Entries from blogs tagged with “football”
While his Kansas basketball teammates trained in Lawrence the past couple of months for the program’s upcoming trip to Italy, senior wing Svi Mykyailiuk prepared in his own distinct way, by practicing with and playing for Ukraine’s U20 national team.
Mykhailiuk might have missed out on the continuity that comes with sticking around campus with his fellow Jayhawks, but it didn’t stop him from having a constructive summer. Among the 180 athletes competing at the FIBA 2017 U20 European Championships, none scored more points than Mykhailiuk.
Although Ukraine went 3-4 at the international event and finished 10th out of 16 teams, Mykhailiuk showcased his individual talent in Crete, Greece, over the last week-plus, averaging 20.4 points per game in seven outings. The KU senior didn’t look one-dimensional, though. He also averaged 6.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists.
In fact, ESPN’s Mike Schmitz reported Mykhailiuk dabbled as a point guard in his team’s Sunday finale versus Turkey, and racked up six assists in the first quarter alone, often pitching the ball ahead in transition for easy baskets. He finished the 85-82 loss against Philadelphia 2016 first-round pick Furkan Korkmaz and Turkey with a near-triple-double: 24 points, nine rebounds, nine assists.
“I’m a leader, so I have to do a little bit of everything,” Mykhailiuk said in an interview with Schmitz. “Every time I get the ball, I’m trying to score, trying to be aggressive, trying to involve my teammates in our offense. Just trying to create all the time, but just kill. Every possession just trying to kill with a pass or with a shot or with a rebound.”
The only player at the event to achieve a 20 points per game average, the 6-foot-8 Mykhailiuk told ESPN he is capable of contributing as a scorer, passer and rebounder, like he has this summer for Ukraine, at the college level and beyond.
“I think so, because here I’ve shown what I can do and I’m trying to do it next year at Kansas, because I’m going to be a senior,” Mykhailiuk said. “I’ve been in the program for three years, and I think coach trusts me. I trust him. And showing what I can do here is letting him know what I can do at Kansas, too.”
Back in Lawrence, KU coach Bill Self tracked Mykhailiuk’s progress, and shared with reporters the 20-year-old Ukraine star actually played in Greece with an injured wrist.
“It wasn’t bad. He didn’t miss any time,” Self said. “But he nicked his wrist up. But he’s scoring the ball.”
Mykhailiuk, who will join his coach and KU teammates next week in Italy for exhibitions in Rome and Milan, shot 49-for-124 (39.5 percent) from the floor for Ukraine. He connected on 16 of 49 (32.7 percent) 3-pointers and shot 80.6 percent (29-for-36) on free throws.
Self, though, admitted there could be one drawback to Mykhailiuk’s lengthy offseason European excursion.
“I’m a little nervous that when he comes back, maybe he’s played a lot of ball, but he’s gonna have to really commit in the weight room,” Self said. “I guarantee whatever they’ve done (with Ukraine team), he hasn’t done nearly what he’d be doing with Andrea (Hudy, KU’s strength coach) here. That put him behind last year, too.”
As Mykhailiuk’s KU coach referenced, he also played for Ukraine in summer of 2016, averaging 14.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists. During his ensuing junior year with the Jayhawks, Mykhailiuk produced 9.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists, while shooting 44.3 percent overall and 39.8 percent on 3-pointers. Mykhailiuk initially entered his name in the 2017 NBA Draft, but decided to withdraw and finish his four-year college basketball career at Kansas.
“I’m happy he’s playing,” Self said of his pupil’s FIBA experience with Ukraine. “He needs to play, and he needs to see the ball go in the hole.”
You’ll never see his name on a Kansas football depth chart and probably won’t ever see it in a game story. You will see him give the Jayhawks a better shot at winning football games, provided you watch very closely.
Running back Denzell Evans is entering his second season on the roster after transferring from Arkansas. Used sparingly as a short-yardage back, Evans gained 29 yards in 17 carries last season. It was elsewhere that Evans, No. 23, made his mark and earned the respect of teammates and coaches.
“I played on all the special teams, every single unit,” Evans said with pride. “When we started fall camp I told them I want to do it all, I can do it all. I’m going to say kickoff is my favorite because I’d rather hit somebody than get hit. But whatever they need from me, I’m here to do it all.”
