So long summer siesta!
10 days to Late Night in the Phog!
Kansas freshman Josh Jackson has heard the horror stories.
They popped up during his visit to campus before he committed, reared their ugly words once again this summer after he officially joined the Jayhawks’ roster and have brought him to this point in his Kansas career with a certain guarded mindset.
It’s Boot Camp time for the Kansas basketball program, and for players like Jackson, fellow freshmen Udoka Azubuike and Mitch Lightfoot as well as transfers Malik Newman, Evan Maxwell and Tucker Vang, that means life is about to get a whole lot nastier.
Bragg was happy to report Monday that his added weight hasn’t affected his ability to jump rope in a negative way.
Boot Camp begins daily with jump-rope exercises.
“I can say I’m pretty decent, pretty decent,” said Bragg, who said he liked to jump rope as a youth.
“It is a big challenge for everybody,” he added of teammates not used to the activity. “First day back at Boot Camp we had a tough struggle. I won’t name names, though. It was tough. It’s tough going that early. We’ll be ready to go tomorrow.”
Boot Camp ran from about 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. Monday. It’ll start at 6 a.m. Tuesday through next Thursday or Friday, with the weekend off.
As far as how KU’s freshmen fared Monday, Bragg was complimentary.
“I think they handled it pretty well,” he said. “They had their ups and downs. That’s the whole thing about it, just being mentally tough and challenged.”
Bragg was out of town last weekend, representing KU at the NCAA Leadership Development’s Elite Student-Athlete Symposium in Indianapolis.
“That was the best experience I ever had going to things like that,” Bragg said. “Power points the whole day, giving you points of life, the next level, college, agents. It was a lot.”
The highlight, Bragg said, was “Antoine Walker talking to us, how his whole life experience was, his whole journey. He gave his life as an example, to learn from it.”
Arms folded and spreading farther than ever before, face fuller but with the same boyish smile, Kansas sophomore Carlton Bragg sat at the table in the Allen Fieldhouse media room Monday and confirmed one thing — he is, without question, bigger than he was a season ago.
Such news surfaced this summer, with reports popping up that Bragg had put on more than 20 pounds this offseason. He wasn’t the only Jayhawk to do that, of course. Freshman Josh Jackson told the Journal-World in late August that he was up 14 pounds, but Bragg’s ability to add bulk to his frame might be the most critical development for the 2016-17 team.
Listed in last season’s media guide at 6-foot-9, 220 pounds, Bragg said Monday that he actually played closer to 215 a season ago and now stands 6-10, 245.
“See, I done grew a lot,” he said with a grin. “I can tell you that I grew. Yes.”
The process of transforming his body from a rail thin freshman into a stacked sophomore started where all KU transformations seem to begin — in the weight room with sports performance director Andrea Hudy.
Bragg also touched on Late Night in the Phog, the annual unofficial start to basketball season that this year falls on Oct. 1. After prematurely revealing his show-stealing piano performance plans prior to last year’s event, the sophomore was mum on his 2017 role.
“See, last year I gave it away,” Bragg said. “This year, we’ll see. That’s all.”
Q: So, Team X -- you think they'll be any good?
A: Oh yeah. They'll be good.
Maybe there's some explanation attached, a little back and forth for the sake of politesse. Maybe, if you're speaking with a known die-hard of the team in question, and he or she has a particularly hopeful look on their face, elaboration is the best way to deliver bad news. (You know, losing Player Y is tough, but maybe if some of the young guys come through! -- etc.) Compared to the internet, though -- where the differences between the 25th- and 26th-ranked teams in a midsummer poll must be rigorously considered and precisely outlined -- the default structure of real-world chats, at least in the offseason, is wonderfully binary. A team is good. Or it is not.
If you think about it, this, more than anything else, sums up why the Kansas Jayhawks men's basketball program is so incredible: You could never, ever have this conversation about Kansas.
By any definition, Kansas is always good. The question is never whether, but how.
