Bonnie Henrickson was running on fumes on Tuesday. She had maybe slept for a few minutes the night before, the result of some mechanical issues at a Colorado airport.
But Henrickson, the women's basketball at Kansas, had made it to the office. And here came KU men's coach Bill Self, strolling past the women's basketball office in the Wagnon-Parrott Athletic Center, just adjacent to Allen Fieldhouse.
"Sweet 16!" Self called out.
If Henrickson had any visions of a power nap, those two words were the linguistic equivalent of a shot of Five-Hour Energy.
"Sleep's overrated this time of year," Henrickson said.
On Monday night, Henrickson's Jayhawks, the 12th seed in the Norfolk Region, upset No. 4 seed South Carolina 75-69 in Boulder, Colo., advancing to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA women's tournament for the second straight year. They first upset No. 5 seed Colorado on Saturday in the Buffaloes' own gym, and then spent Monday night celebrating in the locker room of the Coors Events Center, just the second 12-seed in NCAA women's tourney history to survive two rounds.
By Tuesday morning, the jolly mood had filtered back to Lawrence, where the basketball programs keep printing out "Sweet 16" T-shirts. Combined with the men's Sweet 16 appearance this week in the South Regional in Arlington Texas, Kansas is the only Division 1 school that has produced Sweet 16 teams in both the men's and women's programs for the last two years.
"Pretty good," Self said on Tuesday afternoon, when the statistic was recited to him.
"It bodes well for the commitment and the facilities, and everything that's going on here," Self added. "And I can't see it changing."
…In total, it took Henrickson eight years to make the NCAA Tournament after arriving in Lawrence in 2004. But after the Jayhawks held South Carolina to 37.5 percent shooting on Monday, her NCAA tourney record is now 4-1 over the last two years.
"They've been unbelievable," Self said.
If there's a thread connecting the two programs, it's not hard to spot. While the Kansas men lean on four senior starters - including Jeff Withey and Travis Releford - the KU women lead on seniors Goodrich, Davis and Engelman.
"They got a lot of seniors that have given their heart and soul to this place," Self said. "It's very nice for them."
On Tuesday, Travis Releford, another senior, stood inside Allen Fieldhouse and talked about playing No. 4 Michigan. The Wolverines feature sophomore guard Trey Burke and a collection of future pros. And if the Jayhawks want an opportunity to play in their second straight Final Four, they will first have to survive one of the best offenses in the country.
"We know coming into the tournament that defense was gonna be the key," Releford said.
Of course, the same could be said for the Kansas women, who could face Notre Dame point guard Skylar Diggins, one of the women's game's brightest stars. But first, both programs spent Tuesday exchanging text messages and tweets - and savoring in the shared success.
"We're a family," Davis said. "And to be able to experience that with them, and to share that, and to make history ... it's awesome."
“Whenever you see your name up on that line, everybody is rejuvenated,” Self said. “They’ve made the most of the opportunity. For them to get to the Sweet 16 (last year) having to upset two folks, and the same thing this year — although I wouldn’t consider them major upsets — is tremendous.”
The fever has even spread to KU football coach Charlie Weis, whose team is in the midst of spring practices.
“One little tidbit for you: We are the only team in the land that for the last two consecutive years has had both the men’s and women’s basketball teams make it to the Sweet 16,” Weis said Tuesday. “Hopefully, at the end of the day, we come back with a couple of championships to add to the trophy case.”
Weis went on to say that he’d texted Self about KU’s slow starts against Western Kentucky and North Carolina, though the exact wording wasn’t revealed.
“It may have said something like, ‘Hey, let’s get it together, focus in a little bit better,’ or whatever nice things could be said without any expletives,” Self said.
…Backup forward Justin Wesley is doubtful for Friday’s game against the Wolverines because of a sprained ankle suffered in practice, Self said.
Wesley wasn’t in uniform for Sunday’s game against North Carolina.
“We’ve done X-rays and everything’s negative, but it is fairly significant,” Self said. “We hope he’ll be able to go, but we don’t think there’s any chance he’ll be able to practice the next two days.”
Beilein and Kansas coach Bill Self appeared Monday on the "Mike & Mike in the Morning" show on ESPN Radio and talked about the matchup.