Evans’ position coach during spring football of 2016 was Reggie Mitchell, former Kansas running backs coach.
“He told me I should look into (Kansas) so that’s what led me to come here," Evans said. "He was a big part of it.”
Even though Evans hasn’t been a featured back for KU, he said he doesn’t regret his decision to change addresses as a graduate transfer.
“I love it here,” he said. “I love it, every step of the way. I love it: the atmosphere, the coaches, everybody.”
Having a roster stocked with great talents isn’t a prerequisite for flipping a losing a program. But it is a tough task if the roster isn’t loaded with great attitudes. Evans brings a winning attitude and loves his role as a special teams standout.
The season-opener vs. Southeast Missouri State at Memorial Stadium is just six weeks and a day away. It also marks the first day head coach David Beaty will release a depth chart, which will appear on the flip chart distributed in the press box.
Obviously, fall camp will have a great influence on the depth chart, but it’s never too early to take a stab at guessing what it might look like:
Defensive end: first-team: Dorance Armstrong and Josh Ehambe; second-team: Maciah Long, Isaiah Bean.
Defensive tackle: first team: Daniel Wise, J.J. Holmes; second team: Isi Holani, DeeIsaac Davis.
Linebacker: first team: Joe Dineen, Keith Loneker; second team: Osaze Ogbebor, Denzel Feaster.
Safety: first team: Mike Lee, Tyrone Miller; second team: Bryce Torneden, Shaq Richmond.
Cornerback: first team: Hasan Defense, Shakial Taylor; second team: Julian Chandler, Ian Peterson.
Nickel: first team: Derrick Neal; second team: Kyle Mayberry.
Quarterback: first team: Peyton Bender; second team: Carter Stanley.
Running back: first team: Taylor Martin; second team: Khalil Herbert.
Outside receiver: first team: Daylon Charlot and Steven Sims; second team: Jeremiah Booker and Chase Harrell.
Inside receiver: first team: LaQuvionte Gonzalez and Ryan Schadler; second team: Quan Hampton and Tyler Patrick.
Left tackle: first team: Hakeem Adeniji; second team: Antoine Frazier.
Left guard: first team: Jayson Rhodes; second team: Malik Clark.
Center: first team: Mesa Ribordy; second team: Hunter Saulsbury.
Right guard: first team: Larry Hughes; second team: Jacob Bragg.
Right tackle: first team: Charles Baldwin; second team: Clyde McCauley.
My guess as to the player not listed above who is most likely to have an impact, other than senior tight end Ben Johnson and freshman hybrid tight end/receiver Kenyon Tabor, is true freshman linebacker Kyron Johnson.
Never having played college football or had a full season of practice as a redshirt, Johnson is playing catch-up compared to the four names listed in front of him, because they all are juniors and are more familiar with the intricacies of the position. But Johnson appears to have the most potential of the group to use his speed and agility to make plays in space. It’s just a matter of how quickly he learns where to go and when, so that he can use his tools efficiently. If he picks it up quickly, he has enough talent to develop into an impact player by season’s end. A year as a redshirt behind him, Dru Prox also has promise at linebacker.
Kansas football players report for preseason camp on July 31, but the 2017 roster began materializing long before that thanks to the numerous newcomers who arrived earlier this summer.
As is the case every year, the roster looks significantly different entering August practices than it did in the spring.
Some key returning Jayhawks changed their jersey numbers, a few players left the program and an influx of new talent arrived.
Here’s a breakdown of how the composition of coach David Beaty’s team has evolved since the conclusion of spring football.
The majority of KU’s core maintained the status quo in terms of the digits they will wear on their chests and backs. But some opted for a switch.
You won’t see receiver LaQuvionte Gonzalez blazing past defenders in his No. 1 jersey anymore. For his senior season, Gonzalez will wear No. 82.
Likewise, junior linebacker Keith Loneker Jr. changed from No. 33 to No. 47, sophomore defensive end Maciah Long shifted from No. 3 to No. 9, and sophomore defensive back Bryce Torneden switched from No. 12 to No. 1.
We now know the numbers many key members of KU’s 2017 recruiting class will wear during their introductory year in the program.
