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Kansas NCAA Tournament Guide: Sweet 16 Edition
(Includes Bob Davis' audio from KU vs Purdue)
ESPN Mike and Mike Audio: Coach Self dishes on the Jayhawks' win over Purdue in the NCAA tournament, his team's upcoming matchup with NC State in the Sweet 16, Thomas Robinson, Danny Manning and more.
Leslie has supplied averages of 18.3 points and 9.6 rebounds during the last 10 games, a stretch that started in mid-February and includes five double-doubles.
The eye test verifies Leslie’s rise, too.
His maturing combination of quickness and explosive leaping ability has helped the 6-foot-8 sophomore become a force around the basket and deliver on the enormous potential that made him a McDonald’s All-American out of Raleigh Word of God.
Gottfried credits a gamut of progress — from hardened practice habits to more disciplined defense to better decisions on shot selection — as indicators of Leslie’s growth as a player.
Leslie, meanwhile, points to a feeling of comfort that has formed with Gottfried.
“I would say he’s better at understanding than any other coach I’ve ever had,” Leslie said. “He understands people. And when you understand people, it helps on and off the court in every way.”
Wolfpack guard Lorenzo Brown dosen't care much about the nearly 2,100 all-time victories claimed by No. 2 Kansas, 11th-ranked N.C. State's Sweet 16 opponent Friday. Nor does he know all that much about the Jayhawks' three NCAA championships, the most recent coming in 2008. He's not even all that concerned with his Kansas counterpoint, Tyshawn Taylor.
"I don’t know too much about him. I probably have to do some research," Brown said. "I heard he’s pretty good. We’ll see what happens.”
“Their bigs are really athletic, and it’s much more of a traditional lineup,” Self said. “We can be who are against them more than Purdue.”
The Boilermakers’ success — 54.5 percent shooting in the first half — harkened back to the Jayhawks’ matchup troubles with Missouri. In splitting those two games, Kansas often had to play small to combat the Tigers’ four-guard lineup. That usually put Withey on the bench.
That also happened Sunday. Withey played only 15 minutes, six in the second half, when Kansas spent half of the possessions in its gimmick defense.
They Jayhawks didn’t need their top shot-blocker then. They will against North Carolina State.
But if the occasion calls for a switch, Taylor is confident Kansas will be ready.
“When we were out there, everybody was communicating. We all knew where we were supposed to be,” Taylor said. “We don’t practice it all the time, and we don’t use it a lot. But we have to hang our hats on being a good defensive team.”
Don't expect Mark Gottfried fervently to run around looking for someone to hug the next time something spectacular happens to the N.C. State basketball program. Been there and done that, sort of.
The Wolfpack's hugging session upon learning about its inclusion in this year's NCAA Tournament was enough for the 47-year-old coach. He hurt his lower back when 6-foot-9, 231-pound junior DeShawn Painter corralled and hoisted the first-year N.C. State head man into the air in celebration.
If N.C. State strikes gold again, as it did in capturing the 1983 NCAA title, prompting the late Jim Valvano's famous search for someone to embrace that remains one of the tournaments greatest moments, Gottfried's reaction will find a place in Wolfpack lore. Even if he just stands there smiling.
But this time the story that marks the moment in time will be more about the achievement, or that should be achievements – plural – and re-connecting N.C. State with its terrific but largely forgotten past.
Just getting to Friday's Midwest Region semifinals versus Kansas is a considerable accomplishment. This is just its second Sweet 16 since Valvano patrolled the sidelines in 1990. The other came in 2005, when Herb Sendek's N.C. State squad was ousted by Wisconsin.
Otherwise, there's been little to boast about by this once-proud program.
Les Robinson replaced Valvano amid charges of wrongdoing in the program and cleaned things up, but he didn't win, and after six years was let go. Sendek was at the helm for a decade, but left town because his warm seat was never going to cool in Raleigh.
Sidney Lowe, the point guard of that 1983 “Cardiac Pack” team, took the job after nobody else would in 2006, and was fired last spring, having never taken his alma mater to the NCAA tournament.
Athletic director Debbie Yow's fascinating choice to bring Gottfried out of the TV booth and back onto the sidelines was a brilliant one. In one year, Gottfried has completely changed the culture and perception of N.C. State basketball, and he's just getting started.
About a 30-minute drive from campus, North Carolina's players seemed to enjoy their rival's NCAA run, too. In fact, junior John Henson showed up for a news conference Tuesday wearing a black T-shirt and red shorts, joking it was in honor of the Wolfpack.
"Along with Florida State and Duke, I think it was one of our tougher games and it was good to see N.C. State go well," Henson said. "It's part of the ACC, so we kind of have to band together in the postseason and kind of flex our muscles ACC-wise and show what we've got."
LJW: NC State's strengths, weaknesses and players to watch
Kansas University’s basketball charter bus pulled directly in front of the Hyatt Regency at the Arch Hotel at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday in the heart of downtown St. Louis.
