Kansas University’s 1973-74 Final Four team will be honored during a first-half timeout at today’s KU-West Virginia basketball game in Allen Fieldhouse.
Players and coaches from the squad are in town to celebrate the 40th anniversary of that Big Eight championship team, which reached the Final Four, where KU fell to Marquette, 64-51, in the semifinals and UCLA in the consolation game in Greensboro, N.C.
“Time goes fast,” said former KU coach Ted Owens, who remembers that team fondly.
“What we had was balance. We started Tom Kivisto, Dale Greenlee, Roger (Morningstar), Norm (Cook) and Danny Knight. Tommie Smith and Rick Suttle were called ‘super subs’ and played as much as those guys did,” Owens said.
“We lost at Kansas State (during 13-1 conference season) then beat them here to clinch the championship. It was a beautiful night. There was a great celebration on Jayhawk Boulevard,” Owens recalled “It was a special time on campus.”
As far as the NCAAs ... “we had a very tough game with Creighton in Tulsa (55-54 victory in Midwest Regional semifinal). Oral Roberts beat Louisville. We played Oral Roberts and they still call that ‘The game’ in Tulsa. Most people regard that as the greatest athletic event in Tulsa history. We were down nine with three minutes to go,” Owens added of KU’s 93-90 overtime win over ORU, which propelled KU to the Final Four.
“It’s one of those things ... the year before we found a way to lose close games. The following year we believed we somehow were going to win every night,” Owens said.
Bob Huggins — whose West Virginia Mountaineers have won three of five road games in Big 12 Conference play this season and 28 league road battles in his seven seasons at his alma mater — won’t be dwelling on historic Allen Fieldhouse in his pregame preparation today.
“We’ve never worried about venues,” said the 60-year-old Huggins, who has 737 victories in a 32-year college coaching career. “Venues become venues because they’ve had great teams.
“I asked Al McGuire one time, ‘When did you know you guys had arrived at Marquette?’” Huggins said, entering storyteller mode on the eve of today’s 3 p.m. KU-WVA contest in Allen. “Al said, ‘When we could walk into any venue without any fear.’ I think that is the attitude we had in the time I was at Cincinnati (16 years) and that’s certainly the attitude we’ve had here. We’ve won more road games than they have won here in years and years and years. I think it’s an attitude. Al can say it way better than me: ‘Go in without any fear,’” Huggins added.
Of course, future Hall of Famer Huggins is sharp enough to know today’s road test figures to be one of the Mountaineers’ toughest of the season. He’s 0-6 lifetime versus KU.
Eron Harris doubts the Mountaineers have earned much regard from the No. 8-ranked Kansas Jayhawks (1wv 7-5, 8-1), who are front-running toward a 10th consecutive Big 12 title.
“They’re aware of us, but they probably think that we’re trash,” said Harris.
“They’re going to go at us like they’re going to beat us easy. That’s what they’re probably thinking.”
…Certainly, West Virginia needs to be tougher than it showed last year at Allen Fieldhouse, when the Jayhawks parlayed an avalanche of dunks, 3s and swatted shots into a 91-65 laugher. The romp featured Ben McLemore scoring 36 to surpass Danny Manning’s single-game freshman record and Jeff Withey coming within one block of a triple-double.
Both those players are gone, but come Saturday, Harris and the Mountaineers encounter a Kansas team reloaded with new stars and currently atop the RPI.
“They blew us out last year at their place, but we’re ready,” Harris said. “We’re going to go in there and fight.”
WV Metro News
The Mountaineers are starting to find their footing in the Big 12 after struggling through year one in the league. The turnaround has started with junior guard Juwan Staten, who is averaging 18 points, six rebounds and six per assists per game. Last year, Staten averaged just 7.6 points and 2.9 boards per contest. Amazingly, Staten is playing more than 40 minutes per game in Big 12 play. “He plays bigger than his standing height,” KU coach Bill Self said. “He’s strong, and of course he puts so much pressure on you with the ball coming at you.” Staten’s main wingman in the backcourt is Eron Harris, who is averaging 17.5 points while shooting 42.7 percent from the field.
…BOTTOM LINE: The Jayhawks are trying to improve to 9-1 in Big 12 play for the first time since 2010-11. KU has also won 111 straight against unranked foes at home. If Kansas holds serve at home, it should be in great shape in the Big 12 race.
• Ball security: West Virginia has turned it over on just 14 percent of its possessions, which ranks sixth nationally. The Mountaineers also have been tops in the stat during conference play, losing possession just 14.1 percent of the time.
