VOTE for TRob Naismith POY online
http://www.ncaa.com/naismithvote/ AND TEXT "VOTE" to 34763
VOTE for Coach Self USA Today Poll
VOTE for Coach Self NBCsports Poll
KU AD: Ohio State pregame notes
KC Star Photos: A history of KU in the Final Four
Mike and Mike Audio: Coach Self and Mario Chalmers
Brannen Greene @b_greene14
Love Coach Manning. Wish him the best. He's STILL a JAYHAWK for life!!!
Landen A. Lucas @LandenLucas33
Well if this is all true I'm very happy for Coach Manning! Bummed losing a great coach but I'm still excited to get to work out there! #KU
LJW: Manning headed to Tulsa (updated 1pm)
LJW: Hinson introduced by Salukis
KCTV5: Jayhawks receive warm sendoff
KC Star Photos: KU arrives in New Orleans
About 500 KU supporters intermittently performed chants inside the terminal as they awaited their beloved Jayhawks, who were departing for the Final Four.
A pep band blared KU fight songs as fans waved flags, pompoms, handmade signs and a floor mat.
Wait, a floor mat?
“We found this quite a few years ago. It has Roy Williams’ (autograph) on it,” Larry Russell, the rug’s owner, said as he proudly displayed it.
He wasn’t referencing the floor mat as a place to wipe unreconciled feelings toward ex-KU coach Williams.
It is simply an item Russell has people sign the back of, such as Williams, Danny Manning and Kirk Hinrich.
On Wednesday, he was hoping to add Bill Self’s autograph to the select few he has.
And he wasn’t the only one.
Hundreds of hands reached out for autographs or a simple high five as the KU team made its way to the back of the airport through a path kept clear by yellow rope.
Self told TV cameras amid a throng of fans: “It’s awesome. It feels like we’ve already won something. We haven’t won anything yet.
“We’ve got to go down there and take care of business.”
Sirens filling the air, Kansas University’s basketball team bus received a police escort into downtown New Orleans at 8 p.m. Wednesday.
Jayhawk players and coaches exited in back of the JW Marriott hotel to much fanfare. Workers placed beads over their heads, while a six-piece band played tunes like “When The Saints Go Marching In.”
“I love jazz, and this week I’m going to love it more than I ever have, I hope,” KU coach Bill Self said.
The team was to practice today at an undisclosed location and hold media sessions at the New Orleans Superdome. On Friday, it’s more media and a shootaround open to the public from 3:10 to 4 p.m. at the Dome.
“We’re not going to turn them loose on Bourbon Street, although I totally trust my guys,” Self said with a smile. “But they can go out and eat, walk around (Wednesday night). We’ll have curfew relatively early because tomorrow is a busy day. Friday will be a busy day.. It’s free time tonight, and beginning tomorrow they’ll be tied up every minute of the day for the most part.”
KU will play Ohio State in a Final Four semifinal approximately 7:49 p.m. Saturday in the newly named Superdome.
“I think what was cool was driving in (from airport) and seeing what used to be the Superdome. I guess it’s now seeing the Mercedes-Benz Superdome,” Self said. “It’s a cool view. Then driving by and seeing all the (Final Four) banners hung ... our guys are excited. I told our guys they have it seated for 75,000 (fans), and there won’t be more than 45,000 at practice. No reason to be nervous. I think these type of things will get our guys fired up.”
Tyshawn Taylor has quickly gone from the most polarizing Kansas player in recent memory to one of its most popular, from one of the most scrutinized to one of the most celebrated. That’s what a month can do for a college basketball player — if that month is March. Nothing converts a doubter like victory.
Many have doubted Taylor, from Hoboken, and the senior point guard loves nothing more than making them eat crow, with a side order of humble pie. He went from briefly homeless to the honor roll every year at St. Anthony’s High School. He led the Friars to a national title as a senior, and vows he can do the same for his Jayhawks.
..It is the kind of tough-love relationship impossible with one-and-done players. Taylor was involved in a 2009 fight between basketball and football players, was suspended for two games last year for violating team rules, and again for exhibition games this season. He even had a January spat on Twitter with his critics.
“I’ve always loved him as a player, no question,” Self said. “I’ve always liked him as a guy. If I was in college, I’d want to hang with Ty — he’s a cool kid. Ty’s been a guy that’s gotten in his own way some.
“He’s been as big a treat to coach as anybody I’ve ever had. I’ve always been fond of guys that have to go through some stuff to get where they eventually end up, and he’s had to go through some stuff. He’s been a treat to be around, and emerged as one of the better leaders we’ve had since I’ve been here. I really like this kid.”
…“I’m sure there are still a lot of critics. But if you can look at the body of work I’ve put in my four years, I don’t understand how you can’t love me,’’ Taylor said, smiling. “I made a lot of mistakes, but that’s just part of a young kid growing up. Look at the mistakes I made — they’re no different than any kid, writing statuses on Facebook, getting in a little scuffle. That’s stuff kids do at 18. I’m a lovable guy.’’
And two wins away from being a national champion. Again.
“I don’t know if I could be more proud of a player, ever,” Teahan said of Taylor. “He’s done so well for us. And regardless of him making bad plays, he makes so many great plays for us. It’s really ridiculous how important he is to our team. We wouldn’t be anywhere without him.”
That’s true. Even with Taylor shooting 0-for-17 from three-point range so far in the NCAA Tournament, Kansas couldn’t have reached the Final Four without the extroverted native of Hoboken, N.J., forcing turnovers at one end, breaking down defenses at the other.
