It appears Thomas Robinson’s days at Kansas will soon be coming to an end. Robinson, a junior, will hold a press conference with coach Bill Self at 11:30 a.m. Monday. And if all indications hold, it appears nearly certain that Robinson will announce his decision to forgo his last season of eligibility and enter the NBA draft.
…Robinson’s announcement will come just a few hours before Kansas holds its team banquet on Monday night. Because of new NCAA early-entry rules, if Robinson declares for the draft and doesn’t hire an agent, he only has until Tuesday to withdraw his name and retain his eligibility. Of course, NBA rules dictate that players have until April 29 to enter the draft. So players could technically wait until that date to make any decision. If Robinson declares, he’ll become the ninth KU player to leave school early in the last six years.
Watch press conference live here.
Today’s KU basketball banquet figures to be the most festive since the 2008 dinner that honored the NCAA champs.
Ninth-year coach Self believes a throng of 1,000 or so fans, who will break bread at 6:30 p.m. at the Holidome, are eager to recognize the accomplishments of this 32-7 team.
“I’ve gotten a lot of letters and several e-mails. I haven’t gone through all of them yet,” Self said of appreciative correspondence. “The thing that amazes me is from our Jayhawk Nation, the sense that I get, it was the most pleasant of surprises. I got the impression that we had tempered expectations enough and rightfully so that anything that happened like it did this year would be a bonus.”
After all, this is the KU team that played with no McDonald’s All-Americans and just one returning starter — Tyshawn Taylor — from the Morris twins-led 35-3 Big 12 title/Elite Eight team of 2010-11.
“You know this program has won more games than anybody in the history of college basketball the last six years. There has never been a run like we’ve been on as far as winning games,” said Self, whose team was 197-29 over that span. “You can say Florida was a better run. They won two (titles in going 68-11 overall in 2005-06 and 2006-07), we’ve only won one. Still, we’ve been on a terrific run, but this was going to be the transition year, without question. But you couldn’t tell Thomas or Tyshawn or those kids that.
“And they played at such a high level, and it wasn’t always pretty, but they bought into how we needed to play to win.”
Thomas Robinson is a great example of a player who maxed out his career in college over a three-year period and is now ready to play in the NBA. He wasn’t a year ago. He had an exemplary season, led Kansas to the national title game, and now enters the NBA as a player who can contribute, not just be a high draft pick.
"We'll have to wait and see,'' Crean said. "We're not overscheduling. We're not playing Kentucky if we're playing Kansas.''
Kansas and Indiana have talked about starting a series next season. "There is interest on both sides, and the networks want to do it,'' Crean said.
Crean said he isn't sure if the Kentucky game would survive as a series, whether it's at a neutral site, next season or at all.
Of his best buddy McLemore, Traylor said: “The best play Ben had at practice this season was on a fast break. Naadir (Tharpe, frosh guard) had the ball at halfcourt. He threw an alley-oop and Ben jumped the highest I’ve ever seen anybody jump in my life and he dunked it. I think practice ended off that.”
McLemore remembers the Jordanesque-moment well.
“I told Naadir to throw it up. I jumped pretty high to get it with two hands,” McLemore said with a smile. “I’ve got a good vertical and stuff like that.”
His leaping ability was showcased on one other highlight-reel practice play.
“One time I stole the ball from Jeff Withey and had a break by myself in the open court. I jumped pretty high and dunked it,” McLemore said.
He was eager to point out Traylor’s top play on the scout team at practice the past four months.
“Jamari did a double-clutch dunk through the lane through everybody. He double-clutched and dunked over a 7-footer,” McLemore said, ostensibly referring to the team’s only 7-footer, Withey.
Traylor, who worked with and against KU’s big men daily, said his own personal highlight was “probably a defensive play. I probably got a couple blocks in a row, (but) I can’t think of anything off the top of my head now.”