• 3-point shooting: WVU has made 38.2 percent of its 3-pointers (41st nationally), and that's while shooting a high number of outside shots (34.5 percent of field-goal attempts are 3s). Eron Harris is the most dangerous 3-point shooter, making 64 of 150 (43 percent).
• Forcing turnovers: The Mountaineers have forced the highest percentage of turnovers in Big 12 play, creating giveaways on 19.7 percent of their defensive possessions. Their 19.5 percent defensive turnover rate for the season ranks 105th nationally.
• Interior defense: West Virginia has a tendency to give up a lot of easy shots, as according to Hoop-Math.com, 38.6 percent of the shots against the Mountaineers this year have come at the rim (222nd nationally). In Big 12 play, opponents have shot 51.6 percent from 2-point range against WVU (ninth in conference).
• Defensive rebounding: Though West Virginia is a tall team (45th in KenPom's effective height measure, which looks at the average height for the two post players), it hasn't had great success rebounding opponents' misses. The Mountaineers' 68 percent defensive rebounding percentage is 204th nationally, and their 68.1 percent mark in Big 12 play ranks eighth.
• Close shots: Only 34.2 percent of WVU's shot attempts have come at the rim, which ranks 263rd nationally. The Mountaineers also are below average when they get shots there (57.4 percent compared to 60.9 percent NCAA average). It's not surprising, then, to see that WVU's 45.2-percent accuracy from 2-point range in conference play ranks eighth.
…In the end, it's tough for me to see both of these areas working out perfectly for West Virginia ... especially when KU shouldn't have problems scoring on the other end.
Kansas 87, West Virginia 75
TCJ Newell Post
KU sophomore walk-on Tyler Self, who suffered a torn ligament in his foot in October, definitely will red-shirt the season, coach Self said Friday. ... Self said freshman Conner Frankamp, who recently suffered a knee injury, is 100 percent. “Conner hasn’t had a great year from a production standpoint in games, but he’s gotten a lot better. He’ll be ready next year when his number is called, and hopefully he’ll be ready if his number is called later on this season, because I guarantee it will be ... ” Self said
…Self said players and their families should not be thinking about the NBA right now. He said runners and agents try to get to families about this time of the season.
“People that want him to leave, they’re going to be relentless in trying to convince the player’s people that it’s in the best interest to leave. So that’s why it’s real important that families and people close to the kids understand that, ‘Hey, there’s no reason to listen to anybody right now,’” Self said. “The only thing you should listen to is just, ‘Hey, I want my son or my guy to finish his college season as good as he possibly can with the least amount of distractions, and then we’ll make a decision after we gather information after that.’”
Count former Kansas big man Cole Aldrich among those who think it’s not a bad idea for Joel Embiid to remain at Kansas for another season.
“I don’t knock a guy that wants to stay,” Aldrich told SNY.tv before Friday’s Knicks game against the Denver Nuggets at Madison Square Garden. “He’s so young and when you get to the NBA there’s no going back. You can’t go back to college and get those years back. They’re done, they’re over with.”
…“That’s just a tough position, when you’re that high, it is hard. If you’re a lottery guy or mid-first round,” he said. “Why not [stay]? What’s a year gonna do, it’s not gonna hurt you.
“It’s all about the position and the opportunity. And now I don’t know if the league is going in a different direction where you have higher picks who maybe aren’t playing as many minutes as previous years for whatever reason that is.”
Aldrich played against Embiid and Andrew Wiggins last summer at Kansas and believes both can be effective in the NBA next year.
“I think so,” he said. “[But] it takes time. It definitely takes time. You look at a lot of big guys. Andrew Bynum is a guy that came out when he was 17 years old, just turned 18, and it’s about that maturity level. Guys getting that extra year of experience, living on your own. Sure you make a lot of money and you could have people help you do that. But it’s about doing the right things because we can only play basketball for so long.”
He also pointed to the aspect of returning for another year to enjoy the pleasures of college life.
“If you were in that position and you could be the quote-unquote king of the campus, be the big guy and everybody’s talking about you, would you stay?” Aldrich asked.
Aldrich wondered what would have happened if Danny Manning, who tutored Aldrich during his time at Kansas, were still on the staff to tutor Embiid.
“I would’ve liked to see if Danny was there how he grew as a big guy because Danny Manning was just an unbelievable teacher,” he said. “A teacher, a mentor, a guy that’s done it all.”
Regardless, another year at Kansas could help Embiid develop under Self and his current staff.