The Jayhawk players were greeted by about 20 youngsters and their parents, who cheered wildly as they picked up their room keys and headed to the elevators to drop off their gear before returning to the lobby for a dinner excursion to Ruth’s Chris Steak House, located just down the block on Chestnut Street.
Coach Bill Self said his Jayhawks were hungry — not only for a delicious meal, but a Sweet 16 victory over North Carolina State (9:17 p.m. Friday, Edward Jones Dome).
“One thing I like about our guys: We’re not concerned about anything other than us and N.C. State, to be candid with you,” Self said. “I’m really proud of our guys. They’ve come together well. Thomas (Robinson) has played great. Tyshawn (Taylor) has become great. But it’s Elijah (Johnson), Jeff (Withey), Travis (Releford), Conner (Teahan) ... those guys have elevated their game and given us a chance. We haven’t been a team that very many times has had five guys hitting on all cylinders. We’ve kind of had to piece it together. One thing these guys have done, they’ve been pretty tough.”
…Self was also asked about Missouri of all teams during a media gathering at the team hotel.
“You know what ... why talk about Missouri? They’re not playing here. We’re playing here, not Missouri,” Self said of the team that dropped a first-round game to Norfolk State. “That’s not a knock to them. That’s the tournament. It’s crazy. A lot of things can happen. I’m focused on what we do, not what anybody else is doing or has done.
“I really don’t anticipate a lot of Mizzou fans to be at the game, to be honest with you,” he added, asked if the MU fans would root against KU. “That’s one thing I think has been blown up more so. We are not concerned about Mizzou or their fans. We’ve got a job to do, and that’s to get Kansas ready to play. That’s our only focus.
“I’d think we’d have a great turnout of fans over here. We play late enough on Friday that fans who work a majority of the day could still get here.”
By the time many watching the Kansas-North Carolina State game turn off the light for bed, players will be boarding the bus at Edwards Jones Dome to head back to the hotel.
A meal will await, and players’ heads don’t figure to hit pillows until around 2 a.m.
Hey, television has to get its money’s worth after paying $10.8 billion for the NCAA Tournament. What’s a little inconvenience for the kids?
Besides, Kansas has a plan for the evening/early morning.
“We have a plan for everything,” said Barry Hinson, the Jayhawks’ director of basketball operations.
Even for games that start at 9:17 p.m., as Friday’s schedule demands.
Hinson and team nutritionists have met to plan meals. Late night games require lighter fare, and with Lent, fish will be on Friday’s menu.
But at least Kansas is used to the drill. The Jayhawks played four Big Monday games that started a few minutes after 8 p.m.
Both NCAA Tournament games in Omaha last week were the latest starts on that bracket.
For nocturnal players during the tournament, the toughest part is waiting to play.
“I don’t think people expected that much down time,” Kansas guard Elijah Johnson said. “Now we know you have to rest all day and get ready to play at night.”
Hinson said if there’s one advantage to Friday’s tip, it’s that the Jayhawks aren’t changing time zones. North Carolina State will be.
“Being on your biological clock makes a difference, even being off just one hour can throw things off,” Hinson said.
Night games are the domain of popular teams and good matchups. Often, late games mean projected good contests.
“The good programs are in prime time,” Hinson said. “We’re not complaining.”
Those who have a say in the preseason college basketball polls didn’t confidently put their reputations on the line picking Kansas to have another strong season. They picked Bill Self to have another strong season.
And is there a safer pick than Self?
It’s not like KU belonged at No. 13 in the Associated Press’ preseason poll, especially not after losing the Brink’s truck full of players the Jayhawks lost from last season’s Elite Eight team. And if you ask Sports Illustrated’s Luke Winn what in the world made him slot Kansas at No. 12 in his preseason rankings, it’ll take him a nanosecond to mention Self.
Here’s what was returning to KU this season: A player with unlimited potential in Thomas Robinson, but potential is all it was; a point guard who had taken years off of Self’s life in Tyshawn Taylor; a 7-foot center Jeff Withey, who looked good until he got on the floor; a kid from Bishop Miege, Travis Releford, who appeared content with a limited role; a guard from Las Vegas, Elijah Johnson, whose grasp on how the game should be played was loose; a career walk-on, Conner Teahan; and two transfers — Kevin Young and Justin Wesley — neither of whom looked like a good fit in Lawrence.
What everybody knew, though, is that Self would figure out a way to maximize what he had, limited as it looked to be. So those preseason rankings? They were done with a wink and a nod, toward Self.
He is near the end of his ninth season at Kansas and his record is 266-52, including 123-23 in Big 12 games. This ain’t the MEAC the Jayhawks are killing every season.
Self will be the first to tell you he has coached one gifted player after another at KU. But it’s this season we’re talking about and before it started there were no sure things on the Jayhawks’ roster.
