KU AD: Baylor pregame notes
KU AD: Coach/players preview Baylor
“Three things we left the game with ... a.) They are really good; b.) We’ve got to close; and c.) We’re really good,” Self said Monday.
He sounded a lot more upbeat than after one of KU’s five losses this season — 80-74 to Davidson on Dec. 19 in Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.
“After Davidson? It was, ‘They’re good. We stink. We’re soft. We don’t care. We don’t like each other.’ I don’t feel that. If anything, I’m leaving Columbia thinking, ‘Hey we’ve got a chance to have a really good team,’’’ Self said.
“When we left Davidson, my deal was, ‘We may not win a league game.’ I feel a lot of positives in leaving Missouri. I didn’t see any positives in getting our butt beat in Kansas City.”
He had great praise Monday for his two veteran leaders — Thomas Robinson, who scored 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in 35 minutes versus MU, and Tyshawn Taylor, who had 21 points, three assists and six turnovers in 38 minutes.
“He’s getting to where he can put the ball down and get to the hole a lot better,” Self said of the 6-foot-10 Robinson, who on Monday was one of 20 players named to the midseason watch list for the Oscar Robertson Trophy, which goes to college basketball’s player of the year as voted by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.
“He has a great heart, good motor, tries hard. He’s a stud kid having a tremendous year. His second half against Missouri (19 points, six boards) is as good a half as a guy’s played that I’ve seen. He didn’t get easy baskets. He had to earn every one of them. I’m proud of him because he’s developed into a force.”
Of the 6-3 Taylor, Self said: “That kid played great. If I had it to do all over again, I’d want him on the free-throw line more than anybody else on our team. He likes that moment more than anybody else (despite missing two down the stretch as KU squandered an eight-point lead).
“I don’t have anything remotely negative to say,” Self added. “He lost the ball once, and he charged once, and I know he wishes he could have that back. The first half I thought he played so well (17 points) that we had a couple of bad possessions, because he was feeling it too much. We’d call a play, and he said, ‘Well, I see an opening.’ If we call a play, run the play and then see the opening after you run the play.
“That’d be the only thing that I could say from his floor game, going into the last three minutes, that I’d say, ‘He could improve on that.’ I was so mad at him because Phil Pressey, who is a terrific guard, gets past him and makes a layup on a made basket. Other than that, defensively, pretty good.”
Kansas travels to Baylor on Wednesday, and the starters, if they haven’t already, better get used to the playing time.
“The bottom line is our guys have to be ready to play 32-35 minutes,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “That’s the fact of the matter.”
The bench is thin, but not unproductive. Forward Justin Wesley gave the Jayhawks good energy in Saturday’s 74-71 loss at Missouri, and guard Conner Teahan found his shooting stroke by making both three-point attempts.
But a lack of choices on the bench also can put the Jayhawks in a bind. Teahan was guarding Marcus Denmon down the stretch. Ineffective starting center Jeff Withey wasn’t in the game, and Self didn’t have many bench options to match the Tigers’ smaller and quicker lineup.
Denmon scored nine straight on his way to 29 points, helping the Tigers erase an eight-point deficit in the final 3 minutes.
“The thing that was disappointing was we were forced to play small because Jeff wasn’t a factor,” Self said.
It meant Kansas had to adjust to Missouri, which happens often to opponents of the Tigers, and it wasn’t a problem until the game’s final 3 minutes. When Tyshawn Taylor scored his baseline dunk with about 3½ minutes remaining, the Jayhawks had outscored Mizzou by 13 in the second half.
But the Tigers took advantage of the matchups down the stretch, especially Denmon, to erase the deficit.
In Withey’s 23 minutes played against the Tigers, a team whose tallest player is six-foot-nine, he grabbed four rebounds and didn’t score a point. Withey’s ineffectiveness by the basket enabled Missouri to shift its attention solely to junior forward Thomas Robinson, who scored only six points in the first half because he struggled to manage double-teams.
“If Jeff’s not a factor, then you’ve basically guarded Thomas with Jeff’s man,” Self said.
