Posts tagged with Ku

Gary Woodland, on hot streak as golfer, a hot dog in hoops video

I knew that he was a good enough basketball player to earn a scholarship to Div. II Washburn University, but until browsing Youtube for golf videos, I never actually had seen former Kansas golfer Gary Woodland play basketball.

The video of his highlights playing for Shawnee Heights High revealed Woodland as a vocal leader, flashy ballhandler, strong finisher, sharp shooter and a bit of a hot dog.

Still, Woodland obviously made the right decision to transfer to Kansas to play golf after a basketball season that started with him making 1 of 7 shots and scoring three points in a 101-66 loss to Kansas in an exhibition game in Allen Fieldhouse in November, 2002. Woodland was matched up against Kirk Hinrich.

Nearly 13 years later, Woodland was matched up against Rory McIlroy in the final of the Match Play Championship, losing 4&2. Woodland played seven matches in five days and made some incredible shots along the way.

Woodland missed the cut in The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, then bounced back this past weekend by finishing tied for fourth in the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte. He tied with wedge-magician Phil Mickelson and former Kansas State golfer Robert Streb, another of my favorite golfers to watch. Streb's father, Dave Streb, and I were teammates in Little League and on the freshman basketball team at Bishop Kearney High in Rochester, N.Y.

Anyway, Woodland's recent hot streak has vaulted him all the way to 13th on the PGA tour money list ($2,290,497.50), 17th in the Fed Ex Cup standings and 24th in the World Golf Rankings.

A native of Chickasha, Oklahoma, Streb ranks 10th in the Fed Ex Cup standings, 17th on the money list, 73rd in World Golf Rankings and is third with six top 10 finishes, behind Jordan Spieth with eight and Hideki Matsuyama with seven.)

It's nice to see two golfers from the two Big 12 universities in Kansas doing so well. One of these days, that might even translate to more TV coverage of them during tournaments.

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In progress: Rory McIlroy, KU’s Gary Woodland battling for $1.5 million Match Play Championship purse on NBC

Tune your television sets to NBC right now if you want to see a former Kansas University golfer take his shot at bringing down the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world and earning $1.5 million in the process.

Gary Woodland, seeded 52nd in a field of 64 in The Match Play Championship, reached the final by defeating Jimmy Walker in 19 holes in the first round and won his next three matches before reaching the 18th hole. Woodland defeated Danny Willett, three and two, Sunday morning to advance to the final against the world's No. 1-ranked golfer, Rory McIlroy. Woodland trailed McIlroy by four holes at the nine-hole turn.

The event is taking place at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, a course he had said he thought would bring out the best in him.

"It sets up the treeline, just sets up well to my eye," Woodland said earlier this week. "That's the key. It's long, too. The fairways are pretty receptive as well. It widens the fairways for me. If I get driver down there far enough, I can get wedge on the green from about anywhere. I like the setup. The format allows me to play aggressive, which for me is key."

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Kansas linebacker Ben Heeney shares insights on life as NFL draft prospect

Kansas linebacker Ben Heeney is depicted as “The Diabolical Defender” in this superhero-style illustration from a KU football promotional website unveiled Friday, July 18, 2014.

Kansas linebacker Ben Heeney is depicted as “The Diabolical Defender” in this superhero-style illustration from a KU football promotional website unveiled Friday, July 18, 2014.

Seated in a comfortable chair in the chancellor’s lounge of the Anderson Family Football Complex, Ben Heeney flipped open the iPhone wallet case in his hand and reviewed his call history Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s only 12:57,” Heeney started. “I’ve gotten a text from the Saints, a call from the Jaguars, a call from the Seahawks. Who else have I gotten a call from? The Browns. I’ve gotten like five calls and one text just today from teams verifying information.”

He wasn’t complaining. Quite the contrary. He’s enjoying the inside look at how NFL teams peel back the layers of the onion that is a draft prospect.

“I mean, that’s just today,” Heeney said. “I’ve probably, in the past week, I’ve probably been in contact with close to every, if not every, team.”

At this point, what more do they want to know about Heeney, former star running back at Hutchinson High and two-time All-Big 12 player, second-team as a junior, first-team as a senior?

Heeney rattled off the typical questions: “Is this the best number to reach you on draft day? Can you give us a secondary number? Is your agent still the same? Any injuries since your pro day? Have you been in any trouble since the last time we saw you?”

Heeney said he interviewed with every NFL team either at the East-West Shrine Game, the NFL combine or pro day on campus. Two teams, the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, came to KU to work him out and the Buccaneers flew him to Tampa for a visit.