…When incoming freshmen Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor were ruled partial qualifiers and deemed ineligible for the season by the NCAA the day before practice started in October, it looked like a fatal blow. Not that McLemore and Traylor were going to be superstars, but the depth they would have helped provide has been sorely missing.
Turns out it just wasn’t that big of a deal. Self pieced together the remaining pieces and produced a quilt of which your grandmother would be proud. The man can stitch things together, all right.
So all of you prognosticators who are proudly thumping your chest about the season Kansas has had can stop now. You put your faith in a coach, not a team, and the coach came through.
Like he always does.
WE Bob Lutz
As the Jayhawks go into Friday night’s NCAA Midwest Regional semifinal against North Carolina State in St. Louis, the view from the microscope tightens.
At times, Withey can dominate a game like a Mack truck barreling down the interstate.
When he blocked four shots in the second half of last Friday’s tournament-opening victory over Detroit, KU coach Bill Self said, “There is no question the best player on the floor at that time was Jeff.”
Other times, you see his No. 5 out there but nothing is happening.
Withey’s quietest moments come when KU is playing smaller and quick teams that like to run, such as Missouri or Purdue.
He had two points in two games against Mizzou, although a twisted ankle also limited him in the second game. Purdue’s motion offense left him spinning — and playing only 15 minutes. He took only three shots, scored four points and had two rebounds in the 63-60 victory.
“Coach pushes me to play harder against smaller guys,” said Withey, who averages 9.1 points and 6.2 rebounds. “I’m definitely trying.”
Now comes N.C. State, which Self described as quick and athletic. While the Wolfpack doesn’t start anyone over 6-8, 6-9 DeShawn Painter is the first player off the bench. And 6-8 starter Richard Howell brings a load at 250 pounds.
So the Pack is not exactly an MU or Purdue.
“It should be a game Jeff can play,” Self said.
…Defense is where his heart is. And where the Jayhawks need it to be the most.
“He’s our anchor defensively,” point guard Tyshawn Taylor said. “He gets credit for four or blocks a game, but he alters four or five more. He makes it hard for the other guys.”
But Taylor wouldn’t mind seeing more offense from Withey.
“There was a point this year where I told him, `Jeff, the only way you pass the ball back out of the post is if you’re double teamed. Any other time, go score, get fouled,’ ” Taylor said.
After all, Withey is KU’s top free-throw shooter at 78 percent.
“If he gets the ball and is aggressive,” Taylor said, “we’re going to get one or two points almost every time.”
“This year’s been a huge adjustment for me,” Tharpe said. “I played a lot in the past, but we have great point guards here, in Tyshawn (Taylor) and Elijah (Johnson), who’ve been here and put the time in and worked to be where they’re at right now. It’s tough, you know. But nothing’s more important to me than winning, and that’s what we’ve been doing — a lot.”
Tharpe has played in 32 of 35 games, barely. He averages just 5.5 minutes, watched all 40 minutes in two Big 12 games, and played three minutes or less 13 of the 32 times he did crack the lineup.
Tharpe and his family have too much pride to allow bitterness to take root.
“He’s never had to sit the bench since he was 11 years old,” said Tharpe’s brother, Tishaun Jenkins, 33, of Worcester, Mass. “He’s gotta find that fine line between being humble and being hungry. I think what he understands now that he didn’t understand three months ago is that he has to allow the process to play out but also not just accept the process without giving your all.”
By all accounts, that has not been a problem for Tharpe. He’s well-liked by teammates, has a special bond with All-American Thomas Robinson, with whom he played one season at Brewster, and can be seen jumping off the bench ready to offer a helpful hint to anyone who will listen.
“I can contribute a lot,” Tharpe said last week in Omaha, Neb. “Being on the bench, I see everything that’s going on. After coach says what he has to say, I talk to Tyshawn, I talk to Elijah, I talk to Thomas. What I really like about it is, even though they’re older than me, they don’t just wave me away. They actually listen to what I’m saying, and I listen to them, too. It’s a team thing, and for us to be here and me to be here, it’s just really exciting, and I’m just enjoying the ride.”
Added Robinson: “We respect Naadir as a player and as a person. When he says something, people listen because he knows how to play the game. There’s something about him. He knows how to play. Soon the world will get to see how good of a player he is.”
…Asked if he ever wished he went somewhere else, Tharpe fired his answer before the question was even finished.
“Never that,” he said. “Never that. I never have regrets, and I never will. This is where I wanted to go, this is where I’m at, and this is where I’m gonna be.”
Jenkins doesn’t have to hear those words to know that’s the way Tharpe feels.
“The kid is a barrier-breaker, so I’m not really worried about anything,” Jenkins said. “Ever since he was 15 years old, with any issue presented to him, he takes it and evolves with it.”
