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LJW Audio: Postgame pressers/interviews
IMG Audio: Game highlights w/Bob Davis, Greg Gurley
Not sure enough people realize how special Bill Self's tenure has been at KU. 10 straight regular season titles at BCS level. Wooden esque.
The basketball was flying back toward midcourt, its flight path redirected by the wide, racquet-sized palms of Cliff Alexander. Emporia State’s Terrence Sardin had driven hard into the lane and attacked the basket. And there stood Alexander, Kansas’ 6-foot-8 freshman forward, ready to swat it in the other direction.
Moments later, Alexander followed the play, sprinting down the middle of the floor. Kansas guard Frank Mason flipped the ball toward the rim, and Alexander corralled the pass before flushing a one-handed slam. Alexander flexed his biceps and pointed at his chest. Allen Fieldhouse came to life. Kansas coach Bill Self flashed a wide smile and leaned back in his seat.
It was midway through the second half on Tuesday night, and Kansas was on its way to a 109-56 victory over Emporia State, a final exhibition blowout before the lights come on for real on Friday night.
“When the popcorn is popping,” Kansas sophomore Brannen Greene said, “it’s a little bit different. It’s not the same as practice.”
…To hear Self tell it, Alexander has much to learn. But then there are stretches like that one in the second half, when Alexander throws down four dunks in 2 minutes to spark a 33-11 run. And this much becomes clear: At some point, it will be probably be hard to keep Alexander off the floor.
“That’s just who he is,” junior forward Jamari Traylor said. “He’s a dog.”
…“I thought we looked more cohesive,” Self said, “the ball moved pretty good. We looked semi-organized at times.”
On Tuesday, this was about as much praise as Self was willing to hand out. The Jayhawks played fine, he said, but the real stuff comes on Friday.
“Immediately after the game,” Greene said, “Coach told us what was coming.”
11/11/14, 7:29 PM
Kansas' 6-10 Landon Lucas has transformed his body (with help from KU strength coach Andrea Hudy) and is moving his feet on D like a guard.
11/11/14, 7:45 PM
Watching Kansas' exhibition. Impressed with Jayhawks' depth, balance, and unselfishness. But does this team have an alpha dog????
11/11/14, 8:33 PM
Cliff Alexander flexed his biceps after a dunk, and it took KU's coaches a few seconds to stop laughing about it on the bench.
11/11/14, 8:32 PM
Cliff’s last five plays: And-1, dunk, dunk, block, dunk.
11/11/14, 9:09 PM
Evan Manning with the step-back 3 with his dad in the house.
11/11/14, 9:09 PM
Justin Wesley and Niko Roberts going crazy behind the KU bench after the Evan Manning 3-pointer.
Bill Self knew one of the biggest challenges for his team would be learning how to play defense without a dominant shot-blocker.
Maybe it won’t be as tough as he imagined.
For the second straight game, the Kansas defense showed dominating stretches against a Division-II foe, this time smothering Emporia State in a 109-56 exhibition victory on Tuesday night at Allen Fieldhouse.
The Jayhawks forced turnovers on 25 percent of their defensive possessions — a number that would have tied for their best turnover percentage had it happened a year ago.
“Obviously, (the Hornets) are not very big, but usually when they’re not very big, they usually create some quickness and it’s hard guarding a little guy,” Self said. “I actually thought we got out and defended them and created a little havoc.”
…KU’s defensive pressure came from a more aggressive approach. The Jayhawks trapped ESU ball screens near midcourt — a riskier play, but one that resulted in a pair of steals in the first half.
“I think that’s something we might try to do a little more this year,” KU center Landen Lucas said, “and just kind of get after people a little bit.”
KU also showed full-court pressure for stretches of the first half, using wingspans from guys like Brannen Greene, Svi Mykhailiuk and Hunter Mickelson to create deflections and takeaways.
One example of KU’s defensive depth: The Jayhawks had seven first-half steals, and each of them came from a different player.
KU finished with 11 steals, with 10 guys picking up at least one.
…The Jayhawks had eight players in double figures, with 60 of their points coming in the paint. Vandiver joked that sometimes KU’s best offense just seemed to be getting a shot up so it could out-hustle the Hornets to the rebound.
“We call them ‘GAMs’: Grown-ass men,” Vandiver said. “They just go get it.
“Tonight, those grown-ass men imposed their will on us.”
With the clock winding down in the first half, the floor belonged to Devonte’ Graham.