Teammates seemed every bit as elated that Taylor reached the Final Four as they were for themselves.
“It definitely makes it sweeter,” reserve guard Niko Roberts said. “I’ve really never seen him so happy.”
Added freshman Naadir Tharpe, who has taken notes on everything, good and bad, that Taylor has done: “He just had a huge smile, and he came in and told everybody that he loves us, and he wouldn’t rather do this with any other team. To hear that is just exciting, and it shows how much love he has for this team and how much love he has for Kansas.”
There’s a reason Taylor’s teammates love him, and it’s not the same one that inspired the initially reluctant fans finally to stand in his corner. Winning means a lot, but these guys respect Taylor’s struggle. Good games and bad. Suspensions and senior nights. Off-the-court trouble and on-the-court greatness. Taylor has experienced it all.
KU junior Kevin Young, a transfer from Loyola Marymount, is one of the few players on the roster who knew Taylor before teaming with him. Young, who played for Puerto Rico in the FIBA U19 World Championships in 2009 in New Zealand, said he remembered facing Taylor and Team USA in the championships and remembered thinking he was amazing. He also knew about Taylor’s troubles.
“Before I got here, I heard about all this stuff going on with him and his suspensions and all that,” Young recalled. “He’s been through so much. I’m just so happy he made it this far. He’s our leader. And he’s an extension of coach (Bill Self), and that’s what makes him such a good player.”
There is a temptation to peg Thomas Robinson for a loner, to understand the Kansas junior's success as a function of tragedy and forced evolution. Part of it is visual: Robinson, a 20-year-old who averages 17.9 points and 11.8 rebounds a game, could be employed as LeBron James's body double. Andrea Hudy, the Jayhawks' strength and conditioning coach, attests that the 6-foot-9, 245-pounder, a projected top-five NBA Draft pick, can bench-press 300 pounds, clean 300, and parallel-squat close to 400.
Part of it is what can't be seen, too: many mornings, sometimes at 7 a.m., Robinson leaves for the practice court and is back before his roommate, guard Elijah Johnson, can pad into their living room, half-asleep. "T-Rob will already be in there, chilling," Johnson says. "I'll ask, 'What'd you do?' He goes, 'I just went and got some shots up real quick.' He gets something out of his time. He doesn't just sit around and let it pass him by."
…Talk to Robinson, however, and it turns out that so much heartbreak isn't where the story of this Final Four frontcourt -- maybe the best in the nation -- ought to begin. Yes, as Johnson puts it, Robinson is "a grown man now." But the evolution actually started years earlier in Lawrence, when a unanimous All-America was just an anonymous fourth-stringer. It started when the teammate who would appreciate Robinson most finally came to town.
…Little about the team's pecking order was surprising. The first time Withey had seen Robinson was in the summer of 2009, when Robinson was an incoming freshman snaring rebounds and dominating Self's basketball camp. "I didn't know too much about Thomas," recalls Withey, who hadn't paid serious attention to basketball until he began to be recruited in ninth grade. "I was like, 'Dang, who is this guy?'"
The center found out soon enough. Every time the 2009-10 Jayhawks would split themselves up into two teams, whether it was for practice or a summer pickup game, the fourth-string Robinson always wanted to go up against Aldrich and the Morrii, and he always wanted the fifth-stringer by his side. Elijah Johnson still cannot help but chuckle before doing a pitch-perfect imitation of his roommate's booming, almost hubristic demand: "Gimme Jeff! Gimme Jeff!"
…That June, even after Aldrich left early for the NBA, the bench-warming duo refused to separate. All along, Robinson kept shouting encouragement at the older but decidedly mild-mannered Withey, mainly trying to ratchet up the center's confidence: Jump hook! Keep getting your reps! Go hard! We need you! "Cole wasn't going to be here," explains Robinson, a late bloomer himself who had exactly one college offer entering the summer before his senior year at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H. "The twins weren't going to be here one day. I just tried to get Jeff to be more aggressive, man ... I knew that time was running out."
…As the duo continued to run the Kansas scout team, their rapport became self-evident. The Morrii still had the edge on them in games, certainly, and Robinson's instructions for Withey -- Shoot the ball! -- didn't stop coming. But now, whenever either Robinson or Withey was trapped, the other would intuitively cut to the rim and receive the ball. If either Robinson or Withey was getting double-teamed -- already a small victory -- the other would collect the easy putback at the basket. If either Robinson or Withey took a risk defensively, the other would be waiting in the paint to erase the mistake.
They were getting better, and yet bigger, together. "We had a great vibe," says Withey, whose increasing weight (now into the 220s) mirrored his climbing offensive initiative (centered around that jump hook). Adds Johnson, "If you bang with T-Rob all day, or just work out with him all day, you can't be scared."
…It's still Sunday night, and awash in the glow of their coach's unlikeliest Final Four run, an ecstatic Robinson climbs onto a cart in the Edward Jones Dome hallway. He seems ready to speed off to the team's last news conference, and then onto New Orleans. As Withey plops down next to him, a strand of the net dangling from the center's celebratory cap, a reporter approaches with a simple question: "Thomas, how do you feel about your teammate?"
"Like a proud daddy," the 20-year-old says, grinning from ear to ear. And then he slings his arm around Withey's shoulders, keeping him firmly by his side.
Teahan is a fifth year senior because he red-shirted during the 2010-2011 basketball season. He completed a business degree in finance last year and will graduate in May with an accounting degree. He said he didn't want to take two more years of school right now to get a master's degree but is thinking about taking the Certified Public Accountant exam. He is currently a teaching assistant for Finance 305, Survey of Finance and Finance 417, Business Valuation, both taught by business professor Lisa Bergeron.