In the closely contested tournament games we’re likely to see this weekend, the ATO (after-timeout) war will be huge. Coaches with a track record of drawing up point-producing sets — and the personnel to execute them — have the advantage in endgame scenarios. The following chart ranks the Sweet 16 teams by their raw ATO efficiency, according to Synergy Sports Technology’s logs:
The Jayhawks rank fourth here, but their final ATO play against Purdue on Sunday was unsuccessful. It consisted of Elijah Johnson bringing up the ball, Tyshawn Taylor starting in the bottom left corner, running off a Thomas Robinson screen and a Travis Releford brush screen, and then iso-ing on Lewis Jackson from the left wing. Robinson, rather than trying to post up his man, got behind him to establish early rebounding position in anticipation of a Taylor shot. Taylor settled for a quick pull-up three, and Robinson pulled down the offensive board:
SI Power Rankings
Gutierrez: Thomas Robinson's body screams NBA. And these regionals could decide if NBA teams should be screaming for him. That near-loss to Purdue showed how much Kansas needs him, and that potential meeting with UNC could be his most critical test. If he can't take over now, he probably won't be a franchise-type frontcourt player.
Hayes: Tyshawn Taylor. A big, fast, athletic point guard who plays with a high major, shoots nearly 50 percent overall and over 40 percent from 3 is only considered a late first- or early second-rounder in most mocks? Granted, Taylor's career has been full of starts and stops, but he has had a great senior season. With his speed and size, he should see his stock rise as the draft gets closer.
Weidie: Kansas' Thomas Robinson had a down scoring game against Purdue, finishing 2-for-12 from the field. With his hulking shoulders, ability to mob the boards, and overall agility, he seems beastly enough to get taken second overall. But to boost his résumé, he'll have to show some more mettle against the Wolfpack.
ESPN: Draft prospects we're watching in the Sweet 16
As Eric Hirsch was considering buying the house at 1221 Washington Street, his father provided crucial information about the neighborhood.
"He said, 'You know, that house next door was Dean Smith's house,' " Hirsch recalled this week. "I was like, 'Really?!' "
That settled it for the Kansas Jayhawk fan.
"Whenever he would be on TV, my dad was like, 'That's basketball, right there,'" said Hirsch, 42, general manager of Mike's Sporting Goods. "He means basketball, really."
Especially in Kansas and North Carolina.
Much as Smith's 879 career wins and two national titles with the Tar Heels, innumerable innovations and influences on the game and broadly admired humanitarian acts have chiseled him in the Mount Rushmore of college basketball coaching, he is something more when it comes to two of the game's most storied programs.
Sixty years since Smith played on Kansas' first national champion and 50 years since he completed his first season as head coach at North Carolina, the Tar Heels and Jayhawks are among the four teams in town for the NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional this week at the Edward Jones Dome.
They might meet in the finals Sunday. The Heels must get past upstart Ohio, the Jayhawks by resurgent N.C. State.
But KU and UNC have special places in the DNA of the game regardless, along with Kentucky the only programs to win more than 2,000 games.
And tethering the two together forever is Smith, a role player on KU's 1952 national championship team whose proteges at UNC include former Kansas coaches Larry Brown and Roy Williams — second only to Phog Allen in wins at Kansas and Smith in wins at Carolina.
Look closer, and the bloodlines run deeper still.
St Louis PD
Basketball is a sport in North Carolina, a sport that gets in the blood, pushes it against the arteries and rises and falls with the fortunes of the Tar Heels. It's a condition that has experienced five NCAA championships, 18 Final Four appearances, 25 Sweet Sixteen stops and nearly 2,100 victories.
It's a condition that beckoned Roy Williams to leave one of the most the prestigious positions in college basketball _ the head coaching job at Kansas _ to return and restore the iconic Tar Heels. Williams grew up in Asheville, N.C., played junior varsity at UNC and assisted coaching under Dean Smith.
Williams embraces and embodies the university, hackneyed and custodial, proper and proud.
"I'm naive," Williams said recently on his radio show. "You've got to understand this. I'm naive as all get out. I'm corny as all get out."
He's also good as all get out.
Williams brings those flapping flags and the 31-5 Tar Heels to St. Louis this week, seeking the eighth Final Four and third NCAA title of his career. Barring upsets, he will have to get past Kansas to arrive at those destinations, the school he mentored for 15 seasons, the team that dismissed the Tar Heels from the Final Four in 2008.
"There's no doubt about it, it's the game everybody nationally wants to see," said Ryan Robertson, who played for Williams at KU from 1996-99 and works for Goldman-Sachs in St. Louis. "I think he'll do really well in that environment, in getting his team ready to play.
"I also think the extra motivation he will have to play Kansas this time _ because they beat him in the Final Four in '08 _ will be there, as well. If it were to happen _ and a lot has to happen between now and then _ it will be unbelievable theater."
Leaving Kansas behind
It is the most intriguing subplot this mad March promises. When Williams left KU after losing to Syracuse in the 2003 NCAA championship game, he departed as the second-most successful coach in the program's history, behind only legendary Phog Allen. Now in his ninth season at UNC, Williams is the second-most successful coach in the program's history, behind only legendary mentor Smith.
