Once a Jayhawk, always a Jayhawk
President Barack Obama honored 16 recipients, including Dean Smith, former Kansas men's basketball player and assistant coach and legendary North Carolina basketball coach, with the Presidential Medal of Freedom Wednesday. The honor dates back to an executive order from former President John F. Kennedy establishing the award. Kennedy was assassinated 50 years ago Friday (Nov. 22, 1963).
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation's highest civilian honor. According to the White House, this award is given to individuals "who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."
Smith competed at Kansas from 1949-53 and was a part of the Jayhawks' national championship team in 1952, under the guidance of head coach Forrest "Phog" Allen. Smith and the Jayhawks were national runners-up in 1953.
After graduation, Smith served as an assistant coach at Kansas under Allen for the 1953-54 season. Smith then went on to coach North Carolina basketball from 1961-97, winning two national championships. When he retired, he was the winningest coach in college basketball history.
UDK Photos KU vs Iona
Frank Mason failed to provide an emotional spark for his team in three first-half minutes against Iona.
“I guess coach didn’t really like that,” the Kansas freshman guard said. “I just tried to come out the second half and be more aggressive and push the tempo.”
After asserting himself, the 5-foot-11 point guard was a big reason for the Jayhawks’ second-half surge in an 86-66 victory Tuesday over the Gaels. After halftime, Mason tied for the team lead with nine points on 4-for-9 shooting to go with two assists, a steal and no turnovers in 10 minutes.
“With our team, that’s going to be the thing that I think will keep us from really playing great is our energy level at times,” KU coach Bill Self said. “He certainly set the tone or changed the game in the second half when he came in.”
Mason’s standout play actually came on the receiving end of an alley-oop, as with 6:46 left, he slammed in a pass from teammate Naadir Tharpe.
Self didn’t have any doubts that his sub-6-footer would try to throw it down instead of laying it in.
“We’ve watched him in practice,” Self said. “That would have surprised us if he didn’t dunk the ball.”
The play also highlighted an interesting lineup combination for Self, as Tharpe and Mason — KU’s two primary point guards — spent much of the second half on the court at the same time. Self said the change-up was meant to jump-start a sleepy offense.
“I know they like playing together, and there are some things about that that I like, but I think that Naadir doesn’t need to wait for Frank to change the pace. Naadir should be the one to change the pace,” Self said. “So that’s something we’ve got to get.”
“The students are great,” Self said Wednesday on his “Hawk Talk” radio show. “We don’t want to take away their enthusiasm.”
At the same time, he requests that those students who sing “home of the Chiefs” at the conclusion of the National Anthem, return to singing the actual words of the song: “home of the brave.”
“I don’t think we should do that (sing ‘home of Chiefs’),” Self said, responding directly to a question from a Hawk Talk caller.
“It was a couple years ago we actually made a big deal out of that and the students complied and quit doing it for a period of time.”
The “home of the Chiefs” lyrics disappeared in the 2012-13 season after Self spoke publicly about the matter in January of 2012.
“For whatever reason, I guess they’ve started doing it again. That’s not what needs to be done in this particular situation. Especially in today’s time when there’s so much publicity and notoriety, rightfully so, to the men and women who sacrifice so much for our country,” Self said. “I think it’s probably not something we should do, but from a kids’ standpoint I don’t think they know they are in poor taste doing it. I think it’s just something we should look at and realize, ‘Hey, c’mon now, let’s think about this before we actually do it.’”
KUAD: Kansas vs Townson Pregame Notes
At 3-1, the Towson men’s basketball team is off to its best start since the 2008-09 season, when that squad also won three of its first four games.
The Tigers will get a true barometer of their progress when they travel to Lawrence, Kan., to meet the No. 2 Jayhawks on Friday night. Kansas, which has won three national championships, is 2-0 against Towson, and coach Pat Skerry said the Jayhawks are well deserving of the acclaim they are receiving.
“I think they’re the best team in the country,” Skerry said Wednesday afternoon. “So it’s obviously a monumental, but a great and exciting challenge. They have a handful of pros. They have no weaknesses. Bill Self is as good a coach as there is in the country. They do a lot of things that we’d like to do. They guard, they rebound, they get out in transition, and they share it. I think the big thing for us is getting to play against what I would consider a couple of elite teams in Kansas and Villanova and Temple. It’s a heck of a stretch, but it’s a stretch that we’re going to need to play for when we get ready to go on the road in the [Colonial Athletic Association].”
