Posts tagged with Basketball
Freshmen are eligible to play college basketball, so they should be eligible for All-America status. But maybe it's time to pick two preseason All-America squads: A veteran squad and a freshman one.
I didn't include any freshmen on the electronic ballot I sent to the Associated Press, which stipulates "the only qualification is that each must be a team that can take the floor." I didn't exclude freshmen on principal. I just didn't think I had enough information to guess which freshman in the talented recruiting Class of 2013 would be the best college basketball player in his first and only season.
My ballot: Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State), Russ Smith (Louisville), Gary Harris (Michigan State), Doug McDermott (Creighton), Mitch McGary (Michigan).
That's quite different from how the top of the NBA draft is likely to look, but since college basketball is only considered the minor leagues in the eyes of the NBA, a player's draft projection has nothing to do with All-America honors.
If there were such a thing as a freshman All-America team, here is what my ballot would have looked like: Andrew Harrison (Kentucky), Andrew Wiggins (Kansas), Aaron Gordon (Arizona), Jabari Parker (Duke), Julius Randle (Kentucky). Gordon is the only of the five who won't play in the United Center on Nov. 12 in the blockbuster doubleheader.
To the eye, the 6-foot-8, 200-pound Wiggins looks as if he has the best chance for physical growth. At 200 pounds, he is 50 pounds lighter than 6-9 Randle, 35 pounds lighter than 6-8 Parker, 25 pounds lighter than 6-9 Gordon and 15 pounds lighter than Harrison, a 6-6 point guard.
For all we know, all five could become first-team All-Americans, but until they play, wouldn't it make sense to preclude them from preseason mention, pick a freshman team, and give players who have returned to college some preseason mention and throw it open to everybody in March?
The Kansas University basketball team does not have a single returning starter and half of the 12 scholarship players eligible this season are freshmen, but that didn’t keep the national media from ranking the Jayhawks fifth in the Associated Press preseason college basketball poll.
Kentucky edged Michigan State for the No. 1 spot. Louisville is third and Duke fourth.
Kentucky, which lost in the first round of the NIT to Robert Morris a year ago, received 27 of the 65 first-place votes and 1,546 points. Michigan State earned 22 first-place votes and 1,543 points. Louisville was ranked first on 14 ballots and Duke was No. 1 on two ballots.
Oklahoma State is tied for ninth with Syracuse and Baylor is 25th. Wichita State, with most of its players back from last season's surprise Final Four team, is ranked 16th.
Now, more than at any time in college basketball because of the one-and-done rule, the preseason ballot is the toughest one to fill out and involves so much guessing.
I put Kansas ninth on my AP ballot, based on the Jayhawks’ lack of experience, and had Kentucky sixth for the same reason.
The Preseason Top Twenty Five The Associated Press The top 25 teams in The Associated Press’ preseason college basketball poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, 2012-13 final records, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and 2012-13 final ranking:
- Kentucky (27) 1,546; 2. Michigan St. (22) 1,543; 3. Louisville (14) 1,501; 4. Duke (2) 1,435; 5. Kansas 1,357; 6. Arizona 1,311; 7. Michigan 1,120; 8t. Oklahoma St. 1,093; 8t. Syracuse 1,093; 10. Florida 1,048; 11. Ohio State 1,036; 12. North Carolina 954; 13. Memphis 741; 14. VCU 680; 15. Gonzaga 538; 16. Wichita State 512; 17. Marquette 510; 18. UConn 448; 19. Oregon 408; 20. Wisconsin 338; 21. Notre Dame 332; 22. UCLA 244; 23. New Mexico 213; 24. Virginia 189; 25. Baylor 180.
Others receiving votes: Tennessee 176, Creighton 145, Indiana 111, Colorado 83, Iowa 83, Harvard 46, Boise St. 22, Villanova 14, Arizona St. 11, Georgetown 11, UNLV 8, Washington 8, LSU 6, Pittsburgh 6, Stanford 6, Boston College 5, La Salle 4, Missouri 3, Saint Louis 3, St. John’s 3, Cincinnati 1.
- Michigan State
- North Carolina
- Oklahoma State
- Ohio State
- Notre Dame
- Wichita State
- St. John’s
A lot can happen in 10-plus months, but right this minute it feels as if John Calipari and Bill Self will coach against each other in the national-title game for the third time in seven years next April in Cowboys Stadium.
Sure, defending champion Louisville and usual suspects Duke and Michigan State could spoil that rubber match, but landing Andrew Wiggins pushes Kansas right there with anybody. If it happens, it won’t be the first time Self draws a great deal out of a team that sends five new starters out for the center jump. Two of his nine consecutive Big 12 titles came after he lost all five starters.
