Posts tagged with Ku

Flyover country is volleyball country now

This year's NCAA women's volleyball tournament Final Four at CenturyLink Center features four schools from the Central time zone.

This year's NCAA women's volleyball tournament Final Four at CenturyLink Center features four schools from the Central time zone. by Tom Keegan

OMAHA — USC headed to the NCAA women’s volleyball tournament West regional in San Diego last week on a quest to win a seventh national championship. It’s more difficult than ever to win one, isn’t it?

“No question that that’s true,” Trojans coach Mick Haley answered, two days before getting knocked out of the tournament by Kansas University in an Elite Eight match. “It used to be that you felt like the kids on the West Coast would play a little bit more volleyball because they get to play in the summers and outdoors. If you look at the number of matches and the number of practices kids in the Midwest and on the East Coast and the Southwest are playing now, they’re all playing about the same number. It’s amazing.”

As a result, Haley said, “recruiting shifts from each side of the country from year to year. You know, Texas has more than 38,000 high school kids playing. California has 37,000 now. Texas has actually taken the lead.”

Haley also listed Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska and Ohio as “very strong recruiting areas,” and added, “Iowa, believe it or not, is a very strong state to get talent out of. You don’t have an advantage being on one side of the country or another now. There’s talent everywhere.”

This Final Four at CenturyLink Center features all teams from the Central time zone, two from the Big Ten (Minnesota and Nebraska), two from the Big 12 (Kansas and Texas), meaning that for the third year in a row, the Pac-12 will not have a team playing in the national-title match. The Big Ten had six teams in the Sweet 16.

In every season from 2001 through 2008, the Pac-12 had at least one team in the title match.

“I think it speaks to the parity across the nation,” Kansas coach Ray Bechard said.

Minnesota coach Hugh McCutcheon cited the same factor.

“Perhaps at one point it used to be a little more West Coast dominated, but it seems that there’s great volleyball players and great volleyball programs everywhere,” he said.

Nebraska coach John Cook talks about defending KU's Kelsie Payne.

Nebraska coach John Cook talks about defending KU's Kelsie Payne. by Richard Gwin

Nebraska, which holds an 86-0-1 series record vs. Kansas, and Texas are far from new to the big stage.

“Way back, Nebraska and Texas kind of opened the door, and then Penn State,” Nebraska coach John Cook said. “Now you’re seeing teams like BYU, Kansas, that are breaking the doors down in regards to anybody can get into this Final Four and this NCAA Championship. So I think you’re seeing great balance across the country.”

KU’s recent run has grown the fan base overnight, although that won’t be evident at Thursday’s match vs. Nebraska because each school was limited to 200 tickets. Cornhuskers fans long ago bought up most of the tickets.

“It’s great for the sport,” Cook said of new teams crashing the gates of volleyball heaven. “I think it creates great stories. Similar to what men’s basketball does in the NCAA Tournament, where a Butler can be in the Final Four. ... I also look at Texas, which has been here five years straight, which is an amazing accomplishment.”

Half of the 14 first-team All-Americans are from Final Four teams: Ainise Havili and Kelsie Payne of Kansas, Kadie Rolfzen of Nebraska, Amy Neal and Chiak Ogbogu of Texas, and Daly Santana and Hannah Tapp of Minnesota. Wisconsin’s Lauren Carlini makes it eight first-team All-Americans from Central time zone schools.

Three players — Florida’s Rhamat Alhassan, Ohio State’s Taylor Sandbothe and Penn State’s Haleigh Washington — made it from Eastern time zone schools. Just two, USC’s Samantha Bricio and Washington’s Lianna Sybeldon, are from the Pacific time zone and BYU’s Alexa Gray is the lone first-team selection from a Mountain time zone.

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Flyover country is volleyball country now

This year's NCAA women's volleyball tournament Final Four at CenturyLink Center features four schools from the Central time zone.

This year's NCAA women's volleyball tournament Final Four at CenturyLink Center features four schools from the Central time zone. by Tom Keegan

OMAHA — USC headed to the NCAA women’s volleyball tournament West regional in San Diego last week on a quest to win a seventh national championship. It’s more difficult than ever to win one, isn’t it?

