Kansas center Jeff Withey has been selected as one of 30 men’s candidates for the 2012-13 Senior CLASS Award in collegiate basketball, award organizers announced Wednesday.
Sixty NCAA® men’s and women’s basketball student-athletes who excel both on and off the court were selected as candidates. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as a NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition. The complete list of candidates is below. KU’s Angel Goodrich is on the 30 women’s candidates.
…Historically, Kansas has been well represented in the Senior CLASS Award. In 2005, Jayhawk Wayne Simien won the award which began in 2001. Other Kansas players named to the Senior CLASS Award First Team, which consists of five players, include Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich in 2003 and Tyrel Reed in 2011.
The men’s Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2013 NCAA Final Four® in Atlanta April 6 and 8, while the women’s winner will be announced during the NCAA Women’s Final Four® in New Orleans April 7 and 9.
As Jeff Withey gritted his teeth, his legs turned to Jell-O as he moved his 7-foot frame up every step in every aisle of Kansas' legendary Allen Fieldhouse, wanting desperately to get this punishment over as quickly as his fast-churning legs would allow.
But the most pronounced pain — embarrassment and anger that he grimaces at seven months later — came internally. If Withey, who was summoned to the steps after failing to dive for a loose ball in practice, feared anything, it was being labeled the team's weak link.
"I don't want to say he woke up," teammate Elijah Johnson says. "But he woke up."
February's 15-minute step-running session served as the pivotal moment in a college career that needed a jump start. After struggling to get on the court for most of his injury-riddled career, this was the ignition point.
A few days later, Withey's parents, Debbie and Mike, watched on television as their son scored a career-high 25 points against Baylor. They saw him snare a career-high 20 rebounds three days later against Oklahoma State. He brought home Oscar Robertson national player of the week honors.
"That's the Jeffree that we know!" Debbie Withey recalls hollering at the television. "I have been waiting for three years for that to happen. And all of the sudden, it went crazy. My husband and I are looking at each other, screaming and going, 'What the heck?'"
The road has been turbulent. Debbie Withey turns emotional when she reflects, saying, "He just knew he would get through it. He had more faith in the situation than I did, a lot more than I did. Every day, every single day, I just pray. He's got to keep his body healthy."
And the Withey family is invested. When Withey's grandmother Grace was in the hospital with pneumonia last summer, she vowed to live through one more season to see him play again. His grandfather Karl still sends him $100 for each dunk.
A laid-back San Diego native, Withey doesn't always reveal his emotions, not even to teammates or family members. But he says he never lost sight of his dream to play in the NBA, even as his career narrative turned sour. And his unique journey is now a source of strength.
"When things get tough on the court, it's a breeze compared to what I have been through," Withey says.
…Kansas coach Bill Self said Withey did not realize his true value to the team until late last season. Robinson was the team's will. Withey was the team's anchor. And his six-game performance in the NCAA tournament will long be remembered in Kansas lore.
Naadir Tharpe knows if he’s open he better shoot the basketball.
Or else ...
“Coach tells me that a lot in practice. There’s certain times I won’t (shoot). He gets mad at me and tells me to go run a sprint,” Tharpe, Kansas University’s 5-foot-11 sophomore point guard from Worcester, Mass., said, smiling, after scoring eight points in an 88-54 exhibition victory over Emporia State on Tuesday night in Allen Fieldhouse.
He went 3-of-3 from the field and also drained a pair of three-pointers while dishing four assists against one turnover in 17 minutes.
“The teams I’ve been on ... the coaches have always wanted me to shoot the ball,” Tharpe added.
…“One thing about Naadir ... what he does better than anything — and we didn’t see it last year statistically — is he can shoot the ball,” Self said. “He is really a 2 (shooting guard) as much as anything. He’s working hard trying to be a good backup to Elijah (Johnson). I think Naadir is going to have a big year for us, I do. We’re going to need him in the game for offense.”
On Tuesday night, freshmen Landen Lucas and Anrio Adams staked their claim that they merit an extended look as the Kansas men’s basketball team works to trim down its rotation.
And they didn’t do it with flashy shooting or by throwing down monster dunks.
Instead, they made their statement with their tenacity when the opponents had the ball.
“The two best players for us, per minute, were Anrio Adams and Landon Lucas,” Self said. “They got more done as far as from a coaching standpoint. You look at points, which a lot of people look at, but if you look at who made the most out of their possessions.”
Lucas led the team with nine rebounds, despite playing just 12 minutes in the game.
