Posts tagged with Ku

Updated KU basketball stats for dunks, floor burns

Reader Steve Zimmerman requested of this season's dunk stats for the Jayhawks. Here they are, Steve:

1 - Joel Embiid (16)
2 - Andrew Wiggins (12)
3 - Perry Ellis (8)
4t - Tarik Black, Wayne Selden (5)
6 - Jamari Traylor (4)
7t - Landen Lucas, Frank Mason, Andrew White III (1)

That’s a total of 53 dunks, 14 games into the season, an average of 3.8 slams per game. We’ll have periodic dunk updates as the season progresses.

KU also tracks floor burns:

1 - Selden (24)
2 - Embiid (20)
3 - Ellis (18)
4 - Mason (15)
5 - Wiggins (12)
6 - Traylor (10
7 - Naadir Tharpe (6)
8 - Black (5)
9t - Brannen Greene, White (3)
11t - Lucas, Justin Wesley (1)


My filled-out Baseball Hall of Fame ballot

Bob Allison, a football and baseball standout for Kansas University, earned American League Rookie of the Year honors in 1959 with the Washington Senators when he produced nine triples and 30 home runs, 83 runs and 85 RBI. He didn’t have a Baseball Hall of Fame career, but he did deserve to be on the Hall of Fame ballot. It doesn’t take much. Ray Durham, Jacque and Todd Jones, Paul Lo Duca, Richie Sexon and Mike Timlin.

Allison, a three-time All-Star, finished in the top 10 in the AL on-base plus slugging percentage five times and in the top 10 in home runs eight times in walks seven times and stolen bases twice.

This year’s Hall of Fame voting results will be released at 1 p.m. today. Ballots are tougher than ever to fill out, thanks to the guessing game involving steroids. The ballot’s not a court of law, so the standard of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt does not apply. Voters use their own standards, which is appropriate since each ballot is one voter’s opinion.

Ken Gurnick, who covers the Dodgers for, said he will not vote for any players who played in what has become known as the steroid era, even Greg Maddux, never suspected of taking performance enhancing drugs. Others disregard the doping factor entirely. I disagree with both stances.

Here’s how I handle steroids: When covering baseball, I used to have off-the-record chats with players I knew best about steroids and asked them which players they thought were juicing, which they thought were clean.

“They don’t all look like Mark McGwire, you know,” one player told me. “It changes every body in a different way.”

Asked for an example of a player who didn’t look like Michelin Man that he thought was juicing, he named Rafael Palmeiro, citing his sudden increase in power and other factors. I had no doubt Palmeiro was lying when he told Congress he had never done steroids, period. You couldn’t write anything concrete about a player doing ‘roids without proof, so I at times would use euphemisms such as “modern muscles,” an inconclusive term from which the reader could infer whatever he or she chose. Not an ideal approach, but better than ignoring the corruption of baseball statistics.

Writers who cover a baseball team on a daily basis, home and away, also are good sources to tap when seeking information to make a more educated guess on a player.

If I have a strong belief that a player juiced, I deflate his numbers accordingly, but don’t remove him from contention. If I think, but am not convinced a player cheated, I deflate the numbers to a lesser degree.

Is it a perfect system? No. Perfection is impossible in this case. But it’s better than completely turning a blind eye to the whole thing and better than going the high-and-mighty route and stoning all the sinners during an era when more than half the hitters and a number of pitchers were cheating.

Voters are allowed to check anywhere from zero to 10 names. For the first time in my 19 years as a voter, I checked 10 names. My ballot:

Rather than simply trashing my choices — or after trashing mine — I'd like to hear what names you would have checked.


Many names in news have ties to KU football

For the fifth year in a row, Kansas University sat out the college football bowl season, which coincides with coach hiring/firing season. However, many making headlines during the past month of festive football games and optimism-filled, introductory news conferences for coaches had ties to KU football.

Mark Mangino: Now that the former KU head coach has moved from Youngstown State to Iowa State, Oklahoma State is the only current Big 12 school that was part of the Big Eight when Mangino first worked in the conference for Kansas State that has not employed him. The Cyclones’ new offensive coordinator does have orange in his background, however, having won the 2008 Orange Bowl.

John Reagan: Offensive line coach at KU under Mangino, Reagan left his post at Rice after coordinating the Owls’ offense in a 41-24 victory against Marshall in the Conference USA championship game to return to KU. He was not on hand to try to help the overmatched Owls in a 44-7 loss to Mississippi State in the Liberty Bowl.

Charlie Strong: Coming off a 12-1 season capped by a 36-9 demolition of Miami (Fla.), the Louisville coach takes over for ousted Mack Brown at Texas. It wasn’t the first time he interviewed for a Big 12 job. Strong, then an assistant at South Carolina, was one of three candidates to have an in-person interview with then-KU athletic director Al Bohl, according to a former KU athletic department official. The Dec. 1, 2001 interview took place in Bohl’s home, later noted for Bohl’s dramatic “crushed me like a dove” driveway press conference in which the AD fingered basketball coach Roy Williams for his tenure ending. Strong and wife Vicki flew in and out of KCI the same day the interview took place.

Mark Dantonio: The Michigan State head coach had the season of his life, leading the Spartans to a No. 3 national ranking, a 13-1 record and a Rose Bowl championship earned in a 24-20 victory against rugged Stanford. A look at Dantonio’s resume might lead most to the conclusion that after four seasons as secondary coach under Glen Mason at Kansas (1991-94), Dantonio left for Michigan State because it had a better football program. Not so, according to multiple former KU staffers who say Mason showed Dantonio the door, opening an opportunity for him to work on Nick Saban’s staff at Michigan State.

J.B. Grimes: Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn took Grimes with him from Arkansas State to coach the offensive line. Auburn led the nation in rushing with Grimes, O-line coach at Kansas for Turner Gill’s two seasons, instructing the blockers.

Geneo Grissom: The former Hutch High defensive end turned teammate Eric Striker’s sack-fumble into a touchdown during No. 6 Oklahoma’s 45-31 upset of Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Grissom, who has one season of eligibility remaining, also had two sacks of his own.

