Starting at 2 today, CenturyLink Center Omaha will release a limited number of single-session tickets for Friday's session 1 and session 2 of the 2012 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship, second and third rounds.
These were unused tickets allotted to schools of the participating teams now given to CenturyLink.
The tickets will be sold at both the CenturyLink box office and through Ticketmaster.
Kansas NCAA Tournament Guide (includes video greeting from Coach Self, Bob Davis' 2011-12 Top 10 Radio Calls, video highlights on player pages, more)
The Jayhawk Television Network will air an hour-long NCAA Tournament Preview Show on several local and national affiliates March 14-17. Host Bob Davis will sit down with Kansas head coach Bill Self and All-American forward Thomas Robinson to discuss all things Kansas basketball as the team heads into March Madness. The show will feature a season recap, plays of the year and a preview of the upcoming NCAA tournament. The show can be seen statewide and nationally on the affiliates below:
March 16 at 7 p.m. – KSMO – Kansas City
March 17 at 10 a.m. – Metro Sports (Kansas City)
KSNW-NBC – Check local listings
Cox Communications (Oklahoma) – Check local listings
*All times are Central
NABC All-District Team (District 8)
Perry Jones III
“We’ve had a good week of practice — not perfect, but a good week,” Self said. “I think we got the guys’ attention in large part we didn’t play that well in Kansas City (in going 1-1 at Big 12 tournament). Everybody is excited when the bracket comes out. Everybody’s batteries are recharged. Ours are recharged. We are looking forward to the opportunity to play.”
The Jayhawks watched the Lamar-Vermont NCAA Tourney game on TV on the 31⁄2-hour bus ride before dining at Sullivan’s Steakhouse in downtown Omaha.
On tap today is a 5:10 to 5:50 p.m. practice at CenturyLink Center. It is open to the public.
“Penciling in the representative(s) of the Horizon League to win at least one game in the NCAA Tournament has been extremely reliable in the last 10 years.’’
Well, duh, I concluded. Butler recorded 10 victories just by reaching the championship game the past two seasons.
The line, however, reads 10 years. And over that time the Horizon League has 19 NCAA Tournament victories.
…Kansas must end a seven-year streak of wins for the Horizon League if the Jayhawks are to advance against the Titans.
The team practiced at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, met with the media and made the trek to Omaha, hoping to shock the world and Kansas as the 15th seed.
"We got the guys back together on Saturday, had a good workout and shot a lot of shots up," said McCallum. "Sunday, I did more defensive stuff not knowing who we were going to play. I was really pleased with our approach, and yesterday (Tuesday) we practiced at a high level; guys were locked in, and we really had a good defensive practice. From that practice, I came away with the mind-set of, 'Hey, we're going to compete and try to win a basketball game.' "
UDM is a collection of transfers, a high school All-America in Ray McCallum and some role players who have provided valuable minutes in the Horizon League championship season.
Conference sixth man of the year Eli Holman was a Big Ten talent who transferred from Indiana when McCallum got the job and was, as expected, one of the Horizon League's best big men.
"This is the reason I came here; I wanted to play a big-time opponent, and now we have the opportunity," Holman said. "I'm excited about the chance to face Kansas. I know Thomas Robinson is a great player. I also know that he gets a lot of baskets off the fast break, which means he's not under the basket rebounding. It comes down to heart and pride, and that's what we're going out there to do: play with heart and pride."
…"Our seniors have been locked in and have done a great job of keeping the younger guys focused," said coach McCallum. "Like I said before, no matter who we played, we were going to be a tough out. Kansas is a very talented team. They only play about seven players, but they have a national player of the year candidate in Thomas Robinson, and Tyshawn Taylor is a great guard. Robinson is a great player, and I don't think he's a guy you can just shut down. They can score, and we believe we can score, so it comes down to rebounding and defense."
Detroit Free Press
During KU’s 27-6 season, Taylor’s long-range shots have gone in more often than ever before. And that’s saying something for a four-year starter who has hoisted more than 300 three-pointers during his college career.
In helping lead Kansas to its eighth straight Big 12 title and a No. 2 seed in this week’s NCAA Tournament, Taylor shot .435 from behind the three-point line, tops on the team among those with more than 20 attempts, and, by far, the best of his career. His 57 makes also led the team and were just five fewer than the number of threes he made during his first three seasons at KU combined.
