KUAD: Postgame box score, recap, notes, quotes, photos, more
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AUDIO: Game highlights with Bob Davis and Greg Gurley
Scott Drew looks out of ideas. All two of them. #Big12 #KU #KUbball #SicEm #Jayhawks
#KUbball among the top 25 nationally in Opp eFG, Opp 2-pt %, and Opp shoot. eff.
Self: We were on fire from 3 today... 3 for 12. He's a funny guy that Bill. #KUBBALL
Just a reminder: in the Big 12 tournament over the 7 years at the Sprint Center KU is 16-2....Iowa State is 7-5
Pay Heed! #kubball!!!! .... Let's get it
First time I got crossed in a while. S/O to Kenny Cherry. Good win though squad. #KUCMB
Good team win today! Championship tomorrow instagram.com/p/0MU0lICKUx/
Glad to get back out there with the team!! #thankful
@KUHoops fans, give it up to team trainer Bill "Cheddar" Cowgill. He gets out injured guys back on the court faster than anyone in the biz!
Unless your idea of beauty is a six-car pileup, we're going to warn you now: The Kansas Jayhawks of present may not be your cup of java.
Take Friday night. Friday night, two aspirin and a fifth of bourbon. No. 9 KU missed on 28 of 49 attempts from the floor, on nine of 12 from beyond the arc, and on 10 of 27 from the free-throw line. Oh, and turned it over 18 times, because why the hell not.
"There for a while," Jayhawks coach Bill Self cracked, "I think both teams set basketball back."
And yet they dominated No. 16 Baylor in the Big 12 tournament semifinals, pretty much from the final two minutes of the first half onward, winning 62-52, clubbing and bludgeoning and dinosaur-stomping their way to a seventh Big 12 tourney title game since 2005.
…So go on: Embrace the ugly. The Jayhawks get the tourney's No. 2 seed, Iowa State (24-8), the speedy ying to Self's lunch-pail yang, in the title game on Saturday afternoon. It's KU's 11th Big 12 championship game appearance; the Rock-Chalkers have won nine of the first 10 trips, and are a perfect 6-0 in the conference final under Self, shin splints and all.
"I feel if we just continue doing that," Ellis said. "Good things are going happen."
Remember: In March, good doesn't always mean pretty. And you know what they say about defense and championships.
Fox Sports Keeler
This column is probably going to enrage some Kansas fans. There, how's that for trollin'? Anyway, glad to do it. We're here to please.
Usually, Jayhawkers are as sensitive as a baby's behind anyway, as belligerent as Kanye during an awards show. They demand to have the final say on their Jayhawks. Not this time, boys and girls. Here's why I'm scooping you: I've seen your tweets. I've listened to the radio. I've heard you in the bars.
Your assessment of your top-10 team has not been kind this season. You don't dislike it. Let's just say you're less in love with this edition of the Jayhawks than others. Some have called it one of the "worst" Bill Self teams at KU.
Some have hinted they lack cohesion, grit, a big man. That's you talking Jayhawk Fan. Remember -- tweets, radio, bars.
This may hurt JF but ... your Jayhawks look like they can make a run in the tournament.
…Friday marked the 26th win this season, the 351st of Bill Self's career at Kansas. But the expectation each year is the Final Four. Kansas and Self have had the audacity not to go to one since 2012.
In a sport harder to watch by the day, Friday's result was impressive enough for the Jayhawks. Kansas choked off the Bears like it was a UFC fight. It limited Baylor to its lowest point total of the season. Baylor is the best shooting three-point team in the Big 12, supposedly best conference in the country. On Friday, the Bears clanked 18 of 22 from beyond the arc.
Baylor had two more field goals (19) than turnovers (17).
CBS Dennis Dodd
“I’d been working hard to get it back right,” said Ellis, “and I told (Self) I wanted to get back out there. ‘I’m ready.’ He said, ‘Great, man.’ He was happy.”
The first shot Ellis attempted went in, and he finished with 11 points and six rebounds in 26 minutes as the No. 9 Jayhawks smothered the No. 16 Bears, 62-52. Ellis did hobble a bit when he left with 7:43 remaining, but said he did not aggravate a right knee heavily layered with tape and protected by a large wrap.
“It takes 10 minutes or so,” Ellis said of the process used to stabilize the knee. “A lot of different tapes and wraps, but it works well.”
