1/24/14, 3:36 PM
On the way to TCU #Focused
TCUAD pregame notes
Suits and Sneakers at TCU tonight for #kubball supporting the NABC's Coaches vs. Cancer http://coaches.acsevents.org/site/PageServer/?pagename=CVC_FY12_Suits_Sneakers
When TCU pulled its Miracle at Daniel-Meyer a year ago against then-fifth-ranked Kansas, it came in the middle of a three-game losing streak for the Jayhawks.
Kansas brings a more familiar-looking streak to Fort Worth when TCU hosts the Jayhawks at 8 p.m. Saturday at sold-out Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.
KU (14-4, 5-0 Big 12) has won five consecutive games, including four in a row against ranked opponents.
FW Star Telegram
The Frogs will also bring a freshman who has played well into Saturday’s contest: Karviar Shepherd.
The 6’10” big man out of Dallas has scored career-highs during two of his last three games and averages 7.6 rebounds per game this season. Shepherd is the highest-rated prospect to ever sign with TCU.
Junior guard Kyan Anderson currently leads the Frogs in scoring and assists, averaging 15.1 and 4.6 respectively, per game this season.
Besides Shepherd and Anderson, the Frogs are very limited in what they bring to Saturday night’s game. The team is down to only 11 of their 16 players due to injuries and academic issues with only eight of the remaining 11 on scholarship.
On top of the lack of depth, TCU has a serious rebounding problem due to a lack of size. The Frogs have been outrebounded in their last six games and could face some serious issues against the overall size of Kansas.
The Jayhawks rank second in the Big 12 in blocked shots with 6.39 per game.
Regardless of what the statistics or analysts ultimately say, TCU showed last season that crazy things can happen when Kansas comes to Fort Worth.
Kansas returns to Daniel-Meyer Coliseum on Saturday to play the Frogs at 8 p.m. The game is sold out, and TCU students plan to pack the gym hoping to catch a glimpse of another improbable upset.
TCU head coach Trent Johnson is 2-1 in his career against Kansas. Prior to last season’s win, Johnson had beaten the Jayhawks in 2003 when his Nevada Wolfpack knocked off the Jayhawks.
The key for TCU will be to weather the Jayhawks early momentum in hopes of getting off to a fast start. The Frogs are 15-2 under Trent Johnson when they lead at halftime. In the first half of the game last season, TCU held KU to its lowest point total since 1988, and the Jayhawks did not score in the first eight minutes of the game.
Coming off his second career double-double against Kansas, freshman center Karviar Shepherd of TCU will have to keep Kansas’ Joel Embiid off the glass and negate some of KU’s height advantage. The Frogs have struggled on the glass this season, but in their upset win over Kansas last season, TCU kept Kansas from blowing them out in the rebounding category (44-34 in favor of KU). If TCU can win the rebounding battle, it may win the game as the Frogs are 6-1 when they outrebound their opponent.
Special players must play big in special situations. How well TCU’s talented freshmen Brandon Parrish and Karviar Shepherd play will go a long way in deciding whether the Frogs are competitive with the supremely talented Jayhawks.
Saturday’s contest caps off a difficult stretch for TCU where they have played ranked opponents in five of their last six games.
Dallas Morning News
In the days before Kansas was scheduled to board a plane for road game at TCU, senior forward Tarik Black hopped on a bus on the KU campus.
These are the moments where college sports can feel less like a billion-dollar enterprise and more like a cozy fabric of campus life. On Wednesday, Black simply wanted to escape the biting cold like any other student. And the kid sitting next to him on the bus wanted to talk basketball — mostly about that night at TCU in early 2013.
Black, a senior transfer from Memphis, wasn’t around the KU program last year, so the student filled him in.
Missed layups. Atrocious offense. The Jayhawks missing 19 of their first 22 shots. It was a bizarro night of basketball culminating in a 62-55 loss at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas. And by most metrics, it was an all-time upset, a team that finished the year ranked 264th in KenPom.com’s computer rankings toppled a team that would finish in the top 10.
“From what I’ve heard,” Black says, “that seems like a crazy first half, like ridiculous.”
…“Last year,” Self said, “you win the league outright if you take care of business in Fort Worth.”
Instead, the Jayhawks shared their ninth straight title, with Kansas State.
This time, they can lay the groundwork for a 10th straight title — and an outright title — by handling business at TCU. If Kansas wins, the Jayhawks will have at least a two-game lead over K-State, Oklahoma, Texas and Oklahoma State with 12 games to play. In other words, the Jayhawks could go 8-4 over their last 12 games — and one of those teams would have to go 10-2 to even split the title with Kansas.
For now, Self says he rarely even looks at the conference standings. But yes, sometimes he does.
“I’m not going to lie and say I don’t look at it,” Self said. “There’s times where maybe I pull for certain teams more than I pull for others. But it’s up to us. It doesn’t matter what everybody else does as long as we do what we want to do.”
