TCUAD: Kansas vs TCU pregame notes
Despite another physical game that took its toll on bodies, TCU is in no position to conserve energy.
Not right now, not with No. 9 Kansas coming to Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center on Wednesday.
“I think we’re going to come back and give maximum effort,” TCU coach Trent Johnson said. “I think we’re going to come back and play hard. We have to; we have no choice. If we don’t come back and play hard and play well, things aren’t going to go well.”
The Horned Frogs (14-5, 1-5) have battled two of the most physical teams in the Big 12, Texas and West Virginia, in the past two games, and now they face a Jayhawks team (16-3, 5-1) that is second in the league in rebounding during Big 12 play.
“This is the premier team in our league,” Johnson said. “Make no mistake about it.”
…The Jayhawks’ offense, led by point guard Frank Mason III, ranks in the top half of the league in scoring and assist-to-turnover ratio.
But TCU can match up defensively on paper. Johnson hopes the intangible plays, which is where he is trying to make the Frogs stronger, can also make a difference.
“I think all of us talk about 50-50 balls, talk about deflections, disrupting rhythms,” Johnson said. “Charges are a great emphasis with us, being the aggressor, getting to 50-50 balls on the floor — you’ve got to have one, two guys around it, all those kinds of things. You talk about it; you have to talk about it from Day 1.
“You look at some of the good defensive teams in the country, they have a lot of guys who are capable of doing that.”
CBS Sports Viewers Guide
For close to three weeks, Graham wore a walking boot, his only physical activity coming during rehab sessions in the pool. There was no running, no biking, no dribbling, and no real idea if the ligaments would cooperate. On Jan. 10, exactly four weeks after his injury, Graham finally returned in a home game against Texas Tech. Self figured Graham would play spot minutes, his return starting slowly.
Instead, Graham played 19 minutes, dishing out six assists with zero turnovers.
“He was totally out,” Self says. “He couldn’t even ride a bike for three weeks … and then he comes back and he’s got 20 assists and one turnover in the league.”
…“Certainly,” Self said, “I can see him continuing to play more and more.”
In other words, Self says, the emergence of Graham is just beginning. Back in October, as the Jayhawks took the floor for preseason practices, Self compared Graham to Aaron Miles, the former Kansas standout point guard. It was, in that moment, a jarring juxtaposition. Miles is KU’s career assists leader; Graham had never played a minute.
But for Self, the comparison was always about the intangible as much as the talent of each player. Miles, Self says, is one of the most natural leaders he has had during his tenure at KU. He was likable, he was approachable, he was friendly and he was a winner. As the season approached, Self was confident with him on the floor.
It was a description that could fit Graham, too.
TCU enters with one of the Big 12's most deceiving league records.
The Horned Frogs are 1-5 in conference games, but that doesn’t reflect how well they’ve played.
Three of their five losses have come by five points or fewer or in overtime, which includes a home OT loss to No. 20 Baylor and a road OT defeat at No. 17 West Virginia on Saturday.
“Anybody that can go on the road and play well, you know that they’re very, very capable, especially playing at home,” Self said. “We know this will be a much different team than we’ve seen in the last couple years.”
Ken Pomeroy's statistical rankings back Self’s assertion, with the numbers indicating that TCU is one of the most improved teams in the nation.
After finishing 234th in Pomeroy rankings last year, coach Trent Johnson has his team all the way up to No. 42 this year. TCU is the only top-50 team that was not in the top 200 last year.
Even a small jump into the top 50 is rare. Only two teams besides TCU (Davidson and Butler) are in Pomeroy’s top 50 this year after finishing outside the top 100 last year.
“I think coach was very pleased with our effort and way we competed,” sophomore Frank Mason III said. “Obviously that was a good road win for us. It’s a quality team. They have good height, great history behind them and a good program. It’s definitely good we’re moving in the right place.
“I think we’ll come out with the same energy, the same mindset, same defensive mindset,” Mason added. “We’re just looking forward to the next challenge.”