If Self can convince immediately eligible post player Tarik Black, a bruiser who would complement Perry Ellis perfectly, that Kansas is his best available launching pad to an NBA career, the Jayhawks would boast serious depth at every position.
At the moment, Wiggins, fellow wing Wayne Selden and Ellis, the program’s three McDonald’s All-Americans, shape up as the lone sure starters. Either the 6-foot-5 Selden or 6-7 Wiggins could play inside when Self wants to run with a small lineup.
KU’s coaches think Frank Mason, a pure point guard, has the ability to push improving veteran Naadir Tharpe for starting honors and recruit Conner Frankamp has such deep shooting range he’ll be difficult to keep off the court, even though the 6-footer weighs just 155 pounds.
Landing Black, whose ability to graduate in three years from Memphis prevents him from having to sit out a year, would give Self the depth he likes inside.
Joel Embiid, a 7-foot, 225-pound native of Cameroon, is the most intriguing prospect of a KU class ranked No. 2 (behind Kentucky) by recruiting analysts. Those who have seen him play marvel at not just his coordination for a man his size but his skill for someone who has played so little basketball. The only question centers on how soon he’ll put it together. Rivals ranks him as the No. 25 prospect in the Class of 2013. ESPN.com ranks him No. 6. At the moment, he's more a prospect than a player guaranteed to make a major instant impact.
With Embiid and third-year sophomore Jamari Traylor, Self has two shot-blocking options, a nice luxury. Landen Lucas, a red-shirt freshman, made big strides in building his body and post moves during his year as a practice player. He could push for playing time as well. Justin Wesley also returns.
In Frankamp, fellow recruit Brannen Greene, a 6-6, 215-pound wing from Monroe, Ga., and sophomore Andrew White III, Kansas has three reserve shooters capable of making teams cautious about playing zone defenses.
Wiggins can’t bring as much to the program as Sherron Collins, Brandon Rush, Mario Chalmers and Darrell Arthur did because they all stayed longer than the one year Wiggins will, but he can match them in the national-title department.
“Now I just hope he comes out for basketball,” Lawrence attorney Mick Allen said after learning of Wiggins’ decision. “I stole that line from my granddad (Phog Allen) when Wilt (Chamberlain) committed to KU.”
Not even 24 hours had passed since the Tulsa Shock of the WNBA drafted Kansas point guard Angel Goodrich and she already was responsible for marketing the brand.
“It’s a great feeling to be coming home,” Goodrich, a native of Tahlequah, Okla., said on a Tuesday conference call arranged by the Shock. “A lot of friends texted me and Facebooked me telling me they’re excited and they’re already talking about getting some (Tulsa Shock) gear.”
Angel — only the great ones merit first-name reference — stirs that sort of passion in people who have seen her play basketball. She has that radar certain athletes have that enables her to overcome her one shortcoming, which of course, is that she’s short.
Wayne Gretzky wasn’t the fastest skater, but his instincts sent him on the shortest, most efficient path to goals. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson weren’t as explosive as so many lesser basketball players, but they felt the game so much better. Goodrich has natural ability to bring out the best in teammates.
Selected in the third round of the WNBA draft, the 5-foot-4 Goodrich plans to work out at KU in preparing for Shock training camp, which opens May 5. For what she said she believes is the first time in her life, she will be trying out for a team. The Shock also selected Notre Dame point guard Skylar Diggins with the third selection of the first round.
“She’s a great player,” Goodrich said of Diggins. “I’m looking forward to getting to know her better and learning from her. I’m thrilled to be going to the same team.”
Goodrich led the Jayhawks to back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances and Diggins-led Notre Dame ended her career. Goodrich didn’t sound nervous about making the team. That’s not her style.
“I do love a challenge,” Goodrich said. “If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. I’m going to work my tail off. As long as I know I gave it my all I won’t look back and won’t have anything to regret.”
The 34-game WNBA regular season runs from May 24 to Sept. 15 and the minimum salary is $37,950. Players receive $74 daily meal money on road trips.
Goodrich was the only Kansas player selected in the three-round draft. In the event Shock executives want to invite a free agent post player to camp, Goodrich has a good one in mind.
“I would recommend Carolyn (Davis),” she said. “I was definitely surprised she didn’t get drafted. To be honest, I’m still speechless about it.”
A fifth-year senior, Goodrich already has graduated from KU after majoring in behavioral science with a focus on children. She said she is working toward a minor in sociology.
Arlington, Texas — With so much talent on the floor, tonight’s game here inside Cowboys Stadium really does have a Final Four feel to it and that is in fact where basketball’s biggest game will take place in April, 2014.