Withey recorded his second foul with 9:36 left in the first half and Self kept him out of the game until the second half. With its tallest player on the bench, Missouri pushed Kansas to play to its style; a fast and athletic game.
“I like playing against guys my size a lot more than playing against a bunch of guards,” Withey said.
Self attributed Missouri’s defensive game plan to some of Withey’s struggles. He said that the Tigers ignored shooters on the perimeter and chose to clog the lanes by the basket. This made it more difficult for Withey to find room to score, and for the guards to get him the ball.
When Withey did have the ball, he said that the smaller Tigers were able to get in front of him faster than most post defenders.
“You can usually use a swim move on a forward, but when boxing out a guard, they are at your knees,” he said. “You don’t expect it and it kind of takes your legs out from under you.”
When Withey sat on the bench, Self had no choice but to overwork his other starters. Senior guard Tyshawn Taylorplayed 38 minutes, Robinson played 35 and junior guard Elijah Johnson played a full 40. Junior guard Travis Releford played 29 only because of foul trouble. The demand on the starters is compounded with the fact that the bench is averaging just 13 percent of the team’s points per game.
“Our guys have to be ready to play 32 to 35 minutes a game,” Self said of his starters. “That’s the fact of the matter.”
Self is talking about Withey, too. He expects more out of the seven-footer who he said has been a match-up advantage one game and an unassertive liability the next.
“Their match-up didn’t take advantage of us,” Self said, “but our matchup certainly didn’t take advantage of them.”
The week started with Baylor, Missouri and KU tied atop the Big 12 standings, meaning the league race is technically wide open with eight games remaining.
Realistically, though, the Bears probably won’t be considered a threat to break KU’s string of conference titles unless they can beat the Jayhawks on Wednesday in Waco, Texas.
“It would definitely help,” Drew said. “You have to win your home games to give yourself a chance to win a conference championship.”
In other words, Baylor needs to do what Missouri did Saturday, when the Tigers rallied from an eight-point deficit in the final three minutes to down the Jayhawks in Columbia, Mo.
The Bears also need to avoid a repeat of their last meeting with KU, a 92-74 drubbing Jan. 16 at Allen Fieldhouse.
“Last time we played them, they really took it to us,” Drew said.
That loss spoiled Baylor’s 17-0 start, and a home loss to Missouri five days later left the Bears lagging behind the Big 12 frontrunners.
Baylor has won four straight games since then, sparked by point guard Pierre Jackson, who is averaging 14.6 points and 7.6 assists since moving into the starting lineup after the loss at KU.
The hard truth is, Missouri needs this game significantly more than Kansas does. The Jayhawks have won three national championships and have been to 13 Final Fours. Missouri has never even been to one. Kansas can recruit on a national scale, while Missouri has to focus on the Midwest. If injected with truth serum, I'll bet Haith would tell you the move to the SEC is making his job harder. So why would Self do something that will only make it easier?
Besides, it's not like Kansas has trouble scheduling nonconference games. The Jayhawks still have two years left in the Champions Classic that will rotate them with Kentucky, Duke and Michigan State. They are a perennially plum choice for all the major Thanksgiving and Christmas week tournaments. Their decision to participate in an intersectional matchup guarantees that it will be broadcast on ESPN or CBS. If Kansas agreed to play Missouri, it would be providing the Tigers with a national platform they currently lack. Hard to see the upside in that for the Jayhawks.
SI Seth Davis
You ever get that nagging feeling that some refs love to make dramatic calls that favor a raucous home crowd? I'm not talking about your run-of-the-mill home-team bias, which is bound to affect any human being who doesn't love 20,000 people booing him in unison. I'm talking about the guys who get really into it, and who seem to revel in the ecstatic roars that rain down after the whistle. You can always pick them out by two factors. First, their gestures are emphatic. They act like Tiger Woods inspiring a roar at the 18th at Augusta when they make the call. They become maestros, conducting the crowd into a frenzy for their own psychological benefit. Second, they tend to make bad calls favoring the home team in high-pressure situations.