"Being a TA has helped me understand finance better," Teahan said. "I already did a bunch of group work and being around other projects every day helps me better understand it."
Bergeron says Teahan makes a great TA.
"Over the course of the semester I got to know Conner and realized how bright he is and how hard he works," Bergeron said. "He really gets the concepts and is able to communicate them to the students."
Still, it's difficult to separate the two parts of his life. Teahan says the older he's gotten the more organized and mature he's become at balancing basketball and school.
"What coach Self always says is taking care of business off the court directly correlates with on the court," Teahan said. "If you're responsible and don't leave anything to chance, you'll be the same way on the basketball court and if you can take care of business on the court, you'll be less stressed out."
While Teahan is learning about finance from Bergeron, she is learning a few things from him as well.
"I have learned some fundamentals of basketball," Bergeron said. "I coach little ones and I would ask Conner for some tips and drills. He would help me out, sometimes with a polite chuckle at my novice questions."
Bergeron said Teahan could've taken easy classes just to fill his schedule this year, but what really says a lot about him is that he took difficult classes and will earn a second degree because of it.
"He is truly a student-athlete," she said.
KU School of Business
Students in one Topeka classroom are rooting for the Kansas Jayhawks to make it all the way. Their Farley Elementary School teacher says raising a star athlete starts in the classroom.
Debbie Withey is surrounded by four-footers daily, but lately, all she can think about her her seven-footer on the road to the championship.
Mrs. Withey usually has her mind on math, but lately, she spends her days worrying.
"Nervous. Like driving to school I just have to stop and pray all the time, just like all week worrying if he got hurt walking to class, it's just constant," Withey said.
"One day she was here when he was about to play and she kept on saying when we were taking our quiz, 'I hope KU wins. I hope KU wins!'" said Quinton Zweisler, Farley Elementary School 3rd grader.
See, Mrs. Withey loves all her kids, but one in particular stands a little taller than the rest. Mrs. Withey gave birth to Jeff Withey, KU's 7-foot star center, and the Big 12 defensive player of the year.
Mrs. Withey says Jeffree, as she calls him, was big from birth. He started playing basketball on a third grade team when he was in kindergarten.
"The coach had to call a time out to go out there and tie his shoes for him because he was in kindergarten, you know?" said Withey. "And when we went to Disney Land, he couldn't go into Goofy's house because he was too big. Yeah, I'll never forget that."
Withey played a lot of volleyball growing up in southern California, on the sand and indoors, eventually hooking up with a competitive club team. But his basketball coach at San Diego's Horizon High put his foot down. He could play one sport or the other, but not both.
He went with hoops, and it took Withey first to college at Arizona. When coach Lute Olson abruptly retired, he moved to Kansas.
Self's high-low offense puts a premium on skilled big men. "It may be because there's not as many big guys to go around," he said, "but there's not a ton of teams you look at and say they definitely play inside-out. When we've played our worst is when we do not play inside-out. That's just kind of been a staple of what we do."
Withey also became the latest in a line from Cole Aldrich to Marcus and Markieff Morris to the 6-10 Robinson to blossom under the watch of former Kansas great and current assistant coach Danny Manning.
Coming off a broken right foot, Withey started just once and played only a little more than six minutes a game a year ago. Anticipating a greater role as a junior, Withey competed last summer with an Athletes in Action team that toured Greece, Germany and Macedonia.
He had some early-season moments, including his first career double-double in a loss to Duke in the Maui Invitational. But the breakthrough came in February.
Since his no-show at Missouri, Withey has shot 57% from the field and averaged 11 points, 6.9 rebounds and nearly 4.5 blocks. His 19 blocks in the tournament are fourth-most through four games, matching Alonzo Mourning's total for Georgetown in 1989.
Some of that, Withey said, is the old volleyball player in him. "It's timing," he said. "In volleyball, you jump so much, and you have to be quick off the ground. I think that helps with rebounding and blocking shots."
His 129 blocks this season are a school record.
"He went from being our fifth big guy two years ago to our fourth big guy with limited minutes last year to now, he's the league's defensive player of the year … and just continuing to get better and better," Self said. "We thought he was going to be a good player, but I didn't know he'd have this impact this soon.
"We wouldn't be here without him."
I don't know about you, but for my money, despite all the overheated expectations and rivalry-oriented craziness surrounding Louisville-Kentucky ... I think Ohio State-Kansas has a better than 50-50 shot at being the best game of the weekend. What say you?
Myron Medcalf: I agree. I think Kansas-Ohio State is the game of the weekend. I love the buildup to Louisville-Kentucky. I'd actually like to spend a day in Kentucky before I leave for New Orleans to get a feel for the vibe in that state. But if you look at the matchups, Kansas-Ohio State wins. I can give you five reasons that the Jayhawks will win and five reasons that the Buckeyes will win. Thomas Robinson vs. Jared Sullinger. The emergence of Jeff Withey and Deshaun Thomas. Aaron Craft's hands against Tyshawn Taylor's explosiveness. This should be a great game.
EB: How many NBA scouts will be watching that T-Rob/Sully matchup? Answer: all of them, or at least all of those who have a top-10 pick to spare in this summer's draft. That actually seems to be one of the biggest debates about the upcoming draft, a sort of barometer for the kind of player you prefer -- explosive and slightly raw? Or polished but less athletic? I'd take either one of them. And seeing them tee up on each other could be a one-on-one matchup for the ages.
