…"A lot of the older guys that were here last year," Smith said, "we've been looking for this game for a while, just to get them at home."
KU’s Mason, who sprained his ankle against Florida on Friday, practiced Tuesday and will play tonight, Self said Tuesday night.
Georgetown students have plenty on their minds and schedules this week because of first-semester exams and term papers. Members of the school’s men’s basketball team not only have those academic responsibilities but also a game smack in the middle of this most demanding time.
And it’s not just any adversary but a long-awaited rematch against 10th-ranked Kansas, which had its way with the Hoyas last season, 86-64, at historic Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan.
Georgetown typically does not schedule this level of opponent during exams, but logistics regarding arena availability dictated terms this season, according to Coach John Thompson III. The Hoyas’ fourth all-time meeting with the three-time national champions is Wednesday night at Verizon Center, which under other circumstances likely would be filled for a game of such magnitude.
But the timing is anything but ideal, and players indicated they were uncertain about robust student attendance.
“So much of the lessons learned in that gym, in this sport, in any sport, carry over throughout life, and life isn’t always convenient,” Thompson said. “You can’t always schedule things when you want them, so just the understanding that’s life. Life comes at you that way, and you have to be prepared, and you still have to perform in all areas.”
…“You can see why they’re always in the [NCAA] tournament,” said Georgetown senior center Joshua Smith, a transfer from UCLA who will be playing Kansas for the fourth time in his career. “They’re always playing hard. They’re always physical. They have a great coach. They’re not going to give us anything. We have to go out and take it.”
Even without Wiggins and Embiid, the Jayhawks can return home with a victory if they mirror last year's winning formula of getting to the free throw line. A lot. Kansas attempted a staggering 46, outscoring Georgetown 31-16 from the line, while putting the Hoyas' frontcourt in foul trouble.
"They're shooting a lot of foul shots. They get fouled a lot," Hoyas coach John Thompson III said at McDonough Arena on Tuesday. "Last year out there we got into foul trouble, quickly. That is a concern."
That's also not just coach-speak. This Kansas team is tied eighth nationally with 28.9 free throw attempts per game.
"Coach Thompson actually pulled me and Josh aside and said he was nervous about foul trouble," senior forward Mikael Hopkins said. "He just wants to make sure we stay focus on not get ticky-tack fouls. If we actually foul, get fouls that mean something."
The Georgetown coach demands a lot from his players — especially guards such as Smith-Rivera — no matter the score or situation.
And the junior is starting to get into a rhythm after a slow start for the Hoyas (5-2), who host No. 10 Kansas (6-1) Wednesday night at Verizon Center (7 p.m., Fox Sports 1).
After scoring a combined 15 points in the first two games, Smith-Rivera scored a total of 41 points in back-to-back losses to Wisconsin and Butler — both currently ranked in the top 15 in the AP poll. Then, he had a game-high 16 in a 78-46 rout of Towson on Sunday in the BB&T Classic.
…On Sunday, the Hoyas had five players in double figures, including center Joshua Smith, who had 12 points and seven rebounds.
“I think that is how our team is,” Thompson said. “Definitely D’Vauntes and hopefully Josh are going to score for us, but we have so many guys.”
In Wednesday night’s contest against Kansas, rebounding will be key for the Hoyas, who lost last season to the Jayhawks 86-64.
Last year, the Hoyas were outrebounded 39-29 at Kansas, but Smith was limited to just 19 minutes as he fouled out with five points. This season, Smith has committed 23 fouls in seven games.
Keys to the Game:
1. Force Perimeter Shots: The Jayhawks are at their best when they run up and down the court, score in transition and feed the ball inside to Ellis and Alexander. Our guards need to keep Selden and Mason out of the lane and make them do their damage from beyond the arc. The more jump shots we force, the more likely we are to win.
