KUAD: Coach Bill Self presser
The Jayhawks open the 2014-15 basketball season at home against UC Santa Barbara — and the country’s top rebounder in Alan Williams — at 7 tonight and that’s a huge happening in itself, coach Bill Self says.
“The first game of the season I think everybody is jacked,” Self said, noting the Gauchos return four starters off last year’s 21-9 team. Top returnee is 6-8, 265-pound senior center Williams, who averaged 21.3 points and 11.5 boards in earning Big West Player of the Year honors.
“I think our guys will be real excited to play and they shouldn’t look ahead because Santa Barbara can come in here and have success and put themselves in a position to win — or win. They are good enough to (win) and are well-coached enough (by 17th-year mentor Bob Williams).
“Come Saturday they (Jayhawks will) be juiced for Tuesday, so that’ll be a different type of deal. I don’t see how your first game can be a trap game because our guys should be juiced to play. The bottom line is they definitely will have our respect.”
…Self said sophomore Brannen Greene would start along with Ellis, Frank Mason III , Wayne Selden Jr., and Jamari Traylor.
Greene has had the best quote of the season so far about turning it up “when the popcorn’s poppin” during actual games.
“It’s amazing to me what some of our guys come up with. I would still like to see him turn it up once anyway, period,” Self cracked. “But he was turned up a little bit the other day. He got three offensive rebounds, and I’d say that’s a great way to go after the ball. But his responsibility is getting back every time we shoot it. He actually got three balls that he shouldn’t have gotten if he had done what he was supposed to do, but that’s Brannen for you. That’s kind of how we operate from time to time.”
Alan Williams, a 6-foot-8, 265-pound senior, returns to the Gauchos after averaging 21.3 points and 11.5 rebounds last year. He was an Associated Press honorable mention All-America selection and also named a first-team Mid-Major All-America pick by CollegeInsider.com.
“He’s a man down there, and he goes after the ball like a man,” Self said. “We haven’t had anybody compete like he’ll compete against us, even in practice guarding each other, because he really gets after it.”
Williams’ advanced stats are just as impressive.
A year ago, he ranked in the top 20 nationally in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentages and was fourth in percentage of shots taken while he was on the floor (37 percent).
“He’s a great rebounder, big body,” KU forward Perry Ellis said. “It’s going to be a challenge. I’m looking forward to it.”
…Freshman guard Kelly Oubre — the sixth-ranked recruit in his class according to Rivals — remains in the development stages as KU opens its season.
“He’s finding his way. It’s going to take him a little bit of time — hopefully not long — just like it will Cliff and Devonte’ (Graham) and Svi (Mykhailiuk) to play to a level that we anticipate him playing at,” Self said. “He hasn’t done that yet, but he’s more than capable of playing at a super-high level.”
UCSB had a real chance of winning the Big West Conference crown last season. Although the Gauchos finished second in the standings behind UC Irvine, they still won 12 of 16 league affairs. However, a troubling 69-38 setback to seventh-seeded Cal Poly in the first round of the Big West Tournament sank those hopes. The disappointment marred an otherwise strong campaign for Bob Williams' program, which was one of three in the Big West to tally at least 20 wins on the season. To be specific, the Gauchos finished at 21-9 overall.
Kansas easily got past UCSB in the only other meeting between the two squads, rolling to a 72-52 victory early in the 2003-04 season.
There are four starters back for UCSB this season, but there is really only one player to watch for the Gauchos. Alan Williams was the Big West Player of the Year last season and will likely collect the award yet again, assuming he maintains his incredible production. Last season, Williams averaged 21.3 points, 11.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game, leading the league in the first two categories and ranking second in the last. Although Williams is the centerpiece, the Gauchos have other talented players. Michael Bryson (11.5 ppg) is a solid secondary scorer, while Zalmico Harmon (7.8 ppg, 5.1 apg) has an excellent habit of finding open players and setting them up for easy looks. Mitch Brewe (4.1 ppg) started in 24 games last season and should have an expanded role this time around.