“No question that that’s true,” Trojans coach Mick Haley answered, two days before getting knocked out of the tournament by Kansas University in an Elite Eight match. “It used to be that you felt like the kids on the West Coast would play a little bit more volleyball because they get to play in the summers and outdoors. If you look at the number of matches and the number of practices kids in the Midwest and on the East Coast and the Southwest are playing now, they’re all playing about the same number. It’s amazing.”

As a result, Haley said, “recruiting shifts from each side of the country from year to year. You know, Texas has more than 38,000 high school kids playing. California has 37,000 now. Texas has actually taken the lead.”

Haley also listed Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska and Ohio as “very strong recruiting areas,” and added, “Iowa, believe it or not, is a very strong state to get talent out of. You don’t have an advantage being on one side of the country or another now. There’s talent everywhere.”

This Final Four at CenturyLink Center features all teams from the Central time zone, two from the Big Ten (Minnesota and Nebraska), two from the Big 12 (Kansas and Texas), meaning that for the third year in a row, the Pac-12 will not have a team playing in the national-title match. The Big Ten had six teams in the Sweet 16.

In every season from 2001 through 2008, the Pac-12 had at least one team in the title match.

“I think it speaks to the parity across the nation,” Kansas coach Ray Bechard said.

Texas coach Hugh McCuthcheon cited the same factor.

“Perhaps at one point it used to be a little more West Coast dominated, but it seems that there’s great volleyball players and great volleyball programs everywhere,” he said.

Nebraska coach John Cook talks about defending KU's Kelsie Payne.

Nebraska coach John Cook talks about defending KU's Kelsie Payne. by Richard Gwin

Nebraska, which holds an 86-0-1 series record vs. Kansas, and Texas are far from new to the big stage.

“Way back, Nebraska and Texas kind of opened the door, and then Penn State,” Nebraska coach John Cook said. “Now you’re seeing teams like BYU, Kansas, that are breaking the doors down in regards to anybody can get into this Final Four and this NCAA Championship. So I think you’re seeing great balance across the country.”

KU’s recent run has grown the fan base overnight, although that won’t be evident at Thursday’s match vs. Nebraska because each school was limited to 200 tickets. Cornhuskers fans long ago bought up most of the tickets.

“It’s great for the sport,” Cook said of new teams crashing the gates of volleyball heaven. “I think it creates great stories. Similar to what men’s basketball does in the NCAA Tournament, where a Butler can be in the Final Four. ... I also look at Texas, which has been here five years straight, which is an amazing accomplishment.”

Half of the 14 first-team All-Americans are from Final Four teams: Ainise Havili and Kelsie Payne of Kansas, Kadie Rolfzen of Nebraska, Amy Neal and Chiak Ogbogu of Texas, and Daly Santana and Hannah Tapp of Minnesota. Wisconsin’s Lauren Carlini makes it eight first-team All-Americans from Central time zone schools.

Three players — Florida’s Rhamat Alhassan, Ohio State’s Taylor Sandbothe and Penn State’s Haleigh Washington — made it from Eastern time zone schools. Just two, USC’s Samantha Bricio and Washington’s Lianna Sybeldon, are from the Pacific time zone and BYU’s Alexa Gray is the lone first-team selection from a Mountain time zone.

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Where the KU volleyball comeback ranks

Tom Keegan

Tom Keegan by Nick Krug

OMAHA — In the moments after such a devastating volleyball setback to Kansas last weekend in San Diego, USC coach Mick Haley was asked where the loss ranked.

“Yeah, I think the worst,” Haley said. “But you know, the next win will be the best. That’s the way it goes. You start ranking them, you might as well retire. That’s what you do after you quit trying to win the next one. But this one teased us so badly that, just a little hard to get over.”

