LJW Photos Media Day in New Orleans
LJW Video: Thursday at the Superdome
KC Star Video: Media Day
KC Star Photos: Media Day
Anthony Davis is The Associated Press' college basketball Player of the Year, the first Kentucky player and second freshman to win the award.
He received 43 votes Friday from the 65-member national media panel that selects the weekly Top 25. Balloting was done before the NCAA tournament.
Thomas Robinson of Kansas was second with 20 votes, and Draymond Green of Michigan State received the other two votes.
This past summer, he worked on his game, and had an impressive performance at Chicago’s Nike Skills Camps in June against some of the best forwards in the country. He displayed the athleticism and skill around the basket that gave scouts their first true flashes of Robinson’s pro potential.
Robinson was equally impressive at the LeBron James Skills Academy in Akron, Ohio.
“My whole motivation was me proving to people outside of the Kansas program that I am a good player, that I felt like I deserved to be named among the top players of the country,” Robinson said.
“I felt that coming into the season, I felt like I would be able to play to a high level. I wasn’t really too worried about how it would be if I would struggle or not because of my confidence level coming into the season, by me doing good in the summer camps and playing against all the previous pros that were back on campus. So my confidence was pretty high coming into the season.”
Now with Kansas in the Final Four and the riches of the NBA awaiting soon after, Robinson can savor the moment. His job is far from over, though.
“It’s a little overwhelming,” Robinson said. “You get here and there is a band and people hand out beads. It’s exciting to be here. You have to cherish this moment, but at the same time, you can’t lose focus.
“I am excited to do anything. I am excited to be talking to y’all right now. We have been taking pictures all day. Like I said, I am just going to cherish this moment because not too many people are fortunate enough to get here. You just have to take advantage of it.”
LJW: Ohio State's strengths, weaknesses, and players to watch
“All year, (Sullinger’s) been having problems with guys that size,” Penn said of Sullinger’s facing the 7-foot Withey. “The length has been hurting him. So I think it’s gonna be Sully and what the big fella can do with Jared. One of them’s gonna get in foul trouble, we just don’t know which one yet.”
Penn was not the only Ohio State guy who tried to take the focus off of the showdown between big-time big men. Sullinger also took a turn.
“People are making such a big deal about this being Jared Sullinger against Thomas Robinson,” Sullinger said. “But at the end of the day, it’s The Ohio State University against Kansas.”
And it’s happening for the second time this season. The Jayhawks topped the Sullinger-less Buckeyes, 78-67, at Allen Fieldhouse back in December. Asked if he regretted missing that one, Sullinger complimented KU’s home arena.
“I was very disappointed,” he said. “It was hurtful because that’s one of the best places to play. It was loud. I left the floor with a headache, and I didn’t even play.”
Much has been made of the fact that Ohio State was without Jared Sullinger when it lost at Kansas in December, and the Buckeyes will be at full strength for Saturday's rematch. What few realize is how much Jayhawks point guard Tyshawn Taylor was hurting in that first meeting.
Taylor had 13 assists but scored only nine points, shot 3-for-9 and committed seven turnovers. Although he didn't want to make an excuse, Taylor Thursday said he hurt the knee a week before that game but waited to have arthroscopic surgery until the day after the game.
"I had to wear a big brace," Taylor said of the first meeting. "I was really uncomfortable. It played a big part that people don't really recognize because we didn't tell anybody I was hurt until after the game."
Taylor also might be inspired by the presence in the Superdome crowd of Bob Hurley Sr., his coach at St. Anthony in Jersey City, where Taylor was one of seven players to get a scholarship at a Division I school after going 33-0 and winning the mythical national title.
"He was huge for me," he said of Hurley. "I never really had too many male figures in my life, and he became one of the first who I could talk to and who demanded a lot from me and who I wanted to please. I didn't want to get in trouble because I would worry even before my mother how coach Hurley would be . . . I came to a really good college program prepared to play right away because I was so prepared in high school by him. I'm excited to see him this weekend."
In case you haven’t noticed by now, I can be a little dense sometimes. For example, it took me 38 games to figure out what “a tough match-up for KU” means. It’s code speak for either Thomas Robinson is going to have to show he can defend the perimeter, or Jeff Withey will head to the bench for long stretches.