First, the freshmen:
Receiver Quan Hampton: No. 6
Tight end/receiver Kenyon Tabor: No. 13
Receiver Takulve Williams: No. 16
Receiver Travis Jordan: No. 17
Running back Dom Williams: No. 25
Cornerback Robert Topps III: No. 28
Linebacker Cooper Root: No. 30
Linebacker Jay Dineen: No. 43
Kicker Liam Jones: No. 46
Offensive lineman Earl Bostick: No. 68
Offensive lineman Joseph Gilbertson: No. 79
A couple of crucial junior college signees who weren’t able to enroll in the spring also got to Lawrence in the summer for offseason training: junior safety Antonio Cole (No. 14) and junior running back Octavius Matthews (No. 12).
Additionally, Kansas added a pair of lineman via transfer this offseason: graduate transfer and former Nebraska offensive lineman Zach Hannon (No. 56) and sophomore offensive lineman Andru Tovi (No. 77), formerly of Pima Community College (Ariz.).
While Beaty chooses not to reveal which players are on scholarship, a number of incoming freshmen are expected to enter the program as walk-ons. Below are some players who likely fall in that category, most of whom were highlighted by Beaty at his Signing Day press conference back in February:
Fullback Quinton McQuillan: No. 36
Safety Tom Barrett: No. 41
Kicker Cole Brungardt: No. 37
Safety Nick Caudle: No. 45
Fullback Sam Schroeder: No. 46
Offensive lineman Sam Burt: No. 59
Offensive lineman Jack Williams: No. 62
Receiver Hunter Kaufman: No. 80
Linebacker Kashe Boatner: No. 87
The current KU roster also includes some names likely to be completely new to most fans, as they didn’t get the benefit of any Signing Day buzz. Quarterback Miles Fallin (No.15, from Canyon County, Calif.), defensive end Jelani Arnold (No. 91, from Irving, Texas) and defensive tackle Dai Coye Haley (No. 92, from Atchison) all are college freshmen.
Meanwhile, running back Kezelee Flomo (No. 30, formerly of North Dakota State College of Science) is a sophomore. And although his name didn’t appear on KU’s spring game roster, he actually carried the ball late in the fourth quarter of the open scrimmage.
Three players who were involved in the program in the spring have since left the Jayhawks.
As previously reported, tight end Jace Sternberger (Northeastern Oklahoma A & M College) and linebacker Sam Skwarlo (Coffeyville Community College) decided to transfer, in efforts to give their football careers a boost.
Offensive lineman Joe Gibson, on the other hand, gave up football after a neck injury in 2016.
Class of 2018 wide receiver Devonta Jason became the most discussed prospect in recent Kansas football memory when the New Orleans native verbally committed to David Beaty’s program in February.
Despite some skepticism on whether Jason, rated the No. 22 prep senior in the nation and a five-star talent by Rivals, will indeed end up playing at KU because commitments are non-binding, the athletic, 6-foot-3 receiver coveted by LSU and a number of other high-profile programs remains on board some five months away from his anticipated December graduation and the NCAA’s new early-signing period.
Associate head coach Tony Hull, responsible for recruiting Jason and other Louisiana standouts, such as KU sophomore safety Mike Lee (also an early Landry-Walker grad), might deserve another raise if Jason and his high school teammate, four-star cornerback Corione Harris, actually end up at Kansas and aren’t stolen away by a more successful program before they sign their letters of intent.
In a new video feature for NOLA.com, recruiting analyst Jimmy Smith explains why Jason is so intriguing for Kansas and the many other programs from which he has received offers, such as Alabama, Georgia and Florida.
“He’s 6-3, 205 pounds and he has the leaping ability of most NBA guards,” Smith says of Jason. “His athleticism, explosiveness, leaping ability — I mean, the kid’s been impressive from Day 1 of his prep career and he’s been a dominant force throughout high school.”
The way Smith, who first watched Jason as a freshman, describes the KU pledge, the receiver has the character to succeed, as well.
“Devonta has a desire to be great, and so he’s got that work ethic and that drive, and that will help propel him through his future. He’s doing it for a lot more than just himself,” Smith says. “He puts his family on his back, his community on his back.
Jason told NOLA.com the drug scene and violence he has witnessed in his community while growing up served as a form of inspiration.