Two years after a 1-31 season, Towson has been picked to finish first in the Colonial Athletic Association.
It is a remarkable reversal for a program that coach Pat Skerry half-jokingly called "the worst team in America." But if the players are feeling buoyed by the stream of accolades showering them now, they are publicly adamant in pointing out that they have not arrived yet.
"It's rewarding in a sense, but we haven't had a championship," senior forward Marcus Damas said of the preseason honors. "So we can't be content."
Added senior forward Jerrelle Benimon (above): "It's really rewarding, but it'll be more rewarding after the season hopefully when we win the [conference] championship."
These are heady times for Towson, which enjoyed the largest single-season turnaround in NCAA history when last year's squad went 18-13. The optimism from that has extended to this season, as the team returns its top five scorers, including Benimon, the CAA's preseason player of the year.
"I'm excited," Skerry said. "We're much deeper than we've been, and the right guys have improved. Starting with [Benimon], he's gotten a lot better. The guys have worked hard. They know what's at stake. It's a little different being the hunted. You've got to take everybody's best shot.
"I don't try to harp on it, but we were probably the worst team in America two years ago. So you want to be in a situation where you have a chance to be really good. I want us to be really, really good ... we're not yet."
Just how promising do the Tigers appear? Delaware coach Monte Ross said Towson is strong enough to do what only the 1982-83 William & Mary team has accomplished -- go undefeated in the CAA.
When informed of Ross' comment, Skerry smiled and replied, "16-0 is something we've certainly dreamed about, but it's probably a dream, not reality."
Baltimore Sun: Towson season preview
If the explosive start to Towson men's basketball season is any indication of how the rest of the 2013 campaign will play out, the Tigers may end up the marquee team in Maryland come March.
And if Towson ends up the top local team to talk about, senior forward Jerrelle Benimon will be at the center of the discussion. Towson's offense is focused on isolating plays to Benimon, who averages 17.5 points per game and is able to score from within the paint or the midrange, giving defenders a hard time slowing him down.
"He's talented, he's tough and he's got a great work ethic," Towson head coach Pat Skerry said. "Those are three pretty good ingredients. He does it all. He's a hard guy to guard. If you really study his game, the better the opponent, the better he plays."
…Although the Tigers are undefeated in the state of Maryland, it was a 75-69 come-from-behind win against Temple that established their place as one of the top mid-majors in the country, and Benimon as the team's most valuable player. During a fast, physical game with 12 lead changes, Benimon took the game into his own hands with 32 points, 10 rebounds, a block and a pair of steals.
"We planned on playing through [Benimon]," Skerry said after the win against Temple. "We thought we had an advantage with the ball at the four spot, so we wanted to put the ball in his hands as much as possible. We have a lot of packages and sets to put the ball in his hands."
The 6-foot-8 Benimon carries a target on his back. The preseason Colonial Athletic Association player of the year, Benimon has attempted a league-high 37 free throws -- scoring 30 of his 70 points this season from the line during the course of four games.
The game against Temple was physical, and the Tigers needed to maintain control of a close lead with five minutes to go. Fouls played a big piece in Towson's chess match against the Owls.
…And when Benimon isn't scoring in the double digits, his presence on the court helps open up opportunities for his teammates. During Towson's season opener, a 72-45 rout of Navy, Benimon contributed six points -- going 1-for-8 from the field. But the rest of the Tigers shot 53.3 percent.
One notable aspect of the game was the emergence of sophomore transfer guard Four McGlynn, who had seven good looks from beyond the arc and dropped five 3-pointers during his Towson debut.
Towson came into Sunday's game against Villanova riding a three-game winning streak to open the season, marking the program's best start since 1972.
But the Tigers hadn't yet seen a defense like Villanova's.
Riding an effective press that rattled their visitors from the opening tip, the Wildcats continued their hot start to the season with a 78-44 rout of turnover-prone Towson on Sunday.
James Bell led the way with 20 points for Villanova (3-0), which forced the Tigers into 24 turnovers, turning those miscues into 27 points.
The game was part of the Battle 4 Atlantis, which stretches out over the rest of the month.
"It was really something we hadn't seen this year," said Towson senior guard Mike Burwell, who committed four of his team's 24 turnovers. "You can't do that in practice. You can't find guys to do what they did out there. It was just different."