Good thing, because if Ellis wants to play, and he does, then Self is going to let him.
It might sound ludicrous to those who contend the NCAA Tournament represents every single marble, but players compete. They don’t want to watch and they don’t want to grow stale.
“You could tell he was excited, he was in the zone, way excited to be out there,” Self said. “I didn’t know if we would play him that many minutes and I could have put him back in, but we had the game.
“The bottom line is he’s going to get his leg hit. That’s basketball. It’s just like a running back gets hit. You got to get hit and realize you’re OK and that’s what happened there. So he should be fine and there should be no problems (Saturday).”
Kansas will be playing for a trophy. Think Ellis wants to dodge that one? No way. Especially while keeping tabs on his brother Cameron, who is playing for Wichita Heights in the Class 5A state tournament at Topeka’s Landon Arena. If your little brother, who signed with Langston, is playing at tourney time, how can Perry not want to be on the floor for the Jayhawks?
“He’s been laboring, and it’s been fairly well documented,” Kansas coach Bill Self said of Selden. “I think today he was a basketball player, and you score when you don’t worry about scoring.”
That was certainly the case for Selden, who said he knew he was locked in after feeding Oubre in the corner for a 3-pointer to start the game and bursting back down the court to get on defense.
“I usually know how I feel energy-wise on the defensive end,” Selden said. “I felt like I had a lot of energy tonight.”
That extra energy translated to Selden barreling into the lane repeatedly, which in the first half resulted in dunks and layups.
So when Baylor cut the Kansas lead to four midway through the second half, the Jayhawks knew to get the ball back to Selden, who like Oubre the day before, drew fouls and gave Kansas a more comfortable lead from the line, where Selden finished 6 of 12.
“It was just old Wayne,” Oubre said. “It was good to see him back to his normal self.”
Perhaps it’s a strange sentiment to reference a sophomore as “old,” but it’s not without reason.
Friday was the first time Selden had scored at least 20 points since a Feb. 2 game against Iowa State, and his first time reaching double digits since a Feb. 14 victory over Baylor.
But for Selden to break out at this point in the season does more for Kansas than just earn it another Big 12 game. For the second day in a row another KU player found his rhythm, and it got the Jayhawks believing any of them could be next up.
In the minutes before Friday’s game against Baylor, Kansas players like Wayne Selden and Jamari Traylor delivered a locker-room message to teammates: It was time to focus on defense.
The Jayhawks knew they had shot poorly in recent games. They also knew they hadn’t brought much enthusiasm in their previous contest against TCU.
“We were telling each other, ‘We need to have this be a game where we take pride on the defensive end and let that create our energy,’” KU big man Landen Lucas said.
…“I think that we’re getting better defensively. I really do,” KU coach Bill Self said. “I think guys are locked in.”
KU especially thrived with its scouting report defense. Almost every time Baylor ran a play, the Jayhawks appeared to be a step ahead, forcing the Bears into contested jumpers over an extended hand.
“When you play everybody a third time, everybody knows each other’s offense, their sets,” BU coach Scott Drew said. “Nothing comes easy.”
Baylor also was turnover-prone, giving it away 17 times — the second-most by a KU opponent this season.
The Bears’ shooting wasn’t any better. BU, which shot better than 40 percent from 3-point range in Big 12 play, made just 4 of 22 outside shots (18 percent). It also was 15 of 36 inside the arc (42 percent).
“I’m going to give the credit to us,” KU guard Devonte’ Graham said. “I think we made them play bad offense.”
The Kansas players know the shots aren’t going to fall every game, but they said one thing they can control is how they play defense. Lucas said one thing the team takes the most pride in is making the other team play as poorly as possible.
“I feel like we went out there and did that,” Lucas said. “Offense will come, but we have to make sure by the tournament, we make the other team play bad because you never know about your offense, it could be an off night, you have to make sure you win on the defensive end.”
The old saying goes; offense wins games, defense wins championships, and Self thinks the way Kansas is playing lately on defense, can set the Jayhawks up for success in the NCAA tournament.
“I think it was more of a good defensive energy rebounding-type effort which is the formula for winning in the NCAA tournament, too, because you can never bank on shots going in,” Self said.
Back in early January, when Kansas began the conference season, the Jayhawks ranked just inside the top 50 nationally in defensive efficiency, a point of near embarrassment for Self. After bottling up Baylor on Friday night, the Jayhawks had climbed to eighth in defensive efficiency.
