Rider University basketball coach Kevin Baggett, a standout guard at St. Joseph’s in the late 1980s, took a recruiting trip to Kansas University.
“I was there actually when Troy Aikman was the quarterback, and Kansas was 0-9 or 0-10, and I was on my visit there. Kansas upset Oklahoma that year, who was undefeated. It was Halloween, and they tore the goalpost down,” Baggett recalled on Friday after the Broncs’ 78-74 home victory over Lehigh. His Rider squad takes a 2-1 record into today’s 7 p.m. game against KU (1-1) in Allen Fieldhouse.
“It was unbelievable because I was in the booth watching it all. Danny Manning was my host,” added Baggett, who was a blue-chip prospect during a senior year of high school in which he captained Burlington Township (New Jersey) to a 31-0 record and state title.
“It was a neat experience for me. I had a chance to watch those guys go on to win. They actually won the NIT and won the NCAA Tournament as well.
“Danny being there for those four years ... I missed out on it,” he added with a smile. “It was a great experience. I’m just looking forward to getting our guys there and seeing all the history that’s there at Kansas.”
…Tonight’s game is part of the 2014 Orlando Classic, however it has no bearing on the bracketed portion of the event to take place Thursday, Friday and Sunday at HP Field House in Kissimmee, Florida.
Rider will play Michigan State at 5:30 p.m., Central Time, on Thanksgiving Day, while KU will tangle with Rhode Island at 1:30 p.m.
“We play Kansas and Michigan State. Me, personally, I grew up watching those teams on TV back home,” Okereafor said. “It’s almost a dream come true. It’s a challenge. We have nothing to lose. We just have to come out and play.”
…Rider was picked by league coaches to finish seventh of 11 teams in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). ... Rider averages 69.7 points per game and has a +4.7 scoring margin. The Broncs are shooting 48.4 percent from the field, make 8.0 three-pointers per contest and average 10.7 assists. ... KU is 2-0 vs. Rider. The Jayhawks won the first meeting, 110-72, on Dec. 12, 1987, and 103-51 on Dec. 15, 1990. Both contests were played in Allen Fieldhouse. ... KU is a combined 13-1 against MAAC teams: 3-1 vs. Iona, 2-0 vs. Canisius, Niagara, Rider and St. Peter’s and 1-0 vs. Fairfield and Siena.
The Broncs lost their season opener to Princeton 64-58, and then scored a 73-57 victory over Penn last Tuesday and a 78-74 triumph against Lehigh on Friday. For Kansas, it should be a considerable step down in competition after a season-opening victory over UC Santa Barbara and last Tuesday’s 32-point loss to Kentucky. After its last victory, Rider ranked 191st in the country in KenPom.com’s efficiency rankings, though the Broncs do have some size in 7-foot senior center Matt Lopez.
Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self on Sunday said he hadn’t decided on his lineup for Monday night's game against Rider.
Freshman point guard Devonté Graham, who suffered a shoulder sprain in Tuesday’s 72-40 loss to Kentucky, practiced Sunday, thus should be available.
Freshman wing Kelly Oubre Jr. started the KU-Kentucky game and finished with six points and four rebounds in 13 minutes. He came off the bench in the two exhibitions and the opener versus UC Santa Barbara.
“He really didn’t say much,” Oubre said, asked what Self told him prior to the Kentucky game. “I just took it as motivation (that) I needed to do something right out there. At practice, we all worked hard (leading up to game). We did what we do. He started me against Kentucky. I don’t have any reason for it, but we all work hard in practice.”
After rewatching film of Tuesday’s 72-40 loss to No. 1 Kentucky, Bill Self saw a mess on the offensive end.
“We never caught the ball in the right spot,” Self said. “Our screen angles weren't correct. We bounced it one too many times, didn’t drive to pass.”
A few weeks ago, the 12th-year Kansas coach commented on how his team was behind from a learning standpoint, especially when it came to knowing the plays.
It was part of the reason for KU’s struggles against UK — and an area where Self hopes to see improvement in Monday night’s 7 p.m. home game against Rider.
“I really feel like when guys really understand how you score out of what we run, we’ll be able to play and be much more efficient offensively, because we certainly weren't the other day,” Self said. “It would be like a quarterback. If a play is designed for a three‑step drop and he takes five steps, the timing is off. It's all screwed up. And that's where we were the whole time.”
Returning players sensed the same disorganization.
Sophomore guard Brannen Greene said one instance came on one of KU’s most frequent half-court plays “Two-game,” as incorrect guard alignment led to an empty possession.
