Texas Tech continues to reach new heights for its program in Big 12 men’s basketball.
The Red Raiders won their fifth straight Big 12 Conference game Tuesday night, beating TCU 83-79 in Lubbock. That vaults the Raiders over .500 in league play at 8-7. They are 18-9 overall.
It also marks the longest winning streak for the school in conference play since going 14-0 in the Southwest Conference during the 12995-96 season.
…Planting The Seeds, the American-Statesman’s projections, has Tech as a No. 7 seed in the Midwest Region, playing Michigan in the first round. No. 2 seed Xavier would loom as a second-round opponent.
Tech’s winning streak is likely to end Saturday when the Red Raiders travel to Kansas. The Jayhawks can clinch a share of their 12th consecutive Big 12 title with a victory. After that, the Raiders go to West Virginia, where they’ll be underdogs again, an then finish at home against Kansas State, a team they should beat.
In about a week and a half, Bill Self and nine other Big 12 head basketball coaches will submit their all-conference picks to the league office.
“You’ve got three that are givens — Buddy (Hield, Oklahoma), Perry (Ellis, Kansas) and Georges (Niang, Iowa State),” Self said of first-team mention. “The other two ... you could make a case for a lot of guys who could be on that first team. There will be consensus on those three. Everybody (coaches, media) will have different opinions after that,” Self added on his weekly “Hawk Talk” radio show.
…Mason had a sore neck Wednesday, the result of a hard foul by Baylor’s Motley…“Bill (Cowgill, trainer) said he is sore and will have to get it worked on probably with treatment the next three to four days before he’s 100 percent,” Self said. “It’s not anything to keep him from playing. You will not keep him out unless it’s something significant.
“When he jerked his head left, he tweaked something in his neck. It wasn’t a head injury. His neck is stiff. They can work on that,” Self added.
…KU senior Ellis scored 15 points while playing 36 minutes Tuesday, three days after he was kneed in the head by teammate Carlton Bragg Jr., opening a 12-stitch cut at Kansas State. Selden accidentally slugged Ellis in the right eye late in the KSU game. His eye remained watery on Tuesday.
“Wayne swung at the ball as hard as a man can swing. It was not just a poke. It was a blow,” Self said. “I’m proud of Perry. He got beat up that game. That would knock most people out. I don’t think I’ve seen him that upset since I’ve been here because he really wanted to be out there down the stretch (of 72-63 win vs. KSU). It means a lot to him. ... I think with Perry, we take for granted he is a rock out there all the time.”
…Self said senior Hunter Mickelson still is not fully recovered from a high-ankle sprain he suffered a couple of weeks ago.
“He said he’s 90, 95 percent,” Self said. “High-ankle sprains take awhile to heal. He didn’t get a chance to play last night. We decided to go with guys who’ve been playing the majority of the minutes, especially after we got behind. He stepped in and make a huge play against Kansas State (forcing a turnover late).”
“We noticed watching the tape, on the road when we were down, we were just panicking, and we didn’t do that at home when we were down the same amount, even more sometimes, and we were able to come back,” junior center Landen Lucas said. “And we were like, if we just do the same kind of stuff, stay together like we do at home, we’re able to win those games. Once the Iowa State game passed, we figured that out, and we talked about it, and I think we’ve done a good job changing that.”
Good is an understatement.
Baylor took an eight-point lead on Terry Maston’s bucket with 13:48 remaining and scored 13 points the rest of the way, the final three on a meaningless bucket with two seconds left. That’s some pretty serious defense.
“We’ve got two point guards that handle the pressure really well, we’ve got one of the best scorers in the country in Perry (Ellis), and one of the best rebounders in Landen,” Selden said. “So we’re just playing how we play and not really trying to do anything more.”
Wayne Selden will be the key for Kansas in March
The 6-foot-5 junior had two critical baskets down the stretch in the Jayhawks' 66-60 win at Baylor on Tuesday, but for Kansas to get to the Final Four in Houston and have a chance to win a national title it needs Selden to regain the scoring prowess he displayed earlier this season.