…KU senior Tyshawn Taylor and junior Thomas Robinson were spotted sitting behind the Houston Rockets bench Friday during the Rockets’ victory over the Los Angeles Lakers at L.A.’s Staples Center. Former KU teammate Marcus Morris of the Rockets did not play in the game. Morris posted a picture of the three together on Instagram. It’s not known whether Robinson and/or Taylor met with any prospective agents during the trip to L.A., as the Morris twins did during a similar trip last spring.
HIGHLIGHT: Marcus Denmon’s three-pointer with 16:24 remaining on Feb. 25 gave Missouri a 58-39 lead. Allen Fieldhouse was stunned, and fans lashed out at the officials, the Jayhawks and Self, pleading with anybody who could make it stop. Five minutes later, all KU could trim from the deficit was three points, and with 8 minutes to play the margin was 10. When it was over, and Kansas had somehow posted an 87-86 victory in overtime, the Jayhawks celebrated as openly as anybody could remember for a home conquest. Missouri’s final game in Lawrence as a Big 12 member goes to the top of the most memorable moments at the Phog. (As an aside, I have heard eardrum-piercing noise in Allen Fieldhouse to match that day. But I never heard a longer sustained level of hysteria than that afternoon. Ears were ringing into the next day.)
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: If there was a disappointment it was that Kansas didn’t finish an amazing job. The way the Jayhawks continued to win — KU had its worst five-game shooting stretch of the season in its first five NCAA games, and Taylor was working on a zero-for-23 skid on three-pointers — seemed to indicate some spirit was working for them. But in the end, Kentucky’s talent overwhelmed the Jayhawks’ magic.
KC Star Kerkhoff grades out the KU players and coaching
TCJ: Season in Review
Cole Aldrich doesn’t just like Danny Manning as the new coach at Tulsa.
The Thunder’s reserve center loves it.
“I think it’s a great hire for them,” Aldrich said Friday morning. “In my mind, that’s a steal to have a guy that talented of a coach, even though he hasn’t been able to show it as a head coach.”
…“I think his talent obviously as a teacher for myself and big guys, and even for guards, is huge,” Aldrich said. “He knows the game very, very well. Obviously, he played 15 years in the league and led KU in ’88 to a national title. So he knows the game and he knows how to play and he knows how to coach. He’s going to do a great job up there.”
…“I think he’s always wanted to be a head coach,” Aldrich said. “Once he was done playing, he pretty much came immediately to Lawrence and became an assistant coach pretty much and was on the court hands-on with all those guys. So you could always tell that he was always going to be a good coach from the very start when I got there.”
Final Four attendees have a chance to prove they were present at college basketball’s biggest event, thanks to the NCAA FanCam. The semifinal FanCam was shot minutes before tipoff of the first game. The championship FanCam also was shot minutes before tipoff.
This 360-degree, high-definition image captured the Superdome in its entirety, taking between 5-7 minutes to shoot. Fans are able to “step inside” the panoramic image and look around, as if they were standing at center court for a frozen moment of time just before the tip.
The resolution of five-billion pixels is so high that fans can zoom in to find themselves or friends, “tag” themselves in the photo, and share via email, Facebook and Twitter. Fans can even cruise around the Superdome to see who else was part of the 74th NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.
A University of Kansas fight song created a flap after it was piped into classrooms at a Lee’s Summit school.
As part of the morning announcements at Trailridge Elementary, songs related to upcoming holidays or current events are occasionally played over the intercom, said Janice Phelan, a spokeswoman for the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District.
And on April 2, a song was “briefly” played “in support of the Midwest school competing in the national college basketball championship,” she said.
But the fact that that Midwest school is the home of the Jayhawks, dreaded rivals of the Missouri Tigers, caused several parents to claim a fowl-related foul had been committed.
“As a parent of two and a taxpaying resident of the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, I am shocked and disappointed that there was an apparent attempt to indoctrinate Lee’s Summit school children to be KU fans at Trailridge Elementary this week,” said Brian Yates, a former state representative and graduate of the University of Missouri. “Playing the KU fight song or any college fight song over the intercom in a publicly funded elementary school is unacceptable.”