“I’m just getting more opportunities to let it fly, man,” Taylor said. “And they’re going in for me. That’s really it.”
Throughout the years, the athletic combo guard has dedicated plenty of time to his jumper. Capable of getting to the rim on just about every possession, Taylor said he realized improving his range would make him even more dangerous off the dribble.
“I think it’s just kind of one of those slow processes,” said Taylor of the evolution of his outside shot. “I’ve been working on my shot for a long time, and it’s continually gotten better over the years. I never felt like I was a bad shooter. I felt like I was a shooter that maybe didn’t have too much confidence in his shot, but I’ve got the most confidence in the world right now, and if I feel like I’m open, I’m gonna shoot it.”
The road to the Final Four starts in the same building for Kansas as it did four years ago, when the Jayhawks won the NCAA Tournament for the third time in school history.
A potential marquee matchup with North Carolina, just as four years ago, lurks in the distance, San Antonio in the national semifinals last time, St. Louis this time for the right to advance to New Orleans.
But the similarities between this team and the school’s most recent national-championship squad are few.
That team’s most valuable player? Compelling cases could be made for Brandon Rush, Mario Chalmers, Darrell Arthur and Sherron Collins.
This year’s bunch? Only Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor are in the discussion. For KU to build as shocking a postseason as a regular season that ended with a 16-2 record and an eighth consecutive Big 12 title, a third player needs to force his way into the conversation.
And it’s not as if 7-foot junior center Jeff Withey didn’t perform well enough to generate whispers to that effect in spurts. Twice during the regular season, Withey fell one blocked shot shy of a triple-double.
…With Withey at his best, throwing down dunks, making short banks instead of missing them, tossing in hook shots with either hand, staying out of foul trouble so that he can patrol the paint and stir panic, the picture of Kansas doing something special comes into focus.
Without that Withey on the court for a KU team short on quality reserves and outside shooters, it gets too blurry to see New Orleans.
Detroit has five double-figure scorers, plus Anderson, who starts and averages 9.1 points and 4.7 rebounds. He wears No. 23 and dunks like another No. 23. Any number of word combinations typed in the YouTube search box will bring you to his highlights. Such as: “Detroit’s Doug Anderson Massive follow Dunk vs. St. John’s.” And: “Crazy put-back by Detroit’s Doug Anderson.” And: “Doug Anderson has INSANE bounce, Best Dunker in college basketball?”
His dunk during Detroit’s 20-point blowout at Valparaiso made No. 1 on ESPN’s Top 10 plays of the night.
It’s not reasonable of us to think that men who range in age from 18 to 23, men who spent their entire lives living in the highlight era, would not experience a greater adrenaline rush watching great dunkers, too.
So maybe the words Kansas coach Bill Self spoke about Detroit before Tuesday’s practice should do more to encourage those emotionally invested in Kansas basketball than discourage them. Watching video of Titans get up, way up, might help Kansas get up for the game on a subconscious level.
A check of downtown hotels Wednesday found some hotels full and others with a few rooms available. "We need basketball fans," said Susan Madsen, general manager of the Embassy Suites hotel in the Old Market.
Room rates at the hotels near the CenturyLink Center are running about $219 to $279 this weekend. Many fans whose teams lose will cancel their Saturday and Sunday reservations, but often new fans stream in because their teams won.
Even though the event is downtown, the tournament's out-of-town visitors create what hoteliers call "compression" throughout the city, with the demand for rooms pressing outward from the center of activity.
Johnson expects a good contingent of Purdue's 450,000 living alumni to attend. Among them will be Jim Schultze, president of the Purdue Club of Omaha.
The club's email list has about 250 names from Omaha, Lincoln and other communities within a 50-mile radius. On Sunday when Purdue was assigned to Omaha, Schultze's phone lit up. "How can I get tickets?" the callers asked.
"What are we doing?"
Omaha's merchants hope lots of folks show up with their billfolds full. Missouri and Kansas are in the neighborhood, as sports travelers go, and Florida and Virginia baseball fans were in Omaha last summer for the College World Series.
The 12-day CWS pumps an estimated $40 million-plus into the local economy each year.
