Breaking recruiting news: Embiid to Kansas!
Der Biergarten: KU bar in Atlanta 3:30 - 6:30 pregame party
Atlanta Jayhawk Alumni group
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Champions Classic: KU vs Michigan State
Is it safe to expect a November grinder? Probably.
Kansas coach Bill Self and Michigan State’s Tom Izzo have made careers — and fortunes — on the defensive end, both coaches indoctrinating their players with the sort of toughness that shows up in March. Izzo has led the Spartans to six Final Fours and one NCAA title (2000) in the last 14 years. The Jayhawks are fresh off their second Final Four appearance in Self’s nine seasons in Lawrence.
On Tuesday night, the two head coaches will lead their power programs into an early-season clash in the Champions Classic at the Georgia Dome, the first bout in a doubleheader that also includes a a heavyweight matchup between Duke and Kentucky.
So what to make of the latest showdown between Sparty and Self?
…In the last seven years, here are KU’s adjusted defensive efficiency rankings, according to kenpom.com:
So can this year’s Kansas defense match up to those lofty expectations? Based upon readers’ emails and the early reactions from two exhibition games and the season opener, that seems to be a pretty good question. So, let's start here, by looking at two of Self's best defensive teams.
To most, the gold standard is still the 2008 squad, which rode the No. 1 ranked defense to a national title. That team, of course, had three strong perimeter defenders — Mario Chalmers*, Russell Robinson and Brandon Rush — and center Sasha Kaun, a plus post defender in the paint.
*If you need more proof of Chalmers’ defensive abilities, a recent Sports Illustrated feature cited a Synergy Sports study that showed Chalmers was the best pick-and-roll defender in the NBA last season.
But, according to kenpom.com, the most efficient defensive squad during Self's tenure was actually the 2007 team — by a hair, anyway — which fell to UCLA in the Elite Eight. One reason for the loss: the 2007 Kansas team ranked 17th in offensive efficiency, while the 2008 squad, a year older and sans Julian Wright, was the second-best offensive team in the nation. In fact, that 2007 KU team is the highest rated defensive team since 2003-04, the year Self took over in Lawrence.
The only thing Bill Self knows for sure is that he’s about to learn a lot more about his band of experienced seniors and heretofore untested freshmen.
“It’ll be interesting to see how our young guys react under the lights, too,” Self said on Sunday. “It’s one thing to play at home and be nervous in front of our fans. It’s another thing to go on the road.”
Just one game into their careers, Kansas freshmen Perry Ellis and Ben McLemore will be counted on to play substantial minutes against a ranked team. And seniors Johnson and center Jeff Withey will get their first opportunity to be leading men in the same building that will play host to the Final Four this April.
“This will be definitely a learning experience for the team,” McLemore said.
…Last year’s Champions Classic served as something of a primer for the college season. There were two eventual No. 1 seeds — Michigan State and Kentucky — along with the two national finalists. And the four teams in New York accounted for three first-team All-Americans and 23.3 percent (seven of 30) of the first-round picks in last summer’s NBA Draft.
Johnson still says that the Jayhawks learned something in last year’s loss to Kentucky. Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor were still becoming comfortable as go-to guys. And players such as Johnson and Withey were finding their way as regulars for the first time. After that loss, the Jayhawks learned that they needed to be better — but also that they weren’t that far away.
“That was the game that woke us up,” Johnson said.
If the Jayhawks are to defeat the Spartans to even their record at 1-1 in the Champions Classic, they likely will have to overcome the size and physicality of 6-10 Payne and 6-9 Nix.
“They keep you off your spot,” Self said. “They are big at the 3 (small forward) with Dawson, who can play the 4 (power forward). I anticipate them being the same as always — running really fast from defense to offense and rebounding as well as anybody in the country. It’ll be a big challenge getting on the glass. How can we slow them down when they come at us? That’ll be the biggest key to the game. How can we eliminate them getting easy baskets?
“Michigan State will expose us if we don’t play well because they’ll make us be an execution team since they don’t give up easy baskets. We’ll try to figure out how tough we are in rebounding, going for loose balls. They are great at that and take pride in that. It will be interesting to see how our young guys react under the lights too. It’s one thing to play at home and be nervous. It’s another thing to go on the road and have to do it somewhere else. It’ll be a great experience for us.”