The same is true in 2016-17, but the question feels even more pressing than usual, full of implications beyond that insane Big 12 title streak. Is this Bill Self's best team of the past five years? Longer? Just how good are these Jayhawks, anyway?
"We're going to be really good next year," Self told fans at the Jayhawks' end-of-season banquet in April. "We're really excited, and our staff would tell you, I haven't been this excited probably going into a summer or a spring than what I am right now, because I know what these guys are capable of."
That bullish early appraisal came on the same night Carlton Bragg announced his decision to return to Lawrence, Kansas, for his sophomore season. It was two days after Josh Jackson, the No. 2 player in the class of 2016, made his commitment official. If there is reason to expect an extra-extra-special Jayhawks group this season, it revolves in large part around those two.
…And yes: Asking whether this Kansas team is even better than usual is mildly unfair, because it normalizes how good Self's team always is. The Jayhawks are coming off a 33-5 season, a No. 1 NCAA tournament seed, a trip to the Elite Eight (where it fell two buckets short of eventual national champion Villanova) and, oh yeah, their 12th straight Big 12 regular-season title. None of this is normal, and none of it should be taken for granted.
Yet their success is so ingrained that the usual, casual ways we talk about college basketball no longer apply. The only reasonable way to talk about Kansas is to ask wonder whether this year they might be something more -- and to marvel at what that might mean.
With the introduction of the 30-second shot clock and a host of additional rule changes, scoring increased rather dramatically in 2015-16. What's good for the scoreboard, however, is bad for the defenses.
Then again not every defense collapsed last season. Coaches like Kansas' Bill Self and Virginia's Tony Bennett still know a thing or two about preventing points. Good or even great defense will still be there for the taking this season if you know where to look.
1. Kansas Jayhawks
Kansas has held Big 12 opponents to 41 percent shooting on their 2s in each of the past two seasons, and keep in mind the second half of that impressive stretch was recorded with Self complaining to anyone who would listen (albeit with some statistical justification) that his team "lacked size" at the wing position. Well, freshman Josh Jackson should solve his coach's worries there in 2016-17, Carlton Bragg Jr. is likewise a bit taller than the player he's replacing (Perry Ellis) and, perhaps most importantly, Landen Lucas is back for another season in the paint.
Lucas became the starter in late January last season, and he gave Self arguably the best defense-first big man the coach has had since Jeff Withey's junior year. (Which is no knock against Withey's senior season, it's just that by then the big guy was also playing a more prominent role in the offense.) Whether the credit goes to Lucas, to Self, or a little of both, KU proved that excellent interior defense doesn't necessarily require the presence of a game-altering shot-blocker. Replacing Ellis at power forward will be a tall order for Bragg on offense, of course, but with Lucas, Jackson and returning first-team All-Big 12 defensive selections Frank Mason III and Devonte' Graham all on hand in Lawrence, the new-look, longer Jayhawks should, yet again, be in excellent shape on defense.
ESPN Gasaway ($)
"I think Bill Self. Obviously has a great basketball mind, but more importantly has the right intangibles to be successful at the NBA level. Relates extremely well to players, understands that players run that league, can put ego aside, and has the charisma and likeability that superstars would like to play for."
…There are nine coaches mentioned above. It would truly shock me if at least two of them hadn't been hired to coach an NBA team by 2020, and I'd lean toward three or four of them getting a shot in the NBA before they retire.
Kansas' Late Night in the Phog presented by Hy-Vee is a basketball tradition like no other, signaling the official start of KU's hoops season. The 32nd annual Late Night is set for Saturday, Oct. 1. This year's activities begin at 10 a.m. with a Phog Festival on the front lawn of historic Allen Fieldhouse.
The Phog Festival will have many activities for all fans to enjoy leading up to Late Night, including a Family Fun Zone, radio remotes, a mobile video board and a live DJ. The festival will also include food trucks, giveaways, interactive displays and much more throughout the day.
Doors open for Late Night at 5 p.m. for KU students and 5:30 p.m. for the general public; the program will start at 6:30 p.m. Kansas Athletics will take extra steps to ensure the fun and safety of all attending fans Late Night including:
- KU and Lawrence Public Safety personnel will provide an increased presence.