Watch the body language of the ref in the two critical charge calls below:
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Big 12 Schedule & Results
If the season ended today, the Big 12 would be close to the top six getting on to the bracket. Missouri, Kansas and Baylor are locks. Based on the Ratings Percentage Index, the tool used by the committee that largely measures success by schedule difficulty, Kansas State looks solid.
Iowa State, riding a three-game winning streak that began with a triumph over Kansas, keeps building credentials.
A sixth team could be Texas. Those two — the Cyclones and Longhorns — would be considered bubble teams.
Six from the Big 12, really? Look around the nation. As of today, the Pac-12 might be a one-bid league. The Big East, which got 11 teams in last year, looks like about an eight-bid conference. The ACC may get four. There could be room on the bracket for midpack Big 12 teams.
In Kansas City, the opening round on March 7 will be an evening doubleheader, with the eighth seed meeting No. 9 at 6 p.m., and No. 7 meeting No. 10.
If seeds were handed out today, here’s how it would look: Texas A&M and Oklahoma would open the event in the 8-9 game. No. 7 Oklahoma State would take on No. 10 Texas Tech in the nightcap.
On March 8, the day would open with fourth-seeded Iowa State taking on No. 5 Kansas State, and top-seeded Missouri would meet the Sooners-Aggies winner in the upper half of the bracket.
Second-seeded Kansas would face the Cowboys-Red Raiders winner, and third-seeded Baylor would battle sixth-seeded Texas in the bracket’s lower half.
Something else to keep in mind about this year’s event: Because of the new structure, there will be no open practice sessions the day before the tournament.
Coach Frank Haith required his players to report to a hotel by 2 a.m. after their late-night victory against the then-No. 8 Jayhawks, trying to temper the celebration and get a head start on a road game less than 48 hours later against an opponent they had beaten by 38 points earlier this season.
Asked whether it was the right move, Denmon and Ricardo Ratliffe looked at each other and didn’t say a word.
Finally, Denmon answered and got a pat on the back from his first-year coach.
“Whether I wanted to go to the hotel or not, I understood,” Denmon said. “I understood that it was a good decision by Coach and it seems like it helped us.”
The Tigers host Baylor on Saturday.
Oklahoma (13-10, 3-8) still had the ball with a chance to tie with 5 seconds left. Romero Osby was fouled with 2.5 seconds left and missed both free throws, and Steven Pledger missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer when the offensive rebound was tapped back to him.
Pledger slumped to the ground and put his hands over his face after his potential tying shot clanged off the rim to end the game. He stayed on the floor until two Missouri players and teammate Barry Honore came over to lift him up.
“It was perfect. The play was designed to miss the free throw and get the tip-out and we actually got the tip-out,” said Pledger, who led Oklahoma with 22 points.
“It was on line. It felt good when it left my hand. It didn’t go in.”
Sam Grooms had a career-high 17 points and matched his career-best with 10 assists, and Andrew Fitzgerald scored 12 points for the Sooners.
When a rowdy Reed Arena crowd went quiet during a couple of Texas A&M free throws late in the Aggies' last scheduled game against Texas, a few Longhorns fans rhythmically shouted the final score of the rivals' final football game from Thanksgiving.
Turns out, the Longhorns will have all-time bragging rights in both sports following another oh-so tight finale — and following another finish that left Aggies deflated in Aggieland.
UT defeated A&M 70-68 on Monday night before 9,792 fans, as the triumphant Longhorns exited the floor with their “hook 'ems” held high.
“I've been watching Texas and Texas A&M for a long time, so it felt great to get the last victory at Texas A&M,” said UT guard Sheldon McClellan.
Finally, too, a close game went UT's way, after a slew of tight losses had dented the Longhorns' psyche.
“We told the team at halftime, ‘Don't expect a large margin of victory,'” UT coach Rick Barnes said. “Every game we've been in has been close.”
…A&M shooting guard Khris Middleton (knee) missed his fifth consecutive game, and point guard Dash Harris (arch) missed his fourth straight contest.
Watching UConn lose again inspired a bit of DeAndre Daniels research. I missed this story in January, perhaps you did as well.
