Jamari Traylor dribbled the ball in the open court with about 35 seconds remaining. Andrew Wiggins was nearby, with only one Eastern Kentucky defender standing in the way.
Nine times out of 10, Traylor would give the ball up to one of the best finishers in the country. But on a day where Traylor earned career-highs of 17 points and 14 rebounds—the first double-double of his career—the sophomore forward earned the right to dunk it himself.
He earned the right to put the exclamation point on a thrilling 80-69 Kansas victory over Eastern Kentucky on Friday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. A victory that had Traylor’s fingerprints all over it.
“The ball found energy,” Traylor said of his career-highs. “That’s a saying we just found out from the San Francisco 49ers coach (Jim Harbaugh).”
Maybe that’s why the ball always seemed to find Traylor.
Every time Eastern Kentucky (24-10) gained momentum in a contest with eight lead changes, it was Traylor who made the gutsy plays for Kansas (25-9).
In an otherwise turnover-filled slog of a first half, Kansas, it seemed, was actually about to trudge into halftime with a two-point lead.
Then Jamari Traylor barreled into Eastern Kentucky’s Orlando Williams as he attempted a trey in the final seconds, and Williams tied the game from the line.
“I think that was one of the dumbest plays I ever made in my life,” Traylor said.
At the time, Kansas coach Bill Self was no doubt a mix of fury, frustration and disbelief. But later, long after No. 2-seeded Kansas ground its way to an 80-69 win over No. 15-seeded Eastern Kentucky on Friday evening at Scottrade Center, Self offered a different take.
“He’ll do that at times,” Self said. “Because he tries so hard.”
As the Colonels refused to wilt, Kansas needed every bit of that effort, the style of relentless play Traylor tends to bring off the bench.
But this was more. This was power. And size. This was laying out on the floor for loose balls and leaping through outstretched arms and shoulders for rebounds. This was selling out for every possession.
Kansas University senior Tarik Black was the first Jayhawk to greet his big buddy, sophomore Jamari Traylor, after the final horn sounded in KU’s 80-69 victory over Eastern Kentucky on Friday in an NCAA Tournament opener in Scottrade Center.
“I just told him, ‘Thank you for the win. Thank you for extending my senior season.’ That’s what I told him, because he was a major reason I have another game to play and my season is not over, my college career is not over,” Black said…
He lives to play another day in this tournament. On Sunday, KU meets Stanford on a day Traylor’s mom, Tracey, is slated to be in attendance. She’s driving in from Chicago for the contest.
More motivation for KU’s energy man?
“She made it to the Big 12 tournament, Late Night in the Phog, maybe one more game besides that,” Traylor said. “My mom works at night (for Ford Motor Company). Any time she can get off work she likes to come see me play. I’ll be looking forward to that.”
Jim Valvano’s “Survive and advance” has become the mantra for March Madness. It also speaks eloquently to Traylor’s tale and trail to this moment.
“I’m fortunate to (be) where I am every time I wake up,” Traylor said.
As he sat in a corner of the KU locker room, Traylor reflected briefly on his once-chaotic and seemingly hopeless plight, the circumstances that could only figure to ensnare him in an unforgiving cycle.
He synthesized it into a bite-size piece.
“I was homeless growing up,” he said, “and I faced a lot of adversity.”
…That’s an absurdly oversimplified version of the severe straits that included his father being sentenced to life in prison for drug trafficking, his mother banishing Traylor from their home in Chicago because of his habitual insolence and Traylor spending time in juvenile detention facilities and taking shelter in abandoned buildings and rusted-out cars.
He has known searing cold and deep hunger and true despondency.
But he found deliverance long before Friday, thanks in part to the tough love of his mother, who works night shifts at Ford.
And to the guidance and nurturing of a high school coach, Loren Jackson, who saw something in Traylor before he saw it in himself.
Having people around him and behind him and pushing him and “telling me I can do things,” Traylor said, “that’s pretty much all you need as a young kid.”
Because of what he called “my life situation,” Traylor didn’t play organized basketball until his senior year of high school.
…At a KU camp last summer, Self said he’d never been more proud of someone he’d coached and had Traylor speak to some 800 aspiring players.