“It just keeps me going,” Jason says in the video. “I don’t want to be in that predicament. To not put my life in danger.”
He began playing football at 11 as an offensive lineman, Jason reveals, but his athleticism and hands made him a natural at receiver. Not to mention his competitive nature.
What kind of play does he enjoy most, while trying to beat a defensive back (or backs) in coverage?
“Most times I like to go up top and make them feel like even less of a DB,” Jason says.
The prep star showed off some of those skills this past weekend at the USA Football 7v7 National Championship Series Tournament, in Frisco, Texas. In a highlight video from the event produced by Scout.com, Jason displays his open-field speed and footwork, as well as his ability to out-muscle or out-leap his defender to make a play.
He’s a long way from officially becoming a Jayhawk, but Jason could be a program-altering recruit for Beaty and his staff.
New Oklahoma head football coach Lincoln Riley received advice from, among others, David Beaty on how to make the transition from assistant coach to top dog.
“The phrase I shared with him was these next few days will be like drinking from a fire hose,” Beaty said. “If you’re not careful, you’ll drown. So you do have to go be a normal person. I know you’ve got a lot to do right now, but believe it or not, you’ll be better with less if you’ll go and grant yourself that vacation because the time just won’t be there.”
It’s not the only area where Beaty learned during his first two seasons that less can mean more. He’s also applying that philosophy to his involvement with the offense.
In his first season as head coach, Beaty was very involved in trying to get offensive coordinator Rob Likens to implement his version of the Air Raid offense. It never happened, so Beaty demoted Likens and took over OC and quarterback coaching duties and then also took on coaching the punt return team early in his second season on the job.
Now that veteran OC Doug Meacham is on board, Beaty said his days as a helicopter hovering over the offense have ended.
“One of the positives about bringing Meach here it allows me to do more of the head-coaching stuff rather than having to do both,” Beaty said. “Now, it’s being done throughout the country and it’s being done at a high level. Ideally, though, if you have a guy who knows what you want to do and he knows it as well as he knows it, then that’s ideal. And he just happens to be one of the best in the world at what he does. So it’s a big-time bonus for us.”
Beaty has done a terrific job at promoting the program, developing relationships with key boosters and in general spreading good will, all important facets of a head coach’s job as face of a major rebuilding project.
“My schedule will change a little bit in that I’m not going to hover over him,” Beaty said. “I don’t have to. I mean, Doug Meacham has done it. I’m not going to sit here and proclaim that I know more and am better than Doug. Offensively, his record and the things that he’s done speak for themselves. Why wouldn’t I trust that man?”
Beaty’s not the only Big 12 head coach surrendering play-calling duties this season. Seventh-year West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen won’t be calling plays for the first time. Offensive coordinator Jake Spavital, back on Holgorsen’s staff for the first time since 2012 when he was quarterbacks coach, takes over that responsibility.
For all the points he has put up and all the wicked dunks he has thrown down since entering the NBA as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft, Andrew Wiggins still has ample room to grow in terms of the impact he can make for Minnesota.
In his three professional seasons since leaving Kansas, Wiggins’ scoring average has climbed each year, and he produced 23.6 points per game (16th in the league) in 2016-17. However, his 6-foot-8 frame, 7-foot wingspan and elite athletic ability haven’t helped the young wing become the defensive stopper many envisioned.
Wiggins’ new teammate, Jimmy Butler, plans to change that.
During Butler’s appearance on The Bill Simmons Podcast, Wiggins’ reputation came up as Simmons and Butler discussed Minnesota’s roster. The host referenced Wiggins’ below-average defense, as recently detailed at FiveThirtyEight.com.
In a feature titled “The NBA Haters’ Ball,” FiveThirtyEight identified Wiggins as the league’s “Least Defensive Player.” That unwanted label got thrust upon Wiggins after some player-tracking data examined shots defended by individuals during the 2016-17 season and the results of said attempts.
“Possession by possession, there are a few defenders who are as bad as Wiggins,” Kyle Wagner wrote. “When Wiggins contests a shot, opponents have a 56.1 effective field goal percentage; when they are unguarded, they have a 56.4 eFG percentage. Fundamentally, getting a shot up against Andrew Wiggins is the same as getting an open shot.”
According to the evaluation, Wiggins’ liabilities included a lack of full effort and ball-watching.
