I agree with colleague Matt Tait's opinion that Brannen Greene made the right decision in leaving Kansas, but disagree that he did the right thing by declaring for the NBA draft and hiring an agent.
Transferring to a school that would have built its offense around his three-point shooting touch, spending two more years in school, improving his ball-handling, earning credits toward a graduate degree and proving he can go two years without a suspension, all would have served to pique the curiosity of NBA talent scouts, maybe even enough for him to earn an invitation to the NBA combine.
As it is, he was left off the guest list, despite having one of the prettier jumpers on the planet. He carries the baggage of never having established himself as a major-minutes player, the baggage of multiple suspensions.
Greene wasn't the right player for Bill Self and Self wasn't the right coach for Greene. But that doesn't mean that with a long look in his mirror and fresh start, he could not have succeeded at another school.
Davidson and Wyoming are two programs that jump to mind as ones Greene could have explored as potential destinations. Davidson's Jack Gibbs averaged 23.5 points per game as a junior, and averaged 18.2 shots, 7.9 from beyond the three-point line. Wyoming's Josh Adams averaged 24.2 points, 16.1 shots and 8.4 three-pointers in his junior season. Greene could have practiced with either player for a year then inherited the available shots.
Those are just two examples of schools that might have been interested. An NBA franchise would be more interested in Greene coming off a stellar senior year. He wasn't going to get that at Kansas, where he had exhausted his chances.
Transferring would have required patience, a quality in short supply among basketball players seeking paychecks.
Welcome to the first “Say something nice about Kansas football,” blog, which will appear here every Monday.
Here’s how it works: I’ll say something nice about the KU football program and challenge you to do the same.
Sure, it’s not necessarily easy given that the Jayhawks have gone 4-57 in the Big 12 in the past sevens seasons and have lost their last 38 games played outside of Lawrence. Going 0-12 in 2015 and losing their conference games by an average of 35.7 points doesn’t make it easy. Who said life is supposed to be easy all the time?
To ease the challenge, nice comments unrelated to on-field performance count. For example, you might like a certain uniform combination, a particular food or drink from your friend’s tailgate, a specific chant from the students, etc.
All nice words, provided they aren’t linked in any way to basketball, are welcome. This is a football blog. Jokes about basketball season starting early are so stale and weren’t particularly funny in the first place. No basketball comments of any kind allowed in the “Say something nice about Kansas football” blog.
Sarcasm, although not encouraged, is not discouraged. For example, if someone were to write, “I like the bathrooms in Memorial Stadium because I can’t see the scoreboard from them,” that might not be within the spirit of the blog, but certainly is within the letter of the law.
One more rule: If you disagree with someone who says something nice, that’s fine, but you must then say two nice things about Kansas football to make your contribution a net positive, twice the challenge. Here’s your chance to prove you can say something nice about KU football.
Here goes: Coach David Beaty has parted from recent reliance on recruiting offensive linemen from junior colleges. More than any position, O-linemen must be recruited out of high school and grown in the weight room. That takes five years, the first as a redshirt, in most cases the first few as a backup building strength and polishing technique.
Beaty’s recruiting class of 2016 included four offensive linemen (Cam Durley, Antione Frazier, Hunter Harris, Chris Hughes), all from Texas high schools.
Kansas already has received a verbal commitment from a Texas high school O-lineman, Jared Hocker, in the Class of 2017. Grant Polley, another prep O-lineman, withdrew his commitment.
Beaty gets that it’s impossible to rebuild a football program without building the foundation with high school blockers. I like that.
Your turn. Say something nice about Kansas football.
Starting with Bob Frederick, late athletic director of Kansas University, the Frederick family has built a rich Final Four tradition.
Bob served as the chairman of the NCAA tournament selection committee and hired Roy Williams, who took the Jayhawks to four Final Fours.
Bob’s son, Brad Frederick, director of operations on Williams’ staff at North Carolina, went to two Final Fours as a player at North Carolina and earlier this month was in Houston, where the Tar Heels lost at the buzzer to Villanova in the national-title game.
But a pint-sized patriot by the name of Sawyer Frederick, the youngest of Brad and Jocelyn’s three children, has become the most famous of all the Fredericks.
A video of Sawyer, all of 2 years old, shaking the hands of several military personnel on the tarmac after the North Carolina basketball team’s chartered flight landed for the Final Four has gone viral.
Jocelyn took the video with her phone, and her brother-in-law, Chris Frederick, a KU graduate student and bartender at The Sandbar, posted it on Youtube, triggering a frenzy of interest from global media outlets, including (London-based) The Telegraph.