Self said Lucas’ only turnover, an offensive foul called against his screen, was really more on the hands of freshman guard Ben McLemore because he didn’t wait for Lucas to set the screen before moving.
Lucas’ fight for minutes will be a challenge because he’s going up against senior forward Kevin Young, who played a big role coming off the bench last season, freshman forward Jamari Traylor, who has a semester of attempting to defend Thomas Robinson under his belt, and freshman forward Perry Ellis, who has the best offensive game of any Jayhawk forward.
“On defense, I feel like I need to be more versatile in what I can guard so that coach doesn’t feel like I can only guard one position,” Lucas said.
Lucas believes that will be the key to maximizing his playing time.
Adams’ achievements didn’t show up in the stat sheet in the same way that Lucas’ did, but the guard made an impact on the game with his defensive presence.
TCJ: Projecting KU's rotation
Self today will host “A Courtside View” at Crown Toyota Pavilion in Lawrence. Social hour begins at 6 p.m., with a panel discussion of issues in college athletics with ESPN’s Jay Bilas and others running from 7 p.m. until 8:30. Information is available at assistyouth.org.
Tickets to Coach Self's "Courtside View"
Former KU point guard Taylor missed Wednesday’s Brooklyn Nets practice. He was stuck in his Hoboken, N.J., condo because of severe flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy.
“Made it out safe ... In the Telly in Brooklyn,” Taylor reported on Twitter on Wednesday night.
On Tuesday he had Tweeted, “My building is literally an island, flooded by water on all sides!” He also Tweeted, “I ain’t going nowhere unless I’m swimming there.”
Taylor was scheduled to make his NBA debut tonight against the New York Knicks, but that game was postponed Wednesday in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Instead, Taylor and the Nets will open the season on Saturday against Toronto.
…KU has 14 players on opening day NBA rosters, which ranks fourth of all colleges nationally. Kentucky has 21 players, followed by Duke (18), North Carolina (15), KU (14), UCLA and UConn (12), Texas (11), Florida (10), Arizona (9).
The Rockets will officially pick up their 2013-14 options on the rookie contracts of Patrick Patterson and Marcus Morris today, but have opted not to pick up the option on newly acquired Cole Aldrich.
Aldrich is signed for this season, but picking up his option for next season would have guaranteed him $3.245 million in 2013-14 and made him the fourth-highest paid player on the team after James Harden (assuming he agrees to a contract extension today as expected), Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik.
…With Patrick Patterson, who has played center with the second unit, likely out against the Pistons, Aldrich could get playing time in his first game with the team.
To put Chalmers' 11 assists in Tuesday's season-opening 120-107 victory over the Boston Celtics into perspective, consider that Chalmers went all of last season without more than eight in a game.
Yet here was the fifth-year point guard finding Shane Battier for the tone-setting first basket of the season, a 3-pointer, as well as assisting on the Heat's final two baskets after the Celtics had trimmed a 19-point deficit to four.
Ultimately, the Heat's season opener was about Wade's 29 points in his return from offseason knee surgery, James' recurring leg cramps, Allen's performance against his former team.
But what Chalmers accomplished, the way he moved the ball when and where it needed to be moved, spoke volumes about the Heat's ultimate potential this season.
Particularly because of the way he finished last season, with strong closing efforts against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Finals.
"We know we've got a lot of weapons on the floor, so it's good to utilize everyone that's out there," Chalmers said. "I was just trying to pick my spots, find my teammates. They did a good job of knocking down shots."
The comments are pure Chalmers, basic, mundane, belying his uber confidence.
And yet the Chalmers on display Tuesday was similar to the Chalmers who helped push the Heat to last season's championship, when he began attacking the basket against the Thunder in those Finals. Tuesday was more than feeding the post; it was Chalmers getting into the paint, even if just to pass.
"I'm just going to keep going, keep trying to prove myself, keep trying to be the leader on this team," he said, the Heat now 4-0 over Chalmers' career when he records 10 or more assists.
Champions Classic: KU vs Michigan State
Kansas 2012-13 MBB Schedule
Big 12/College News
Big 12 Composite Schedule
Interesting stat from the AP hoops poll story: Duke has been in the last 97 AP polls; KU has the second-longest current run at 65 weeks.
TSN Big 12 Preview
ESPN Insider: Top 10 impact freshmen
Smart, Muhammad, Noel, Austin, Calhoun, Poythress, Anderson, Jerrett, Scott, Purvis
Every five years since 1997, the Basketball Times' Jack Styczynski compiles and publishes an analytical ranking of the best basketball programs in the country. His formula, as he explained it in the New York Times college sports blog Wednesday (we'll come back to this piece in a minute) is as follows:
The qualifying criterion is teams that have won at least two-thirds of their games over the past 10 seasons, and in the latest version from the November 2012 issue, 33 programs made the cut.