…Earlier this week, Self was telling a story about the days after KU’s loss to San Diego State on Jan. 5. His team was 9-4, and was about to face a five-game stretch against teams now ranked in the top 25.
“I don’t know if I meant this but I said it,” Self said. “We’ve got a better chance of going 0-5 than we do 5-0. I didn’t tell the players that, but I told our staff that. They’re like, no, we don’t. I’m going, yeah, did you not just watch what I saw?”
Nearly three weeks later, Kansas heads to TCU with a flawless Big 12 record.
Though Black wasn’t on last year’s KU squad that was stunned in a 62-55 defeat, he is hoping to be part of a Jayhawk team that puts that history in the past.
The 6-foot-9 Memphis transfer said he wasn’t sure if coach Bill Self was going to make the team go over last year’s entire first half — a 20-minute stretch were KU scored just 13 points and made 3 of 22 field goals — but he, for one, was in favor of it.
“It might not be a bad thing just to watch it and just see what happened just to get a feel of, ‘OK, we need to go down there and change things. We need to do it differently, or we’ll have the same outcome,’” Black said. “This is an underrated TCU team.”
“In conference play they’ve played better than their record even though they could have won that game in Norman. What was it, a tie game with about six minutes left and a four-point game and they missed like three free throws in a row and they had a chance in the last two minutes?” Self said. “So that could have been a great road win for them, and we know OU can score easy. They (Frogs) are much better, good, sound defensively, and when they make shots, they’re definitely a dangerous team. And Anderson is obviously having a very good year.”
…Obviously, KU doesn’t want to stumble at TCU again this season. Up to half the arena figures to again be full of KU fans.
“I think our guys enjoy playing in front of energy,” Self said. “We’re spoiled here by our fans and what we play in front of every day, and then we go on the road and we play in front of a 90-percent-filled building or 95-percent-filled building, and we think, ‘Dang, where is everybody?’ and the home team is thinking, ‘This is the best crowd we’ve had all year.’ We have to be cautious about that (if it’s not full). You’ve got a job to do, go do your job. The building will be full at TCU, I would think. Last year it was full (record crowd of 7,412).
“NCAA Tournament games, very rarely are they full. Unless you play in Kansas City, which was nice. But for the most part, these are the type of environments that are the environments you have to play well in to advance.”
…KU big man Black is listed as questionable for today’s game. Black, who sprained his ankle in Monday’s win over Baylor, practiced half-speed on Friday, Self indicated.
ABOUT TCU (9-9, 0-6 Big 12): In their second season in the Big 12, TCU coach Trent Johnson and the Horned Frogs appear to be making progress. Freshman center Karviar Shepherd is a former four-star recruit who also drew interest from Kansas, and TCU picked up nonconference victories over Tulsa and Mississippi State. Still, TCU has started the conference season with six straight losses, and it could take some work to avoid the Big 12 cellar. The Horned Frogs rank 292nd nationally in offensive efficiency.
• BOTTOM LINE: If Kansas can handle business against TCU, the Jayhawks will have a full two-game lead in the conference race after just six games. It’s too early to start engraving another Big 12 trophy, but that sort of lead would allow the Jayhawks some leeway moving forward.
• Getting to the line: TCU does get fouled often, as its free-throw rate (free throws shot per 100 field goals) of 46.7 ranks 58th nationally. The Horned Frogs can hit those shots as well, as they're a 71.8-percent shooting team from the stripe this year. Overall, TCU gets 27 percent of its points from free throws, which is the 20th-highest split nationally.
• Turnovers: TCU should win the turnover battle against a KU team that has struggled on both ends with giveaways. The Horned Frogs are 78th nationally in offensive turnover percentage and 93rd nationally in defensive turnover percentage, and their 19.5 percent defensive turnover percentage in Big 12 play ranks third in the conference.
• Transition defense: TCU's opponents have posted just a 48.2 percent effective field goal percentage in transition, which is the 52nd-best mark nationally. The Horned Frogs have especially done a good job after getting it stolen, as opponents' 52.2 eFG% in transition ranks 38th nationally.
The formula for TCU hanging close in this game seems pretty simple: Slow the game down, force a lot of turnovers and draw fouls to get to the free-throw line. The strange part about that above is that each of those three aspects coincides with a KU weakness this year: The Jayhawks haven't created havoc defensively, they haven't taken care of it offensively and they haven't done a good job of avoiding fouls.
Unfortunately for TCU, that's the extremely rosy view of Saturday's game. The not-so-rosy view says that the Jayhawks should dominate the glass and also be able to get the same easy shots on offense that lesser teams (TCU's nonconference schedule ranked 342nd according to KenPom) weren't able to make.
So no, I don't see lightning striking twice. But I'd probably feel a lot better about KU's chances if it hadn't shown the turnover issues we've seen lately.
Kansas 74, TCU 64
TCJ Newell Post
Whenever smart coaches talk to the public through the media, they often tailor their messages to specific targets, namely their players.
Sometimes it’s easy to determine at which player Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self aims his message. At other times, he camouflages his delivery just enough to keep you guessing.