Conversely, you stop ranking things as a sportswriter and it’s time to retire. It’s in our blood. In roughly 35 years of hacking away, I have had the good fortune of covering many championship teams as a beat writer (1988 Los Angeles Dodgers) and columnist (Michael Jordan’s first three championships; Derek Jeter’s four championships in five seasons; Mario’s Miracle and the Todd Reesing/Aqib Talib Orange Bowl champions).

The most exciting games to watch generally are the most difficult to write because they involve remarkable comebacks on deadline, which requires a last-minute switch from writing a loss to writing a victory.

Five comebacks that I covered live rank as my favorites, which isn’t to say they rank as the biggest to anyone else, just to me.

I selected these off the top of my head and then did research to see which ones I either excluded because they didn’t come to mind as quickly or or decided not to include, all from Kansas basketball (KU 108, Iowa State 96, overtime, 2013; KU 88, Texas 84, OT, 2007; KU 85, Kansas State 74, 2009; KU 70, North Carolina 58, 2013).

Now, my five favorite comebacks during 35 years as a sportswriter:

5 - Kansas defeats Ohio State in 2012 Final Four: In the first half, one of Tyshawn Taylor’s better passes was caught by coach Bill Self. Ohio State, with Aaron Craft getting the better of Taylor, jumped to a 26-13 lead. In the second half, no Buckeye could stop Taylor from getting to the hoop. Kansas, which had made similar comebacks throughout the season, won it 64-62 to advance to a national-title showdown with Kentucky.

It remains the only post-Tulsa team that Self has coached that did not have a single McDonald’s All-American on the roster.

4 - The 2008 men’s basketball Final Four in San Antonio remains the only one that featured four No. 1 seeds: Kansas facing North Carolina in one semifinal, UCLA meeting Memphis in the other.

Down nine points with 2:12 remaining, KU forced overtime on Chalmers’ three-pointer with 2.1 seconds remaining and finished with 18 points. Darrell Arthur had 20. Sherron Collins made huge plays. Brandon Rush, as always, played stellar defense.

Cases could be made for Arthur, Chalmers and Rush being the MVP of that team, but there was no debate as to which star was the one Self most wanted taking the big shot and that was Chalmers.

Memphis missed 4 of 5 free throws down the stretch in regulation, but too much was made of that. KU had to do everything right at the end and did so well before Chalmers delivered in the clutch yet again.

The thing about thrilling comebacks in title games, they also mean seasons are over, which keeps this one from ranking higher. That was a phenomenal team that moved the ball, defended and played in transition so well that it was a delight to watch.

3 - Kansas rallies from 19 points down to defeat Missouri in the final basketball game of the Border War series: Thomas Robinson’s blocked shot forced overtime and he had a terrific game. But it was the relentless, under control way that Taylor led the team back that is the first thing that pops into my head when I reflect on that game.

2 - Kirk Gibson, his hamstring burning like a bonfire, rips a two-run homer to lift the Dodgers to a 5-4 thriller in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.

Gibson could barely walk when he arrived at Dodger Stadium, where Bash Brothers Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire and closer Dennis Eckersley made the Oakland A’s the heavy favorites to win the World Series.

I had covered 144 of the 162 regular-season games, including all of Orel Hershiser’s 59 consecutive scoreless innings, and all of the postseason ones.

Gibson changed the entire tone of the organization during the first intrasquad scrimmage of spring training. Think about that.

Good chance no athlete in history has made his presence felt on a team as quickly as did Gibson. He did so by taking out the second baseman, spikes flying high, to break up a double play. On the day of the first exhibition game at Dodgertown’s Holman Stadium, someone had lined the inside of Gibson’s cap with eye black. While Gibson was running on the field to warm up for the game, the eye black began to run down his face. He figured out what had happened, stormed off the field and left the grounds, sending a loud statement that he nobody was to mess with him at his workplace.

Gibson, once a star wide receiver at Michigan State, had an intimidating presence about him. The next day, manager Tommy Lasorda made the perpetrator of the eyeblack prank apologize to Gibson in front of the whole team. It had to be a difficult admission for reliever Jesse Orosco to make, given that Gibson could have beaten him to a pulp. When asked how one goes about making such an admission to someone like Gibson, Orosco gave one of the all-time great responses: “Easy, I just walked up to him with a loaded pistol, pointed it in his face and said, ‘I did it.’ ”

The Dodgers went on to win the World Series in five games and have not returned to the Fall Classic since.