He said most of those interviews followed a similar pattern: “Have you ever been in trouble? What’s your family life like? Do you have a girlfriend? Do you have any kids? Are your parents still together? How many siblings do you have? Then all the football questions.”

Heeney said he answered all the questions honestly, including volunteering that he was charged with DUI and racing on a highway in the summer leading up to his freshman season and was granted a diversion.

“That’s not on my record anymore,” he said. “But this day and age everybody is going to know everything about you, so why lie about anything? I’m just straight-up with everybody. I learned from my mistakes and here we are.”

Heeney’s performance for Kansas, plus lobbying from former KU coach Charlie Weis, landed the 6-foot, 232-pound middle linebacker an invitation to the NFL combine. His test results there helped his case. Heeney’s 4.59 time in the 40-yard dash ranked fourth among 35 linebackers. His 11.06-second mark in the 60-yard shuttle was No. 1 and he also had the best times in the three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle.

Anybody who remembers watching Heeney as a gunner on special teams as a freshman for Kansas was not surprised that his speed stood out at the combine. Somewhere rests a stack of T-shirts that could have gone to teammates. Heeney remembered Aaron Stamn, tight ends and special teams coach at Kansas under Turner Gill, speaking after a game, offering a free T-shirt to anyone who could beat Heeney down the field on a coverage team when he was a freshman restricted to special teams.

“It never happened,” said Heeney, a three-year starter for Kansas. “No one ever beat me down on kickoff the whole year.”

That’s because he’s really fast. That’s listed as one of his strengths on the endless thumbnail sketches of NFL draft prospects from various media outlets. Heeney reads as many as he can get his hands on and disputes some of the listed weaknesses.

“There are people who really like me and there are people who think I’m just a terrible player,” Heeney said. “The one that I think is the least accurate is that I’m undersized to play in the NFL.”

He shared an anecdote from his visit to the Buccaneers complex to demonstrate that he’s not the only one who views it that way.

“When I went down to Tampa Bay and I visited with Lovie Smith, who is the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the first thing he asked me when I walked in his office was, ‘Now ,do you think you need to gain or lose weight?’ I said, ‘I think I’m good where I’m at. I don’t need to gain or lose.’ He said that’s a perfect answer,” Heeney said. “They think that anything from 225 to 230 is perfect for their system.”

Heeney cited and disputed one more criticism he has read.

“Another one I think is a bogus stat is that I’m the leader in missed tackles in college football,” Heeney said. “I mean, they don’t have Joe Johnson going through every single game of every single team of every single player counting every single player’s missed tackles. So I think it’s a BS stat to me.”

Its origin?

“That’s a good question. I think someone just stated it one time and it caught on like wildfire,” he said. “It’s not even a stat that’s kepty by anyone. The Big 12 doesn’t keep that as a stat. The NCAA doesn’t keep that as a stat. There is no way to determine what a missed tackle is.”

Heeney shared his view of what a missed tackle is not.

“There were numerous times on the field where there was no way I was going to be even close to getting a tackle and I would just lay out and dive and kind of sweep at someobdy’s feet and try to grab them by their shoestrings and don’t even touch them,” he said. “I would just lay out and sacrifice my body. Does that count as a missed tackle?”

Heeney said he has “no idea,” what team or at what stage in the draft he would be selected. He guessed he would hear his name somewhere in the “third to fifth or sixth range.”

The first round of the NFL draft, carried by ESPN and the NFL Network, starts at 7 p.m. today. Rounds 2 and 3 are at 6 p.m. Friday. Rounds 4 through 7 start Saturday at 11 a.m.

Heeney will watch coverage at his parents Overland Park home with friends and family. “Hopefully, I can get drafted so it’s not a waste of a party,” he said.

It would be a shocker if seven rounds passed without Heeney’s name being called, but getting drafted is just a step toward an NFL career and guarantees nothing.

“There’s a lot of money to be made in the sport of football,” Heeney said. “Hopefully, I can get a little slice of the cake.”

Staying healthy and making a team’s roster would be the next steps to earning a living playing football, so Heeney hasn’t shopped for luxury automobiles and bling just yet.

“I’m going to try to invest my money, man, just keep stacking it and hopefully in a couple of years I’ll be a lot more wealthy than I am right now,” Heeney said. “Only time will tell. Who knows?”

At this point, nobody knows. The NFL draft is cloaked in secrecy, one of many qualities that make it so compelling.

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Looking back on new KU women’s basketball coach Brandon Schneider addressing fans in wake of winning national title at Emporia State

Kansas has decided that Brandon Schneider is the coach needed to pump life into a joyless women's basketball program that had trouble generating fan interest, particularly among students.