“Sawyer is really funny because he is adorable to look at, but he doesn’t talk a whole lot,” Jocelyn said by phone from North Carolina. “But he’s a busy body, toddles around like a pint-sized version of an adult, so he’s very funny.”
Jocelyn said the "Pint-Sized Patriot," nickname has caught on in North Carolina.
Jocelyn and Sawyer appeared Thursday on “Fox and Friends,” and the video appears on the ABC news website.
Margey Frederick, Sawyer’s grandmother and a Lawrence resident, said she is “incredibly proud. We are a family that always supported the military. It was really fun. I had no idea it would mushroom into this much attention.”
Chris Frederick, the youngest of Bob and Margey's four sons, said that at last check, one of the Youtube postings had reached 1.3 million views.
“I read the comments under it and so many people posted that watching it brought them to tears,” Chris said. “So I sent my sister-in-law a text saying, ‘I bet you didn’t imagine when you were filming this you would make people all over the world cry.’ ”
Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops comes from the tree of Kansas State’s Bill Snyder, so Stoops knows how to keep a secret.
That makes it difficult to gauge what Stoops will do to hire a defensive line coach for the third time in less than 13 months.
The last thing Kansas coach David Beaty needs is for Stoops to raid his staff and hire former Sooner Calvin Thibodeaux, one of two candidates who seem to make the sense. The other is Thibodeaux’s former teammate C.J. Ah You. Thibodeaux and Ah You roomed together when they were Oklahoma’s starting defensive ends.
Stoops likes to hire his former players, and in Thibodeaux and Ah You he has a pair of impressive candidates from which to choose.
Ah You knows what it's like to play and coach for Stoops, who lost Diron Reynolds on Feb. 10, the one-year anniversary of losing Reynolds' predecessor, Jerry Montgomery. Reynolds returned to Stanford to reunite with his family, which never made the move with him to Oklahoma. Montgomery left OU to work for the Green Bay Packers. Ah You spent the past two seasons on Stoops’ staff as quality control coach for defense and special teams.
Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason hired Ah You as his defensive line coach a few weeks before Reynolds left OU. Reynolds, who had worked with Mason as a defensive assistant with the Minnesota Vikings, recommended Ah You to Mason. So did Stoops, whose powerful backing of his former player is quoted in Ah You’s official bio on vucommodores.com.
“First and foremost,” Stoops said, “Vanderbilt is getting a great person in C.J. All of his former teammates and all of our current staff love and respect him. He was a great player for us and a valuable member of our staff.”
Stoops went on to say that Ah You “has tremendous knowledge of the game and relates so well with players. He’s got a bright future in the coaching world and I’m very happy for him.”
Ah You shapes up as KU’s best chance to avoid another hit to Beaty’s coaching staff.
Linebackers coach Kevin Kane left for a promotion to defensive coordinator at Northern Illinois. Recruiting coordinator/running backs coach Reggie Mitchell bolted over the weekend for Arkansas. Wide receivers coach Klint Kubiak left Tuesday for a job with the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos.
Losing Kane, a KU alum with rich Kansas City recruiting ties, a great work ethic and a strong presence, hurt. Beaty hired former Southern Miss and Maryland defensive coordinator Todd Bradford, out of the game since 2012, to replace him. Finding someone with Mitchell’s natural recruiting instincts won’t be easy.
Beaty won’t need to hire a wide receivers coach because well before Kubiak left, Beaty already had recruited Jason Phillips to join Kubiak in coaching wide receivers. Phillips had worked at SMU (2012-14) under June Jones and for three different stints totaling eight seasons at Houston, including three years under Kevin Sumlin. A former NFL receiver, Phillips has experience as a recruiting coordinator, offensive coordinator and receivers coach. Beaty made room for Phillips on the staff by reassigning special teams coach Gary Hyman.
Beaty has flexibility in how to fill his two full-time coaching vacancies. For example, he could hire a running backs coach and a special teams coach and make one of them the recruiting coordinator or he could hire a second receivers coach and add recruiting coordinator to the duties of Phillips.
Don’t forget to include never having coached an NBA All-Star at Kansas on your list of reasons you are grateful Bill Self is your school’s basketball coach.
After all, if a Kansas player participated in the game you might be tempted to watch it and your eyes might never recover.
The NBA All-Star Game, once a worthwhile exhibition, has gone the way of the Pro Bowl and the NHL All-Star exhibition. In a word, unwatchable. The West defeated the East, 196-173, Sunday, but the real victim was not a team, rather an important facet of basketball, defense.