MM: I agree. And I'm even more excited for Robinson-Sullinger because of their personalities. Some guys would look at this as "just another game." I guarantee both Robinson and Sullinger are telling friends and loved ones that they're going to win that battle. I don't care what they say publicly. This is personal. Who's the best big man in college basketball? With Sullinger, Robinson and Davis in the field, we'll know by Monday. Sullinger didn't get the national player of the year love that Robinson enjoyed because of a bad back and a rough stretch in February. But who can doubt his premier status after watching him tear up Syracuse? Robinson takes a Kansas team that's not supposed to win its eighth Big 12 title in a row to the Final Four? Get your popcorn ready.
EB: Agreed, agreed. But as you said, there are other huge areas of intrigue here. In fact, if I had to guess, I'd say the Robinson-Sullinger matchup will essentially be a wash. The swing-vote matchup (as Marquette coach Buzz Williams might say) might then be Aaron Craft and Tyshawn Taylor. Craft is a defensive genius. What he does to opposing guards is just ruthless sometimes. If Taylor gets eaten up by those slap-happy hands -- or even if Craft just cuts Taylor off and keeps him confined to the perimeter, where he has missed just about every shot he's taken in the past two weeks -- Kansas will be at a severe disadvantage.
Craft’s role is the Buckeyes’ stopper at the top of the defense and playmaker at the head of the offense. A 6-foot-2 guard, Craft scores just 8.8 points per game, but he also averages 4.7 assists and 2.5 steals.
He has stepped it up in the NCAA Tournament with averages of 10.3 points, 5.8 assists, and 3.3 steals in four games, including his first career double-double in a win over Gonzaga with 17 points, 10 assists.
And unlike Kansas’ Jeff Withey, who was the Big 12 defensive player of the year because of his shot-blocking prowess, Craft was selected Big Ten defensive player of the year because of his pilfering ability. Craft’s 95 steals already have shattered Ohio State’s single-season record of 87 set by Mike Conley during 2006-07, when the Buckeyes last went to the Final Four.
“No player is safe when Aaron is on you,” Ohio State All-American forward Jared Sullinger said. “He puts the blue in blue collar.”
Craft will be matched up against Kansas point guard Tyshawn Taylor on Saturday night, and they battled to a draw when Kansas beat Ohio State 78-67 last January in Lawrence.
Craft scored 11 points, had six assists, three turnovers and two steals against the Jayhawks. Taylor, who was playing on a knee that would require arthroscopic surgery after the game, scored nine points and had 13 assists but was forced into seven turnovers, mostly by Craft.
“He was their catalyst in the first game, scoring the ball and distributing it,” Craft said of Taylor. “He’s a veteran guy who knows what it takes. He’s been around for a while. … He trusts in his teammates. He knows when to attack and when not to, and he never gets his head down.
“There are some games he turns the ball over quite a few times, but he always comes back and makes that next big play they need to win the game. That shows his resilience and how great of a player he is.”
Ohio State coach Thad Matta wouldn’t trade Craft for Taylor or any other point guard.
These Buckeyes were a tough nut to crack.
The practice habits were so poor Thad Matta called it the worst practice team he coached.
Their pregame warmups were so uninspired and lighthearted ESPN commentator Dan Dakich called them "silly."
Their focus was so bad in February they lost three of five games in one stretch.
Their toughness was so questionable, they lost two of their final three home games after ripping off a streak of 39 consecutive victories in Value City Arena.
Yet this is the team that will play in New Orleans this weekend as part of the NCAA Final Four, Matta's second team to go this far in the postseason.
"This is probably the best coaching job he's ever done because of the different buttons that had to be pushed on a game-by-game basis and a practice-by-practice basis," Ohio State assistant coach Jeff Boals said. "He kept pushing these guys. It was a different group to coach."
CBS: Scouting OSU
ESPN: Game Plan KU vs OSU
ESPN: Breaking down the Jayhawks
SI Luke Winn: Visualizing the Final Foursome
CBS: Top 30 players in the Final Four
Everyone wants to say this is his best coaching job ever. I don't know, maybe it is. You can sure make that argument. But I'd like to know when he hasn't been good. The year after Kansas won their National Championship in 2008 and six of the players from that squad were drafted in the NBA, the Jayhawks won. Eight straight Big 12 Titles. Eight straight! Simply put, Bill Self is a winner. What this team has accomplished this year is just one more example of continued excellence.
Most are saying that by getting to the Final Four, this team has already overachieved from preseason predictions. While that may be true, I have a feeling that they are on a mission. As Coach Self says, "I don't think our guys are satisfied. I think they think this is our year. And I'm certainly not going to tell them differently." Neither am I. Good luck in New Orleans to the Jayhawks, the Big 12 is rooting hard for another Kansas National Championship.
Big 12 Sports
USA Today: Get to know your Final four officials
Sporting News: Greatest games of expanded bracket era
A Computer Simulation says Kentucky Will Down Kansas in the Men's Final
They have developed a powerful simulation engine that takes statistical performances of various players and teams into account in an attempt to allow users to simulate any sports matchup they wish.
The site's engine simulated each game 2001 times to determine a winner, then the staff chose one of those simulations that was representative of an average game among those simulations and posted it on their site.
According to the WhatIfSports simulation engine, Kentucky will down Louisville 68-63 thanks to a suffocating defense that will hold Louisville to just 31.8 percent shooting and will feature 10 blocks from freshman phenom Anthony Davis.