"We think it's going to be busier these four days than opening weekend of College World Series," said Sunni Renner, general manager of DJ's Dugout Sports Bar. "We've got all the team flags. We're just celebrating basketball. People will literally come out of the CenturyLink and funnel right in here."
The bar will show all 48 of the weekend's games.
In Omaha, eight teams will play Friday starting about 1 p.m., with the four winners playing Sunday.
That leaves Saturday open for St. Patrick's Day events, such as the annual Lucky Charms and Guinness 6 a.m. breakfast at the Dubliner Pub, 1205 Harney St., followed by all-day, um, events.
"We just expect it to be like a three-day St. Patrick's Day," owner Frank Vance said.
Omaha World Herald
Go ahead, Bill Self challenged. Look it up.
Nearly every center and power forward who was at least a part-time starter under Self at Kansas has been drafted by an NBA team.
Self ran down the list: Wayne Simien … Julian Wright … Darnell Jackson … Sasha Kaun … Darrell Arthur … Cole Aldrich … Marcus Morris … Markieff Morris.
And soon to join the list will be Thomas Robinson. And later, Jeff Withey.
The exceptions: Christian Moody, a walk-on, and David Padgett, who went on to a successful career at Louisville.
“We’ve taken great pride in developing big guys,” Self said. “And Danny plays a huge role in that.”
That’s Danny Manning, who if he had never set foot back on campus after finishing his KU career in 1988 would merely be a hero after leading the Jayhawks to a national championship.
But since joining Self’s staff in 2003 in a part-time role before becoming a full-time assistant in 2007, Manning has given back to his alma mater in a most productive way. He tutors and helps shape KU’s big men into some of the game’s most impactful players.
Robinson is Kansas’ second straight Big 12 player of the year. He follows Marcus Morris, who followed Aldrich, an all-conference selection, and so on.
Prospects often come to Kansas highly regarded, but after working with Manning they take the next step.
“Working with coach Manning, I’ve improved so much,” Withey said.
Post moves, footwork, concentration, angles. Manning works with the bigs on their total game.
Before this season, Robinson averaged 5.1 points in two seasons off the bench. He takes averages of 17.9 points and 11.8 rebounds into Friday’s NCAA Tournament opener against Detroit in Omaha, Neb.
…Manning, it turns out, accelerated Robinson’s growth by slowing his approach.
“Just slowing me down, and being patient with my moves,” Robinson said. “It’s not about speed, but getting the move right and making sure it works. Everything slowed down for me. With that came better footwork.”
Ah, footwork. That’s where it starts for Manning.
“It’s something we stress each and every day,” Manning said. “Your feet put you in a position to score. So we spend time on footwork, spend time on hand-eye coordination, and we do different drills to create better awareness of what’s going around you.”
Kansas coach Bill Self would’ve had trouble stacking his team’s schedule any tougher.
The Jayhawks challenged Kentucky, the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament, in their second game of the year. They played Georgetown and Duke in the Maui Invitational, and decided to invite Ohio State to storied Allen Fieldhouse for an early December showdown.
All of that before they even got to the Big 12 portion of their schedule, and two games each against Missouri, Baylor and Iowa State.
There was a purpose to the madness, and that purpose is now.
Perhaps no other team in the NCAA tournament is as tested as the No. 2 seed Jayhawks, who open pursuit of a sixth national championship against No. 15 seed Detroit on Friday in Omaha, Neb.
“It was a monster schedule for us,” Self conceded. “I think that was very good for us in Big 12 play, because I don’t think we go 16-2 if we hadn’t lost some games to a really tough schedule in the non-conference.”
Yes, the Jayhawks certainly took their lumps.
They lost 75-65 to Kentucky in Madison Square Garden. They fell to the Blue Devils, 68-61, in a thrilling tournament title game in Hawaii. They even lost to Davidson on a neutral floor.
“I think the games that we lost are games that we didn’t play so well ourselves, and we helped teams beat us,” said senior guard Tyshawn Taylor. “Earlier in the season, Kentucky beat us, and Davidson caught us on one of those days where we didn’t play well. Once we came back from the losses, watched tape and had a couple days of practice, I think we learned from our mistakes.”