During his weekly press conference Thursday in the media room of Allen Fieldhouse, Self discussed what he does with his four-man, big-man rotation. First, he pointed out the way it usually works with the center position. Freshman Joel Embiid plays the first seven minutes or so, then gets relief from senior Tarik Black for six or seven minutes, then takes over again, provided he can stay out of foul trouble. Nothing to interpret there, just a Jack Webb-like statement of the facts.
Next, Self discussed how he uses his two sophomore power forwards — Perry Ellis, the more skilled, and Jamari Traylor, the more physical.
“Mari and Perry has been totally different,” Self said, differentiating it from his center rotation. “(With) Mari and Perry it has been whoever’s playing the best. There have been times where both of them have played well and one has been better than the other. The one we usually play is the one who’s been playing better at that particular moment. Just like in the last two home games, Jamari’s played better (in the first half), but in the second half, Mari didn’t play much at all because Perry was so good. I think that’s kind of nice to have. Whoever’s got a hot hand, so to speak, we can run with it.”
Interesting. He made it sound almost as if it’s an equal job-share, which to this point has not been the case. Ellis averages 27.2 minutes, Traylor 15.
Even if not designed to do so, the coach saying something that creates the perception that he is equally comfortable with both options at power forward serves to motivate both players.
One day after being named to the Oscar Robertson Trophy Midseason List for the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Player of the Year, Kansas freshmen Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins have been named to the Wayman Tisdale Award Midseason List for the outstanding freshman of the year, the USBWA announced Friday.
Kansas is one of two schools that have multiple student-athletes on the nine-member midseason list with the other being Kentucky. Members of the USBWA's board of directors chose the players to be included on the list as contenders for the 2014 Wayman Tisdale Award.
Embiid leads Kansas in rebounds with a 7.4 per game average, good for eighth in the Big 12. The 7-0 Yauonde, Cameroon, center is tied for the conference lead with 2.8 blocked shots per game. A two-time Big 12 Newcomer of the Week, Embiid's 50 blocked shots this season are already third on the all-time KU freshman list and his eight against Oklahoma State (1.18.14) broke his own KU freshman record of seven set against UTEP (11.30.13). Embiid leads KU with four double-doubles this season. Embiid was named the USBWA's Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Week following his performance against OSU.
Wiggins leads Kansas with a 15.2 scoring average, which also leads the Big 12 freshman class and is 10th overall in the conference. The 6-8 Vaughan, Ontario, Canada, guard has five games of 20-plus points and pulled down a season-high 19 rebounds at then No. 8 Iowa State (1/13). Wiggins is 50-of-59 (84.7 percent) from the free throw line in his last 10 games after hitting 10-of-12 charity shots during his 17-point effort in the win versus No. 23 Baylor on ESPN Big Monday (1/20). He has made 20 threes this season, leads KU with 17 steals and his 6.1 rebound average is third on the team.
Joel Embiid bends slightly to get through the doorway, and then bends even deeper to peer into the refrigerator. He pushes aside chilled bottles of Coca-Cola and Fanta and then, upon getting to the very back of the cooler, lets his massive shoulders slump one last time.
There's no pink lemonade. Again.
This is the guy who's suddenly the biggest thing in college basketball? The 7-footer who's gone from raw, unheralded prospect to phenom? The guy who has started to overshadow fellow freshman Andrew Wiggins while leading No. 8 Kansas to the top of the Big 12?
Yep, this is the guy NBA scouts believe could be the No. 1 pick in the June draft, worrying not about his future millions but his inability to land a bottle of Minute Made.
"Out again?" Embiid asks one of the members of the Kansas communications staff.
"You keep drinking it all!" she replies with a smile.
The friendly ribbing is part of Embiid's earnest naivety. It's almost as if the best player on one of the nation's hottest teams doesn't realize just how good he's become.
He runs like a gazelle and his footwork honed on the soccer fields of his native Cameroon would probably astonish Fred Astaire. His touch is smooth as velvet and his work ethic so unfailing that some think he could be the next Hakeem Olajuwon.
"Joel has a chance to be an NBA all-star," Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. "There's a lot of great players you recruit, and they have great careers for you. But do you look at them and say, 'He can be one of the best 24 players in the world?' He can be in that class."
…"He was doing stuff that guys been playing basketball for years do," Mbah a Moute told The Associated Press. "Some stuff that guys his size have trouble with, he was doing it with ease, like running in transition, catching the ball, spinning and finishing."
…Still, Embiid was so raw that he was still playing junior varsity two years ago, or stuck on the bench behind Kentucky recruit Dakari Johnson. But Mbah a Moute knew Embiid would make strides if he could just get on the court, so he started looking for other places to play. Together, they stumbled upon The Rock School in Gainesville, Fla., and unknowingly answered a prayer.
"One day, I literally got down on my knees and prayed God would send me a 7-foot center," said Justin Harden, the school's coach and athletic director. "And he sent me Joel."