On the other side of the bracket, Kansas sneaks past Ohio State 72-68 in a game that was a back and forth affair until the 13 minute mark of the second half when Kansas went on a run that opened a 13 point led. The Buckeyes fought back but couldn't close that gap in the time remaining.
USA Today Video: Building the Final Four floor -- starting at literally chopping down trees
Article: Ohio Floor Co. prepares floor to the Final Four
The maple court, designed especially for the event, is the centerpiece. It was built a few feet off the floor and is edged in kelly green with the New Orleans Final Four logo at midcourt. The shiny court was manufactured in Michigan and detailed in Ohio, a process that took five weeks.
The stage includes a new configuration of stands with some 17,000 temporary seats. The NCAA brought in stands that fit over the existing Superdome seats and smooths out the typical incline to improve basketball sight lines.
The NCAA’s signature octagon scoreboard — an authoritative video screen contraption — hangs from cables to give the venue a distinctly college fieldhouse feel.
“My jaw fell open when I saw how big it was and saw the high definition of it,” said Vince Granito, co-director of the local organizing committee. “It also really closes off the height factor in the building to me. It just pulls it all together and makes it much more intimate. It’s hard to say the building of 75,000 could be intimate, but it made it feel much more like a basketball venue than any domed venue that I’ve ever seen a basketball game in.
“I found that very cool,” Granito continued, “and I think the fans, when they come to the games, will be very excited and very impressed with it, and I think it will enhance their viewing ability and enjoyment of the game.”
KU-OSU House Divided
With lights flashing and KU fight song blaring, the converted ambulance joined thousands of fans downtown to celebrate the KU team’s appearance in the Final Four.
“People were taking photos and asking questions, ‘Can I get a picture? Can I sit on the back?’ It was an incredible thing,” Kitcha Paranjothi said.
Three years ago, the Kanbulance was purchased by four Lawrence families: Wes Smith and his wife, Lisa Leroux-Smith; Kitcha and Adrienne Paranjothi, David and Amy Clark; and Paul and Jana Wallen.
The group has nine children among them, ages 8 to 13, and has ties to KU. The families started tailgating the traditional way, out of the back of SUVs. But, the men in the group were looking to expand their tailgating opportunities. Some of them were considering an old school bus.
“But then we thought where in the heck can you park a bus?” Paranjothi said.
Then they learned about the “ultimate tailgating machine,” or “fanbulances.”
As luck would have it, a police department in a St. Louis suburb was auctioning off a green and yellow striped ambulance that had been part of its DARE program. The group won the auction and brought the ambulance home to Lawrence.
It took AJ’s Custom Signs and Graphics three months to decorate the ambulance, which has blue and red stripes on the sides and lights on the top in Jayhawk colors. Football helmets and the words ResKU adorn the sides. A Jayhawk peeks out over the hood. Above the doors that swing open in the back is Allen Fieldhouse’s familiar warning: “Pay heed, all who enter. Beware of the Phog.”
The families made sure to get the proper permission from KU to use its logo and colors.
“They just want to make sure we weren’t going to make money off of this. We said not at all. If anything, it’s a money pit,” Paranjothi said.
LJW: Jayhawks in the NBA
KU grad Tyrel Reed is hanging up his sneakers. He told @nate_bukaty that he's going to Phys Train prog @ KU Med rather than return 2 Belgium
Headed to New Orleans? Lawrence?
Updated KU digital tournament guide
- Friday 8am CT ESPNU replay KU vs tOSU
- Friday 10am CT ESPNU Tournament Countdown: Road to the Final Four Kansas
- Friday Noon Open Practices MMOD (KU @3:10)
Pregame party and pep rally in New Orleans:
The KU Alumni Association and Kansas Athletics will host a pregame party from 2-5 p.m. Saturday in the Celestin Ballroom at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans, 601 Loyola Ave. Admission is $10, and beverages, food and KU merchandise will be available for purchase. A pep rally featuring the pep band, Spirit Squad and mascots will begin at 4:45 p.m.
Tickets to the pregame rally will be available from 9 a.m.-noon Friday and 9-11 a.m. Saturday at the JW Marriott, 614 Canal St., which is the team hotel. Tickets also will be available from 2-7 p.m. Friday at Walk-On’s, 1009 Poydras St., which will be the official bar of the KU Alumni Association during the Final Four.
• Pregame radio show:
The Jayhawk Final Four Preview Show, featuring Bob Davis, Chris Piper, David Lawrence and Josh Klingler will broadcast live on the Jayhawk IMG Sports Network from Walk-On’s from 6-7 p.m. Friday.
The second annual All-American Championship, a doubleheader featuring the nation’s best high school boys basketball players, will take place on Sunday, April 1, in New Orleans, La., site of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. Both games of the doubleheader will be carried on ESPN Networks.
Below are the rosters for the four teams.
Link ( Brannen Greene)
NCAA Final Four-related events (from the New Orleans Times-Picayune aka nola.com)
8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.: U.S. Basketball Writers Association Awards Breakfast. Arcadia Room, New Orleans Marriott Hotel, 555 Canal St. Tickets are $75 apiece and can be bought at www.sportswriters.net/usbwa.
Noon to 4 p.m.: Final Four teams practice at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Free. Gates open at 11 a.m. (KU practices at 3:10pm CT)
Noon to 8 p.m.: Bracket Town in Halls H-J of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
4 p.m. to 10 p.m.: KISS performs at Woldenberg Park. Free.
4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.: College all-star game at the Dome. Free.
