Posts tagged with Basketball
Kansas started the week with a horrendous half of basketball in which it had 18 turnovers at Florida and finished the week with a terrific half that had Joel Embiid dominating and Naadir Tharpe facilitating against New Mexico in the Sprint Center. It translated to a tumble from 13th to 18th, seven spots behind Wichita State, in the Associated Press college basketball poll released Monday.
The AP top 25, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Dec. 15, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week's ranking:
Record Pts Prv
- Arizona (63)— 11-0— 1,623— 1
- Syracuse (2)— 10-0— 1,528— 2
- Ohio St.— 10-0— 1,464— 3
- Wisconsin— 12-0— 1,381— 4
- Michigan St.— 8-1— 1,297— 5
- Louisville— 9-1— 1,264— 6
- Oklahoma St.— 9-1— 1,165— 7
- Duke— 7-2— 1,053— 8
- Villanova— 10-0— 1,053— 10
- UConn— 9-0— 1,035— 9
- Wichita St.— 10-0— 923— 12
- Baylor— 8-1— 898— 14
- Oregon— 9-0— 834— 15
- North Carolina— 7-2— 792— 18
- Memphis— 7-1— 755— 16
- Florida— 7-2— 699— 19
- Iowa St.— 8-0— 698— 17
- Kansas— 7-3— 482— 13
- Kentucky— 8-3— 414— 11
- Colorado— 10-1— 405— 21
- Gonzaga— 10-1— 376— 20
- UMass— 9-0— 351— 22
- Missouri— 10-0— 222— 24
- San Diego St.— 7-1— 176— 25
- Iowa— 10-2— 72— 23
Others receiving votes: UCLA 69, Pittsburgh 66, Saint Mary's (Cal) 11, George Washington 5, Harvard 4, Oklahoma 4, Michigan 3, Toledo 3.
My AP ballot:
Arizona: Freshman star Aaron Gordon knows how to draw fouls, which isn’t necessarily such a good thing for nation’s top-ranked team. Gordon shooting just .447 from line.
Syracuse: With the possible exception of Indiana center Noah Vonleh, Orange point guard Tyler Ennis is the nation’s most underrated freshman. Canadian shoots .429 from three and has a 5-to-1 assists-turnover ratio.4. Ohio State: All 10 victories by double digits. ... With as much trouble as Trey McDonald has shooting from 15 feet (6 for 18), it’s no surprise he hasn’t attempted a trey.
Ohio State: With as much trouble as Trey McDonald has shooting from the free-throw line (6 for 18), it's no surprise he hasn't attempted a trey.
Wisconsin: All five starters shoot .390 or better from three and three of them are at .419 or better.
Louisville: Rick Pitino’s coaching tree bears a ton of fruit: Mick Cronin (Cincinnati), Billy Donovan (Florida), Richard Pitino (Minnesota), Herb Sendek (Arizona State), Tubby Smith (Texas Tech), Reggie Theus (Cal State Northridge) and Kevin Willard (Seton Hall). Pitino not only had excellent vision as a UMass point guard, he can see future head coaches when he hires them as assistants.
Michigan State: Nation’s top backcourt battling injuries. Gary Harris (out with ankle injury) and Keith Appling (playing with sore wrist and hip) make the Spartans go.
Oklahoma State: Marcus Smart settling for threes as often as he does is akin to a flame-thrower feeding the No. 9 hitter off-speed pitches.
Duke: Comparisons to Carmelo Anthony looking pretty good for Jabari Parker so far.
North Carolina: The season opened with Kentucky, Michigan State and Louisville holding down the top three spots in the AP poll. Carolina has beaten all three of them by a combined margin of 28 points, overshadowing losses to Belmont and UAB.
Villanova: A whopping 45.6 percent of Wildcats’ shots are three-pointers, eighth-highest percentage in the nation, yet they make only 32.1 percent. So how do they stay undefeated? By playing terrific defense.
Wichita State: Shockers hit the road to try to make it two victories against SEC schools in four days Tuesday vs. Alabama. Senior Trevor Releford, brother of former KU starter Travis, leads Crimson Tide in scoring (16.4), three-point shooting (.386) and turnovers (3.5). Getting the ball inside will be key to staying undefeated for Shockers.
UConn: Huskies No. 1 in nation with .465 three-point accuracy, compared to .295 for opponents.
Baylor: Cory Jefferson and Rico Gathers hammer the offensive boards consistently for Bears.
Kentucky: Youngest team in nation gets 83 percent of its points from freshmen, led by Julius Randle (17.2), who also gives UK 11.4 rebounds per game.
Oregon: For more than a quarter-century people looked at me funny when I told them field-goal percentage is meaningless since it assigns equal value to three-point and two-point field goals, instead of giving a three-point bucket 150 percent of the value of a two-pointer. In recent years, the stat is tracked and called “effective field-goal percentage.” Oregon ranks fourth in the nation at .594.
Florida: What a week for the Gators. It started with defeating Kansas (24 turnovers) and ended with news that 6-10 McDonald’s All-American Chris Walker had been admitted to school and cleared to practice with the team. He still needs to make it through the NCAA Clearinghouse before he can play in games.