Yates said the “stunt” clearly was authorized by the academic leadership at the grade school, and he called for the school district to “make a public statement that this behavior is unacceptable and take any necessary disciplinary action necessary toward those involved.”
A.J. Quigley, another Missouri taxpayer, sent Trailridge Principal Matt Miller an April 2 email decrying the “awful decision to play the fight song today at school.”
“I suggest you move to Kansas and get support from those taxpayers,” Quigley wrote as news of the controversy began spreading on MU fan websites.
Miller, who will become the R-7 district’s director of student services after the current school year, told Quigley, “We always strive to be sensitive to all diverse viewpoints in our community and appreciate you taking the time to share your position on this matter. It was never our intent to cause an offense.”
But that was “not an acceptable response in my opinion,” Quigley fired back. “You should admit your mistake that it should never have been played. You are paid by the state of Missouri.”
Quigley then took his fight to the R-7 board of education, telling members April 3 that he was expecting a public apology.
Miller – who is a University of Missouri-Kansas City Kangaroo, not a Jayhawk, by the way – did not respond to an April 3 interview request. Instead, he turned to the R-7 district’s communications office for some help defense.
“Students and staff have had fun with the Big 12 basketball season this year,” Miller said in a written statement relayed April 4 by Phelan, “and we have worked with students to help them learn to have a good time and be respectful to others regardless of the team they support.”
Phelan, dishing out an assist, said, “Dr. Miller added that it was not the school’s intent to cause offense to the fans of any other basketball teams but to acknowledge that a local Big 12 team was competing for the championship.”
But Mike Doak, an MU graduate and parent of a Summit Lakes Middle School student, reminded school officials in an email that the Tigers would no longer be part of the Big 12 after the current school year.
“Missouri exited the Big 12 conference over this type of incident, Texas University creating their own network to help recruit kids to their school,” Doak wrote. “And here at home, must we experience the same thing in our own public school district?”
Doak said it was his choice to move to the Missouri side of the Kansas City area, not that other side of the border, 20 years ago. And he gladly pays more than $3,000 in annual taxes while voting in support of local school district issues here, he said.
What Doak doesn’t support, he added, is the playing of “KU fight songs to captive students in Trailridge or any other Missouri school.”
Lee's Summit Journal
Kansas may have come up short in the real national title game against Kentucky, but if we were measuring in social media, the Jayhawks would have brought home the crown.
According to research group Schwartz MSL, Kansas’ fanbase, in proportion, was the most tuned-in of any school in the country.
The formula goes like this: Take the total number of Facebook “likes” and Twitter followers, then divide it by the number of students that attend the school.
Schwarts MSL even set up a bracket, which you can see here, that plays out the entire Field of 68, as if it were based on social media.
Fun fact of the day: Naadir Tharpe had more points in the tournament than Kim English #rockchalk #kubball
@MandyMatney hey Hoe!! Kimmie also had more points in the Big 12 tournament than Tharpe did the WHOLE SEASON! #Trick #SEC #Mizzou #kU
The kansas Jayhawks will dominate the Big Sky from 2015 on. The Big12 will no longer be a league. I would say Mountain West, but Fball sucks
Breathe if you hate kansas!
The whole world is breathing right now!! #UNI #VCU #Bucknell #OralRoberts #Davidson
(Well, now we know how Mizzou player Steve Moore spent his Final Four weekend. lol)
When the Jayhawks make a run to the Final Four, it means a whole lot more than a lot of happy fans. It can boost the university in all sorts of ways, too.
“More than anything, we sense an incredible amount of pride in the university among all graduates,” said Kevin Corbett, president of the Kansas University Alumni Association.
But there is a financial windfall for the university, too.