After forward Cliff Alexander forced a steal from Emporia State’s Jay Temaat, Kansas’ freshman point guard had 33 seconds to choose where the ball was going for the Jayhawks’ last shot.
Sure, it was only the first frame of an exhibition, but these are the types of judgments that decide playing time. And with UC Santa Barbara visiting Lawrence on Friday for the season opener — and a meeting with No. 1 Kentucky next Tuesday in Indianapolis looming — this wasn’t a time for timid actions.
…The Jayhawks were spread out, giving Graham plenty of room to create. Instead, he charged the lane, crossing over his defender and attacking the rim before pulling up for a floater with six seconds remaining.
Graham watched the ball fall through the net and ran into the locker room before the Jayhawks finished off the Hornets, 109-56.
…On Tuesday night it was Graham’s aggressiveness, vision and confidence that stood out most from the Jayhawks’ guard play. Of KU’s 13 turnovers, Graham was responsible for just one to go along with 3 assists, 1 steal and 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting.
But Graham’s biggest asset against Emporia State was his ability to get the ball inside. For a team that had issues with that facet of the game last year, Graham’s vision to feed KU’s big men helped him earn a plus-20 mark for the Jayhawks when he was on the floor.
“He created pace for us when he checked in,” Kansas coach Bill Self said of Graham. “He didn’t play as well in Game 1, but he didn’t have the best week of practice, either. It was good to see him come out tonight and play with energy and play confidently.”
“It’s good to see Perry play well the second half (13 points, six boards, three assists; nine points second half). It’s good to see Wayne (5-7 shooting) see the ball go in the hole. The only one who labored was Svi,” coach Bill Self said. “That start ... he said he wasn’t nervous. I think obviously he was nervous. It’s like a high school junior running out there. I thought everybody played pretty well.”
As far as separation in terms of guys landing spots in the rotation ...
“I do feel there’s been a little bit the last two or three days. It’s not going to be guys playing the same minutes. Wayne, Perry and Jamari are gonna get theirs. Guys playing 18 may get 10, now. I think you’ll still see us play nine or 10 guys. I don’t know all 11, but nine or 10 at least early on. We do have balance. That’s a positive for us,” Self said.
As far as Greene’s comment about some guys playing better when that “popcorn is poppin” — when the lights are on during actual games rather than workouts — Self stated: “I would say there is some time in practice he leaves a little to be desired from an intensity standpoint. He went after the ball hard today, one thing Svi didn’t do. Brannen got his nose dirty, went after the ball. It’s just an exhibition game. I will not get too excited. We did play hard, though.”
Mason and Graham combined for 21 points, seven assists, one turnover and three steals in 35 minutes.
UC Santa Barbara, picked to finish second in the Big West, represents a truer test of how well manned Kansas is at point guard because the UCSB guards do a nice job of finding their superstar.
Senior center Alan Williams, reigning Big West Conference Player of the Year as a junior, averaged 21.3 points and 11.5 rebounds to merit the honor. The best way to stop him lies in keeping him from getting the ball because once he gets it, he knows what to do with it, including draw fouls.
…Self praised Mason for “taking care of the ball,” and said he is a much improved player from a year ago.
Wayne Selden also played some at the point, a good luxury to have in limited duty, but for Kansas to play to its normal standard, Mason and Graham will have to combine to upgrade the position from a year ago.
“Them speeding us up shows us how it's supposed to be played and how we should impose our will on the game as a whole,” said Terrence Moore, who scored nine points and swiped two steals.
Added ESU sophomore Jay Temaat, who led the Hornets with 16 points: “What we can take from it is how disciplined they were. When we look at the film, they'll be in the right spots and we need to be in the right spots. In the beginning, it's a little overwhelming, but you get used to it. I mean, you know it's gonna be crazy.”
Despite all of the individual moments that impressed the Hornets during Tuesday’s loss, it seemed to be the sum of it all that stood out the most.
“The greatest thing about watching them play is just how hard they play,” Vandiver said. “The way they communicate, they were talking, they were communicating, they were flying around. That’s the sign of a championship team. I don't know if they're gonna win it all or not, but they have the characteristics because they play so hard.”
Kansas basketball junior walk-on Evan Manning hit a three-pointer in the closing moments of the Jayhawks' exhibition victory over Emporia State, with his mom and dad in the stands. Dad Danny Manning is a first-year coach at Wake Forest.