Kansas: Georgetown started its winning streak with a 27-point victory against Kansas State. Streak should grow to seven after Hoyas play Elon on Tuesday. KU will be facing confident squad Saturday (11 a.m. tipoff) in Allen Fieldhouse.
Memphis: Tigers have tough one Tuesday night in Madison Square Garden against Florida in Jimmy V Classic.
Iowa State: Some day, Northern Iowa’s Seth Tuttle can tell his grandchildren he played the part of Ben McLemore in Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg’s recurring nightmare. Tuttle, as McLemore did a year ago, banked in a three-point shot after Hoiberg, up three points, decided not to foul. It forced overtime. The difference this time: The Cyclones went on to win. “I’m sick of seeing people bank in threes,” Hoiberg said. Put in the same situation vs. Iowa, Hoiberg told his players to foul, but they didn’t execute his wishes and Iowa launched a potential game-tying three. Seeing a terrific coach like Hoiberg struggle with a no-brainer decision is like watching a great basketball player struggle at the free-throw line. Foul. Period.
UMass: Junior center Cady Lalanne, who originally signed with Georgia but was denied admission at the last minute, having break-through season, his first without injuries. Averaging 15.2 points and 9.8 rebounds.
Colorado: Fourth-year coach Tad Boyle has Buffs on course for third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. Last season was first time CU made the field in consecutive years since 1962-63.
Gonzaga: Zags, shooting .444 from three-point land, will face pro-K-State crowd against Wildcats for 2:30 tipoff Saturday.
Pittsburgh: Young, undefeated team fattening up on soft schedule won’t have that luxury once ACC season starts.
Missouri: Averaging 37.2 minutes, 19 points and 5.5 rebounds and shooting .422 from three, Jabari Brown isn’t the best Jabari in college basketball, but he is the Tigers’ most valuable player.
San Diego State: Hot-shooting Aztecs visit Allen Fieldhouse Jan. 5. Senior Xavier Thames and freshman Matt Shrigley combining to shoot .532 from three.
Gainesville, Fla. — If talent wins tonight's game in Stephen C. O'Connell Center, Kansas will prevail. If experience is the deciding factor, Florida will win. That can be said about most of KU's games, of course.
For the first time this season, KU coach Bill Self will start four freshman, the same lineup he sent to the floor to start the second half in Boulder, Col. Frank Mason is making his third start, joining regular starters Wayne Selden Jr., Andrew Wiggins and Perry Ellis. Center Joel Embiid, who played high school basketball in Gainesville last season, makes his first start for the Jayhawks, replacing foul-plagued power forward Tarik Black.
Florida's starting lineup, listed in the pre-game notes: Scottie Wilbekin and Michael Frazier II at guards, Casey Prather and Will Yeguete at forwards and Patric Young at center. Prather leads Florida four Gators in double figures with 19.1 points per game. Yeguete is the only Gator starter not in double figures.
Thanks to the return of freshman guard Kasey Hill, the talent disparity won't be as much as the starting lineups suggests. Freshman guard Kasey Hill is back from a sprained ankle injury that sidelined him for four games. He and Wilbeken will play together for the first time this season. Wilbeken was suspended for the first five games.
It will be interesting to see whether KU coach Bill Self will start the game with Wiggins or Selden guarding Prather, a 6-foot-6, 212-pound senior who has attempted just three three-point field goals all season.
The Gators do have a couple of three-point threats, most notably Frazier (23 for 44, .523) and Wilbekin (4 for 8 in three games.)
Florida is coming off a buzzer-beater loss at UConn, a game in which the Gators lost despite winning the battle of the boards, 34-26. The Jayhawks are coming off a buzzer-beater loss at Colorado, where the Buffaloes made good use of 15 offensive rebounds.
Gainesville, Fla. — The second consecutive brutal travel day was halfway done when I checked my phone for messages during a layover in Atlanta.
Four voice mails from the Associated Press man in charge of compiling the college basketball poll from his 65 voters, the first coming a few minutes after the flight from Kansas City to Atlanta took off. The last came shortly after it landed, informing me, as it turned out, it was too late.
My first fear was that the ballot I had e-mailed at 2:29 a.m. Monday was lost in cyberspace, out there somewhere in never land, where bags lost by airlines end up.
As far as the integrity of the AP poll itself, not receiving anything would have been worse. As for my credibility with the fan base of the team I accidentally left off when moving teams around by cutting and pasting, well, there could not have been a more unfortunate omission. Never mind that I consistently have lobbied for Kansas to play Wichita State on an annual, home-and-home basis, believing it would be great preparation for Kansas for the NCAA tournament, must-see entertainment for the entire state of Kansas and selfishly, a great story to tell.
Nobody wants to hear that now. I cut Wichita State without pasting in attempting to move the Shockers to 11th and didn’t notice the mistake when reviewing my top 25 for the final time before sending it.
The AP figured that was what happened, but couldn’t read my mind, so as the deadline passed, left it as it was. It didn’t change the Shockers’ 12th-place standing in the poll. (The 145 points they lost would have given them 899, 27 points shy of No. 11 Kentucky).