Grissom had made a verbal commitment to Kansas. After Mangino was fired, Grissom let it be known he would honor his commitment as long as linebackers coach Bill Miller was retained by the next staff. Miller was sent packing and Grissom signed with Oklahoma. Grissom started his OU career as a defensive end, was switched to tight end, then back to his original position. With the amazing hands he showed on a 54-yard interception return for a touchdown vs. Texas, it looks as if he might have been a good tight end too.

Tom Hayes: Defensive coordinator for Kansas State, winner of the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, which is played not in Buffalo, rather in Tempe, Ariz. Hayes was KU’s defensive coordinator/secondary coach in 2001, when he took over as interim head coach for three games after Terry Allen was fired. Hayes interviewed for the head coaching job in Bohl’s home. During that interview, Bohl twice excused himself to take calls he received on his cell phone, according to former KU officials, who said they later learned those calls were from Mangino.


Kansas drops from 16 to 18 in Associated Press college basketball poll; San Diego State soars from 21 to 13

The outcome of Sunday’s basketball game played in Allen Feildhouse dropped Kansas from 16th to 18th in the Associated Press college basketball poll and lifted San Diego State from 21st to 13th. Nobody who objectively watched San Diego State’s 61-57 victory against the Jayhawks could argue that the Aztecs don't deserve to be ranked higher than KU at this point in the season.

The top 25 teams in the AP poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Jan. 5, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week’s ranking:

          Record Pts Prv
  1. Arizona (60) 15-0 1,620 1
  2. Syracuse (5) 14-0 1,550 2
  3. Ohio St. 15-0 1,470 3
  4. Wisconsin 15-0 1,427 4
  5. Michigan St. 13-1 1,378 5
  6. Wichita St. 15-0 1,203 8
  7. Baylor 12-1 1,169 9
  8. Villanova 13-1 1,141 11
  9. Iowa St. 13-0 1,076 13
  10. Florida 11-2 1,052 12
  11. Oklahoma St. 12-2 934 6
  12. Louisville 13-2 825 14
  13. San Diego St. 12-1 823 21
  14. Kentucky 10-3 808 15
  15. Colorado 13-2 752 20
  16. Duke 11-3 745 7
  17. Oregon 13-1 715 10
  18. Kansas 9-4 367 16
  19. UMass 12-1 364 23
  20. Iowa 12-3 261 22
  21. Missouri 12-1 247 25
  22. Gonzaga 14-2 241 24
  23. Illinois 13-2 178 NR
  24. Memphis 10-3 126 18
  25. Kansas St. 11-3 112 NR

Others receiving votes: Cincinnati 103, Creighton 82, North Carolina 79, UCLA 79, Pittsburgh 44, Harvard 41, UConn 41, Saint Louis 19, Oklahoma 15, Michigan 11, George Washington 9, SMU 9, Notre Dame 3, Xavier 3, Toledo 2, Arkansas 1.

My AP ballot:

1. Arizona: Washington State has no quarrel with No. 1 ranking for ‘Cats. Playing without two injured starters, the Cougars scored their fewest points since 1938, a year before Bill Snyder was born. Arizona stormed to a 21-2 lead and was ahead 28-7 at the half. Ex-Jayhawk Royce Woolridge (averaging 10.4 points) scored with 6:42 left in first half to improve Cougars to 1 of 17 from field. Afterward, Woolridge uttered the understatement of this young century when he said, “It’s hard to score on them.”

2. Syracuse: Half of 14 opponents have scored 60 or fewer points, including four who have scored 50 or fewer against Syracuse’s 2-3 zone.

3. Ohio State: Bench scored 38 points in blowout victory against Nebraska, which always has been to college basketball what Kansas has been to college football. Buckeyes’ heavy reliance on bench not unusual this season. Nine players average double-figures minutes and just LaQuinton Ross (13.6 points) and Lenzelle Smith (12.7) score in double figures.

4. Michigan State: Tuesday’s home game against Ohio State at 8 p.m. on ESPN, a must-watch potential thriller.

5. Wisconsin: Bo Ryan, a great basketball coach, not a good one, kept his cool and that was the difference in comeback victory against Iowa.

6. Wichita State: Nothing this team does should Shock anybody anymore. Shockers keep opponents off offensive glass, don’t turn it over, play aggressive defense without fouling and take good shots. In other words, they don’t do anything to beat themselves.

7. Florida: Coach Billy Donovan one of four active coaches to win multiple national titles, joining Mike Krzyzewski (four with Duke), Rick Pitino (one with Kentucky, one with Louisville) and Roy Williams (two with North Carolina).

8. San Diego State: Josh Davis, fifth-year senior who played a year at North Carolina State and two at Tulane, is to college basketball what Dennis Rodman was to the NBA, a great rebounder and a good defender who doesn’t put a priority on scoring. Biggest difference: Davis does not project as somebody who ever will want to hang out with a mad dictator who executed his uncle by feeding him to 120 starving dogs. Does Rodman ever stop to think that if he utters one wrong word to Kim Jong Un he could be fed to hungry dogs as well?

9. Villanova: JayVaughn Pinkston, so active around the bucket, is tough to stop (.586 two-point pct.), unless he stops himself by shooting threes (.208).

10. Baylor: Three-point marksman Brady Heslip has two turnovers in 287 minutes and is shooting .479 from three.

11. Oklahoma State: Seventh on team in minutes per game, Michael Cobbins led Cowboys in blocked shots and played a physical style that made him a presence. He’s out for season with torn Achilles. Tough loss.

12. Iowa State: Cyclones average just 9.6 turnovers, a stunning figure for a team that scores 87 points a game. They also make 57.4 percent of two-point field goals, an indication they get great shots.

13. Colorado: Askia Booker, the junior guard who made long three-pointers at the end of each half against Kansas, led Buffs with 27 points in dealing Oregon its first loss, 100-91. Booker knows how to finish. Eleven of his points came in the final 4:40.