"The big thing that stands out about Bill Self's team is their defensive field-goal percentage (.359). You just are not going to get that many open shots," Beilein said. "You have to make the ones when you're open, and they're not going to give you a lot of second opportunities."
The center of attention will be Kansas 7-foot senior center Jeff Withey, who had 16 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks Sunday.
"It's their defense that always feeds them, and the big kid inside — they've always been good and it goes back to the Danny Manning days with the high-low game," Beilein said. "All the bigs they have, they are very good about getting leverage inside so the big man doesn't have to do anything but just put it in."
…"They probably have the national player of the year — at least he got my vote — there and all the pieces around him that can stretch you," Self said. "You have a couple big guys that rotate inside and of course, McGary's playing great."
Self mentioned Michigan's last-second shot against Indiana that could have won the game and made the Wolverines co-champs in the Big Ten regular season — and certainly a higher seed.
"They're a terrific team and they were a ball hanging on the rim and falling the other way from tying for the Big Ten championship in the best league in the country," he said. "We know they can play (as) a one seed because we think we're playing a one seed that happens to be a four because they've shown it for the majority of the year."
Despite the outcome of Friday's game, Beilein is confident about the direction the program is going, with five freshmen in the main rotation.
"Our only goal in the future is to get kids that are going to embrace the culture of University of Michigan basketball as we continue to rebuild," Beilein said. "We're not done with this thing — given the makeup of our roster, I really like the future of the program."
"We really played well," Beilein said. "We came out just playing well offensively but our defense was the best.
"I preached about it all year long: There's a process you go through defensively where the game has slowed down defensively for several of our young guys just over the last couple of weeks.
"Every day is another step forward and we put it all together defensively in those two games, and that creates our offense right now."
In 7-foot senior center Jeff Withey, Kansas has an experienced anchor for its defense and a potential matchup problem for Michigan. But with the increased production that 6-10 freshman Mitch McGary has provided as a starter in the last two games, the Wolverines may have found an answer.
McGary combined for 34 points and 23 rebounds in the two games.
"He's learning how to use those 256 pounds and his feet, which are huge," Beilein said. "Guarding Withey, who is one of the best big men in the country, is a whole new challenge."
…Dealing with McGary's fiery and emotions is something Beilein has gotten better at, balancing opportunities to teach after mistakes with praising his successes. All it takes is timing and letting McGary's emotions subside.
"I've learned to wait for a minute, almost count to five before I try and address him after he does something either good or bad," Beilein said. "Just wait and let him gather himself a little bit and it's all good stuff. You have to be patient when you speak with him because he does get very enthusiastic about some things."
This season, fans have noticed that McLemore fades out of the spotlight when the Jayhawks need to win most. On the road against Oklahoma State and Iowa State, McLemore scored seven points. He averaged an impressive 17.4 points per game in Big 12 play this season. However, on the road in conference play, he averaged 13 points per game.
If you include Kansas’ Big 12 road games and its postseason games, he’s averaged 12 points per game. And in postseason play alone, he averages 10.4 points per game.
It’s possible that McLemore’s hit a freshman wall, he’s in a scoring slump or maybe neither of the above. It may all be a coincidence that the shots haven’t dropped for Kansas’ star. That’s unlikely, though. Odds are, it’s part freshman slump and part pressure-related. It’s understandable, too. These are high expectations for a kid who’s 20 years old.
It’s not the end of times, either — he’s got an incredibly bright future ahead of him.
Suddenly, they’re an “it” team on the rise, and many of those reasons for not scheduling Wichita State have lost their credence.
“So what if we win every once in a while. They going to fire Bill Self? I don’t think so,” Marshall told The Associated Press earlier this year. “It’d be good for everybody, but it’s like moving a mountain, man. Like moving a mountain to get it done.”
Michael O’Donnell, a freshman state senator from Wichita, it trying to help move it.
He introduced a bill in the legislature that would have compelled Kansas and Kansas State to put Wichita State on their non-conference schedule each year starting with the 2014 season. The bill has not had a hearing and action on the measure isn’t expected this session.
“I don’t think it’s getting any traction,” O’Donnell conceded, “but I think it validates that Wichita State has a terrific basketball program.”