Self is hoping the team can put together back-to-back solid efforts on the road.
“One turnover in the last 35 minutes (at UT) is more impressive to me than none in the second half,” Self said. “It’s amazing the poise they (Jayhawks) showed, but were still in attack mode. We did a good job of attacking, yet being patient. We did a good job taking advantage of numbers. It looked to me they were really understanding how the game was meant to be played. We’ve had teams do that before and then we lay an egg the next game. I don’t know if there’s much carryover in things like that.
“It’s a winning formula. If you take care of the ball and steal some extra possessions, guard and rebound, you have a chance to win. That’s what happened the other day.”
Last week, I picked against the numbers when predicting that KU would win by seven over Oklahoma even when the KenPom projection had the Jayhawks winning by two.
We have a similar break in the numbers here, as KenPom has KU winning by two at TCU, while the Vegas line has the Jayhawks as a 5-point favorite.
I'm not nearly as optimistic picking against KenPom in this situation. For one, this game is on the road and not at Allen Fieldhouse, which is a scarier proposition for KU, especially considering TCU's ability to draw fouls.
The Horned Frogs also are the perfect type of team to be undervalued by the eye test. TCU is only 1-5 in Big 12 play, but with a little more luck in overtime games against top-20 foes Baylor and West Virginia (on the road), the Horned Frogs easily could be 3-3 with a different outlook for their season.
I'm still picking the Jayhawks to win — they should shoot a ton of free throws as well and have a knack for playing well late in games — but I see this one being close to the end.
Kansas 63, TCU 62
Jesse's pick to cover spread: TCU
ABOUT TCU (14-5, 1-5 Big 12): In his third year at TCU, coach Trent Johnson has the Horned Frogs on the rise. After recording a 20-43 record over the last two seasons, TCU began the year 13-0. The Frogs have stumbled in Big 12 play, starting 1-5, but the numbers back up the improvements in Fort Worth. TCU ranks 18th in the country in defensive efficiency, holding opponents to just 36.6 percent shooting inside the three-point line. That’s the second-best mark in the country. Sophomore transfer Chris Washburn is a capable shot-blocker, while 6-foot-10 sophomore Karviar Shepherd provides length on the inside. Wednesday’s game will be played at Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center, a district high school gym in Fort Worth that seats 4,750. TCU is renovating its home gym, Daniel-Meyer Coliseum, and playing off campus this season. Kansas coach Bill Self said he didn’t anticipate the smaller environment being an issue. “I haven’t said a word to our players about it yet,” Self said. “I don’ think it’s a big deal.”
"It's going to take a lot," Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said of unseating the Jayhawks. "Kansas has hit a stride and they're playing as well as any team in the country with the win at Texas. Plus they know how to win with 10 straight. We know they'll be right there."
The Jayhawks will be more than just "right there." Only one of KU's last seven titles has been shared. If someone manages to wrestle half of one away from the KU this year, they might just earn a screenplay and a major motion picture based on their true story. Hollywood digs triumphs over long odds.
Trips to Baylor, Iowa State and Texas are already behind the Jayhawks. Only two road trips to face ranked teams remain and is 184-9 (.953) all-time at Allen Fieldhouse.
"If you'd have told us we'd be 5-1 playing that schedule, I'd have been very pleased," Self said.
To make the odds steeper, name me a Kansas team that was markedly worse entering the conference tournament than it was entering the regular season portion of the Big 12 schedule.
Fox Sports Ubben
KUAD: Kansas vs TCU pregame notes
1/27/15, 2:57 PM
Paul Pierce says new NBA players not as competitive as their predecessors.
“Computers. They play NBA2K instead of going to the park.”
After scoring 20 or more points in three of his first 82 games, McLemore has already surpassed the threshold five times this season – notching a season-high 23 points while matched up against L.A. Lakers All-Star Kobe Bryant on Dec. 21, 2014 – and has tied his career-high with four three-pointers on four occasions.