14. Oregon: Ducks improved to 3-0 in overtime with victory at Utah, but couldn’t get closer than five points in the waning moments in loss at Colorado.

15. Kentucky: Young college basketball players always think they are better three-point shooters than they really are and they shoot too many of them, so it’s no surprise that the youngest team in America has a low three-point percentage (.310), but Wildcats compensate by ranking first in the nation in offensive rebounding.

16. Louisville: Chane Behanan, dismissed from the team for violation of university policy, told he planned to head to Houston to work with former Maryland and NBA guard John Lucas, who runs a drug and alcohol treatment program for coaches and athletes. Here’s wishing Behanan, a terrific basketball player, success, one day at a time.

17. North Carolina: Opened ACC play with loss at Wake Forest, dad-gummit.

18. Kansas: tracks plus-minus figures for college basketball players. KU’s: Andrew Wiggins (11.2), Joel Embiid (9.5), Perry Ellis (7.1), Frank Mason (6.0), Conner Frankamp (6.0), Wayne Selden (5.7), Tarik Black (5.3), Naadir Tharpe (4.9), Andrew White (1.1), Jamari Traylor (1.1), Brannen Greene (0), Landen Lucas (Negative-4.0).

19. Duke: Jabari Parker finally had a bad game. The freshman sensation made 2 of 10 shots and scored seven points in loss at Notre Dame. Irish zone led to a 20-4 run, showing Blue Devils need some work there.

20. Iowa: Hot-head coach Fran McCaffrey’s temper tantrum that drew him an ejection and gave Wisconsin four free throws, all makes, was the difference in this one. He lost his mind to the extent he had to be restrained by an assistant.

21. Cincinnati: A 16-point victory at Memphis vaults Bearcats, on six-game winning streak since losing by 17 to cross-town rival Xavier on Dec. 14, into rankings.

22. Illinois: We’ll find out if I have Illini overrated based on how they perform Wednesday night in Madison against undefeated Badgers.

23. Massachusetts: Derek Kellog played point guard for the Minutemen during the glory years under John Calipari. Kellog also was an assistant to Calipari for eight seasons at Memphis. Clearly, he paid attention. In his sixth season at UMass, Kellog’s teams steadily have improved, as evidenced by victory totals: 12, 12, 15, 20, 20. Taking leap to 30 this season isn’t out of the question.

24. Pittsburgh: Panthers opened ACC play with 12-point victory at North Carolina State. Lone loss in soft nonconference schedule came by one point against Cincinnati.

25. Creighton: Duke’s Parker is making a strong case, but nobody in better position to win national player of the year honors than Doug McDermott, who originally signed with Northern Iowa because his father, Greg McDermott, then coaching at Iowa State, didn’t think his son was good enough to play in the Big 12. His father moved to Creighton, then of the Missouri Valley Conference, and Doug followed him. Now the son won’t be satisfied to just win Big East player of the year honors. Greg McDermott is unlike 99 percent of fathers in that they think their sons are way better athletes than they actually are and he underrated his.


John Reagan knows how to build blockers, but needs more building blocks

In addition to designing an offense that makes sense for the personnel on hand, new Kansas University football offensive coordinator John Reagan must develop young blockers into Big 12-ready offensive linemen.

It’s not an easy task for anyone, but it’s not as if Reagan hasn’t been there, done that. Reagan built quite the resume in his five seasons as O-line coach under Mark Mangino (2005-2009). In 2008, Reagan’s line featured a pair of red-shirt freshmen (Jeremiah Hatch and Jeff Spikes) at tackle and a former walk-on (Adrian Mayes) at one of the guard spots.

Reagan’s known throughout the industry as a relentless driller of fundamentals.

But the former Syracuse lineman faces quite the challenge in working his magic in time to provide ample protection for Jake Heaps, the favorite to earn the starting quarterback job, provided the coaches are confident he won’t face the same pass rush that hammered him into retreat mode the first two-thirds of last season.

On paper, KU looks as if it has enough strength and experience to get the job done in the middle three positions.

Center Joe Gibson impressed during his red-shirt season. Juco recruit Keyon Haughton, enrolling for second semester, will get a chance to show what he has at center and guard in spring football. Returning guards Ngalu Fusimalohi, Damon Martin and Mike Smithburg make that a position of strength.

It’s at tackle that KU appears frighteningly thin and could use a boost from a graduating transfer with one remaining year of eligibility. (Rice has no such players who fit the profile.) Sometimes, the most frank assessments of position outlooks are offered by players who have used up their eligibility, such as Gavin Howard, who spent five years in the program and made at least one start at all five O-line positions.

“Losing that experience always is going to hurt, but the good thing is we have the three guards coming back that all have good experience,” he said. “And I’m really expecting big things out of some of those young guys. (Brian) Beckmann, I’m expecting big things out of him. He’s just got to get his confidence down. He’s got great footwork. He’s long. He’s got a good body. I’m expecting big things out of Beckmann next year.”

A 6-foot-6, 300-pound 2012 graduate of Blue Valley West High, Beckmann was ranked third-best overall prospect in Kansas heading into a senior season he missed with a shoulder injury. A three-star recruit, he also was offered a scholarship from Kansas State. A tackle, he has three remaining years of eligibility and has yet to appear in a game.

Howard also praised Gibson and mentioned Bryan Peters, who will be a fourth-year junior, as a ready-for-prime-time tackle prospect.

“Peters, he came in a little soft as far as weight-room wise,” Howard said. “But he’s really started hitting the weight room a lot, so I’m expecting good things out of him next year. There’s definitely talent there. The real issue is going to be there are not very many guys.” Devon Williams, a 6-5, 340-pound tackle from Georgia Military, has made a verbal commitment. It would be nice to have the luxury of red-shirting juco linemen, but he’ll be a candidate for a starting position the day he walks on campus for summer conditioning.

At least the linemen will be taught well.

