Kansas forward Thomas Robinson is one of four finalists for the Naismith Award, given to the top player in college basketball.
Other finalists include Anthony Davis of Kentucky, Draymond Green of Michigan State and Doug McDermott of Creighton. The winner will be announced at the Final Four in New Orleans.
Robinson has 25 double-doubles this season for KU, tying a school record set by Drew Gooden in 2002.
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also you can TEXT "VOTE" to 34763 and vote @Trobinson0 for Naismith player of the year
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“But (KU) Coach (Bill Self) made an adjustment. Sometimes in this business we get so stubborn and set in our ways, but he didn’t. He just looked at us and said, ‘We gotta do this.’ And it worked. I told him how proud of him I was.”
Hinson did not divulge exactly what that adjustment was. And it said a lot about it that the heartbroken Boilermakers couldn’t pinpoint it either.
“They threw in maybe a triangle-and-two, a box-and-one,” Smith said. “At some points in the game, I didn’t even know what they were in, but they were out there, and they were playing really good, and we just couldn’t get shots to fall down the stretch.”
Added Hummel, who also admitted to being confused by KU’s different defensive looks in a second half in which he made just two of five shots and missed all three of his three-point attempts: “They went to a triangle-and-two or a box-and-one or something and they did a very good job. They kept somebody on me the whole second half, and I probably should’ve been more aggressive, to be honest. But Kansas did a good job of switching their defense up, and that made it tough on me. I don’t even know what to say.”
Two of the game’s biggest heroes then embraced before finally heading to the locker room following quick TV and radio interviews, their season still alive with a Sweet 16 date with North Carolina State on tap at 9:17 p.m. Friday in St Louis.
“We kept grinding and grinding and never gave up,” Taylor said. “You’ve got to trust your teammates. I trusted Elijah to knock that shot down, and he trusted me to go get that lob. That’s what we did. The trust we have in each other is the reason we won the game.”
Johnson, who scored 18 points off 7-of-14 shooting, stroked a deep three with 3:01 left, giving KU a 57-56 lead — its first lead of a game in which the Jayhawks trailed by as many as 11 the first half.
“Money,” Johnson said, asked what he thought when he let the shot go. “I had a smirk on my face because I knew it was going down.”
… Hummel, who was guarded by Thomas Robinson, hoisted a three with about eight seconds left, with Robinson rebounding and passing to Taylor, who instead of trying to run the clock out dunked at :03 to give KU the 63-60 lead.
“I thought about it (running it out), but I thought, ‘I’ve got to dunk it,’” Taylor said. “You can go up by three points, and they would have to make a three-pointer with only two seconds left, so they would have to make a long pass. I laid it up, but I did think about it.”
… “How we won this game is who we are: getting stops and making plays,” Self said.
…“My message to the team at halftime was, ‘We’ve been here before. Don’t get discouraged,’” Taylor said. “Just keep playing. It’s a long game, a game of runs. Coach always says that.”
“What went through my head,” Johnson noted, “is the whole time coach preached to us it’s going to come down to one possession. No matter the score, I felt it would come down to one possession, no matter what. We knuckled down and put our past experiences into effect today.”
In the final 3:12, Johnson scored five points, had two rebounds, a steal and a bold assist. His three with 3:04 left gave Kansas its first lead, 57-56, and it wasn’t the play for which he’ll be remembered most. That would be the lob he tossed to Tyshawn Taylor with 1:02 left, which again put Kansas up by one. Of course, the steal and layup that gave KU another one-point lead with 23 seconds left won’t be forgotten soon.
Watching the transformation of superior athletes into terrific basketball players ranks as one of the most enjoyable aspects of watching Bill Self’s basketball laboratory night in and night out, year in and year out.
Late in the season that almost ended Sunday night in the CenturyLink Center, the tentative Johnson, who always talked like he believed in himself but didn’t always play like it, made believers of everybody.
…Johnson’s the latest example of how this team is as remarkable as any of Self’s in terms of how much it has grown, a reality not lost on classy Purdue coach Matt Painter.
When someone tried to paint the game as a story of David nearly slaying Goliath, Painter didn’t buy it.
“They play hard, too,” Painter said. “Obviously, they have won eight straight Big 12 championships. I don’t think he has a McDonald’s All-American on his team. You’ve got to give Bill Self credit. They have guys that have developed into NBA prospects. You’ve got to give them credit for that, too.”