1 - Down 13-9 in the fifth set, the Kansas volleyball team rallies to win by scoring the last six points to advance to the Final Four.

The final rally lasted for an eternity and featured a Kelsie Payne bullet beautifully defended, two spectacular Cassie Wait digs and Madison Rigdon’s powerful winning kill on a sweet set from Ainise Havili. Down went USC, the No. 1 seed in the tournament the Trojans hoped would end with them winning their seventh national title.

Unlike with the four comebacks listed above, the team that made this one flies commercial, not via chartered airplanes. Also unlike the other teams, only one newspaper, the Journal-World, had a staff member on hand to cover the comeback.

It launched a program that never had been to the Elite Eight all the way into the Final Four, a program that for the first time is on a four-year run of making the NCAA tournament. The comeback happened so fast, until that final rally, it was almost hard to believe my eyes.

I never thought I would see the day that the Gibson moment dropped to second, but it just did last week.

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Kansas volleyball squad too good to fit underdog role

Kansas senior Tiana Dockery, right, receives a hug from teammate, junior Janae Hall following Kansas' second round NCAA volleyball tournament match against Missouri on Friday night at the Horejsi Center. The Jayhawks sent the Tigers packing with a three set sweep.

Kansas senior Tiana Dockery, right, receives a hug from teammate, junior Janae Hall following Kansas' second round NCAA volleyball tournament match against Missouri on Friday night at the Horejsi Center. The Jayhawks sent the Tigers packing with a three set sweep. by John Young

SAN DIEGO — They aren’t the new kids brashly crashing the establishment party anymore. The underdog label no longer fits and the Kansas University volleyball players are just fine with that.

Two Sweet 16 appearances in three years. Host school for first-and-second-round matches in each of the past four years, joining an elite list of six others who can say the same. Athletic, smart, talented volleyball players so well suited for their roles. A 28-2 record with both losses coming to Texas. A 10-2 record against teams that made the NCAA tournament. An attention-grabbing .311 team hitting percentage.

That’s not the resume of an underdog. More like a list of accomplishments by a team befitting an Elite Eight appearance, which is what Kansas will make if it defeats Loyola Marymount today (7:30 p.m. Central in Jenny Craig Pavilion on the campus of University of San Diego.)

The Kansas coaching staff recruits nationally at an elite level and polishes the talent with aggressive, smart mental, physical and technique training.

Sure Kansas draws a tough opponent in Loyola Marymount University tonight, but not as tough as LMU draws.

If Las Vegas offered betting lines on volleyball, Kansas would be favored, even though LMU (24-8) is coming off a sweep of Stanford and has gone 15-2 after a shaky start. After all, who’s to say Kansas, the No. 9 seed in the tournament, wouldn’t have swept Stanford, the No. 8. seed.

Nothing about KU’s talent suggests the Jayhawks are anything but legitimate Final Four contenders, even though No. 1 seed USC casts a huge shadow at Jenny Craig Pavilion.

Ainise Havili, Kelsie Payne and Tayler Soucie were named All-Big 12 first-team. Madison Rigdon earned second-team honors. All four return next year, so this is not a temporary elevation of a program destined to fade back into oblivion as quickly as it escaped it.

Kansas can’t sell a long tradition of big-time winning, but in some ways the human factors that draw recruits to the school run even deeper. Listening to Payne talk about her decision to come to KU out of high school from Austin, Texas, made me realize that.

Payne talked about the campus tour she and her parents received from assistant coaches Todd Chamberlain and Laura “Bird” Kuhn.

“We saw everything and met some of the girls and fell in love with all of it,” Payne said. “We met all the administrative people, Scooter (Dr. Scott Ward, associate athletic director for academics and career counseling) and everyone and I said I want to be here. These are people I want to be around. I feel everyone here is just good friends with each other and it’s all relaxed. Down-to-earth people.”