2. Keep Kansas off the Line: As a team, Kansas shoots 72% from the line. Ellis and Alexander, in particular, are very effective at drawing contact and getting to the line. Ellis leads Kansas with 51 free throw attempts, and he connects on 74.5% of his foul shots. Our bigs need to be smart and not take the bait on pump fakes. If we shoot more free throws than Kansas, it will be a very good sign.
3. Smooth v. Smooth: Perry Ellis is one of the smoothest players in the country. And Paul White is pretty smooth himself. I don't think it's a stretch to say that White is a poor man's Perry Ellis, and that we hope White will eventually turn into the player that Ellis has become. Both guys are versatile forwards; at this stage, Ellis is a better passer and can create his shot a bit more often, but White may have a little more touch from the perimeter. I love the way these guys play and I can't wait to see how each performs.
4. The Big Fella: Given the size and athleticism of Kansas' bigs, Joshua Smith will have a real challenge on his hands. Against Towson, Smith had one of his best games of the year, not only because he demanded the ball down low and exerted his girth, but also because he passed out of double teams and facilitated our half-court offense more than he has in the past. Against Kansas, it won't be as easy for him to push people around. There's a decent chance that he will find it hard to score under the basket, struggle to rebound the ball and pick up two quick fouls. If that happens, we'll be in trouble. But if he can stay on the court and make the Jayhawks see how monumental he has become, I like our chances.
It's the first big home game of the season and, regrettably, it's also probably the most highly anticipated home game of the season (welcome to conference realignment). These are the games that will determine the success of this year's Hoyas. The first month has been an interesting one. We've seen this team's depth and our ability to compete with some of the better teams in the country. But we've also seen some fairly big flaws. Playing Kansas will give us yet another barometer in which to gauge how far we've come and how much farther we need to go.
The Jayhawks more or less ran us out of their building last year. It's time for us to exact a little revenge. We need a statement win, and we need one now. Let's set the tone early and remind this young Jayhawks squad that they're not in Kansas anymore. Time to get nasty.
Best game -- Kansas at Georgetown (-3); 7 ET, Fox Sports 1: Over the past couple of weeks, I've talked about how I don't think Kansas has had a real litmus test for their level this season. Kentucky is pretty clearly out of their league, but I'm also not high on Michigan State yet either and don't particularly see them as a top-25 team right now. However, I do think Georgetown on the road will give us a good idea of just where this Jayhawk team is right now. The Hoyas are 5-2 with a win over Florida and their only two losses coming to top-15 teams Butler and Wisconsin. Whoever wins this one will put a big feather in their cap when it comes time for the selection committee to make seeding choices.
ABOUT GEORGETOWN (5-2): For the moment, the Hoyas are playing like a NCAA Tournament team. Georgetown owns a neutral-floor victory over Florida, and its only losses have come against Wisconsin and Butler at the Battle 4 Atlantis in November. Senior center Joshua Smith is a genuine load in the middle, standing 6 feet 10 and 350 pounds. Smith, who is averaging career highs with 12.7 points and 6.9 rebounds, was limited to just five points before fouling out in last season’s 86-64 loss at Allen Fieldhouse. The Hoyas enter Wednesday’s game ranked 20th nationally in KenPom’s efficiency ranking, boasting the 24th-most efficient offense. Georgetown shoots 35 percent from three-point range, but the Hoyas do most of their damage inside. They shoot 56 percent inside the three-point line, which ranks 16th nationally. Under coach John Thompson III, Georgetown has been in the NCAA Tournament seven of the last nine years. Last year’s team finished 18-15 and lost in the second round of the NIT.
“Some guys it takes a little bit longer and they learn through repetition,” Self said this week. “They learn through being visual … Cliff is one of those guys that’s going to learn through repetition. Once he gets enough reps, he’s going to be fabulous.”
Alexander, who is averaging 18.7 minutes per game, is already proving to be something close. He is averaging 10.0 points and 6.6 rebounds while coming off the bench for all seven games, and the advanced metrics suggest that Alexander could be even more productive as his minutes increase.