Harden is joking, of course. But the truth is he accepted Embiid sight-unseen.
"They kind of felt like he was underappreciated," Harden said. "But when he came in, you could tell the way he moved, the way he shot, his coordination — you could tell he was special."
Special in the kind of way that can't be taught.
"I played soccer," Harden said, "and he has just phenomenal footwork, flipping the ball back and forth, up in the air, between his legs. And then we'd play dodge ball and the kid would throw the ball and I'd have to tell him, "Joel, relax! You're going to kill somebody!"
…"Amazing talent," offered one NBA scout, who spoke on condition of anonymity because league rules prevent him from speaking about players still in college. "I think he's the No. 1 prospect because of his steady improvement and being a freaky 7-foot athlete."
That's assuming Embiid puts his name in the draft.
Lounging in the bleachers at Allen Fieldhouse this week, sweat dripping from a recently ended practice, Embiid told the AP that he's still not sure whether he's ready for the NBA.
"When I see those guys," he said with a shake of his head, "man, they're really big."
But what about the millions of dollars sitting on the table? What about the glamor that comes with playing in the league, and the chance to see compete against the best in the world?
What about all that pink lemonade he could buy?
"Things could change," Embiid said with a smile, "but I love college. I'm having so much fun on campus, with my teammates. When we play, we have 16,000 people. It's crazy. It's not the same thing when you're in the league. So I don't know. We'll just have to see."
College basketball has felt more bedazzling than usual this season, more of a star’s game. The other night, I switched on the Kansas-Iowa State game just to catch a glimpse of the Jayhawks’ six-foot-eight forward Andrew Wiggins. He is lithe and cut, an explosive scorer who slashes and dishes and soars. (“He bounces off the floor,” Dick Vitale said, in November. “He’s like a Spalding ball—bounce, boom, up.”) His professional prospects were being dissected before he had even set foot on a college court. In October, a Sports Illustrated cover story compared him to Wilt Chamberlain. The main question swirling around Wiggins concerns his status in the 2014 N.B.A. draft lottery: Will he go first or second?
…Wiggins was stellar, as expected, notching his second double-double of the season in the win over Iowa State. But everyone came away talking about another Kansas freshman, the center Joel Embiid, who had sixteen points, nine rebounds, and five blocks that night. His dominance continued a few days later against Oklahoma State—another Jayhawk victory—where he tossed up and threw down flashy alley-oops and administered picturesque blocks. Against Baylor on Monday, his performance was quieter but still steady, with twelve points.
At seven feet tall, Embiid is rangy but solid. His footwork around the basket is all grace and authority, the stuff of a seasoned big man. He has great hands and a reliably soft touch. He’s already become a prodigious shot blocker, a menace in the paint.
…Embiid has accomplished in two months what his coaches thought would take two years. Here arises the inevitable question in the one-and-done era: Does Embiid stay at Kansas and continue to develop his game under Bill Self, or does he cash in on his draft stock, go pro, and mature on the fly?
On the one hand, Embiid’s draft stock could not get any higher; if he stays in college, there’s the risk that it will go down. But Bill Self has a reputation for developing big men, and however good Embiid’s athletic instincts are he’s plainly still learning the game. He can be gawky at times, and blusters into foul trouble early. His temper has flared on occasion, too. It may be better to iron out these kinks now, and not in the N.B.A., where the game is faster and more physical, and where playing time is harder to come by.
…Coaches, for their part, are engaged in a race against the clock. Three of Kansas’s starting five—Wiggins, Embiid, and the excellent Wayne Selden, Jr.—are freshmen with the potential to go pro in the first round. The Jayhawks are playing as well as anyone in the country right now. If they stay focussed, they could easily make a run at the national title. Tomorrow, the Jayhawks face the Texas Christian Univeritsy Hornfrogs, ready fodder for a team riding high. Next week brings stiffer competition: a rematch against Iowa State. This time, I’ll be turning on the game for Embiid—that is, until someone else steals my attention.
The New Yorker
But when I have tuned in to watch some college hoops this season, I have found myself searching for a team that I previously had absolutely zero interest in during years past. That team would be the Kansas Jayhawks, and my sudden infatuation with Rock Chalk is not as random as you might think.
I've been keeping tabs on the Jayhawks this year for one reason -- freshman guard Frank Mason.
You guys remember Mason, right? For those who don't, he's the talented 5-foot-11 guard from Petersburg who led the state in scoring his junior and senior seasons (2010-11, 2011-12), and finished his high school career with 1,901 total points. That number ranks Mason second in Petersburg High School history, behind NBA Hall of Famer Moses Malone.
…Though he is currently in the shadow of other talented Kansas freshmen like Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, Mason has emerged as a solid sixth man for the Jayhawks this season. He has played in all 18 of Kansas' games (he's started three of them) and is averaging 18.6 minutes per contest. In the time that Mason has seen on the floor, he is averaging 6.9 points per game and he's currently second on the team with 46 assists (fellow guard Naadir Tharpe leads Kansas with 86 assists). Mason also has tallied 12 steals, tied for fourth on team.