It’s just as well that none of Self’s Kansas players has played in All-Star Game because they play defense and they wouldn’t know what to do in a game where it’s not allowed.
In the next year or two or three, second-year pro Andrew Wiggins, averaging 20.8 points per game for the Minnesota Timberwolves, likely will make the West roster. By then, he might have reason to show off his defensive skills. By then, maybe someone with influence will convince the NBA it needs to go the way of Major League Baseball Midsummer Classic and incentivize winning, the only way to resurrect the integrity of the game.
Give the home-court advantage in the NBA Finals to the winner of the All-Star Game. Please!
Watching video clips of the 6-foot-11, 260-pound Udoka Azubuike, calls to mind Cliff Alexander dominating Chicago high school competitors with a series of dunks, plus three inches in height, 20 pounds in weight, less body fat, and broader shoulders.
In other words, he is tall enough, big enough and aggressive enough to give Kansas what it hasn’t had since Joel Embiid’s back injury ended his college career late in his freshman season: A legitimate center.
It’s easy to picture Azubuike playing alongside Cheick Diallo and/or Carlton Bragg. Either 6-10, 250-pound center Marques Bolden (ranked No. 16 by Rivals) of DeSoto, Texas (ranked No. 16 by Rivals) or 6-9 forward Jarrett Allen (ranked 20th) of Austin could be added to a recruiting class that started with 6-8 forward Mitch Lightfoot (No. 117) of Gilbert, Ariz. Strong rebounder Landen Lucas also returns for Kansas.
As Alexander and Diallo illustrated, high school dominance doesn’t guarantee smooth sailing as a freshman, but physically, at the very least, Azubuike looks like more advanced than most teenage post players.
Azubuike chose Kansas over North Carolina, which puts a premium on a big man’s ability to run the floor, so he should fit KU’s desire to pick up the pace as well.
Skid row brims with men who relied too heavily on hollow hunches, so when I tell you I have a hunch, wish me luck. But I do have a strong one heading into today’s basketball game between Kansas and TCU, a 1 p.m. tipoff in Allen Fieldhouse.
Something tells me freshman forward Carlton Bragg will get a long run today, make the most of it and produce his first double-figures scoring game.
For one thing, the opportunity likely will present itself since not one of the other four big men vying for playing time alongside senior Perry Ellis has established himself as the unquestioned leader of the pack.
In the loss at West Virginia, Cheick Diallo, Landen Lucas, Hunter Mickelson and Jamari Traylor combined for 35 minutes, six points, 13 rebounds, nine personal fouls and two turnovers.
In his four Big 12 games, Bragg has combined for 33 minutes, 15 points, 10 rebounds, four fouls and five turnovers.
The most skilled of the bunch, Bragg sometimes looks a little too eager to make something happen right away and ends up rushing himself into a bad pass or a missed shot from close range.
If Kansas can take control of today’s game early, the 6-foot-9, 220-pound Bragg might be allowed to play through a mistake or two, get a good sweat going, compete with a free mind, settle down and not look so much like he's rushing to make it somewhere on time. It's tough to imagine any more welcome development for the Jayhawks than Bragg emerging.
Ellis could use the help. As the season wears on and the aches and pains mount for the players, it wouldn’t hurt for Ellis to get more rest. Bragg by far is the best option to replace Ellis’ scoring punch when he rests, so a breakthrough performance for the freshman could be a big step forward for the team.
Whereas Diallo is relatively new to the game, hasn’t yet developed a great feel, and sometimes finds himself in the wrong spot to lend help defensively or space the floor properly offensively, it’s clear Bragg knows how to play the game. He just too often plays it sped up. The latter takes less time to fix with experience than the former.
Among the five bigs not named Ellis, Bragg ranks third in minutes (174), behind Traylor (215) and Lucas (190), first in points (70), fourth in rebounds with 45, behind Lucas (68), Traylor (54) and Mickelson (46) and first in turnovers with 17.
My very specific hunch says Bragg will produce 12 points and six rebounds to send 16,300 home happy while they put the pedal to the metal to try to settle in front of their TV sets in time for the Chiefs' 3:35 p.m. kickoff.
Kansas University head football coach David Beaty has chosen Todd Bradford, former defensive coordinator at University of Maryland, to replace Kevin Kane as the Jayhawks’ linebackers coach.
Kane left for the defensive coordinator job at Northern Illinois, where he had worked before coming to Kansas.