BOTTOM LINE: The Jayhawks have won 41 straight home openers at Allen Fieldhouse, dating back to the 1973-74 season. It will become 42 on Friday, but Kansas needs to perform well heading into Tuesday’s clash with No. 1 Kentucky at the Champions Classic in Indianapolis.
KC Star game preview
“Cut the head off,” Self says, “and they say the body will follow.”
To be an elite defensive team, Self says, you must first have guards that can pressure the basketball, heating up opposing point guards and taking teams out of what they want to do. For more than a decade, Kansas had guards like this, and it’s one reason Self’s teams always ranked among the best defensive units in the country. Last season, the Jayhawks really didn’t, and that’s one reason why they were so uncharacteristically average on defense last season.
“We really didn’t have good individual defenders,” Self says. “(The) point guard spot didn’t put great pressure on the ball. The thing you want to do is cut the head off … we didn’t do that much last year.”
Last season, the Jayhawks ranked 31st in the country in defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com, the worst mark of the Self era.
…During Kansas’ 109-56 preseason victory over Emporia State on Tuesday, the Jayhawks employed a full-court man-to-man pressure after made baskets. It’s something the Jayhawks have used in the past, of course, but it’s a weapon Self hopes to pull out with regularity this season.
“That’s who I hope we are,” Self said.
During preseason practice, Kansas has devoted much time to ball-pressure and picking up opponents all over the floor. Self doesn’t want to use the word “press” — he would prefer to say “pressure” — but he does hope his man-to-man defense can create more havoc for opposing offenses.
“We feel like we got the quickness and the skillset to be able to pressure 90 feet from the basket,” freshman guard Devonte’ Graham says. “(We can) cause turnovers and get easy buckets.”
…“I’m a little nervous,” Self said. “I think everybody is before you play your first game because you really don’t know what to expect. But I’m excited, too. Nervous doesn’t mean anything negative. It just means unknown.”
If Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self issued a Most Valuable Player award for the two-game exhibition season, the hardware would go to ... Jamari Traylor and Wayne Selden Jr.
“Even though the numbers aren’t unbelievable, I thought Wayne and Jamari were our best guys,” Self said on Wednesday’s Hawk Talk radio show.
Traylor, a 6-8 junior from Chicago, scored nine points off 4-of-4 shooting with five rebounds, two blocks and a steal in Tuesday’s 109-56 rout of Emporia State. He had four rebounds, three points and two blocks in an 85-53 win over Washburn.
Selden, a 6-5 sophomore from Roxbury, Massachusetts, had 12 points off 5-of-7 shooting with six assists, three rebounds and no turnovers in 24 minutes versus Emporia State after scoring five points with four rebounds and two assists against Washburn.
“I thought Mari gave us unbelievable energy in the way he played,” Self said. “He never allowed his man to block him off, spun every time, went to the offensive glass, did the things you are supposed to do. Wayne was turned up last night. It didn’t translate to points. He did some things that were absolutely terrific.”
…Freshman Cliff Alexander was the last of KU’s freshmen and last of the big men to enter Tuesday’s game. He had 12 points and six boards in 13 minutes.
Self on Hawk Talk alluded to the Chicago forward being tardy as a reason for his not entering until past the 10-minute mark of the first half.
“Cliff did fine. He was last one to (be) put in because he needs to make sure he’s on time everywhere he goes,” Self said. “I think he’s done well. He’s picking up stuff so fast and is trying so hard. It’s just time before he grasps it all. He’s done some good things in our exhibition season.”
11. Cliff Alexander, Kansas. Bill Self has had his share of one-and-done guys – some more successful (Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Ben McLemore) than others (Josh Selby) during their brief stopover in Lawrence. Alexander figures to be the next one, and might have company in classmate Kelly Oubre. But Alexander may be the more important piece, providing an interior presence the Jayhawks have always used to great advantage. If the Chicagoan plays up to his billing, Kansas won't drop from its customary place in the top 10.