Michigan-Kansas is a South Regional semifinal and one of the more intriguing on the board because it features KU’s tough defense against Michigan’s versatile band of big-time scorers, led by point guard Trey Burke.
The closer it draws to the 6:27 p.m. scheduled tipoff, the stronger my guess grows as to which team will prevail. Kansas has the experience advantage. Michigan relies more on three-point shots than Kansas and domes can be difficult places to shoot three-pointers.
Plus, nothing can prepare a team for playing against Jeff Withey’s defensive brilliance. Freshman Mitch McGary, 6-foot-10, 250-pound bruiser, has come on strong for the Wolverines, but he does not have the shooting range to draw Withey away from the basket. Michigan has gone 8-6 in its last 14 games, Kansas 12-1 in its last 13.
Kansas can play its way into trouble against teams that apply intense pressure on the guards. While Michigan is as good as anybody in the country at protecting the ball, it doesn’t apply full-court pressure and force a ton of turnovers. Kansas 77, Michigan 70.
Kansas junior reserve forward Justin Wesley injured his right ankle Saturday in practice and will not suit up for today's game against North Carolina, according to a Kansas source, who added that Wesley was scheduled to undergo an X-ray today. Wesley is wearing a soft cast and using crutches.
A junior from Forth Worth, Texas, Wesley has averaged 3.6 minutes, 0.4 points and 1.1 rebounds in 19 games.
The tipoff for the game has been moved from 4:15 p.m. to 4:25 p.m.
Kansas City, Mo. — Sitting court-side watching Kansas State's spirited comeback from 18 points down fall short reminded me of how the Wildcats could have had an even better season.
If then Kansas State coach Frank Martin and his staff had deemed Lawrence High standout Dorian Green worth recruiting, Green would have made a perfect complement to point guard Angel Rodriguez. Instead, Green went to Colorado State and became a starter from Day 1. He scored 26 points to lead the Rams past Missouri in Lexington, Ky. Thursday night. Meanwhile, K-State starting guard Will Spradling scored two points in 17 minutes in the 63-61 loss to La Salle.
Announcers talked more about Green than anyone else during the telecast of the Colorado State's first NCAA Tournament victory in 24 seasons. Yet, nobody made the connection of Green growing up in a town where the average kid grows up despising all things Missouri.
Green was asked about it in the post-game press conference.
"It feels good to be from Kansas and beat Missouri," Green said. "I just wanted to be aggressive tonight. Didn't matter who we were playing, but, you know, it's good to beat them from where I'm from."
Next up for Green and CSU's other four starters is Louisville, the tournament's overall No. 1 seed.
March Madmen all over the globe are about to become one with their favorite sporting event. A quick look at some NCAA Tournament tidbits with quotes spiced in from press conferences:
Eight New Mexico State players, including its top five scorers, were born outside the United States. The Aggies feature four players from Canada, two from France, one from Croatia and and one from South Africa.
New Mexico State not only has the most international team in the tournament, it also has the tallest player. Sim Bhullar, a freshman from Toronto, is a 7-foot-5, 355-pound starting center for the Aggies. Bhullar averages 10.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and 24.3 minutes per game.
“I think he changes the whole game for us and other teams as well because a lot of teams are not used to seeing that (much size) in there,” teammate Daniel Mullings said. “And while guys are driving in he’s just a big force, just blocking everything and altering shots. So it’s a great advantage for us having him inside.”
St. Louis junior Rob Loe is the biggest player in most games he plays, but he’ll be giving up six inches and 110 pounds to Bhullar.
*Michigan starters Tim Hardaway Jr., Glenn Robinson III and reserve Jon Horford all are sons of former NBA players.
“Purely coincidence, but we feel really good about it because you know their dads do know basketball,” Wolverines coach John Beilein said.
*One of the better individual tourney matchups pits Michigan’s Trey Burke and South Dakota State’s Nate Wolters, two of the nation’s top point guards, on each other.
“We’ll have Nate on Trey,” South Dakota State coach Scott Nagy said. “I don’t know what they’ll do. ... And I’ve said this before, Nate is a tremendous defender, but we’ve relied on him so much to play 40 minutes and to handle a basketball that I think sometimes people don’t get to see how good a defender he is."
*Bryce Drew is the third member of his family to serve as head coach at Valparaiso University, which faces Michigan State today. His father, Homer Drew, coached the Crusaders for 22 seasons. Bryce’s brother, Scott, was head coach for one year and is in his 10th season at Baylor. Bryce is in his second season as head coach at Valpo. He played six seasons in the NBA after hitting one of the most famous shots in recent NCAA Tournament history. Drew hit a 23-foot buzzer-beater to score an upset of Ole Miss in the first round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament. He said he enjoys watching replays of the shot but never brings it up to recruits.