O’Donnell also said last weekend’s upset of No. 1 Gonzaga should put to rest any doubts about the caliber of basketball played by the Shockers, and drive home the fact that they can compete with anybody — including Kansas and Kansas State.
“I’m not saying we’re better than them,” Marshall said, “but I think we’ve proven that the value of a game playing us would not hurt them in recent history.”
ESPN Video: Sweet 16 South Regional Preview
Tickets Available for South Regional
3/24/13, 8:20 PM
Fans coming to North Texas for the #NCAA South Regional hosted by #Big12 - purchase parking for Cowboys Stadium here
South Regional practice sessions Thursday at Cowboys Stadium will be free and open to the public.
The four team that have advanced to the South Regional will practice in one-hour blocks from noon to 4 p.m.:
• Noon-12:50 p.m. Michigan
• 1-1:50 p.m. Florida Gulf Coast
• 2:10-3 p.m. Kansas
• 3:10-4 p.m. Florida
Doors open at 11 a.m. and parking is free. Fans should park in Lot 10 and enter the stadium at Gates A and K. Merchandise and concessions stands will be open.
The Arlington Convention Center will be the headquarters for KU fans. The pregame party will start at 2:30 p.m., with the pep rally slated for 4:30 p.m. The KU pep band, spirit squad and mascot will perform at the pep rally.
Concessions, cash bars and parking ($20 per car) are available on site. There is no charge for admission, and the convention center is within walking distance of Cowboys Stadium.
The KU Alumni Association, Kansas Athletics and KUStore.com will be set up at the pregame party. Be sure to show your Alumni Association membership card at our table and receive a free members-only gift! If you're not a member, visit www.kualumni.org/join to join today. Print your purchase receipt and show it to staff members to receive your gift.
If you don't have tickets to the game, head to our official watch site in Arlington, Humperdink's, to watch the game with fellow Jayhawks.
During the 2011 N.B.A. draft, Phoenix selected Markieff Morris with the 13th overall pick and tried to make a deal for Marcus, who went one spot later to Houston. The twins had been inseparable while growing up in Philadelphia and attending the University of Kansas. Now they were apart for the first time, which both found discomforting. To make up for the absence, each bought a French bulldog and gave the pet a nickname for their mother.
Markieff seemed to lack hustle and concentration with the Suns, Angel Morris said of her older, by seven minutes, twin. And Markieff also seemed to grow despondent after Marcus, who played little in Houston, was demoted to the N.B.A.’s Development League.
“They said ’Kieff hit a rookie wall,’ Angel Morris said. “I don’t think it was a rookie wall. I just think that when they sent Marcus to the D-League, he was so depressed that ’Kieff felt the same depression.”
Marcus, she said, “didn’t want to be bothered, didn’t want to talk on the phone, was just in another world.”
Such apprehension sounded familiar to Tom Van Arsdale, the former Sun. He said he lacked motivation and frequently cried after being separated from his twin, Dick, when the two left Indiana for the N.B.A. in 1965.
“I had some depression,” Tom said in a phone interview. He described his state of mind to The Arizona Republic as a “mini-nervous breakdown.”
During his rookie training camp with the Detroit Pistons, Tom said he left the team and enrolled in law school at Indiana. He changed his mind several days later when Dick, then with the Knicks, called and admonished: “What are you doing? Get back to Detroit.”
The Van Arsdales did not play together in Phoenix until the 12th and final year of their careers. The Morrises, on the other hand, are young and have a chance to peak together. On March 8, they became the first twins to start a game for the same N.B.A. team.
“They’re probably the happiest two people in the world right now,” said Thomas Robinson of the Houston Rockets, who played with the Morrises at Kansas.
...Alvin Gentry, who was fired as the Suns’ coach in January, said that last season, Markieff Morris kept urging Phoenix to trade for his brother. And Gentry said that Bill Self, the Kansas coach, told him: “You need Marcus. If you can get him, he’ll make Markieff work harder.”
The two brothers worked out in Phoenix last summer. On Feb. 21, the Suns sent a second-round draft pick to Houston, and Marcus was reunited with his twin after a troubling season and a half apart.