The Massachusetts native reached double-figures in 10 of the Jayhawks' first 11 games this season, but has struggled a bit offensively since scoring 33 points against Kentucky on Jan. 30 at Phog Allen Fieldhouse.
In the seven games that Kansas has played since facing Kentucky, Selden is only averaging 9.0 points while shooting 37.7 percent from the field and 24.2 percent from 3-point range.
Those numbers have to improve if the Jayhawks are going to get back to the Final Four for the first time since 2012.
#1 During the first two months of this season, Kansas had the most unsettled frontcourt rotation of any elite team. Coach Bill Self couldn’t decide on a primary big man to pair with senior star power forward Perry Ellis. Senior Jamari Traylor was the opening-night starter in that spot, then it was fellow senior Hunter Mickelson, then it was freshman Cheick Diallo, until finally, on Jan. 23 against Texas, Self found an Ellis partner that worked: 6'10" junior Landen Lucas, whose rebounding, rim protection and efficient, low-usage offense have helped the Jayhawks rise to first place in the Big 12 and No. 1 in the Power Rankings.
The Jayhawks are 9–1 with Lucas as the starter, and their lineup efficiency data from that stretch, which I’ve pulled from hooplens.com, is strong evidence of the impact of the Ellis-Lucas frontcourt. KU has been a staggering 0.23 points per possession better while using that combo, compared to all other situations:
SI Luke Winn Power Rankings
While there has been some movement around the top of the board, three teams still expected to be major contenders for the championship when the tournament rolls around are the Kansas Jayhawks (+750), North Carolina Tar Heels (+800), and Oklahoma Sooners (+1000).
In that group, no team is hotter than Kansas, who has taken over first place in the Big 12 from Oklahoma.
Kansas is a perfect 8-0 SU and ATS over its last eight games, and that's a stretch that includes home wins over Kentucky and West Virginia and road wins over Oklahoma, Kansas State and Baylor. The Jayhawks look to be rounding into top form just in time for the postseason.
Tucked away behind the scenes and pageantry of a Kansas gameday, outside the spotlight of ESPN's Big Monday or College Gameday, sits Hudy's office and workspace where a low-tech sign, declares "Thou shalt not whine," while high-tech instruments fit for the finest sports performance facilities in the nation wait to record, analyze and enhance specific moves a body makes.
Mykhailiuk, like every Kansas student-athlete who has used the facility since 2012, does every rep under the watchful eye of not only Hudy and her staff, but the EliteForm training system, which uses a network of cameras, sensors and software to chart progress and performance during team and individual workouts. It not only measures how many how much or how many repetitions an athlete does during a workout, but can also evaluate how hard an athlete works during a given exercise and charts this information digitally.
There are three modes of workout Kansas basketball players go through at various times throughout the season – recovery, stimulating and strength, which is the most intensive but happens mostly in the summer months and preseason. The Jayhawks spend the majority of their time working on recovery and stimulating exercises – soft tissue building and stretching – during the season and Mykhailiuk has been in the gym nearly five times a week since he arrived in Lawrence.
"I'm trying to develop everything," Mykhailiuk told the Lawrence Journal-World last summer. "I'm trying to get better at some of my weaknesses and get stronger. I think that (strength) is one of my biggest weaknesses. I try to go to the weight room more than anybody else and work out."
It's feasible with the equipment available that a number could be generated for how many reps Mykhailiuk has done since arriving on campus, and there are hundreds of other analytics that Hudy and her staff keep under lock and key – mostly due to privacy issues – but there are a few numbers she does share proudly.
Hudy and her staff, including assistant strength and conditioning coach Glenn Cain are, well…nerds when it comes to matters of strength – nerds, who could in fact crush anyone who dare called them nerds. Nonetheless, Hudy slips on her reading glasses, flips open her laptop, and with an excited grin talks about how Mykhailiuk arrived on campus officially at 190 pounds and has been up to 210, before settling at around 205 for his in-season playing weight.