For Self, it’s a point of pride. But it’s also important for historical reasons. No team in the last decade has won the NCAA title with a defense that ranks lower than 21st.
…“Our transition defense (stunk),” Self said.
But if the Jayhawks are guarding in the half-court, and they are playing with energy, Self has learned this: They can be absolutely stifling.
“That’s what Coach takes pride in,” junior forward Jamari Traylor said. “If it was a game where we probably score like 90 (points), he wouldn’t be as happy.
“Defense is what matters.”
In recent weeks, Self has also noticed that his team tends to play better defense when its offense is suffering, which is equal parts encouraging and infuriating. It is why Kansas is now 26-7 and probably locked into a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament despite an offense that has stopped making shots in the last four weeks. It is why the Jayhawks are in today’s championship game despite averaging 63 points in two victories the last two nights.
“If we were making shots, we wouldn’t be this good defensively,” Self said. “I think that is one thing.”
…Oubre has been at Kansas for just one season. But already, he has learned the triggers that will make his coach a happy coach. If the Jayhawks can make the other team play bad, it is usually a good night. In that way, Friday was a good night.
It is not the formula for beautiful basketball, and it is not the formula that will calm the coach’s frustration on the sideline, but it can be the formula for Kansas success.
“The formula,” Self said, “for winning in the NCAA Tournament, too.”
Number one got his swagger back.
With 8:15 left to play in the game, sophomore Wayne Selden Jr. knocked the ball loose on defense. Selden broke out into the fast break and finished strong at the hole as he got fouled. Kansas took a nine-point lead.
It had been seven games since Selden has cracked double digits. In his last three games, he had combined for only 11 points. But in the semi-final of the Big 12 tournament, Selden stepped up and led the no. 9 Jayhawks to a 62-52 victory over no. 16 Baylor.
“That was original Wayne out there,” freshman Kelly Oubre Jr. said. “His confidence was at a ten. He played hard; he was getting stops on defense, getting rebounds. He was old Wayne.”
Before Selden went cold, he had come off of a four game stretch where he could not miss. Selden found his stroke Friday night, as he went 7-9 from the field for 20 points, adding eight rebounds.
With 6:40 seconds to go, Selden came around a screen and rose with confidence. He knocked in a jumper from the top of the key to extend the Jayhawk lead to seven. This is a shot that Selden simply had not been taking as of late. His confidence was high, and the scoreboard reflected that.
Lucas, who scored four points, grabbed six rebounds, had two blocks and an assist in 25 minutes in a 62-52 win over the Bears, smiled when asked if his knee and hip were the problem areas.
“Hip, knee, back ... there’s a couple things. At the end of the day, it’s minor compared to what we’re trying to accomplish,” Lucas said.
The 6-foot-10 Portland native has been spending a lot of time in a makeshift training room at the Marriott hotel, the team’s headquarters for the Big 12 tourney.
“Machines, ice baths ... we have a great staff that provides that, makes it happen,” Lucas said. “At this time of the season you have to expect these things (bruises) and play through it. Understand that this is what you play for all year. It’s not the time of year to be worrying about that (beat-up body). You’ve got to worry about that after the season is over. I’m getting through it fine and I know other guys on our team are doing the same thing.”
For all that, though, as Self stood winding down in a Sprint Center corridor Friday, he groped for the right words to describe KU’s identity.
“I would say … I should know that by now, probably … ” he began, pausing repeatedly before blurting it out: “I would say our identity would be ‘find a way.’ Just figure it out.
“Find a way.”
If the term isn’t glamorous, well, this team isn’t either.
And the words still speak eloquently to what has distinguished a season of underappreciated achievement by KU — even as the ultimate signature of the NCAA Tournament awaits.
It’s also a season that has reflected a particularly nimble coaching job by Self, arguably one of his finest.
It’s not just that lately he hasn’t always known who he’s going to have available (see: Perry Ellis and Cliff Alexander).
It’s that he’s spent almost all season not knowing who he can expect to perform in any given game.
“Very rarely do our games go as scripted,” he said, smiling. “So we’re getting used to it.”
…But for all this, Self offers one major concession.
“I think our guys do adjust to the situation,” Self said. “If we need to make stops, they make stops. If we need a big basket, they make a big basket. Which is a good thing.
“But I feel like we’re living on the edge.”