In the closing minutes of the loss at Rutgers on Saturday night, freshman DeAndre Daniels had trouble in-bounding the ball. He called for a timeout. Incensed with his team's play, upset with Daniels, Calhoun was caught in a most unflattering light by the SNY cameras and the lens of Courant photographer Bettina Hansen.
After the timeout was whistled, Daniels walked five steps up the sideline toward Calhoun and the spot where the UConn huddle would form. As he walked toward Calhoun, the camera focused in tighter on Daniels. At that point, Drummond and Boatright walked across the screen and obscured the view of any contact.
Calhoun moved toward Daniels. And if there's any doubt whether he made a fist, look at the photograph by Hansen. That's a fist. And that's a face distorted by anger.
On the video you can see the right side of Calhoun's body rotate toward Daniels as if he is going to deliver some sort of blow to the freshman's torso. Although you cannot see the contact, you can see Daniels recoil a bit and take a step back as Calhoun berates him. At that point, Calhoun grabbed Daniels by the front of his jersey.
You know what that's called? A Hall-of-Fame coach begging for trouble. I know I received some harsh emails about Calhoun's behavior.
"I'm sorry if people misconstrued my interaction with DeAndre Daniels, which was made in an effort to get his attention in the final minutes of the Rutgers game," Calhoun said in a statement to The Courant. "DeAndre and I have spoken about it."
According to a UConn spokesman, interim athletic Paul Pendergast has reviewed the incident and the school will have no further comment.
Only those with the bluest of national flag blue-colored glasses believe Calhoun didn't touch Daniels. And for those who want to argue the video doesn't actually show contact, hey, go ahead and get your little defense lawyer jollies. Calhoun's statement does everything but confirm it.
Two things matter most here:
It looks like a jab by Calhoun — certainly not some roundhouse right — and there is no exaggerated reaction of shock or pain by Daniels.
This wasn't Bob Knight grabbing Neil Reed by the throat at an Indiana practice.
This wasn't Woody Hayes punching Clemson's Charlie Bauman on the sideline at the 1978 Gator Bowl.
Not even close.
And that's important.
Yet every coach from peewees to professional — especially the long-tenured college gods — should get this straight: When you're pissed off, keep your fists open and keep your hands off the players.
…There was a wild rumor circulating a couple of seasons ago that Calhoun took that leave of absence because he had punched 7-foot Charles Okwandu at practice. And while he did jab his fingers into Okwandu's chest after 5-11 Peyton Siva of Louisville scored over him last year, there was zero substantiation that he had ever hit Okwandu.
Folks at UConn have vehemently denied it.
Speaking of thin lines, there is an even thinner one between genius and coaching insanity. And while Calhoun has constantly toed that line en route to three national titles, he has managed not to cross it too many times. Saturday night, he stuck a fist on the wrong side of that line.
Calhoun's ardent supporters, or those simply too exhausted to spar with Calhoun, will say, "Oh, that's just Jim being Jim." That line covers a lot, but not all of it. This may be a quaint little notion from a quaint little sports writer. But college coaches are teachers, too. There are lots of ways to get a student-athlete's attention. Working the belly like you're Rocky Marciano shouldn't be one of them.
College basketball is down and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski doesn't disagree.
"The only thing that might change it is what the NBA does," Coach K said on SiriusXM's Inside College Basketball on Monday afternoon. "We're slaves to what the NBA does with the early-entry. If they ever put that in on a two-year basis, you'll see more dominant teams."
Coach K knows this year's Duke team wouldn't be a Top 10 outfit five or 10 years ago. The Blue Devils are 19-4 overall and 6-2 in ACC play, which is still impressive, but that says as much about the national landscape as anything else.
"This is not a juggernaut," K said about his current group. "We have a good team."
"The landscape of college basketball is that if you're old and a little more above the talent level of the so-called mid-majors," he added. "You've got a chance to win the whole thing. That wasn't the formula before."