On my previous five ballots, starting with the preseason, I had the Shockers ranked 19th, 19th, 13th, 12th and 13th.
In trying to find a bright spot to my goof, I arrived upon this: If anyone uses this to bring the need for the the two Big 12 schools from Kansas to play Wichita State every year back into the conversation, well then, it’s not all bad.
I encourage everyone reading this to do what I did a couple of hours ago. Go to pollspeak.com and vote for me as the bad voter of the week.
Here’s the ballot I sent to the AP, which really was a top 26, minus 1:
1. Arizona: A year out of college, I was watching the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson when a 14-year-old basketball prodigy came on, seemed so at ease kicking back and chatting with Johnny and then wowed with him a variety of ball tricks. I remember telling myself to commit his name to memory to see if he would resurface as a college basketball player. He sure did. Sean Miller of Ellwood City, Pa., was the starting point guard for four years for Pittsburgh and now coaches the nation’s No. 1 team. He always had even more substance than style to his game.
2. Syracuse: If you ever get there, find your way to Heid's Hot Dogs, home of delicious white hot dogs, aka porkers, not to be confused with bratwursts. White hots go well with a nice root beer and french fries smothered in ketchup. Then again, what doesn’t?
3. Ohio State: First rough week in football, another strong week in basketball.
4. Michigan State: First rough week in basketball, another strong week in football.
5. Louisville: Rick Pitino’s son, Richard Pitino, is off to a good start at Minnesota, where the Golden Gophers are 8-2 and scored a big victory against a big Florida State team.
6. Wisconsin: Sam Dekker, 6-7 sophomore forward, inspires so many adjectives. Explosive, dynamic, intense, relentless. He’s a threat to score from three-point range or from three feet above the rim.
7. Oklahoma State: Three-point shooting a forte for Cowboys (.410 from long distance) and nobody does it better than Phil Forte (.532).
8. Kentucky: Youngest team in the nation plays host Tuesday to undefeated Boise State, a veteran team that doesn’t beat itself.
9. Duke: Jabari Parker, Rodney Hood, nation’s top tandem, combining to shoot 50 percent from three and scoring 41.4 points per game.
10. Villanova: Remains undefeated despite shooting just .439 overall, .328 from three.
11. Kansas: Three-point shooting woes: Frank Mason (3 for 19), Brannen Greene (1 for 5), Conner Frankamp (3 for 13).
12. Connecticut: Good in the clutch. Huskies have beaten Maryland, Indiana and Florida by one, Boston College by two.
13. Baylor: Rico Gathers, 6-foot-8, 270-pound sophomore from Laplace, La., an absolute monster on boards. Averaging 15.9 minutes and 7.1 rebounds per game. Interesting stat line in five-point victory against Kentucky: six points, 13 rebounds, three steals.
14. Oregon: Ducks remained undefeated with 115-105 overtime victory at Ole Miss. Could it be Ducks women’s coach Paul Westhead has been making guess appearances at Dana Altman’s practices? Westhead coached the Loyola Marymount men’s team when the Lions won a game 181-150 the year before they averaged 122.5 points a game.
15. Florida: Both Gators losses were to teams that remain undefeated, Wisconsin and UConn. ... KU defenders can’t lose sight of Michael Frazier II. In the loss to Wiconsin and victories against Jacksonville and Florida State, Frazier has made 15 of 21 (.714) three-pointers.
16. North Carolina: When your buddy uses comparative scores to prove his team is better than yours, hit him with a series of your own. North Carolina beat Michigan State by 14. UAB beat North Carolina by four. Temple beat UAB by 21. Towson beat Temple by 6. Sam Houston State beat Towson by 12. Liberty beat Sam Houston State by four. So that makes Liberty 61 points better than Michigan State. I’ll take the 61 points and the Spartans. You take the Flames.
17. Memphis: Coach Josh Pastner looks so much older than when he coached his second game for the Tigers, a 57-55 loss to Kansas, in 2009. Another few years or so and he’ll blend right in with college students. Youthful appearance hasn’t prevented him from compiling .760 winning percentage.
18. Iowa State: Scientists are hard at work at this very moment, trying to figure out how to wax the hardwood in such a way as to necessitate wearing a different type of shoe, but keeping it a secret. Best guess as to when the project will be completed. Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, the day Kansas comes in for an 8 p.m. tipoff.
19. Iowa: The nearby Amana Colonies feature fine family-style dining with delectable corn.
20. Colorado: It’s official: The wording “rising” can be removed from “rising star in the college basketball coaching ranks” next to Tad Boyle’s name. Smart, fiery yet poised, charismatic, confident, Boyle shares many qualities with the coach of his alma mater.
21. Gonzaga: Canadian sensation Kevin Pangos averaging 19.8 points, shooting .927 from the line, .500 from three and has an assists-to-turnover ratio of 3.5 to 1.
22. UMass: Minutemen should be called Secondmen as quickly as they put up shots. Chaz Williams, 5-9, 175-pound senior from Brooklyn, put up just 14 from field during 32-point night vs. BYU.