Yahoo Pat Forde: Top 25 Intriguing Players in CBB
Big Cliff Alexander, a.k.a. King Cliff, a.k.a. Humble Kid, is in Lawrence for the next five months and he's ready to punish rims, swat shots into the stands and tweet his young, emotional heart out. The Year of Cliff begins in earnest Tuesday when Alexander's Jayhawks play Towns and Kentucky's incredible assembly of talent. If you're just learning about Alexander for the first time, here's what you need to know:
Arizona coach Sean Miller said it would be a special honor to participate in the 2016 event, while Indiana coach Tom Crean said, "Knowing that we will play on Veterans Day just prior to the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor adds even greater significance and offers us an experience of a lifetime.''
"We thought playing in the Armed Forces Classic would be a terrific experience for our players, especially to commemorate such an important time in our country,'' Kansas coach Bill Self said in a statement,
Added Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, who also recognized the honor of the 75th anniversary: "As coaches and teams we talk about hard work, overcoming adversity and sacrifice. This will be a chance to pay tribute in our own little way to the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we might enjoy the freedoms we still enjoy today.''
Michigan State lost to North Carolina on the USS Carl Vinson off the coast of San Diego in 2011. The Armed Forces Classic then started with the commitment to bring games to troops serving in all five branches of the military. The first game in that series involved the Spartans again, this time in Germany at Ramstein Air Base in Germany for the Air Force with unranked UConn beating No. 14 Michigan State 66-62.
“There’s not a talented team in the last several years like Kentucky is going to have on paper,” Self told USA Today. “You have nine McDonald’s All-Americans. They have more McDonald’s All-Americans than the Lakers.”
To be precise, Kentucky has nine McDonald’s All-Americans. (Kansas has four.)
I haven’t counted how many the Lakers have, but they don’t have nine.
Athlon Top 50 Coaches (#6 Self, #12 Roy Williams, #22 Tad Boyle, #29 Larry Brown (Wut?) (How is Josh Pastner on this list? Turrible)
6. Kansas will win its 11th straight Big 12 title. Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa State and Kansas State are each formidable, but you won't catch me betting against the Jayhawks until someone dethrones them.
25. Big 12 breakout star: Wayne Selden, Kansas.
49. Old Spice Classic prediction: Kansas over Michigan State. (Jeff missed the ESPN memo. It’s the Orlando Classic.)
Yahoo Jeff Eisenberg: 68 predictions for the new season
Yahoo Jeff Eisenberg: 5 things to watch on opening day
Question: Will Devonte' Graham be the dream point guard Bill Self's wanted for years?
Comment: Kansas has a few questions, if you will, but this is the one for me. Graham committed to Appalachian State way back when. Then he get super awesome super fast. Getting out of his letter of intent brought melodrama. Finally, he's at Kansas and ready to play. I'd say that's a lot of pressure on him to perform, given his status and the fact Kansas really hasn't had multi-year reliable vision at the 1 in the past five years or more. In spite of this, Bill Self still punches the clock and wins league title after league title.
Secondary question: Can Andrew Wiggins live up to the hype? Oh, we're done with that one now?
CBS Sports CBBall Preview
AP: There’s a reason Kansas is heavily favored to with 11th Big 12 title
Big 12 Sports: Kansas Jayhawks Preview
The Colorado men's basketball program does not anticipate signing any high school players during the eight-day early signing period that began Wednesday. But the Buffs may add a transfer.
As early as later this week, Colorado is expected to get a visit from former Kansas guard Conner Frankamp, who announced on Oct. 31 that he will leave KU and transfer to another school.
Kansas women’s basketball head coach Bonnie Henrickson announced that the Jayhawks signed four players on Wednesday from the Class of 2015.
The KU signing-day class, ranked No. 19 nationally by ESPN’s Hoopgurlz, includes guards Jayde Christopher (Federal Way, Washington) and Aisia Robertson (Richmond, California), as well as Kansas high school standouts Kylee Kopatich (Olathe South) and Tyler Johnson (Leavenworth)
Leading up to the 2014 NBA Draft, center Joel Embiid shot a three-part web series exclusively for Samsung devices with filmmaker David Falossi II, who today released an additional short film on the Sixers' first-round pick.
"'Joel Embiid: Road to the Draft,'" Falossi says, is "meant to be an inspirational short film. Joel’s story is pretty amazing, coming from Africa and starting so late… and dramatic and controversial as well, with his injuries."
What it really does is make you want to see him on the court.