- Kansas Athletics will open the Allen Fieldhouse entrances early if warranted by a large-enough crowd of fans waiting to enter.
- Kansas Athletics will increase its communication with fans throughout the day, using social media, conventional media and on-site communication.
- As on game nights, KU students will enter through their customary separate entrance on the northeast side of Allen Fieldhouse.
- Though all parking lots are free, fans are encouraged to park south of Allen Fieldhouse in lots 71, 90, 125 and 127 due to a concurrent on-campus event. Lower levels of the parking garage just north of Allen Fieldhouse will be reserved with the upper levels open to the public for a fee.
Why Allen Fieldhouse is the BEST!
“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
For three seasons, Iowa State point guard Monte’ Morris has developed a reputation for being arguably the best pure point guard in college basketball.
For three seasons, Morris has been a model of efficiency, the epitome of what every coach in the country looks for in a floor general. He’s never finished outside the top eight in assist-to-turnover ratio, and UCSB’s Zalmico Harmon is the only player other than Morris to finish in the top 100 nationally in assists-per-game while sporting an assist-to-turnover ratio better than 4-to-1.
Morris has done it twice — each of the last two seasons — while playing in the Big 12 at an all-league level. He’s never averaged less than 28 minutes per game in a season, playing 39.9 minutes a night in the Big 12 as a junior, yet he’s totaled just 123 turnovers since arriving in Ames. For comparison’s sake, Providence point guard Kris Dunn averaged 127 turnovers a year his last two seasons in college.
“There’s a time and place where you have to make other people better, hit the right guy, make the right decision,” said ISU’s second-year head coach Steve Prohm, “and he’s really, really good in his decision making.”
Put another way, Morris has been the nation’s best facilitator for the last three years, turning himself from a three-star recruit into a potential NBA Draft pick because of his ability to protect the ball and how well he puts his talented teammates in positions where they can be most effective.
…The key for Morris is going to be how well he transitions from being a facilitator to being the centerpiece of team’s offense, which is not an easy. The best true point guards, the guys like Chris Paul and Isaiah Thomas, are wired one way. They try to get others involved. They try to lead, to set up, to get everyone else involved. They take over only when needed, and their teams are usually better for it.
Morris, who is more Chris Paul than Kyrie Irving, needs to be rewired.
“We just going to play this one out,” Morris said with a smile. “I did it for three years, but assist-to-turnover, we’ll just throw that one out the window. I’ll just try to be aggressive and do what I do.”
NCAA Tournament Brackets and History interactive tool
CBS Interactive Tool: RPI and SOS details head to head.
Big 12 Composite Schedule & Results
The jet setting continued for Kansas basketball coach Bill Self and his staff on Thursday. And it looks as if it will continue through the rest of the week.
After nearly going coast to coast — Las Vegas to New Jersey — earlier in the week, Self made the cross country trip worth it by sticking around the New England area to visit with a pair of Top 40 Class of 2017 guards.
The 2017 recruiting tour continued on Friday for the Kansas men’s basketball staff, which made its way down to Oak Hill Academy in Virginia on Friday to check in with five-star forward Billy Preston.
Preston, (6-foot-9, 220 pounds, ranked No. 8 by Rivals in 2017 class) who recently trimmed his list to five finalists, including Kansas, told Rivals.com’s Krysten Peek that he planned to make an official visit to KU “sometime in October.”
“I talk to Coach (Bill) Self and Coach (Kurtis) Townsend on a regular basis,” Preston told Peek. “I’m taking an official visit to Kansas sometime in October and I’m just going to take a deeper look into the program and what the relationship is like with the team.”
Recruiting Calendar (updated for 2017)
Annual Late Night in the Phog
Annual Bill Self Camp KU vs Alumni games
60 Years of AFH Celebration
Legends of the Phog game
2011-12 Final Border War
KC Prep Invitational
and more, now on YouTube