LJW Keegan Ratings: Elijah Johnson lifts KU to victory
“If you’re going to be scared, you might as well not be on the floor,” Johnson said. “We practice for those moments. You can’t run from them.”
…Unlike so many teams before them, they never appeared spooked or rattled during a game in which they shot a season-low 33.9 percent.
“That’s unheard of,” Self said. “That was probably more stressful for our guys than the Purdue guys. When you don’t have that momentum and energy, it takes toughness.
“I’m proud of our guys, because a testimony to a team’s toughness is to figure out a way to win when things aren’t going well. How we won is who we are.”
The Jayhawks won by out-rebounding Purdue 44-36, including a season-high 21 offensive boards. They won by tightening their defense on Boilermakers star Robbie Hummel who had 22 points in the first half but only four in the second after KU switched to a triangle-and-two. And they won because a few key players - mainly Johnson - welcomed the opportunity to be the hero instead of shying away from it.
“Elijah,” Self said, “has been our best player the last two weeks.”
…“I was throwing that lob whether I threw it over the backboard or not,” said Johnson, who scored a team-high 18 points. “If I was down there, I would’ve been mad at Ty if he didn’t throw it to me. That’s our game. That’s how we play with each other every day. Why not throw it?”
…Along with his heroics in the final minute, Johnson had two huge 3-pointers late in the second half - including one that came from about 5 feet beyond the arc.
Taylor said looked at Johnson as he squared up to take the shot, which turned a 56-54 deficit into a 57-56 lead.
“He had a smile on his face,” Taylor said.
Johnson was asked what he thought after he released the ball.
“Money!” he said.
ESPN Jason King
But trailing 56-54 with a little over three minutes to go, Taylor stood on the wing and made a short pass to Johnson well beyond the three-point line.
He was well enough behind the line enough that the Purdue defender didn't think twice about applying any pressure. Johnson had other plans though, and stepped into a 23-footer with Kansas' Sweet 16 hopes on the line.
“I was just confident in the shot and I took it,” Johnson said.
It dropped in, giving the Jayhawks their first lead of the game at 57-56.
“He took that shot with a smile on his face too, everybody go watch the tape,” Taylor said at the podium after the game. “He smiled when he shot that.”
Two minutes later and trailing by three, Johnson grabbed a rebound and raced up court on a two-on-two fast break. He threw a lob pass near the rim to Taylor who finished with a dunk, pulling the Jayhawks within one point.
The very next possession, Purdue had a one-point lead with under a minute to go. Johnson guarded Purdue senior guard Lewis Jackson on the top of the key. He forced the ball loose, beat all defenders down the court and laid it in to give Kansas a 61-50 lead with just 23 seconds remaining.
Purdue never regained the lead.
“Earlier in the game I dished it on the wing and we came up short, so that was one of the plays where I thought I just had to attack the rim and stop being so passive,” Johnson said of the layup. “It ended up working out for me.”
On Thursday afternoon, the first day that coach Bill Self and his Jayhawks were in this town, Self had a philosophy.
He added it up like this: He knows that most teams don’t play their best in six straight games. He knows that in 2008, the Jayhawks would have never won a championship if they didn’t swipe a game from Davidson. He knows something like that Davidson game happens for most teams that make runs in March. So he shared his philosophy.
“The teams that won the national championships,” he said, “stole one when they were bad.”
…“Stuff like that is stuff that you got to face to win a championship,” Robinson said. “Coach said that it was going to be an ugly game and that’s the ugliest I’ve seen.”
“I knew this was there with him,” Robinson said. “A lot of people in the nation or outside this team question him as far as if he has the guts to take those big-time shots or if he’s afraid to step over me and Tyshawn. But, man, Elijah’s a big-time player. One of the biggest I’ve seen.”
If those doubts about Johnson persisted, he’s answered them all in the tournament. And never more so than in Sunday’s one-possession grinder.
…“It’s not about me or Tyshawn tonight,” Robinson said. “This game was all about Travis, Elijah, Teahan and Kevin — guys like that. They stepped up for us.”
But the night really belonged to Johnson, the player who rallied Kansas from a 10-point second-half deficit and kept KU’s season alive.
“I have to thank him,” Teahan said, “because with the way I shot the ball in the second half, if that was going to be my last game, I was going to be regretting that my whole life.