“We have a bad day when our coach puts us on the bench; or we have a bad day when our parents get onto us, and we don’t like what they have to say, even though we know they’re right,” Self said then. “Those are bad days. Try going three or four days without eating. That’s a real bad day.”
Self also tends to use Traylor’s story when he tries to motivate the team to persevere, Traylor said Friday.
You think you might have it rough, Self will tell them, and then explain about Traylor.
“He definitely lets everybody know that he’s proud of me,” Traylor said. “And he let me know after the game. I love my coach, and I know he’s got love for me, too.”
Neubauer marveled that KU could be so dominant inside while playing without freshman center Joel Embiid. The Jayhawks outrebounded the Colonels 43-19 and had seven blocks.
“You look at the stat sheet and Embiid has 72 blocks,” Neubauer said. “And you think, ‘Hey, he is not playing, so the basket is no longer protected.’ But what I noticed throughout the Big 12 tournament is that they still had all these athletes flying in there blocking shots.”
Jamari Traylor was the undisputed MVP for Kansas in its 80-69 victory against relentless Eastern Kentucky in the NCAA tournament. Frankamp won best-supporting-actor honors, pitching in with 10 points and four assists in 25 minutes, all of those numbers career-highs.
“We didn’t scout him,” Eastern Kentucky center Eric Stutz said of Frankamp. “And I think that hurt us. We didn’t know what to expect.”
…“He really showed up and surprised us, because he was careful with the ball,” Stutz said. “We went into the game knowing that we could turn their starting point guard over. That was our game plan. And that just stalled us. It was tough to know that that beat us.”
…“He didn’t get that much chance to play until today and he stepped up, made plays and didn’t look like a freshman to me tonight,” fellow reserve freshman guard Frank Mason said. “I watch him in practice every day. I knew he was capable of doing this. It was just the time and opportunity.”
Forget those longing looks to the bench. Kansas trailed 23-14 less than 12 minutes into the game, and it had almost nothing to do with the absence of the imported big man from Cameroon.
The Jayhawks committed 13 turnovers in the first half against EKU’s frenetic-paced defense. Kansas owned the inside, even without Embiid. It did not make a 3-point field goal all day, attempting only seven.
But if it can’t take care of the basketball, even Embiid can’t help.
Which is why the second half on Friday ought to provide hope.
The Jayhawks entered the tournament with a national ranking of No. 299 in turnover margin. Against the Colonels, they hit their per-game figure in the first half -- then lost the handle just once in the final 20 minutes.
Credit Conner Frankamp. He’s another freshman. He’s the antithesis of Embiid, 12 inches shorter and from Wichita, Kan. On Friday, Frankamp understood exactly what the Jayhawks needed.
“There’s a lot of pressure on Conner to be a calming influence on us,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “I thought he handled everything beautifully. He ran our team.”
Frankamp started tournament play right there alongside Embiid, figuring he might sit all day. Before Friday, he played 1.8 minutes per game.
Against the Ohio Valley Conference champion, Frankamp stayed on the court for 25, a season high.
“I just try to get in there and feed the ball to whoever is open as best I can and play sound on the offensive end and defensive end,” Frankamp said.
He said he focused on taking care of the basketball. He committed no turnovers, scored 10 points and dished four assists.
Mission accomplished. Little man to the rescue.
Conner Frankamp couldn’t even make it to the postgame radio interview without being stopped. CBS’s Greg Anthony reached out to shake his hand, telling him he’d done a great job and controlled his team.
A few minutes later, when walking off the court to cheers of “Great job, Conner!” from lingering Kansas fans, the guard gave a sheepish grin and quickly flashed a thumbs-up.
“That was about all I could think of,” he later said with a laugh.
Forgive Frankamp if he wasn't ready for all the love. The freshman, who hadn’t played more than 17 minutes in a game all season, emerged unexpectedly Friday as the Jayhawks’ rock on the biggest of stages.
The point guard's steady play in a career-high 25 minutes ended up being vital, as KU pulled away late in an 80-69 victory over 15th-seeded Eastern Kentucky in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Scottrade Center.