When he’s on the floor, Alexander is Kansas’ most efficient scorer, averaging 1.21 points per possession. (Junior Perry Ellis is averaging 1.18). Alexander’s offensive rebounding percentage ranks 39th in the country. And while Self has been concerned with Alexander’s inclination to foul, it’s also worked in the reverse: Alexander is one of the best in the country at forcing contact and provoking fouls, drawing 8.7 fouls per 40 minutes. That number ranks eighth in college basketball.
“Cliff embraces contact,” Self said.
…To put this point in context, Self uses an example from last season, when the KU coaching staff was molding Joel Embiid into an eventual lottery pick. Embiid had played organized basketball for just a couple years, but he was something like a basketball savant. He could perfect post moves on the first attempt; his mind and body were always synchronized.
“Nobody is going to be like Joel ever again,” Self said. “He’s smarter than the coaches. Joel gets it. Joel was Danny (Manning). Danny had that same type of mindset.”
So perhaps Alexander is a different specimen than Embiid or Manning — a little rougher around edges. But it’s also worth pointing out that through six games, Alexander has actually earned more minutes than Embiid through the same point last season.
“It’ll be like a lunar eclipse if Josh is standing a certain way and Cliff is behind him. There’s a chance you will not see Cliff,” KU coach Bill Self said, jokingly, of 6-foot-8, 240-pound Cliff Alexander guarding 6-10, 350-pound man-mountain Smith during today’s 6 p.m. battle between the No. 10-ranked Jayhawks (6-1) and unranked Hoyas (5-2) in Verizon Center.
“I don’t think you can prepare for Josh. He’s huge. He’s got great feet. He’s got soft hands. He’s a good passer. He moves so well,” Self added of Smith, who averages 12.7 points off amazing 66.7 percent shooting and 6.9 boards in his senior season at Georgetown.
The Jayhawks are quite familiar with Smith, who chose Georgetown over KU as his transfer destination after two seasons at UCLA.
This will be KU’s fourth meeting against the McDonald’s All-American.
As a freshman, Smith scored 17 points and grabbed 13 rebounds while playing 28 minutes and fouling just twice in UCLA’s 77-76 loss to KU on Dec. 2, 2010, in Allen Fieldhouse.
As a sophomore, Smith had one point, one rebound and fouled out after playing 13 minutes in the Bruins’ 72-56 loss to KU on Nov. 22, 2011, in Maui.
Last year, Smith had five points and no boards and fouled out of KU’s 86-64 win over the Hoyas in Allen Fieldhouse.
“To me, he looks like he’s in very good shape. They’re playing through him more. His production per minute is off the charts,” Self said of the pivot who was called The Washington Monument, Round Mound of Georgetown, Joshua Tree, Transfer from UCLWeigh, Capitol Rotunda, SmithZONEian, Big Smooth and Freight Train by Hoyas fans who created possible nicknames for Kent, Washington, native Smith in an unofficial Twitter/Facebook discussion in November of 2013.
“We’re going to have to limit his good touches and allow him not to get to his spot on the block quite as easily,” Self added.
…Georgetown coach John Thompson III, about the possibility Georgetown fans may not show up tonight in full force. This week is first-semester exams. “Let’s be honest, there are not too many places like (Allen Fieldhouse). I hope our fans come out and give us a boost.” It’s expected thousands of KU fans will attend tonight’s game.
LJW Smithology: Getting to know the Hoyas
Brown said injured rookie center Joel Embiid, who is out following June surgery to repair a right foot stress fracture, has “cleared that first layer of scrutiny from the doctor” and is permitted to do some standstill shooting.
Embiid took some 17-footers and a bunch of free throws after Monday’s session without wearing a protective boot.
Embiid, who was the No. 3 overall pick in June’s draft, might sit out the entire season.
The University of Kansas on Tuesday celebrated the largest single donation from individual donors in school history.