“He defended the 10th-most shots in the league, by far the most by a below-average defender,” Wagner added at FiveThirtyEight. “Most teams do their best to hide their weak defenders, but opponents seek Wiggins out like no other defender in the league.”
A three-time second-team All-Defensive team selection, Butler expects he can mold Wiggins into a far more competitive and potent player on the defensive end of the court.
“He has all the tools to be a terrific defender, by the way,” Butler said on The Bill Simmons Podcast. “But it’s different when somebody’s just telling you something all the time and somebody’s showing you: This is what playing both sides of the floor can get you.”
When Wiggins joined Minnesota three years ago, he had no savvy multi-time all-star to show him the NBA ropes. The Timberwolves have been somewhere between mediocre and awful throughout their current 13-year playoff drought, but finally appear to have a postseason-worthy roster thanks to the summer additions of Butler, Taj Gibson and Jeff Teague, to go with Wiggins and star big man Karl-Anthony Towns.
Minnesota acquired Wiggins with the idea that he would one day become an all-star wing such as Butler. Now the 22-year-old Canadian prodigy has a chance to learn every day from one of the league’s best all-around perimeter players long before entering the prime of his career.
“He is extremely talented on the offensive end,” Butler said of Wiggins. “And I think he’s going to be just that talented on the defensive end, as well, as long as you lock into it. I think he has that will and he wants to be great, so he’s going to want to do it. And I’m excited to get with him, just because I know how passionate he is about the game — his drive and his work ethic and how he wants to win. When you have that as a young guy, you have it. You can’t really teach that; you just have it.”
Asked at Big 12 Media Days to share his recruiting pitch, Kansas head football coach David Beaty called an audible on the question and then answered it.
"Well, there's no pitch, there's a relationship," Beaty said. "There's no cliche there. We're going to get to know you. We're going to make sure that you're a Kansas-type guy. And then we're going to show you everything that's great about this great university. And we're going to start with what it means to be a Jayhawk. We say it all the time: When you sign here and you spend any amount of time here, that bird goes straight through your shirt and right to your heart. And it happens. It happens all the time."
It sounded like a recruiting pitch. Beaty explained why he does not consider it one.
"The thing for us," he said, "we don't pitch anything. We tell you the truth. Whether it's good, bad or indifferent, you're going to get the truth. We don't promise things. There's no, 'You're going to start.' We don't ever say that. You're going to get what you earn. And there is going to be competition. You're only going to be as good as your next, but we're going to push you to be the best man you can possibly be and when you leave here, you're going to be a better man, father, husband, productive member of society. And the byproduct of all of that is going to be championships for you on the field and off. So basically we talk a lot about what it means to be a great Jayhawk. So that's where our relationship starts. And if you don't want that, it's no big deal. You just can't come here."
Frisco, Texas — National Signing Day could look significantly different this year for the college football coaches eagerly waiting to see their recruits’ names on official NCAA documentation. Whether that’s a positive or negative, Kansas football coach David Beaty said, remains to be determined.
It used to be prep football talents couldn’t sign with their college programs of choice until February. But the NCAA is introducing this year an earlier option, in late December, lasting just 72 hours.
Asked at Big 12 Media Days about how the new early signing period for high school prospects could change the way Beaty and his staff approach the uber-competitive world of recruiting, the third-year Kansas coach had to take a wait-and-see stance.
“I don’t know that we’ll know the answer to that for a couple years,” Beaty admitted Monday at Ford Center, while speaking with a group of reporters. “I’d like to say that the research we’ve done is going to be accurate, but the truth is when you get major rule changes like that it usually takes a few years for all the things to shake out.”
High school football seniors this winter will have the option of signing with a university between Dec. 20-22 — also the first three days of the mid-year signing period for junior college players. If they don’t make their commitments official then, the prospects still can do so on Feb. 7, 2018.
“One of the most interesting things for me,” Beaty said, “is when kids are committed and that first period comes around how many of them actually sign and how many don’t, because if they don’t sign then, they’re not committed.”
KU’s 2018 recruiting class has the potential to be the most significant in program history, thanks to the non-binding verbal commitments Beaty and his staff already have received from five-star New Orleans receiver Devonta Jason and his Landry-Walker High teammate, four-star cornerback Corione Harris.