“Big guys usually don’t mature till later anyway, until their mid-20s,” Aldrich said. “That’s when you usually get those good years.”
Joel Embiid is a really fun kid to talk to. Infectious personality, great smile, extremely modest. Will be a marketers dream
Andrew Wiggins coming out of his shell. As his confidence grows on the court, it's also growing off the court.
If @N_Roberts20, @T_Self11, and I were each about 8 inches taller, we would all win the Wooden Award as a collective unit. #fact
So far, strong defensive performances have been the exception and not necessarily the rule. Even with the shutdown of Baylor, KU ranks 23rd in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency measure, which based on national ranking would make it the 10th-best defense in Self’s 11 seasons.
“The thing I think that's held us back defensively a little bit ... I don't think that we've been turned up and played with the energy all the time that we need to play with in order to be great defensively,” Self said. “It's not from lack of trying, but it's that way in anything in life. Some days you're a little bit more enthusiastic about doing something than you are other days, and it's amazing the days you are, you usually do that job better.”
Self refused to use youth as an excuse for his team, but freshman point guard Frank Mason did say that having a defensive mindset was something he was learning throughout the season.
“It has a lot to do with pride,” Mason said. “You just have to know that the guy that you’re checking is not going to score."
Self still doesn’t believe his defense is broken. Without stats in front of him, he correctly cited that KU is percentage points behind Texas for the best field-goal percentage defense in league play while also boasting the conference’s best rebounding margin.
“There's a number of things we've done well defensively,” Self said. “I just don't think it's quite as good as what it can be.”
Kansas does not have to plaster the Big 12 basketball standings in bold print anywhere.
For the Jayhawks to be ahead in the race after the front nine barely constitutes news. They were favored going in, partly because they always bag the league trophy going out.
Yet with a young squad, Bill Self wants to limit any presumptions.
“This is a team that you want them to believe they’re good, but you can’t let them act like they are,’’ said the KU coach. “They’ve got to stay hungry because they’re so young.
“I probably made a mistake. I complimented them too much when things were going well, and I think they misunderstood that — me being nice to them as me being soft to them. I don’t think we can do that with a bunch of young kids.’’
…Without looking, guess the Big 12 scoring leader. It’s Iowa State forward Melvin Ejim, who averages 18.3 points. West Virginia guard Juwan Staten is tops in conference play (20.4) and shares the assists lead (6.0) with ISU’s DeAndre Kane. Your top rebounder? Ryan Spangler (10.2), who has helped Oklahoma to a 6-4 start.
The most explosive team could be Iowa State with its league-best scoring average (85.1), yet it’s bounced around .500 and at 5-4 is tied with Kansas State.
“What’s made our league so competitive and so good,’’ said Self, “is there’s a lot of teams that went into the offseason with a lot of unknowns. Those unknowns have become really good players, who have performed probably better than last year’s key players at those respective schools.’’
VOTE for Kansas at the NCAA 6th Fan Contest
“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 deluge of folks making fun of Oklahoma State star Marcus Smart for his ongoing flopping problem hasn’t slowed down.
An intrepid Redditor superimposed a photo of Smart mid-flop onto the background of the mobile game “Flappy Bird.” Naturally, folks are calling it “Floppy Bird.”
Hey Marcus: You can make this all go away if you just stay upright.
Team, Total (Seed by year '13, '12, '11, '10)
1. Kansas, 5 (1,2,1,1)
2. Duke, 6 (2,2,1,1)
3. Ohio State, 7 (2,2,1,2)
4. Syracuse, 9 (4,1,3,1)
5. Georgetown, 14 (2,3,6,3)
6. Wisconsin, 17 (5,4,4,4)
7. Louisville, 18 (1,4,4,9)
8. Michigan State, 19 (3, 1, 10, 5)
9. Kansas State, 19 (4,8,5,2)
10. Florida, 22 (3,7,2,10)
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Big XII composite schedule (includes results, highlights, stats)
ESPN College GameDay Schedule
2013-14 TV Schedule
Potential big time 2017 prospect Troy Brown of Las Vegas will take a visit to Kansas this weekend per his summer coach Anthony Brown
Brown's older sister Jada is a freshman on the Jayhawks women's team.
Barnes in recent years has struggled to land many of the elite prospects in a state that arguably has had as much talent as any in the nation. Barnes acknowledges he has missed on some prospects that would have been good fits at Texas. But he also says he has "no doubt" that he has lost out on some prospects because he refused to cheat.