When he departed one of America's most beautiful campuses in Lawrence, Kan., critics suggested Williams was making a mistake, forfeiting a chance to put his name on a historic program. His name has grown in Chapel Hill.
It's a brand that features a familiar, "Aw, shucks," Huckleberry Hound-like demeanor, a style that relies on devotion to detail and routine, an approach that has enough quirky bullet points to fill a Harry Potter chapter.
Williams throws away ties after every loss, sometimes entire suits. He makes sure his team eats before every film session _ presumably so not to tear it apart on an empty stomach. He is a stickler about the colors he wears, the types of gum his players chew, where he stands during timeouts, and so on.
When he came to St. Louis for the NCAA Midwest Regional in 1993, Williams had the team bus driver stop along the banks of the Mississippi and ordered his players to get out and spit in the river. They let fly in unison, then beat California and Indiana to advance to the Final Four. If you're walking by the riverfront before the opening session Friday, you might carry an umbrella.
"One of my favorites is, before he comes in the locker room before games, there's always a blue marker and a black marker," guard Kendall Marshall said. "Blue is on the right; black's on the left. Sometimes, we'll switch it just to mess with him. But he always goes and finds the right marker."
'He's very demanding'
The attentiveness is just a sidelight. Williams is an exacting coach of young men and pusher of motivational buttons. His respect for the institution and the integrity of his program are exceeded only by the expectations he has for his players.
"He's very demanding, and I found him to be difficult to play for because he was so exacting," Robertson said. "And you can't argue with the results. I would say that I think I have a better relationship with him today than I did when I was actually playing for him.
"He's somebody who expects the game to be played a certain way and, frankly, it's his way or the highway. That can weigh heavily on guys at times. But listen, you can't argue with the success he's had when I was there at Kansas, or the success he's had at North Carolina. It's record-breaking; it's Hall of Fame."
St Louis PD
When Kansas’ name appeared near the end of the NCAA Tournament’s selection show, guard Angel Goodrich looked stunned.
One of her teammates, Tania Jackson, exploded out of her chair. Others jumped up and down. Goodrich just smiled and stared at the flat-screen TV.
She had waited so long for this, had waited through two ACL injuries and a string of disappointments, and now here it was.
The Jayhawks were one of the last four teams in the tournament.
They finished the year 2-6, playing without star forward Carolyn Davis. A case could be made that they didn’t even belong in the field.
But then ...
They won their first two games in the NCAA Tournament. They advanced to face Tennessee in the Sweet 16 on Saturday. They played better and more poised than their 11 seed or two freshman starters might indicate.
But to really understand this Kansas team is to understand all that came before in coach Bonnie Henrickson’s tenure: WNIT appearances, losses, transfers and a rash of ACL injuries.
Because even when Kansas made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in Henrickson’s eight years, some simply rolled their eyes and shrugged.
“Congrats Bonnie,” one commenter said. “It only took eight years to do something you should be doing every year.”
The entire experience — from getting invited to the Big Dance, advancing out of the first round, to winning a second time — marked new heights for the Jayhawks under eighth-year coach Bonnie Henrickson, who had not coached KU to an NCAA berth prior to this season. She said being a part of March Madness, which her Virginia Tech teams experienced five times during Henrickson’s eight years in Blacksburg, Va., before coming to KU, is what college basketball is all about.
“I’m spoiled. I’ve been able to feel this before,” Henrickson said, “and you just want for them to.”
A program that had suffered through four devastating knee injuries since 2009 was now trending on Twitter and splashing on the front page of national websites. A coach that had been hired in 2004 to rebuild a once-proud tradition finally had her breakthrough moment. And a school with a blue-blood men’s program — a brand that seems to lord over every square foot in Lawrence — had two teams in the Sweet 16, just one of three schools in the country to accomplish that feat.
“It’s great,” said KU forward Aishah Sutherland, a senior finally playing in her first NCAA Tournament. “All the KU men’s players texted me. It’s shout-outs on Twitter. We’re both in it.”
The Jayhawks, playing in their first NCAA Tournament since 2000, now prepare to face No. 2 seed Tennessee in a regional semifinal in Des Moines, Iowa. But the story of this team began nearly three and a half years ago, with the first major knee injury.
Angel Goodrich was just two days into her college career when the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee gave out. Goodrich was one of Henrickson’s most-prized recruits, a highly ranked point guard from Tahlequah, Okla. And she would miss her entire freshman season.
The Jayhawks would nearly win the WNIT anyway, with former Olathe East standout Danielle McCray leading the way. Goodrich would return in the fall of 2009, and Kansas was picked to finish second in a loaded Big 12. Instead, Goodrich would tear the ACL in her right knee in early January. And just a few weeks later, the Jayhawks would lose McCray to the same horrible knee injury.