Samsung Device Owners only link (Someone give us the password!)
KUAD Press Release: WBB 2015 signing class ranked #19
“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 trio of Brent Musburger, Fran Fraschilla and Holly Rowe return to work the second half of the Big Monday doubleheader featuring Big 12 programs.
Big 12 Tuesdays will be called by Dave Flemming and Miles Simon, in addition to the league’s Saturday games called by Jon Sciambi and Fraschilla.
College GameDay gets a fresh look in its 11th season as host Rece Davis and Bilas are joined by first-year GameDay analysts Seth Greenberg and Jay Williams. The foursome will help carry out a new flexible schedule that will give the Saturday morning show more ability to react to storylines as the season develops to better ensure visits to top games on ESPN networks each week, beginning on the road Saturday, Jan. 17.
ESPN Commentator Schedule
The Bilastrator's "won't miss" national title favorites
Kentucky Wildcats: John Calipari has two six-man units that would each be ranked in the top 25 if submitted as separate teams. Coach Cal took his team to the Bahamas this summer and experimented with a straight "platoon" system. That allowed his embarrassment of riches to play fewer minutes yet be more productive in those minutes. The Wildcats can come at you in waves, press, run and attack the rim and the glass. The platoon concept is brilliant in several ways. Most notably, it takes all of the discussion off of which McDonald's All-Americans will, or should, be playing and puts it all on the system itself. Kentucky might not be the best team with players 1 through 6, but nobody can match the Cats 1 through 12.
The Bilastrator's Final Four contenders (Just KU opponents listed)
Kansas Jayhawks: Bill Self does not have the talent he had last season, but he will have a better team this season. These Jayhawks are a bit tougher. Wayne Selden and Perry Ellis will lead the team in scoring, and Frank Mason and Devonte Graham will handle the point.
Michigan State Spartans: The experience is missing, and there is a lack of depth, but The Bilastrator sees a team that Tom Izzo will really like and one that will fight. Travis Trice needs to stay on the floor all season, and the leadership and commitment of Branden Dawson will be crucial. Michigan State will challenge Wisconsin.
Iowa State Cyclones: No team is more fun to watch on the offensive end. Fred Hoiberg has a point guard in Monte Morris who will be known to all, a forward in Georges Niang that is the toughest matchup in the country and an underrated rebounding machine in Dustin Hogue.
Florida Gators: Florida lost a ton of talent after last season's Final Four run but will make another run this season. The loss of experience is an issue, but Florida has been losing players for some time now, and there is plenty of talent left for Billy Donovan to mold together. The key is the development of Chris Walker. If he blossoms, look out.
Texas Longhorns: Rick Barnes might have his deepest team ever at Texas, or anywhere else he has coached. His upperclassmen have been pushed around and are looking to push back. His young players are talented and hungry, especially sophomore point guard Isaiah Taylor. He has recruited well, landing Myles Turner. Texas is capable, will defend and has only to score more efficiently to make a run at Barnes' first Final Four since 2003.
The Bilastrator's "don't be surprised these are playing in the second weekend" teams
Utah Utes: Delon Wright is improving his shooting, taking over as a leader and no longer deferring to others. He and Jordan Loveridge, already a good shooter, form an excellent tandem that needs only solid frontcourt help to be a "surprise" team this season.
The Bilastrator's top big men
7. Cliff Alexander, Kansas: Not as polished now as he will be, Alexander is a workhorse who will put up numbers -- in time. If he learns to get position and demand the ball, he will be tough to stop in Bill Self's offense. (Also listed in the Top Impact Newcomers list)
The Bilastrator's perfect coach to coach the perfect team
Fred Hoiberg, Iowa State
The Bilastrator wants an offensive genius coaching his perfect team and one who will not coach every dribble and give the players the freedom to perform and play instinctively. Hoiberg has high standards but picks his spots in games.
The Bilastrator's undervalued, underappreciated and overlooked team
These are guys who can really play but just don't get talked about enough. You need to know these guys before they make themselves known to the unwashed masses. You're welcome.