There's talk of wattage, an amount of power most commonly used for measuring electrical power, that's also used to measure energy produced and consumed by the body. The Kansas staff has been monitoring average wattage during back squat – a mix of force and velocity – for 12 years and has noticed a predictive trend where players who have gone on to play in the NBA have achieved at least 800 watts in the lift. The average Kansas player who didn't advance to the NBA over the same time period averaged 690 watts. Mykhailiuk entered the program at 560 watts, but today is at 800 watts.
The staff also monitors wattage in hang power clean, which offers an instantaneous look at peak power – the moment in the lift when it's fastest and at its highest load. Mykhailiuk started at 1,185 watts and today is up to 1,736 watts, an increase of more than 32 percent of his max power output.
"We began working on his overall strength," said Hudy, who's worked with more than 50 student-athletes who have gone on to play in the NBA and WNBA. "He was 17 and tiny, and strength was a major goal for him. Leg strength, we had to increase his mobility and posturing. The whole workout plan was focused around his posturing, which will help him run and jump better."
In simplest terms, Mykhailiuk now passes the eye test also and Hudy has pictures to prove his transformation, but those too are classified.
"Hudy has shown me the pictures and you can see that I'm bigger – you can see the results," Mykhailiuk said.
Hudy added, "If you look at his leg development, it's through the roof – his quads are well improved. Again, the one thing Svi doesn't do well is his posturing. When he runs, he's slumped, so he loses efficiency. If Svi works on his posturing, Svi will be better, but that's the one thing limiting him. That's where he needs to grow up a little mentally. You can work hard in here, but you also have to apply it. It needs to be an all-day deal to him."
Rock Chalk Weekly
“Pay Heed. The game you love began here. Respect those who came before you. Make their legacy your own. Because destiny favors the dedicated. And rings don’t replace work. In this game you don’t get what you want. You get what you earn. We are Kansas. Together we rise. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!”
Big 12/College News
Wichita State's Gregg Marshall told CBS Sports on Tuesday that Conner Frankamp's ability to make open shots could be the key for the Shockers down the stretch. The Kansas transfer is only averaging 6.5 points since becoming eligible in December, but is a better shooter than he's shown. Frankamp is just 5-of-16 from 3-point range over his last five games.
…Five of Iowa State's top six scorers are averaging 30.6 minutes or more. Tired legs continue to be the main question mark surrounding the Cyclones as the calendar gets closer and closer to March. It will be interesting to see if Steve Prohm expands his rotation to seven guys and allocates more minutes for reserve Hallice Cooke.
…Jaysean Paige has quietly emerged as West Virginia's go-to scorer on the perimeter. The 6-2 senior had 34 points in Monday's win over Iowa State and has scored 20 or more points in six of the Mountaineers' 16 Big 12 games. Paige is averaging 14.2 points.
Sean Miller devoted the final five minutes of his nine-minute postgame address to court storming, which happened Wednesday after a UA Pac-12 loss for the 11th time in the past four seasons.
When he finished, complaining among other things that the issue was falling on “deaf ears,” I mentioned that Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott was on hand Wednesday.
“He doesn’t care,” Miller said.
Anyway, here’s the full text of what Miller said about the issue:
“Let me say one last thing here. The one thing that I’ll say about our situation is simple, this: I have no problem being a great sport and I have no problem recognizing that Colorado deserved to win tonight. They won the game. They’re the better team. But eventually what’s going to happen in the Pac-12 is this: An Arizona player is going to punch a fan. And they’re going to punch the fan out of self-defense. And when it happens, only when it happens, will everybody say `We have to do something so that when the game ends we have a deep breath to be able to leave the court. Or at least shake the other team’s hand and then get to our locker room.'
“And then if the court wants to be stormed, fine. But until that happens, it’s fallen on deaf ears because there’s only one team right now that the court’s stormed on and for three consecutive years anytime we lose a game on the road it’s the same. Some are more under control, some aren’t. But if 7-foot, 250–pound Kaleb Tarzcewski gets bumped literally three seconds after the game ends and he retaliates, what would be the response of our conference? What would be the response? If more teams were having the court stormed on them, I wouldn’t be the only guy who’s bringing it up.