He is considered the more assertive and outgoing of the twins and is described as “Markieff’s batteries” by team officials. Lindsey Hunter, the Suns’ interim coach, said that since Marcus joined the team, Markieff’s mood had brightened considerably.
“I think he has been better,” Hunter said. “He has been more attentive, paying attention to details.”
If the brothers do find themselves in competition with each other, for a meal or something more prized, it is usually settled with a video game. In their new house, Markieff got the master bedroom after defeating Marcus in a best-of-five series while playing the N.B.A. 2K video series.
“Marcus was up, two games to none,” said Angel Morris, their mother. “We looked at the house, and he said: ‘I can’t believe I lost. Where I’ve got to sleep compared to ’Kieff is crazy.’ I said: ‘I tell you what. There’s a big swivel chair in Markieff’s room. How about if I buy you one just like it and put it in his room and you can go in there and swivel with him.’ ”
NY Times: Suns and Brothers
VOTE for Kansas players, team, and moment in NCAA 75th Anniversary of March Madness (Vote for Wilt, Clyde, Danny, 51-52 Kansas, Mario's Miracle)
Big 12/College News
Tulsa is joining the Big East. Not the Big East with all the basketball schools in it that’s going to be called the Big East down the line. Tulsa is joining the first Big East. This is happening in 2014.
• East Carolina is joining the Big East, also not the basketball Big East — though wouldn’t it be droll if one of these teams accidentally ended up in the Catholic 7 — and also in 2014.
• Conference USA is joining the Sun Belt. All of it. This part we made up, probably.
All this reported by college football realignment oracle Brett “Sources” McMurphy. We’ll see you back here in a couple hours for the next shuffle.
Texas Tech spoke to SIU men’s basketball coach Barry Hinson earlier this week about its vacant men’s basketball coach position.
The Red Raiders have also spoken with Oral Roberts coach Scott Sutton, Indiana assistant coach Steve McClain and former Nebraska coach Kenneth “Doc” Sadler, who is at Kansas as the director of basketball operations, according to the Lubbock (Texas) Avalanche-Journal.
Hinson was the director of basketball operations at Kansas under longtime friend Bill Self before signing a five-year, $1.475 million contract with the Salukis last March.
Reached Tuesday, Hinson said Texas Tech asked SIU Athletic Director Mario Moccia for permission to speak with him, and was granted that right.
“I was not searching for, nor am I seeking a job. I am extremely happy at Southern Illinois, but I honored their request and sat down and visited with their administration,” Hinson said.
There has been much conjecture about what happened, how a coach with Howland's knowledge of the game and early successes could have plunged so far, so fast. Some have said he couldn't relate to modern players and his system didn't appeal to recruits and fans.
But there is also a simplified explanation: Howland changed. And that change really came into focus in the summer of 2009.
That July, Howland did what college coaches often do: He pulled a scholarship from a recruit he no longer wanted. The recruit was Kendall Williams, a long-armed, athletic guard from Los Osos High in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., who also had played in the same AAU program that once produced Darren Collison, a key contributor on all three of Howland's Final Four teams. Like Collison, Williams was disciplined and smart, an ideal player for Howland's conservative, defensive-first system. Like Collison, Williams grew up rooting for UCLA, and he verbally committed to the Bruins early in his sophomore year. He also told other schools recruiting him, including Stanford and Florida, to stop, that his devotion to UCLA would never waver.
Howland's commitment to Williams proved to be far less solid. By Williams' junior year, when the 6-foot-3 guard was no longer ranked among the top 100 recruits in the nation, the Bruins interest in him cooled. This was no secret; UCLA assistant coaches openly recruited other point guards and told some prospects' parents that Williams would never play for the Bruins. Williams' father, Robert, spoke to a UCLA assistant coach in the spring and early summer of 2009, and he asked if the Bruins were still committed to Kendall. Each time he was told that Howland still wanted Kendall at UCLA.
But then, in late July, Howland pulled Williams' scholarship, doing so during a meeting with Robert and Kendall Williams. Robert Williams was so upset by Howland's decision that when the coach tried to spin his decision as mutually beneficial, Robert stopped him. He demanded that Howland state out loud exactly what he was doing: He was going back on his word.