The teams were then ranked using six equally weighted criteria: winning percentage; number of former players currently in the N.B.A.; federal graduation rate; academic reputation, as determined by U.S. News & World Report; and coaching and perceived program 'cleanliness' as ranked by a panel.
Based on those criteria, for the third time in a row .... drumroll please ... the Duke Blue Devils are the "best" college basketball program in the country.
I use scare quotes not because I dispute Duke's legitimacy. I mean, do the math. Coach K has built a massively popular, massively successful, almost robotically consistent beast of a college basketball program (remember when people said Duke was in decline, and then they won a national title?) and one that has very rarely (but not never!) scratched the surface of NCAA impropriety. Duke is, you know, Duke.
No, my scare quotes exist because, while I find the Basketball Times' compilation of data completely fascinating -- you should check out the five lists of categorical rankings here -- I'm not sure I would go so far as to call said data scientific. At least three of those categories are arguably suspect.
Duke graded out best over all for the third straight time. Eight other programs have also qualified all four times the project has been undertaken: Arizona, Connecticut, Kansas, Kentucky, Murray State, North Carolina, Syracuse and Xavier.
For The Quad, several of the coaches whose teams qualified this year were asked what programs they think of as the best, as well as what separates them from the rest. Their answers are below.
Brad Stevens, Butler (No. 6 over all)
Programs named: Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, U.C.L.A., Florida
Criteria: “The fact that they’ve been to multiple Final Fours, often multiple championships. Always a staple, it would be a very rare year that they’re not in the N.C.A.A. tournament, and they always seem to, even after a down year, pick up and have an unbelievable year. There’s a good foundation for a program. There’s good consistency about their program.”
Rick Pitino, Louisville (No. 24)
Programs named: Kentucky (“No. 1”), North Carolina, U.C.L.A., Kansas, Duke, Louisville, Syracuse, Georgetown, Connecticut
Criteria: “Excellence. Tradition. Those schools have kept that excellence at a very high level.”
Buzz Williams, Marquette (No. 23)
Programs named: Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, Syracuse, U.C.L.A., Kansas
Criteria: “Tradition, winning, who their coaches were, their success in the N.C.A.A. tournament, the notoriety, exposure, media.”
Jamie Dixon, Pittsburgh (No. 20)
Programs named: Michigan State (“They stand out to me”), Duke, Connecticut, Kentucky
Criteria: “How they do things, the way they do things, location, history, tradition, facilities, resources, money, what you’re willing to pay.”
Jim Boeheim, Syracuse (No. 16)
Programs named: Said there are 10 to 15 programs, but declined to name them.
Criteria: “How many wins, how many conference championships, how you do in the N.C.A.A. tournament.”
Shaka Smart, Virginia Commonwealth (No. 18)
Programs named: Kansas (“Mind-boggling; they win the league every year”), North Carolina, Kentucky, Duke, U.C.L.A.
Criteria: “Just winning. Winning games and winning championships. Sustaining success through different eras, through coaching changes, through player graduation or guys leaving early.”
Chris Mack, Xavier (No. 21)
Programs named: North Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, Michigan State, Florida
Criteria: “National titles, postseason success, I think are the cornerstones. I think you start to talk about league titles, great players, Hall of Fame coaches. Generally, sustained success.”
Basketball Times complete list:
(Lowest to highest average rank)
1. Duke 4.5
2. North Carolina 6.8
3. Gonzaga 8.0
4. Davidson 10.0
5. Wisconsin 10.7
6. Butler 11.0
7. Michigan State 11.5
8. Kansas 13.0
9. BYU 15.2
11. Belmont 15.5
12. Utah State 15.7
13. Texas 15.8
14. Ohio State 16.0
15. Florida 16.2
16. Syracuse 16.3
17. Saint Mary’s 16.7
18. VCU 16.8
19. Kentucky 17.0
20. Pittsburgh 17.3
21. Xavier 17.7
22. Illinois 18.2
23. Marquette 19.8
24. Louisville 20.7
25. Arizona 21.7
27. Murray State 22.2
28. Old Dominion 22.5
29. Memphis 22.7
30. Connecticut 22.8
33. Kent State 26.3
Remind me to never subscribe to Basketball Times!