Paul Vander Tuig, trademark licensing director for Kansas Athletics, oversees all the revenue that comes in from apparel, mugs and all the other officially licensed items. Generally, Kansas Athletics receives 10 percent of the wholesale price for officially licensed items. For tournament items, the licensing fee is 14 percent. The NCAA keeps 4 percent, and the remainder of the teams on the item split the other 10 percent.
So a Final Four shirt with Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville and Ohio State on it means each of those teams splits 10 percent of the wholesale price.
Predicting the revenue that will come in can be tricky, especially with recent growth in online sales and marketing of licensed gear.
In 2003, when KU lost to Syracuse in the title game, KU saw $770,000 in royalty fees, up about $250,000 from the previous year.
In 2008, the year KU won the national title, it generated $2.2 million, nearly double 2007’s take. But that level has stayed high since then, generating $1.8 million in the year ending June 30, 2009, $1.9 million in 2010 and $2.1 million in 2011.
“Experience tells us that it’s going to be worth something,” Vander Tuig said of the basketball success. “We can’t budget for it. There’s just no way to know or to even guess.”
The university itself — not just the athletics department — benefits from the licensing fees as well. Kansas Athletics handles licensing fees for all university-related items, even those that don’t feature athletics. As part of that agreement, Kansas Athletics gives half of that money to the university itself, said Jim Marchiony, associate athletic director. The university, in turn, uses the funds for its unions in Lawrence and at KU Medical Center, in addition to providing for student scholarships. The costs of the licensing program are removed from the gross receipts before Kansas Athletics and the university split the net revenue, Marchiony said.
It’s not just Kansas University that benefits when the basketball team does well in the NCAA Tournament. City and business leaders alike can look forward to a boost in their coffers as well.
“It’s like another Christmas for us,” said Ryan Owens, general manager of the Jock’s Nitch sporting goods store, 837 Mass. “Everybody’s happy. Everybody’s excited.”
The store had Final Four shirts at the ready when KU advanced to the national semifinals of the tournament and was selling them to the elated crowd.
“We sell some of everything,” Owens said. “We sell our regular merchandise as well. ... It’s a significant boost.”
There’s an uptick of activity in a lot of different parts of the city’s economy during a big basketball run, said David Corliss, Lawrence city manager. In addition to the tangible sales tax windfalls, the goodwill associated with the university that’s generated across the country benefits Lawrence, too, he said.
Other factors, like high gasoline prices, can drag down sales tax receipts as consumers have less disposable income, he said. So a good run by the basketball team can help counterbalance that effect.
The city does get a share of the state’s alcohol sales tax for alcohol consumed in restaurants and bars, but it doesn’t receive any of the sales tax for alcohol sold in liquor stores, Corliss said. But several segments of the economy do well in good basketball times, he said.
“All things considered, we’re just delighted with their success, and hopefully it’ll continue to translate into economic success for the community,” Corliss said.
Markieff Morris responded to a recent challenge from coach Alvin Gentry, finishing Saturday's game with 13 points (4-of-5 shooting), five rebounds and two blocks in 26 minutes.
"He just has to raise the intensity level a little bit," Gentry said of Morris. "He's still in the learning process. A good example is to take a look at [Nuggets' rookie Kenneth] Faried. He plays so hard that he gets things done just from an effort standpoint." Morris got extra minutes tonight with Channing Frye (11 points in 22 minutes) getting some rest in a rare blowout victory.
The Reno Bighorns and Rio Grande Valley Vipers entered their final game of the season Saturday night with the NBA D-League's two top offenses, and both teams showcased their incredible ability to score. Every Bighorn in the lineup scored in double digits, led by Memphis Grizzlies assignee Josh Selby who had a monstrous 38 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, but the Bighorns fell 143-136 to the Vipers.
Big 12/College News
BREAKING NEWS: ESPN Jason King reporting Baylor facing NCAA sanctions
Missouri seniors Ricardo Ratliffe and Kim English are among 64 players who have accepted invitations to play in next week's Portsmouth Invitational, a senior-only showcase event that annually attracts NBA executives and scouts evaluating prospects for June's NBA draft.