Howland had the right to change his mind about Williams, but how he did it peeved several of Southern California's most prominent AAU coaches. They believed Howland purposely waited until the end of the summer recruiting calendar to drop Williams, thus assuring that he couldn't be evaluated by other Pac-12 coaches before the November signing period. Williams had been loyal to UCLA, and Howland repaid that loyalty by preventing him from going to Stanford or Cal or another Pac-12 school. Instead, Williams signed that November with New Mexico.
Many of the area's AAU coaches already disliked the conservative offensive system that Howland ran, feeling it didn't showcase their players' talents to NBA scouts. Howland's long-time friendship with David and Dana Pump, the twins who ran the Double Pump AAU program, also irked some coaches, as they felt the Pumps used their relationship with Howland to poach players from other AAU teams. Howland's mistreatment of Williams, however, was an even bigger issue. It led several AAU coaches to conclude that Howland couldn't be trusted, and they began advising their best players not to consider UCLA.
This had a stunning effect: Howland and his staff struggled to recruit Southern California. Of the 10 players the Bruins have signed since the Class of 2010 (Williams' class), only one (2011 signee Norman Powell) hails from Southern California, and he is from San Diego. Howland supporters have claimed that a lack of elite local talent forced him to look elsewhere and necessitated moves like the hiring of Korey McCray from the renowned Atlanta Celtics AAU program to be a Bruins assistant coach, which opened new recruiting grounds in the East. But there was no shortage of talented local players; many just wanted nothing to do with Howland and UCLA.
"I had a good relationship with Ben," says Elvert Perry, coach of the Inland basketball program based in Riverside, Calif. "But I know lot of coaches who did not and for a lot of reasons."
Adopted in 2011, the Flagrant 1 replaced the intentional foul, and the Flagrant 2 replaced the previous flagrant foul. Coaches generally believe referees are applying the rule correctly.
It is the rule that is a problem — too imprecise and too harsh for a fast-moving, physical sport. It is designed to protect players from concussions and other injury caused by swinging elbows with evil intent. It is instead penalizing, in some cases, normal basketball plays.
“The rule that we have in place is a rule that I think we’re going to need to clean up,” Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said.
The Shockers helped start the debate on Thursday.
Wichita State’s Ron Baker took an elbow from Pittsburgh’s Lamar Patterson and was awarded two free throws and possession for his team. Later, Wichita State lost a timeout when Carl Hall asked for a review and referees saw nothing flagrant. Saturday against Gonzaga, referees whistled the Shockers’ Ehimen Orukpe for an elbow to the face of Kelly Olynyk while boxing out for a rebound.
The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel wanted a new way of defining fouls “deemed more severe than a common foul.” It described the changes this way in 2011:
• An example of a Flagrant 1 foul would be when a player swings an elbow and makes illegal, nonexcessive contact with an opponent above the shoulders. The team whose player was struck would receive two free throws and possession of the ball. Previously, this type of foul was called an intentional foul. The committee wanted to move away from the word “intentional,” because a player’s intent was never the point of the rule.
• An example of a Flagrant 2 foul would be when a player swings an elbow excessively and makes contact with an opponent above the shoulders. In this case, the player who threw the elbow would be ejected from the game, and the other team would receive two free throws and the ball.
• The NCAA rulebook states: “There can be incidental contact with the elbow above or below the shoulders; swinging of the elbow is required for the foul to be classified as a Flagrant 1 or 2 foul. A Flagrant 1 foul results in two free throws and the ball awarded to the offended team. Flagrant 2 fouls are more serious and violent and result in automatic rejection from the game.”
“The officials are just doing their job, and they’re doing a great job of trying their best to administer a really, really, really bad rule,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “We, all of us, media make a big deal of it, coaches need to make a big stink about it. We need to get rid of the rule.”
Patterson’s foul on Baker, in one of the tournament’s early games, provided TBS analyst Doug Gottlieb a reason to bash the rule. According to USA Today, referees called eight flagrant fouls during the tournament’s first 20 games. They reviewed four others without finding a flagrant foul.
“This is the dumbest thing we do in basketball,” Gottlieb said during the review. “It’s not a foul. It’s not a purposeful elbow. It’s a guy driving to the basket and his elbow happens to hit Baker in the mouth. That’s a basketball move. It’s not a foul. It’s not a flagrant foul. And we’re wasting time.”