Jason has stated in previous interviews he is on pace to graduate high school early and enroll at the university of his choice for the 2018 spring semester to get a head start on his college football preparation. So Beaty and associate head coach Tony Hull, who recruited the first five-star commit in program history, might have known Jason’s status by December even if the new signing period had not been implemented. But the recruiting rule change still holds importance for the rest of KU’s targets. Beaty indicated he would like to get as much of the 2018 signing class officially on board as soon as possible.
“Now, they still may sign on that second one,” the coach added, referencing the later February date. “But if there’s a paper available and they don’t sign it, that’ll be very interesting for me to see how many kids actually open their recruiting back up at that point, which I think that there will be some.”
As of Tuesday, Rivals ranked KU’s 2018 class 28th in the nation, thanks to the presence of Jason and Harris. The Jayhawks’ list of commitments currently stands at 13 players, nine of whom have been assessed a three-star ranking.
An oral commitment from a recruit never has provided college coaches with much certainty. Beaty said those in his profession will keep refining their sales pitches and doing all they can to get players signed. Three days in December now provide them with a new wrinkle in those endeavors.
“But for the most part if you do the studies and you look at basically signing trends, the majority of the kids still sign with the guys that they’re committed to and they don’t switch very often,” Beaty added. “I think (switching is) becoming a little more prevalent, but I think that’s where it comes down to coaches and their talent, in terms of how well they continue to recruit. Because make no mistake it’s not done with them there (when players commit).”
Frisco, Texas — Kansas sophomore safety Mike Lee not only made the biggest play of the 2016 season for Kansas, a game-clinching interception in overtime in the 24-21 victory against Texas, he also was chosen by the coaching staff as defensive player of the week against Oklahoma and Iowa State. Rivals included him on its freshman All-American team. And if a national award had been handed out for hardest hit on a teammate during a spring football game, he would have been runaway winner for tagging receiver Ryan Schadler.
All that becomes more impressive considering Lee graduated high school a year early to start his college career and was playing mostly on instinct, according to Kansas coach David Beaty, who shared at Big 12 Media Day just how raw Lee was last year.
“Mike Lee returning is a big deal. He’s already so much better a player. Not fair to play a freshman," Beaty said at Big 12 Media Day. "Sometimes it’s just not fair. This kid made so many plays for us last year, and for the first half of the season all he knew was he better find Tevin Shaw. It was basically, 'If you can find Tevin, just go where he is and then we’ll teach you a few more things and let you just go use your ability.' Well, now he actually knows the calls. I mean, if you can be that good only finding Tevin . . . that’s what we’re excited about, that some of those youthful players have experience.”
Junior Tyrone Miller, projected starter at the other safety, impressed coaches with a strong spring, as did reserve Bryce Torneden.
Beaty, who went 2-22 in his first two seasons, isn't running from higher expectations for his team. He used Lee as an example of how he thinks KU has improved.
“We have people who have experience and have done it on the Big 12 level and played against the best the Big 12 has to offer," Beaty said. "Now they have experience. We can’t use that as an excuse not to be successful.”
Frisco, Texas — If Big 12 Media Day questions are good indicators, then the hiring of offensive coordinator Doug Meacham rates as the most significant offseason addition to the Kansas football program.
David Beaty's rebuilding project picked up credibility with the addition of Meacham and Beaty was more than happy to talk about the impact the former TCU co-offensive coordinator already has made.
“This game of football, it’s tough on these guys, a day-to-day grind for these guys. It’s a lot more than what a lot of people know. It’s very difficult," Beaty said. "I just believe you’ve got to have a little fun throughout that process. Doug has done such a great job of making sure that we have fun every day. He’s a guy who is infectious, and you just want to be around him. He’s one of those people. I love the fact that our kids want to be around him because it’s not always that you have coaches that they want to be around. They may be there, but they don’t want to be around him. They love being around Doug Meacham because he is so much fun and he’s really good at what he’s done.”
Now that they're on the same side, Beaty's getting a better look at the Air Raid wrinkles Meacham puts on the offense.