I never got the chance to see Mason play in person (Massanutten Academy rarely plays its postgrad games close enough to home) but I did talk to him a few times during his season at Massanutten Academy, and I have made a point to watch him whenever I see the Jayhawks on TV this college season.
I've gotten to see a handful of Kansas games so far this winter, most recently on Monday night as the eighth-ranked Jayhawks hosted No. 24 Baylor. Mason came off the bench early in the Jayhawks' 78-68 win, and he appeared to give Kansas a jolt with his energetic play.
Mason scored his first points of the night when he somehow converted a highly contested driving shot shortly after coming into the game, and he went on to score nine points. He also finished with a team-high six assists, including a beautiful alley-oop pass to Embiid on a fast-break late in the first half.
Mason drew plenty of praise from ESPN's Brent Musburger -- who was calling the game that night -- and the longtime commentator said at one point that Self has been extremely impressed with Mason's play so far this season.
That's good news for Mason, and good news for any college basketball fan in the area like me who is looking for something to root for this season and for several years to come.
Northern Virginia Daily
Kansas’ 16 athletic programs combined for a 2.95 grade-point average in the fall semester, which was one-thousandth of a percentage point better than the grades from the fall semester last year. Women’s golf led all programs with a 3.52 GPA. Women’s basketball had a 2.66 GPA, football was at 2.65, while men’s basketball was the lowest in the department at 2.55.
None of the players on teams in this year’s basketball tournament were even born yet when Ralph Miller retired from his Hall-of-Fame basketball coaching career in 1989. While they have likely heard something about his athletic contributions to this area, and are probably familiar with the annual local basketball tournament and the rec center gymnasium that are named in his honor, young local athletes don’t have first-hand memories of Miller.
The number of people who personally saw how athletically gifted Miller was during his days at CHS or playing under Coach Phog Allen at KU has dwindled. Most of his coaching success occurred in the Pac-10 division, far away from the Midwest. This makes it an increasing challenge to emphasize Miller’s importance to the community and to secure and uphold his legacy.
The task of making sure that this legendary sports figure is not forgotten in his hometown has largely fallen to Humboldt resident Beverly Miller-Olson, who is both vice-president of the local Historical Society Museum and Miller’s younger sister. She maintains an exhibit honoring her brother at the museum and has also kept meticulous scrapbooks that document his high school playing days, his time excelling in both football and basketball for the Jayhawks, and his coaching career and subsequent Basketball Hall of Fame induction.
“A lot of people here ask ‘Who is Ralph Miller?’ because it’s been years,” Olson said. “So, a lot of them don’t realize that he was a KU player, except the older people even older than me. And there’s not a lot of them left to tell people about him.”
The back wall of the museum is devoted to Miller, detailing his various accomplishments and honors. The museum devoted to local history is open on some weekends, and is located right next to the Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum.
Olson is 13 years younger than her famous older brother, which meant he was already demonstrating his athletic prowess at Royster by the time she was born.
She said that Miller’s love of sports came from their father, Harold Miller, who acquired the name “Cappy” because of a role he played in a school play. Ralph Miller eventually inherited this “Cappy” nickname, as well as his father’s basketball talent and interests.
“Dad was a coach, and he was quite a basketball player,” Olson said. “He and my uncle both played basketball at KU. And my mother played, too.”
…“He was very good at KU, but he doesn’t get all the recognition,” Olson said.
She wonders why KU doesn’t mention Miller more, why they don’t name anything after him, put any of his items in the museum in the lobby at Allen Fieldhouse, or feature him in the short film that is always shown on the Jumbotron before Jayhawk games.
She suspects this is because there aren’t many people around the university who ever either knew Miller or personally saw him play.
“People that went to school with him or knew him are pretty old,” Olson said. “He would be 93 or 94, and so, that’s really in the past, but it’s wonderful to recognize it. I’m so proud of Chanute, that they continue with that tournament, and always make a go at it. Because that’s his heritage, where it all began.”
She said that some of the friends that Miller made during his younger years in Chanute had died recently, and that she couldn’t think of very many direct local contemporaries of his that would be left.
Miller’s name does still figure prominently in KU record books. For instance, as a member of the Kansas football team, he held a record for throwing for five touchdowns in a game that stood until 2007. He played single-wing, tailback, quarterback and punter for the football team, until a knee injury sidelined him. He overcame it to help build the growing reputation of the college’s basketball program. He earned three letters at Kansas, in both football and basketball.
Miller was coached by Allen on the school’s basketball squad, and also received personal instruction from Dr. James Naismith, the original inventor of basketball.
Miller was the basketball team’s leading scorer in both 1939 and 1940.
…Coming from such a sports-oriented family and developing a love of coaching early are what Olson believes destined Miller towards his eventual success.
She considered her brother to be both very good at both being an athlete and guiding other talented athletes, and said he was very fortunate to get to do everything that he did.