“I think that was a hell of a performance, and I’m sure a lot of people will remember him by that.”
You probably watched all of it, of course. Such unscripted drama has long been one of TV’s most valuable network commodities. But there are details missed on the screen, small but telling things you can only see from 10 feet away from the tensest place in sports: the heavy favorite’s bench as the underdog takes a swing in the NCAA Tournament.
This is where you see the worried look on KU senior Jordan Juenemann, who has stressed through early losses before. This is where you notice assistant coach Danny Manning standing up to scream the name of the play and the spot where the shot is coming from, only to drop his head when Purdue’s Robbie Hummel swishes it anyway.
This is where you see freshman Merv Lindsay, unable or unwilling to watch the game in front of him, turn his head away from the court, perhaps peeking through his fingers at the video screen at the end of the arena. This is where you hear Thomas Robinson, the All-American being double-teamed even without the ball, scream to his teammates.
“SHOOT THE BALL! THE WHOLE (EXPLETIVE) TEAM IS TAKING ME! SHOOT THE BALL!”
This is where you see Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger, his cheers muffled by press row protocol, shaking his leg and tapping his foot through the tightest moments. This is also where you see Self tell staffer Barry Hinson a joke under his breath, laughing even before he can finish, both men thankful for a momentary reprieve.
The NCAA Tournament has come to define college basketball seasons and teams and players, and especially coaches. And whenever you get close, the effect is striking. Nothing about it is normal. Nothing is easy. Point guards dribble off their feet, one good shooter airballs a three-pointer, and another one hits his first five.
Most times, this is the script for the powerhouse to become the extras in the underdog’s celebration video.
Except this time, the powerhouse swung back.
“I feel like the world just dropped off my back,” Kansas’ Thomas Robinson said. “I mean, we get another week to practice. I’ve never been so happy to practice again.”
Sparking a comeback isn’t new territory for Johnson. When KU trailed by 19 against Missouri late in the regular season, Johnson hit two three-pointers to kick start the comeback victory.
On Saturday afternoon, more than 24 hours before Kansas was set to take the floor against Purdue, Robbie Hummel stood in the Boilermakers’ locker room and listened to a question. How was Hummel, a 6-foot-8 forward, going to be able to guard Kansas junior Thomas Robinson?
Hummel smiled. Maybe because nobody seemed to be all that interested in asking how Kansas was going to guard him.
On Sunday night, Hummel’s smile had turned to tears. He had finished with 26 points in a 63-60 loss against Kansas at the CenturyLink Center. He had made five of his first six three-pointers and finished with 22 points in the first half. He had nearly made up for the two knee injuries that kept him out of the NCAA Tournament the last two years.
But in the end, as he sat on the stage next to Purdue coach Matt Painter, Hummel’s performance wasn’t enough. His dream of playing in another Sweet 16 was over.
“I’m basically in shock from the game,” Hummel said. “… I can’t believe it’s over, either.”
Maybe with different bounce or two, or another made shot, you could have added Hummel to the list of Kansas killers, right up there with Mike Bibby, Gerry McNamara and Ali Farokhmanesh. Instead, Hummel’s final shot missed.
They say it takes a little luck to get through March Madness and into the Final Four.
But there's a man at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in north Omaha who believes a little holy devotion can help, too.
Sunday, at the 10:30 Mass at his church, Father Tom Fangman, a 1985 graduate of Kansas University, led his parish in a quick rendition of KU's famed Rock Chalk Chant.
"He does that during football season, too," parishioner Chuck Caniglia said. "If they're doing great, he'll go up there and act like he's gonna pray and then he'll do it."
No. 2-seeded Kansas University will meet No. 11 seed North Carolina State on Friday in the Sweet 16 in St. Louis.
Game time is 9:17 p.m. at Edward Jones Dome.
The Wolfpack of the ACC defeated No. 3 seed Georgetown, 66-63, on Sunday in Columbus, Ohio.
N.C. State, 24-12, is in the middle of a storybook season under first-year coach Mark Gottfried, the nephew of former KU football coach Mike Gottfried.
Taking over a program that went 15-16 a year ago, Gottfried is the first Wolfpack coach since Jim Valvano to win 24 games in a season. The Wolfpack is in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005 and second time since 1989.