NCAA coordinator of officials John Adams told USA Today the number of flagrant fouls did not seem inappropriate.
“We’ve reviewed every single one of them,” Adams said. “We feel like every single one of them was applied consistently and accurately against the rule.”
Orukpe’s flagrant came after a three-pointer by Gonzaga’s Kevin Pangos, opening the door for a big swing. Olynyk made two free throws after the foul, giving the Bulldogs a possible five-point possession and cutting Wichita State’s lead to 26-19. Gonzaga missed a three-pointer after the free throws, and the Shockers responded with a three-pointer.
Years before he was a two-time WWE Champion, Paul Wight (a/k/a The Big Show) was a reserve center on the Wichita State basketball team, averaging 2.0 points and 2.1 rebounds in 21 games during the 1991-92 season. With the Shockers back in the Sweet 16 for just the second time since the tournament expanded in 1985, I caught up with him to talk about his experience playing basketball, what made college hoops so difficult after he dominated in high school and next week’s return of WrestleMania to the NYC area.
…Hate to put you on the spot, but if it did end up being Wichita State and Miami in the Final Four, who would you be supporting?
Big Show: If it was Wichita State in the Final Four who would I be supporting? Wow, you are a real reporter, aren’t you. You’re really diving into the question that everyone wants to know, where any answer that I give somebody’s gonna hate me, and I thank you so much for that question and it’s so nice of you to ask me that question. Let’s see. Well. Um. [Thinks.] Honestly, both programs … Miami’s doing well with their program. I live in Miami. I’m going to root for Miami just because I’ve got too many friends that will make my life miserable if I said Wichita State. So, I think, uh, yeah, I’m going to root for Miami. But then again, Wichita State is a Cinderella team and everybody wants to see that real underdog win. I think just for me, because I live in Miami and I get my coffee in Miami, I’m going to say Miami.
No. 2 Miami will be without one of its key players when it faces No. 3 Marquette in the Round of 16 on Thursday night. Part-time starter Reggie Johnson is not traveling with the team to Washington D.C. this weekend and will not play because of a “lower extremity injury,” the school announced on Wednesday.
In its 28th year of honoring the nation's best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with USA TODAY High School Sports, today announced Andrew Wiggins of Huntington St. Joseph's Prep (Huntington, W.V.) as its 2012-13 Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year. Wiggins was surprised with the news at school by former NBA Champion Alonzo Mourning , who earned Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year honors in 1987-88.
"When I received the award, it was a really significant moment for me, so it felt great to surprise Andrew with the news and invite him into one of the most prestigious legacy programs in high school sports," said Mourning, a Gold Medalist, seven-time NBA All-Star, and two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year. "Gatorade has been on the sidelines fueling athletic performance for years, so to be recognized by a brand that understands the game and truly helps athletes perform is a huge honor for these kids."
USA Basketball: Nike Hoop Summit Rosters Announced
When the clock hit zero in the Class 4A title game Saturday night, the emotion that spilled out onto the court said it all.
Apple Valley beat Park Center 74-57, avenging an early season loss to the Pirates and win a state championship in the process. In the closing seconds as coach Zach Goring took his starters out, his star point guard Tyus Jones hugged his coach in an emotional embrace. What was a goal back in November finally became a reality. All the hard work throughout the course of the season paid off with a state title.
And with what the Eagles have coming back, a second straight state championship is very much in the cards. Apple Valley loses two starters but brings back a 6-10 center who already has Division I offers and will be a sophomore, a tough all-around player in Dennis Austin and the top point guard in the country in Jones.
Jones led all scorers with 28 points, including a perfect 18-of-18 at the free-throw line, and five assists.
This time, Tyus Jones has to share the honor.
The Apple Valley junior point guard was named Monday the co-winner of the Minnesota Associated Press Player of the Year award for high school boys basketball, with DeLaSalle junior power forward Reid Travis. Jones was the sole recipient his sophomore season.
My 2012 KU Alumni games, 2011-12 Border War, Legends of the Phog, KC Prep Invitational, & Jayhawk Invitational Videos, Late Night in the Phog, and more now on YouTube