"Watching him put his spin on this Air Raid offense has been so much fun,” Beaty said. “It’s going to be really fun watching him put his personality into it. The concepts are all pretty similar, but like all of the guys who live in this offense, everyone has their own little personality and twist on it. It’s been fun watching him instill that. We’ve had some position moves. We’ve had guys move to new spots that I wouldn’t have thought to do that.”
Beaty cited Ryan Schadler’s move from running back to receiver as an example.
“Doug has done so many things to really focus on the individual skill sets of each player, to really utilize them correctly," Beaty said. "It’s been really fun to watch, and it’s just been fun to really just kind of be around him and to just soak up the knowledge that he’s brought to the room.”
Meacham and Sonny Cumbie shared the co-offensive coordinator title at TCU and Cumbie's role in play-calling was going to expand at the expense of Meacham before Meacham's move to Kansas.
Patterson was asked what impact he thought Cumbie calling the plays is going to have.
"Not much," Patterson said. "I mean, Sonny's been part of, you know, our offense, the way we do it, it's everybody's all in as far as the ideas and how we do things. So I don't see that. I think what we have to be able to do is we have to do what we need to do to move the football."
Frisco, Texas — David Beaty didn’t accept the head football coaching job at the University of Kansas to finish at the bottom of the Big 12 standings every year. But Beaty made it clear Monday morning at the Ford Center, during the conference’s annual media days, he understands the program has quite a way to go before it’s humming along in the manner he envisions.
In Beaty’s first two seasons, KU has gone 2-22. It’s a difficult to convince people the program is on a successful path without the tangible evidence of victories. Asked during his press conference how he and his staff judge success and what benchmarks they try to hit season to season, Beaty laid out his philosophy on slowly building toward an on-field product in which the fan base can take some pride.
“Before we look at the benchmarks we’ve got to look at how we’re going to get there,” Beaty began. “And the benchmarks are not going to be any different, really, for us than they are for other programs.”
As far as Beaty is concerned, Kansas should have some big-picture goals that aren’t necessarily immediately attainable.
“We want to win championships. We want to play in bowl games,” the third-year KU coach said. “We want to produce productive men, who are good for our society — and that is what is going to cause the byproduct of winning championships.”
That’s the most challenging part of Beaty’s massive reclamation project. He and his staff have to notice and take pride in the small gains made behind the scenes, with the idea that those will one day pay off in the form of wins in front of fans at Memorial Stadium. And they have to help the players value those baby steps.
“We say it at all the time. We talk to our kids daily about every day we need you to wake up and be the best man you can possibly be, from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed,” Beaty said. “And the byproduct of that day will be something you, we, our program can all be proud of — and it will be called production.”
The message Beaty hammered throughout his Q&A was no different from what he has said since taking over. He hit some of his favorite talking points, including the phrase: It’s a process; not an event. The always-positive coach said players and staff have to get wrapped up in that concept.
“Our championship hopes and dreams are going to hinge on us continuing to understand that it will be a byproduct of the work and what it means to be a good man every day, because that really encompasses what it means to be committed to a program and doing the things necessary to win championships,” Beaty said. “People want to talk about championships. Not a lot of people want to do what it takes to get one.”
Gary Woodland heads across the pond Saturday and will arrive in England on Sunday, early enough to get adjusted to the time change and log a few days of work with instructor Butch Harmon.
After taking a break for the birth of his and wife Gabby’s son Jaxon, Woodland returned to competition last weekend and encountered mixed results at the Greenbrier Classic.
He did his best work on the back nine of the second round. Standing a few strokes on the wrong side of the projected cut line with seven holes left, Woodland caught fire, carding birdies on three of the next four holes, then making par the rest of the way in to survive the cut.
He finished 57th at 1-under par and has been trying to regain the form he showed early in the 2016-17 season, when he placed in the top six in 4 of 7 events from early Nov. to late February.
“I was feeling as good as I’ve ever felt on the golf course, just excited to play,” Woodland said during a recent interview at Twin Oaks in Eudora. “And that happens when you play well. When you see shots, and you see certain golf courses that usually aren’t set up great for you and you just get out there and feel like this golf course is made for you, that’s the feeling you want every week, trying to make every course your home course.”
He’ll try to make Royal Birkdale Golf Club in North West England his home course next week in the British Open, even though he never has played it.
