Another historical perspective: the last time K-State captured a victory at Allen Fieldhouse was in 2006, which means a majority of the Wildcats’ roster — including sophomore guard Marcus Foster — would have been on the verge of graduation … from elementary school.
“Playing in Allen Fieldhouse is something like you’ve never been a part of before,” Foster said Tuesday. “I thought it was all jokes, and I didn’t think it was really all the hype that it was, but when you get in there and the game is going, it’s loud as ever and it’s every possession. It’s something you have to prepare for.”
Even with the preparation heading into the game last season, K-State still looked overmatched. Kansas went on an early run, eventually winning by 26 points.
Foster said that experience at the venue is a major key for the Wildcats this time around.
“Last year, we prepared for it and we really weren’t prepared as we should have been because we were a young team,” he said. “This year, almost every guy that plays major minutes played in that game last year and played in it previous years, so I think they’ll be ready to play.”
One of the biggest keys to success in Allen Fieldhouse is composure. Teams that come out, play calm and take the air out of the rowdy crowd manage to play better against Kansas.
“You just have to stay calm, there’s a lot of things that’s going to happen,” Foster said. “West Virginia prepared us for KU, because you’re going to make mistakes and you’re not going to be able to hear coach (Bruce Weber). Things are going to go wrong just because it’s Allen Fieldhouse — it’s legendary for that — so it’s all about staying poised and making the next play.”
“We have to come out and punch them in the mouth first, that’s going to dictate how the game is going to go,” Foster said. “It’s all about how we are going to start the game.”
However, K-State’s biggest issue may be how the team plays down the stretch, including free throws. The Wildcats rank in the bottom half of Division I in free-throw percentage, hitting their freebies 67.9 percent of the time.
Kansas State’s Nino Williams, who hurt his left knee Tuesday in a loss to West Virginia, has been listed as doubtful for Saturday’s game against KU.
“The good news is there is no structure damage where he would need surgery and be out for the year,” KSU coach Bruce Weber said of the 6-5, 220-pound senior who is KSU’s second-leading scorer (11.7) and leading rebounder (4.9).
“The negative is that it is a strain or sprain with irritation where we have to go on him and his pain tolerance. He is a tough guy. He has lived with pain since I have been here. Ironically, it is not the same knee as the one he has had procedures on, he just landed wrong on a lay-up on a steal where he lost his footing and irritated it. If he cannot play, he must be hurting. He did three treatments today with mostly running in the pool and shooting some free throws. Miracles happen and (athletic trainer) Luke (Sauber) has a magical touch and we will see if he can get him out-and-about. Obviously, we want him Saturday but we also have to look at the 10 games after that,” Weber added.
…“The big thing is that Kelly (Oubre) and Cliff (Alexander) have figured it out and have gotten some experience. He (Bill Self) made both of them earn it and now it gives them two more weapons that can do a lot of things. Kelly is just so active, we saw him when we recruited him, and he is playing a lot more active and confident.
“Frank Mason might be the key to the team and even though everyone forgets about Perry Ellis, he is a rock-solid guy like Nino (Williams) or Thomas (Gipson) that they depend on. I think Frank’s improvement came by chance since they had no one else he has had to play though mistakes. He plays confident, makes plays, and is shooting the ball better.”
Cool, calm and collected.
Twenty seconds remained in a dogfight with No. 13 Utah when Kansas sophomore guard Brannen Greene stepped to the free throw line. He performed his pre-shot routine, channeled his inner Ray Allen and drained four high-pressure free throws. Jayhawks win, 63-60.
Only a few games later, with a stingy No. 21 Baylor squad trying to outlast the Jayhawks in Waco, head coach Bill Self called Greene's number. Again, the marksman calmly approached the line and drained the first shot. Timeout Baylor. With a monumental free throw put on hold for a short break, Greene strolled back to the huddle at a leisurely pace.
"At that moment, the only thought that went through my head was, timeout, okay, time to go get some water," Greene said.
With the Baylor crowd bearing down on him, Greene stepped back to the line, dribbled twice and put up his second attempt. Nothing but net. At that moment, Greene remained perfect from the line on the 2014-15 season and the Jayhawks escaped with a 56-55 win.
His streak of 21-consecutive made free throws, which dated back to last season, would come to an end against No. 19 Oklahoma, but with less than four minutes remaining and the Sooners up 71-70, Greene flashed his special skill once again. Sophomore guard Frank Mason III found a wide-open Greene at the top of the arc and as he does best, Greene knocked down a colossal three-pointer elevating the Jayhawks back in front. A lead they wouldn't surrender again.
Following the Utah, Baylor and Oklahoma situations, Greene's late-game heroics have caught the attention of the media. However, this is old business for the guard from Juliette, Georgia. Greene has developed a reputation over his career as being the guy who keeps his composure when the spotlights are on. From hitting big shots in high school, to draining some pivotal free throws for the Jayhawks, Greene shows he possesses something only a marginal number of players own: the Clutch Gene.
Rock Chalk Weekly
“I miss college.”