…In the cutthroat coaching profession, Barnes says the question coaches can find themselves asking themselves is, "Are you willing to win at all costs?" He says his answer has been a consistent, resounding, "No," even as the in-state recruiting landscape had become more tangled during the past decade.
…Fran Fraschilla, the ESPN analyst who lives in the Dallas area, says, "Sadly, these kids are treated like commodities, really, and often times right after a top, elite 15-year-old player chooses an AAU program, then he chooses an agent not long after that. That is just the way business is done. Often times there are schools (colleges) that know they have no chance to outwork the other schools to get a kid because there's not going to be a recruitment, per se. It's more going to be who is going to be able to present the best package."
And Barnes says he refuses to cheat, refuses to risk the integrity of his school and his reputation to get a potential season-changing prospect. So once he or his staff deciphers that it may take cheating to sign a player, Barnes says, he doesn't waste his time with that recruitment.
…Malone agrees with Barnes "to a certain extent" that he has lost players because he would not cheat and then gets criticized for not signing them, but he added, "I think it's somewhat of a cheap shot."
Malone has had two former Texas Bluechips players – Quincy Acy and Ekpe Udoh – attend Baylor and was associated with two other Baylor-bound prospects – Quincy Miller and Deuce Bello – because of his relationship with their North Carolina-based AAU director, Brian Clifton. Malone says Baylor is the "sexy school" now, much like Texas was more than a decade ago. He says Barnes needs to put himself in a situation with prominent grassroots coaches and "get to know them at a level that I don't think he is comfortable with."
Malone says his relationship with Barnes has been "absolutely nonexistent" in recent years because of issues between the two that he declined to specify. When asked if it's still possible for Barnes to sign his players, Malone, who says he has a good relationship with Texas' assistants, says, "Anything is possible. I think it would be difficult, but, yeah, it's possible."
…Chief among the in-state prospects that Barnes and his assistants believe they missed on was a competitive point guard from Flower Mound named Marcus Smart. Barnes says he was consistently told that Smart and close friend Phil Forte would not attend the same college.
…Ogden says Texas did not recruit Forte, a move that he acknowledges was a mistake. Smart, an Oklahoma State sophomore, was the only preseason Associated Press unanimous first-team All-American. The 5-foot-11 Forte, who also plays for Oklahoma State, is shooting 47.3% from three-point range for the Cowboys.
In the Big 12, Fraschilla says, signing those two players "probably would have shifted the balance of power."
…Texas has had plenty of in-state players on its team the last two seasons. But the problem, Barnes says, was that he was forced to manage players' psyches and put out fires. The last two seasons, Barnes says, he had more individual conferences with players and parents than at anytime in his life.
"You can't coach effort every single day," he says. "You can't do it. You can't coach it when guys are concerned with only themselves. We were managing instead of coaching. Guys had their own agendas."
Cameron Ridley, a freshman last season, says there was "a bad feeling in the air every time we stepped in the gym. Around this time (early February), that's when people started to quit. Since we kept losing games, we started figuring there was no point playing as hard as we could because it was going to be a loss anyway.
"Other than games we knew we were going to win, like TCU and Texas Tech last year, we got beat down because we didn't have any confidence going into the games."
…Fraschilla, who was an assistant under Barnes at Providence, says Barnes is not quite as fiery as he used to be. But one thing has not changed: When Barnes sleeps at night, Fraschilla says, he can rest assured that he has won almost 600 games the right way.
Texas is again charging toward the NCAA tournament. Barnes again has his program reaching the standard that he established. And he is recalling recruiting stories about his most talented former player that, in a lot of ways, remind him of the makeup of his current players. They fit his mold.
As the thatched roofs move in the wind, Barnes looks out at the Colorado River and says, "We are back on track."
USA Today: The revival of Texas basketball
The best uncommitted guard in the country will come off the board next week.
Rashad Vaughn, a 6-foot-5 guard from Findlay Prep (Nev.), will announce his college decision on Tuesday.
Vaughn originally tweeted that he was planning to decide on Saturday night, but that is no longer the case.
I'm definitely still trying to get my man Myles (Turner) to come with me to SMU. You never know with Myles and I know he's got a lot of people in his ear, but I feel like we could do great things there together. They're doing big things this year and I feel like we could come in and keep that going.
Plus, you've gotta know who you'd be playing for. I was at the Hall of Fame recently and I saw Larry Brown's picture sitting right in there. That's crazy!
I'm just trying to tell Myles that he won't be playing for a regular coach. What other coach can give you the knowledge that Larry Brown can to get you to the NBA. Hopefully he's listening.
USA Today Mudiay blog
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