“If we would have made half of our shots that we took, we would have ended up winning the game,” Drew said. “If we weren’t stuck on 35 or 36 for what seemed like an eternity in the second half, we would have had a chance down the stretch.”
For the record, Baylor was stuck on those point totals from 11 minutes, 12 seconds left in the second half, when Kenny Chery hit a three-pointer that cut KU’s lead to 39-35, until Jonathan Motley hit a layup with 4:19 remaining that made it 51-38 KU.
Chery was the only consistent shooter for the Bears, making seven of 14 from the field, including four of seven threes.
Without Chery, Baylor was zero for 15 from behind the arc against Kansas’ defense, which made it a point to challenge the Bears’ shooters at the three-point line. KU scored 15 points off 17 Baylor turnovers but also turned the ball over 18 times itself, giving up 16 points to the Bears.
“They’re a good defensive team and we executed what we should have executed,” Chery said. “We had some careless turnovers.”
Kansas also took away Baylor’s second-chance opportunities by winning the rebounding battle for the first time in the teams’ three games this season. The Bears had out-rebounded opponents in 27 of 32 games entering Friday.
I’ll be honest. I didn’t vote for Bill Self for Big 12 Coach of the Year.
And I was wrong.
I had grown accustomed to none other than Kansas taking home the Big 12 regular season title and took a dynasty for granted.
Kansas’ 11-consecutive titles ranks tied for second all-time on NCAA Division I with Gonzaga’s 11-straight Big West regular season championships from 2001-11 and only trails UCLA’s 13-consecutive titles from 1967-79.
During his 12 seasons at Kansas, Self has lost only 76 games (6.3 per season) while winning 351 for an 82.2 winning percentage.
For Self to continually have his team in that position is impressive.
For him to have the Jayhawks back there is incredible after losing two of the top three draft picks a season ago.
Not only did Kansas win in the No. 1 RPI conference in the country, but the Jayhawks are also in their sixth Big 12 Championship final during that stretch.
Kansas is 6-0 in the Big 12 Championship final under Self and 9-1 in the Big 12 era.
While every team but recent additions TCU and West Virginia have all lost at least 15 times in the Big 12 Championship since its inception, Kansas has only lost nine times.
…Ultimately, I feel like before (and throughout) every basketball season people, including myself, try to determine what team will end the Jayhawks’ run.
Maybe we’re wasting our breath.
Lubbock Online Krista Pirtle
3/13/15, 11:06 PM
Jameel McKay on playing KU - " We let one go the last time in Allen Fieldhouse. Great time on the big stage to get some revenge. "
3/13/15, 10:31 PM
This one is personal for Jameel McKay after feeling he got snubbed 4 Big 12 Newcomer of year despite def. POY and unanimous to newcomer team
“They are going to have a great crowd,” Morris said. “We’ll have a great crowd.
“Coach (Fred Hoiberg) said we have to throw the first punch.”
Join us for a pep rally on the KC Live! Stage prior to the 2015 Big 12 Championship game between Kansas and Iowa State, with performances by the KU pep band, Kansas spirit squad and mascots. Saturday, March 14, 3 p.m.
Kansas won its unprecedented 11th-straight Big 12 regular-season championship in 2014-15 and it will play for the league's tournament championship and the automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament against either Iowa State or Oklahoma Saturday at 5 p.m. inside Kansas City's Sprint Center. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN.
This season marked KU’s 15th Big 12 and NCAA-leading 58th overall conference regular-season title. Kansas opened the 2015 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship with a quarterfinals victory over TCU, 64-59, Thursday inside the Sprint Center, before knocking off Baylor in the semifinals, 62-52, Thursday. The No. 1 seed, Kansas will next match-up with the winner of No. 2 Iowa State and No. 3 Oklahoma, which was to be played late Friday.
Kansas has won 13 conference postseason tournament titles, including nine in the Big 12 era.
KU Postseason Info
Big 12 Tournament championships
Kansas: 1997, 1998, 1999, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013
Iowa State: 2000, 2014
Jan. 17 at Ames: Iowa State, 86-81
Leading scorers: Frank Mason, Kansas, 21
Naz Long, Iowa State, 20
Feb. 2 at Lawrence: Kansas, 89-76
Leading scorers: Georges Niang, Iowa State, 24
Wayne Selden, Kansas, 20
Kansas coach Bill Self is 7-1 in postseason championship games at Kansas. He is 6-0 in Big 12 tournament finals and 1-1 in NCAA championship games.