The latter is not an option in Kansas University’s national semifinal game Saturday against Ohio State because Withey will be needed to guard All-American Buckeyes center Jared Sullinger.
Robinson must make life difficult for 6-foot-7, 225-pound sophomore forward Deshaun Thomas, an inside-outside scoring threat averaging 21.8 points per game in the four NCAA Tournament games.
KU made it this far by coach Bill Self’s figuring out a way to mask Robinson’s defensive limitations, whether it was sending Withey to the bench or throwing in a junk defense at just the right time.
But Kansas can’t extend the season to Monday without Robinson, the team’s best offensive force and the nation’s best rebounder, extending the range of his defense the way he has his jump shot.
It might sound a little crass, a little greedy to ask more of a first-team All-American, but the Final Four is all about great athletes playing at their best. Robinson has come so far in three years at KU, but the one thing he hasn’t shown yet is that he can defend a power forward who has three-point accuracy in his arsenal.
Kansas University guard Elijah Johnson has felt like royalty since Sunday, the day the Jayhawks defeated North Carolina in St. Louis and punched their ticket to the Final Four.
“I’ve never felt like I had a red carpet laid out for me in my life. The experience is fun,” Johnson, KU’s 6-foot-4 junior out of Las Vegas, said Thursday at a news conference in the Superdome. “I’m enjoying it, but we are down here to play ball.”
KU’s five starters each held court in their own interview room, where they fielded a barrage of questions for 20 minutes. The Jayhawks practiced for an hour and a half after finishing with the media.
Johnson was asked about his clutch three-pointer that boosted a narrow one-point lead to four during crunch time against the Tar Heels.
“I think it was a shot everyone told me was a good shot. I didn’t shoot the shot thinking I could be a hero,” said Johnson. His three upped a 68-67 lead to 71-67 with 3:07 left in KU’s 80-67 victory in St. Louis.
“After the shot, I didn’t think I was a hero. I shot the ball. I knew I could make it. Our fan base, coaches and teammates saw something I couldn’t see. It was a big shot to them. They wanted to tell me how big they thought it was. I still don’t see it as a big shot because it’s something I can do, make that shot.”
…Former KU guard Tyrel Reed will be at the Nebraska Furniture Mart (1601 Village West Parkway, Kansas City, Kan.) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday to sign copies of his book, “Reed All About It.” Reed played basketball for a pro team in Belgium first semester before returning to the U.S. to complete his studies in physical therapy.
Inside the biggest venue, on the biggest stage, during one of the biggest weeks of his career, Bill Self turned to the only person who could hear him.
"It's amazing this team is here, isn't it?" the Kansas coach said as he took the raised-court steps up to that stage for a Final Four practice.
The question was as bare as the Superdome is large in this football configuration that makes the site perhaps the largest in Final Four history. An answer hung in silence among 75,000 empty seats before a shot being launched.
Of course it's amazing Kansas is here -- except that few, beyond the coach, are going to say it. In a Final Four full of powerhouses, it's hard to label Kansas a Cinderella. This is the program's 14th Final Four. Self has guided the Jayhawks to at least a share of eight consecutive Big 12 regular-season titles. No one has done that in a major conference since John Wooden.
But when the coach doesn't expect to be here, you know there's a story. That's why I was the last guy Self spoke to before he took the court Thursday. I wanted to see what was left in the tank after he had gone through the media car wash. They asked him every conceivable question except how he did it. How he did this.
"Taking a team with lower expectations and performing pretty well gives the appearance you're doing a better job coaching," Self said during the media scrum.
…Sports are full of full-of-it labels. College basketball's are as worn as any sport. For ages, coaches have been divided into two categories. You're either a recruiter or a tactician. Kentucky's John Calipari is a recruiter. And a damn fine one, getting all those one-and-dones to mesh. Louisville's Rick Pitino is a mastermind. This is possibly the least talented the six teams he has taken to the Final Four.
Self, for better or worse, was perceived as a hoarder of talent. He recruited the guts of the 2005 Illinois team that Bruce Weber got to the Final Four. Dee Brown, the inspirational guard. Deron Williams, now an NBA star.
…"I think he's both," Taylor said when presented with the two coaching labels. "He's definitely a slick talker. He's a good recruiter for sure. I don't know anybody better."