10 a.m. to 7 p.m.: Bracket Town. Shaquille O’Neal is expected to appear, and a game of former college athletes is scheduled to start at 12:30.
11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.: The Black Keys play at Woldenberg Park.
1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.: Tailgate party at Champions Square.
2 p.m.: Dribbling. On-site registration will be available from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. for the first 1,000 people who didn’t sign up online. All participants must check in before 1:30 p.m.
Noon to 8 p.m.: Bracket Town.
3 p.m. to 10 p.m.: Jimmy Buffett performs at Woldenberg Park.
Noon to 7 p.m.: Bracket Town.
4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tailgate party at Champions Square.
Louisiana Revised Statutes § 4:1 forbids the practice of reselling tickets for higher than face value. In 2006, the statute was amended to allow the sale of tickets, at any price, for sales conducted over the Internet, so long as the organizer of the event and the event location’s operator have authorized the sale of the tickets. Second, the web site’s operator must guarantee a full refund of the total sale price (including all charges) if the event is (a) canceled, (b) the purchaser is denied admission through no fault of his own, or (c) the ticket is not delivered as promised and this results in an inability to attend the event. Third, this guarantee must be posted on the operator’s web site. Finally, the prospective purchaser must be directed to the guarantee on the operator’s website prior to the completion of the transaction. See the applicaple section here. Meanwhile the New Orleans Code of Ordinances § 54-484 prohibits scalping with no exceptions.
University of Kansas men's basketball fans will have the opportunity to watch KU's Final Four game on the video board at Allen Fieldhouse, Kansas Athletics officials announced March 28.
The north, south and east entrances of Allen Fieldhouse will be open starting at 6 p.m. for Saturday night's contest vs. Ohio State. Tip will be approximately 7:49 p.m. from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La. Members of the KU pep band, spirit squad and the mascots will be on hand.
The Fieldhouse will close immediately following the game.
Admission is free, and parking lots will be available at no charge. The parking garage adjacent to Allen Fieldhouse is pay by the hour. The KUstore.com and the Booth Family Hall of Athletics on the lower concourse will be open, while concession stands on all three levels will be available.
Officials have discussed closing off Mass Street and other side streets from 6th to 13th streets. Officers will enforce the city’s no glass container ordinance as well. Khatib says the biggest difference will be police presence. More than 10 law enforcement agencies are expected to be represented downtown.
Big 12/College News
The exact opposite of what I predicted happened. Kansas won its way to the Final Four while Missouri somehow got bounced in the first round (well, technically second, but who’s counting?) by a 15 seed.
Those that were whining when Frank Haith didn’t get Big 12 Coach of the Year can all be quiet now. He won National honors on the strength of Mike Anderson’s team, an honor he, in hindsight, didn’t deserve.
Norfolk State also played the game of their lives against Mizzou before shooting a horrendous 27 percent in their loss to Florida, but that’s neither here nor there.
What Bill Self did during a “down” year is incredible. The Big 12 Player of the Year only averaged 15 minutes per game last season and, should KU reach the National Championship Game, he should be strongly considered for the Wooden Award.
Kansas State appears to have lost its top basketball recruit.
Robert Upshaw, a 7-foot, 275-pound center from Fresno, Calif., and the 43rd-ranked player in Rivals.com’s rankings of the class of 2012, has decided to reopen his recruitment.
Members of his family told Dave Telep, a reporter who covers recruiting for ESPN, that Upshaw probably will make a new decision in April but that he will not re-sign with K-State nor will he follow former K-State coach Frank Martin to South Carolina.
Upshaw is free to evaluate other schools because he signed a financial-aid agreement with K-State in November, rather than a binding national letter of intent, as most high school recruits do when committing to a school. K-State assistant coach Lamont Evans handled his recruitment.
Efforts to reach Upshaw were unsuccessful. He told the Fresno Bee he was glad he has options. Before picking K-State, he also considered Fresno State, Georgetown and Louisville.
“It’s going to take some time to process,” he told the Bee. “It’s a big deal where I’m going, so I’m not going to make a quick decision.”
Jéan-Paul Olukemi's eligibility for Oklahoma State's 2012-13 basketball season is in question, due to confusion stemming from his final year at prep school in Simi Valley, Calif.
Olukemi, who will be a senior next season, could have either one semester, or a full season of eligibility remaining with the Cowboys, depending on the result of an appeal to the NCAA.
Assists have always been Siva’s specialty, and this was just an off-the-court example.
He had persuaded his mother to let a troubled high school teammate move into their home. When she found out the teammate was still involved with a gang, she said he no longer could stay in the house.
Siva knew why his mother had to take a stand, but he also knew that kid was homeless.
“Trouble always seemed to find him,” said Siva, a self-proclaimed momma’s boy who’s now the University of Louisville’s junior point guard. “Even though my mom said he couldn’t stay with us, he still had no place to sleep. He was like a little brother to me. I was just trying to get him off the streets and keep him safe.”
Gaston couldn’t really be mad at her son. He had watched her do the same thing countless times herself.
Despite an increasingly complicated negotiation process, multiple sources confirmed to the Tribune late Wednesday night that Ohio's John Groce has been hired as Illinois' men's basketball coach.
One source said a Thursday news conference is expected.
Disagreement on terms of the contract had delayed the hiring the last few days, according to college basketball sources.
Differences in contract length and assistant coaches salaries had been the major obstacles in a deal being reached between Groce and Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas. Groce, who had coached at the Mid-American Conference program since 2008, asked for an average of $1.375 million annually over eight years ($11 million), while Illinois offered about $1.2 million per year for a five- or six-year contract, sources said.