Lucas led the Wildcats with 16 points, 15 rebounds and 5 blocks in just three quarters of play. Junior point guard Dyrall Goods had 13 points for Westview, which jumped out to an early lead and never trailed. Joe McFerrin III led Sunset with 20 points. In the video below, watch highlights of the game and listen to Lucas and Goods talk about the big win and Lucas' return to his former school.
A Wichita Eagle double-check of the record books shows that future KU forward Perry Ellis of Wichita Heights is the all-time leading scorer in Wichita City League history.
It had been reported that Ellis needed 38 points to pass former KU center Greg Dreiling’s 31-year-old record of 1,963 points. The paper now reports that Dreiling of Kapaun scored 1,888 points from 1977-81. Ellis has 1,926 points, meaning he broke Dreiling’s record during Heights’ Jan. 24 win over Kapaun. Ellis’ accomplishment will be recognized during Heights’ next home game on Feb. 17.
“Congratulations to Perry Ellis on his accomplishment, one that came two weeks earlier than we thought,” the Wichita Eagle, official statisticians of the City League, wrote Monday.
Greatness, it seems, has always preceded North (Wichita, Kan.) standout point guard Conner Frankamp.
Decades before he even stepped foot onto a basketball court wearing a red Wichita North varsity basketball jersey, Greater Wichita Athletic League greats like Greg Dreiling, Aubrey Sherrod, Antoine Carr and Darnell Valentine were all taking their turns under the lights.
Then, during his prep career, Frankamp has had to share the spotlight with Wichita Heights senior big man Perry Ellis, who recently moved into first place on the GWAL's all-time scoring chart ahead of the former leader, Dreiling.
Frankamp, however, may end up being the best of all of them. He makes scoring 30 points look like child's play. It seems the 6-foot, 160-pound point guard can score at will and from anywhere on the floor.
He's quick and nearly unstoppable in transition and deadly accurate (50 percent) from beyond the 3-point arc, all while being double-teamed, triple-teamed and knocked around. Pick your poison and foul him? Think again. He's knocking down about 87 percent of his attempts from the free throw line this season.
"He's not a big rah rah type of player," Redskins coach Gary Squires said. "He has a lot of confidence. He knows what he has to do, and he gets it done. Conner lets his play do all of his talking for him."
Frankamp's 1,403 career points already place him fifth on the GWAL scoring chart, behind former Wichita South great Ricky Ross (1,667). Frankamp, who is averaging 24.6 points per game for his career, has already surged ahead of Carr and Valentine.
"That would be cool," MaxPreps' 59th-ranked basketball player in the class of 2013 said of climbing to the top of a league rich in talent, tradition and history. "It's a great opportunity. I'm blessed to have that opportunity. It'd be a real honor to be the top scorer in the City League."
…But there is more to Frankamp than just filling the net with basketballs. He seems to enjoy chalking up an assist or two just as much as swishing a jump shot. Frankamp is averaging five assists, more than three rebounds and two-plus steals per outing in 2011-12. As long as the Redskins are winning, Frankamp is happy.
"He has great court awareness," said Squires. "He has no fear. Conner has great court savvy – great court sense. And if you're open, you better be ready for the ball."
Frankamp's AAU basketball coach L. J. Goolsby said his star guard makes it all look so easy. The Kansas City Pump ‘N' Run coach struggled to think of a college player or an NBA player that he could compare Frankamp to. He finally concluded…
"He's a one of a kind," Goolsby said. "It's usually pretty easy to find a player to compare these guys to. But in Conner's case there really isn't anyone. He's his own player. He's a coach's dream – a natural on the floor. Conner shoots the ball, handles the pace of the game and makes it all look effortless.
"He is so competitive. Conner wants to win real bad. If he has to, he's willing to shoulder the burden offensively, but he'll do whatever it takes to win the game. If that means getting his teammates involved then that's what he's going to do."
…Although he's already committed to play basketball for Bill Self at Kansas, Frankamp said he still gets some recruiting mail. Sometimes he admits to taking a peek. But he usually just tosses the mail aside, realizing he's about to attend the school that he's always wanted to. He's going to play basketball for the Jayhawks.