KU senior Travis Releford thinks the Jayhawks old and young will handle the pressure just fine.
“Coach brought it to their (freshmen) attention. He said, ‘You think you are nervous before 16,300, wait until you get in an arena with 30,000; how you will react to it?’” Releford said. “The only thing I can really tell our young guys is stay focused and do what we’ve been working on. I’m excited. Our young guys are excited. Playing our second game before that many people in that kind of environment against that kind of team, it’s good for us.”
If you looked purely at the rankings, KU would seem to be a decent favorite. But given KU’s unproven freshmen, Michigan State certainly has the squad to play with Kansas on a neutral floor. Still, Jeff Withey and Elijah Johnson have played in big games before, and the Jayhawks have the defense to grind out a muddy, early-season victory that will look much better in March.
KC Star: Game Preview
The future of the point guard position at Michigan State could go several ways, and one possible avenue will get an early look tonight.
Sophomore Travis Trice, MSU’s backup point guard, is not expected to play when the No. 21 Spartans take on No. 7 Kansas in the first game of the Champions Classic at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Trice took a shot to the head in Friday’s season-opening loss to Connecticut in Germany and has “concussion symptoms,” coach Tom Izzo said.
So freshman Denzel Valentine likely will run things when starter Keith Appling isn’t — either to give Appling a break or to allow Appling to slide over to shooting guard.
…The Spartans will have flown more than 9,500 miles in a week by the time they get home from Atlanta, but Izzo said he does not expect fatigue to be a factor tonight.
And he saw enough good things in the final 28 minutes Friday — after what he called “an incredibly horrifying first 12” — to think his team is capable of starting with a split.
“I think we’ll play better, I really do,” he said. “I think we’ll play a lot more efficiently offensively.”
Lansing State Journal
LSJ Video: Preview of Spartans vs Jayhawks
• Backcourts: MSU won't face many guard combos as potent as UConn's Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright. Johnson and McLemore might be close. They're definitely more physically imposing. McLemore, a great athlete and good jump shooter, has a chance to be the offensive star of this Jayhawks team. Without Trice available, MSU needs its two freshman guards, Harris and Valentine, to have better starts. But this is still Appling's show. The Spartans' transition game and post game mostly rides on the junior point guard's decisions. Edge: Even
• Frontcourts: Nix and Payne will finally see a true big man in Withey, the Jayhawks' 7-footer who blocked a Big 12-best 140 shots last season. Lanky shot-blockers have stymied Nix in the past. Ellis was a big-time recruit, but isn't as quick and doesn't have the ball-handling skills of UConn's DeAndre Daniels, who gave Payne so much trouble. The Ellis-Dawson matchup is equally intriguing. Edge: Even
• Benches: This is potentially Kansas' downfall. The Jayhawks' rotation didn't go beyond guard Naadir Tharpe and forward Jamari Traylor in their opener. MSU won't have Trice, but Brandan Kearney (illness) is healthy and freshman big man Matt Costello (bruised tailbone) is expected to play for the first time. It's a deep rotation, it's just that the roles are yet to be defined. Edge: MSU
» Prediction: MSU's trip to Germany and its invite to the Champions Classic were both opportunities too good to pass up. But it makes for a tough opening week. The question is, how travel weary are the Spartans after coming back from Germany? Given they've been home since Saturday and this is only the second trip of the season, they might have their legs. If they do, Kansas is beatable and probably a bit overrated.
• Make it: Kansas 70, MSU 65
LSJ game preview
Now No. 21 MSU gets a big, strong opponent in No. 7 Kansas tonight in the Champions Classic at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. So more will be needed from Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne, and backups Alex Gauna and Matt Costello could be factors.
Izzo said Costello "will play some" after he sat out Friday's season-opening loss to Connecticut. Costello was available after missing more than a week with a tailbone bruise, but it wasn't much of a game for reserve bigs -- Gauna played just 1 minute.
Izzo said Costello's "smash 'em attitude" could help against a Kansas front line fronted by 7-foot senior Jeff Withey. Withey blocked a Big 12-record 140 shots last season and started his senior season with 17 points and 12 rebounds in a 74-55 win Friday over Southeast Missouri State.