“There’s no sport—football, any sport in the country, professional, major league, whatever, where this happens to the level it happens. And what I mean is it’s literally within five seconds you have a mad rush on the court before our players can even leave the court. We lost to a good team. All credit should be pointed to Colorado.”
Arizona Daily Star
Simmons, even with his once-in-a-generation skill set, is not absolved from this, though he probably should be. LSU stinking has nothing to do with Simmons being a great player. But it's become a perception game, and as Simmons looks better and better, his team seems worse and worse. I think the ease in which the game comes to the Aussie-born baller has been lost a bit because of the noise caused by so many of LSU's unacceptable losses. There is irony in how great a distributor and willing a teammate Simmons is -- and how all of that gets discarded with the wind because of the guys swirling in place around him.
This dichotomy has created an odd side spectacle when watching LSU play. Your eyes stay on Simmons, and it's a performance within a performance. Magnets pushing against each other. It appears what Simmons is doing is removed from the team on the whole. You see him show off his array of skills, and it's obvious to anyone why he's so lauded. He's loping in to grab rebounds, controlling the ball in transition and seemingly taking six strides in 60 feet on his way to a graceful-but-forceful layup. He's seeing a play unfold three seconds before it happens, shooting a cross-court pass to the weak side and giving Tim Quarterman or Keith Hornsby a chance for an open 3.
And yet LSU is still trailing by 10 points.
The Tigers have lost five games to teams ranked worse than 100th in the RPI.
Simmons is a drastic talent incapable of carrying a team that has another potential NBA pick on the roster (Quarterman) and a fellow 2015 five-star recruit (Antonio Blakeney). Hornsby and Craig Victor have been in and out of the lineup this season due to injuries, but even with them in the mix this team never looked like what everyone thought it should be: top-25 good. It's just weird. I've never seen anything like it.
And, in the end, this underwhelming campaign, it's mostly going to fall on Simmons and nobody else. That is unfair, but the irony is, because Simmons is so great, our attention and memory will tie this season to him. Not to his teammates and not to his always-criticized coach, Johnny Jones. Simmons was to be the savior of LSU, but instead he's going to create a complex legacy of his own while adding to the curiously consistent pattern of former Tiger players -- college greats -- who never amounted to anything when it mattered most.
Four days after the NCAA championship game in Houston, Kentucky head coach John Calipari and Kansas head coach Bill Self will headline a coaches clinic at Roselle (N.J.) Catholic High School.
The event takes place on Friday, April 8th and benefits St. Joseph the Carpenter Church.
Also attending the event will be SMU coach Larry Brown, Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon, Monmouth coach King Rice, South Carolina coach Frank Martin, Syracuse associate head coach Mike Hopkins and Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich.
Check-in begins at 7:30 a.m., and the first coach will speak at 8:30. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Roselle Catholic has won two of the last three New Jersey Tournament of champions titles and in recent years has sent players to Kentucky (Isaiah Briscoe), Syracuse (Tyler Roberson), South Carolina (Chris Silva) and Monmouth (Pierre Sarr).
The current RC team features several highly recruited players including 2018 forward Naz Reid, 2017 forward Andre Rafus and 2017 point guard Nate Pierre-Louis.
Many high-majors have already reached out to Roselle Catholic's Nate Pierre-Louis, with his list of suitors only growing larger as the Class of 2017, 6-foot-3 point guard continues to play like he did Wednesday night in the Union County Tournament semifinals.
Pierre-Louis, who said postgame that Kansas is the latest to express interest, scored 10 of his team-high 13 points after halftime in Roselle Catholic's 56-46 win over Linden, advancing the Lions to the Union County final against The Patrick School on Saturday night back at Kean University.
Recruiting Calendar (updated for 2016)
Late Night in the Phog
Bill Self Camp KU Alumni games
60 Years of AFH Celebration
Legends of the Phog game
2011-12 Final Border War
KC Prep Invitational
and more, now on YouTube