"I was so nervous," Frankamp said of his first meeting with Jayhawk coach Bill Self. "I could barely sleep. He's a great guy. He's pretty laid back. I've been a KU fan my whole life. Kansas has been my dream school since I was young."
Westview's Landen Lucas, the biggest name of this year's Oregon senior basketball recruiting class, chose to sign early with Kansas, although he waited until the final day of the early period to make a decision.
Lucas, who played at national power Findlay Prep (Nev.) last year, said he has several high-profile friends who "are holding out, hoping that their stock rises, but for me, I wanted to get that decision out of the way and relieve the stress."
Lucas believes signing early also influences those signing late.
"It lets other recruits know where you're going, and if they're playing at your position, they might go somewhere else," he said.
The Oregonian: Some high-profile recruits wait to sign
It's senior night tonight and my team has about 9 seniors
Brannen Greene @b_greene14
Ricardo Gathers, the one-time St. John’s commit, has changed course and pledged to Baylor, according to ESPN.com.
“He went up there last week and said that he wanted to (commit),” Gathers’ brother Greg told Dave Telep. “I told him to sit on it for a week. Baylor had been recruiting him since he’s been in the 7th and 8th grade and there’s a connection with ‘Tweety’ Cartergoing up there and it’s a situation where they haveIsaiah Austin, L.J. Rose and they already haveGary Franklin that he’s familiar with.”
The 6-foot-8 “Bayou Bull” chose Baylor over St. John’s, UNLV, LSU and Florida.
“(Ricardo) said they outworked everybody,” Riverside coach Tim Byrd told ESPN.com. “He told me the family loves them.”
Gathers, a double-double machine on the Nike EYBL circuit, will player power forward at Baylor. He is No. 13 at that position in 2012 according to Rivals.
“I think it was really important for him,” Greg Gathers said. “On top of that being on the circuit and being a guy from Louisiana he’s had to always play the five. Now he’s a four man; he does things from the wing too. He’s got a game like Thomas Robinsonand maybe Jared Sullinger who can also show they get it done outside.”
The Heat has James, Wade, and Bosh. The Celtics have Pierce, Allen, and Garnett. Now, St. Benedict’s Prep has Ennis, Johnson, and Briscoe.
OK, so if you don’t follow high school basketball, you may not have heard of the last three but you soon will. St. Benedict’s Prep Basketball’s own big three of Tyler Ennis, Melvin Johnson, and Isaiah Briscoe have led the Gray Bees back into the national spotlight and a shot at the national title.
Their first-year head coach Mark Taylor calls them “The best three-guard combo in the country."
…Ennis, a junior, is fielding offers from Syracuse, Arizona, Kansas, Louisville, as well as a number of many other national powers. Coach Mark Taylor says that Ennis is “keeping his options open” and “trying to find the best situation academically and for playing right away.”
"I've lost count," Ennis said. "I know it's over 20 offers now. I'm blown away by all of the attention."
The five-star point guard talked about his newest offers.
"My newest three offers are from Syracuse, Maryland and Memphis. UConn is showing a lot of interest but they haven't offered yet."
No favorites have emerged at this time for Ennis, a native Canadian, but two ACC schools are among the schools recruiting him the hardest.
"I'm wide open right now," he said. "I need to get out and see some of these schools that are recruiting me before I narrow down my list. After my season ends, I'll start getting out to schools.
"Georgia Tech is the school that I'd say is recruiting me the hardest at this point. Virginia is recruiting me really hard as well. Both of them call me a lot and have good relationships with the staffs at both schools."
So far on the season, the 6-foot-3, 180-pound floor general is averaging 17 points and 10 assists.
"It's been a good season so far. I've had four straight double-doubles."
When it comes to narrowing his list, Ennis is looking at a number of factors.
"Like anyone, I want a good situation in terms of playing time. And I want to win games and make it to the NCAA tournament. I also want to have talent in place because I know that will make me a better player," Ennis said with a laugh.
Does the St. Benedict's standout have a timetable for his college decision?
"I will wait until after my AAU season. The plan is to definitely decide in time to sign in November."
An excellent student as well, Ennis maintains a 3.6 GPA.
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