…"When they get into a half court set, as well saw in the Temple game, they're very good," Wright said. "We didn't want them to get into the half court set."
Things didn't get much better after the break for the Tigers, who threw the ball into the stands twice in the opening minutes of the second half. And, highlighted by a crowd-rocking putback slam from Bell, the Wildcats put the game away for good with a 9-0 run that gave them a 57-24 lead with 12 minutes left.
"At halftime, Coach told me I didn't have any offensive rebounds," Bell said of his dunk. "He told me to make sure I'm going to the offensive glass and to make sure I'm crashing it. I had an opportunity to have an offensive rebound and I just finished it."
Bell, who struggled with his consistency over his first three years at Villanova, is averaging 18.7 points per game so far this season. And he's one big reason why the Wildcats have yet to be tested through their first three games.
"He's a Villanova senior," Wright said. "Guys that are seniors in this program are ready to be leaders and great players. That's what he is."
AXS TV is presenting exclusive coverage of the 2013 Battle 4 Atlantis college basketball tournament, live from the Atlantis Resort in The Bahamas, starting Thanksgiving, Thurs., Nov. 28 and running through Sat., Nov. 30. Eight teams will participate in the third annual contest which has one of the most competitive fields of the Division I Men's early-season college basketball tournaments.
The event will be televised live on AXS TV from the 3,900-seat arena at the famed Atlantis, Paradise Island resort. The 2013 Battle 4 Atlantis field combines teams with 191 NCAA Tournament appearances, 25 Final Four appearances and five National Championships and features University of Kansas, Villanova University, University of Tennessee, University of Southern California, University of Iowa, Xavier University, Wake Forest University, and University of Texas at El Paso.
AXS TV has the broadcast rights to the 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. ET games. The Network is airing Games 1, 2, 5, 6, 9 and 10 of the bracket.
AXS TV's schedule is as follows (All Times Eastern):
Game 1 -
11/28 – 1 p.m. – Villanova vs. USC
Game 2 -
11/28 – 3:30 p.m. – University of Kansas vs. Wake Forest
Game 5 -
11/29 – 1 p.m. - TBD
Game 6 -
11/29 – 3:30 p.m. - TBD
Game 9 -
11/30 – 1 p.m. (7th and 8th Place-TBD)
Game 10 -
11/30 – 3:30 p.m. (5th and 6th Place-TBD)
AXS TV can be found at the following channels:
Charter (Los Angeles)
Charter (Bay Area)
SureWest Comm (Kansas)
AXS TV has set up a special landing page for fans to engage in the broadcast and interact during the games. CLICK HERE to follow along with the action.
It might be time to re-name this blog Toma-'Hawks (or something cooler and more clever). Just about every time we post a new blog, there is another Kansas product throwing down a ludicrous dunk.
The latest offering comes courtesy of Sacramento Kings rookie Ben McLemore.
LJW: ‘Hawks in the NBA
Kansas University’s women’s basketball team couldn’t overcome a poor second half and lost its first game of the season, 70-59, to Minnesota on Wednesday night.
Senior guard CeCe Harper led the Jayhawks with 17 points, five rebounds and four assists.
The Jayhawks held a 32-30 halftime lead, but shot just 25 percent from the field in the second half. Minnesota, led by an 11-point, 11-rebound, 10-block triple-double from Amanda Zahui B., shot 54 percent in both halves and pulled away at the end despite several Kansas rallies keyed by timely three-pointers.
Kansas’ Chelsea Gardner double-doubled with 10 points and 13 rebounds in the loss, and Asia Boyd added 13 points.
Minnesota had two 20-point scorers in Rachel Banham (26) and Micaella Riche (20).
The Jayhawks (3-1) travel to the Virgin Islands for the Paradise Jam tournament next week. The three-game tourney begins Nov. 28 with a game against Central Michigan.
A furious fourth-set rally helped the Kansas University volleyball team preserve its fast start, and the 22nd-ranked Jayhawks knocked off No. 24 Iowa State, 25-21, 25-23, 22-25, 25-20, in Ames, Iowa, to give Kansas its first victory at ISU since 2004.
…The victory moved the Jayhawks into sole possession of second place in the Big 12 standings with two conference matches remaining — Saturday vs. Texas Tech and the season finale on Nov. 30 at Oklahoma. McNorton said achieving something that had never been done in KU history has been a huge source of motivation for the Jayhawks during recent weeks.