…"Coach Self, he can't treat every player the exact same way. Sometimes guys are having bad days," Taylor said. "It could be because something is going wrong off the court. He won't be as aggressive or scream. He understands how to coach us."
Last week before the Midwest Regional, Self spotted a moody Taylor coming into practice. The two chatted for five minutes while Taylor shot free throws.
"He kind of laid off me that practice," Taylor said.
In the regional final, Taylor scored 22 points and had five assists against the Tar Heels.
…"This isn't a hard team to coach," Self said. "It's a lot easier coaching a team when everybody in your program agrees on who the five starters should be, everybody in the program wants those starters to play 30 minutes a game. ... That's not a hard team to coach. When a team cares a lot, it's pretty easy."
CBS Dennis Dodd
The best players stay in college barely long enough to scuff up a dorm fridge, so it can feel like an eternity when one actually completes a full career at a major program.
Tyshawn Taylor is finishing four years at Kansas that must have felt like 40 sometimes, both for him and the diehards in Lawrence who have bobbed along with his ups and downs.
He was the blue-chip recruit. He was the immature troublemaker. He was loved by fans, then shunned by them, then loved by them again.
His high school coach was offered a few adjectives Thursday to help sum it all up. Was it turbulent? Polarizing? Or do we really have to break out the old roller coaster cliché?
“How about just calling it ‘college?’ ” Bob Hurley answered.
In many ways, Taylor was no different from a lot of teenagers when they get away from home. He screwed up. It’s just for a starter for a program like Kansas, every mistake is magnified, and Taylor, a Hoboken native who starred for Hurley at St. Anthony, has had his share.
…Certainly, nobody doubted his ability as a survivor. Hurley, who has coached urban kids for 40 years, said he hasn’t had many players who survived rougher childhoods than Taylor’s.
Taylor had to help raise his two younger sisters when he was just 10, picking them up from school and watching them in the afternoons as his mother worked to support the family. His father, Tyrone Garner, was never part of his life, leaving him as the man of the house when he was just a boy.
There was a monthlong stay in a homeless shelter, and other times when they arrived home to find the power shut off. The family moved from the projects in Hoboken, to Clearwater, Fla., for a fresh break, then back to Hoboken when Taylor decided he needed the structure that Hurley and St. Anthony would provide.
“As (Kansas coach) Bill Self always says, Ty makes some plays that you’re just astounded at the ability he has,” Hurley said. “And then he makes some plays that look like he’s never been coached.”
Taylor helped lead the Friars to the No. 1 national ranking his senior year, so there would be symmetry if Taylor is the star as the Jayhawks clip the nets at the Superdome on Monday night.
If that happens? Everyone in Lawrence will look back on those four years that seemed like 40 and remember how they just flew by.
Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor said the photographer who was shooting team pictures of the Final Four participants paid the Jayhawks a compliment.
“He told us it seemed like our team liked each other more than the other teams he just shot,” Taylor said. “We’ve had a lot of things we’ve gone through … Thomas’ (Robinson) story … we’ve had to bounce back from and show how together we were … and had to stick together through a lot of things.
“On the court, that shows a lot. Myself, being a leader, I try to keep us as close as possible on the court and off the court.”
TCJ: Taking a moment to thank Tyshawn
VOTE for Coach Self USA Today Poll
VOTE for Coach Self NBCsports Poll
KU AD: Ohio State pregame notes
KU AD: Jayhawks meet with media, practice in New Orleans (Videos/transcripts)
Kansas Men's Basketball Head Coach Bill Self was presented with the 2012 Adolph Rupp Cup by the Commonwealth Athletic Club of Kentucky on Thursday at the New Orleans Marriott. Kansas Associate Athletics Director Jim Marchiony accepted the award on behalf of the Jayhawks' leader due to the team's NCAA Tournament Final Four practice schedule.
In his ninth season as head coach at Kansas, Self led the Jayhawks to the Final Four with a 31-6 record and a Big 12 regular season championship, adding to his 268-52 overall record at Kansas and eighth-straight Big 12 regular season title. In addition to being Self's 14th consecutive 20+ win team, the Jayhawks went undefeated at Allen Fieldhouse and earned the No. 2 seed in the Midwest division for the NCAA tournament. Self has also been named as one of four Finalists for the Naismith Coach of the Year award, which will also be awarded in New Orleans.