“Coach Reagan’s a good guy,” said Howard, recruited to KU by Reagan and instructed by him during his red-shirt season. “He plays smart football. He knew about angles and how to take angles to get up there. And he really worked well with younger guys like Tanner (Hawkinson) as a freshman, Spikes and Hatch as freshman tackles. He did a real good job with younger guys. I think he’ll do a good job of molding those younger guys like he did when he was at Kansas with (Mark) Mangino.”

Still, Reagan will need more materials than what the roster offers at the moment.


Kansas stays at No. 16; Toledo among others receiving votes in AP college basketball poll

After a quiet week for college basketball, idle Kansas remained No. 16 in the Associated Press poll released Monday. Tonight’s opponent, undefeated Toledo, received the 30th-most points and surely would move into the top 25 with an upset tonight in Allen Fieldhouse.

The AP's top 25, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Dec. 22, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week's ranking:

           Record  Pts Prv
  1. Arizona (60)­—­­­ 13-0— 1,620— 1
  2. Syracuse (5)— 12-0— 1,550— 2
  3. Ohio St.— 13-0— 1,462— 3
  4. Wisconsin— 13-0— 1,408— 4
  5. Michigan St.— 11-1— 1,364— 5
  6. Oklahoma St. — 11-1— 1,278— 7
  7. Duke— 10-2— 1,144— 9
  8. Wichita St.— 13-0— 1,067— 10
  9. Baylor— 10-1— 1,013— 11
  10. Oregon— 12-0— 987— 12
  11. Villanova— 11-1— 943— 8
  12. Florida— 10-2— 915— 13
  13. Iowa St.— 11-0— 869— 14
  14. Louisville— 11-2— 812— 6
  15. Kentucky— 10-3— 753— 18
  16. Kansas— 8-3— 666— 16
  17. UConn— 11-1— 647— 15
  18. Memphis— 9-2— 625— 17
  19. North Carolina— 9-3— 413— 19
  20. Colorado— 11-2— 373— 21
  21. San Diego St.— 10-1— 371— 20
  22. Iowa— 11-2— 258— 22
  23. UMass— 11-1— 160— 23
  24. Gonzaga— 11-2— 78— 24
  25. Missouri— 11-1— 76— 25
    Others receiving votes: Illinois 57, Texas 40, George Washington 37, Oklahoma 36, Toledo 32, Florida St. 24, UCLA 19, Harvard 10, Michigan 7, Creighton 5, Kansas St. 3, Pittsburgh 2, LSU 1.

My Top 25 ballot:

1. Arizona: Sean Miller has to be included in any conversation about best college basketball coaches seeking first Final Four, along with Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan, Marquette’s Buzz Williams and the sleepers of the group, Colorado’s Tad Boyle and Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg.

2. Syracuse: Unfazed by a 25-7 deficit, the Orange blitzed Villanova with a 20-0 run and won by double digits.

3. Ohio State: Buckeyes have won 24 of past 25 games, the lone loss coming at hands of Wichita State, 70-66, in Elite Eight.

4. Wisconsin: Deliberate pace and strong man-to-man defense have enabled Badgers to keep last nine opponents under 70 points.

5. Michigan State: Spartans have three McDonald’s All-Americans in starting lineup: Sophomore Gary Harris, junior Branden Dawson, senior Keith Appling. High-flying Dawson (10.3 points, 9.3 rebounds) has eight double-digit rebounding games and five double-doubles. Sat out last game with shin bruise as a precautionary measure.

6. Oklahoma State: What’s a defense to do? Collapse on Marcus Smart driving to the hoop and he’ll dump off to Le’Bryan Nash inside (.562 overall) or three-point marksmen Phil Forte (.469) and Markel Brown (.419).

7. Duke: Freshman wall? Jabari Parker took one look at it, jab-stepped it and the wall fell down and crumbled. Parker has scored 21 points or better in 10 of 12 games.

8. Wichita State: Senior Cleanthony Early, averaging 22 points and 8.3 rebounds the past three games, has scored in double figures all 13 games this season.

9. Oregon: On your marks, get set, go! If you can handle the neon uniforms, Ducks worth staying up late at night to watch.

10. Florida: Two must-watch games late in the season pit the Gators against Kentucky: Feb. 15 in Lexington at 8 p.m. and March 8 in Gainesville at 11 a.m. By then, both teams loaded with talent at every position should be playing great basketball.

11. Villanova: Josh Hart scored seven points in 94-second flurry that gave 'Cats 25-7 lead with 11 minutes left in first half. Orange handled the game, 71-37, rest of way.

12. Kansas: In past four games, Perry Ellis shooting .667 from field but has been to line just seven times.

13. Baylor: The closer opponents get to the basket, the better the Bears defend, thanks largely to 7-foot-1 sophomore center Isaiah Austin, who is averaging 3.1 blocks in 24.4 minutes. Baylor ranks 12th with .413 two-point percentage defense and 272nd with .370 three-point defense, per

14. Iowa State: On top of everything else he does well, which is pretty much everything, Melvin Ejim shoots 86 percent from the line. He’s the most popular Melvin in Ames by a long shot.

15. North Carolina: Jan. 11 represents another shot at knocking off a giant when the Tar Heels visit the Carrier Dome to play No. 2 Syracuse. Heels already have beaten Louisville, Michigan State and Kentucky.

16. Kentucky: Twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison combined for 28 points in 73-66 victory against Louisville. The only way they can lay claim to best twin recruits of 21st century is by winning national title before heading to pros. Marcus and Markieff Morris never played in a Final Four but played key roles for three Big 12 champions.

17. Louisville: Best victory, by far, came against potential bubble team Southern Miss, 69-38, in November. Time to punish the Cardinals for sneakily soft scheduling. Lost only two true tests, vs. North Carolina on a neutral court, and at Kentucky.

18. Connecticut: Senior point guard Shabazz Napier playing like All-American, averaging 15.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.9 assists.