“He never was the braggart-type or anything,” Olson said. “but I think he accomplished a lot.”
With young people loving sports as much as they ever have, and with plenty of local kids still rooting for teams like KU or Wichita State that Miller was historically affiliated with, Olson feels that it is important for them to recognize an important local connection to these sports institutions.
“It would be nice if these younger generations really knew who they were playing for at this tournament,” Olson said. “I overheard one girl coming through the museum say ‘Is that guy still alive?’ And, no, he’s not, but they had no idea who he was. And they should.”
Even after playing back-to-back home games against top-10 opponents, Kansas University’s women’s basketball team isn’t expecting anything easy today when it travels to Manhattan to face rival Kansas State — a team, like KU, with a losing record.
“They’re not ranked in the top 10,” Jayhawks junior point guard Natalie Knight said of the Wildcats, “but we know we’re gonna get their best game, and we’ve gotta be ready to play, because it is a rivalry game and it’s important to both KU and K-State. So it’s a big game.”
Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson anticipates the Sunflower Showdown — which tips off at 1 p.m. at Bramlage Coliseum, and will be televised by Fox Sports Network — will be the type of game that is decided by who comes up with an extra possession, which team attacks aggressively and which side has the most balance and energy.
“It’s a top rivalry, absolutely,” Henrickson said. “And you can throw numbers out, you can throw records out, you can throw it all out. It is a 50-50 ball game.”’
VOTE for Kansas fans at the NCAA 6th Fan Contest
VOTE for Coach Self & his Assists Foundation (currently 22nd out of 48 coaches!)
“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
To mark the beginning of what is set up to be an eventful week surrounding the 76th Final Four, the most exciting tournament in sports, NCAA officials and members of the North Texas Local Organizing Committee gathered at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium, the site of this year’s tournament finale, to announce some of the many opportunities basketball fans and volunteers will have to engage in this year’s Final Four festivities.
…While the on-court action will all happen on April 5 and 7, fans will have a menu of events to choose from to celebrate North Texas’ first Final Four since 1986. Beginning April 4, the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Downtown Dallas will be transformed into Bracket Town, a 350,000-sq. ft. basketball heaven that will play host to, among many things, a 3-on-3 basketball tournament open to anyone age nine or older. Tickets to Bracket Town go on sale today, and can be found at NCAA.com/finalfour, along with information about the rest of the action-packed week, including the March Madness Music Festival at the site of the old Reunion Arena.
“The greatest thing about the NCAA is that they know that, despite the size of this building, everybody can’t come in here,” said Charlotte Jones Anderson, Chair of the North Texas Local Organizing Committee. “They want to make sure that there are many opportunities for the community to be involved and engaged through a series of events.”
The event takes place April 5 with two semifinal games to played at AT&T Stadium, followed by the April 7 national championship game, played Monday to crown the winner of the NCAA basketball championship.
It’s the first time since 1986 that the Dallas-Fort Worth area has played host to the Final Four, and obviously the first at this stadium, which was completed in 2009. Last year, the stadium hosted the South Regional as dry-run to this year’s Final Four as Michigan advanced to the Final Four.
But this event is much more than three basketball games as the city of Arlington, along with Dallas and Fort Worth take part in hosting several events, similar to the way the Super Bowl was conducted back in 2011.
… Fans fortunate enough to have tickets to the Final Four games can enjoy a Tip-off Tailgate event that includes entertainment, live music and fun activities outside of AT&T Stadium. The Tailgate opens Friday night (April 5) to the general public, but Saturday and Monday’s events are exclusive to fans with tickets to the games.
An event called “The Dribble” gives over 3,000 kids the chance to dribble their way through the heart of downtown Dallas on Sunday, April 6. Kids will start at Dallas City Hall Plaza and dribble to the convention center where they will enter Bracket Town. Children 5-18 are eligible to participate and must pre-register online.
And the Final Four 5K takes place Saturday morning, starting at Fair Park. The proceeds benefit Coaches vs. Cancer, a nationwide collaborative effort between the American Cancer Society and National Association of Basketball coaches.
• Bracket Town
Friday, April 4 to Monday, April 7 at Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, Dallas
An interactive indoor amusement park that includes youth clinics, 3-on-3 basketball tournaments, musical performances, autograph sessions, are more. Tickets will go on sale Jan. 22, 2014.
• NCAA March Madness Music Festival
Friday, April 4 to Sunday April 6 at Reunion Park (former site of Reunion Arena), Dallas
A free, three-day outdoor music festival held from 4 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday, from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, and from 3 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sunday. The musical acts will be announced in late February, but past performers have included Dave Mathews Band, Kenny Chesney, Sting, Jimmy Buffett, KISS, The Black Keys, Muse, Zac Brown Band, and Kings of Leon, among others. Admission is free, but first-come, first served.
• Final Four Friday and the College All-Star Game
Friday, April 4 at AT&T Stadium, Arlington
Each of the Final Four teams will go through an hour-long practice between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m., then the College All-Star Game featuring the top senior student-athletes will follow. Both events are free.