The $58 million gift from the estate of Madison “Al” and Lila Self will provide fellowships and scholarships for students in business, economics and the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math.
Tuesday’s announcement brings the total donation from the couple to $106 million, making them the university’s most generous private donors, school officials said.
Al Self died in January 2013 in Hinsdale, Ill., a Chicago suburb where he and his wife had lived for nearly half a century. Lila Self died 10 months later. Both were 91. Their only child, son Murray A. Self, preceded them in death.
Al Self and Lila Reetz grew up in rural Kansas and met at KU, where Al Self earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1943. They married in September that year.
Four years later, the Selfs, who both came from modest means, purchased a company with three employees — the Bee Chemical Co. in Lansing, Ill. When they sold it in 1984, the firm had grown to an international producer of polymers and polymer coatings for use on plastics. It had five U.S. manufacturing facilities and operations in Japan and England.
Al Self later became the chief executive officer of Tioga International, a provider of coatings for the plastics and rubber industries.
“Throughout the nearly 25 years that I knew Al and Lila Self, they remained committed to KU and were steadfast in their support of students,” said Dale Seuferling, president of KU Endowment.
KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little met with the Selfs on several occasions, including their final visit to campus in 2011.
“Lila and Al were dedicated to contributing to the personal growth of KU students so they can become the leaders our society needs,” she said in a statement. “Their gift will benefit generations of KU students whose innovations and ideas will create prosperity and well-being long into the future.”
While there is at least one area on the Lawrence campus named for the couple — Self Computing Commons in Eaton Hall — “they were not big believers in bricks and mortar, but were more about investing in people, in this case students,” Seuferling said.
Among the many scholarships and programs supported through the Selfs’ donations are the Self Graduate Fellowship program, as well as the Self Engineering Leadership Fellows program for undergraduates, the Mossberg Pharmacy Professorship and the Society of Self Fellows.
Of this latest gift, $39 million will be added to the Self Graduate Fellowship Fund for doctoral students in STEM fields, business and economics; $15 million will go to the engineering leadership program; and $4 million will go into a new Self Graduating Senior Fellowship Fund to recognize graduating students for their achievements.
Seuferling said the Selfs focused a great deal on supporting graduate education.
“They saw it as an opportunity to make investment in students who had already identified a career path” and could be reasonably predicted to follow through with those aspirations, Seuferling said. “Al was interested in creating leaders in the field.”
The graduate fellowship program began in 1989 with a $1 million gift, and to date KU has had 154 Self graduate fellows. It has 31 now. Over four years, each will receive $165,000 in financial support.
The undergraduate fellowship program began in 2006. Those students each receive $24,000 over four years.
The Selfs’ gift has helped the university reach its $1.2 billion goal in its “Far Above” campaign, which launched publicly in 2012 with a projected 2016 finish line.
“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
These days, Harlan can't find one spot on the globe where speculation about a leap to the Big 12 won't accompany him.
…Stoking the dialogue among Bulls constituents was the fact that Big 12 ADs also met Monday in New York. Coincidence? Yes. Conjecture? You betcha.
Harlan didn't immediately respond to a text message Tuesday, and a USF spokesman said he's not likely to comment on the resuscitated hubbub beyond what he frequently has said in the past: The Bulls first must focus on becoming a championship program in their own conference.
Translation: How attractive can a 4-8 football team with one actual home crowd of more than 25,000 last season be to a Power Five league? How would it perceive a program that couldn't draw an audience of even 6,500 last winter for a men's basketball game against the reigning national champ (Louisville)?
Geography, and its accompanying costs and logistical concerns, also can't be ignored. If suddenly propelled into the Big 12, the Bulls' closest road trip would be to Morgantown, W.Va., 950 miles one-way. League exit fees and existing TV contracts also represent significant obstacles.