1. Delon Wright, Utah
3. Dustin Hogue, Iowa State
4. Perry Ellis, Kansas
8. Wesley Iwundu, Kansas State
The Bilastrator's matchup nightmares
1. Georges Niang, Iowa State: Toughest guy to guard and game plan against in the Big 12 -- and the country.
8. Branden Dawson, Michigan State: Dawson is one big ball of athleticism and power. His finishing ability and offensive rebounding are awe-inspiring.
9. Le'Bryan Nash, Oklahoma State: Size, athleticism and the ability to drive or post. The only thing he doesn't do is shoot it from the perimeter.
Bill Raftery's top postgame companions
When Bill Raftery sits courtside at a game, the night is just beginning. "Uncle One More" is going out for an adult beverage or 10, and the coaches in the game are always invited. Raftery loves everyone in the game, and would never choose among his peeps, so The Bilastrator will keep the guest list tight so the Villanova budget isn't stretched too far.
1. Jay Wright, Villanova: Wright can't say no to Raftery and always picks up the check.
2. Mark Few, Gonzaga: Fewy always laughs at Raftery's jokes.
3. Bill Self, Kansas: A man's man, and Self keeps Raftery laughing.
Jay Bilas CBBall Opus ($)
John Helsley of the Oklahoman was first to report the news.
In a similar situation to that of Duje Dukan at Wisconsin, Cobbins played in two of the first three games of the season in 2010-11 prior to deciding to redshirt. He didn't do anything wrong or make any poor decisions, but yet he'll still miss as many games as Chris Walker at Florida for failing a drug test and more games than Evan Nolte at Virginia for his alcohol-related infraction.
14. Top 25 team that could disappoint: Florida begins the season ranked seventh in both polls, which is high praise for a team that lost four senior starters from last season. Maybe Michael Frazier expands his game, Dorian Finney-Smith thrives in an increased role and Chris Walker and Kasey Hill both realize their potential. That's a lot of ifs, however, for a top 10 team.
16. Kentucky will scrap its ballyhooed platoon system by Christmas. While it's a good way to keep all 10 of the Wildcats' NBA prospects playing substantial minutes, there are too many issues. Both platoons would feature a center and two big forwards, leaving either Alex Poythress or Trey Lyle to defend quicker perimeter players. Furthermore is a team with three 7-footers and issues defending in transition really best pushing tempo at every opportunity?
30. Preseason respect for Michigan State turns out to be more than blind faith in Tom Izzo. Branden Dawson assumes the role of go-to scorer, Denzel Valentine thrives with greater responsibility as a jack of all trades and Travis Trice and LouRawls Nairns complement one-another well at point guard.
34. Best ESPN broadcasting decision, part I: Seth Greenberg will be a massive improvement on ESPN College GameDay over past-his-prime Digger Phelps. The outspoken, quick-witted former Virginia Tech coach is simply more in touch with the game and its key figures than Phelps is.
36. Best ESPN broadcasting decision, part III: Burying Bob Knight so far you'll have to hunt for him to find him. A three-man booth with Mike Patrick and Len Elmore calling American Athletic Conference games is a steep fall from where the former Indiana coach was in the pecking order just a year or two ago.
37. Anyone still projecting Chris Walker as a first-round pick today won't be by midseason. The Florida sophomore has NBA-caliber size and athleticism, but his hype vastly outweighs his worth at this point. Can we at least wait for him to put forth a consistent defensive effort and develop a go-to move in the post before suggesting he can make an NBA roster?
38. The key to Texas' season will be whether 6-foot-8 senior Johnathan Holmes can adjust to playing small forward after three years of playing in the paint. Holmes shed 22 pounds this offseason and has the outside shooting and passing ability to thrive on the perimeter, but it remains to be seen whether he can handle the ball or defend opposing wings.
39. If the transition doesn't stick and Holmes has to slide back to the paint, Texas' frontcourt may quickly become overcrowded. Starters Holmes and Cameron Ridley return from last year along with key reserves Connor Lammert and Prince Ibeh. Plus, Texas adds elite recruit Myles Turner, whose shot blocking and ability to run the floor and finish at the rim ensure immediate playing time.
