Archive for Friday, March 18, 2011

Gary Bedore’s Kansas basketball notebook

KUsports.com asks Boston players: What was your reaction after you saw Kansas next to your team's name on Selection Sunday?

March 18, 2011

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Tyshawn Taylor ready to embrace starting role for Jayhawks

Tyshawn Taylor talks about the strengths of KU and his role on the Jayhawk team during locker-room interviews Thursday at the BOK Center in Tulsa. Enlarge video

Travis Releford ready for tournament

After a red-shirt season last year, Kansas forward Travis Releford is ready to play a role in this year's NCAA Tournament. Enlarge video

Upset city

There already have been some crazy upsets in the Southwest Regional.

No. 13-seeded Morehead State defeated No. 4 Louisville, and No. 12 Richmond downed No. 5 Vanderbilt, meaning KU would play a 12 or 13 seed in the Sweet 16 if the Jayhawks win games in Tulsa today and Sunday.

“We’ve already seen today in the tournament ... I mean, this is wild,” KU coach Bill Self said. “Expect the unexpected.”

Junior Tyshawn Taylor watched the end of the Louisville game on TV.

“It means nothing to us. I don’t know what it means to them,” Taylor said. “We have got to look at our own path and what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to play Boston University and after that however it plays out.”

Noted Brady Morningstar: “That’s the NCAA Tournament for you. Seeding is a big deal sometimes, but everyone in this tournament is very capable of winning games, and you can see that.”

The Jayhawks as a team watched the end of the Butler-Old Dominion game, won late by Butler.

“What a finish,” Self said. “We tell them all year long, our season will come down to one possession. I guarantee it will come down to the last possession or last couple possessions of a game. We saw firsthand one-tenth of a second was the difference in overtime in winning (by Butler). That gives the guys that extra juice, I believe, going into the game tomorrow watching others play.”

Presidential picks

Morningstar on President Obama picking KU to win the NCAA title:

“I think he picked us last year, also. So that shows how much he knows I guess, right?” Morningstar said with a laugh. “I guess he likes college sports and wants to pick his team that he thinks is going to win. More power to him.

“Just because he said that doesn’t mean he can make us win, so I don’t feel any added pressure from him. But I’d like to go and meet him in a couple weeks. That would be fun. I would love to go to the White House and see him. No pressure, though.”

Praise for Marcus

Self was asked if Marcus Morris is the best player he’s ever coached.

“He’s not the best player. I tell him that all the time,” Self said. “I’ve coached a guy who is arguably the best point guard in the world (Deron Williams) for a brief period of time. He’s not the best, but he’s the most complete player I’ve coached,” Self added of Marcus.

“He can do more things on the basketball court than anybody I’ve ever been around. He’s 6-8. He can post. He can score over the shoulder. He can face. He can drive it. He’s a great passer. He can stretch it. He can slide. He’s a complete basketball player.

“That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s near as good as Wayne Simien at scoring or somebody else at rebounding, but he can do a lot of things.”

Tulsa talk

Self on returning to Tulsa for this weekend’s tournament. He coached at Oral Roberts four years and Tulsa for three.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever had more fun in my life than what I had the seven years I was here,” he said. “It was a great run, great kids, and I’ll never forget. A lot of people asked if I learned how to be a coach at Tulsa, and I would say the answer is probably yes in large part because at ORU our mistakes weren’t magnified, and I made a ton of them, and I was able to work through that, where I’d be fired in today’s time at an Illinois or a Kansas.

“I was able to kind of grow and cut my teeth there and move on to bigger and better things isn’t the right thing to say because that’s not what happened. I’ve had some opportunities, but I don’t know if I’ve ever had it better than what I had it here when I was at Tulsa.”

He insists he’s not distracted.

“It’s good to come home. It’s nice to see familiar faces, and I’ve seen a ton already today,” Self said. “But it doesn’t play into what’s going on at all. I even see some familiar Illinois faces out there, too.”

Philly fanatics

Philadelphia native Marcus Morris is well aware four Philly natives play for Boston University.

“They are very solid. I mostly know Matty Griffin (5-10, junior, Narberth, Pa.). He’s a good shooter. He’s a crafty player.”

Practice, practice

The Jayhawks held a short practice at BOK Center before at least 5,000 fans Thursday afternoon. Elijah Johnson tried, and missed, a crazy dunk to conclude the proceedings. The Jayhawks cut the workout short 10 minutes and signed autographs for fans.

The Jayhawks not only held a shootaround at BOK Center on Thursday, but held an actual practice at Tulsa Union High.

McLemore decision nears

Ben McLemore, a 6-5 guard from St. Louis, will announce his college choice at the NeXt All-American Classic on April 3 at Sears Centre in suburban Chicago. McLemore, who recently enrolled at Christian Life Center near Houston, after leaving Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., will choose either KU or Missouri.

“The most important thing I was looking for during my recruitment process was the opportunity for the chance to play right away and being close to home so that my family can come watch me play again,” said McLemore.

“The reason it took me so long to decide was I had three really great schools (Missouri, Kansas, and Tennessee) to choose from and I needed my family’s help to decide which was the best fit for me. At the moment I’m down to UM or KU however I’m not leaning one way or the other."

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