“It’s hard to get dribble-drive penetration and kickouts when the spacing’s bad, because that help defender is right there, so you can’t drive,” Greene said. “We’ve just got to see that.”
Perhaps worse than a lack of execution was what happened when things became difficult; KU players started to look for their own shots outside of the offense, which led to a string of contested jumpers.
“We never gave the team stuff a chance,” Self said. “We never ran offense one time the way we're supposed to in order to give it a chance.”
Conner Frankamp is making his official visit this weekend as he continues his search for a landing spot after he leaves Kansas. The guard has visited Wichita State and Colorado, and he made an unofficial visit to Omaha last week while attending the Bluejays’ game against Central Arkansas.
It was great to see and play against my bro @22wiggins tonight,way too hoop tonight. Just a couple Kansas boys living out our dreams. #KUCMB
“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
…Do I really think that Kansas is the best team in the Big 12 right now? Of course not. Did you see Tuesday’s Kentucky game? Kansas looked like the guy at the Y who wanders onto the court thinking he’ll join a game or two for his cardio because he hates the treadmill, only he has no idea how intense the games are. Um, guys — can you maybe tone it down a little? I’m out here only because I forgot to use sugar-free syrup on my pancakes this morning. I didn’t realize you were going to shove your knees in my face while dunking on me and yell, “Get that shit out of here!” while you volleyball-spike my shots.
…So why am I picking the Jayhawks to win the Big 12? Because at this point, I have no choice. Kansas has won 10 straight conference titles. I don’t care that this is a new season and this team had nothing to do with the previous 10. I don’t care that Kentucky just obliterated the Jayhawks. I don’t care that Texas and Iowa State look great this season. If it’s been 35 degrees and raining every single day for 10 years, I’m not going to wake up one day and decide to wear a tank top. The Big 12 season is still a month away, a lot of Kansas’s key players are young, and Bill Self has done more with less. I’m not going to overreact to one game.
…Then there’s the issue of point guard play. Two games into the season, Frank Mason has attempted 20 shots and logged just one assist. Is Mason experiencing the same growing pains that Elijah Johnson and Naadir Tharpe went through? Or is the problem more serious? And what about Perry Ellis? Are we sure he can lead this team? What if his destiny is to be a really good sidekick who struggles in the spotlight? If that’s the case, how long until Self hands the keys to Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk? I’m half-joking because Mykhailiuk is my new favorite person, but I’m also half-serious because he was the only Kansas player who didn’t look scared against Kentucky. How long is it going to take Self to figure all of this out? Will he figure it out?
…Best Pro Prospect: Kelly Oubre (Kansas)
Kelly Oubre might be one of the five best pro prospects in the world, yet he can’t seem to crack the Kansas rotation.
…But if you know anything about Bill Self, you know that he: A) doesn’t care about mock drafts, and B) does care about defense. Oubre will have to earn his minutes just like every other Jayhawk. The easiest way to do it is to be a nasty SOB on defense, which is pretty much the exact opposite of what Oubre was against Kentucky. He’s 6’7” with a 7’2” wingspan and he’s ultra-athletic — he’s got the physical attributes of a great defender. Tuesday night, however, he looked lost. It was almost as if the pressure of a big game was swallowing him alive.
This is not the end of the world for Oubre, by the way. The One-and-Done era has conditioned us to expect big-name freshmen to dominate as soon as they arrive in the college game. But that’s not how it goes for every player.
…Something to Keep an Eye On: Kansas’s Big 12 Title Reign
Bill Self is the only coach in the history of college basketball to win 10 straight major conference championships. EVER. That includes the days when all it took to win a conference championship was to find five guys on campus without polio, put them in short shorts, and then make them line up for a picture that looks like they’re all taking each other to prom. So if you think I’m beating a dead horse by constantly bringing up Kansas’s streak of Big 12 titles, you’re wrong. If anything, the streak should be talked about more. We are watching something that has never happened in the history of the sport and may never happen again.
…Five Pressing Questions:
1. Can the Big 12 get seven NCAA tournament bids again this year?
2. Which school will Conner Frankamp’s dad pick for him to transfer to?
3. Remember when Tubby Smith fell off a motorcycle?
4. Which is the most mind-blowing: Charles Manson getting married, the Bill Cosby allegations, or Brady Heslip scoring 78 points in two D-League games?
5. How is Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk’s nickname not “The Ukrainmaker” yet?
Grantland Mark Titus Big 12 Preview
Rhode Island beat #21 Nebraska 66-62 for its 1st win over a ranked opponent since 1998.
Complete ESPN Networks schedule
Big 12 Composite Schedule & Results