Payne will start at power forward again after struggling at that spot against perimeter-oriented UConn forward DeAndre Daniels. Izzo said 6-8 Kansas freshman Perry Ellis should be a better matchup for Payne.
To prepare, Izzo showed his big men film of MSU's 2009 NCAA Sweet 16 win over Kansas and its mammoth shot blocker at the time, Cole Aldrich. Goran Suton was able to draw Aldrich away from the paint with his shooting ability, and MSU tried to get Aldrich into pick-and-roll situations when possible.
Tonight, the Spartans will see if Nix can use his strength to create space inside so he can shoot over Withey. Izzo said it's critical to get the ball inside more in this game, to create inside-out jump shots.
Detroit Free Press
Yahoo Sports: AP game preview
“As much as anything, Michigan State will expose us if we don’t play well, because they’ll make us be an execution team because they don’t give up easy baskets,” Self said. “And then of course (we’ll have to be) a toughness team and try to figure out how tough we are in rebounding, loose balls and that kind of stuff, because they’re great at that and take great pride in that.”
In Michigan State, Self sees a team constructed much like his own. Both have three upperclassmen in the starting lineup. Both have freshmen who were McDonald’s All-Americans. Both have experienced perennial success without churning out a bunch of one-and-done draft picks.
This is the standard model, Self said, with one notable outlier.
“If you stop and think, is Duke getting one-and-dones? They had (Austin) Rivers,” Self said. “Is Carolina getting one-and-dones? Kentucky obviously is. Is Michigan State getting one-and-dones?
“It’s not like there’s that many one-and-dones. It’s just they all go to one school, for the most part, so that gets a lot of attention.”
Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and Michigan State have so much in common. Ardent fan bases, strong coaches and not just a history of winning but also consistent success, somehow avoiding the major valleys and long droughts that even the best often are susceptible to.
Yet these four winners have won with decidedly different approaches to the one-and-done rule. Since the NBA age limit went into effect in 2006, each has been to at least one Final Four and all but the Spartans have won a national championship.
And since that time, Kentucky, thanks largely to the Freshman Whisperer, John Calipari, has had eight freshmen who each spent one season walking in and out of the campus turnstile; Duke and Kansas have had just two and Michigan State has had zero.
So while plenty of people are lining up to say Calipari's way is the wave of the future and the only path to success, there is enough evidence to support the contrary.
So the age before (recruiting) beauty question isn't easily answered. It depends on the player, it depends on the coach and it depends on the situation. Not everyone has the patience to start over like Calipari or the coaching chutzpah to make them stop playing like rookies. And not everyone can wait for Draymond Green to turn into Draymond Green.
Here is one thing that can be stated with certainty: When the NCAA ushered freshmen into the fold 40 years ago, it could never have envisioned just how critical they would become.
Look at these games. Four of the nation's premiere programs will be relying heavily on freshmen to determine their fate. This is handing the keys to the Cadillac to a kid with a learner's permit.
…In a game with all the rhythm of a gorilla banging on a piano, Michigan State beats Kansas 58-54 Tuesday. Afterward, Self says something about getting "big-boyed."
Duke makes 11 3-pointers, Kentucky’s Goodwin commits six turnovers and Noel spends most of the day in foul trouble as Duke beats Kentucky 79-67 on Tuesday. Afterward, Kentucky coach John Calipari says something about how young the Wildcats are.
...Twenty-five years ago Larry Brown and Danny Manning led Kansas to its second national championship.
Today, after all those bouncy basketball years, they're coaching rivals in Conference USA, Manning at Tulsa and Brown at SMU.
Brown and Manning both won their debut games last week. Brown's Mustangs beat Loyola Marymount 73-58, and the crowd chanted his name.
Somebody asked Brown if he was nervous. He had not coached a college basketball game since that 1988 NCAA championship game against Oklahoma.
"Oh my God," Brown said. "This was a long day."
Kansas 2012-13 MBB Schedule
Kansas 2012-13 WBB Schedule
Big 12/College News
Today's ESPN Tip-Off Marathon schedule
ESPN marathon blog
West Virginia ended last season and started the new one the same way, with a loss to Gonzaga.
Gary Bell Jr. scored 15 points and No. 19 Gonzaga crushed the Mountaineers 84-50 on Monday night.