“I think the last thing that players want to hear is a coach talk about himself or what he’s done,” Drew said.
*At times, it looks as if a rebound or pass sneaks up on Marquette center Chris Otule, catches him by surprise, and he drops it. The temptation is to downgrade his hands when that happens, but it’s actually not the case. Otule wears goggles when he plays to protect his right eye. His left eye is artificial.
“I guess you could call it glaucoma,” Otule told the Milwakuee Journal-Sentinel. “I was born with one ye, actually, and the other one wasn’t full developed. So I had to get an artificial eye, since I was 1 or 2. And every time I grew out of it, I had to go back to the doctor and they’d make a new one.”
Otule, who splits time with more gifted offensive center Davante Gardner, had one of his better games, last season against UConn, the day he met Charlie Krauss, a 2-year-old boy from the Milwaukee area who lost his left eye to a congenital disorder known as Coats’ disease.
“It felt so good holding him, knowing that he’s going through the same thing I went through and that he looks up to me,” Otule told the Journal-Sentinel. “It helped motivate me more in that game, and for the rest of my life, to play for people like him.”
*Three factors contribute greatly to No. 14 seed Davidson becoming such a popular upset pick against third-seeded Marquette: 1. Davidson has won 17 in a row; 2. The Wildcats lead the nation in free-throw shooting, making 80.1 percent; 3. Forward Clint Mann, out since mid-January with an injury, is expected to play.
Not only that, Davidson has all 80 points back this season from the team that scored an 80-74 upset victory against Kansas on Dec. 19, 2011 in Sprint Center.
*If Josh Pastner ever leaves Memphis for another college job, he left himself open for an obvious question at his introductory news conference by saying, “I think our fan base is the best fan base in the entire country, hands down, and that’s not just coach-speak.” The question: How would you compare the fan base of your new school to that of your last one?
He played basketball at both Wichita State and Kansas two decades ago, so I thought it would be interesting to see what Greg Dreiling, former NBA center and current scout for the Dallas Mavericks, thinks about Kansas state legislators introducing last month a bill that would require KU and WSU to play basketball against each other.
Dreiling, 50, responded to my query via LinkedIn with common sense and a touch of sarcasm. He gave the issue all the respect it deserves, which is to say none.
“Please tell me that the legislature has more important things to worry about than whether two teams play a few basketball games,” Dreiling said. “If the schools cannot decide how to get together for a game of hoops, then I am sure there is nothing that the state government can do to move along the most pressing issue of this generation.”
Ames, Iowa — Iowa State has more going for it in tonight’s Big 12 matchup against Kansas than Hilton Magic. The Cyclones’ style of play also is one that can give the Jayhawks trouble.
Every year Bill Self’s Kansas basketball teams rank at or near the top of the nation in field-goal percentage defense. They get there by clogging up the lane with long, athletic bodies. Kansas defenders always help off their man about as well as anyone in the country. It’s a blessing, but against a team like Iowa State it also can be a curse.
The Cyclones flood the floor with long-range shooters from every position. Even if a defender’s scouting report says not to leave his man, that’s easier said than done for players so well drilled on lending help defense.
“I think the way Iowa state plays, and you could go back to Belmont, Richmond, those teams were getting off 32, 36 threes against us and I think a lot of it stems from how we play,” 10th year KU coach Bill Self said. “Even when we pressure we don’t pressure out as much as a lot of people do, especially to shooters. We’ve got to do a lot better job of that. But the biggest thing to me is ball-screen defense. How are we going to guard their open ball screens and not put us in a situation where you have to close out from great distances?”
In KU’s 97-89 overtime victory against Iowa State, played in Allen Fieldhouse on Jan. 9, the Cyclones attempted 38 three-pointers and made 14. Six different players hit at least one three, five players more than one.
Georges Niang, Iowa State’s 6-foot-7, 245-pound freshman center, will try to draw Kansas center Jeff Withey away from the hoop. Niang has hit multiple three-pointers in six games. In the first 1:50 of the thriller in Allen Fieldhouse, Niang gave the visitors an 8-3 lead by hitting two three-pointers and a two-point jumper.
Not that Iowa State is one-dimensional. The Cyclones made 4 of 24 from three against Baylor in Hilton and still won, 79-71. But Baylor isn't Kansas. If KU can keep the Cyclones from getting hot from beyond the arc, a ninth consecutive Big 12 title should come into clear focus for the Jayhawks.