Groce made $307,985 per season and it had been reported the most Ohio could offer was $500,000 annually.
Groce also wanted his top assistant to receive a salary on par with that of Jerrance Howard, whose contract as an Illinois assistant runs through next season for $180,000 per year.
A flight scheduled to head from Champaign to Athens, Ohio, on Tuesday was canceled when Groce introduced the demands that put a hitch in the process, sources said.
Thomas had told trustees he planned to have a coach in place before leaving Friday for the Final Four in New Orleans.
Whatever Cal did or didn’t do that crippled UMass and temporarily handcuffed Memphis I don’t care about. Perhaps there’s a few members of the NCAA still flummoxed trying to prove something they’re quite certain of, but for the most part life goes on.
No, whatever Calipari may or may not be hiding in his closet isn’t why I’d prefer to see him lose, it’s what we see when the bright lights are shining: Cal’s charisma sends shivers up and down my spine.
His personality borders on con-artist friendly, too-good-to-be-true charming, which raises red flags and prevents me from trusting him and his motives.
He reminds me of a used car salesman.
From giving back-handed compliments to Charles Barkley after beating Iowa State, to telling Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg that Anthony Davis was just being a “momma’s boy” when he banged knees with Perry Jones III during South Regional finals, Calipari’s method of interpersonal communication rubs me the wrong way, and it leads me to believe he’s overcompensating for something. Whether or not it’s for allowing someone not named Derrick Rose to take Derrick Rose’s SAT, I don’t know. I haven’t been in the thick of this long enough to confidently formulate an educated argument, but I do know I would never send my kid to play basketball for John Calipari.
Sure he’d do his best to get my kid to the NBA if that was the best place for him, but there’s other schools that produce pro players too … and I’m probably not going to raise a professional athlete.
Fair or unfair, my dislike for Calipari has nothing to do with basketball, and everything to do with what I see through a number of mediums.
Maybe he really is a genuinely nice person. Maybe he’s cordial and doesn’t do things public figures are forced to do for the sake of maintaining a favorable perception with the masses, but I don’t buy it.
Good grief, this year there's been more buzz about "Mad Men" than March Madness. Even the goofy students at Duke stopped jamming little Cameron Indoor Stadium, and when the Dookies are losing interest in hoops, it's a clue even Inspector Clouseau can't stumble past. The dispiriting fact is that attendance for the college game keeps declining throughout both the regular season and during the NCAA tournament.
So much of the problem is external: the competition. As the violent game of football grows more popular, and its season extends longer into winter, all hoops are squeezed. College basketball doesn't seem like a season anymore. It's more like a spring break. There's even talk now of not scheduling college basketball till after the New Year, running March Madness all through April. Seems like a good idea.
But because NCAA tournament games must be scheduled at the last minute at stale neutral sites that seem to be as far away as Bulgaria or Sri Lanka for most home-team fans, it means that, like the Olympics, March Madness is more and more a TV show.
However, unlike other competition-style TV programs like "Dancing with the Stars," and unlike other sports, March Madness is at its greatest disadvantage now because you don't get to know the characters. The brightest stars leave for the NBA after a year -- "one and done" -- just when they're beginning to attract interest. There's so little identity or continuity -- and basketball is the most personality-driven team sport. It's especially revealing that the biggest fuss made about March Madness are the brackets, and, essentially, filling out a 68-team bracket has as much to do with sport as does buying a lottery ticket.
It's representative of the whole situation that, for the Final Four, Kentucky is the huge favorite, because the Wildcats are a transient team made up mostly of freshmen who'll be gone next year, off to the NBA. Can we really say that "c" in the NCAA any longer stands for "Collegiate" if virtually a whole team doesn't spend much time in college? Let us say that, more correctly, the NCAA is now the National CBS Athletic Association.
But understand, the Kentucky way is all perfectly legal. If I were a good player I'd leave and go make some money, too, and if I were Mitt Romney I'd make the Kentucky coach, John Calipari, my running mate, because -- silver-tongued? -- hey, Calipari is absolutely platinum-tongued. He can talk anybody undecided onto his side. UK by a KO.
SI Frank Deford
Two columns of smoke rose into the darkened United Center just off the court, and through it, lit by a bright spotlight, walked Heights senior Perry Ellis as he was introduced as one of the 24 McDonald’s All-Americans Wednesday night at the United Center. Flashing at midcourt was 34, Ellis’ number.
It was a surreal moment for Ellis. A moment he had dreamed of. A moment he had worked for.
“That was pretty cool,” Ellis said after the game while standing outside the locker room. “That is a preview of how it will be in college every night. It was cool.”
Ellis had spent the previous 10 minutes or so in the locker room reflecting on how he had just played his last high school game; on his four championships while at Heights.
Yes, he had just played in front of thousands, in the United Center and on ESPN. But he viewed it as an ending.
“In the locker room, I’m just thinking, ‘it’s all over,’ ” he said. “It’s exciting, but I’m going to miss it, all my friends. It went by so fast. You’re doing something you love, it just goes by fast.
“But it’s time to move on to the next step. Time to keep working and get ready for college.”
Ellis, who has signed with Kansas and is Wichita’s first participant in the McDonald’s game in 31 years, didn’t have much of a chance to showcase his game in the 106-102 win by the West team.
It was a typical all-star game with little passing or defense. The West team was led by Shabazz Muhammad’s 21 points, while Alex Poythress led the East team with 19 points.
Ellis, who only played 3 minutes, 40 seconds in the first half and missed his three shots, finished 2-of-8 shooting with four points, four rebounds and two assists.