23. Pittsburgh: Panthers haven’t played much of anybody yet, but they sure do know how to beat up on sparring partners.
24. Missouri: Enjoyed defeating West Virignia 80-71 so much Tigers decided to do it again, beating UCLA by the same score.
25. San Diego State: In their last 99 games, the Aztecs are 99-0 when leading with five minutes left. Coach Steve Fisher’s poise is contagious.
The voters in the Associated Press college basketball poll didn't punish Kansas too severely for losing to Villanova in a Battle 4 Atlantis semi-final game played in the Bahamas. The Jayhawks (6-1) dropped from second to sixth, one spot behind Ohio State, one spot ahead of defending national-champion Louisville.
The top 25 teams in The Associated Press' college basketball poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Dec. 1, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week's ranking:
Record Pts Prv
- Michigan St. (63)— 7-0— 1,623—1
- Arizona (2)— 7-0— 1,547— 4
- Kentucky— 7-1— 1,473— 3
- Syracuse— 7-0— 1,375— 8
- Ohio St.— 6-0— 1,340— 7
- Kansas— 6-1— 1,240— 2
- Louisville— 6-1— 1,139— 9
- Wisconsin— 8-0 — 1,094— 10
- Oklahoma St.— 7-1— 1,070— 5
- Duke— 6-2— 1,021— 6
- Wichita St.— 8-0— 911 — 12
- UConn— 7-0— 836— 13
- Oregon— 7-0— 801— 14
- Villanova— 7-0— 785— NR
- Florida — 6-1— 758— 15
- Memphis — 5-1— 748— 21
- Iowa St. — 5-0— 623— 17
- UCLA— 7-0 — 548— 19
- Gonzaga— 7-1— 380v 11
- Baylor— 7-1— 377— 18
- UMass— 6-0— 274— 24
- Michigan— 5-2 — 223— 22
- Iowa— 7-1— 171— 23
- San Diego St.— 5-1— 150— NR
- Dayton— 6-1— 90— NR
Others receiving votes: Indiana 74, Virginia 73, New Mexico 71, North Carolina 62, Florida St. 40, Boise St. 36, Pittsburgh 36, VCU 30, Charlotte 20, Colorado 17, Creighton 17, Missouri 16, Harvard 10, Illinois 10, Cincinnati 8, Mississippi 3, George Washington 2, Saint Mary's (Cal) 2, Xavier 1.
My AP ballot:
1. Michigan State: Crossword puzzle authors rooting for senior do-it-all center Adreian Payne to hit winning shot in NCAA title game so he will be famous enough that his first name can become a common answer, such as “aloe,” “area,” “aria,” and “Erie.”
2. Kentucky: The Cats attack offensive glass with muscle, hustle and quickness to snare 48.0 percent of the shots they miss, second nationally only to Cincinnati (48.1), per kenpom.com.
3. Arizona: Kaleb Tarczewski, 7-foot soph KU finished second on coming along nicely for Zona, averaging 9.7 points, 6.7 boards, 1.9 blocked shots.
4. Louisville: One of five schools on this ballot that will be play in ACC next year and North Carolina isn’t one of them. With Cards coming on board, ACC will be more loaded than Otis from the Andy Griffith Show.
5. Syracuse: The sun never shines in this central, N.Y. town, which is a shame because sunlight brings out the best in the Orange. Jim Boeheim has a 9--0 record in Maui Classic. He has C.J. Fair to thank for another tourney title.
6. Ohio State: All six victories by double digits, but it’s how many, not by how many, that counts. Just ask the football team, which edged that school from up north by a point. Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller, join the Heisman Trophy race.
7. Kansas: Ranks 265th in nation with .307 three-point marksmanship and 347th in experience of 351 teams, according to kenpom.com. Only James Madison, Evansville, Howard and Kentucky, the nation’s least experienced squad, rank below KU.
8. UConn: Rank sixth in nation with .446 three-point accuracy. Even retired coach Jim Calhoun wouldn’t sneer at that, except 55.4 percent of the time.
9. Duke: Freshman Jabari Parker finally held under 20 points, scoring 19 in loss to Arizona. It wasn’t for lack of effort. He hoisted 21 shots.
10. Villanova: Size matters, but ‘Nova proves it’s possible to compensate with a good game plan executed with serious passion and timely long-range shooting.
11. Oregon: Schedule thickens with next two games at undefeated Ole Miss and at home vs. unbeaten Illinois. Nike marketing department finally forming sweat beads.
12. Oklahoma State: Markel Brown (.516/.806/.471), not Marcus Smart (.460/.657/.340), needs to lead this team in shots. Smart’s the only one who can make that happen.
13. Wichita State: Fred VanVleet, 5-11 soph shooting .471 from three, more than just an All-Name Team candidate. Has 3.1 assists-to-turnover ratio and shooting .838 from line.
14. Wisconsin: One of the nation’s most deliberate teams, Badgers keep working Bo Ryan’s swing offense until they get a good shot. And then the students head into the cold night and make up for lost time at a rapid pace. Madtown a fun town.