“We’re Kansas. We’re ready to play anybody,” Brannen Greene said. “It will be a quick turnaround. We have to stick to defensive principles and our scouting report.”
Added Self: “We’ve got to be better offensively. You are not going to hold them to 50 points. We’ve got to be able to score tomorrow.”
Iowa State may be improving its potential seeding for the NCAAs thanks to some impressive comebacks - and a bit of good fortune. The Cyclones rallied from a double-digit deficit for a fourth straight game Friday before 15th-ranked Oklahoma missed an uncontested layup at the buzzer to hand them a 67-65 victory.
"The comeback kids strike again? No, we believe in each other and have the will and the fight to keep fighting until the clock hits zero," forward Georges Niang said.
"I'm not saying being down double digits for those last couple of games is a good thing. Obviously, we need to get things in check, but there is no quit in this team and that's the biggest thing we need."
Niang led the Cyclones with 13 points and pulled down eight boards against the Sooners. He's averaging 22.0 while hitting 10 of 22 3s in his last four games against Kansas and scored 25 in last season's semifinal.
Transfer players have played a massive role in the success the ISU men's basketball team has found during the last half decade.
They have helped draw in more traditional talent, helped Iowa State become a four-time consecutive NCAA tournament participant and on Friday at the Sprint Center, they propelled the Cyclones to their second straight Big 12 tournament championship appearance.
Redshirt junior Jameel McKay was the catalyst for No. 13 Iowa State in its 67-65 victory against No. 15 Oklahoma on a night when the importance of every play was magnified by the close nature of the contest. McKay opened the half with six straight points, helping spur a 9-0 ISU run that stretched the team's lead to seven points early in the latter half.
"I came out second half and just wanted to bring more energy and be more positive," McKay said.
McKay scored 12 points, snatched nine boards and amassed two blocks against the fearsome front-line of Oklahoma, pushing Iowa State to a 35-24 advantage in the category of points in the paint.
"I had a nice little chat with Jameel at halftime," said ISU coach Fred Hoiberg. "Jameel is just, he's one of those guys who doesn't ever get tired. He can play all day. Not many people have that….but that's what defines him. That's what makes him who he is."
Not only did McKay muster energy of his own, but inspired it in a rowdy crowd inside the Sprint Center that was clad mostly in cardinal and gold. On several occasions, McKay—now a fan favorite—beckoned the crowd to its feet, and fans' voices to the highest decibel level their vocal chords could withstand.
"I always tell the players, especially when we get a big turnout like this with fans, 'let's keep them on our side and let's make it uncomfortable for the opposing team,'" McKay said. "We feed off their energy, they feed off our energy, and it just gives us a spark that a lot of teams in the country [aren't] fortunate to have."
…"We have one more game to win," McKay said. "We didn't come down here to win two games, we came down here to win three, so I think tomorrow is a showdown for us to be able showcase why we could be the best team in the Big 12."
The showcase for the ISU center who has been dubbed "Showtime" and the rest of his team will begin at 5:00 p.m. CST on March 14 in Kansas City, Mo.
Iowa State Daily
“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
3/13/15, 9:56 PM
That’s at least twice that Oklahoma has slapped the floor on defense, then let Iowa State score a layup. #HotAnalysis
Five and a half hours before the Big 12 semifinals kicked off, the party already began at The Cashew.
Drinks were flowing. Basketball was on the big screen while conversation and laughter filled the bar a few blocks from the Sprint Center.
It’s what you would expect on the Friday of the Big 12 tournament, but instead of Rock Chalk chants at an establishment full of Jayhawk logos, it was 30 Iowa State fans packing the place.
“They made a reservation,” a waitress at The Cashew said. “If they played today, they were coming out. It’s a KU bar, but we won’t turn anyone away.”
This is what the Big 12 tournament has become. A four-day basketball nirvana in which ISU fans haven’t just become the main attraction, planning ahead is required to squeeze everyone into one location in Jayhawk country.
The rise of ISU under coach Fred Hoiberg coincided with Cyclone Nation taking over the tournament and becoming a phenomenon unto itself.
This wasn’t Hilton South, with ISU fans making a pilgrimage down Interstate 35.
This was Ames transplanted into Kansas City, leaving only the cornfields and clean water back in Iowa.
Everywhere you go, any time of the day it was all ISU.