“I was just real pleased he answered the bell,” KU coach Bill Self said. “He was really good.”
Back in November, before the season started, Self was asked often if he was considering redshirts for freshmen Brannen Greene and Frankamp because of a squeeze on minutes.
The coach said no, justifying it by saying this: “I think all the guys we have suited up can help us win games this year.”
…The Jayhawks (25-9) will advance to face 10th-seeded Stanford on Sunday, and Self will enter the game knowing he can rely on another guard off the bench in Frankamp.
“He’s definitely part of the rotation from this point forward,” Self said.
Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins rose up to receive an alley-oop pass from Frank Mason with 6:09 left in the first half, catching it before extending his arms as far as he could toward the rim for a highlight-reel dunk.
The slam left his teammates amazed afterward.
“That’s just one of Wiggins’ plays. We see that every day in practice,” KU freshman guard Brannen Greene said following KU’s 80-69 win over Eastern Kentucky on Friday at Scottrade Center. “I liked it. I thought it was pretty nice. He got up pretty high. That’s Wiggins, though.”
Added KU forward Tarik Black: “That’s the number one dunk of the game.”
Wiggins scored a team-high 19 points on 7-for-13 shooting in his first NCAA Tournament game. He also had 4 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 turnovers in 37 minutes.
“It felt like a normal game to me,” Wiggins said. “The stakes are just a lot higher.”
Greene has been impressed with what he’s seen from Wiggins in the last few weeks.
“I’ve gained so much more respect for him as a player, just because the way I’ve seen him take over games — big-time games,” Greene said. “He’s just an incredible player. He does certain things that nobody else on this team can do.”
…Wiggins was asked what he knew about Stanford, which will be KU’s next opponent Sunday.
“I know they have two Canadians,” the freshman said.
Wiggins is originally from Thornhill, Ontario, just like Stanford's 6-foot-11 junior center Stefan Nastic. The Cardinal's 6-10 senior forward Dwight Powell, meanwhile, is from Toronto.
While the hours passed, the Jayhawks settled in to to watch the latest upset in a wild NCAA Tournament. At that moment, it was No. 3 seed Duke, falling to a little school named Mercer, but it really could have been anyone.
All day Thursday and into Friday, Kansas’ players had kept tabs on a stomach-dropping slate of buzzer-beaters and thrillers, and here was the latest one.
Here it was, the perfect opportunity for Kansas to take in one final lesson before tipping off against No. 15 seed Eastern Kentucky in the afternoon.
“I didn’t see the ending,” Wiggins would say. “I was sleeping. It’s just something I’ll do if I feel a little tired.”
It was late on Friday afternoon, nearly 45 minutes after Kansas had survived the day, fighting off Eastern Kentucky in an 80-69 victory. If Wiggins and the Jayhawks missed any lessons in the morning, they now wore the scars and hardened skin from their own early-round scare.
“All the teams in the tournament are good,” Wiggins said. “Even to put a seed on them — a one-seed, two-seed, a 15-seed, all the teams are good. Any team is capable of beating any team at any given moment, so that’s why every team has to bring it.”
A few feet away, senior forward Tarik Black wore a few splatters of blood on his white shorts. To his right sat sophomore forward Jamari Traylor, who had carried the Jayhawks through an unanticipated battle with 17 points and 14 rebounds, both career highs.
For the second straight year, the Jayhawks had escaped a early-round dogfight with a directional school from Kentucky. Last year, it was a seven-point victory against Western Kentucky.
But even after trailing by as many as nine in the first half Friday — and by three points midway through the second half — the Jayhawks were confident they could survive.
…“We were only outscored 36-0 from behind the arc,” Self said. “So you got to make a lot of layups — you got to make at least 18 — if you’re going to make up for that.”
But if this tournament is about survival, the Jayhawks showcased two weapons that could help them surge deep into March.
The first was depth. Before the game, Self found little-used freshman guard Conner Frankamp and told him he’d be going to him early against Eastern Kentucky. Frankamp responded with a steadying influence off the bench, scoring 10 points with zero turnovers in 25 minutes.
