked in and focused. I knew coach Kruger did it back to back in the Big Eight.”
When Iowa State junior point guard Monte Morris stepped onto the court at Sprint Center for shoot-around, it was the most basketball he’s played in three days.
Morris sat out of the Cyclones’ practices on Monday and Tuesday because of a shoulder strain he suffered against Kansas last Saturday. But he still is on track to play in Iowa State’s Big 12 tournament quarterfinal against Oklahoma at 8 p.m. Thursday.
“I think he’s good,” said Iowa State Coach Steve Prohm. “We just had a little light shooting. We’ll hold him out of practice this afternoon (at UMKC), which is just more precautionary and just keep getting him rest. May do a little more shooting over there and practice with him on the side just to keep loosening it up.”
The 20th Big 12 men’s basketball tournament, and 15th in Kansas City, runs Wednesday, March 9 through Saturday, March 12 at the Sprint Center. Here is the schedule, with TV times.
Tickets: Call 888-929-7849 or go to SprintCenter.com. Tickets are limited. An online message said the tournament is not officially sold out and it is possible tickets will become available later.
Big 12 Fan Experience: The Big 12 will have a “GameDay Fan Experience” outside the Sprint Center. That will be Wednesday (3-7 p.m.), Thursday (2-7 p.m.), Friday (2-7 p.m.) and Saturday (10 a.m.-5 p.m.).
Bus service: The Main Street MAX Orange Line (map of stops and the route, which covers Brookside/Waldo, the Plaza, Midtown, River Market and the Sprint Center) will offer frequent service on game days. Fare is $1.50 per ride and an all-day pass is $3; both can be purchased on the bus. Three-day visitor passes are $10 and available at the KCATA offices, 1200 E. 18th Street.
The following downtown Kansas City streets will be closed at times before and during the tournament.
▪ Grand Boulevard (between 13th Street and Truman Road): closed from 10 a.m. Monday through 6 a.m. Sunday
▪ 14th Street (between Walnut Street and Grand Boulevard): closed from 10 a.m. Monday through 6 a.m. Sunday
▪ Walnut Street (between 13th and 14th streets): closed from 9 a.m. Tuesday through 1 p.m. Sunday
▪ Truman Road westbound (between Grand Boulevard and Oak Street) will have lane closures from 10 a.m. Monday through 6 a.m. Sunday. Westbound Truman Road is limited to one lane between Grand Boulevard and Walnut Street because of building construction.
Additional streets will be closed for the Big 12 Run starting at 10 a.m. Saturday and through the conclusion of the race (about 12:30 p.m.). Here is a map of the 5K and 12K courses.
KUAD: Postseason Information Hub
University of San Francisco men's basketball coach Rex Walters has been fired after eight seasons.
Athletic director Scott Sidwell made the announcement Wednesday.
Walters went 127-127 with a 63-65 record in the West Coast Conference. The Dons had winning seasons three times during his tenure, with the most successful finish being 21-12 in 2013-14 with an NIT bid as Walters won WCC Coach of the Year.
USF was 15-15 this season and 8-10 in the WCC for fifth place. The Dons lost in the WCC tournament quarterfinals.
Missouri coach Kim Anderson has gotten a vote of confidence from athletic director Mack Rhoades.
Rhoades said Wednesday that he met with Anderson earlier in the week to share ''expectations'' for next season. Rhoades said Anderson got the job under difficult circumstances, with little talent left after Frank Haith left for Tulsa.
Foreign tours are at least a $5 million-a-year business, and one in which approximately 90% of team trips are booked through U.S. companies specializing in athletics travel and/or staging early-season tournaments—the most prominent being Basketball Travelers, of Shoreline, Wash., and Anthony Travel, of Dallas and Ontario, Calif. But Sports Illustrated has found that since at least 2010, between 3% and 7% of this business has shifted to a company registered on a tiny island off the coast of Morocco. According to documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, seven Division I programs—Louisville, Minnesota, N.C. State, Oklahoma State, Troy, UAB and UNC-Greensboro—contracted to spend $944,737 with Promosport & Tours, S.L., on Gran Canaria, a Spanish island. Four more private colleges exempt from public-records requests—Loyola Marymount, Portland, Seton Hall and Valparaiso—have also been Promosport tour clients, potentially raising its D-I business to well more than $1 million over the past six years.
What did these 11 colleges have in common, aside from booking travel with an obscure Spanish company with a rudimentary website? Each school signed one or more recruits who had played at Canarias Basketball Academy, a private, amateur academy that was founded in 2007 by Rob Orellana, a former assistant coach at Cal State-Fullerton, Fairleigh Dickinson and St. Francis. Not only is Canarias Basketball Academy (CBA) registered at the same business address in Gran Canaria as Promosport & Tours, but also one of CBA’s assistant coaches and its operations director, Samuel Sosa Cruz, is listed on contracts as Promosport’s president. Promosport’s college clients added at least 19 former CBA players to their rosters over the last six seasons, and in multiple cases, colleges signed Promosport contracts or took Promosport trips within months of adding former CBA players.
Shortly before LSU's regular season finale at Kentucky, the list of Wooden Award finalists was released without freshman Ben Simmons on the list. According to LSU writer Glenn Guilbeau, Simmons' omission was a result of the Australian star, likely the No. 1 in pick in next year's draft, failing to record a 2.0 GPA during his fall semester.
“I think it was just little things like missing a couple of classes and things like that,” Simmons said Monday, via USA Today. “And then it gets brought up. If it was somebody else, it may not have been brought up. Now, it's one of those things that's everywhere. But I'm not worried about that right now.”
Simmons has been on campus since the summer but told the paper "he had trouble adjusting to college in his first full semester." The issue of Simmons' academic performance had an impact on the spring semester as well, as what coach Johnny Jones called "academic stuff" resulted in the star sitting on the bench for the start of LSU's game against Tennessee on Feb. 20.
“You don't go to some classes. You miss some classes, and you're going to get punished,” Simmons said. “That's how they handle it. I learned from it. I go to class now.”
ncaa.com: 2016 NCAA Tournament Schedule
Announcing crews, schedule info
Find out the tournament history for specific seeds, teams, coaches or conferences.
NCAA Tournament Brackets and History interactive tool
CBS Interactive Tool: Pick two teams to compare record, RPI and SOS details head to head. By default, the top two teams in RPI are shown.
Big 12 Composite Schedule & Results
Recruiting Calendar (updated for 2016)
Late Night in the Phog
Bill Self Camp KU Alumni games
60 Years of AFH Celebration
Legends of the Phog game
2011-12 Final Border War
KC Prep Invitational
and more, now on YouTube