Restaurants in the morning. Cyclone shirts were at most tables.
Bars at closing time, one last toast for Fred Hoiberg.
Everywhere in between it was cardinal and gold. Restaurant managers were telling the media they wanted ISU to stick around as long as possible.
It’s not often Kansas fans are relegated to only one table at their own bar.
“Boy, Iowa State fans travel,” said a man in a blazer while taking in the scene around the stadium two hours before the semifinals started.
The Power and Light District was all ISU and Kansas fans, with the Cyclones outnumbering the Jayhawks. Fans packed into the outdoor P&L beer garden. Cardinal was the dominant color.
And Cyclone Nation made its presence felt. “Let’s Go State” chants would spontaneously rise, crescendoing to the point it could be heard a block away, finally petering out before another one would replace it, rising like a phoenix, minutes later.
“This is something else,” an ISU fan in a “Hilton South” T-shirt said.
“I know, really crazy,” his buddy responded.
ISU fans filled 90 percent of the arena on Thursday night. It was as close to the Hilton experience as you’ll get without seeing a game in Ames.
Fans tried carrying the team through the lulls, made the roof rock during any Cyclone run, threw plenty of shade the refs and showed their anger with any call that went against their team.
Fans didn’t need alcohol to feel drunk on ISU basketball in the P&L after Morris hit a buzzer-beater against Texas. Fans known for their fun-loving nature and willingness to tailgate had a chance to bask in the glow of the winner they’ve waited years for.
“They absolutely helped us, will us to that win with the way they were going out there,” Hoiberg said after Thursday night’s win. “They never got down. They kept going.”
So did the Cyclones on Friday.
In the kind of postseason game fans clammor for, ISU and Oklahoma traded runs, fastbreak opportunities and big buckets. In the end, it was Jammel McKay with a dunk and block on consecutive possessions and him swatting away a missed Ryan Spangler shot in the final seconds to secure the 67-65 win.
ISU fans would always come out to the Big 12 tournament, but never like this as the Cyclonse made their second-straight tournament final. Now, it’ s the party no one wants to miss.
Back in the late of the 2000s, and even the start of the Hoiberg era, there was always a Cyclone presence, but nothing overwhelming. There would be talk throughout the Sprint Center, hope that ISU could stay for more than one day. The event was always more fun with Cyclone fans hanging around.
Now, everyone has their wish. Unless they’re a Kansas fan looking for a seat at The Cashew.
What happened to the Big 12 Tournament?
Time was, the Big 12 a conference basketball convention. Kansas and Missouri fans were everywhere, followed not too far behind by K-State fans. And Iowa State, of course. But even OSU fans flooded Kansas City. And there were enough OU and Nebraska fans to make you think there was a football scrimmage somewhere around.
Only Colorado was a negligible fan base. Might be 100 or so Buff fans. But there would be 700-1,000 OSU fans, and virtually that many OU fans, and almost that many Nebraska fans.
KU fans outnumbered OU fans, and Missouri fans outnumbered OSU fans, but not 10-to-1. On a routine semifinal Saturday at old Kemper Arena, the crowd might be 30 percent KU, 30 percent Mizzou, 10 percent OSU and/or OU and/or Iowa State.
Not anymore. Three schools’ fans carry the tournament. Everyone else is just invited guests.
The conference once had seven of eight members in fairly close proximity to Kansas City. Only Colorado was an outlier. Now, the conference has five of 10 members who are at least an eight-hour drive away. Missouri is gone, to the SEC, and the Tigers, despite playing excellent football in their latter Big 12 years and early SEC years, are not missed much except the second week of March. Nebraska is gone, too, and who would have thought the Husker fans would have really helped? But it’s true.
West Virginia has come, and the Mountaineer fans would be here if Morgantown wasn’t halfway across the country from Kansas City. TCU joined the league — joining old Southwest Conference friends Baylor, Texas and Texas Tech — and while the Texas schools play some good basketball, their fans don’t much care, and those that do can’t always easily get to KC.
Thus the Big 12 Tournament has joined the other conference tournaments in reeling from their old days. The ACC Tournament, 15 teams strong, is a far cry from its old days as the best basketball event in the world. Five rounds, with matchups like Boston College-Georgia Tech, Pitt-North Carolina State, Virginia Tech-Miami. The Greensboro Coliseum was almost vacant by the final game Wednesday night.