Schneider left the Emporia State women's program after winning the Div. II national championship in 2010, his 12th season at the school. He comes to Kansas from Stephen F. Austin, where his Ladyjacks won a share of the Southland Conference title in 2014 and won it outright last month in his fifth and final season at the school in Nacogdoches, Texas.

It will be interesting to see how far Schneider has come as a public speaker in the past five years. You can do so by taking a look at the video below of Schneider addressing Emporia State fans in the wake of the school's first national championship in any sport and then watching his 10 a.m. press conference by clicking on our All Eyes on KU blog.

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Women’s basketball coaching search: Hutchinson County Community College head coach John Ontjes

Four consecutive Final Fours. Three national-title games in four seasons. A coach can't accomplish those feats without having the ability to recruit, develop and make the right moves in close ballgames against strong competition.

John Ontjes has accomplished those feats as head coach of the Hutchinson County Community College women's basketball program. He starred as a player for two years at Hutch before starting at point guard for Billy Tubbs for a year and Kelvin Sampson for a year at Oklahoma. He averaged 10.5 points and 6.6 assists during his Sooners career. He was better than solid as a player and is a way better coach than player.

His team, noted for tenacious defense, held 14 of its final 15 opponents to fewer than 60 points. The Blue Dragons took a 36-0 record into the national title game March 21, a 54-46 loss to Chipola.

Brad Hallier of the Hutchinson news recently wrote a column endorsing Ontjes for the KU job and expressing the opinion that the coach is too good for any level but high Div. I. In it, Hallier cited an amazing statistic in the column: The Blue Dragons have built a home-court winning streak of 117 games for their ultra-competitive coach.

Six of the 13 players on this season's Hutch roster played high school ball in Kansas.

Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger has not shared the names of his 15 finalists on a list that started with 60 names, but he did say he has explored coaches from all levels, including junior college. Given that, it's difficult to imagine Ontjes at the very least was not on the original list and very well could be among the final 15.

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Women’s basketball coaching search: Notre Dame assistant Niele Ivey

As Angel Goodrich demonstrated when she took Kansas to back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, nothing is more important than a terrific point guard.

Notre Dame assistant coach Niele Ivey (first name pronounced by saying the word “knee” and the letter “L”) was one herself and during her eight seasons as an assistint has mentored others.

A native of St. Louis who graduated from ND in 2000 with a history degree, Ivey also has been Notre Dame’s recruiting coordinator since 2012. The Fighting Irish, who rank second nationally in field-goal percentage (49.8) and fifth in scoring (80.9), face South Carolina in a 5:30 CT semifinal in a game televised on ESPN. This is Notre Dame's fifth consecutive Final Four.

Ivey has received praise for her work with ND point guard Lindsay Allen and with Skylar Diggins before that. She also has had a hand in the Irish ranking in the top five nationally in each of the past three recruiting classes.

After her All-American career at Notre Dame, Ivey spent five seasons playing in the WNBA.

“Niele is really a rising star, a rock star if you will, in the coaching profession,” Notre Dame head coach Muff McGraw said in the Niele bio on the school’s website. “... She’s got to be known as one of the best recruiters in the country and certainly with our point guards, she does just a phenomenal job.”

Ivey made the 2001 Final Four all-tournament team by averaging 16.5 points and 5.5 assists in leading Notre Dame to its first national title.

Ivey keeps the public up to date on Notre Dame basketball and on her son Jaden’s budding hoops career with the Twitter handle @IrishCoachIvey.

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Women’s basketball coaching search: Princeton head coach Courtney Banghart

Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger started his search for a new women’s basketball coach by compiling a list of 60 names. At least 59 of them were not named by Fortune Magazine as one of the “World’s Greatest Leaders.”

On a list that ranked Pope Francis fourth, LeBron James 31st and Jimmy Fallon 45th, Princeton eighth-year women’s basketball coach Courtney Banghart checked in at No. 43. The Tigers went 31-1 this past season, losing to Maryland, 85-70, in the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament.

“Banghart, who has a master’s degree in leadership development, expects more of her players than great play: They must adhere to Princeton’s tough academic standards too,” Fortune wrote of the Dartmouth graduate.

Banghart’s team plays an up-tempo style and led the nation in three-point accuracy this season, which is fitting considering that in 1999, Banhart led the nation in three-point field goals per game.