Kansas University’s volleyball match with Denver on Nov. 26 has been moved from the Jayhawks’ usual home, Horejsi Center, to Allen Fieldhouse.
Match time will be 6:30 p.m., and fans can attend free of charge.
Allen Fieldhouse was the KU volleyball team’s home from 1975-98, and KU hosted first- and second-round NCAA matches in the historic basketball barn, drawing more than 8,000 fans in the two-day stretch.
Horejsi holds 1,300 fans, and the NCAA now requires a capacity of 2,000 seats for its host sites. Allen Fieldhouse holds 16,300. Sitting at No. 11 in the RPI and No. 22 in the AVCA Div. I Coaches poll, KU’s potential to repeat as an NCAA host site in 2013 is unclear.
But Bechard didn’t want to waste the opportunity to create even more buzz for his program and the sport in general.
Big 12/College News
The calendar said November, but it felt an awful lot like March.
In a physical, fast-paced game that featured plenty of drama, a wild finish, an ejection, and an injury to freshman Eric Mika, No. 21 Iowa State edged BYUWednesday night at the Marriott Center, 90-88, as the Cyclones handed the Cougars their first loss of the season.
"We knew we had a chance to win,” said BYU guard Tyler Haws, who scored a team-high 20 points. “We didn’t make the plays we needed to."
BYU’s Kyle Collinsworth attempted to send the game into overtime, but his jumper failed to draw iron just before the final buzzer sounded. With five seconds remaining, Haws also had a chance to tie the game, but his shot was blocked by Daniel Edozie.
…With 3:28 remaining, and the Cougars trailing, 82-77, Mika was jabbed in the eye by Kane, who was whistled with a flagrant 2 foul and was ejected. Mika, meanwhile, lay on the floor writhing in pain for several minutes before he was taken to the locker room.
"Eric will go have a scan to check his right eye,” Rose said. “Right now it’s kind of up in the air for a couple of hours.”
A flagrant 2 personal foul involves contact with an opponent that is not only excessive but also severe or extreme while the ball is live. In a statement after the game, the officials briefly explained Kane’s ejection: “In this situation we deemed the foul to be severe or extreme.”
…After Haws had his shot blocked with five seconds left, he fouled Daniel Edozie, who went to the free throw line with 3.2 seconds remaining. Edozie missed his first free throw, then banked the second one in.
Rose told a referee he wanted to call a timeout after the free throw. But Nate Austin inbounded the ball quickly after the made free throw, and Collinsworth's shot was off target as time expired.
Also in the game’s closing minutes, Ejim made an obscene gesture toward the crowd after fouling out of the game.
“Definitely lost my composure today,” Ejim expressed via Twitter afterwards. “I apologize to the (BYU) student section and Iowa State University. What I did was inexcusable and rude.”
Danny Manning was proud of Tulsa's effort in the first half. He also understood that his team was overmatched against Ron Baker and No. 14 Wichita State, and it showed in the second half.
Fred VanVleet and Baker each scored 21 points and Wichita State finished with a 26-6 run to shake free of pesky Tulsa for a 77-54 win Wednesday night in its first road game of the season.
Back-to-back basketball victories have given Kansas State momentum and a winning record, but the Wildcats are still fighting an uphill battle for respect.
Bruce Weber said he was reminded of that cold reality by fans last week during a team dinner at Colbert Hills Golf Club. They hadn’t forgotten about a season-opening loss to Northern Colorado, and let him know about it.
“People came up and said, ‘God, you guys are bad,’” said Weber, K-State’s second-year coach.
The Wildcats have improved since dropping their first game, beating Oral Roberts and Long Beach State at home. But they don’t exactly look like Big 12 championship contenders. They need to establish a secondary scorer next to freshman guard Marcus Foster, limit turnovers and get junior forward Thomas Gipson healthy and back in the starting lineup.
All three of those things could happen this week when K-State plays in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, a three-game tournament in San Juan filled with big names. If it wins its first game against Charlotte at 9:30 a.m. today, K-State will likely face Georgetown on Friday. On Sunday, it could face Florida State, No. 10 Virginia Commonwealth or No. 14 Michigan.
A few hours after becoming the No. 1 ranked team in the country, Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo walked into the Breslin Center and looked at thousands of empty seats.