“That was just a subbing pattern,” Ellis said of his lack of playing time. “It ended up that way. It’s all right, though.”
But Ellis didn’t get caught up in the look-at-me-now actions of all-star games. No, Ellis played defense. On two straight possessions in the second half, the West team had three players racing up the floor for fastbreaks — and the only defender was Ellis. None of the rest of the players even crossed half court.
“We went down and turned it over, and I had to get back,” Ellis said. “I tried to get back, but I couldn’t guard three people.”
That Ellis still had a defensive mindset didn’t surprise Heights coach Joe Auer, who attended the game.
“Unselfish team ball is what he is all about,” Auer said. “Yes, he is the only guy worried about his defensive assignment.”
Ellis shrugged and said, “I did it for four years, so I’m still going to try to play defense.”
Ellis entered the game at the 15:27 mark of the first half and he promptly got a defensive rebound, passing it up the court to Kris Dunn, who scored on a lay-up.
After sitting for the final 11:47 of the half, he started the second half and in less than a minute took a pass on the left side of the basket and dunked for his first points.
“Everyone wants to score, so I tried, when I had a chance, to score,” he said. “… I felt I was playing my game. I felt comfortable for the most part, and I had fun, though, too.”
Later in the second half, he saved a loose ball from going out of bounds. Less than two minutes later, he drove and had a sweet up-and-under basket. On the other end of the court, he got a defensive rebound and passed it up ahead to William Goodwin, who dunked on the fastbreak.
While Ellis’ playing time and production were far less than what he’s used to, he was pleased he had a chance to play.
“It was real nice, especially because all the people who support me got a chance to see me,” he said. “All the KU fans got a chance to see me. I’m excited about that. I’m ready to get up there now.”
ESPN Highlights: McDAA Game
Muhammad, the nation’s No. 1 overall recruiting prospect, has trimmed his list of schools to three -- Duke, Kentucky and UCLA.
Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34)
3/29/12 12:36 AM
Shabazz need to go Kansas
From 2008 McD AA game: Top scorer was Willie Warren (23 pts), now in D-league. Greg Monroe, currently 16/10 for Pistons, was 0-2 from field
ESPN: The real Shabazz Muhammad
Mount Vernon point guard Isaiah Cousins has committed to Oklahoma, head coach Bob Cimmino confirmed to SNY.tv.
The 6-foot-4 Cousins chose the Sooners over Virginia Tech, UConn, Dayton and Xavier, Cimmino said.
“Isaiah is a 6-4 point guard who attacks the rim, hits the 3 and is a gym rat,” Cimmino said. “He never takes a play off and has elevated his game tremendously in the last year.”
The list of players to come out of “Money Earnin’ Mount Vernon” in recent years includes Ben Gordon of the Detroit Pistons, former Rutgers players Mike Coburn and Jonathan Mitchell, George Mason’s Sherrod Wright and West Virginia’s Kevin Jones and Jabarie Hinds.
One of Chicago’s most powerful club high school coaches said Friday he doesn’t believe Shaka Smart turned down Illinois’ offer because of his reluctance to deal with Chicago recruiting and believes the perception of the city’s recruiting is wrong.
Mike Irvin runs one of Chicago’s most recruited club programs, the Mac Irvin Fire. Its recent players include McDonald’s All-Americans Wayne Blackshear and Jereme Richmond, Illinois sophomore Meyers Leonard and Ohio State freshman Sam Thompson. The Fire’s current roster includes the nation’s No.1 junior Jabari Parker and No. 2 sophomore Jahlil Okafor.
According to sourced reports, Smart was turned off by the politics of Chicago recruiting, and that played a factor in his decision to reject Illinois’ offer. Irvin said Smart has recruited Chicago before and doesn’t believe that soured Smart on the Illinois job.
“Shaka knows he can come in and recruit kids from here,” said Irvin, who took over the program for his recently deceased father Mac Irvin. “When Shaka was (an assistant) at Florida, all of our guys had Florida on their list. I didn’t even know who Shaka was before, and he called me 90 times before he got a hold of me. He knows he can come in here.”
Irvin also believes the media perception of Chicago recruiting being a dirty business is wrong.
“It makes me mad when I hear things about recruiting in Chicago,” Irvin said. “Half the people saying the stuff don’t come to Chicago, first of all. My father spent all his years helping build up the city of Chicago and making it a place a lot of college coaches can come and recruit these kids.
“About ¾ of the people, they don’t know where these kids are from. They’ve never been here. They don’t know what we do as AAU coaches. They don’t see it. Just because they’re from the inner city doesn’t mean they’re not smart and they’re gang bangers.
“From what they say, Duke and North Carolina run great programs. They’re coming in and recruiting Jabari Parker and Jahlil Okafor from our program. They apparently don’t see anything wrong with recruiting Chicago.”
Irvin said he has never taken money to influence a player’s decision and only assists players and their parents with information on schools.
“Never (have I taken money,)” Irvin said. “My father lived in the same house for 40 years. We do it for the kids. You have to have love for the kids. There’s no other way to do it. We want to make a difference for our city.”
Irvin believes recruiting Chicago comes down to relationships.
“We want somebody to come in, and we want a relationship with the coaches,” Irvin said. “For them to come in, they need to roll our up their sleeves and get to work. It’s no different than anywhere else. You just got to put in the time and work. If you don’t want to put in the time and work, yes, Chicago is a difficult place to recruit. If you want to put in the time and work, it’s an easy place.”
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