15. Florida: Next three games all against ranked opponents: At UConn, vs. Kansas, Memphis on a neutral court.
16. UCLA: Aside from Yogi Berra quotes, some of which he said, as far as I can tell, JFK’s “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” is the only famous 20th century quote not yet attributed to John Wooden. Give it time.
17. Iowa State: Senior DeAndre Kane, transfer from Marshall, turns 25 in June, which makes him a much more muscular version of Brady Morningstar. Kane, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound native of Pittsburgh, tearing it up for Cyclones. Averaging 16.4 points and 8.4 rebounds and shooting .617/.400/.714. That doesn’t mean Andrew Wiggins can’t shut him down.
18. Florida State: Thinking he is original, an announcer, perhaps several, will say of the Seminoles: “I’ll tell you what, you do NOT want to play these guys in March.” Lost by one point in Gainesville.
19. Gonzaga: Bounced back nicely from loss to quality Dayton team.
20. Iowa: Big and fast Hawkeyes went down in OT to Nova in Battle 4 Atlantis title game. No word yet on what Iowa coach Fran McCaffery’s wife, Margaret, thought of the officiating. I think we all know what she thought of it, though, don’t you think?
21. UMass: Had the week off to bask in the glow of national ranking.
22. Baylor: Fascinating matchup with Kentucky, which features two of the nation’s tallest teams, will take place Friday in a big building, the Jerry Jones Dome in Arlington, Texas, aka AT&T Stadium.
23. Pittsburgh: On your next visit to this town that has such a beautiful baseball park, make sure to experience a meal at Primanti Brothers. Sandwiches come with fresh-cut french fries and coleslaw jammed between the meat and the top slice of bread. Goes well with a side of fries.
24. Memphis: Tigers knocked off Oklahoma State to improve coach Josh Pastner’s record against AP Top 25 teams to 1-13. We knew you could do it, Josh.
25. San Diego State: When Xavier Thames shoots from long range, flames fly off the basketball. Combined to make 9 of 11 threes to help Aztecs knock off then-ranked Big East teams Creighton and Marquette over the weekend.
When giving thanks today, don't forget to send a little the way of the basketball gods for enabling you to watch potential superstar Joel Embiid play during his formative years. Shockingly, this is only his third year of organized basketball.
Embiid played more soccer and volleyball growing up and the soccer clearly contributed to his amazing footwork, so rare for a 7-footer. He moves his feet like a point guard and sees the floor like one too. Coach Bill Self listed Embiid, Frank Mason, Naadir Tharpe and Wayne Selden as the team's four best passers.
Check out this feed of Andrew Wiggins in the Duke game:
And this find of hot-shooting Brannen Greene, again in the Duke game:
Against Towson in Allen Fieldhouse, Embiid showed he's a quick study by applying his coach's advice.
"I talked to coach (Bill) Self and I had to watch Jeff Withey video tape and coach just told me to stay on the ground and not go for shot fakes, so that's what I do."
He also showed extraordinary ability throwing the outlet pass to teammates fast enough to run them down.
"I'd like to say I've been working with him on that, but I think it's more instinctive," Self said of the outlet passes. "He's smart. He understands. He's got feel. You know, he played with that AAU team with Chris Walker (Florida) and Brannen (Greene) and Kasey Hill (Florida). The only time he touched it was when he rebounded it, so he wanted to try to do something positive. He's been doing that for a while."
In the event you promised you wouldn't watch KU basketball highlights at the Thanksgiving dinner table, we'll leave the sound off these highlights of Embiid blocking shots and throwing outlet passes against Towson. Just hide your iPhone under the table and keep your reactions to yourself.
If you passed on taking a Thanksgiving trip to the Bahamas to watch the Kansas basketball team compete in a tournament and are regretting that decision, start planning now to work on the tan two Novembers from now.
Kansas is one of eight schools that will participate in the championship round of the 2015 Maui Classic, played in the cozy Lahaina Civic Center. The rest of the field, announced by the tournament Monday: Chaminade, the host school of the event since 1984, Indiana, St. John’s, UCLA, UNLV, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest.
KU last participated in the tourney in 2011, when it lost to Duke in the title game, 68-61. Other than Div. II host Chaminade, schools are only allowed to participate in the Maui Classic once in a four-year span.
The Jayhawks won the Maui Classic in 1996, defeating Virginia, 80-63, in the title game. Raef LaFrentz was named MVP.
KU is the favorite in the “Battle 4 Atlantis” tournament that starts Thanksgiving Day and runs through Saturday. KU’s first game, vs. Wake Forest on Thanksgiving, is scheduled to tip off at 2:30 p.m. CT.
Iowa, 23rd in the Associated Press poll, is the only other Top 25 team in the field. Three schools appear in “others receiving votes,” listed under the poll: 35. Villanova, 36. Xavier, 39 (tie). Tennessee.
Louisville lost Sunday to North Carolina in the biggest game of the weekend in college basketball, which changed how the top of my ballot looked, but not how the final Associated Press poll shaped up. Michigan State remains first, Kansas University second.