With the 2015 Rising Stars Challenge debuting a new format – pitting first- and second-year U.S.-born players against the NBA’s top international freshmen and sophomores – the St. Louis, Mo. native ranks second in free-throw percentage (82.9 – min. 50 attempts), sixth in true-shooting percentage (56.9 percent), seventh in scoring and is tied for eighth in win shares (1.4) among eligible USA candidates (min. 10 games played), according to basketball-reference.com.
“My confidence is on a different level this year,” he continues. “I’ve been trying to keep it that way – believe in myself and my shot, play my game, have fun, play free and let the game come to me.”
The Kansas product credits extensive offseason workouts at his alma mater, as well as training with Kings coaches and his new starting backcourt mate for his improved court awareness, ball-handling and scoring efficiency.
“I had a chance to go back to school at Kansas and work with some guys there and the coaching staff, and I worked out back in Sacramento with the coaches,” he says. “I also had a chance to work out with Darren Collison over the summer, so we just got a feel for each other and got ready to prepare for the season.”
…The second-year wing hopes the League’s assistant coaches – who’ll select the pool of eligible participants for the Rising Stars Challenge – recognize and validate his vastly improved all-around play.
“It would mean a lot to me, especially (since) last year, I wasn’t there,” he says. “I’ve been working really hard, trying to have the chance to participate in the rookie-sophomore game.”
In a customarily high-scoring affair renowned for show-stopping slams, spectacular passes and outside jumpshots, McLemore believes his diverse skill set would allow him to fill up the box score and become a staple on video-board replays.
“I think whatever happens, I’m going to go out there and just have fun – play my game, shoot the ball, get some alley-oops and dunks,” he says. “At the same time, I’d be going out there and competing against the best of the best.”
Andrew Wiggins is shooting 69% at the rim and ranks among the highest volume post up wings in the NBA this month.
With one hand on his wallet and without elaborating, Wolves coach Flip Saunders suggested he could have shot nearly twice that many.
“He should have shot 22 tonight,” Saunders said afterward.
Both Saunders and Wiggins gave the impression that Wiggins didn’t — and isn’t — getting the calls he deserves, particularly around the basket. Saunders received a technical foul for arguing a call against Wiggins on Monday and his son Ryan intervened to ensure he didn’t get a second and an automatic ejection.
Saunders thought he had been ejected from Sunday’s loss at Atlanta but was summoned back to the bench by his assistant coaches and told he had received just one technical, not two, while arguing with officials.
But on that subject of not getting their due, Saunders had a message for Wiggins and his young players: Get over it.
“Right now, as I told our guys, when you’re a young team and you’re not winning and you’re a young player, you don’t get the benefit,” he said. “I said you guys have to take care of yourselves out there because I can’t keep giving away money every night, getting technical fouls trying to prove your point. At some point, you’ve got to step out there and take care of things yourself.”
Minn Star Trib
“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
The nicest thing about West Virginia 65, Kansas State 59 would be to say nothing at all, but ...
On the heels of a beautiful, unseasonably toasty late-January afternoon, the locals at Bramlage Coliseum got restless in a hurry -- and grew progressively surlier as the whistles blew fast and furious. The Wildcats (12-9, 5-3 Big 12 Conference) left the floor at the half to frustrated boos and were serenaded to the locker room after the game to furious ones.
…"I thought it was beautiful," Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins said, straight-faced, as only Huggs can. "I've never had an ugly (win). Ever."
…"I think it's awful, just bad basketball," the K-State coach said. "But (Huggins is) winning. They're 17-3, so I'd be happy, too, and (say it's) beautiful. It's just their style."
Fox Sports Keeler
Playing West Virginia this season is like driving from NYC to D.C. with someone who's socially awkward ---- it's uncomfortable.
But to Kansas State fans, the game was brutal because the Wildcats were helpless against the West Virginia press, and on a night when points were precious, they were lousy at the free-throw line.