N.C. State, which is 6-1 in its last seven games, led in the second half of games against Indiana, Stanford and Duke this season, but lost all of those games. N.C. State is 2-8 against RPI Top 50 teams, with quality victories over Texas, Virginia, St. Bonaventure and UNC Asheville.
Mark Gottfried may have been fourth or fifth, maybe even further down the line on the list of candidates that Debbie Yow had targeted to replace Sidney Lowe at N.C. State.
"I didn't care," Gottfried said Sunday afternoon, only moments after his Wolfpack advanced to the Sweet 16 following a 66-63 win over Georgetown. "I wasn't in a position to have any ego at that point."
Now it's irrelevant, anyway.
N.C. State fans became upset when media members, myself included, sputtered off the names that had spurned this once-storied program: Shaka Smart, Chris Mack, Mark Turgeon, Josh Pastner. The list goes on. Yow was mocked before she eventually plucked Gottfried from ESPN -- and drew no shortage of criticism. Gottfried had been fired by Alabama two years prior.
"When she called, I was ecstatic," Gottfried said. "I thought about it -- for about a minute."
Say anything you want about KU and how shaky, or scared, it played against Purdue. Roy should still know this right now: If he challenges the Jayhawks to meet along the mighty Mississippi for a spitting contest, these players from KU might project nails.
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Chelsea Gardner has been compared to junior forward Carolyn Davis when she was a freshman throughout this season.
And now with Davis on the sideline because of a left knee injury the role for her shifted to more a combination coach and teammate.
In fact it was Davis who pointed out throughout the weekend while the team watched men’s and women’s basketball games that it’s usually not the normal star person steps up in an NCAA Tournament situation.
That was certainly the case tonight as Gardner, mainly a freshman role player for much of the year, posted a career-high 15 points and 16 rebounds, helping lead the Jayhawks over No. 6 Nebraska in 57-49 victory at the Jack Stephens Center.
“I just came out and was excited about this game and I just felt like I needed to step up more to the next round,” Gardner said.
Throughout this week and throughout the season, Davis continues mentor Gardner on mastering the big man position underneath the basket.
“It’s awesome for her to be playing at this level and be playing to be the person to step out, “ Davis said.
Davis went onto say that Gardner is a role player on this team on not the go-to player every night, but she does the little things like putting back shots near the rim and rebounds are what the team really need from her.
Angel Goodrich is a finalist for the Nancy Lieberman Award as one of the best point guards in women’s basketball. Now she has an NCAA Tournament victory to add to her ever-growing list of accomplishments.
Goodrich scored 20 points and led 11th-seeded Kansas to a 57-49 upset victory Sunday against former Big 12 foe Nebraska, the No. 6 seed in the Des Moines Regional.
The KU spirit squad was in the right place at the right time last night. Hours before the Kansas women's basketball NCAA Tournament game, they found a man stuck underneath a car.
The cheerleaders were walking out of their hotel to load the bus that would take them to the Jack Stephens Center when they heard someone yelling a short distance away. They ran over and found a man trapped underneath a Cadillac sedan. The car had been propped up on a jack, but rolled off of it and pinned the man under the car. Nine members of the spirit squad were able to lift the car and help the man crawl out. The man was covered in grease and blood, and was disoreinted but ok.
The squad then went on to cheer at the game, where the Jayhawks won 57-49.
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North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall had surgery Monday morning, a day after breaking his right wrist in an NCAA round of 32 victory.
Details were not immediately available, and it is still not known whether the sophomore will be available to play Friday in the NCAA Regional Semifinals againt the No. 13 seed Ohio Bobcats.
CBSSports.com's Jeff Goodman spoke via text with Marshall's father, Dennis Marshall. Dennis Marshall told Goodman that surgery on Kendall went well and lasted about 30 minutes. Moreover, they are optimistic about him playing against Ohio in the Sweet 16 on Friday.
“Hang onto your seatbelt,” Dennis Marshall said.
Two minutes into the second half on Sunday, Florida was beating Norfolk State by 31. The final was 84-50, and it shouldn't be dismissed as a predictable SEC blowout against an outmanned team from the MEAC. That victory Friday by Norfolk State against Missouri was no fluke, no matter how ungraciously Mizzou coach Frank Haith tried to spin itafterward.