19. Memphis: There’s a good reason the Tigers don’t settle for threes. They don’t make very many of them (.295).

20. Colorado: Boyle doing nice job of mixing Los Angeles-area recruits with Colorado talent to build Pac-12 powerhouse.

21. San Diego State: After his team lost to the Aztecs, 118-35, Saint Katherine College coach Scott Mitchell looked at the bright side: “Well, I can thank God nobody got decapitated." An orthodox Christian school in Encinitas, Calif., with a cool nickname (Firebirds), St. Kat also have lost to Weber State, 107-36, and Utah Valley, 88-39. Saint Katherine is in its first year of competing in basketball. The Firebirds have two victories and no decapitations thus far.

22. Florida State: Seminoles rank 11th in nation with 6.9 blocks per game. Three 7-footers combine for 4.9 blocks a game.

23. Massachusetts: Has the lowest divorce rate in the nation. The highest? Nevada. In Las Vegas, it’s not uncommon for couples to marry and the next day barely remember tying knot. Once their hands stop shaking, they untie the knot. Generally, they agree to split the remaining bottle and go their separate ways.

24. Iowa: Average Hawkeyes possession lasts 14 seconds, third-shortest in the nation (BYU, Northwestern State).

25. Texas: Longhorns (15.6 seconds, 25th) like to get up shots in a hurry as well.


Toledo basketball coach Tod Kowalczyk in midst of impressive turnaround

Just about every successful basketball coach need not look beyond his own career to find a humbling losing streak that makes him appreciate winning all the more. The opposing coaches in tonight’s game in Allen Fieldhouse are no exception.

As most around here know, in his first season as a head coach, Bill Self’s Oral Roberts team lost its last 15 games and finished 5-22.

Toledo coach Tod Kowalczyk, 47, was an assistant to Jim Boylan for two seasons at New Hampshire and witnessed roughly half of the school’s 32-game home-court losing streak, broken Feb. 11, 1991 with a victory against Holy Cross.

As a head coach, Kowalczyk inherited messes at Wisconsin-Green Bay and Toledo and turned both schools into winners.

At UWGB, Kowalczyk took over a team that had gone 9-21 the previous season and responded by taking the Phoenix to records of 9-19, 17-11, 17-11, 15-16, 18-15, 15-15, 22-11 and 22-13.

Toledo had so little talent in the program when Kowalczyk arrived for the 2010-11 season, that the Rockets had their second consecutive 4-28 record in his first season. Since then, the records have been 19-17, 15-13, 12-0, an impressive reversal.

The Rockets are tied with Oklahoma for ninth in the nation with 86.3 points per game and return 93 percent of those points next season. They play an exciting brand of basketball and their opponents tend to do the same. Stats analyst Ken Pomeroy tracks offensive efficiency with points scored per 100 possessions. He ranks Toledo the 12th most efficient offensive team in the country, two spots behind Kansas. ranks KU the 14th most efficient defensive team and Toledo checks in at 238. Toledo opponents make 40.1 percent of their threes.

If Kowalczyk can guide Toledo to its fifth NCAA Tournament appearance and first since 1980, look for the program builder to become a hot name in the coaching rumors, which every March result in mixed emotions for fans of mid-major schools having big seasons.


Kansas moves up to No. 16 in AP college basketball poll; Seth Davis required Sunday night Twitter reading

Following a strong victory against New Mexico with an even more impressive one against Georgetown, Kansas continued its rebound in the Associated Press men's college basketball poll, released today, by moving up two spots to No. 16.

Joel Embiid was dominant in both games and Tarik Black scored 17 points against Georgetown, breaking a streak of four consecutive scoreless outings.

Perhaps the most encouraging development of the past two games involved KU’s point guard tandem of starter Naadir Tharpe and reserve (Fearless) Frank Mason. Tharpe combined for 18 points, nine assists and four turnovers. Mason scored five points and had five assists and one turnover in 21 minutes.

The Jayhawks don't need their point guards to score. They just need to score enough that opponents respect their ability to put points on the board. For the most part, what they need to do is limit turnovers so they can feed the post, especially Embiid, and play solid defense.

In the Georgetown game, Tharpe and Mason both did a nice job of making the easy pass and they combined for eight assists and two turnovers. Kansas needed Sherron Collins and Tyshawn Taylor to score. Not so with Tharpe and Mason. Aaron Miles-like point guard play is what’s needed.

The AP's top 25, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Dec. 22, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week's ranking:

           Record   Pts Prv
  1. Arizona (63)— 12-0— 1,623— 1
  2. Syracuse (2)— 11-0— 1,528— 2
  3. Ohio St.— 12-0— 1,462— 3
  4. Wisconsin— 12-0— 1,390— 4
  5. Michigan St.— 10-1— 1,336— 5
  6. Louisville— 11-1— 1,274— 6
  7. Oklahoma St.— 11-1— 1,221— 7
  8. Villanova— 11-0— 1,116— 8
  9. Duke— 9-2— 1,108— 8
  10. Wichita St.— 12-0 981— 11
  11. Baylor— 10-1 970— 12
  12. Oregon— 11-0— 914— 13
  13. Florida— 9-2— 881— 16
  14. Iowa St.— 9-0— 804— 17
  15. UConn— 10-1— 661— 10
  16. Kansas— 8-3— 659— 18
  17. Memphis— 8-2— 630— 15
  18. Kentucky— 9-3— 529— 19
  19. North Carolina— 8-3— 413— 14
  20. San Diego St.— 9-1— 378— 24
  21. Colorado— 10-2— 345— 20
  22. Iowa— 11-2— 278— 25
  23. UMass— 10-1— 154— 22
  24. Gonzaga— 10-2— 79— 21
  25. Missouri— 10-1— 69— 23

Others receiving votes: Oklahoma 65, Illinois 53, Texas 47, George Washington 43, Toledo 27, Florida St. 23, Michigan 15, Harvard 14, UCLA 14, Saint Mary's (Cal) 8, Pittsburgh 6, Creighton 5, LSU 1, SMU 1.

My AP top 25 ballot:

1— Arizona: Point guard T.J. McConnell, a transfer from Duquesne, knows his role and it’s not scoring. He’s averaging 6.8 points and 6.5 assists.