“We went 1-4 flat. I told everybody to get out of his way,” KU coach Bill Self said. “He made the shot. Danny was in the locker room after. It was good to see Danny. Evan is a great kid. It was good to see him do that in front of mom and dad.”
What did Danny say to his son after the game?
“Nice shot,” Evan said, smiling.
Subtle Skill: Midrange Jump Shot
As a long-armed wide-body, Alexander is built to thrive in the post. But he is also a surprisingly skilled shooter out to 15 feet, a talent that should help elevate the Jayhawks' high-low offense. Alexander's range will give Kansas the proper spacing to feed power forward Perry Ellis on the block against smaller defenders; if Alexander's man sags off to help, the freshman will punish him by knocking down a jumper. That alignment should provide an excellent counter to the standard set that features Ellis at the high post and Alexander inside.
Assistant coach Jerrance Howard
"His Dad told me that Cliff could shoot. You didn't really see it in games, because he was so dominant down low, but then we saw him practice. he can really shoot."
LJW: Tait’s Day After Blog
Congrats to 'Svi Want A Championship', today's @Academy Camper Group of the Game, winning $100 in gift cards! pic.twitter.com/qyLUEqtpRK
In Andrew Wiggins, the No. 1 overall pick acquired in a package for longtime franchise face Kevin Love, the Timberwolves now have yet another chance to make a lasting impression. This has become the NBA's most delicate dance: a small or mid-market organization grooms a gifted prospect for greatness so he can prove himself to the league, all while trying to prove to the player that he should ply his trade in this place during his prime. It can become a balance between giving the player what he needs and what he wants, in terms of rules and restrictions, playing time and tough love.
…He's not any more assertive with his teammates, especially the veterans. Martin calls him "a laid-back guy." Williams says he appreciates that Wiggins "lets the game come to him" and listens to advice, but adds that, at times, "we've got to force him to be aggressive."
Prior to Minnesota's 102-92 loss in Miami on Saturday, Williams needled Wiggins as the latter got stretched on the locker room floor: "Hey, Drew, you and me got the same amount of dunks this year." After Wiggins had one later that night, a two-hand slam over Dwyane Wade in transition, Williams referred to it as a promising sign.
…If you followed his uneven freshman season at Kansas, this was expected. But so was something else: that his more immediate professional impact would come on the other end.
"He's much more advanced defensively," Saunders said.
While Saunders acknowledged that the 200-pound Wiggins is currently more capable of guarding players closer to his sinewy size, that hasn't stopped Minnesota's coach from throwing his most touted talent to the NBA's wolves on the wings, of assorted sizes and skill sets.
"We usually put him on the best offensive player—you usually don't do that with rookies," Saunders said. "You usually try to hide them, because you're afraid that they may get destroyed, they may lose confidence. But even if he gets destroyed, he keeps on coming back."
Saunders tried this tack with another rookie, way back when, to facilitate development.
"I did that with Garnett," Saunders said.
And no rookie regularly since.
“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
USA Today: Final Four picks (Eric says Texas AND Iowa State? Whoa.)
Among his “10 Burning Questions,” Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis asked if UK will go undefeated this college basketball season. And he wasn’t quick to dismiss it, saying, “We could have a run at history on our hands.”
…Utah guard Delon Wright might be this year’s Doug McDermott.
…This year’s DeAndre Kane? … the kid who will outshine them all is Justin Edwards, a 6-4 junior guard who went from Maine to Kansas State. Two years ago, Edwards led the America East conference in scoring at 16.7 points per game. He boasts a 42-inch vertical leap, and though he did not shoot a great three-point percentage, his range extends past the NBA’s line. I especially like that Edwards is an undergraduate transfer, so he has already been in the program for a year adjusting to the competition and working on his body. (He added nearly 20 pounds of muscle during his year off.) Finally, Edwards is entering a terrific situation. Kansas State is good enough to provide him with a big stage, but bad enough that it really needs him to get buckets. I expect Edwards to do plenty of that.
…Will Kansas’ streak stop at 10? Kansas State and West Virginia have two of the top scoring guards in the league in Marcus Foster and Juwan Staten, respectively; Oklahoma has a potent, high-scoring perimeter trio; and Fred Hoiberg is ready to work his Mayoral Magic again at Iowa State, where UNLV transfer Bryce Dejean-Jones joins slimmed-down junior forward Georges Niang to spearhead a high-scoring, fast-paced attack.