The Jayhawks had the toughest strength of schedule at one point this season. The most recent ranking released Monday had them tied with Wisconsin for fifth, trailing only Michigan State, Ohio State and Michigan from the Big Ten and conference foe Baylor.
Kansas has faced no fewer than a dozen teams that made the NCAA tournament field, including three of the No. 2 seeds and two of the No. 3 seeds. Among the others are No. 12 seeds Long Beach State and South Florida, which the Jayhawks trounced 72-40 early in the season.
The average seeding of the 12 opponents who made the NCAA tournament? Roughly 6.4.
Pretty stout stuff.
“We’re always going to put pressure on ourselves, and if we put the pressure on ourselves to be the best that we can be, then we have a pretty good chance of winning,” Taylor said.
“That pressure is always going to be on us from our coaching staff, and as teammates we are always going to push each other to be better,” he said. “We’re going to enjoy it to the fullest and enjoy the matchups that we have and where we are playing.”
It’s not just this season that has put the Jayhawks through the ringer.
In an era of one-and-done players, Kansas is the rare superpower that has managed to build over the course of several seasons, turning raw talent into an intimidating juggernaut.
Leading scorer Thomas Robinson, one of the favorites for national player of the year, is a junior who spent last season mostly riding the bench. Taylor is a four-year starter, and fellow starters Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford and Jeff Withey are all juniors.
Then there’s Connor Teahan, who may have more experience than anybody in the tournament.
The first guy off the bench for the Jayhawks is a fifth-year senior who took the strange route of redshirting before his senior season. That means he’s the only player remaining from the 2008 team that beat Memphis in overtime for the national championship.
“It’s looking like it’s pretty good, but we have to go out there and win and take care of business one game at a time,” Teahan said. “I think we’re looking forward to doing that.”
Self said there are pros and cons of having a veteran team.
Younger teams often play with a certain naivety, the kind of free-flowing freedom that comes with not fully realizing the stakes. They’re less willing to worry about the stresses of the NCAA tournament, and more willing to throw caution to the wind and play with unabashed joy.
Teams that have been around for a while may not have that youthful exuberance, but they have a hardened exterior making them less likely to crack when the pressure mounts.
“I think the advantage is that there is no safety net for Tyshawn or Conner. The next loss is the last game, and that’s the way it is for all seniors across America,” Self said. “There is a point of urgency or a purpose that guys will play with because nobody ever wants it to end.”
Of course, Kansas won’t go into the tournament thinking about it ending.
That would be a rookie mistake.
“You go into it thinking, ‘We’re going to advance,’” Self said. “When you say, ‘I don’t want it to end,’ that’s when it puts a negative connotation on it, that losing is part of the equation. Our talk will be, ‘Hey, looking forward to playing again and can’t wait to get to the game.’”
The student section at the University of Kansas doesn’t have a catchy nickname like the “Rowdy Reptiles” (Florida) or the “eRUPPtion Zone” (Kentucky).
But as a result of today they do have something that no other school in America can claim: the Naismith Student Section of the Year Award.
The Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) and Atlanta Tipoff Club made the announcement today and as a result of winning, Kansas will receive a $5,000 cash award that’s being allocated to the school’s general scholarship fund.
It’s been a good week for KU when it comes to receiving praise in areas other than on the floor, where the two-seed in the Midwest Region posted a 27-6 record and won the Big 12 regular season title.
Inside Higher Ed named the school the champion of its 2012 Academic NCAA Tournament, which takes into account the academic progress rates (APR) of the 68 teams in the field.
Two rounds of public voting in the Naismith Student Section of the Year award narrowed the field from 80 schools to eight, which were then analyzed by the Naismith Board of Selectors. And when the dust settled Kansas came out on top.
“Our student section starts prepping for games days before tip-off; they stand by our team the entire game, giving us an unbelievable home-court advantage,” remarked head coach Bill Self. “We thank the Naismith Awards organization and CLC for establishing this unique award and selecting our Kansas students.”
Big 12/College News
CBS Viewers Guide: Enter your zip, finds channels/schedule for games
Opening Rounds Game Times, Announcing Crews
Top prospects: SF Harrison Barnes, North Carolina; PF Thomas Robinson, Kansas
What else is left to write about these two? Both Barnes and Robinson are surefire early lottery selections, potential franchise building blocks who have proven themselves on countless occasions. Their 2012 campaigns were no exception: Barnes averaged 17.4 points while shooting over 45 percent from three, while Robinson garnered Player of the Year consideration by averaging 17.9 points and 11.8 rebounds.