“He is a calming influence,” Self said, “and it is probably not a coincidence when he played … our team may have had two or three turnovers total when he was actually in the game.”
The second was sheer athleticism awe. The Jayhawks finished with a season-high 11 dunks while outscoring Eastern Kentucky 54-20 in the paint. Traylor, Black and Perry Ellis owned the glass. Wiggins threw down a barrage of lob dunks, finishing with 19 points and four rebounds in his first NCAA Tournament game.
“There's jitters for everybody,” Self said. “These guys had jitters, and I thought we responded as a group and I thought he responded very well.”
In the moments after the game, Black embraced Traylor on the floor.
“Thank you for the win,” Black said.
And Wiggins, exhausted from the victory and all the cameras, sneaked behind a group of reporters and sprawled out on a training table in the middle of the locker room.
One game down. Time to rest again.
“It feels great,” Wiggins said. “It’s a great accomplishment, but I hope to accomplish more this year. I never thought about that (in coming to KU). I just thought about coming to a place where I could play basketball and help our team win.”
Cue the sound of glass breaking, rims rattling, muscles flexing and Cinderella dreams dying a quick and brutal death.
This is the other side of these giddy Cinderella stories. It’s the brutal inevitability that comes from a college hoop blue blood that knows how to take a jack boot to those dizzy dreams, stop them with the authority of a steel door slamming shut or an anvil falling from the sky, which is a perfect way of describing what Kansas did by the end of its 80-69 victory.
KU senior power forward Tarik Black is a part of that gang of Jayhawks killjoys, who ruined all the upset fantasies that Eastern Kentucky harbored Friday.
We did have a good Cinderella story going for a while here. The potential scene stealer that could have snatched at least a little bit of the attention away from 14 seed Mercer’s shocker of No. 3 seed Duke earlier in the day, seemed to be happening here.
Eastern Kentucky was going toe to toe with the bigger, badder Jayhawks until Black and all his other SUV-sized Kansas big men decided to inflict their muscle on the Colonels.
“Yeah we saw all those upsets from (Thursday),” said Black. “We heard about Mercer, too. But it never crossed my mind that that should be some wake-up call for us. I just knew we had to inflict ourselves on them and we’d be just fine.”
“Inflict” is a marvelous way of describing what KU did to Eastern Kentucky in that second half.
Flex, pound, bang and bruise would do just as well, too.
Once the Jayhawks remembered the decided height and bulk advantage they had over the Colonels, it turned into the end of any upset dream here in St. Louis.
…As Ron Burgundy might say, “Boy, that escalated quickly.”
If you ever needed an illustration of what it looks like when one of the big boys decides that it will not be a victim of March’s most delightful madness, please refer to the second-half game film of the KU-EKU game.
It was all dunks and rebound follows, alley-oop hang gliding and muscle-flexing power moves. It was strong drop steps, big butts and thick arms clearing out traffic in the lane. But before the inevitability of KU’s inside strength finally took its toll, we were once again reminded — even if only for a brief shining moment — what makes the opening days of this crazed hoop festival so special.
“I think throughout the whole game there was never a point where even when they took the lead we thought we were out of the game,” said Williams. “But then those last seconds were counting down, and we had to admit then, ‘OK, now only a miracle can help us,’” he said.
St Louis PD Burwell
"It always come down to the rebound," Cosey said in a quiet dressing room at the Scottrade Center. "We can make shots. We can put points on the board. We can play with these people. It just always comes down to rebounding. ...
"If we had another chance next week, it would come down to rebounding. That's just our team."
The difference was as plain as the beak on the Jayhawks' mascot, and the disparity was so great that the stat sheet served more as forensic accounting than a revelation. Kansas outrebounded EKU 43-19, and one of Bill Self's substitutes, Jamari Traylor, grabbed as many as Jeff Neubauer's entire starting lineup.
Twice in the second half, Traylor seized a missed free throw by teammate Wayne Selden Jr. and converted it into a dunk for himself or a teammate. This is the sort of physical dominance that a No. 2 seed normally exerts over a No. 15 during March Madness — except that Eastern was still leading with less than nine minutes to play.