“We feel like you’re about to turn the corner here, and then boom,” said Henrickson, who arrived at Kansas from Virginia Tech in 2004. “It happens to you twice. You’re never supposed to ask why, but…”
This season, the Jayhawks returned a talented core of players. Henrickson expected Goodrich, now a junior, to lead from the point guard spot. And Sutherland and junior Carolyn Davis would add some size and scoring at the forward positions.
Kansas began the season 17-6 and looked like a safe bet to finally make the NCAA Tournament. And then …boom. Davis, the team’s leading scorer, went down with a gruesome knee injury in a loss against Kansas State on Feb. 12. Another torn ACL.
“It felt like the season was gonna go downwards,” Sutherland said. “But our team just came together. As a senior, and with Angel being here four years, we wanted something more.”
Big 12/College News
CBS Viewers Guide: Enter your zip, finds channels/schedule for games
TV/Announcer schedule for the Sweet 16
The early-round media timeouts were between 3 1/2 and 4 minutes. Nobody gets tired. They just get bored.
…After my early-bracket performance, I am outsourcing predictions to my favorite hoops website - kenpom.com. Using all of its advance tempo-free metrics and crunching numbers a bit more sophisticated than points scored and points allowed, the site has scores for all eight games. Some might surprise you.
Wisconsin 59, Syracuse 58; and Kentucky 76, Indiana 70. The first is a flat-out upset. The second is much closer than most would expect.
Ohio State 70, Cincinnati 60
Baylor 73, Xavier 67
North Carolina 79, Ohio 68
Kansas 76, N.C. State 67
Michigan State 65, Louisville 59
Florida 76, Marquette 75
Philly Daily News Dick Jerardi
North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall is out of his cast following surgery on his broken right wrist.
In a text message to The Associated Press on Wednesday, Marshall's father Dennis said his son is wearing a removable splint now. Marshall said on Twitter he had shed the cast earlier in the afternoon.
Dennis Marshall said it was still too early to know if his son could play against Ohio on Friday in the NCAA tournament's round of 16 in St. Louis. He said his son "hasn't been ruled out, but not cleared to play either."
The school had no update on Marshall's status Wednesday.
A glance at the Sweet 16 field offers evidence that the true center in college basketball may be nearing extinction.
A multitude of programs reached the second week of the NCAA tournament without the services of a back-to-the-basket stud.
The increased versatility of the 6-9 or taller athlete in the NBA has impacted the development of big men at the collegiate level. Today's bigs would rather emulate Kevin Garnett than Kevin Willis.
"The NBA, this is one place I think they caused our problems. No matter who you talk to, every 2-man wants to be a point. Every 3-man wants to be a 2. Every 4-man wants to be a 3 and it's illegal to want to be a 5-man," Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said. "That means you're some big guy that can't do anything but sit in the post. There [are] some pretty good guys making pretty good money that just sit in the post."
… Henry Sims plays for a Georgetown team that produced Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutombo and Mourning. But when the 6-10 post man was asked if he viewed himself as a true center, he cringed as if he'd just eaten some bad seafood.
"I've never, I've never seen myself as a true center. I feel I can do a lot of things on the court. I feel I can just call myself a basketball player," Sims said. "To me a true center is [going on] the block, left hook, right hook … knock people out. It's just I feel like a true center doesn't encompass a lot of things that a basketball player would be able to do."
ESPN: Traditional center a dying breed
J’Covan Brown’s spin move caught the attention of NBA scouts and Big 12 defenders alike this year.
The leading scorer in the Big 12, Brown has a series of moves he can go with to score. But his spin is the most dangerous, especially in the lane, where he uses it to avoid potential shot blockers.
“I’m very crafty when I spin,” Brown says. “Crazy things happen.”
His life is about to get a whole lot crazier.
Brown will enter the NBA Draft in June, according to a source close to the situation.
While Brown has not commented publically about his decision, and even denied claims he’s headed for the NBA via Twitter, the source confirmed he is indeed opting to leave for the NBA.
Royce White has the potential to be an NBA impact player.
“He’s got an unbelievable future,” said Bob Hansen, who starred at Iowa before playing nine seasons in the NBA. “The only thing I knew about him before I saw him was stories I’d heard about this man child coming down from Minnesota.
“Wow. What a talent he’s been.”
Hansen, who analyzes Hawkeye games on radio, says the 6-foot-8, 270-pound White already has an NBA body.
“He can be a matchup problem in the right situations,” Hansen said. “He’s got all the skill and the body, and from what I’ve seen of him, it certainly looks like he’s got the desire.”
White is the fifth Iowa State men’s basketball player to enter the NBA draft before his eligibility expired.
Des Moines Register
Mason Plumlee has begun info-gathering process about NBA through Duke. No decision yet. Hasn't hired agent.
College basketball teams all over America, get ready for your chance at a pretty talented transfer player — who just might be eligible to play immediately.
With Connecticut facing a potential 2013 postseason ban, junior forward/center Alex Oriakhi has decided he’d rather play for a team with a chance to play in the NCAA tournament.