The AP top 25, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Nov. 24, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week’s ranking:
Record Pts Prv
- Michigan St. (56) — 6-0— 1,616— 1
- Kansas (8)— 4-0— 1,559— 2
- Kentucky— 4-1— 1,445— 4
- Arizona— 5-0— 1,425— 5
- Oklahoma St. (1)— 4-0— 1,347— 7
- Duke— 5-1— 1,285— 6
- Ohio St.— 4-0— 1,206— 8
- Syracuse— 4-0— 1,161— 9
- Louisville— 5-1— 1,103— 3
- Wisconsin— 6-0— 960— 12
- Gonzaga— 4-0— 830— 13
- Wichita St.— 5-0— 809— 14
- UConn— 6-0— 798— 18
- Oregon — 4-0— 731— 17
- Florida— 4-1— 729— 16
- North Carolina— 4-1— 712— 24
- Iowa St.— 4-0— 521— 21
- Baylor— 4-0— 437— 20
- UCLA— 5-0— 416— 22
- Creighton— 4-0— 373— 23
- Memphis— 2-1— 354— 11
- Michigan— 4-2— 238— 14
- Iowa— 5-0— 197— NR
- UMass— 6-0— 188—NR
- Marquette— 3-1— 126— 25
Others receiving votes: New Mexico 82, VCU 71, Florida St. 63, Virginia 61, Indiana 47, Boise St. 35, Charlotte 35, Belmont 31, Arizona St. 23, Harvard 22, Colorado 19, Villanova 16, Xavier 11, Pittsburgh 10, Missouri 8, Cincinnati 7, Tennessee 7, Minnesota 6, Illinois 2, George Washington 1, Georgetown 1, Texas A&M 1.
My AP ballot:
1. Kansas: When I started typing this sentence, Joel Embiid was a good basketball player. Now he’s really good. By the time you read this, he will be really, really good.
2. Michigan State: Strong, quick, tough, skilled, experienced. Weird stat: Only four blocked shots six games into season.
3. Kentucky: Freshmen scoring 84 percent of points, compared to 59 percent for Kansas.
4. Oklahoma State: With impressed Kevin Durant watching, Marcus Smart scored 39 in 101-80 blowout of Memphis.
5. Arizona: Nick Johnson — not the sweet-swinging left-handed hitter whose career could have been better had he been more dedicated to injury rehabilitation assignments, the junior guard — improves steadily. Shooting percentages: .372, .448, .588.
6. Duke: Vermont (1-5) shot .648 and stormed back from 15-point deficit only to lose, 91-90. Afterward, Duke’s Rodney Hood summed up Blue Devils’ shortcomings, saying, “We’re not connected on the defensive end.”
7. North Carolina: Lefty point guard Marcus Paige was pretty doggone good, scoring 32 points to lead Heels to nine-point victory against defending national champions.
8. Louisville: Don’t blame Russ Smith (36 points) for 21-game winning streak ending in loss to UNC.
9. Syracuse: St. Francis (NY), scoreless the last 4:10, led by four until Orange finished on 10-0 run to win 56-50.
10. Oregon: More than just the football team scores a lot of points. Ducks averaging 89.5 and unlike the football team, they don’t mind settling for three-point field goals.
11. Ohio State: More than just Crafty guard play has Buckeyes battling to stay undefeated. Junior shot-blocker Amir Williams emerging. He has worked hard to improve his free throw-shooting from year to year: .357, .557, .824.
12. Wichita State: Soph Ron Baker from Scott City shooting 50 percent from three and has a 3.7 assists-to-turnovers ratio.
13. Wisconsin: College basketball players do improve during their careers so be careful of labeling a freshman project as a stiff not worth developing. Frank Kaminsky, a junior 7-footer, scored a school-record 43 points, made 16 of 19 shots, all six three-pointers and 5 of 6 free throws in a 103-85 victory against North Dakota.
14. Florida: At some point in the Dec. 10 game vs. Kansas in Gainesville, Fla., look for Andrew Wiggins to lobby Bill Self to guard Casey Prather (17.2 ppg), unless that is, Wiggins checks him the whole game, in which case that will make for an interesting matchup.
15. UConn: German swing man Niels Giffey, a junior, shooting beleuchtungen out for Huskies. Has made 14 of 20 three-pointers. But it was Shabazz Napier who scored 47 percent of team’s points in one-point victory vs. Indiana.
16. UCLA: Nation’s most underrated player? Small forward Jordan Adams (22.2 points, 3.4 steals a game, .462 three-point shooter). He loves it though, based on his Twitter (@jordanadams 1231) motto: “I’m like a pillow I love when they sleep on me!”
17. Iowa State: I’m old enough to remember when Canada was a hockey country. Do-it-all senior Melvin Ejim of Toronto metro area scored 22 vs. Michigan, 21 in Provo against BYU.
18. Florida State: Boris Bojanovsky, 7-foot-3, 235-pound soph from Slovak Republic, spotted walking, chewing gum at same time and pitching in with 10 points and three blocked shots in OT loss to Michigan. Backup Michael Ojo, 7-1, 292, of Nigeria added eight points on night 7-footers combined for 8 of 11 from field.