• SLANT Celebration and Youth Clinics
Multiple Dates and Locations
SLANT, or Service Learning Adventures in North Texas, was created before Super Bowl XLV and its goal is to inspire youth to take up the challenge of improving their neighborhoods and communities. There will be a free SLANT Celebration during Final Four Friday at AT&T Stadium.
There will also be basketball youth clinics with instruction from NCAA coaches and student-athletes across North Texas. The locations are TCU in Fort Worth (Grades 3-6), the Elzie Odom Recreation Center in Arlington (Grades 3-8), and the Duncanville Field House in Dallas (Grades 3-8).
All SLANT events are free, but you must preregister at this link.
ICYMI: $1 billion prize for perfect bracket
Indiana is licking its wounds in the rock-steady Big Ten from that home loss to Northwestern over the weekend. A loss that saw the Hoosiers (12-6, 2-3 conference) -- the best team on offense in all of college basketball during the 2012-13 regular season -- score only 47 points.
Forty-seven points. To Northwestern. At home. The mind still sort of reels with that one, you know?
The Hoosiers are having a hangover of alarming proportions to this point. Remember where we were a year ago with Tom Crean's team? I mean, a comedown was totally expected, but nothing like this, past the midway point of the regular season. Now we know what can happen when you lose two guys (Victor Oladipo, Cody Zeller) that are picked second and fourth in the NBA Draft, in addition to vital former seniors Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls. Where we sit, IU is nowhere near the latest bracket update from our own Jerry Palm. The team checks in at No. 79 on KenPom and 77th in RPI. It's 1-3 against top-50 RPI teams and 2-5 against the top 100.
The Hoosiers are very much in danger of not making the NCAA tournament, and Tuesday night's game at 17-1 Michigan State exists as a humongous opportunity -- or perhaps a nail for this team's wooden overcoat. Indiana was a No. 1 seed last year and is setting itself up to become the latest example of a group that went from the top of the bracket to out of it completely in one season.
College sports' infrastructure, with a few exceptions, is built to be cyclical. Still, for a team to be on top of college hoops in one year and fighting to tread water the next is notable. How often does this happen? It's not an every-year affair, but this transgression does bubble up more frequently than you might think. Since the NCAA tournmanent expanded to 64 teams in 1985, historical data shows teams have a 13.8-percent chance of not making it back to the ball the year following nabbing a No. 1.
Here are the tombstones of those who lost their mojo in one season, from No. 1 to NIT or worse.
(Click link for chart)
…Serious credit to UConn, which has done this three times. Oklahoma and Ohio State are repeat offenders for failing to be consecutive contenders.
The major conferences have every advantage in college athletics.
So, of course, they want more.
The biggest conferences — the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern — do not want to be bothered with the smaller fish in the NCAA Division I pond.
Finally, the smaller fish have sighed in resignation and said, OK, have at it.
Last week at the NCAA convention, Division I administrators, conference commissioners and other officials took a straw vote to gauge support for giving the Big Five more autonomy.
Almost 60 percent were in favor.
At a future NCAA meeting, this vote likely will become formal.
First on the agenda for the big guys will be stipends for scholarship athletes.
"I think this certainly has been bubbling for a long time," said Chris Mooney, men's basketball coach at the University of Richmond, a member of the Atlantic 10. "I don't want to speak for the conference commissioners or athletic directors, but I would think we would match that [stipends]."
Most conferences will do what is necessary to remain competitive in basketball. The quest for a spot in the NCAA tournament is an essential part of their existence.
The easy way to look at this push for autonomy is that it's all about stipends. But that's an ancillary point.
The bigger issue gets obscured by the philosophical, economic and emotional debate over stipends.
And the bigger issue is this is a major step in a seismic shift in Division I college athletics, a step that might be inevitable but is not in the right direction.
Division I football already is out of control. No team outside one of the five power conferences has a real chance to compete for a national championship.
That is not the case in basketball. At the moment, the NCAA tournament is seen as untouchable.
"What keeps it great is the Cinderella stories, the five-12 pairings often won by the 12," Mooney said.
But if the major conferences get more autonomy, how long before their members lose patience with the basketball tournament selection process — "Our No. 9 team didn't get in, but they took a second team from the Colonial?" — and establish a super championship in basketball, followed by such championships in all sports?
As 2024 approaches and the $11 billion NCAA tournament television contract nears expiration, rest assured there will be talk of the lucrative possibilities of a basketball tournament among the Big Five conferences to establish a true national champion.
The NCAA and its sweet little Cinderella stories? Let them eat cake!
What does one of the greatest basketball players of all-time think about modern day college basketball?
Jerry West told the Register-Herald of West Virginia that the scouting that's possible today, the uprise in terrific athletes -- which has led to much better defense -- and the advent of the 3-pointer has totally altered the game. And continues to do so. Some of it thrills him; other parts still confuse him. Undeniably the game keeps evolving, though.