"We're just not transferring what we do in drills to playing the game," said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins, whose team lost to the Zags in the NCAA tournament last spring. "And we don't play the game the right way."
"The first thing I think we need to do is we've got to find out who really wants to play and who doesn't. We don't compete."
The New Yorker: A Jayhawk fan on Calipari and the marketing of Kentucky Basketball
In regard to the makeup of his roster, Colorado's Tad Boyle faces the challenges of coaching basically a different basketball team for the third year in a row. Remind you of anyone? "Yeah, I gave Coach Cal a call," Boyle said.
That's Kentucky's John Calipari, of course, coach of the defending national champions. The two have remained friends since Calipari was a young assistant at Kansas (1982-85) when Boyle played guard for the Jayhawks.
Colorado, which opens its regular season Friday at home against Wofford before a sold-out crowd — the first season-opening sellout in school history — doesn't pretend to have a flock of five-star bluechippers, as Calipari unveils each year to replace the group he sends to the NBA.
But Boyle did land a six-player freshman class that was ranked third among Pac-12 Conference recruiting hauls, behind UCLA and Arizona. Two Colorado newcomers, 6-foot-10 forward-center Josh Scott and 6-6 forward Xavier Johnson, were named to national top-75 lists.
Scott, Colorado's 2011-12 "Mr. Basketball" from Lewis-Palmer High School in Monument, is already penciled into the starting lineup.
Johnson, from Los Angeles-area power Mater Dei, is an exceptional leaper and could be the first player off the bench.
After speaking with Calipari and Kentucky assistant John Robic, Boyle got a few tips on how to handle a young roster. Colorado has only one senior: wing guard Sabatino Chen.
"It's not, 'Let's dust off the practice plans and do what we did last year,' " Boyle said. "This is a different animal. The Kentucky guys told me that with freshmen, sometimes their attention span isn't maybe as long as you'd like it to be. It's better to do short bursts of teaching. Instead of a 45-minute film session, you have a 20-minute film session. Instead of having a three-hour practice, maybe you have a two-hour practice."
Forbes: Why ESPN is worth $40 Billion
Lawyers representing former and current college football and men's basketball players in an anti-trust lawsuit said in documents unsealed Monday that the NCAA knew video game manufacturer Electronic Arts made its products with the purpose of having the game characters "match as closely as possible the real-life characteristics" of actual student-athletes.
The lawyers also said the NCAA was aware that other companies had developed ways for the names of actual student-athletes to be added to the games and "knowingly tolerated" it.
There's apparently no raining on this college basketball parade.
All systems are a go for 2013 when it comes to the continuation of college hoops on aircraft carriers.
Though we've made the case on the blog that all battleship basketball battles should cease to be, that's not the plan from those making plans to again host these gargantuan hoop exhibits.
The AP reports the Carrier Classic (which was the first of these, the one that hosted the Michigan State-North Carolina game on 11-11-11) will again, next season, play host to an outdoor college basketball game. The 2013 game will be played on the USS Yorktown, which was docked off South Carolina's coast Friday night and was the site of the nongame between Ohio State and Marquette.
NCAA announces 2014, 15 tournament cities
WE: NCAA's snub of Wichita stings
SI.com: Having seen that Final Four in the Huntsman Center, do you prefer something intimate like that to the large-scale, raised-court-in-a-dome setup we have now?
DG: I'm at some level a basketball purist, so I think the game is probably best played in a more intimate arena. But fact of the matter is -- and it's a good challenge for the college basketball community to have -- that the NCAA tournament is now so popular that 80,000 people want to be there, even if the seats are not that great at the top of the building. .. And in that setup, in order for everyone to see the court, we have to stick with the raised format.
Mark Lewis, my boss at the NCAA, raised the issue over the summer of whether we should consider taking the Final Four back to a traditional basketball arena, and I think the men's basketball committee will have that discussion. Of course it's fraught will all sorts of logistical issues, but I think it's a conversation worth having, in order to protect the game, as the committee is charged with doing.
SI.com: Do you have any venues in mind that would properly celebrate the sport's tradition?