Norfolk State ran up and down the floor with the Tigers, unafraid early and unimpressed as the game wore on. Missouri had wanted to get Norfolk State into a track meet, assuming its superior basketball bloodlines would win out over 40 minutes. Norfolk accepted the challenge, then stuck out its chest and beat the Tigers to the tape.
That was Friday, but this was different. Florida wasn't interested in racing Norfolk State -- Florida was interested in stomping Norfolk State. The Gators gave Norfolk State the ultimate respect, treating the Spartans as though they could win if given the chance.
So Florida didn't give them the chance.
…When it was over, Florida's players lingered in the handshake line to congratulate Norfolk State for its season, and then the crowd at the CenturyLink Center did the same -- giving the Spartans a standing ovation as they left the floor.
Ohio junior guard D.J. Cooper told CBSSports.com that Tennessee and Baylor contacted him after his freshman season at Ohio, trying to get him to leave Ohio.
Recruiting a player before he is released from his current program is against NCAA rules, but Cooper was contacted after his freshman season when he was the MAC Freshman of the Year and led the Bobcats to their first NCAA tournament win in 27 seasons.
Donell and Dionne Cooper, D.J.'s parents, also told CBSSports.com after Ohio's 62-56 victory Sunday against South Florida that Tennessee and Baylor were among the schools that tried to get their son to transfer.
“That [Tennessee and Baylor] was about it,” D.J. Cooper said Sunday night after the victory.
Donell Cooper told CBSSports.com that former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl “tried the hardest” to get his son to transfer.
“It was surprising, being my first experience, that schools were wanting me to come play for their programs,” D.J. Cooper said. “I didn't want to do that. I wanted to stick with Ohio and Coach [John] Groce.
“I didn't think about leaving. It's about loyalty. I'm sticking with Coach Groce, he believed in me from the start. I didn't listen to any of that [transfer talk]. I just focused on getting better as a sophomore.”
Both Cooper and his high school coach, Brandon Thomas, declined to name the programs trying to poach him. Recruiting a player before he is released from his current program is against N.C.A.A. rules. Cooper’s mother, Dionne, identified Baylor Coach Scott Drew as someone who attempted to lure her son from Ohio.
“He wasn’t necessarily calling and saying, ‘Come on over,’ ” she said. “He would say: ‘Oh, this is great. I knew you could do it. The exposure you’re getting now, you’re not getting it in the MAC because you’re not on TV.’ He was really trying to sell to me. ‘We know you can do these things, but because of where you are, you’re not getting the attention you deserve.’ ”
When reached Sunday, Drew said: “After he signed with Ohio, I never talked with the mom or the dad or D.J. We wish him the best of luck in his career.”
D.J. Cooper declined to comment when asked if Kenneth Caldwell, a Chicago-based runner for an agent, who admitted recruiting players for Central Florida and other programs, had reached out to him. Caldwell had a close relationship with Jerome Randle, the former Pac-10 player of the year at California who played with Cooper when he attended Hales Franciscan High School in Chicago. All Cooper would say about Caldwell is that he knew him.
Cooper played his senior year at Seton Academy in Illinois, where Thomas, a former Hales Franciscan assistant, said he could not believe the amount of poachers.
“I remember my phone ringing as I had an unsigned senior,” Thomas said. “I thought it was amazing. That was a side of the business I had never experienced, coaches trying to pry a guy away and pry him away from Ohio.”
And that is modern college basketball, where even the shining moments have a dark side.
Shabazz Muhammad, the top uncommitted wing player in the Class of 2012, will take an official visit to UCLA in early April and then announce his college decision, likely April 9th or 10th, his father told SNY.tv Sunday evening.
“I think Coach [Ben] Howland wanted him to come at the beginning of April, for that weekend in the beginning April [6-8], but I know that’s close to the Jordan Game, so I have to look at those dates,” Ron Holmestold SNY.tv. “I’m not exactly sure but that’s when I’ve got it penciled in for.”
After that visit, the 6-foot-6 Muhammad plans to decide relatively soon.
He has previously taken officials to Texas A&M, Kentucky, Duke and Kansas and is considering UCLA, Duke, Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky and UNLV.
“That’s going to be our last official visit,” Holmes said of the UCLA visit. “Then I think he’s going to decide on the 9th or the 10th, something like that. He’ll do something at his high school [to announce].”
Muhammad will also play in the McDonald’s All-American Game March 28 in Chicago and the Jordan Brand Classic April 14 in Charlotte, N.C.
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