Would other factors trump such concerns? Perhaps. Both USF and UCF reside in coveted TV markets (13th and 18th nationally, per Nielsen), are nestled amid fertile football recruiting soil, and possess highly attractive facilities. Branching out to Florida would allow the Big 12 to stretch its brand.
12/9/14, 9:39 PM
Bruce Weber continues to blame a tough early schedule and fatigue from the Maui Invitational on his team's energy.
Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo is not a fan of the Big Ten Conference moving its postseason tournament to Madison Square Garden in 2018, when it will be played a week before the Big East Tournament and leave a gap of 11 days before the start of the NCAA Tournament.
“That’s probably my biggest concern,” Izzo told The Detroit Free Press. “Not where it is, but [the timing]. Nobody wants that much time off. It could be two weeks, because you could play [in the league tournament] and get beat on a Thursday.”
The Big Ten held a press conference Tuesday at the Garden to formally announce the move, which was first reported by SI.com.
The 2017 tournament will be held at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., but during the week before the NCAAs.
“I kind of worry about traveling way out there for those two times,” Izzo said of the 2017 and 2018 tournaments. “I worry about it from a physical standpoint. I worry about it depending on where the NCAA sends you. I worry about it from a financial standpoint for parents and families. Are they going to change some of those rules (to help families afford travel to such events)? I’ve got some questions on it. I know why the commissioner is doing it. I understand it. … They’re for the reasons of why we make more money and why we have better facilities and all that stuff, so I understand some of it. I just hope we don’t lose, I hope the conferences don’t lose, what I think these conferences like the Big Ten that have had tradition seem to be losing a little bit.”
As I feel this trend of instant gratification is taking over the landscape of college basketball, I urge coaches to not waiver in doing it the right way.
Hire who you think is best, recruit the kids who best fit what you want to do and focus on the team you have now. A product of substance is becoming harder and harder to find.
In an era where kids that were babied become recruits that are babied and eventually turn into players on campus that want to be babied, a coach's job becomes so much more.
One of my favorite bible stories is Noah’s Ark. God told Noah: “If you build it… they will come."
This is the road that coaches need to take — build your program the right way.
Everything you do as a basketball coach has to be first, for the good of the university; second, for the good of the community; third, for the good of the program and lastly, for the good of your players.
The process in which a winning team is built is one of countless hours in an empty gym, chasing down thousands of missed balls, running a play 5 vs. O until your guys can’t get it wrong.
…"Play hard" and "act right" were the only two team rules my freshman class and I received upon stepping onto campus at the University of Missouri. Just those two.
We arrived in 2008, following a gauntlet of off-court issues and arrests, five seasons without a postseason appearance and a brief history of losing. In building a program, having guys that are accountable off the court is just as (sometimes even more important than) players that are accountable on the court.
This is also developing a culture. Playing hard and acting right is something your players will demonstrate to recruits and newcomers, and those recruits and newcomers will demonstrate them to the next crop of players.
We played hard to become Mizzou's winningest class in school history with 108 wins. We acted right with no off-court issues. Those two rules say it all — all five of us graduated.
Kim English for SI
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"Coming in here with this crazy, hostile environment, we're glad to get the win," Newman said. "We were humbled and we were hungry."
Newman's biggest shot of the night came in the final five minutes.
Top-ranked Callaway (8-3) surged out of the gates, going on a 10-point run in the first quarter to claim a 31-19 halftime lead.
But No. 2 Velma Jackson (7-2), the defending 3A champion, slowly clawed back.
Mississippi State recruit Quinndary Weatherspoon hit a step-back jumper to put the Falcon up 42-40 with 5:03 left.
A standing-room-only crowd rose.
Weatherspoon, a Dandy Dozen selection, finished the night with 10 points.
"Right after they went up," Newman said, "I knew I wanted the shot if it was there."
Newman was open at the top of the key and sank a 3-pointer to give Callaway a lead it wouldn't relinquish.
"I really have to credit my teammates," Newman said. "They all really stepped up and got it done."
Clarion Ledger (above video at this link)