The event tips off Wednesday at Churchland High School in Portsmouth, Va., and will continue through Saturday with the players split into eight teams, with each guaranteed to play three games.
Top prospects often pass on participating, as was the case again this season with players such as North Carolina's Tyler Zeller, Vanderbilt's Jeffrey Taylor and Kansas' Tyshawn Taylor. Missouri senior Marcus Denmon also is among those not attending.
Weber went 89-16 in his first three seasons at Illinois. He led the Illini to back-to-back outright Big Ten championships (prior to Weber, the school hadn't won an outright league title since 1952). And he led them to a 37-win season in his second year, which ended with a five-point loss to North Carolina in the national championship.
But in his final six seasons, Weber won just 58 percent of his games, a drop-off from the 85-percent winning percentage he recorded in his first three seasons at Illinois.
Because of that, there has always been the argument that Weber won early on with Bill Self's players, who was the head coach at Illinois prior to Weber's arrival.
That's a subject that's up to debate.
"In a sense those are Bill's players and he won with them, yes," said Brian Barnhart, who is in his tenth year as the play-by-play radio voice for the Illini. "But who knows what Bill would have done with that same group. That's an argument that goes back and forth up here.
"I think it's silly. Because when you look at Bill Self he was only here three years and he won with Lon Kruger's players before him. I don't know why people say that about Bruce and don't say the same thing about Bill. Bill would say the same thing. He had great players in place that Lon Kruger landed. He won with them and did a really good job too."
Weber took out a full-page ad in the Champaign News Gazette on Sunday to thank fans for their support over the years, a classy move that shows Weber’s class after being fired last month.
The message in the newspaper read: “Thanks to everyone in the Illini Nation for a memorable nine years.” The ad includes both the Illinois and Kansas State logos separated by a basketball. At the bottom of the ad, it says: “Go Illini! & Go Cats! Coach Bruce Weber.”
It will be interesting to hear how Trent Johnson explains why he’s leaving LSU for TCU. Comparing these two basketball jobs isn’t close. LSU has a rich history in the sport. TCU does not. LSU plays in the SEC where there is constant stability, access to a wider talent pool, and plenty of money. TCU joins the Big 12 in the fall where the Horned Frogs should feel more at home, but still aren’t close to the top of the pecking order in the state. Johnson was coaching at a high level when he was at Stanford. He took a gamble by leaving his native West for the Southeast but he left too soon. The money was more at LSU and reportedly even more so at TCU. But the best job he had for him was at Stanford.
Eastern Illinois will hold a press conference on Monday afternoon, April 9, at 3 p.m. to introduce Jay Spoonhour as the Panthers new men’s basketball head coach. The press conference will take place on the floor of Lantz Arena. Spoonhour is currently the head coach at Moberly Area Community College in Missouri. He will be the 14th head coach in EIU men’s basketball history and only the third in the Division I history of the school.
Spoonhour was one of five finalists to interview for the vacant job. He has compiled 100 wins as a head coach at the junior college level including winning the NJCAA National Championship in 2001 at Wabash Valley College. Spoonhour has more than ten years of experience as an assistant coach at the NCAA Division I level including stops at Saint Louis, Valparaiso, UNLV, Missouri and Texas San Antonio.
Florida International has fired men's basketball coach Isiah Thomas, after the Hall of Fame player went 26-65 in three seasons.
Thomas took over at FIU in a surprising move in 2009, one that gave the former New York Knicks coach and president a chance to restore the reputation he tarnished through a series of embarrassments in New York.
Under Thomas, FIU never won more than 11 games in a season.
Thomas did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In a statement released by the university, FIU director of sports and entertainment Pete Garcia said the school has "decided to take the program in a different direction."
Harrison Barnes brands himself, nicknames himself, creates logo for himself.