However, KU’s biggest threat – literally – is Texas. Not only does Rick Barnes have a deep and talented roster, but he also has the best front line in college hoops this side of Lexington. Barnes has toyed with the idea of a four-big lineup featuring 6-11 freshman Myles Turner, 6-9 junior Cameron Ridley, 6-8 senior Jonathan Holmes and 6-9 junior Connor Lammert. Imagine those guys playing a 2-3 zone. That is significant because this is also going to be one of the shortest teams that Self has had at Kansas. None of Self’s top nine players is taller than 6-8. So Texas is strong where Kansas is weak. I don’t know if that will be enough to dethrone the Jayhawks, but it’s not a bad place to start.
When the Missouri athletic department announced the hiring of Kim Anderson as men’s basketball coach, fans of the hire were excited to welcome a “Mizzou guy” to the sideline of Norm Stewart Court.
But Anderson, a former player and assistant at Missouri, didn’t let his supposedly requisite hatred of a certain rival school cloud his vision as a strategist.
When asked Monday about his influences as an offensive coach, Anderson answered as if he were taking part in confession.
“We actually run,” he said before pausing, perhaps to wonder if he really wanted to continue, “Bill Self’s high-low offense. I mean, that’s kind of what we do.”
Self, of course, is in his 12th year as coach at Kansas, Missouri’s longtime rival. Rivarly or no, Self isn’t a bad coach to emulate. In his tenure with the Jayhawks, Kansas has won 10 straight regular season Big 12 championships, reached the NCAA Tournament every season and won a national title.
…Former Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton, who retired with more than 800 wins, also lent Anderson a few tips.
“Coach Sutton used to sit in the stands with me when I would come, and we would just sit there and he would point things out,” Anderson said. “You can’t buy that.”
Anderson also said he learned from former Baylor coach Gene Iba when he coached under him from 1985-91. And yes, Anderson picked the brain of another Kansas coach.
“Roy Williams was great to me,” he said.
So why were these legendary coaches so willing to help and up-and-comer like Anderson?
“I was in charge of the officials, so maybe that had something to do with it,” Anderson joked. “But not really. Those guys were all established coaches. I’ve taken a lot, and I still do today. I mean, I still watch stuff and I’ll make little tweaks. I think most coaches do that.”
Even when it means borrowing from a Jayhawk.
Stephen Zimmerman will stay local for his final official visit.
The 7-footer from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman will visit UNLV beginning Friday, meaning he won’t take an official to North Carolina.
“After much thought, I will be taking my last official visit to my hometown school, #UNLV. They were my 1st offer & recruited me since Day 1,” He Tweeted.
His mother added: “Rebel fans, ur staff has recruitd @BIGG_ZIMM since the beginning but @CoachRyanMiller has been RELENTLESS on securing this visit. He’s good!”
Zimmerman took an official to Arizona this past weekend and he’s also taken officials to Kentucky, Kansas and UCLA.
“Great atmosphere, fun campus, nice weather, tough practices!” Lori Zimmerman, the player’s mother, said of the Arizona visit.
As for coach Sean Miller’s message to Zimmerman, Lori said it was, “That it’s never been [a question of] is Stephen good enough for Arizona, it’s always been do we have a chance to get him?”
ESPN Insider predicts the undecideds:
Newman UK, Brown UCLA, Rabb Cal, Diallo SJU, Zimmerman KU, Ingram Duke, Bragg UK, Dorsey Cal,
Ranked as the top player in the state of Texas by ESPN, center Tyler Davis (Plano, Texas / Plano West High School) officially signed a National Letter of Intent with the Texas A&M men’s basketball program on Wednesday.
…Davis chose Texas A&M over Arizona, Baylor, Kansas, North Carolina and Texas.
Bishop O'Dowd High boys basketball star Ivan Rabb said Tuesday that he will not be signing a letter of intent during the NCAA early signing period, which starts Wednesday and ends on Nov. 19.
"I'm just not ready to sign yet," Rabb said. "I'm not sure where I want to go yet."
The 6-foot 10¿1/2 inch Rabb narrowed his list of potential colleges to five in late October -- Cal, Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky and UCLA. He said that he took an official visit to Kentucky in late October, and he plans to take his other four official visits, although he doesn't have any of the four scheduled yet. He said he wants to see a regular-season game at all four schools.
The regular signing period for basketball starts April 15.
Contra Costa Times
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