It must be something to be Jerry West, this 75-year-old basketball icon, and basically have lived through four or five epochs of evolution in basketball. It was different in the '50s than the '60s; the '70s than the '60s; the '80s, '90s and so-on.
“It's a different type of game today,” he said when asked why most shooters today do not have the consistency percentage-wise than those when he played back in the 1950s, '60s and '70s. “Coaches really emphasize defense today. They also put more emphasis on athleticism. It's not only different but a more difficult game.”
...“And then you have a lot of driving from kids who have trouble holding onto the ball,” West said. “So it's a different kind of game than it used to be. ... I don't understand this, but there seems to be a lot of really poor free-throw shooting, even at the NBA level. And that tells me the competition isn't very good.”
West is now with the Golden State Warriors, in an advisory role. While at West Virginia, West tallied 2,309 points and 1,240 rebounds in just 93 games ... and was 6-foot-3. He's still the leader, all-time, in both categories at WVU. This was before the 3-point shot, of course.
Big XII composite schedule (includes results, highlights, stats)
ESPN College GameDay Schedule
2013-14 TV Schedule
There might not be a more powerful play in Texas high school basketball than a Myles Turner dunk.
The Euless Trinity 7-footer’s two-hand slam in the lane during the third period Friday against Irving MacArthur came with the Trojans trailing 27-25. Five minutes later, Trinity led by 20.
The Trojans finished off MacArthur for a 64-44 victory Friday at home to move into sole possession of the District 6-5A lead.
“Going forward, I felt like we really needed it,” Turner said of the dunk. “Because we were dead. I started off kind of quiet, but I knew it was coming eventually.”
Turner scored nine points in the third quarter, which saw Trinity (20-5, 8-1 6-5A) outscore MacArthur 31-6 to take a 49-29 lead after trailing 23-18 at halftime. Turner, a 5-star recruit who has been offered numerous NCAA Division I scholarships, finished with 17 points and five blocks.
Chaminade won the championship of the Kirkwood Tournament last weekend. The Red Devils defeated host Kirkwood 75-61 in the championship game. Sophomore star Jayson Tatum had 25 points and 16 rebounds
There’s not much that St. Louis sophomore Jayson Tatum can’t do on the basketball. Or at least not anything that jumps out at Chaminade College Prep coach Frank Bennett.
However, Bennett thinks what the 6-7 Tatum does best might be a surprise to many.
“He can score at will. He is pretty athletic, but I really think the best thing he does is doing a phenomenal job of getting teammates involved,” said Bennett. “He really does take joy in getting guys opportunities to score the basketball. As a result, he makes guys around him who are already good even better.
“I tell him all the time how special that is. He has every reason in the book to be as selfish as he wants to be, but he knows to go far in this level and beat the best teams he needs his teammates. He whole heartedly embraces that, too.”
Tatum helped the Team USA junior squad win a gold medal in Uruguay by averaging 10 points and 4.6 rebounds per game…
Tatum, who just turned 16, is ranked as the No. 2 overall prospect in the 2016 recruiting class by Scout.com and 10th best high school player in any class because of his shooting ability along with his defense and rebounding.
Tatum got early scholarship offers from UK, Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, Michigan State and Florida among his 14 offers.
…“He is very goal oriented, and seeing that practice he knows he has to stay the course and work hard,” Bennett said. “We are fortunate he is one of our hardest workers, especially since he is so young. It was good for him to see the practice and reinforces what we are doing. We won’t let him settle for being average. He’s working his tail off so he can be the best he can and wearing a top program jersey in the future.
“Our goal as a team now is not to be a one-trick pony. Our goal is to be a multiple dimension team. When your superstar buys in, that makes life a lot easier. He’s a great kid that way. He is really a blessing to coach. He’s not a huge ego. He knows he is good, but knows in a way you should know. He knows very few can hang with him. He is very high character. You don’t have to worry about him getting in trouble or bringing negative publicity to your school, program or family. He will be special at the next level.”
His father, Justin Tatum, played basketball for St. Louis University and professionally in the Netherlands. He started playing basketball when he was only 3 1/2 years old and Bennett says he still accepts coaching well.
“He is young and good, but he still makes mistakes,” the coach said. “But when you challenge him, he does not push back. He doesn’t shift blame at all. It’s cool to watch because as he fills in the gaps in his game, you can see the even bigger impact he could have and how much better he could be.
“One thing I have challenged him on is to become the most efficient player possible. The more efficient he is, the better we are. I challenged him one day to get a triple-double and a day after that he had one. He’s had a couple of other near misses. He shoots well (almost 60 percent overall and from 3-point range and 90 percent at the foul line). I just encourage him to go to the basket because the defense almost has to foul him to have a shot at stopping him.”
Central KY News
My Late Night in the Phog videos, KU Alumni games videos, 2011-12 Border War videos, Legends of the Phog videos, KC Prep Invitational, & Jayhawk Invitational Videos and more now on YouTube