He said he felt "disappointment" about the crowd, after the Spartans stayed undefeated Monday night with an 82-67 victory over Portland.
It was recorded as a sellout, but that's only because the tickets were sold. Joe Rexrode, who covers the Spartans for the Free Press, said it was one of the smallest crowds he had seen in years. On the day the Spartans took over No. 1 in the Associated Press poll for the first time since 2001? After earning the No. 1 ranking for only the third time in school history?
MSU fans should be embarrassed. It didn't make sense, and Izzo begged the fans to give away their tickets, if they didn't want to come. He even offered to be the go-between. He sounded like somebody who was still trying to build his program, not somebody suddenly on top, if only in the rankings.
"I've got thousands of people who are dying to come," Izzo said.
Was the small crowd because of the storm over the weekend? Was it because thousands of people in Michigan don't have power? Perhaps. But it was shocking to see such a small crowd on a day that felt so momentous for this program.
A felon and party promoter linked to rental cars driven by North Carolina basketball player P.J. Hairston received 36 months of supervised probation as part of a plea deal Wednesday.
Haydn Patrick "Fats" Thomas accepted the deal in a Durham County courtroom for drug and weapons charges from a December arrest. Afterward, Thomas said he hadn't spoken with NCAA officials "at all" about Hairston, who is sidelined indefinitely due to eligibility concerns connected to those rental vehicles.
This whole “battle for North Carolina” football campaign is starting to cross over into other sports as well. Last night, NC State’s basketball team lost in overtime to North Carolina Central – a school that just moved up to D-1 a few years ago. To poke fun at the Wolfpack, UNC’s Wide Receivers Coach Gunter Brewer posted a photo of three “great hoop schools” in North Carolina. You can probably guess which three they are:
Tragedy will never be fully behind Austin Hatch. But he showed again Wednesday that he has not lost hope -- whether or not he ever becomes a high level basketball player again.
"I feel like God has his hand on me," Hatch told a gathering of Los Angeles news media, at a surreal, uplifting news conference. "I feel like there's a plan for my life."
Surviving two plane crashes will make one feel like that.
In June 2011 Hatch was a passenger in a small plane, piloted by his father, that crashed. His father and stepmother were killed.
Hatch survived -- although he had a traumatic brain injury, a broken collarbone and a punctured lung -- after being placed in a medically induced coma for eight weeks.
Incredibly, it was the second time Hatch had survived a crash. Eight years earlier, his father was the pilot in another crash. Hatch's mother and two siblings were killed in that one.
When Hatch awoke from his coma after the second crash it took him a while to process that he had lost his family.
"I was dealing with the loss of my best friend, my coach, my teacher, my mentor and my No. 1 fan -- that same man was also my father, Dr. Stephen Hatch," he said.
"He taught me everything -- the work necessary to succeed, faith, determination and courage in the midst of hardship. Those traits I acquired from him are what saved my life."
The second crash came two weeks after Hatch, a 6-6 wing man at Fort Wayne (Ind.) Canterbury High School, had verbally committed to play basketball at Michigan. He has not played in a competitive basketball game since the crash.
His recovery, physically, emotionally and mentally has been slow but steady. He spoke Wednesday calmly, confidently and articulately but said he is not where he once was in terms of cognitive ability.
"A lot of people have said my recovery is kind of a miracle," he said. "But you have to remember the significance of what I've been through. I had a traumatic brain injury."
The NCAA has sued video game manufacturer Electronic Arts and the nation's leading collegiate trademark licensing firm, Collegiate Licensing Co., in connection with those companies' intent to settle their parts of lawsuits concerning the use of college athletes' names and likenesses.
The suit, filed in a Georgia state court on Nov. 4, alleges that EA and CLC breached various contractual obligations to the NCAA that have become factors in matters led by former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon and former Arizona State and Nebraska football player Sam Keller.
Big XII composite schedule
ESPN College GameDay Schedule
2013-14 TV Schedule
2013-14 Early-season events schedule
Justise Winslow, the 6-6 small forward ranked No. 9 among Sporting News’ Top 25 prospects for 2014, announced in an AggieYell.com video that his college choice will come Thursday during a press conference at his Houston high school at 4:30 p.m. ET.
Winslow will be choosing among six schools, including Arizona, Duke, Florida, Stanford, UCLA and Texas A&M.
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