The 6-foot-9, 240-pound Oriakhi will seek a transfer for his senior season, his father, Alex. Sr., told Kevin Duffy of Hearst Connecticut Media Group. Oriakhi informed the coaching staff and athletic director of his decision Wednesday afternoon, Alex Oriakhi Sr. said.
“Alex will transfer because of the NCAA tournament next year,” Alex Oriakhi Sr. told Duffy.
The optimism surrounding SEC basketball overflowed in October with three top-10 teams in the preseason polls and another in the top 20. The SEC could taste new schools helping to carry the conference banner in March.
Instead, the Sweet 16 brings a familiar recipe for the SEC: Placing immense value on Kentucky and Florida. Not just for reputation. But dollars and cents, too.
When NCAA Tournament checks are distributed next month, the SEC will be tied with the Pac-12 for the lowest amount among BCS leagues at $16.2 million. Don't worry. The SEC will manage to survive while the Big East ($27.4 million), Big 12 ($18.7 million), Big Ten ($18.2 million) and ACC ($17.7 million) cash larger basketball checks.
But this postseason has been a collective blow so far to the SEC. The only ways to ease it are producing multiple Final Four teams or adding a basketball national championship next to all of those football and baseball trophies.
Sixteen teams remain in contention for the NCAA men's basketball championship, but Ohio State's Thad Matta already has emerged as the biggest winner of coaching incentives.
Including the guaranteed value of a one-year contract extension, Matta has racked up nearly $2.55 million — and he'll get $140,000 more if the Buckeyes win the national title, according to a USA TODAY review of the round-of-16 coaches' contracts.
Kentucky's John Calipari has the most to gain over the remainder of the tournament. With a run to the championship, he would add $600,000 to the $150,000 he has secured from the Wildcats' Southeastern Conference regular-season title and advance to the round of 16.
North Carolina State's Mark Gottfried added two years to his deal, currently worth $1.2 million a season, when the Wolfpack received an NCAA tournament at-large bid. He has gained another $62,500 (one month of his $750,000 base salary) so far, and will keep adding for each successive victory, up to another $437,500 altogether if his team wins the national championship.
His counterpart in the regional semifinals, Kansas' Bill Self, must lead his team to the Final Four before he can get any incentive pay for the NCAA tournament.
USA Today (Bonus breakdown for each coach)
Virginia Commonwealth basketball coach Shaka Smart on Wednesday ended speculation that he might take the open job at Illinois by announcing that he'll stay with the Rams.
The decision by the young coach was cause for celebration among VCU fans and disappointment for their Illini counterparts - Illinois' search for a replacement for fired coach Bruce Weber has begun to resemble the search last year for a new football coach, when the school's top choices reportedly turned down the Illini.
VCU said in a news release that Smart's $1.2 million contract will be adjusted, but provided no details.
He said in the release that he appreciates VCU's support of him and his staff.
"There are great things to accomplish at VCU and I'm looking forward to building on the successes of our program and university," the 34-year-old Smart said.
"Coach Smart recognizes - as do the rest of the university community, alumni and fans - that VCU is the place to be right now," VCU President Michael Rao added.
At Illinois, Athletic Director Mike Thomas declined comment through a school spokesman.
Unlike the football series, Colorado vs. Nebraska was never much of a basketball rivalry.
And that's still the case when it comes to vying for Tad Boyle's services.
Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne reportedly had Colorado's head coach on his wish list to fill the Cornhuskers' vacant position.
A source close to the situation told the Camera on Wednesday that Boyle has "no interest" in leaving CU for Nebraska.
Boyle is on the road recruiting. He will be back in Boulder on Friday to hold a press conference to reflect on the 2011-12 campaign and look ahead to a future that includes the arrival of a freshmen class ranked among the nation's best.
Murray State University Athletics Director Allen Ward isn't thrilled with the process Mississippi State University and the Parker Executive Search firm are using to find the Bulldogs' next men's basketball coach.
According a report from WPSD-TV in Paducah, Ky., Ward said the search firm MSU hired reached out to Murray State men's basketball coach Steve Prohm last week to gauge his interest in the Bulldogs' open position. Ward is upset by the timing of the contact. The Racers, who received a No. 6 seed in the NCAA tournament, were still playing. Ward said no executive from MSU has contacted him for permission to speak with Prohm, which is a professional courtesy rather than a mandate. Prohm still has three years left on his contract. He led the team to a 58-41 victory against Colorado State on Thursday in the first round before Marquette ended Murray State's season with a 62-53 victory Saturday.
"I think there's a right way to do things," Ward said Tuesday to WPSD. "Considering we were still playing, it is what it is."
Former Tennessee men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl categorically denies tampering allegations by Ohio guard D.J. Cooper and his parents that date back to 2010.
Pearl, who was dismissed from UT on March 21, 2011, on account of NCAA charges of recruiting improprieties and later received a three-year show cause for lying to NCAA investigators, said that in no way did he attempt to lure Cooper to the Vols.