"I think in the first half (Traylor) didn't realize how much bigger he was than us," EKU forward Eric Stutz said. "I think in the second half he found that out. We were throwing everything we had, but their size was just superior to us. We had to foul not to let them get the rebounds. It was really tough for us."
It looked like Kansas would pull away again Friday, scoring on its first seven trips down court and building a 45-38 lead. The turnovers suddenly came to a stop — after 13 in the first half, the Jayhawks had just one in the second — and Eastern Kentucky was suddenly on the ropes.
But rather than continue to pound away inside, where the Jayhawks were having so much success, they reverted to missing jump shots. The Colonels took advantage with a 10-0 run, and Self called a red-faced timeout rather than risk pulling out his hair.
“We knew that anything could happen,” the Jayhawks’ Conner Frankamp said. “We were down, we tried to stay poised and not get too rattled, and just tried to make the easy play, because we felt like we could score pretty good down low.”
Once they were reminded of that fact.
Kansas went back inside out of the timeout, dumping the ball to a big man or driving to the basket. The Jayhawks regained the lead at 59-56 on Wayne Selden’s free throw and Traylor’s putback dunk, and then kept turning back every 3-pointer that Eastern Kentucky managed to rattle home.
“Just our mentality (changed),” Wiggins said. “We were tougher on the ball. We knew against the defence of this team, we had to make good decisions, great plays and throw it inside.”
Yeaaaa! Connor!!! I see the POISE! #kubball
@Next718star CBS & ATT showing Russell some love during halftime of the WSU game! pic.twitter.com/MPnJ0kCVY6
Bill Self: improves to 8-0 in Round of 64 as No. 1 or No. 2 seed; avg margin of victory 21.8 PPG
Dunkiest 2-15 upset survival ever!
KUAD: Stanford vs Kansas pregame notes
With a victory Friday over Eastern Kentucky in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, the second-seeded Kansas University men's basketball team earned a date with No. 10 seed Stanford at 11:15 a.m. on Sunday.
Stanford advanced to the Round of 32 with a 58-53 over New Mexico in the first game of the day Friday at Scottrade Center and did so by limiting New Mexico guard Kendall Williams to just three points on 1-of-9 shooting in 39 minutes.
Williams, who entered the game averaging 16.4 points per game, hit Kansas for 24 during an 80-63 KU victory back in December.
Junior Anthony Brown, who earned Pac-12's most improved player of the year award, played a huge role in frustrating Williams from the start and may have his hands full again Sunday with KU freshman Andrew Wiggins, who led the Jayhawks with 19 points in KU's hard-fought 80-69 victory over Eastern Kentucky on Friday.
Junior guard Chasson Randle led the Cardinal (22-12) with 23 points on 7-of-15 shooting. Brown and Stefan Nastic added 10 points apiece for Stanford, which jumped out to a huge lead early in the game, led by five at halftime and held on for the victory.
…KU is 8-2 all-time against Stanford. The Jayhawks last faced the Cardinal in December of 2003 in Anaheim and lost, 64-58. Before that, KU played Stanford in the second round of the 2002 NCAA tourney (also in St. Louis) and won 86-63 en route to reaching the Final Four.
The Cardinal feature four players who averaged double figures in scoring this season and are led by all-Pac-12 first team selections Randle and 6-10, 240-pound forward Dwight Powell. In addition, senior forward Josh Huestis was named to the all-Pac-12 defensive team.
According to many NBA draft “experts,” Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid are two of the top prospects in the 2014 NBA draft. Next year, assuming each player is indeed taken in the top five, they will earn more than $3 million to play basketball. This will be quite a pay raise for both players.
During this past season—when both players worked for the University of Kansas—each was paid considerably less. According to estimates offered by USA Today back in 2011, a student-athlete receives about $120,000 in value each year, or $125,250 in 2014 dollars. This calculation includes such factors as a scholarship, health care, coaching, and media exposure. Although economist Andrew Zimbalist called this calculation “wrongheaded” (and yes, there are some real problems with how USA Today did it), let’s treat it as a very high estimate of the upper-bound of “student-athlete” pay.