19. Gonzaga: Ex-KU half-freshman Micah Downs, playing for Budivelnyk Kyiv of the Ukrainian Super League, never averaged more than 10 points for Zags, but did develop into defensive stopper. Was West Coast Conference tournament MVP as senior in 2009. I’d still like to know how he snuck out of Lawrence. Was it in the middle of the night, the way Bear Bryant’s Junction City Boys escaped? Did he do it in broad daylight? Did he hitch-hike to the airport? Micah, if you’re reading this, contact me via Twitter @TomKeeganLJW.
20. Iowa: Roy Devyn Marble won’t eclipse his father’s school record (2,116 points), has scored 1,207 points and leads team in scoring for second year in a row.
21. Creighton: Doug McDermott is the greatest walk-on ever. Father was out of scholarships when NCAA granted Grant Gibbs a sixth year of eligibility. That’s worked out well for both McDermotts. Gibbs averaging 5.8 assists.
22. UMass: Stirring memories of Marcus Camby, emerging star Cady Lalanne, a 6-10 junior, averaging 17.8 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and shooting .643 from field, .727 from line.
23. Baylor: Slender 7-1 soph Isaiah Austin blocking 4.8 shots a game but still hasn’t figured out how to get easy buckets at other end.
24. Xavier: Tough Battle 4 Atlantis game against Iowa on Thanksgiving could reveal plenty about both teams.
25. Pittsburgh: If Talib Zanna (15.3 points, 9 rebounds) ever makes it to the NBA and TV goes to NFL-style introductions, look for Talib to stare at the camera and proudly state, “Pittsburgh,” showing love for his school.
It certainly doesn’t rank in the top five of reasons the Kansas basketball program is the No. 1 choice of so many elite athletes, but the lob play might just be the most subtle factor that never is discussed.
Basketball prospects watch SportsCenter highlights. So often they feature a player on the run tossing a pass to a teammate who soars above the rim and flushes it. Typically, that is followed by a crowd shot of students going wild. What better way to market a basketball team and its wild atmosphere? Fun games in which to play and attend.
Most of the highlights from Tuesday night’s victory against Iona College came from players in the 5-foot-something/7-foot category.
The best in the former category involved Naadir Tharpe setting up Frank Mason, the two shortest players on the team playing so fast.
The highlight of Mason throwing down Tharpe’s lob might have taken the television audience by surprise, but nobody in the program was shocked.
“We watch him in practice,” coach Bill Self said of Mason. “That would have surprised us if he didn’t dunk.”
Kansas had seven dunks against Iona, which did not have any. KU leads opponents, 14-4, in dunks three games into the season. The totals: Andrew Wiggins (7), Joel Embiid (4), Perry Ellis (1), Mason (1), Jamari Traylor (1).
Kansas leaped from fifth to second in the Associated Press college basketball poll released Tuesday, ranking behind only Michigan State.
The top 25 teams in The Associated Press' college basketball poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Nov. 17, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week's ranking:
Record Pts Prv<br>
- Michigan St. (51) — 3-0 — 1,608 — 2
- Kansas (7) — 2-0 — 1,523 — 5
- Louisville (7) — 3-0 — 1,511 — 3
- Kentucky — 3-1 — 1,410 — 1
- Arizona — 3-0 — 1,339 — 6
- Duke — 2-1 — 1,320 — 4
- Oklahoma St. — 3-0 — 1,198 — 8
- Ohio St. — 3-0 — 1,172 — 10
- Syracuse — 3-0 — 1,135 — 9
- VCU — 3-0 — 928 — 14
- Memphis — 1-0 — 871 — 13
- Wisconsin — 3-0 — 763— 20
- Gonzaga — 3-0 — 710 — 15
- Michigan — 2-1 — 705— 7
- Wichita St. — 4-0— 705— 16
- Florida — 2-1 — 619 — 11
- Oregon — 2-0 — 613— 18
- UConn — 4-0— 600 — 19
- New Mexico — 2-0— 353— 22
- Baylor — 3-0 — 342— 23
- Iowa St. — 3-0 — 296 _
- UCLA — 2-0 — 291 — 24
- Creighton — 3-0 — 246 _
- North Carolina — 2-1 — 213 — 12
- Marquette — 2-1 — 144 — 17
Others receiving votes: Iowa 122, Indiana 109, Virginia 77, Harvard 72, Boise St. 28, Belmont 18, Arizona St. 13, Villanova 11, Xavier 10, Tennessee 9, Pittsburgh 7, Colorado 6, Missouri 5, Florida St. 4, Minnesota 4, Saint Louis 4, Cincinnati 3, BYU 2, Indiana St. 2, UMass 2, George Washington 1, Notre Dame 1.
Here's how I filled out my ballot:
1. Louisville: Chane Behanan reinstated after one-game benching. No word yet on when suspension will be lifted on his free-throw touch (1 for 7).
2. Kansas: Next time commitment comes from low-ranked recruit, remember two words: Frank Mason. Ranked 131st by Rivals the day he committed; shot up to 76 later.