WSU is waiting on a Nov. 12 announcement of second- and third-round sites for the 2014 and 2015 NCAA men’s basketball tournaments. Intrust Bank Arena is in the running again.
Wichita missed out two years ago when the NCAA declined to award the arena part of the 65-team tournament for 2012 and 2013. Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission president Bob Hanson said he hopes hosting games in the women’s tournament in 2011 will help. Wichita ranked first in attendance among sites without a home team in the field and eighth overall among the NCAA’s 16 subregional sites. Three games over two days drew around 9,000 fans.
“The women’s tournament showed great promise as far as us showing this is a basketball community,” Hanson said.
WSU also bid to host the 2014 NCAA men’s golf championships at Hutchinson’s Prairie Dunes Country Club.
Alden, who helped spearhead Missouri's move to the SEC, made it clear that he thinks there's still more movement ahead in Division I.
"Missouri is in a tremendously stable place an institution in the SEC, but I do not think conference realignment is over," said Alden. "Absolutely not. There is is more coming."
Alden envisions a future in which "60-70" BCS schools make up their own classification in Division I, separating themselves from less prominent schools that don't generate as much revenue.
"They dominate the revenue generations coming in," said Alden of the top 60-70 schools. "You would see these schools make a completely different move so that they're going to be able to manage themselves. There's no competitive equity anymore. When the rest of these TV contracts come out, it's just going to drive an even bigger wedge and you're going to have 60-70 schools that command the lion's share of the revenue in Division I athletics. At some point, they're not going to allow Quinnipiac, Missouri State and Eastern Michigan to dictate how much money is being spent."
Asked later to elaborate on how such an arrangement would work, Alden said he thought there would "four or five" super-conferences," consisting mostly of teams from the SEC, Big 10, Big 12, ACC and Pac 12.
Talk of Missouri and its move to the SEC, which became official on July 1, dominated the rest of session.
Asked what he enjoyed most about being part of the nation's premiere football conference, Alden pointed first to the cooperative relationships that exist between the 14 member schools.
"The opportunities for us to go to meetings in the conference and know that everybody is treated exactly the same, everybody shares money the same way, everybody is collegial in what they're doing," said Alden. "I was not used to that from a personal standpoint. When you're running an organization, even though they want to beat your brains in when you play them on Saturday, as competitors we want that. To me that's the most satisfying situation."
During a small gathering with reporters later on, Alden noted that the "SEC is more proactive. We were in a reactive mode in the previous league."
I have South Carolina pegged down the bottom of the SEC this season -- and there's no shortage of company. The Gamecocks were picked 13th, ahead of only a ravaged Mississippi State team. This Gamecocks team hasn't been given a chance by just about anyone.
Frank Martin isn't buying it.
"I'll be disappointed if we aren't competitive in the SEC," Martin told CBSSports.com earlier in the week.
Then his team went out and barely beat Kentucky Wesleyan a couple of night ago. Final score: 68-67.
Martin inherited a program that lost two players to other high-major programs: Damontre Harris to Florida and Anthony Gill to Virginia. Malik Cooke, the team's leading scorer from a year ago, is gone. Bruce Ellington is busy catching passes on Steve Spurrier's highly ranked football team, but Martin still feels as though his team can compete with just about anyone in the league. And honestly, you never know. Who would have figured that Martin would have kept Kansas State relevant after Michael Beasley bolted Manhattan, Kan.
Nearly eight months after the Detroit Mercy men's basketball program reached the NCAA Tournament, the university's athletic director and a top assistant resigned.
Keri Gaither resigned as athletic director and associate vice president on Wednesday, effective immediately. Approximately two hours later, assistant coach Derrick Thomas resigned.
Antoine M. Garibaldi, president of the university, would not comment on either resignation, nor would Ray McCallum, men's basketball coach, who's entering his fifth season at Detroit.
Garibaldi did release this statement: "The University appreciates Keri's many contributions to the Athletics program at UDM and we wish her well in her future endeavors."
ESPN Tip-Off Marathon schedule
2012-13 Early Season Events List
KU coach Bill Self on Wednesday made the trip to Huntington Prep School in Huntington, W.Va., to visit Andrew Wiggins, a 6-7, 190-pound senior small forward, who is now rated No. 1 in the Recruiting Class of 2013
The mother of five-star California power forward Aaron Gordon confirmed in an email that her son will take an official visit to the University of Kentucky Nov. 10 and 11. (Saturday and Sunday)
That’s a day after UK plays in Brooklyn against Maryland.
It’ll be Gordon’s fifth and final visit. He’s already been to Washington, Oregon, Kansas and Arizona.
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