Let's accept that number. Is that what Wiggins and Embiid were worth in 2013-14? To answer this question, we need to figure out each player’s economic value. Back in 1974, economist Gerald Scully devised a simple method to measure an athlete’s economic contribution to a team. First, one determines how much revenue each win is worth to an organization. And then, one measures how many wins each player produces. Multiplying the wins a player produces by the value of those wins gives us an estimate of the player’s value to his employer.
To illustrate, prior to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, Embiid had produced 4.67 wins for the Kansas Jayhawks (calculated essentially according this approach used for the NBA). Using college revenue data from the U.S. Department of Education, economist Robert Brown (for research Brown, I, and a few others are working on) estimated that one win for the Kansas men’s basketball team was worth $159,601 in 2010-11 ($166,585 in 2014 dollars). Given these two numbers, Embiid was worth approximately $777,286 (again, prior to the tournament). If we take the USA Today number seriously, this means the Jayhawks have underpaid Embiid by a bit more than $650,000.
Repeating the same calculation for every player on the Jayhawks, we see, as the following table illustrates, that Andrew Wiggins (who some people think is worth the number one pick in the NBA draft) was only the fourth most productive Jayhawk this year. Even though Wiggins has underperformed relative to expectations, he has still been underpaid by more than $450,000. And combined, this entire team has been underpaid by about $2 million.
kualumni.org: Pics from the pep rally
Kansas in St Louis Info
KU Alumni sponsored events in St Louis
Kansas digital Tournament Guide
“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!
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NCAA Tournament TV Schedule (w/announcing teams)
In the most overtime-abundant Day 1 in NCAA tournament history, there was a link between the fallen and the rattled.
Four 4-6 seeds that were upset (Ohio State and Cincinnati) or on the ropes (Saint Louis and San Diego State) were members of the Elite Defense/Suspect Offense Club:
If someone tells you defense alone can win a championship, tell them to wise up: The track record of No. 6-or-higher seeds with a top-15 ranking in defensive efficiency and a 75-or-lower ranking in offensive efficiency has been terrible of late in the NCAA tournament. Of the 18 schools that fit that profile since 2006 on kenpom.com, 11 have underperformed their seed’s expected wins total:
Louisville’s 2012 Final Four team is the one exception; it had the No. 1 overall defense and was helped the unexpected emergence of Russdiculous in the Elite Eight.
On Thursday, the NCAA tournament went off like a box of fireworks dumped into a furnace.
On Friday, someone tried to set fire to the furnace.
It was an epic stare-down between the first and second days of Round of 64 games, and everyone was the better for it. First came the parade of upsets and overtimes on Thursday. Then Friday began with Mercer's upset of Duke and continued with Kansas and North Carolina surviving and then rolled into overtime with Stephen F. Austin's thrilling comeback against VCU.
Even the historic upset that wasn't -- No. 16 seed Coastal Carolina putting a scare into No. 1 seed Virginia, in a game that was tied with eight and a half minutes left before the Cavaliers won 70-59 -- was invigorating.
There are six rounds to this tournament, and the Round of 64 was nearly enough. The NCAA logo cup runneth over already.
Biggest Upset: Nothing could compare to Mercer ousting Duke from the tournament in Raleigh, miles down the road from Cameron Indoor Stadium, mostly thanks to the overload of schadenfreude that accompanied it. After ripping the inclusion of six teams from the Atlantic 10 in the brackets, Mike Krzyzewski's crew couldn't get past the Atlantic Sun.
…Biggest Injury News: Iowa State cruised to a 20-point win over North Carolina Central on Friday. Then afterward, it was announced that forward Georges Niang suffered a fractured foot and would be lost for the rest of the season. It was a massive loss for the Cyclones, who seemed to have momentum for an NCAA tournament run. Niang had the highest possession percentage (27.6) of anyone on the roster, even star point guard DeAndre Kane. He was the unsung fulcrum of a potent offense. His loss was immense with North Carolina looming Sunday.
Worst Warmups: Little-used Kansas State Brian Rohleder dunked in warmups before the team faced Kentucky on Thursday. That is against the rules. That incurred an "administrative technical foul." That provided the Wildcats from Lexington two free throw attempts before the jump ball against the Wildcats from Manhattan. Kentucky made one, and had the rare 1-0 head start before the clock started ticking.
