ICYMI: Texas Postgame News Links
Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week
Perry Ellis, Kansas, F, Jr., 6-8, 225, Wichita, Kan./Wichita Heights
Ellis averaged a double-double with 26.0 points and 11.0 rebounds per game as the Jayhawks split contests against K-State and Texas. The junior forward opened the week by scoring 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting versus the Wildcats in Manhattan, adding nine rebounds and two steals. He then recorded his seventh double-double of the year with 28 points and 13 boards against the Longhorns. Ellis, who earned Academic All-Big 12 First Team honors last week, has scored 20 points or more in three straight outings.
Big 12 Sports
The attorney helping Kansas forward Cliff Alexander navigate an NCAA eligibility issue couldn’t offer many specifics about the enigmatic freshman's predicament. Nor could Arthur McAfee shed light on how far along the investigation is. Nor could the former NCAA enforcement representative offer a guess as to when a resolution might arrive, even as time suddenly is running out on Alexander’s 2014-15 season.
…“I can’t handicap it for you, it wouldn’t be fair to either side to do so,” McAfee told SI.com in a phone interview. “Our goal is to make sure there is clarity with whatever issue [the NCAA] may have. We’re always confident that whatever information [it is] looking for is in favor of Cliff. These things take time to develop. [It has] procedures [it] must follow, and I think there’s an attempt to do it fairly quickly. We will see here in short order, I hope.”
…“I would assume that [the NCAA] understands the pressures of the current basketball season,” McAfee said, “and I’m sure [it] will try to do [its] job in a thorough fashion, to cause the least amount of harm to Cliff and the university.”
…It is fair to surmise that the NCAA informed Kansas of an official inquiry fairly quickly, given that the school would want to act swiftly to avoid suiting up a potentially ineligible player and compromising the results for the rest of the season. (Self told reporters that school officials informed him of Alexander’s situation at noon on Saturday.)
But parallels for Alexander’s particular issues are currently anyone’s guess, given the lack of specifics offered. An answer could come quick, or not quickly enough.
“[The NCAA] notified the institution of what [it] believes are issues,” McAfee said, “and we go from that point.”
The amount of 3s KU takes is much more in its control than some of the other factors. A coach can tell his players to shoot better, but that might not do much. He can tell his team to not turn it over, but that's tough to manage from the sideline.
Constructing an offense that takes more 3s, though? That is something that a coach does have some power to change if he believes it's important.
Though happy with the Texas victory, Self did talk about how he wanted his team's offense to become more versatile.
"Hopefully there’s some things that we can do to try to execute offense and score more off the catch, because right now, we’re just a drive-it team over the last two weeks," Self said. "It’d be nice if we could make some shots off the catch like we were doing two weeks ago."
It appears that mindset could help KU get closer to its offensive ceiling as it prepares for the most important games in March.
Frank Mason said after the game that the Jayhawks had won games like that before. And while I respect what Mason probably meant — close, down-to-the-wire, make-a-big-play-late games — I don't think Kansas has won a game like that this season. That was by far the toughest I've seen this Kansas team look and the hardest I've seen them compete. The officiating was inconsistent and non-existent at times, in both directions, and, for the most part, instead of whining about the whistles or lack thereof, KU simply kept playing.
…This whole Perry Ellis plays the role of Superman thing is getting out of control. The guy is in one of those zones where he pretty much outdoes what he did the game before every time out. Three straight games of 23 points or more. Carrying Kansas on offense. I Tweeted this during the game and I'll say it again here just because Ellis was that good — I think that was probably the best all-around game of Perry Ellis' career. He was a manchild on both ends of the floor and looks more confident than ever. Not to mention more capable than ever. Ellis' versatile offensive game features so many different weapons and, at times, he flashes all of them during the same possession. The guy is a beast and he's definitely in play for Big 12 player of the year honors.