"As a former player of Coach Rupp's, I can tell you that Bill Self is the kind of coach that Rupp would have respected, and the kind he would have loved to play against. He's one of only four coaches in NCAA Division I history to have led three different teams to the Elite Eight. Success at multiple programs, and against the odds, is the mark of a great coach," said Gerry Calvert, Club spokesperson.
The University of Kansas basketball team attended the NCAA's annual Salute Presentation and reception Thursday evening , which honors each school at the Final Four.
At their arrival to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, the Jayhawks enjoyed a sit-down dinner along with participating teams Louisville, Kentucky and Ohio State. Following the meal, student-athletes were able to explore Bracket Town, an area of family-friendly activities set up adjacent to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Each player was also sized for his Final Four ring provided by the NCAA.
From there, sports personality Jim Nantz introduced the teams and coaches in front of a large crowd of supporters. The event was centered around the National Championship trophy staged at midcourt and also featured a sneak peak at the 2012 "One Shining Moment" video.
On Friday, March 30 KU will do more media interviews followed by an open practice at the Superdome from 3:10-4 p.m.
Kansas legend and current assistant Danny Manning stepped off the team bus at the JW Marriott in New Orleans on Wednesday sporting a blue warm-up suit with a KU logo emblazoned on the chest.
Hopefully, someone snapped a good picture.
Manning will always be a Jayhawk at heart -- but his days of wearing his alma mater's colors are numbered.
Manning was named the new head coach at Tulsa on Thursday, meaning this weekend's Final Four will be the last time the former All-American and 15-year NBA veteran will bark instruction from KU's bench.
Since joining Kansas' staff in the spring of 2003, Manning has helped the Jayhawks program become one of the best in the nation at developing post players. Lately the school has even been referred to as "Big Man U."
Since Manning began providing tutelage nine years ago, only two Kansas post players who started at least 50 percent of the team's games in a single season have failed to be selected in the NBA draft.
David Padgett started as a freshman in 2003-04 before transferring to Louisville, where he battled injury problems. Walk-on Christian Moody started 25 games in 2004-05 but never pursued a professional career.
Otherwise, Manning has helped every other KU post player with the above-mentioned figures blossom into a professional-caliber player. The list of NBA draftees includes Wayne Simien, Julian Wright, Darnell Jackson, Sasha Kaun, Darrell Arthur, Cole Aldrich, and Marcus and Markieff Morris. Others such as Padgett, Jeff Graves and C.J. Giles have earned money overseas.
"I'm blessed to have even met him," said Markieff Morris, who is in his first year with the Phoenix Suns. "He's the best big-man coach in the country. Any time that whistle blows and you look over to that sideline, he's telling you what to do.
"I owe most of my success to him."
…"Coaching is very rewarding," Manning said. "You see growth on the court, you see it off the court. These guys come to you as high school seniors, as college freshmen. They're still boys, embarking on young adulthood.
"Hopefully when they leave after playing for Coach Self and in our system, they're off on a good foot as they head toward manhood."
As much as he's helped the Jayhawks, the last seven seasons have been beneficial to Manning, too. Just like the young players he coaches, Manning had to learn a whole new side of the game when he joined Self's staff.
"For me, the hard part was, at times, not understanding or figuring out why it was so hard to get through to guys," Manning said. "Not only in coaching, but toward the end of my playing career, too. I was like, 'Hey, I want to help you. This is my thought process. This is what I see from where I'm sitting on the bench.' Sometimes guys are receptive to that, sometimes they're not.
"The biggest thing is creating a relationship with them away from the game, where they know when you say something to them, you have their best interest in the forefront. My father always told me it was like a bank account. You want to make sure you have more deposits than withdrawls."
…"Our big thing here is scoring before you catch the ball," Self said. "Even the best players are only going to make one or two great spin moves a game to get past their defender. So it's all about doing things to make sure you're going to score once you get the ball.
"Danny is the best when it comes to teaching guys about footwork and angles and putting yourself in a position to make something happen."
Self said Manning was known as a "cerebral player" during a pro career that was often slowed by injuries. A two-time NBA All-Star, Manning suffered three ACL tears during his time in the NBA.