Derby Classic Practices: Day 1
Andrew White, 6-5, SG/SF, The Miller School (VA)
One of the relatively unknown players in Kansas’ recruiting class, the super smooth wing let everyone in Louisville know about his game in day one of practices. He killed defenders with his deadly J from beyond the arc and kept them honest with his two dribble pull-up. The old school approach that he brings to the table is something that Jayhawk fans will surely love from the second that he starts his career in Lawrence.
Future KU player Andrew White, a 6-6, 210-pound senior small forward from Miller School in Chester, Va., scored 14 points off 6-of-13 shooting in the Black Team’s 130-127 loss to the White squad at Friday’s Derby Festival Classic all-star game in Louisville. White had six assists and two steals.
All-Observer Boys Basketball Team
Top 20 national recruit will play at Kansas or Villanova. Averaged 17.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.6 steals. Associated Press N.C. all-state pick. NC Preps 4A state player of the year.
Tony Parker video interview at the Nike Hoop Summit
4/7 Nike Hoop Summit (Box Score)
Hoop Summit Video: Top 10 Plays
Tarczewski, who is from New Hampshire but played as a fifth-year senior at St. Mark’s School in Massachusetts, is part of what is widely considered the No. 1 recruiting class in the country. Rated as the No. 4 prospect in the ESPNU 100, Tarczewski joins three California players ranked among the top 36.
He turned down powers such as Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina for the Wildcats.
“We were going to try to keep me close to home because family is really important to me,” Tarczewski said. “But when I went to Arizona and hung out with the players there, and the recruits coming in, and the coaching staff, I just really felt like it was almost like a family atmosphere. My family was pretty comfortable with me going so far away.”
…Anderson is part of a UCLA class that is ranked 12th and could vault into the top five if two of his teammates at the Hoop Summit – swingman Shabazz Muhammed (6-6) of Las Vegas and center Tony Parker (6-8) of Lithonia, Ga. – choose the Bruins. Some consider Muhammed the top recruit in the country.
“I’m in their ear,” Anderson said of Muhammed and Parker. “They know I want them to come to UCLA. We can use them, but I just want them to make the best decision.”
Anderson, who has been called a “modern-day Magic Johnson” by Hurley, is expected to play point guard for the Bruins.
“When I get there, we’re going to talk about that,” Anderson said. “So far, I’m supposed to play point guard, but if I get moved, I won’t have a problem.”
If Tarczewski, Anderson and the other recruits live up to expectations, Arizona and UCLA could rise to national prominence in upcoming seasons. And that could help resurrect the Pac-12.
Tilton’s Nerlens Noel has confirmed he will make a decision on his future Wednesday. The 6-foot-11 center from Everett has narrowed his collegiate choices down to Syracuse, Georgetown and Kentucky.
Next weekend begins the live April recruiting period, in which college coaches can appear at "non-scholastic" events, otherwise known as AAU tournaments.
With loaded junior and sophomore classes headlined by Simeon's Jabari Parker, Young's Jahlil Okafor and Curie's Cliff Alexander, the Nike Spring Showdown in Merrillville, Ind., April 20-22 will be chock full of talent and big-name coaches trying to attract it.
Speaking of special events, it looks like some of the best teams in the country will descend upon Chicago for a showcase in December.
City/Suburban Hoops Report guru Joe Henricksen reports the final details are being worked out for a five-game event that would include Simeon, Young, De La Salle as well as storied national powers such as Mater Dei (Calif.) and DeMatha Catholic (Md.).
4/14 Jordan Brand Classic
4/21 Capital Classic (Andrew White)
4/27-29 Real Deal in the Rock
Nike EYBL Schedule
Check here for the NCAA Recruiting Calendar
(Dead period today through Thursday.)
My 2011-12 Border War, Legends of the Phog, KC Prep Invitational, KU Alumni games, & Jayhawk Invitational Videos and more now on Youtube