"Those guys are realistically in the top five whether they're two and three, three and four or four and five," said a scout. "It's just a matter of teams' needs, unless one of them totally blows up in the tournament."
If one does have something to gain, however, it's Robinson, who could silence his small circle of critics during a potential Elite Eight bout with UNC. The traditional knock on Robinson is that he's undersized by NBA standards, with his 6-9 frame paling in comparison to prototypical power forward prospects like Perry Jones (6-11). Robinson could cement himself as the nation's preeminent big -- with the exception of Davis -- by rising to the occasion against the Tar Heels' vaunted front court of John Henson, Tyler Zeller and James McAdoo.
"I'd like to see how Robinson and Henson match up," said the other scout. "That might be the best matchup head-to-head. I'm hoping that Henson is all right physically and his wrist doesn't give him any problems."
Player with the most at stake: SF Doug McDermott, Creighton
SI NBA prospects to watch in the NCAAs
Basketball Prospectus: Do you need a "go-to guy" to win the National Championship?
NCAA Tournament Teams basketball expenses for 2010-11
This is supposed to be a column that defines the Missouri-Kansas rivalry. Good luck with that.
The best way to find out about this thing might be to head down to the Old Market this weekend and keep your eyes and ears open. The Jayhawks and Tigers are bringing their 100-year war to our burg, and you should ask them nicely not to burn down our city.
That should give you a hint.
We could turn Dodge Street into State Line Road for the weekend, and put each school on one side of the street. Let them cross at their own risk. While Nebraska fans drive through.
Here's another thought. MU and KU waged two classic battles this year, each winning on its home court. Both sides wanted a rubber match but didn't get one. Earlier this year, North Carolina and Michigan State played a game on an aircraft carrier in San Diego. Let's put Mizzou and the Beakers on a giant barge in the Missouri River and let them go at it. Loser has to swim to shore. If both teams don't try to drown each other first.
Of course, I could tell you a few stories. You thought the KU-MU scrum at Allen Fieldhouse a few weeks ago was intense? Nah. That was a tea party. It's not a Tiger-Jayhawk shindig until punches are thrown or typewriters are injured.
My first KU-MU experience came in 1974, at Allen. I can't tell you who won (likely KU, a Final Four team that year). But I still remember the image of Tom Kivisto and Jim Kennedy throwing haymakers at each other and then dragging their fight into the tunnel and out to the concourse.
A few years later, at the Big Eight Holiday tournament championship game between KU and MU at Kemper Arena, it was so intense most of the crowd stood throughout the scrum. Tiger forward Kim Anderson went for a loose ball at midcourt.
He high-jumped the scorer's table and kicked over three typewriters while sports writers headed for cover. In the next day's Kansas City Star, columnist Dick Mackey's lead graph was "@#%$?K#!!!."
That phrase says it all about Missouri and Kansas.
So did former Kansas football coach Pepper Rodgers. Long ago, after Missouri coach Dan Devine punched in a late touchdown in a Tiger blowout win, Rodgers headed for the locker room without shaking hands. When Devine waved to him, Rodgers gave him half of the peace sign.
Nobody could quite put the relationship into words like legendary Missouri basketball coach Norm Stewart. One year in the mid 1980s, after Missouri beat Oklahoma to help Kansas' stature atop the Big Eight, Stewart cracked, "It's like helping the devil."
…Kansas-Missouri is an old-gold standard rivalry, and that's the reason it should keep going.
It's also the reason it has to end.
Take care this weekend, Omaha. Watch out for those half peace signs.
Cedric Hunter came from South Omaha, where hard-nosed basketball is redundant.
At Kansas in the mid-1980s, he started 100 games. He played in a Final Four. He set the Big Eight career record for assists.
Hunter had seen it all when the Jayhawks went to Columbia, Mo., in February 1987.
The senior point guard was fighting a well-publicized sprained ankle and wasn't scheduled to play. Before the game, he walked into the Hearnes Center and looked up at the crowd. That's where he saw a long banner featuring a KU player who looked an awful lot like him.