"That obviously played a negative role in his playing career," Self said, "but it was probably a positive in his coaching career. He's had to teach guys to do it the way he had to learn to do it after he was hurt, as opposed to just being a superstar. A lot of guys can't do what superstars do.
"He's hungry. He's detail-oriented. He's beyond his years, basketball-wise. He's definitely ready to be a head coach."
ESPN Jason King
Brett Ballard leaving Baker U to join Manning in Tulsa
I wanted to share a cool story from KU director of basketball operations Barry Hinson, who accepted the Southern Illinois head-coaching job Wednesday.
Hinson, who spoke with reporters outside the locker room a few minutes ago, said right after KU's win over North Carolina last week, he gave Self a hug to celebrate KU advancing to the Final Four.
During the embrace, Self leaned over.
"The only thing that could make this better," Self told him, "is if you get the job."
"That's the kind of guy I've worked for for the last four years," Hinson said. "There are a lot of stories out there about coaches, but for a guy to turn around and say that right after he knows he's going to the Final Four, I think that speaks volumes of what type of guy Bill Self is."
LJW: Jayhawks excited for Manning, Hinson
TU hopes Danny brings the Miracles
How did @KU_Hoops Thomas Robinson overcome personal tragedy to lead his team to a possible 4th NCAA Championship? Watch CBS 3/31 at 4PM ET
March Madness TV @MarchMadnessTV
USA Today: Why Kansas will win the national championship
The Jayhawks are tough on the glass and relentless near the rim: Kansas leads all tournament teams with 59 offensive rebounds and 61 second-chance points. The Big 12 regular season champs have scored 23 percent of their points on second chances during the tournament, the highest by any team that played two games.
National Player of the Year candidate Thomas Robinson of Kansas leads all players in the NCAA Tournament with 47 field goal attempts in the paint — eight attempts more than any other player.
The Ohio State-Kansas game marks just the second meeting of #2 seeds in NCAA Tournament history. The other took place in a national semifinal game in 1995 when Arkansas beat North Carolina, 75-68.
Since the Selection Committee began awarding the top overall seed in 2004, only one of those teams has won the national championship. This year’s Kentucky Wildcats look to join the 2007 Florida Gators.
NBC Video: The three big men who'll rule in New Orleans
USA Today Poll: Who will be the most important Final Four Player
A battle of heavyweights should feature a scintilating lead guard showdown between the Buckeyes’ Aaron Craft and the Jayhawks’ Tyshawn Taylor, who still has yet to make a 3-point shot in the NCAA Tournament. Kansas played its best basketball of the postseason in their Elite Eight win over North Carolina — but it will be difficult to replicate that type of offensive perfomance against Ohio State. The Buckeyes don’t wow you offensively but are exceptionally tough and seem to land every 50-50 ball. On Saturday, that will be the difference.
PREDICTION: OHIO STATE 69, KANSAS 65
Jon Rothstein CBS
KU's "blue team" will take on the Buckeyes Saturday. The names are familiar to college basketball fans – Thomas Robinson, Tyshawn Taylor, Jeff Withey, Travis Releford and Elijah Johnson along with reserves Teahan and Young.
The "red team" is made up of the no names. Juenemann, Merv Lindsey, Christian Garrett, Niko Roberts. They've played a total of 102 minutes (garbage time) at the end of games already decided. But for hundreds of hours, the red team works with the top seven players, providing practice fodder. But without the effort of the "scrubs" the starters wouldn't improve.
"The blue team gets on us in practice if we're not playing well or playing hard," Juenemann said. "It creates a real bond on the team. We work hard to make them better but we get better in trying to do that. It's a cool thing. The seven guys everybody knows about, we wouldn't be here without them. But we're a team and the guys who push them in practice, we're a part of the team.
"Everybody has a role on the team. It doesn't matter if you're the last man or the first man. I'm not as talented as the other players. But the guys on the scout team, we accept our role. We try to make the other guys better every day in practice."
In 2008, Teahan was one of "those guys." He was a freshman on a deep and talented team that delivered Kansas is third national championship. A native of Leawood, Kans., Teahan played a few seconds in the Final Four semifinal victory over North Carolina. The circle is now complete but it's not a perfect circle.