…Kansas made just one three-pointer and Brannen Greene missed all three shots he attempted. Just a few weeks ago, the buzz surrounding this KU team was that they were the best three-point shooting team known to man. Today, they look a little more human and seem to be consistently providing proof for why KU coach Bill Self said it's a dangerous idea to rely on three-point shooting to win games. KU was 1-for-8 from behind the arc against Texas, but the one was huge. Frank Mason drilled a three from the top of the key to put Kansas up two right after Texas had reclaimed a lead it let slip away. Eight attempts is a surprisingly low number for this team, but Self gave credit to UT coach Rick Barnes for forcing the Jayhawks to play inside the arc, which definitely had something to do with it.
LJW: The Day After
Similar to the way opposing teams have had to adjust in order to play against WVU's vaunted full-court press, the Mountaineers have had to transform to learn how to play against zone defense.
The thing is, is that every coach across the country watches tape. The tape shows that West Virginia lacks size, athleticism and consistent three-point shooting.
What's the best way to attack that?
Height, length, and 2-3 zone defense.
…Texas used a zone against WVU during the first meeting on January 17 in Austin. What transpired was West Virginia's worst shooting performance during the entire 2014-15 season: 24.1 percent.
That's when opposing teams began to notice WVU's struggles against the 2-3 zone. Texas' length (Myles Turner, 6'11; Prince Ibeh, 6'10; Cameron Ridley, 6'9; Connor Lammert, 6'9; Jonathan Holmes, 6'8) cannot be duplicated by many teams across the country.
But Huggins, along with the Mountaineers, watch tape, too. It showed on Tuesday night against the Longhorns and their active zone defense, snapping a four-game losing streak in the process.
“In the first half, we had 14 field goals I believe it was; 11 assisted,” Huggins said during Tuesday's postgame press conference. “We passed the ball. We didn't settled. I thought we had great patience. We scored 28 points in the paint. I think Devin [Williams] played really well.”
Although the Longhorns' zone defense did not work as efficiently as it did the first time around, it still gave other league teams a feel for what needs to be done in order to have success against the Mountaineers.
…Huggins implemented the 1-3-1 during the 2010 season, placing 6-foot-8 forward Devin Ebanks at the top of the zone for the sole purpose of causing havoc. The zone caused teams to lose their patience, swaying the tempo in the direction of the Mountaineers. That year resulted in a run to the Final Four.
Well, Huggins broke it out once again on Tuesday night. It was something that nobody had seen out of this year's West Virginia team. With so much hype and national attention on the press, it was a curveball of sorts.
There are many bizarre stats surrounding West Virginia’s 22-6 basketball team.
First, although known for defense, the Mountaineers are No. 147 nationally in the scoring defense statistic at 65.5 points per game. More mind-blowing is they are No. 320 of 345 in field goal percentage defense.
Are you a conspiracy theorist? This one’s for you: WVU is No. 343 of 345 teams nationally in fouls. Only Wagner and Morehead State have been whistled for more. The kicker? Among the top five least whistled teams are No. 1 Wisconsin, No. 4 Notre Dame and No. 5 Virginia. Hmm.
The wildest statistical twist to this WVU season, however, is the Mountaineers have never led the country in any category. Not one. Not ever. And this season they are leading in four: steals per game (11.4), total steals (320), turnover margin (8.0) and offensive rebounds (16.8). (Quinnipiac is right behind at 16 offensive rebounds per game, so the race is on there.)
Also, WVU leads the country with 579 turnovers forced. The next closest is 525 by Eastern Kentucky. Oddly, though, the NCAA doesn’t count that as a formal stat. Weird, eh?
If you’re looking for two like teams try WVU and VCU. The latter is 10th nationally in steals and No. 337 in personal fouls per game at 21.9.
Garrett, who had scored two points in an exhibition win over Fort Hays State his junior year and plenty of points for Athletes in Action on an overseas tour two summers ago, chalked up his first basket as a Jayhawk with 1:56 left in an 86-54 victory over Texas Tech on Jan. 10 in Allen Fieldhouse.
The 6-foot-3, 185-pound guard used a crossover dribble through the lane to break free for a left-handed floater. Connecting on the short shot meant a lot to the fans, who gave him a loud ovation, and his teammates, who mobbed him after the final horn.