K-State rarely made the Mountaineers pay for their full court, trapping pressure by attacking. In the first half, the Wildcats twice were whistled for five-second violations and once for a 10-second call.
They were part of K-State’s season-high 25 turnovers. That’s seven more mistakes than field goals for the Wildcats.
West Virginia’s pressure comes at a cost: The aggressiveness sends opponents to the line. But Kansas State, a 68-percent free-throw shooting team, went 20 of 35 (57.1 percent).
And with Mark Whitehead’s whistle-happy officiating crew, which called a technical foul 13 seconds into the game, the teams were going to shoot free throws. The game lasted nearly 2 1/2 hours.
The loss is a blown opportunity for the Wildcats, who need to take advantage of every opportunity to improve its resume. A triumph over the No. 17 Mountaineers would have been the third over a ranked team and stood behind only a victory at Oklahoma as the team’s most impressive this season.
Instead, K-State goes into its toughest task of the season — at Kansas on Saturday — having lost two of three.
Also a concern: Nino Williams’ health. The team’s hottest player appeared to injure his left knee on a drive early in the game and missed the final 30 minutes. The Wildcats needed his game, and much better reaction against the pressure, especially on inbounds plays.
KC Star Kerkhoff
Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford was fine with getting close-to-normal scoring production from stars Phil Forte and Le'Bryan Nash.
What everyone else did helped the Cowboys beat No. 20 Baylor 64-53 on Tuesday night. Oklahoma State's suffocating defense held the Bears to 34.5 percent shooting.
''We got after it,'' Ford said. ''We got after it defensively, and we sustained it, and we had a little toughness to our defense. It wasn't one or two guys, it was everybody locked in. It's the difference between winning and losing.''
Forte scored 16 points, Nash added 13 and everyone else chipped in to help the Cowboys claim their second win over a ranked opponent this season. Michael Cobbins had six points, a season-high 11 rebounds and matched a career high with five blocks, Anthony Hickey had eight points and a career-high 10 assists and freshman Tavarius Shine added a season-high 11 points for the Cowboys (14-6, 4-4 Big 12).
The Cowboys played much better than in their 63-53 loss to Kansas State last Tuesday.
''Everybody was taking it more seriously and realizing at what point in the season we're at now,'' Cobbins said. ''Everybody knew we had to come back after a loss, and basically, just respond.''
Here is the biggest problem as it relates to the game as a whole: it is ugly and slow and unskilled.
Here is an ancillary problem specific to this season: the two teams currently atop the rankings aren’t helping.
The disappointing aspect of the overall pace and aesthetics of college hoops is that the sport’s decision makers were in the process of fixing it last year. And then they lost their nerve.
After a lot of early whistles and the beginning of a nationwide adjustment for the better, officials abdicated on calling it tight (1). At the start of conference play last January, we started backsliding to wrestling matches in the paint, hand-to-hand combat on drives, cutters bracing for collisions and secondary defenders collecting bogus charge calls. That has continued this season, with awful results.
…Yes, there is undefeated and top-ranked Kentucky (2) – a huge brand name and lightning-rod program. UK has a realistic chance to be 34-0 entering the NCAA tournament and make a run at being the first undefeated champion since 1976, which provides a meaty storyline for casual fans to gravitate toward. Chasing history is interesting.
But the twice-weekly grind of watching the Wildcats play is not exactly a thrill ride – and not just because they’re miles better than most of their competition.
Their primary attribute is sheer size – they may be the biggest college team ever. And sheer size is not terribly entertaining in and of itself.
There are games where Kentucky’s best offense is throwing the ball at the rim, retrieving it and laying it in – per Ken Pomeroy’s numbers, the Cats are third nationally in offensive rebounding rate and 90th in effective field-goal percentage.