"It means a lot to get back here," said Teahan, who had played a total of 218 minutes in three season before developing into a valuable reserve. "Being a senior and being able to contribute, this means more than my freshman year. I was always hoping and thinking we'd be back."
Big 12 Sports
When the 7-foot center Jeff Withey showed up on the Kansas campus in 2009, he was a gawky San Diego kid who weighed a shrimp taco or two above 200 pounds. So how did he develop into the bruiser who has helped put the Jayhawks into the NCAA tournament's Final Four?
Withey credits two people. The first is Kansas assistant coach Danny Manning, a Jayhawk legend who won the 1988 national title, was selected No. 1 in the NBA draft and recently was named Tulsa's new coach. The other is a blonde-haired former college volleyball player named Andrea Hudy.
Withey describes her as "one of our secret weapons."
As a female strength and conditioning coach for a Division I men's basketball program, Hudy is a rare breed. She's believed to be the only woman in the country who holds that position. According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, women account for just 5% of NSCA-registered trainers across all sports. But what really stands out about Hudy is her track record: She's worked with nine national-title teams and produced over two dozen NBA players who remain loyal to her. She is such an asset that elite high-school prospects point to her presence as an appealing reason to play for Kansas.
One of Hudy's projects, Houston Rockets forward and former Kansas star Marcus Morris, sings her praises loudly. "If it weren't for Hudy," he said, "I wouldn't be in the NBA."
Detroit Pistons guard Ben Gordon, who won the 2004 NCAA title with Hudy while they were both at Connecticut, put it this way: "There's no question she had as much to do with us winning a national championship as anyone."
…In the weight room, "she demands the respect," said former Kansas center Cole Aldrich, whom Hudy whipped from an admittedly chubby freshman into an NBA reserve with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Every big-time college sports program these days has a strength coach, usually a male one at that, but strength training won't necessarily stay a man's world for long, said NSCA founder Boyd Epley. "She's at the top of the top," he said. "You see the results on TV when you watch Kansas."
Wall St Journal
Just eight games into his Kansas career, Kevin Young scored 14 points and snared four rebounds off the bench against one of the top teams in all of college basketball.
The forward, however, never boasted about his stat line in the Jayhawks’ 78-67 victory over second-ranked Ohio State back on Dec. 10. Even today, Young has no problem admitting why the performance occurred.
“I probably caught them off guard a little,” the 6-foot-8 Young said. “I honestly don’t think they knew who I was.”
No one did.
Young was a virtual unknown when he transferred to Kansas in August. He averaged 10.7 points for Loyola Marymount as a sophomore in 2009-10 before sitting out last season.
…“The tradition and the winning here is something I wanted to be a part of.”
San Diego State coach Steve Fisher was livid -- both at Young and KU coach Bill Self -- but Young held strong and arrived in Lawrence in August.
Two months later, shortly after the Jayhawks began official workouts, Self told Young he was months away from making a significant contribution.
“I was like, ‘No, I’ll be ready in a week or two, Coach,’” Young said. “He said, ‘I won’t be shocked if you’re not ready until February.’ I thought he was joking, but it took me a while.
“I was used to playing rec ball. I wasn’t used to playing with a lot of structure.”
…“He’s pursuing the ball as well as anybody we have in our program,” Self said. “I have total confidence going to him off the bench. He does more with the stat sheet than anyone on our team.”
Comments such as those are almost overwhelming to Young. A year ago he wasn’t even on a college roster. Now here he is at the Final Four, a key factor for a team that is two wins away from a national championship.
“I knew from the first time I got in the gym with these guys that they were something special,” Young said.
“I definitely think I made the right decision.”
ESPN: Don't forget about the point guards
Accuscore predicts KU victory over tOSU. Barely.
Making the NCAA Final Four in college basketball is a big deal. We’re talking a big, huge deal; both for the teams and their fans, as well as for the influence of those universities. The evidence is in the Klout Score—the further each team advanced in the NCAA tournament, the more its influence grew. When each team qualified for the Final Four, their Scores spiked.
The University of Kansas, the University of Kentucky, the University of Louisville and the Ohio State University men’s basketball teams advanced to the Final Four in New Orleans this past weekend. The social media buzz surrounding each team has flooded news feeds and the fan bases’ thirst for more, more, MORE is unquenchable. Each school’s social media manager has answered these demands by using their heightened levels of influence for showcasing exclusive content and community building.