Bradford, 52, last worked in college football as DC at Maryland in 2011. After one season with the Terps, Bradford was bought out of the remaining two years of his contract for $300,000.
Bradford had put his career on hold to focus on caring for his mother, Sandra Hampshire, who died Jan. 3, in St. George, Utah, after suffering for seven years from multiple myeloma.
Bradford has worked 25 years in college football, including three as defensive coordinator at Southern Mississippi (2008-10). Working under current North Carolina coach Larry Fedora, Bradford guided the 2010 Southern Miss defense to a 31-16 victory against Kansas and a No. 13 national ranking (113 yards allowed per game).
At Maryland, his defense was ranked last in the ACC.
Bradford last worked in the Big 12 for Oklahoma State (2005-07) when he coached linebackers.
He also worked at his almater mater, Southern Utah, as well as New Hampshirie, Lehigh, Eastern Michigan, Louisiana Tech, Wisconsin, Middle Tennessee State and BYU (his only job on the offensive side).
Crowded out of prominence by the drama that unfolded over and over and over again later in a Big Monday night, Jamari Traylor’s terrific stretch at the opening of the second half of a 109-106, triple overtime victory over Oklahoma was not lost on his coach.
“I thought Mari was great,” Kansas coach Bill Self said of the fifth-year senior from Chicago. “Second half, he was about the only one playing start of the second half, and of course Landen (Lucas) down the stretch was awesome.”
Traylor came off the bench in the first half and started the second. It’s a good thing he did because without him using his explosive leaping ability near the hoop, the game could have gotten away from the Jayhawks.
Kansas made just four field goals in the opening 7:19 of the second half and Traylor had two of them. Traylor’s biggest contributions weren’t the points he scored. They never are. He’s a limited offensive player, but has a tendency to make defensive plays that fire up the crowd.
For sheer out-of-nowhere shock value, Traylor had the game’s two most amazing plays. Ninety seconds into the second half, Oklahoma’s Jordan Woodard drove to the hoop for a bucket that would have given the Sooners a nine-point lead. Traylor somehow snatched the shot out of mid-air with two hands and came crashing to the floor, landing on his back, where he stayed for a nervous moment.
A couple of minutes later, the Sooners’ high-flying Khadeem Lattin went in for a dunk that would have given OU a 12-point lead. Traylor had the body control to go up with Lattin, and without touching the would-be dunker, put his hand on the ball to block the shot and snuff the bucket. This time, Traylor landed out of bounds, near the stanchion and Lattin had the harder crash. Incredible play.
A couple of Kanas possessions later, Traylor caught a pass in the lane and decisively drove right, throwing a shot off the glass for a bucket that drew Kansas within seven points. After OU pumped it back to a nine-point lead, Traylor shaved it to seven again, crashing the glass from straight on to put back a Wayne Selden miss.
Traylor’s minutes are down a little this season (14.8 average, compared to 20.4 as a junior and 16.1 as a sophomore), but his spirits seem up. His body language is better and he has been a consistent positive, energetic force.
Tensions ran high in a game that both sides badly wanted.
"Some of those loose balls, diving, sacrificing bodies, that was two teams really, really competing,” Self said.
In other words, the game was right in Traylor's wheelhouse.
Sometimes the best moments at sporting events take place before the main attractions start.
The worst moment of the Kansas spring football game happened when Michael Cummings suffered a career-ending knee injury. The best came on the last play of the annual alumni football game. World War II veteran Bryan Sperry, 89, found the holes and sprinted to glory for a touchdown captured by the KU athletic department's talented video team. Sperry and brother Kenneth Sperry played Kansas football from 1946-48.
The presence of UC Irvine's 7-foot-6 center Mamadou Ndiaye made Tuesday night more interesting than the average nonconference basketball game in Allen Fieldhouse. But even he couldn't steal the show because the show had been stolen before the opening tip by Kurtis Townsend's daughter, Myka, shown above in a photo snapped by the Journal-World's Nick Krug.
Myka didn't miss a note and to the amazement of the customary crowd of 16,300 belted out a really strong version of the Star Spangled Banner. I kept waiting for her dad to break into tears, but all he broke into was a huge smile as his daughter triggered a huge ovation from the crowd and Fred Quartlebaum, director of student-athlete development for the basketball program, pinned a bear hug on the proud father.
"She told me she wasn't nervous, so I wasn't nervous," Townsend said. "She did great."
That she did. Kurtis bears a facial resemblance to one of music's most talented stars, peerless guitarist Carlos Santana. Myka is a talented star in the making. Advantage Myka on the music front.