Tiger fans had drawn a wrap around his ankle, a pacifier in his mouth and — in case he missed the message — a diaper around his waist. It took every ounce of Hunter's willpower not to tell Larry Brown he was starting.
Twenty-five years later, Kansas and Missouri are breaking up for good, leaving behind an encyclopedia of tales like Hunter's. KU and Mizzou might one day play again — maybe even three weeks from now in the national title game.
But nothing is on the schedule. Which means, starting this weekend, a cold war begins.
It's off to a hot start.
…Dust will settle on Hunter's memories. He recalls the "Antlers," the Mizzou fanatics who never failed to phone Jayhawk players before their annual trip to Columbia. Just to let 'em know the Tigers were waiting for 'em.
Hunter's last clash with the Tigers — the '87 Big Eight tournament final — was one of the all-time best.
Kansas' Sean Alvarado smacked Missouri's Lynn Hardy with an elbow, spilling blood on the floor and sparking a dispute between Larry Brown and Norm Stewart. Later, a shoving match between MU's Mike Sandbothe and KU's Chris Piper caused the benches to empty.
Mizzou guard Lee Coward hit the game-winner with two seconds left.
Hunter points out that, during his four years, Kansas usually beat the Tigers. The same is true for the past 107 years. KU has a 171-96 edge.
That record is not likely to change anytime soon. But a cold war doesn't mean there's nothing to see.
Hunter senses the buzz this week in Omaha. He knows what it means to KU and Missouri. He'll be there Friday — wearing blue.
"It's going to be interesting," Hunter says. Then he laughs. "I'll leave it at that."
Omaha World Herald
KC Star: KC-area players in the NCAA Tournament
ESPN: Will LIU be the first #16 to beat a #1?
KAKE video: Perry Ellis prepares to head to McDonald's All-American game
St. John’s landed the biggest blue-chipper it was pursuing late Wednesday. JaKarr Sampson, a 6-8 forward from Ohio who now is attending Brewster (N.H.) Academy, decided he is picking the Red Storm over Kansas, Baylor, Florida and Providence.
Sampson should be a familiar name to Johnnies fans. He originally was to come to St. John’s before this season. He signed with the Storm out of Akron (Ohio) St. Vincent-St. Mary, the same school that produced LeBron James, but he did not get NCAA clearinghouse approval and ended up at Brewster. He helped the Bobcats to the national prep school title.
Sampson was actually in New York before the clearinghouse decision. He re-opened his recruiting and garnered huge interest nationwide.
In February, his coach Jason Smith told the New Hampshire Union-Leader Sampson is the "best shot blocker since Patrick Ewing. I would not be shocked if he had a 10-to-15-year pro career. He definitely can dominate a game."
Sampson can score and rebound.
If Big East Freshman of the Year Moe Harkless does not go to the NBA – which it is likely he will – he would make a tremendous triple threat for the Johnnies with Harkless and returning leading scorer D’Angelo Harrison.
NY Daily News
Steve Lavin recruited JaKarr Sampson harder than any other recruit he’s ever targeted and now it’s paid off.
The 6-foot-8 forward from Brewster (N.H.) Academy re-committed to St. John’s Wednesday, choosing the Johnnies over Providence, Florida and Kansas.
Sampson initially committed last summer, but was then ruled academically ineligible last fall before re-opening his recruitment.
“He recommitted,” Don Anderson, Sampson’s AAU coach, told SNY.tv by phone. “He wanted to get this over with.
“He always had this in mind about St. John’s. He knew he had it in his heart that he always loved the coaching staff in New York.”
Lavin makes the same pitches to all recruits, including 6-3 wing Felix Balamou, who committed earlier this week.
The coach pitches the team’s up-tempo style of play; the fact that three assistants have NBA experience; the ability to play in Madison Square Garden and in New York City and in the Big East; and a track record of producing pros.
Sampson, along with Norvel Pelle and Amir Garrett, were declared ineligible last fall. Sampson and Pelle re-opened, while Garrett arrived at St. John’s in December.
“When it transpired about him not being eligible, he knew it wasn’t nobody’s fault personally,” Anderson said. “He just accepted it and wanted to re-open his recruitment.”
He added: “He wanted to come home. He wanted to come home to compete for a national championship and to further his dreams in the league.”