Annie Werner runs Kansas basketball’s social media. She said on non-game days the most successful content is pictures and videos of the players and coaches as opposed to user-generated content. The fans flock to this type of content and share it over and over again. In general, the best content, she said, is a final score Facebook update after a victory with a picture attached. Werner’s crowning achievement has to be this picture of Kansas Head Coach Bill Self after Kansas’ close win over Purdue in the NCAA third round.
Werner’s focus this week has been to provide a buffet of original content to hold over the fans until Saturday’s game.
Headed to New Orleans? Lawrence?
Updated NCAA KU digital tournament guide
TV: 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.
Gates A Ground and Gates A, B, C, D, E, G and H Plaza
Garages 5 & 6 - $25 Cash
Designated Taxicab Drop-off and Pick-up Zone
The designated taxicab drop-off and pick-up zone will be located on Perdido Street, between S. Claiborne and LaSalle Streets. Taxicabs will enter Perdido Street from Claiborne Avenue and will exit at LaSalle Street in a down town direction toward Tulane Avenue. Please click here to view map.
Final Four Tip-off Tailgate
Come celebrate in style at Champions Square before the big games begin! This event is free and open to the public.
Saturday, March 31, 1:00 PM - 4:30 PM
Monday, April 2, 4:30 PM - 7:30 PM
Each patron, regardless of age, must have a valid ticket for entry
Will Call Locations:
Gate A Ground (SMG Box Office) – ADA
Gate A Ground (Saints Box Office)
Gate H Plaza Box Office
Will Call Dates and Times:
Monday, March 26 → 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Tuesday, March 27→ 9:00AM – 5:00PM
Wednesday, March 28 → 9:00AM – 5:00PM
Thursday, March 29 → 9:00AM – 5:00PM
Friday, March 30 → 9:00AM – 6:00PM
Saturday, March 31 → 9:00AM – Halftime of the first game
Sunday, April 1 → 9:00AM – 6:00PM
Monday, April 2 → 9:00AM – Halftime
No video cameras allowed. No professional cameras with lenses longer than 4”. All other cameras are allowed.
Gym Bags / Backpacks / School Bags, Oversize Packages, Cans, Bottles, Weapons, Fireworks, Contraband, Video Cameras, Cameras with lens exceeding 4”, Recording Devices, Beach balls, Laser Pointers, Artificial Noisemakers and Containers of any kind are prohibited on Superdome property. Please note that enhanced security screening has been implemented which includes hand-held metal-detecting wands and/or pat down searches.
Superdome official site
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)
KU Alumni info, events, rally, etc
NCAA Final Four official site
NOLA Final Four official site
NCAA Final Four-related events
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 applicable 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
From the North Shore to the South Side of Chicago, there might be doubts and disappointment.
But here in the promised land of the Final Four, there is applause for Illinois’ hiring of John Groce. These people ought to know. They’re here, right where Illini Nation wants to be.
“I think John’s terrific,’’ Kansas coach Bill Self told the Sun-Times on Thursday. “He came out after he got the Ohio job and spent a few days with us. He’s got energy. He’s got personality and bounce. I’m sure he’ll have everything energized up there quickly. In that locker room, he’ll have those guys won over in minutes.’’
Illinois’ fortunes have changed since Self left Champaign for Kansas nine years ago. Bruce Weber guided Illinois to the 2005 Final Four, but the program spiraled downward after that.
Self, though, is not among those who believe Illinois has lost its luster.
“It’s a top-10 or -15 program. Period,’’ said Self, who will trying to guide the Jayhawks to their second national championship in five years this weekend.
…Told that opinions are divided on Groce, who doesn’t have as flashy a resume as Shaka Smart, Brad Stevens or some others mentioned for the job, Self was puzzled.
“Why is he not being well received?’’ he said. “I got Tulsa to the Elite Eight when I got the [Illinois] job. He got Ohio to the Sweet 16. That’s huge. So often, the resume can be overrated. Him taking Ohio U to two tournaments in the last three years and going to the Sweet 16 this year is like several other programs going to the Final Four.’’
…Self also expects Groce to be a strong recruiter.
