Andrew White remembers recruiting visits and pickup games on Richmond’s campus, which was located about 15 minutes from his hometown of Chester, Va.
“This staff probably recruited me harder than anybody ever has,” said White, a freshman guard at KU. “I had a great relationship with the staff.
“The unfortunate part of recruiting is calling the school you’re close with and telling them you’re not going there. I’m sure they understand that I had a good situation in both places.”
White knows better than any of his teammates what the Jayhawks will see when Richmond visits Allen Fieldhouse at 6 p.m. Tuesday. He got to know coach Chris Mooney during the recruiting process and estimated he was on campus twice a week for pickup games with the Richmond team.
As of Monday afternoon, Self hadn’t contacted him for any scouting pointers.
“He made it known that I know this team pretty well, but coach can handle the scouting report,” White said. “He’s pretty good at it.”
Against Belmont, White debuted in a new role, playing the four spot in the offense when the Jayhawks decided to run the pick-and-pop offense.
White said although he’s playing at a forward position in the pick-and-pop, the style of play is similar to what he does as a guard and didn’t take much of an adjustment for him.
“Andrew is a good player, he’s one of the best shooters on our team,” Senior guard Travis Releford said. “So to see him out there with the confidence he has and the confidence coach has in him is a good sign for our team.”
…White doesn’t think he will have trouble focusing on Richmond, despite the Jayhawks having a highly anticipated rematch from last season’s final four against Ohio State on Saturday.
“I’ve been playing basketball long enough to know that every game has to be taken seriously. I’m not a player that just has the star power to look past anybody,” White said.
“Every game I play, I have to prove something to my coach. I’m going to have that same approach, just to do whatever I can to show my coach I can be out there on the court and I’m not a liability.”
Formerly coached by Jerry Wainwright, Richmond defeated KU, 69-68, in Allen Fieldhouse during Bill Self’s first season at KU. The Jayhawks stopped the Spiders, 77-57, on March 25, 2011, in an NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 game in San Antonio.
“I watched that game live (on TV),” White said of the NCAA contest. “KU had guys like the (Morris) twins, Brady (Morningstar) ... as a matter of fact, four weeks ago, before I even looked to this game, I watched that tape along with the VCU tape (KU’s 71-61 loss in Elite Eight) to see what was going on a couple years ago. I have a fresh memory of that Sweet 16 game in my head.”
White is coming off his finest outing of the season. The 6-foot-6 guard/forward scored a career-high 15 points off 6-of-8 shooting while playing 10 minutes of Saturday’s 89-60 rout of Belmont.
“I have a lot of confidence going into this game,” White said. “I always try to be confident. Just because I had a good shooting game doesn’t change a whole lot for me. If I get in, I’m going to go with the same approach, play as hard as I can and contribute on both ends of the court.”
Of White, KU coach Self said: “I think he can add some things to our team. He’s another weapon. He’s learning, growing. He’s a fabulous kid. He just wants to try to fit in and help. He’s a guy you can put in there, and if he makes a couple (threes), great. If not, he’s good enough in other areas he’s not going to hurt us. I need to play him more, to be candid.”
Travis Releford likes things subtle. That might be the best way to put it. He likes his moves crafty and unorthodox. He talks with the sort of understated efficiency that mirrors his game.
Kansas coach Bill Self likes to say that Releford, a senior guard, has an “old-man’s” game, the sort of stop-start, herky-jerky stuff that you see from the most resourceful guy in your Saturday pickup game.
“He doesn’t go fast,” Self said, “but he gets by people.”
So maybe that’s why the post-dunk staredown was so unanticipated. It came earlier this month, a few moments of unfiltered emotion in Kansas’ 90-54 victory over Colorado. Releford found himself on a fast break. Colorado’s Jeremy Adams hustled backward, timing his steps for the block. And Releford took off, skying above Adams and hammering home a one-handed dunk.
The momentum took him toward the baseline, right where a cameraman had positioned himself. And Releford made eye contact with the camera, unleashing a piercing death stare.
This was nothing subtle.
“A lot of people was giving me crap about it,” Releford said softly on Monday, shifting back toward his naturally quiet state. “So I just laughed at it.”
The moment, though, offered a little window into Releford’s transformation from junior role player to senior leader. After serving as a defensive stopper during KU’s NCAA Tournament run last season, Releford has emerged as an efficient cog in Kansas’ offense.
“I think it’s me just waiting my time,” said Releford, who also redshirted during the 2009-10 season.
Red-shirt freshman guard Ben McLemore, who averages 16.1 points and 5.6 rebounds a game, said Monday he won’t spend a minute thinking about possibly entering the 2013 NBA Draft during this current season.
“I’m just here focusing on college,” said McLemore, who is projected to be picked 17th in the first round by draftexpress.com and third by nbadraft.net. “It’s all I’ve been doing, focusing on school. The semester is over. Now I’m just focusing on basketball. I know a lot of people are talking about NBA. As far as me, I just strictly talk about basketball and school.”
McLemore’s brother, Kevin, is a senior guard at Normandy High in St. Louis.
Is Kevin being recruited by any major colleges?
“Not that I know of,” Ben said. “He’s getting looked at by small schools. He’s just started the season. Things can change.”
Wesley update: KU junior forward Justin Wesley, who broke his left pinkie finger at practice on Dec. 13, could return to action by Dec. 27, Self said.
“They’ll start taping his fingers together here in about two weeks,” Self said. Wesley has appeared in six of KU’s eight games and averages 5.8 minutes, 0.8 points and 1.7 rebounds.