“That was cool. It wasn’t the biggest thing to me. I see it differently,” said Garrett, who played meaningful minutes at IMG Academy and a pair of Los Angeles high schools and at various camps he attended during the summers — such as the John Lucas camp in Houston last summer — to improve his game.
“The love and support for that (basket) was cool. I definitely appreciate how much people love all of us here,” Garrett added.
Garrett felt that love on his official campus visit, Jan. 22-23, 2011. He arrived on the day of KU’s home loss to Texas — a game played just hours after KU players and coaches gathered in Thomas Robinson’s dorm room to console the player about the death of his mother.
“I was like, ‘Whoa, this is a lot,’ but it was great to see how close the team was, how much a family it is,” Garrett said. “That even more solidified my feelings about this place.”
…Garrett, who will graduate in May with a minor in business and major in sports management, is happy to report his parents plan to stay in Lawrence next school year, while he does his best to land a job playing basketball somewhere overseas.
KU sophomore forward Lucas will be sure to stop by on Thursdays to worship with Roger and Cynthia, whom Lucas calls, “a mom to the team, somebody definitely nice to have around.”
“I’ve been to their house many times. There are powerful people there. It’s awesome to go over there,” Lucas said. “If you go over there, he (Christian) and a lot of other people will lay hands on you and pray for anything you need.”
Lucas loves the fact Christian Garrett is an inspiration around all of KU’s players, no matter their level of faith.
“He will always reach out to people when they are going through things,” Lucas said. “If somebody has an injury or anything, he’ll always reach out. He’s a good person, a person of great character and a strong believer in his faith — a great kid, one of the best.”
Tonight, at 7 at Allen Fieldhouse, Gardner and fellow seniors Asia Boyd, Natalie Knight and Bunny Williams will have one of their last memories on Senior Night against Iowa State. Boyd is hurt and will not play, but for the other three it likely will mark their last chance to play in the building they’ve called home for the past four seasons.
“It’s very weird,” Gardner said. “These last four years were like a snap of your fingers, and now it’s over. I can’t believe it. I’m just gonna have to play my heart out because it’s my last game at Allen Fieldhouse and might be the last time I get to touch the floor, so it’s gotta be nice.”
Despite finishing her career with back-to-back disappointing seasons, Gardner said she’ll always remember the back-to-back Sweet 16 runs that came during her first two years. In those days, Davis, Angel Goodrich and Monica Engelman drove the train, and Gardner said she was proud of her super trio — Gardner, Knight and Boyd — for doing a solid job of following in those enormous footsteps.
“I just remember us coming in freshman year, basically like bumps on a log, not knowing anything and feeling like we were dummies on the court,” Gardner remembered. “But we weren’t. We struggled all summer, and I just remember thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, how are we gonna make these four years.’ But, obviously, we made it, and we’re still together.”
Kansas ranks No. 1 in community college students going on to four-year degrees
…The 59-page report gives a state-by-state picture of how two- and four-year public and private nonprofit colleges and universities are doing at getting students through their institutions. The study focused on first-time freshmen who entered college in fall 2008, at the height of the recession. The students were followed through May 2014.
…In Missouri, 38 percent of adults ages 25-64 hold a two- or four-year college degree, according to 2013 Census data. In Kansas, it’s 42 percent.
“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
Rasheed Sulaimon's dismissal from the Duke basketball program is clouded by allegations of sexual assault, which surfaced nearly a year before he was released from the team in January. Multiple sources close to the situation have confirmed that members of the athletic department were made aware of the allegations as early as March 2014.
The Duke men's basketball department has not provided a detailed explanation of the dismissal, which was the first in head coach Mike Krzyzewski's 35 years at the helm of the program. Sulaimon, a junior, was dismissed from the Duke basketball team Jan. 29 after he “repeatedly struggled to meet the necessary obligations,” Krzyzewski said in his official statement.