2— Syracuse: Everybody knows Jim Brown was the greatest football player of all-time. Many also know that Brown was such a dominant force in lacrosse that he caused a rule change that required players to keep their sticks in constant motion while running. A few might even be aware that he was a standout decathlete. But did you know that Brown averaged 15 points a game, second on the team by less than a point (Vinnie Cohen, 15.8), for Syracuse’s 1954-55 team?

3— Ohio State: Buckeyes have played a soft nonconference schedule, which seems a strange way to prepare for the Big Ten.

4— Wisconsin: The Badgers, like the honey badger, are nasty.

5— Louisville: A Saturday trip to Lexington to face in-state rival Kentucky pits a pair of loaded teams that both lost to North Carolina.

6— Michigan State: Also lost to North Carolina.

7— Oklahoma State: As is the case with so many, Le’Bryan Nash left high school figuring he was a one-and-done player. He never would have made it if he had left after his freshman year. He had so much to learn about the game in general and his game specifically. He’s a much better junior than he was a freshman or sophomore. One reason for that is he has learned what he is not, namely, a three-point shooter. In his first two seasons of college basketball, Nash made 28 of 118 three-pointers, a .237 percentage. He has attempted just two this season. His overall field-goal percentage in each of his three seasons, starting with his freshman year: .394, .462, .562.

8— Duke: It always pays to spend part of your Sunday night reading Sports Illustrated's Seth Davis on Twitter. He posts his AP Top 25 ballot, puts himself against the wall wearing a blindfold and lets the masses fire away. His responses, hilarious to rational readers, bait the jilted blind loyalists into new levels of fury. One week, when asked how he could rate Wisconsin so low, Davis tweeted, "I hate Wisconsin." The humor was lost on the incensed Badger, who didn't think it was right for a voter to hate a school. Make @SethDavisHoops required Sunday night reading, even if it means staying up past your bedtime. He even provided a useful link Sunday: Matt Norlander reminds us Blue Devils have been ranked in top 10 in the AP poll for 119 consecutive weeks, spanning 222 consecutive games, second-longest streak in men’s college basketball history.

9— Villanova: Syracuse and Nova bring combined 22-0 record into Carrier Dome on Saturday.

10— Wichita State: Undefeated Shockers will be favored in every remaining game until the NCAA tourney. Can any other undefeated team say the same? On paper, it looks as if a trip to Indiana State on Feb. 5 represents biggest threat. Sycamores defeated Notre Dame early in the season, plus Terre Haute can sap the joy right out of you on gloomy days.

11— Oregon: Ducks learned how to play without point guard Dominic Artis, now they must learn how to play with him again. He and reserve power forward Ben Carter were suspended for nine games for selling sneakers issued by the school. Since Oregon is Nike’s flagship university, it creates suspicion that NCAA is mad at the Swoosh. Just imagine how many athletes read that news, looked at each other, eyes wide, pulse speeding, and said: "They enforce that rule? Oh boy."

12— Florida: Whenever I see the word Florida, I think back to my days covering spring training, driving all over the state. And I always remember a story so touching that holiday season is the perfect time to share it.

A young colleague called me to express his excitement over having met a few weeks previous a young woman at her work place.

He went on and on about all her wonderful qualities and concluded, “I think she’s the one. I can’t wait to bring her home to meet my mother.”

When I asked him her name, he said: “Dawn. ... stage name Genesis.”

A short time later and a good deal poorer, he decided she wasn’t the one after all.

13— Kansas: Ask yourself this question: Is there any player in college basketball for whom you would trade Joel Embiid? Didn’t think so.

14— Baylor: These words will be said in many huddles of Bears foes trailing late in tight games: “But whatever you do, don’t foul (Kenny) Chery.”
Chery has made 25 of 27 free throws. He is no relation to colorful hockey commentator Don Cherry, a childhood hero of mine when he was a player and later a coach for the Rochester Americans (Amerks for short) of the American Hockey League.

15— Iowa State: Dustin Hogue, one of five Cyclones scoring in double figures, is averaging a double-double (12.6 points, 11.1 rebounds), which makes him a candidate for All-In-N-Out Burger honors.

16— North Carolina: Dr. Jekyll, meet Mr. Hyde.

17— Kentucky: Freshman Julius Randall attempted 19 free throws, scored 29 points and had 10 rebounds in victory against Belmont. Randall has double-figure free throw attempts in six games.

18— Connecticut: Home-court loss to Stanford followed by victory at Washington.

19— Memphis: Shaq Goodwin (13.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, 1.5 steals), sophomore from Atlanta, is a speedy load at 6-9, 242.

20— Colorado: Marijuana becomes legal to smoke in “private” in Colorado starting Jan. 1, 2014. Listen closely and you will hear the wind carry these words from the chairs of ski lifts: “Oh wow, it’s like those people down there are shrinking. Do you have any potato chips in your pocket? How did Peter Frampton do that with his guitar? You know, that real wobbly sound.”

21— San Diego State: Aztecs, who visit Allen Fieldhouse on Jan. 5, have big-time scorer Xavier Thames (16.0), big-time rebounder Josh Davis (10.7) and big-time shot-blocker Skylar Spencer (2.4).

22— Florida State: Doubt you’ll hear Seminoles grousing about new rules. Five of team’s top six scorers shoot .824 or better from line.

23— Massachusetts: Minutemen made just 1 of 15 three-pointers in first loss of season, to Florida State.

24— Iowa: Roy Devyn Marble shoots too many three-pointers (17 of 56, .304) but more than makes up for it by compiling 11 more steals (27) than turnovers (16).

25— Texas: My guess as to next coach of Longhorns football team: Florida State’s Jumbo Fisher. Your guess?

Reply staffers’ favorite photographs from Nick Krug’s book: “Jayhawk Decade”

A few of us were in the office trying to pick out the photograph that struck the loudest chord with us from Nick Krug’s "Jayhawk Decade" book, a best-of collection of photograph’s from the most successful 10-year run in Kansas basketball history, Bill Self’s first 10 seasons in Lawrence.