“When I came to Illinois, I’d never recruited north of Missouri or Kansas,’’ Self said. “This guy’s been in the Big Ten, been in the Midwest. He’ll have advantages I didn’t have because he’s already got built-in ties. Granted, I had a great staff. But he’ll hire a great staff, too. I like him a lot.’’
Marshall wins Cousy Award
This is Kentucky's game to lose. It already beat Louisville on New Year's Eve 69-62, and clearly has better, NBA-ready personnel. Anthony Davis alone will make more money playing pro ball than the entire Louisville roster.
And yet when you perform a fan's accounting, the picture changes. The Wildcats lose their edge.
That's because this season has been, arguably, much more satisfying season for Louisville fans. The team faltered after a series of injuries, including to its best freshman recruit. There was a 30-point thrashing at the hands of the lowly Providence Friars. A sputtering offense produced nine losses in all.
Things were so bleak that three weeks ago I was planning on a different kind of column. It was titled: "When You Know Your Team Is Going to Lose."
The beauty of this team, and the beauty of college basketball, is to watch young people grow up before your eyes. Since the Big East Tournament, we've watched the junior Siva finally stop making freshman mistakes. Then there is The Pest: The lightly-recruited Russell Smith, a steals artist and 36% shot-chucker who has proved the team's go-to scorer.
Somehow, the 225th best shooting team in the country is playing Saturday in New Orleans.
There were never doubts for Kentucky, whose path to New Orleans has been clear ever since coach John Calipari inked a freshman class full of pre-fab, plug-and-play basketball Brahmins.
For Kentucky fans: Losing just doesn't feel bad. It feels personal.
That's why they've made peace with Calipari, a man who has pushed the mercenary limits of the amateur sport. The school's athletic department erected a billboard of Davis in New Orleans—copying a classic Michael Jordan pose. Rapper Jay-Z even appeared courtside in dumpy Rupp Arena for the regular-season Louisville game.
Calipari's two-loss team is dominating, and knows it. Their games, produced with few blemishes, feel like a business transaction.
This is what Kentucky fans wanted. They wanted to win, no matter what it took. And that's what they've got.
But if you were to ask them their favorite team, they would reflexively bring up the "Unforgettables"—the ragtag group of Rick Pitino-coached overachievers who infamously fell to Duke's Christian Laettner 20 years ago.
Two decades on, Pitino is now at Louisville, doing the same thing with a new bunch of overachievers.
Louisville fans now know where the real joy lies—the joy of the struggle.
And that's why I can't help but feel sorry for Kentucky fans. This season, they only know that pinch of relief, the joylessness of entitlement.
SI Seth Davis: How to beat Kentucky
AP: Why 'trust' and 'Calipari' rarely share a sentence
''2008 was ridiculous," said Calipari, whose trip to the final later was vacated by the NCAA because of violations. "Guess what? This Final Four will be very similar to that."
Player of the year — Anrio Adams, sr., Rainier Beach.
The N.C. Associated Press all-state basketball teams
Olympic’s Allerik Freeman, a 6-3 junior, averaged 18 points and six rebounds for a 28-2 team that was nationally ranked for much of the season. He has narrowed his college choices to Kansas and Villanova.
Firing Bruce Weber may not damage Illinois' chances of landing Jabari Parker.
Parker's dad, Sonny, said his son would still consider the Illini after the school hired Ohio's John Groce. But he also said time was running out.
"We've been pretty consistent in taking everyone's phone calls," Sonny Parker told ESPN.com "In terms of recruitment, we're open, but it's getting late in the game. My son has to have a relationship with the coach. It's not something that happens overnight. It's like getting married. You don't say, 'Let's get married next week.'"
Parker, the nation's top-rated junior from Simeon (Chicago), is expected to make a decision next fall.
He is already familiar with Illinois. His relationship with Weber started when he was in fifth grade. He also knows assistants Jerrance Howard and Wayne McClain well. It unclear if either will be retained by Groce.
"Whatever school he wants to go to, he wants to make sure he fits in whatever system they run," Sonny Parker said. "Then, it's also he wants to know the type of team, type of players he's going to play with. The other part is development. The last part is he want to have an opportunity to win a national championship. Those are the things he wants to evaluate when making those types of decisions."
Nike EYBL Schedule
Check here for the NCAA Recruiting Calendar
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