This famous Tiger Woods quote sums up the thoughts shared by many graduates and athletes alike, following their entrance into the proverbial “real world.” These words also ring true for Mario Little and Rodney McGruder, two former Big 12 basketball standouts.
The two were among the dozens of professional basketball players who gathered in Santa Cruz for the D-League Showcase earlier this month, and both said they loved to reminisce about their glory days, while doing what they can to stay connected to the school.
“I still keep my ties with Kansas (because) being there was just different,” Little said. “Even something like running out of the tunnel (in Allen Fieldhouse) was just so special.”
While Little has moved on to playing for the Oklahoma City Blue of the D-League, he still has kept in regular contact with the Jayhawks. Little said he enjoyed going back to Kansas to play against the players on the current roster, but more than anything, he appreciated the bond he shared with the coaches.
“I talk to the coaches all the time and wish them good luck,” Little said. “I love that Coach Self really knows what he’s doing. He’s been so good at winning (Big 12) titles, especially with teams that really didn’t have anybody.”
Little played a fairly significant role in extending Kansas’ Big 12 Conference (regular season) championship streak in his senior season, where he had seven performances with at least eight points in conference play. Little’s best outing came against the rival Missouri Tigers, as he finished with 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting, adding five rebounds in a 17-point Kansas victory.
…“When I was a freshman, one of my favorite guys to play against [was] Sherron Collins,” McGruder said. “Then the next year, it was awesome to get to beat Kansas, especially because whenever we play the Jayhawks, we know it’s a big-time deal.”
The former Kansas State Wildcat went on to add that the atmosphere in Bramlage Coliseum when the Jayhawks came to town made it a “top-two” arena in the Big 12, falling just short of only one other venue: Allen Fieldhouse. Little also claimed Allen Fieldhouse as the best college venue.
…Overall, Little said he was happy with the way the team had played so far this year, and he wasn’t the only one enjoying the season. McGruder said he loved seeing Kansas State in the top tier of the Big 12 standings, and he said he thought the team could even go on to win the Big 12.
Little, on the other hand, had a different answer when asked who he thought would win the Big 12. The former Kansas guard laughed to himself, flashing a big smile before answering, “I’m always going with Kansas.”
Kansas University and Adidas are at it again.
The KU athletic department on Thursday unveiled a new-look uniform that the Jayhawks will wear for their home match-up with Texas on Feb. 28.
The uniform, dubbed the "Heritage Classic" is made of modern-day material but will feature logos and lettering inspired by KU's 1988 national championship uniforms.
A special callout on the jersey's back collar, "NCAA CHAMPS 1988," further commemorates the Jayhawks' rich basketball tradition. According to the release, fans should note that the signature finishing touch adorning the collar is only on the student-athlete's game jerseys to remind the wearer of the heritage of the program as they don them.
The special uniform is part of the Jayhawks' season-long celebration of the 60th anniversary of Allen Fieldhouse.
A limited number of replica jerseys will be available immediately to fans at KUStore in Allen Fieldhouse, and at KUStore.com within the week.
KUAD Press Release Heritage Classic uniform
Over/under of conference losses for Big 12 champ? -- Paul Gowen (@pdxjayhawk)
I don’t know about you, but I can’t get enough of this league. Games between ranked teams are hard to come by this time of year, but the Big 12 gives us one almost every night. That includes Tuesday night’s wild affair in Ames, where No. 15 Iowa State nearly blew a eight-point lead over No. 19 with one minute to play before escaping with an 89-86 victory.
We also have the added intriguing narrative of whether Kansas can win its 11th straight league title, which would be an incredible achievement given that the Jayhawks lost two of the top three players selected in last year’s NBA draft. Coming into the season, many people speculated that Texas would be the ones to end the Jayhawks’ string, but now Iowa State and West Virginia have emerged as the biggest threats.
So how many losses will the champ have? Well, Kansas has one, and those other two challengers have two. We’ve got a full six weeks go to, but Kansas’ only remaining road games against teams currently ranked are at West Virginia on Feb. 16 and at Oklahoma on March 7. That’s the final day of the regular season. The idea of KU needing that win to clinch its 11th of the row sends shivers down my leg.
Let’s say Kansas splits those two road games. I’ll also assume the Jayhawks have a hiccup somewhere along the way. So I’ll set the over/under for losses by the conference champ at three. But check back with me in a few weeks.
…Most improved freshman besides D'Angelo Russell and Stanley Johnson since start of the season? -- KG (@kdag90)
Yeah! I get to make another list! Most Improved Freshmen, in order:
1. Kelly Oubre, 6-7 forward, Kansas. This is an easy one for the top spot. For the first month of the season, Oubre was barely getting off the bench. He broke out for his first double-digit game on Dec. 20, when he lit up Lafayette for 23 points, and though he still tends to disappear, his improvement is a big reason the Jayhawks have gotten so much better the last month. Witness his 19-point, nine-rebound performance in last week’s win over Oklahoma.
SI Seth Davis
#tbt they say this was one of the best KU teams of all time. Don't forget bout @SHERRONCOLLINS4… instagram.com/p/ydd8M9v4WL/
1/29/15, 10:23 PM
John Calipari with the post Missouri Andrew Wiggins reference