So I figured I would take a quick survey of four of the guys who share the sports department’s space in an office building that was transformed by Treanor Architects from an old post office into one of the cooler newspaper offices in the nation.

First, my favorite of the 144-page hard-cover book:

Page 98

Kansas head coach Bill Self raises up the fieldhouse following the Jayhawks' 87-86 overtime win over Missouri on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012.

Kansas head coach Bill Self raises up the fieldhouse following the Jayhawks' 87-86 overtime win over Missouri on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012. by Nick Krug

This emotional moment pops the connection Self shares with the Kansas fan base and shows why he remains in his job instead of caving to the temptation of moving to the NBA.

A seriously whipped-up Self is pictured thanking students in the crowd for lending such wild support during a Tyshawn Taylor-led comeback from an 18-point deficit to victory against chief rival Missouri. No regular-season NBA game could come close to making a coach, his players, and the spectators fly as high as the Jayhawks were flying in the emotional aftermath of this game.

Self’s an intense guy and a fun guy. KU students so loudly shared those qualities with the coach that day, when the strong connection burned deeper than ever. —Tom Keegan

Pages 84 & 85

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson gets up for an alley-oop over Baylor defenders Perry Jones III and Anthony Jones (41) during the first half on Monday, Jan. 16, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson gets up for an alley-oop over Baylor defenders Perry Jones III and Anthony Jones (41) during the first half on Monday, Jan. 16, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

My favorite photo in the book is Nick Krug's classic shot of Thomas Robinson dunking against Baylor. It shows the power of top players in the Bill Self era. The looks on the other players' faces were remarkable as well. —Gary Bedore

Page 78

Kansas head coach Bill Self talks with forward Thomas Robinson after Robinson fouled out of the game against Kentucky during the second half on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Kansas head coach Bill Self talks with forward Thomas Robinson after Robinson fouled out of the game against Kentucky during the second half on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York. by Nick Krug

My favorite photo in the book features Self and forward Thomas Robinson having a moment after Robinson fouled out during KU’s November loss to Kentucky in New York City. The reason I like this photo above all of the other incredible images in the book is because it captured the essence of both Self and Robinson to perfection. Robinson was such an emotional player and I’m sure it was sometimes tough to reach him because of the passion and tenacity with which he played. In the moment depicted in the picture, a clearly calm and collected Self stands tall right in front of his All-American forward, nearly butting his forehead against Robinson’s, and seems to be going to whatever lengths necessary to calm Robinson down and lift him up at the same time. Self’s ability to do that throughout Robinson’s junior year was a big reason why the Jayhawks finished that season in the national title game in New Orleans. —Matt Tait

Page 82

Kansas center Jeff Withey makes his way to the bench with a mouthful of blood following some physical play against Long Beach State during the second half on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Jeff Withey makes his way to the bench with a mouthful of blood following some physical play against Long Beach State during the second half on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Nobody makes Jeff Withey bleed his own blood. This looks like a still from a Rocky movie. Withey just got smashed in the face and Krug’s photo perfectly captures the rage in the big man’s eyes. He’s waiting for the bell to ring, and he can’t wait to clock someone. Or, more likely, deny some player’s layup or dunk at the rim. —Benton Smith

Page 31

Kansas guard Mario Chalmers and Brandon Rush salute each other in overtime Monday, April 7, 2008 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

Kansas guard Mario Chalmers and Brandon Rush salute each other in overtime Monday, April 7, 2008 at the Alamodome in San Antonio. by Nick Krug

It’s not a dunk, block or clutch three-pointer. And it’s a much quieter celebration than a Morrii chest bump or a spittle-spraying scream. But, to me, there’s something equally as striking about Chalmers’ and Rush’s salutes during overtime of the 2008 national championship.

It’s a surreal moment, on the verge of a title just minutes after a loss seemed all but inevitable. Chalmers and Rush have swapped emotions with the Memphis players hunched over behind them. The photo captures the prevailing feelings of the night: relief combined with that cool, of-course-we-got-this confidence I associate with the 2007-08 Jayhawks. — Nick Gerik

I know what you're thinking: What's with the shameless plug? Don't blame you for thinking that, but it doesn't happen to be the case. (Remember, it's Nick's book. I save shameless plugs for my own books.) "Jayhawk Decade" will sell out. A limited supply remains. This is just a helpful hint for shoppers stumped as to what to get for a Christmas present for the KU basketball fan in their lives. Order today and it should arrive ahead of Christmas Day. Wait until tomorrow and they might be gone. Click here to order the book. — Tom Keegan


Kansas drops seven spots behind Wichita State in latest AP college basketball poll

Kansas started the week with a horrendous half of basketball in which it had 18 turnovers at Florida and finished the week with a terrific half that had Joel Embiid dominating and Naadir Tharpe facilitating against New Mexico in the Sprint Center. It translated to a tumble from 13th to 18th, seven spots behind Wichita State, in the Associated Press college basketball poll released Monday.

The AP top 25, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Dec. 15, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week's ranking:

            Record Pts Prv
  1. Arizona (63)— 11-0— 1,623— 1
  2. Syracuse (2)— 10-0— 1,528— 2
  3. Ohio St.— 10-0— 1,464— 3
  4. Wisconsin— 12-0— 1,381— 4
  5. Michigan St.— 8-1— 1,297— 5
  6. Louisville— 9-1— 1,264— 6
  7. Oklahoma St.— 9-1— 1,165— 7
  8. Duke— 7-2— 1,053— 8
  9. Villanova— 10-0— 1,053— 10
  10. UConn— 9-0— 1,035— 9
  11. Wichita St.— 10-0— 923— 12
  12. Baylor— 8-1— 898— 14
  13. Oregon— 9-0— 834— 15
  14. North Carolina— 7-2— 792— 18
  15. Memphis— 7-1— 755— 16
  16. Florida— 7-2— 699— 19
  17. Iowa St.— 8-0— 698— 17
  18. Kansas— 7-3— 482— 13
  19. Kentucky— 8-3— 414— 11
  20. Colorado— 10-1— 405— 21
  21. Gonzaga— 10-1— 376— 20
  22. UMass— 9-0— 351— 22
  23. Missouri— 10-0— 222— 24
  24. San Diego St.— 7-1— 176— 25
  25. Iowa— 10-2— 72— 23
    Others receiving votes: UCLA 69, Pittsburgh 66, Saint Mary's (Cal) 11, George Washington 5, Harvard 4, Oklahoma 4, Michigan 3, Toledo 3.