The Big East Tournament also once was a testament to conference tournaments. But Connecticut is gone. Syracuse is gone. West Virginia is gone. Pitt is gone. Butler, Xavier, Creighton have replaced them. Good schools, good teams. But no more Syracuse-Georgetown. No more UConn-Villanova. Where’s the sizzle?
Conference tournaments are fighting for their relevancy. Not just in Kansas City. Everywhere.
The Big 12 is stronger than most. But that’s thanks to two or three fan bases. It would not have far-fetched to picture a Friday semifinals matching Baylor vs. TCU and OU vs. Texas. Ouch. The Sprint Center would have been hollow of spirit, if not butts in the seats.
So what is the Big 12 to do? Changing the schools aren’t an option. Changing cities is no help. No town supports the tournament like Kansas City does and always has.
To strengthen itself, the tournament has to resort to subtler moves. So here’s one.
Go back to a Sunday finish. Quit starting this thing on Wednesday. Make it a little easier on fans who might not be driving over from Lee’s Summit or Olathe. Start the tournament on Thursday night, then a full day of basketball on Friday, semifinal Saturday and a championship game Sunday.
That’s the way the tournament worked in the old Big Eight days (sans the first-round games) and in the Big 12 through 2008.
Then the schedule changed to accommodate the coaches, who thought the extra day would help for NCAA Tournament preparation.
That’s fine, if it worked. But it hasn’t. In the dozen Big 12 Tournaments that finished on Sunday, the finalists went on to go 48-22 in the NCAA Tournament. In the six Big 12 Tournaments that have finished on Saturday night, the finalists went on to go 20-11 in the NCAA Tournament.
Better percentage finishing on Sunday. In 2002, both Big 12 finalists (OU and Kansas) made the Final Four. In 2004, tournament champ OSU made the Final Four. In 2008, tournament champ Kansas won the NCAA title.
If the Saturday-finish was conducive to March Madness success, fine. But it hasn’t been.
The NCAA Tournament committee likes leagues to finish on Saturday. Makes it easier on the bracketing, and that’s completely understandable. But brackets came out just fine.
The committee and the coaches will survive a return to a Sunday finish. And the fans will love it.
I know OSU and OU fans would embrace a return to the former schedule. A tournament that is 75 percent played on weekdays is a big difference between a tournament that is 50 percent played on the weekend.
When we talk about the change in the Big 12 Tournament, we are talking mostly about fans. So let’s do something to help the fans.
3/13/15, 1:00 PM
Davidson just ran Chop and won at the buzzer!
Villa Angela-St. Joseph made quick work of Beachwood in the Division III Garfield Heights District final March 13.
The Vikings topped the Bison, 58-39, in a game that took just 64 minutes of real time to reach its conclusion, earning VASJ its third straight district title and a matchup with Massillon Tuslaw in a Canton Regional semifinal.
…senior and Kansas recruit Carlton Bragg almost single-handedly changed the tide of the game, scoring five of his 17 first-half points in the opening three possessions of the second.
Bragg finished with 21, with five monstrous dunks, and said the team’s mentality and execution contributed to his success.
“I had a mindset coming in here — my freshman year we lost to Richmond Heights — we had to come back and have that mentality to win,” he said. “Coach kept harping on me every day to get to the hole, get to the hole and attack the basket. That’s what we did — we came out here and did our thing.”
News Herald (Video: Postgame interview with Bragg)
Bragg on playing a slow style: "They wanted to stall and hold the ball so it's pretty hard for us to guard them. It puts pressure on our defense."
Kwasniak on Bragg's dunks: "Those dunks felt like touchdowns. They felt like bigger than two-point field goals. They rejuvenated us on defense. You get a lot of adrenaline."
3/13/15, 9:38 PM
Congrats @VASJBasketball !! Surviving and advancing to the Regionals. Stay focused fellas!!
Four years at Callaway High School, Four State Championships. The legacy of Malik Newman was completed Friday when the Chargers defeated Ridgeland 66-43 in the Class 5A Boys State Final at the Mississippi Coliseum. Newman was named the game's MVP as he scored a game-high 27 points. The Titans were able to put Newman's coronation on ice for a half as they trailed Callaway by only a point at the break. But the Chargers quickly built a double-digit lead in the third quarter.
Watch the video to see the highlights, celebration, and reaction from Newman and Callaway head coach David Sanders in WJTV's TJ Werre's LIVE report from the Big House.
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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