3. Michigan State: With Magic Johnson sending triple-double karmic waves from United Center seat, senior PG Keith Appling nearly scored one with 22, eight and eight vs. Kentucky.
4. Duke: Chicago has been very kind to the Blue Devils, sending Coach K, Jabari Parker and Jahlil Okafor to Tobacco Road.
5. Kentucky: So little experience, so much talent, Wildcats looked very good in United Center comeback that fell short.
6. Syracuse: Jim Boeheim has been head coach at his alma mater during the administrations of Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II and Obama. The vice presidents: Rockefeller, Mondale, Bush I, Quayle, Gore, Cheney, Biden.
7. Arizona: Frosh sensation Aaron Gordon needed one more rule change: Allow free throws to be shot behind top of key. He’s hit 80 percent from three, 30 percent from line.
8. Oklahoma State: Phil Forte averaging 22 minutes, 21 points and shooting .636 from three.
9. Oregon: Joseph Young, granted immediate eligibility after transfer from Houston, averaging 30 points and has made 27 of 28 free throws.
10. Ohio State: Shot .167 from three, .333 from line in 52-35 rout of Marquette in game that took basketball back to peach-basket days.
11. VCU: Virginia dictated slow pace and still Rams won thriller. Good sign.
12. Memphis: Be it Missouri or Memphis, K.C., Mo., native Michael Dixon same Tiger of a point guard. Had 15 points, four rebounds, four steals and made 5 of 7 shots in debut with new school.
13. Wichita State: Too bad Andrew Wiggins didn’t make a condition of his coming to KU scheduling a game against Shockers so he could face his brother, Nick. Not his style, but I wonder if he could have pulled it off?
14. Wisconsin: Bo Ryan’s swing offense results in open threes and Badgers hitting them at .410 rate.
15. UConn: Headline in New Haven Register: “UConn’s Omar Calhoun getting his confidence back.” First sentence of story that appeared under that headline: “One thing Omar Calhoun has never lacked is confidence.” I hope to get back my putting touch, which is the only thing I’ve never lost.
16. UCLA: “Steve Alford All-American Inn” still in business, just off I-70 in New Castle, Ind. If he wins a national title with the Bruins, look for him to expand the chain.
17. Florida: Consider this back-to-back-to-back schedule buzz saw: Dec. 2, UConn; Dec. 10, Kansas; Dec. 17, Memphis.
18. Gonzaga: His unproductive professional playing days over, Adam Morrison, 29, is a student assistant for Mark Few and is taking classes.
19. Iowa State: Mayor of Ames more popular, fitter, better dressed and better behaved than Toronto mayor.
20. Michigan: Iowa State’s Melvin Ejim (22 points, nine rebounds, three steals) and Michigan’s Mitch McGary (nine points, six boards, four steals) returned from injuries in same game, won by host ISU.
21. Iowa: Coach Fran McCaffery’s wife, Margaret, former Notre Dame hoops player, became notorious for loudly urging reporters at post-game press conference to ask about officiating. That was when he coached at Siena. She has behaved at Iowa and his players also listen to him.
22. Creighton: POY candidate Doug McDermott averaging 25.7, shooting .533 from three.
23. Virginia: Coach Tony Bennett holds NCAA career three-point percentage (.497), scoring 2,285 points for for Wisconsin-Green Bay, then of Mid-Continent Conference. Father, Dick, was his coach.
24. Baylor: Coach Scott Drew’s brother, Bryce, shot .435 from three and scored 2,142 points for Valparaiso, then of Mid-Continent Conference. Father, Homer, was Bryce’s coach.
25. Xavier: Soph guard Semaj Christon averaging 17.3 despite shooting 11 of 27 from line.
When handing out the kudos to those responsible for influencing power forward Cliff Alexander’s decision to come to Kansas, head coach Bill Self, a terrific closer, will be at the top of most lists.
KU’s tradition, the Allen Fieldhouse atmosphere, and the fact that Alexander’s girlfriend, Caelynn Manning-Allen, plays basketball for the KU women’s team, also will get many mentions.
But don’t forget a hidden hero in this big recruiting score.
Jerrance Howard, hired to join Kurtis Townsend and Norm Roberts as full-time assistants on Self’s staff after Joe Dooley left to take the head-coaching job at Florida Gulf Coast, can’t be overlooked in the role he played in landing the backboard-shattering power player.
As is the case with so many strong recruiters, Howard has a knack for making someone he met 20 minutes ago feels as if they have been friends since grade school.
Howard played for Self at Illinois, worked for former Self assistant Billy Gillispie at Texas A&M and Kentucky and then was hired by Bruce Weber at Illinois.
Illinois, which finished second to KU for Alexander, has had an on-again, off-again, relationship with Chicago recruits. Weber struggled recruiting top talent from Chicago and Howard’s hometown of Peoria until bringing Howard on board in 2008. After Weber, now Kansas State's coach, was canned by Illinois, Howard spent last season working on Larry Brown’s SMU staff.
Alexander counts as Howard’s first big Chicago score for Kansas, first of many.