“I have had no contact with anyone from that family,’’ Pearl said Wednesday. “All I did was say great things about him after we played him in the NCAA tournament. I may have made comments that he certainly could have played at any level, but at no time did I ever have contact with that family.’’
Go Vols Extra
Perry Ellis is Kansas Gatorade POY
You saw our All-Area team. Think we missed anyone? Considering the amount of talent in this area, it's tough to pick just 15 players. That said, here are a few others who just missed the cut.
All Snub First Team
Zach Peters, Prestonwood Christian - A four-year varsity player at Prestonwood, Peters averaged 14.7 points and 7.2 rebounds a game. He has signed with Kansas.
(Marcus Smart POY, Julius Randle, Matt Jones, 2st team)
UGA appears to be in prime position to pull off one of the biggest recruiting upsets in the history of the school’s basketball program.
McDonald’s All-American Tony Parker has the Bulldogs among his finalists, along with Duke, Ohio State, Kansas, UCLA, Memphis and Georgetown. Parker is an Atlanta schoolboy legend, leading Miller Grove High School to four straight state championships in basketball.
The 6-foot-9, 280-pound Parker is ranked by ESPNU as the nation’s No. 21 overall basketball prospect.
Duke’s Mike Krzyzewksi is scheduled to be at Miller Grove on Thursday, and Ohio State’s Thad Matta may visit on Friday. UCLA coach Ben Howland met with Parker on Tuesday,
“My recruiting is going pretty steady,” Parker told the AJC. “My family and I are starting to narrow it down, really getting to the nitty gritty on picking a school and deciding which one fits me the best.”
Much to everyone’s surprise, that school may end up being UGA. Parker took an unofficial visit to both UGA and Georgia Tech earlier this year, but most considered the Bulldogs an afterthought with so many basketball heavyweights involved. While Parker claims no favorite, he made it clear this week that he’s seriously considering UGA.
“Georgia is a great school, and I think Coach Mark Fox is doing a great job,” Parker said. “They really achieved great things this year with the team that they had. I think it’s great that Coach Fox is ranked No. 1 in player development [by the website TheRealGM.com]. I think he does a lot for ‘bigs’ [big men], and he has a great offense for ‘bigs,’ too.
“When he had Trey Thompkins, Coach Fox did a lot of things for his game and made Trey look really good … Georgia has been in there the whole time with me. Coach Fox is a persistent guy.”
One of UGA’s biggest advantages with Parker is that two of his state championship teammates from Miller Grove will be playing for the Bulldogs next year: Swingman Brandon Morris signed with UGA last November in the early period and will be a freshman next year, while Donte Williams will be a junior forward.
“Yes, that definitely helps with Donte and Brandon being at Georgia; I won state championships with each of them,” Parker said. “They are both great people, and really good players. They both have great character, and playing with them in high school has been wonderful … so it really puts me in position to go to Georgia.
“All of us played under [Miller Grove coach Sharman White], and he instilled things in us like hard work, playing hard-nosed defense and being a team player. Those are things I will take with me for as long I play the game.”
…Who is your leader? “I don’t have a leader yet. When I have a leader, everybody will know because I will put on their hat.”
…Parker considered making his college decision during the ESPN telecast but will likely wait and do it at Miller Grove in early April. The late signing period begins on April 11.
“I’ll probably wait,” Parker said. “We have such wonderful support at Miller Grove, and I want all my teammates, friends, family and classmates to be there. I want all the kids to come out and see that a lot of hard work and ambition can get them to a great point, too. I always want to give back to community because they’ve helped me so much to get to where I am now. I’m very blessed.”
Atlanta Journal Constitution
The UNLV basketball team is still in the mix to sign two of the nation’s most coveted five-star recruits for the class of 2012 with its last open scholarship.
Both players — Bishop Gorman High wing Shabazz Muhammad and Findlay Prep forward Anthony Bennett — said Wednesday at a ceremony to honor their selection to the McDonald’s All-American game they are seriously considering hometown UNLV.
The 6-foot-6 Muhammad, the consensus No. 1 overall recruiting prospect and the Naismith High School Boys Player of the Year, said his decision would come on April 11 — the first day of the spring signing period which runs through May 16.
“Coach (Dave) Rice is a great guy and he’s bringing in a lot of good players,” said Muhammad, who is also considering Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and UCLA. “I’m looking at them hard.”
“This is a lifetime decision for me. I have to make sure I make the right decision,” he continued. “I’m still being patient with it. The process is going good right now. April 11 is when I will announce it.”
Las Vegas Sun
Muhammad is Nevada Gatorade POY
Parker is Illinois Gatorade POY
McDonalds All-American Game 3/28
Nike EYBL Schedule
Check here for the NCAA Recruiting Calendar
My 2011-12 Border War, Legends of the Phog, KC Prep Invitational, KU Alumni games, & Jayhawk Invitational Videos now on Youtube