She isn't the first KU athlete I have interviewed who mentioned the impression Ward made during a recruiting visit. His down-to-earth vibe and commitment to helping them down a path toward a degree resonates with recruits and parents. Athletes with similarly humble personalities like the idea he'll be watching over them in a friendly, subtly relentless way.

This group is a grounded one and the players are such close friends that they feel comfortable being blunt when needed. They revel in teammates' successes, so intangibles do play a role. So do very loud tangibles.

Senior Tiana "Dock" Dockery, the only player in Kansas history to participate in four NCAA tournaments, said this is the most athletic team for which she has competed.

“We found that out during the spring,” Dockery said. “We have a fitness test and we blew it out of the water."

The strength of the team starts with the quick reflexes, great leaping ability and strong hand-eye coordination, but blossoms well beyond that.

“Couple that with good volleyball players, too,” 18th-year head coach Ray Bechard said. “Their volleyball IQ is high and they enjoy playing with each other. They really do enjoy competing together, so it’s been a competitive chemistry, too, I think, that has allowed us to create a good season.”

A very good season that very well could end late Saturday night against a loaded USC squad, but something tells me it won’t end tonight.

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Kansas football tries, tries again to get off road to perdition

Kansas quarterback Jordan Webb scurries away from Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat during the first quarter on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011 at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

Kansas quarterback Jordan Webb scurries away from Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat during the first quarter on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011 at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Cliff Churchill and Dean Mathews hit the road for Austin, Texas, later this week and will take turns driving the Kansas football team’s equipment truck, same as always.

And unless Kansas pulls off an upset in a game in which oddsmakers made the Jayhawks 31.5-point underdogs, Churchill and Mathews must find something other than a victory by their favorite football team to fill conversation on the 698.2-mile trip from Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium to Memorial Stadium in Lawrence. Same as always.

Based on the quickest routes provided by mapquest.com, Churchill and Mathews have logged 22,765 miles in search of a victory since Kansas last won a game outside of Lawrence, in the West Texas town of El Paso, 34-7 vs. UTEP, Sept. 12, 2009.

The NCAA does not include KU’s three neutral-site losses to Missouri at Arrowhead Stadium, so the official road losing streak is 33 games. In reality, KU has lost its past 36 games played outside Lawrence.

Three of the losses during the endless slide, by an average score of 43-11, came in Austin under three different KU head coaches.

Texas didn’t score a point vs. Iowa State in Ames last week, but still is more than a four-touchdown favorite vs. a Kansas team that started five true freshmen and a red-shirt freshman on offense in last week’s 62-7 home loss to Oklahoma.

With a 12-56 record (nine more losses than the next-closest school, Purdue, from a so-called power-five conference) since quarterback Todd Ressing exhausted his eligilbity, has more losses than any Football Bowl Subdivision school except New Mexico State (12-57).

Updated lists on KU’s 36-game road losing streak, which has spanned 13 states, five head coaches and nine starting quarterbacks:

By coach (average score):

Mark Mangino...........................0-5 (Home Team 37, Kansas 24)
Turner Gill..................................0-11 (Home Team 41, Kansas 12)
Charlie Weis...............................0-12 (Home Team 40, Kansas 13)
(Interim) Clint Bowen..................0-5 (Home Team 44, Kansas 14)
David Beaty................................0-3 (Home Team 48.5, Kansas 11.5)

By state:

Texas.....................0-12
Oklahoma..............0-5
Iowa.......................0-4
Kansas...................0-3
Missouri.................0-3
West Virginia..........0-2
Colorado................0-1
Mississippi.............0-1
Nebraska................0-1
Georgia...................0-1
Illinois......................0-1
North Carolina.........0-1
New Jersey..............0-1

By starting quarterback:

Todd Reesing ................0-5
Jordan Webb..................0-9
Quinn Mecham...............0-2
Dayne Crist.....................0-3
Michael Cummings.........0-7
Jake Heaps.....................0-4
Montell Cozart.................0-4
Deondre Ford..................0-1
Ryan Willis.......................0-1