My AP ballot:

  1. Arizona: Freshman star Aaron Gordon knows how to draw fouls, which isn’t necessarily such a good thing for nation’s top-ranked team. Gordon shooting just .447 from line.

  2. Syracuse: With the possible exception of Indiana center Noah Vonleh, Orange point guard Tyler Ennis is the nation’s most underrated freshman. Canadian shoots .429 from three and has a 5-to-1 assists-turnover ratio.4. Ohio State: All 10 victories by double digits. ... With as much trouble as Trey McDonald has shooting from 15 feet (6 for 18), it’s no surprise he hasn’t attempted a trey.

  3. Ohio State: With as much trouble as Trey McDonald has shooting from the free-throw line (6 for 18), it's no surprise he hasn't attempted a trey.

  4. Wisconsin: All five starters shoot .390 or better from three and three of them are at .419 or better.

  5. Louisville: Rick Pitino’s coaching tree bears a ton of fruit: Mick Cronin (Cincinnati), Billy Donovan (Florida), Richard Pitino (Minnesota), Herb Sendek (Arizona State), Tubby Smith (Texas Tech), Reggie Theus (Cal State Northridge) and Kevin Willard (Seton Hall). Pitino not only had excellent vision as a UMass point guard, he can see future head coaches when he hires them as assistants.

  6. Michigan State: Nation’s top backcourt battling injuries. Gary Harris (out with ankle injury) and Keith Appling (playing with sore wrist and hip) make the Spartans go.

  7. Oklahoma State: Marcus Smart settling for threes as often as he does is akin to a flame-thrower feeding the No. 9 hitter off-speed pitches.

  8. Duke: Comparisons to Carmelo Anthony looking pretty good for Jabari Parker so far.

  9. North Carolina: The season opened with Kentucky, Michigan State and Louisville holding down the top three spots in the AP poll. Carolina has beaten all three of them by a combined margin of 28 points, overshadowing losses to Belmont and UAB.

  10. Villanova: A whopping 45.6 percent of Wildcats’ shots are three-pointers, eighth-highest percentage in the nation, yet they make only 32.1 percent. So how do they stay undefeated? By playing terrific defense.

  11. Wichita State: Shockers hit the road to try to make it two victories against SEC schools in four days Tuesday vs. Alabama. Senior Trevor Releford, brother of former KU starter Travis, leads Crimson Tide in scoring (16.4), three-point shooting (.386) and turnovers (3.5). Getting the ball inside will be key to staying undefeated for Shockers.

  12. UConn: Huskies No. 1 in nation with .465 three-point accuracy, compared to .295 for opponents.

  13. Baylor: Cory Jefferson and Rico Gathers hammer the offensive boards consistently for Bears.

  14. Kentucky: Youngest team in nation gets 83 percent of its points from freshmen, led by Julius Randle (17.2), who also gives UK 11.4 rebounds per game.

  15. Oregon: For more than a quarter-century people looked at me funny when I told them field-goal percentage is meaningless since it assigns equal value to three-point and two-point field goals, instead of giving a three-point bucket 150 percent of the value of a two-pointer. In recent years, the stat is tracked and called “effective field-goal percentage.” Oregon ranks fourth in the nation at .594.

  16. Florida: What a week for the Gators. It started with defeating Kansas (24 turnovers) and ended with news that 6-10 McDonald’s All-American Chris Walker had been admitted to school and cleared to practice with the team. He still needs to make it through the NCAA Clearinghouse before he can play in games.

  17. Kansas: Georgetown started its winning streak with a 27-point victory against Kansas State. Streak should grow to seven after Hoyas play Elon on Tuesday. KU will be facing confident squad Saturday (11 a.m. tipoff) in Allen Fieldhouse.

  18. Memphis: Tigers have tough one Tuesday night in Madison Square Garden against Florida in Jimmy V Classic.

  19. Iowa State: Some day, Northern Iowa’s Seth Tuttle can tell his grandchildren he played the part of Ben McLemore in Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg’s recurring nightmare. Tuttle, as McLemore did a year ago, banked in a three-point shot after Hoiberg, up three points, decided not to foul. It forced overtime. The difference this time: The Cyclones went on to win. “I’m sick of seeing people bank in threes,” Hoiberg said. Put in the same situation vs. Iowa, Hoiberg told his players to foul, but they didn’t execute his wishes and Iowa launched a potential game-tying three. Seeing a terrific coach like Hoiberg struggle with a no-brainer decision is like watching a great basketball player struggle at the free-throw line. Foul. Period.

  20. UMass: Junior center Cady Lalanne, who originally signed with Georgia but was denied admission at the last minute, having break-through season, his first without injuries. Averaging 15.2 points and 9.8 rebounds.

  21. Colorado: Fourth-year coach Tad Boyle has Buffs on course for third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. Last season was first time CU made the field in consecutive years since 1962-63.

  22. Gonzaga: Zags, shooting .444 from three-point land, will face pro-K-State crowd against Wildcats for 2:30 tipoff Saturday.

  23. Pittsburgh: Young, undefeated team fattening up on soft schedule won’t have that luxury once ACC season starts.

  24. Missouri: Averaging 37.2 minutes, 19 points and 5.5 rebounds and shooting .422 from three, Jabari Brown isn’t the best Jabari in college basketball, but he is the Tigers’ most valuable player.

  25. San Diego State: Hot-shooting Aztecs visit Allen Fieldhouse Jan. 5. Senior Xavier Thames and freshman Matt Shrigley combining to shoot .532 from three.


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