DG: Well, I wouldn't want to go there because if I mention two or three, I'm going to leave four or five out. The game is played in exciting atmospheres on college campuses and metropolitan arenas, and I don't think there would be a lack of those who would be incredibly interested to host an event like that if it were ever to come to pass.
SI.com: This is something that gets thrown around among sportswriters and fans more than officials, but what about the idea of using all classic campus venues for early rounds, as long as the home teams weren't allowed to play?
DG: I think this men's basketball committee is full of talented, creative, interesting minds who will consider anything that will enhance the tournament and the college game. So sure.
…SI.com: To what degree would you consider expansion?
DG: My personal opinion is that the proposed jump to 96 did not make any sense at all. I said that back before I was in this position to have a strong opinion about it. [Gavitt formerly was associate commissioner of Big East men's basketball.] And any expansion is going to be the committee and membership's decision, not mine. But is there a better number in between 68 and 96, and a structure that could accommodate it? Obviously the committee and others did an enormous amount of work back then to consider that, and 68 was the decision, and until I have a chance with the committee and others to study that, I think we're at the right place right now.
SI.com: Is there any kind of expansion timetable?
DG: There is none. I don't want to mislead anyone: It has not been discussed in the three months that I've been at the NCAA, not once, and I'm not aware that the committee has discussed it recently. It's not an active topic. But if you frame it as, "Was what was right in 1985 still right now?," and the expansion from 65 to 68 was just a few years ago, so sometime in the future should it be considered again? I would say yes.
SI Luke Winn w/ NCAA tourney czar Dan Gavit
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Finally talk to my mentor and its for today
11/12/12, 10:15 AM
“@jojo_embiid: Time to make a decision” Bonne chance
CAMEROON Basketball (@cameroonbasket)
Joel Embiid, a 7-foot, 220-pound senior basketball center from The Rock School in Gainesville, Fla., will has changed his mind and will announce his college choice on Wednesday, according to a text message he sent to JayhawkSlant.com on Tuesday morning. (Embiid now says it will be Tuesday, per his twitter linked above.)
Previously, the plan was for Embiid to announce his college choice Tuesday, according to Justin Harden, who is Embiid's high school coach at The Rock.
…The first day of the week-long early signing period is Wednesday.
“He is a surprise to me and a pleasant one at that,” Harden told espn.com. “He’s every bit of 6-11. He can do a lot of good things with the ball. He’s only been playing 18 months. He was a volleyball player before that.
“At 6-11, he’s got an effortless shot,” Harden added. “He’s a long-term stock. With what he’s been able to do in 18 months in terms of skill development (it’s impressive). Once he gets consistent weight training the sky is the limit.”
Rivals.com officially lists Embiid at 7-foot, 220.
KU on Wednesday is expected to sign Conner Frankamp, 6-0, 160, Wichita North; Brannen Greene, 6-7, 200, Tift County High, Tifton, Ga.; Frank Mason, 5-11, 160, Massanutten Military Academy, Petersburg, Va.; and Wayne Selden, 6-5, 225, Tilton (N.H.) School. Greene is ranked No. 24, Selden No. 25, Frankamp No. 30 and Mason No. 133 by Rivals.com.
Embiid is planning on signing his letter with a yet-to-be-determined school in a ceremony at his school on Thursday.
Greene, by the way, is not expected to attend today’s KU-Michigan State game in Atlanta, which is about a three-hour drive from his home in Tifton. He plans on watching the game on ESPN following his team’s practice.
Throughout the whole summer I have been getting recruited by many of the major universities in the country.
Recently I have trimmed my list to Kentucky, Maryland, Arizona, Syracuse, St. John’s, UCLA, Florida, Kansas, Rutgers and Louisville. So I have just been watching all the games and playing styles of the schools that I like.
I enjoyed my unofficial to UCLA and my trip to Syracuse camp and Coach [Jim] Boeheim coming to Lincoln to see me was big, too. But I may not be taking any visits during the season.
I think our Lincoln team is going to be good this year. We have some good transfers and most of them are juniors so we are going to be together for two years.
Coach Tiny [Morton] has really been pushing us hard this preseason so we are going to be stronger and ready to play. I have been to the Garden once [for the New York PSAL championship] and we didn’t take it. Last year I was hurt and we made it to the semis.
Isaiah Whitehead blog
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