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Baylor posting mind-blowing numbers

Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman leaps into the end zone for a score in front of Texas Tech defensive back Keenon Ward (15) and linebacker D'Vonta Hinton (34) in the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. Baylor won 63-35. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)

Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman leaps into the end zone for a score in front of Texas Tech defensive back Keenon Ward (15) and linebacker D'Vonta Hinton (34) in the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. Baylor won 63-35. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)

A paint-by-numbers look at Baylor football, a study in offensive efficiency via blending a fast, powerful running game with a passing game that features fleet receivers and a terrific passer who also happens to be big and athletic and is protected by massive, experienced offensive linemen:

3 — Ranking in the Associated Press poll, tied for highest in school history.

4 — Players with at least five rushes per game and average 7.2 yards per carry or better, led by Shock Linwood (9.42 yards per carry, 146 yards per game.)

5 — Receivers who average 19.5 yards per catch or better.

11 - National-best touchdown receptions by Corey Coleman, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound junior from Richardson, Texas, who has as many touchdowns as KU’s entire roster.

15 — School-record tying career sacks from Shawn Oakman, 6-9, 275-pound defensive end.

19 — Touchdown passes for Seth Russell, who originally committed to current KU head coach David Beaty when Beaty was working for Turner Gill. TCU’s Trevone Boykin, who has played five games compared to four for Russell, is tied with Russell for the national lead.

32.5 — National-best first downs per game.

36 — National-best touchdowns, compiled in just four games.

63.8 — National-best points per game. Other schools left on KU’s schedule: TCU (second, 50.8), Texas Tech (third, 50), Oklahoma (ninth, 42).

218.75 — Russell’s national-best QB rating. Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty ranks second with 184.72, Memphis’ Paxton Lynch third with 181.47.

316 — Average weight in pounds of five starting offensive linemen, compared to an average of 257.4 for KU’s five heaviest defensive starters. That's 1.4 pounds shy of a 50-pound advantage per man.

376.75 — Rushing yards per game, second only to Georgia Southern.

410 — Pounds first-string tight end LaQuan McGowan carries on his 6-7 frame.

“There are couple plays in there that look like at the end of the movie when the team has to score a touchdown and one guy knocks 11 people over and they run behind him and score,” Kansas defensive coordinator Clint Bowen said. “There are couple clips that resemeble that, where he knocks a guy down, knocks another guy down and keeps running. He’s a big fella. ... He’s in there to be a lead blocker. He’s a big human who gets a lot of movement. We have to make sure that we don’t take him on real high.”

745.3 — National-best total yards per game, eclipsing the nation’s second-leading total offense (TCU) by 115.3 yards.

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Gary Woodland scratches from PGA Championship; Chris Thompson off to good start in Web.com event

Today was a mixed bag on the former Kansas University golfer front.

The day started with bad news, when Gary Woodland scratched from the PGA Championship field at 5:30 a.m. because of a neck injury, three hours before he was scheduled to tee off with Francesco Molinari of Italy and Marc Warren of Scotland. First-alternate Carl Pettersson of Sweden took Woodland’s place in the tournament being played at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.

Elsewhere, former KU All-American Chris Thompson continued his hot week with a strong opening round in the Web.com tournament for which he qualified Monday.

Thompson shot a five-under par 67 in the Price Cutter Charity Championship at Highland Springs Country Club in Springfield, Mo. He finished his round by sinking a 15-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th hole. He earned his spot in the field by firing a 64 in Monday’s qualifier.

Thompson’s consistent ball-striking today enabled him to average 291.5 yards off the tee without a drive of longer than 295 yards.

Thompson, who tees off Friday at 2:25, carded 14 pars, three birdies and an eagle. Thompson is in a 20-way tie for 16th, five strokes behind leader Chase Wright. The winner of the event with a total purse of $675,000 will earn $121,500.

Woodland’s chance to compete for the $1.8-million first-place prize and a career-changing victory died when his neck forced him to withdraw in the morning.