43. Team that will rise the most: Utah, which returns its top six scorers from a 21-win team and adds a solid recruiting class. Led by NBA prospect Delon Wright and standout Jordan Loveridge, the Utes are as good a bet as anyone in the Pac-12 to emerge as the league's second-best team behind Arizona.
Yahoo Jeff Eisenberg: 68 predictions for the new season
ODDS TO WIN 2015 NCAA BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT, INDIANAPOLIS
NORTH CAROLINA 15-1
IOWA ST 30-1
WICHITA ST 30-1
U CONN 40-1
MICHIGAN ST 50-1
OHIO ST 50-1
SAN DIEGO ST 50-1
GEORGE WASHINGTON 200-1
KANSAS ST 200-1
LOUISIANA TECH 200-1
MIAMI FL 200-1
NOTRE DAME 200-1
ST JOHN'S 200-1
WEST VIRGINIA 200-1
ARIZONA ST 300-1
FLORIDA ST 200-1
NC STATE 300-1
SETON HALL 300-1
SOUTH CAROLINA 300-1
TEXAS A&M 300-1
COLORADO ST 500-1
FRESNO ST 500-1
GEORGIA TECH 500-1
ILLINOIS ST 500-1
MURRAY ST 500-1
NEW MEXICO 500-1
NORTHERN IOWA 500-1
OKLAHOMA ST 500-1
OLE MISS 200-1
OREGON 500-1 (1000-1)
PENN ST 500-1
ST JOE'S 500-1
TEXAS TECH 500-1
U MASS 500-1
BOSTON COLLEGE 1000-1
ST BONAVENTURE 1000-1
ST LOUIS 1000-1
VIRGINIA TECH 1000-1
WAKE FOREST 1000-1
“He’s a very good listener,” Richie said. “You only have to tell him things once and he gets it.”
That should come in handy during the recruiting process, which, with the season just two weeks away, is hitting the 6-foot-10 senior post player full tilt.
He’s narrowed his choices to Arizona, Cal, Kansas, Kentucky and UCLA. The early letter-of-intent period began Wednesday, but Rabb is not in a hurry to decide.
Rabb plans to vist all five — he’s already been to Kentucky — but, if a program satisfies all of his criteria before he makes all five trips, he said he will announce immediately.
“If I know, I’ll just do it,” he said. “There will be no point to prolong things. More than likely I’ll wait and then just make a list of all the pros and cons.
“To be honest, I can’t make a bad decision.”
So what’s he looking for?
“A place that will prepare me best for the NBA,” he said. “A place that will provide me with a good education (he plans to major in business). I want to be at a place that my family can watch me play.”
That would seem to provide an advantage to Cal. Unless his family has the ability to relocate. Or is comfortable watching him on TV.
Callaway 78, Jim Hill 43: At Jackson, Malik Newman led the Chargers with 25 points, seven assists and five rebounds.
Derrick Jones is joining Jalen Poyser in a UNLV basketball recruiting class that suddenly shapes up as a formidable one on a national level for 2015.
And adding Bishop Gorman High School standout Stephen Zimmerman remains a possibility for the Rebels.
Jones, a 6-foot-6-inch forward from Archbishop Carroll High in Radnor, Pa., announced his commitment to UNLV on Thursday. He also considered Connecticut, Kansas and Kentucky.
Jones is ranked the No. 22 prospect in his class by ESPN and No. 42 by Rivals.com. Poyser, a 6-4 point guard who is considered the No. 1 prospect in Canada, signed a letter of intent this week.
“We love what UNLV is doing, and it’s a good fit,” said Mark Poyser, Jalen’s dad. “UNLV needs him, not just wants him, and he loves the coach. Jalen is a lockdown defender. He handles the ball well, and he scores the ball very well, too.”
Poyser and Jones made official visits to UNLV on Oct. 16. Jones’ decision, which came as a surprise, was announced on ESPNU.
Zimmerman, a 7-footer also being courted by Kansas, Kentucky and UCLA, is making an official visit this weekend and will attend the Rebels’ games today and Sunday. Rivals ranks Zimmerman the No. 10 prospect in the senior class.
The early signing period opened this week, but Zimmerman plans to announce his college decision in the spring.
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