Seeded eighth in the NCAA tournament, the Tigers posted the second Ivy League victory in tourney history (Harvard 1998 was the first), defeating Wisconsin-Green Bay, 80-70, in the round of 64. Before hiring Banghart, Princeton never had been to the NCAA tourney. This was the fourth trip in five seasons for the Tigers, whose season included a 30-point victory at Michigan.

Banghart’s turn-around at the Ivy League school didn’t take long. She went 21-37 in her first two seasons, 148-30 in the next six.

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Take four more looks at pivotal play in Kansas loss to Wichita State

Take four more looks at the most talked-about play in Wichita State’s 78-65 victory Sunday in Omaha, one that sent the veteran Shockers on to a Sweet 16 game Thursday in Cleveland vs. Notre Dame.

The first thing you probably noticed is that at one point Kansas freshman Kelly Oubre was ahead of the Shockers' Zach Brown, but was ultimately beaten to the ball and mistimed his lunge for it.

Now watch it again and this time focus on Brannen Greene. After Brown tipped the pass, Greene, watching the ball, took three walking steps and the sprinted down the court. Three steps too late.

Now watch it a third time and this time focus on Perry Ellis. He was too far behind Brown to make a play, but had Ellis sprinted down court, making an angle to the basket, he could have been there for the rebound in the event Brown missed the dunk. Instead, he jogs very slowly down the right side of the court.

Watch it a fourth and final time and this time focus on Oubre after Brown makes the steal. Instead of sprinting after him in case he lost the ball on the dribble or missed the shot at the rim, Oubre actually drifts out of bounds and very slowly jogs for a few steps.

It was no way for any of the KU players to end a play that felt as if it ended the season.

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Former Jayhawk Jerod Haase deals Big 12 a blow by coaching UAB to upset victory vs. Iowa State

Jerod Haase

Jerod Haase

Omaha — Greg Gurley, attending Kansas University’s public practice, had just finished watching on a courtside computer UAB finish off an upset of Iowa State on Thursday in Lousiville, when he looked back on the first time he saw UAB coach Jerod Haase in a Kansas locker room.

“He was at Cal and we hated playing against him (in the 1993 NCAA tournament) because he was kind of that annoying guy,” Gurley said. “Then we beat him and he came into our uniform, full uniform on, and I remember I was with one of my teammates and I go, ‘Is that Jerod Haase?’ It was. He and coach (Roy) Williams talked and he basically told Coach Williams he wanted to transfer.”

Kansas went on to the Final Four.

“The next weekend after that he was in Lawrence on a visit,” Gurley said. “From that point on, he was attached to coach Williams, followed him to North Carolina and has done well.”
Haase, 40, played his final three seasons of college basketball for Williams at Kansas. He spent four seasons working under Williams at KU and eight at North Carolina. He is in his third season as head coach at UAB and coached in the NCAA tournament Thursday for the first time. Until that victory, the one that gained the most attention for Haase came when his Blazers upset mentor Williams' North Carolina squad Dec. 1, 2013, in Birmingham.

Haase has a 54-45 record at UAB. His Blazers advance to a Saturday game vs. UCLA.
The Big 12 went 0-3 Thursday, with Baylor (Georgia State) and Iowa State losing to No. 14 seeds and Texas losing to No. 6 seed Butler.

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One more look at the unjust stacking of Midwest region

Kentucky head coach John Calipari yells at his players during the first half of the Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Kentucky head coach John Calipari yells at his players during the first half of the Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. by Nick Krug

I came up with one more way to look at the unfairness of the NCAA tournament seeding to see if I could confirm my suspicions that the Midwest region is strangely stacked, so much more loaded than the others.

I looked at the points each school received in the final 2014-15 Associated Press college basketball poll and compared them, region-by-region. Sure enough, it confirmed the power of the Midwest regional.

Led by Kentucky’s 1,625 points, the Midwest has 6,014 AP poll points. The East finishes second with 5,527 points, the West (4,855) third and the South (4,824) fourth.

The top 25 ranking of Midwest regional teams: 1. Kentucky, 8. Notre Dame, 10. Kansas, 12. Maryland, 14. Wichita State, 20. West Virginia, 24. Butler.

Think about this for a moment: There are four regionals and the Midwest has five of the first 14 teams in the Associated Press poll. Not cool. Four East schools rank in the top 14: 2. Villanova, 6. Virginia, 11. Northern Iowa, 13. Oklahoma, three from the South regional (4. Duke, 7. Gonzaga, 9. Iowa State), just two in the West (3. Wisconsin, 5. Arizona), plus Nos. 15. North Carolina and 16. Baylor.

Oh well, the games begin in full today and tomorrow, so it’s probably time to focus on them and stop griping about the unbalanced brackets.

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