Heading into the week, Woodland ranked 27th on the PGA tour money list with $2,448,415, 31st in the FedEx Cup standings and 37th in the World Golf Rankings.

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World conquered, nation on deck for Kansas basketball

Team USA coach Bill Self, center, hugs Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) as Frank Mason III carries an American flag after a Team USA double-overtime win against Germany Monday, July 13, at the World University Games in South Korea.

Team USA coach Bill Self, center, hugs Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) as Frank Mason III carries an American flag after a Team USA double-overtime win against Germany Monday, July 13, at the World University Games in South Korea. by Mike Yoder

First, the world title. Next challenge for the Kansas University basketball team, a tougher one, the national title.

In winning USA’s first World University Games gold medal in men’s basketball in 10 years, Kansas revealed so many positives about itself. The games also showed there is so much to like about international rules.

Seven quick takeaways from the World University Games:

1 - Thanks to Frank Mason, KU will be tough to beat in close games. Fearless Frank has the quickness, skill and boldness to get where he wants to go with the ball and finishes at the hoop and sets up teammates with equal effectiveness in the clutch.

2 - Even when Wayne Selden’s shots don’t drop, as was the case in the double-overtime, gold-medal-game victory vs. Germany, he has the confidence to come up with big plays late with the game in the balance. He’ll face more athletic players in the college game, but he’ll also be playing the right position this season and far more often than not will be at an athletic advantage against the opposing small forward.

3 - Hunter Mickelson, an active force at both ends, has earned a spot in the rotation with his shot-blocking, tip-ins and consistent energy. Energetic incoming freshman Cheick Diallo projects as the starter, but when he has his freshman moments, KU coach Bill Self has somewhere to turn for relief. Curiously, Self went more with Landen Lucas, the better rebounder but not the defender or scorer that Mickelson is, for most of the second half. Mickelson held German center Bogdan Radosavljevic scoreless in the first half. Radosavljevic awakened when Mickelson sat.

4 - Self had to have made a strong impression, setting himself up for bigger jobs on the international stage. There isn’t a better man to coach the Olympic team than Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, committed through the 2016 Games in Rio. But Coach K isn’t going to want to do it forever. His outrageous success as coach of the national team has to increase the chances of the next coach also coming from the college game. Team USA’s performance — so strong on effort and team play — in South Korea should move Self to the head of the non-Coach K division of college coaches, even ahead of Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and Kentucky’s John Calipari.

5 - The international shot-clock rules (24 seconds, a reset to 14 seconds after a missed shot rebounded by the offensive team, eight seconds to advance the ball past mid-court) eliminates dead seconds, forces players to make moves and puts the game more in the hands of the players. It would work great in the college game.

6 - The international timeout rules, including limiting each team to two in the final two minutes, keeps an exciting, close game from grinding to a halt. It would lead to quicker games on TV, so that instead of watching the end of a game that doesn’t interest the on-deck audience, viewers can watch all 40 minutes of the games that interest them. The sooner college basketball goes to this format, the better.

7 - The added practice time, overseas bonding, strong performances under pressure can only benefit the Jayhawks in their quest to win what would be Self's second national title and fourth NCAA tournament title for the school. The roster has depth, experience and a clutch performer with the ball in his hands at the end of games and a smart, driven, seasoned coach pulling it all together.

None by Bobby Nightengale

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Gary Woodland aces makeshift hole at Byron Nelson

Course knowledge, evidently, can be overrated.

For example, former Kansas golfer Gary Woodland never had played the 100-yard No. 14 hole at TPC Four Seasons Resort until today. That's because the hole didn't exist until today. Heavy rains flooded the fairway so badly that tournament officials shortened the par 4 from 400-plus yards to a 100-yard par 3.

Woodland landed his tee shot just to the right of the cup, inches shy distance-wise. The ball rolled behind the pin and sucked back right into the hole.

Woodland was done in Thursday in the opening round by a triple bogey and a double bogey and was in 90th place heading into the day after a 2-over 72. He carded a 6-under 63 today.

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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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