…Senior Lincoln Wensley, a former secretary in the Duke basketball office and current intern for the Office of News and Communications, became aware of the allegations Jan. 21, 2015 when he heard a fellow intern mentioning what she called "the next big Duke scandal."
Wensley followed up with the intern, who said she was best friends with a female student who alleged she had been sexually assaulted by Sulaimon.
“We started texting that Wednesday night,” Wensley said. “She informed me that one of her friends had been raped by Rasheed Sulaimon…. [She] was very upset and had known for some time about this because of the Common Ground retreat. She expressed an interest in taking action herself, but obviously [was] scared because of the power the men’s basketball team possesses on this campus.”
Wensley worked with Duke basketball as an assistant to administrative assistant Laura Ann Howard, who works closely with the men's basketball assistant coaches and coordinates administrative duties regarding the team’s players and coaches.
The following day, Jan. 22, Wensley—who had been working in the office for more than three years—notified Howard of his knowledge of the allegations and quit his job.
…Wensley agreed to the meeting and the two met in Cragg’s office the same day. According to Wensley, Cragg began the conversation by advising him on how to better handle professional situations such as the one Wensley had with Howard.
…On Jan. 29—six days after Wensley had his conversation with Cragg—it was announced via press release that Sulaimon had been dismissed from the Duke basketball program. The decision was released a day after the Blue Devils’ 77-73 loss at Notre Dame Jan. 28, in which Sulaimon played 12 minutes and scored three points on 1-of-6 shooting.
Best game -- Oklahoma at Iowa State (-4.5); 9 ET, ESPN: This one is to put the Sooners into position to tie for the Big 12 title when Kansas goes to Norman on Saturday (or possibly even win it outright if the Jayhawks fall to West Virginia at Allen Fieldhouse this week). However, they'll be underdogs at Hilton Coliseum, where the Cyclones lost for the first time in over a year last Wednesday. It'll be an uptempo affair given that both of these two teams are in the top 40 nationally in pace. The key here will be whether Jordan Woodard can assert some semblance of control over the game in his matchup with Monte Morris, who has been one of the better point guards in the nation this season.
Second-best game -- Baylor at Texas (-3); 7 ET, ESPNU: This is the most important bubble game of the night, as Texas really needs to pick up a win against a top-50 opponent. Currently, the Longhorns are 2-11 against RPI top-50 teams, which has left them right on the edge of the cut-line for the NCAA Tournament. They'll get another chance to pick one up against Baylor, who quietly is building one of the most impressive tournament resumes in the country. The Bears are No. 9 in the RPI rankings right now, with a winning record against the top-25 teams at 5-3. It may be a surprise given their current AP ranking of 19th in the country, but their resume is currently shaping up into the solid No. 3/4 area. Texas will have its hands full in this one.
VASJ senior Brian Parker named MVP of NCL White Division. Carlton Bragg & Dererk Pardon 1st team. Simon Texidor 2nd team. Babe Kwasniak COY
Cal’s most important recruiting weekend of the season has started to pay dividends.
The Bears hosted three top recruits for their 73-56 win against Oregon State, including local five-star forward Ivan Rabb of Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland. The 6-foot-11 Rabb is considering Cal, along with Kentucky, Arizona, Kansas and UCLA.
“I think the coaching staff has done a really good job trying to get the program turned around and get them going in the right direction,” Rabb said. “It’s my backyard. They want me to come here and be the start of a new era of Cal basketball.”
Rabb doesn’t have a timeline for making his decision but noted that it’s getting late in the recruiting process. One of the recruits on hand, Davon Dillard, verbally committed to play for Cal after the game.
McDONALD’S ALL-AMERICAN GAME
April 1, United Center, Chicago
ESPN NATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL CHAMPIONSHIP
April 2-4, Christ the King, Queens, N.Y. & Madison Square Garden
NIKE HOOP SUMMIT
April 11, Moda Center, Portland
KENTUCKY DERBY FESTIVAL
April 11, Freedom Hall, Lexington, KY
JORDAN BRAND CLASSIC
Friday April 17, Barclays Center 7p.m,
Regional Games (4:00 pm) All times Eastern
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