Then there is the other unbeaten, Virginia (6). There are 351 teams playing Division-I basketball. All but one of them (American U.) plays at a faster tempo than the Cadavers – uh, Cavaliers. Just like his dad, Tony Bennett always has been a slow-down guy – yet this is his slowest team in nine seasons as a college head coach.
Watching Virginia beat Rutgers 45-26 or Georgia Tech 57-28 certainly is enjoyable for fans of the team. It isn’t for anyone else.
Don't blame officials for "unwatchable" basketball, either. College coaches control Rules Committee. They wanted this mess. #teachoffense
Heartbreak fuels Renardo Sidney’s new sense of purpose
The final class of students who can say they were a part of the Big 12 Conference are due to graduate in May.
Yes, we are in the SEC, the crown jewel of college athletics. We now play teams that seem to tout that they are the best at fill-in-the-blank sport every year.
Though this may be true, most consider the University of kansas (lowercase on purpose) as the enemy and chief rival of the University of Missouri. Or at least you should.
I am a native Missourian, so I learned at a young age that kansas is our arch-nemesis. More foul than Russia. More despicable than North Korea. Plain and simple, the absolute worst.
But because of our move to the SEC, kansas refuses to schedule a regular season game against the Tigers in any sport.
Luckily, the NCAA enjoys making the Jayhawks play us in postseason competitions.
We’ve faced off against these losers in two NCAA tournaments: Once in softball in May of last year, and the other in soccer. We have prevailed twice.
Besides a three-year hiatus, the Border War is still the second-longest college football rivalry, holding its first game in 1891.
But because kansas is scared of us, we have been forced to find a new rival. One that holds geographical, cultural and historical significance.
I’m obviously speaking of the newly christened Battle Line Rivalry with the University of Ar-kansas.
You’re probably saying, “But Brendan, it’s pronounced ‘Arkansaw,’ not ‘Ar-kansas’!”
And you were correct. Until we joined the SEC. Now, in order to preserve the past, we must alter the name of our new rivals. It definitely helps that no one wants to be associated with kansas, so it adds a little flavor to the rivalry as well.
This relates to the Antlers because we have traditions to uphold, and come rivalry time, one of the most sacred of traditions is carried out.
In preparation for last Saturday’s Ar-kansas game, we had a hog feast at Smokin’ Chick’s BBQ the Friday before the game.
This was accompanied by meeting Dirty Mike Anderson and the Boys at the airport, after which we cut their bus off and took a slow drive down Stadium Boulevard to Mizzou Arena. (Sorry, Columbia.)
If you looked over at us on Saturday, you could see that gave the first-year Antlers spiffy (disgusting) new haircuts and dresses, while the older guys dressed as their redneck male counterparts — a representation of the Ar-kansas fan base.
We may have lost the game in a heartbreaking finish, but we’re proud of the team (and of Wes, who we love unconditionally) regardless. If anything, that difficult loss adds fuel to the rivalry fire.
In the end, the Antlers do what we can to help out our boys on the court, and that includes buying into the new rivalry that we are a part of.
Although the true enemy is and always will be the Jayhawks, we can now enjoy a new archenemy in the “Hawgs” down south.
Uh, just in case they forgot...
Tonight on @ESPNU we will unveil the @McDAAG rosters for both the boys and girls teams. Tune in at 6PM ET
VOTE for Carlton Bragg’s HS Villa Angela-St Joseph
If VASJ is going to advance to the final round and earn the right to compete for a $1,000 donation to the school’s athletic department and the right to earn the title of “America’s Best Boys Basketball Program,” it is going to need the support – and voting power – of all Northeast Ohio hoops fans.
Fans may vote as many times as they’d like for a particular program during the contest period.
1/27/15, 10:54 PM
just picked up a offer from Kansas..#KU #rockchalk
@nolimitbill (Billy Preston)
1/27/15, 11:27 PM
Kansas has offered 2017 forward Billy Preston, who recently transferred from Redondo Union (CA) to Prime Prep (TX), he announced
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