Withey-mania: Fans can follow Jeff Withey’s progress this season at witheyblockparty.com. Withey has 50 blocks, an average of 5.6 blocks per game. He has 215 career blocks, 43 shy of tying Greg Ostertag’s KU record.
The Spiders (9-2), off to their best start since 1987-88, defeated Stetson 76-57 on Saturday for their fifth straight victory. They've been very good offensively in the last three, averaging 79.7 points and shooting 55.5 percent.
"We guarded it pretty well a couple of years ago in the Sweet 16," Self said of Richmond's Princeton-style offense. "We'll have to practice it for a couple of days and hopefully have some success and play well this next week to set up a good holiday break."
Three-point shooting could be key, as the Spiders are hitting 43.8 percent during their win streak after a 1-2 stretch during which they hit 25.9 percent.
Darien Brothers, who averages a team-best 14.8 points along with Derrick Williams, leads the way at 51.9 percent on 3s. He's 8 for 13 over the past two games.
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BOTTOM LINE: Kansas must avoid looking ahead to Saturday’s showdown with No. 7 Ohio State in Columbus. The Jayhawks are coming off two impressive performances at home. If senior Elijah Johnson continues his maturation at point guard, the Jayhawks should be able to handle Richmond with ease.
Withey, the Jayhawks’ senior center, had five blocks in the team’s 89-60 victory over Belmont, each swat generating more force than the last, or maybe the crowd made it seem that way.
Whenever Withey rose up Allen Fieldhouse jumped with him. He has no reason to shout after a block, the roar of the crowd would make it impossible to hear anyways.
“It’s about as demoralizing a play for the other team,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.
…Withey affects shot selection merely by standing on the floor, once he gets his arms moving he’s a whole other animal — an animal that hardly needs to jump to block a shot.
If you can’t see Withey setting up for a swat, the crowd will let you know. They live off every step he takes on defense, humming along until they see Withey get a step on his defender.
The Kansas faithful gasp and erupt at the same time, creating a sound only a Withey block could produce.
“It brings just as much energy as if someone went up and got a dunk,” Travis Releford said of the crowd. “They’re always going to be excited about it.”
Yes, as long as Jeff Withey is at Kansas the students will throw up the “W” sign with their hands and bow down to their beloved blocker.
KC Star: KU Chalkboard - Jayhawks still looking for tests
Columbus, Ohio (Kansas at Ohio State): Illinois-Missouri might have the whole rivalry thing covered, but Kansas-Ohio State is the marquee matchup of the weekend. Both teams look a good deal different from when the Jayhawks handled the Buckeyes in Lawrence last season, but there are plenty of familiar faces, too. Kansas will have to figure out how to stop Deshaun Thomas, while Ohio State's Aaron Craft will have his hands full defending against the Jayhawks' guards, including Elijah Johnson and bouncy freshman Ben McLemore. Keep an eye out for OSU's LaQuinton Ross, a talented sophomore who has picked up his scoring in recent weeks.
ESPN Weekly Look Around
Kansas 2012-13 MBB Schedule
Kansas 2012-13 WBB Schedule
Big 12/College News
With the conference season just around the corner, the Big 12 Conference has debuted its basketball-themed public service announcements that will be broadcast during the league portion of the 2012-13 campaign.
The Conference has commissioned a new series of public service announcements (PSAs) that will be aired beginning in January. The PSAs deliver messages that continue to reinforce the strength, success and stability of the Big 12.
During each televised men's basketball conference game, the competing teams and their conferences receive one 30-second commercial segments that will be broadcast. This year, the Big 12 had added two basketball-specific commercials that highlight the athletic excellence of its programs. For the first time, the Conference PSAs use the men's basketball head coaches in individual spots. The creative director for the project was Ken Maxwell of Hill + Knowlton Strategies, the Big 12's public relations partner.
In addition to the two new men's basketball spots, previously produced commercials that highlight the member schools' academic achievements may be seen. Another PSA involving Special Olympics, a long-time Big 12 partner, will also be in the rotation.
Big 12 Sports
Before hiring Gary Williams in 1986, Ohio State reportedly sent a representative to Syracuse to meet with Boeheim. In 37 seasons as the Orange head coach, it's the only time Boeheim has been linked to a job outside the city.
On Monday night, Boeheim joined Mike Krzyzewski and Bob Knight as the only coaches in Division I Men's Basketball history to win 900 career games. Boeheim, 68, improved to 900-304 with a 72-68 win over Detroit at the Carrier Dome.
"Those are two of the great coaches of all-time," Boeheim told ESPN after the game. "I'm happy I've stayed along long enough to get to that point. I've won 900 games because of the coaches I've had all these years and players like these guys who've done so much."
The 74.8 winning percentage ranks higher than marks compiled by contemporary legends Jim Calhoun (70.3), Lute Olson (73.6), Pitino (72.9) and Knight (70.9).
In a profession marked by self-promotion and outsized egos, Boeheim has distinguished himself with his selflessness. A survivor of prostate cancer, Boeheim's work with Coaches vs. Cancer has helped raise more than $4.5 million for the American Cancer Society's Central New York chapter over the past dozen years. Boeheim and his wife, Juli, also support several other organizations, including the Children's Miracle Network, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Easter Seals and Special Olympics through their eponymous foundation. Still, the reticent Boeheim is reluctant to discuss any of his accomplishments -- whether it is on or off the court.
"The sooner we get through it, the better we'll be able to focus on the season,” Boeheim said of the milestone following his 899th career victory on Saturday night. “This team does not care about how many wins I have. They care about getting the next win. That's it. Everything else does not matter. It really doesn't.”
2012-13 Early Season Events List
Big 12 Composite Schedule