Bill Self asked about 100 Special Olympians from the Sunflower State to do a favor for his Kansas University basketball team on Sunday in Allen Fieldhouse.
“We need to have a good time because we had a bad time yesterday afternoon,” Self, KU’s 10th-year coach, said before introducing his players to the Olympians at the start of the 29th-annual Wilt Chamberlain Clinic.
“We need you guys to cheer us up. Could you do that for us?” Self asked, to a rousing round of applause from the campers.
…“It’s good to get out of the bedroom,” said KU senior center Jeff Withey, who might have been tempted to sleep all day and mope a bit the day after KU had its 33-game homecourt win streak snapped. “This is a great event. Everyone looks forward to this event. Every year it’s a lot of fun. Everybody is giving you a hug or a high-five. It’s definitely good to give back. It makes you really grateful for everything. It’s fun to be part of the Special Olympics community and just to be around the Olympians and show them we care about them just like they care about us.”
Asked before the clinic if the Jayhawk players were brooding about the loss, he said: “A little bit. At the same time, we know it’s behind us. We can’t do anything about it now. It happened yesterday. We have to move forward and learn from it. You have to try to spin it into a positive and work hard.”
For Self, it’s not the first time the Chamberlain clinic has taken place after a loss. He understands how good it can feel to get away from the noise and enjoy a day giving back to the community.
It was that notion that may have had the greatest affect. Even after a devastating loss at home, the Jayhawks were back at Allen Fieldhouse creating much more important memories.
“What it tells us about the KU players is that they realize what’s important in life,” Zimmerman said. “A win would have been great yesterday but they’re winners today by being out here and interacting with our athletes.”
LJW Photos Special Olympics Clinic
By losing at home for the first time in two years, Kansas got both a curfew and a wake-up call.
The curfew wasn’t unusual, forward Kevin Young said, but coach Bill Self made sure no one was tempted to violate it when he addressed the team after the game.
As for the walk-up call, the Jayhawks admitted it might have been the best thing to come from Saturday’s 85-80 upset at the hands of unranked Oklahoma State.
“We’re going to get a lot better from this loss,” center Jeff Withey said. “We need to be a lot better than what we were, obviously. A loss like this is really going to bring us back to reality.”
The Jayhawks’ home loss to Oklahoma State doesn’t alter their role as favorite but the idea of lapping the field is shelved after the Cowboys exposed flaws in a hard-fought triumph.
Had Kansas won and remained unbeaten in league play, the closest challenger, Kansas State, essentially would have reached the turn three games behind — two in the loss column and already with a home loss to the Jayhawks on the ledger.
Now, K-State, at 6-2 after Saturday’s gut-check triumph at Oklahoma, controls its future. Stay one game behind the Jayhawks, 7-1, and find a way to win in Lawrence next Monday night and the Wildcats will be tied for first heading into a final month dogfight.
…Kansas typically reacts well to disappointment. Last year, the December loss to Davidson at Sprint Center changed the Jayhawks’ resolve and they roared to their eighth straight Big 12 championship and to the national-title game.
The conference championship streak carries deep meaning for the program, and this is a senior-dominated team. If only for those intangibles, the Jayhawks remain the Big 12 favorite. They’ve been there, done that, and know what it takes to win.
KC Star Kerkhoff
Starting the game on the bench and watching Naadir Tharpe start in his place might be just the tonic Johnson needs to break the tension building up within him and tearing down his game.
It also would be interesting to see what, if anything, a starting assignment could do for the smaller, quicker Tharpe.
Tyshawn Taylor’s career turned for the better when he returned from an embarrassing two-game suspension in late February of his junior season at Kansas. Serving as sixth man surely beats watching games in street clothes. What’s the down side to trying it?
Fortunate scheduling makes this the right time to try such a switch, with a trip to TCU next for the Jayhawks (19-2 overall, 7-1 in the Big 12). If TCU (9-12, 0-8) isn’t the worst Big 12 team of all-time, it certainly merits a spot on the short list.
Cynics might view starting Tharpe for a while as little more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
But if the move relieved Johnson of tension and gave him a chance to come off the bench and fix whatever might be broken, it could give the team a jolt.
Kansas drops from top line, falls to No. 2 seed
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The first steps toward creation of today's Big 12 began with talk of a scheduling alliance between schools from the Southwest Conference and the Big Eight.
Discussions led to a few football games in the early 1990s and, by the fall of 1996, teams from both leagues were playing under the Big 12 umbrella.
No one is saying history will repeat itself if the Big 12 and ACC lock arms in some type of future scheduling agreement, as Big 12 athletic directors discussed, and unanimously endorsed, last week.
But it could. All it would take is another round of Big Ten or SEC expansion into ACC country that causes existing members or Louisville, an ACC pledge for 2014, to chart an alternate path and seek shelter in a more stable Big 12.
At that point, Big 12 administrators would have to consider altering the league's 10-member structure. And that could be a good thing.
Basketball in the Big 12 would benefit from an ACC infusion and the football could be enhanced, too, if Florida State headed west. A Florida State-Miami parlay would be a nice way to open up Big 12 recruiting opportunities in talent-rich Florida for all sports.
But the focus, for now, is nothing more than a series of nonconference games that could enhance the value of TV deals for both leagues.
"I'm not comfortable with raiding other conferences," Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. "But if there are circumstances that indicate that institutions might be looking for an alternative to their circumstance, you have to listen. I don't think you can do otherwise ... There's a case to be made for getting larger."
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Tilton School (NH) (86) vs. Northfield Mount Hermon (MA) (89). Player of the Game Wayne Selden did all he could, including two late three-pointers but couldn’t pull Tilton past NMH. The Kansas recruit poured in 35 points, shot 13-of-24 including 5-of-9 three-pointers and grabbed eight rebounds. The 6’5 Selden is noticeably bigger and stronger than when we saw him last year at the event.
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