Eventually, the pain of losing to UCLA in the NCAA tournament will go away for Danny Manning and the Tulsa Golden Hurricane.
They want to become tournament regulars and win some games.
It just didn't happen this time.
Jordan Adams had 21 points and eight rebounds, and Norman Powell scored 15 in his hometown to lead fourth-seeded UCLA to a 76-59 victory over 13th-seeded Tulsa on Friday night, spoiling Manning's NCAA tournament head coaching debut.
"I told the guys, 'Hopefully this loss stings, hopefully it burns,'" Manning said. "Every year the expectation for us is to be playing in this tournament. We want to stay in the tournament longer than we stayed today."
Brad Underwood spent the first 27 years of his professional career striving to become a head basketball coach at the Division I level.
It was a long wait, but it was worth it.
The McPherson native and former Kansas State player/assistant realized his dream last offseason when he was hired at Stephen F. Austin. Less than a year later, he is headed to the NCAA Tournament as a No. 12 seed with a team that has won 28 straight games.
“It doesn’t get much better,” Underwood said Tuesday by phone. “It’s something I will appreciate a little more once this ride is over with. All the records, all the winning streaks, that is something I haven’t put my arms around yet. That will be with a glass of red wine and sitting after it’s over with and you evaluate everything.
“Right now, you are so in the moment. All you are thinking about is the next game, the next practice. This is a special group of guys, but, for me, I know I probably wouldn’t have any of this success had I not gone through that process. I was mature enough to use my experiences and make decisions that positively impacted this team.”
Marcus Smart: 0-2 in NCAA Tournament; Travis Ford: One tourney win in six seasons; OSU: No tourney wins west of OKC in program history.
His short college career is over: Oklahoma State sophomore Marcus Smart spent October as some people's preseason National Player of the Year. Now his college career is done courtesy of an 85-77 loss to Gonzaga, and, oddly, he ended up with more games missed because of a suspension (three) than he did NCAA Tournament wins (zero). Smart should be a top-10 pick in June's NBA Draft, regardless. But this season didn't even come close to going the way he (or most) envisioned it going, and that's too bad.
…They really did it: Stanford lost three of its last four regular-season games and finished just 10-8 in the Pac-12. Still, the Cardinal is on its way to the Round of 32 with a 58-53 win over New Mexico that eliminated the Lobos from the NCAA Tournament earlier than projected for the 78th consecutive season. (Note: I'm not sure if that's true. But it feels true.)
Buzz Williams won a battle at Marquette and left. Not necessarily the bloodiest, most savage battle. But it was one brutal enough that scores were settled and his athletic director was effectively kicked to the curb by an interim president while Williams remained in place. And now he has gone to Virginia Tech of the ACC, a league in which the top four spots generally will be spoken for by programs with copious advantages in resources and tradition. And the spots after that won’t be easy to come by, either.
Wake Forest fired Jeff Bzdelik after four years of losing and at least three years of loud protesting from fans. The decision from athletic director Ron Wellman was a year later than it should've been. But better late than never, right?
Missouri Gatorade Player of The Year!! instagram.com/p/l0_v-GKqDB/
Jalen Brunson opened with a spectacular reverse layup and went on to break the state tournament single-game record with 56 points.
Jahlil Okafor's 33 points came on 15 shots and ultimately were more satisfying.
Both stars shined brightly on high school basketball's biggest stage, but only Okafor and No. 2 Young came away pleased as the Dolphins outlasted No. 1 Stevenson 75-68 in a Class 4A semifinal for the ages Friday night at Carver Arena.
Still can't believe what I saw from Jalen Brunson tonight. The best PG in the country, regardless of class. Second coming of Isaiah Thomas.
Stevenson junior Jalen Brunson has been named the 2013-14 Gatorade Illinois Boys Basketball Player of the Year, it was announced Friday morning.
Brunson is the first Gatorade Illinois Boys Basketball Player of the Year to be chosen from Stevenson High School.
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