“I hear it’s great,” Woodland said. “I hear from talking to Butch that it’s a great golf course for me. He’s obviously been there numerous times. I’m excited to get over there and get some work in.”
Woodland never has been one to be shy about working on his golf game. Golfers at Eagle Bend last month had to pinch themselves to make sure they weren’t dreaming when they saw the man who currently ranks 26th on the PGA money list hitting shot after shot out of the tallest fescue he could find in preparation for the U.S. Open at Erin Hills in Wisconsin.
Woodland talked about what he has been working on lately.
“We’ve really got the golf swing right, so we’re trying to focus on driver, focus on timing, trying to get rid of some of that lag that I’ve had for so long, trying to slow that down a little to drive the ball straighter, drive the golf ball in play so I can hit more drivers,” Woodland said.
Armed with one of the fastest swing speeds in the world, driving it straight is a tough task because the slightest glitch exaggerates his misses.
“Obviously, when I’m driving it in play I’m playing a game that a lot of guys aren’t playing,” he said. “You’ve seen it with Dustin Johnson the last two years. He focused on driver for a long time. Now he’s one of the best drivers we’ve seen."
Johnson is tied with Brandon Hagy and Luke List for first on tour with an average driving distance of 312.1 yards. Woodland ranks 18th with an average drive of 304.5 yards.
The straighter Woodland can hit his driver, the more wedges that puts in his hands for second shots. Woodland’s wedge game has come a long, long way.
“That’s been a huge emphasis,” he said. “We ended up buying a Trac Man so I could work on distances. The whole deal is distances, distance control. So I’ve hit more wedges this year than I ever have. I can tell when I don’t do it for a week (during his break as a new dad).”
His improvement in wedge play has been easy to spot.
“We’re amazed now in how good my misses have been,” Woodland said. “Obviously, every time I hit one well I can get it close, but my misses now are giving me a chance to still make putts and still make birdies.”
As a putter, Woodland has gone through hot streaks and cold ones. Based on the shooting touch on display on Youtube from his high school basketball days, Woodland has the touch to become a terrific putter — the skills are related, regardless of what anyone might tell you — it’s just a matter of finding the right key to getting that touch to bubble to the surface the way he did when he won the Transitions in 2011.
Woodland said he plans to pick the brain of Harmon and veterans in the field about the nuances of Royal Birkdale.
As Brooks Koepka showed in the U.S. Open, when a big hitter drives them straight and gets hot with the putter, look out! Watching Koepka destroy the field in the U.S. Open reminded me of watching Woodland when he’s on top of his game.
“Very similar,” Woodland agreed. “We both hit it a long way. When we putt well we seem to play well. We both like to play aggressive. When he gets in grooves like he is right now he’s obviously playing some good golf. You could see it coming. He played well a couple of weeks before that as well. It’s all confidence out here. We can all play. Once you get that confidence rolling, you’re pretty hard to beat.”
Once Las Vegas sets a line on “college football win totals” for those wishing to wage a guess as to how many games a particular college football team will win in a given season: Guess the over, guess the under, abstain.
In 2015, I advised guessing the under when Las Vegas set KU’s total at 1.5 and the Jayhawks went 0-12. In 2016, I advised abstaining when Vegas kept the total at 1.5. The come-from-behind, upset victory against Texas sent the “over” guessers home winners, giving me a 1-0-1 mark in two seasons of guessing.
Vegas has set the number at 2.5 for Kansas. Take the over, even against an extremely difficult schedule. The beauty of such a guess is that you don’t have to correctly pick which games, just the total.
The season-opener against Southeast Missouri State should not be in question. The Redhawks went 3-8 last season, their only victories coming against Murray State, Eastern Illinois and Austin Peay. Although SEMO remained competitive in every game, its biggest margin of defeat coming at the hands of Memphis, 35-17, in Week 1, KU should be beyond stumbling against a so-so FCS foe.
Week 2, provides the next-best chance at a victory. Central Michigan must replace Cooper Rush, a four-year starter at quarterback. Michigan transfer Shane Morris is a candidate for the job.
The Chippewas won’t lack confidence against Kansas in Lawrence, having defeated Oklahoma State, 30-27, in Stillwater last season and riding a two-year streak of making it to bowl games.
Even so, Kansas should be a slight favorite, maybe as much as a field goal, if impressive enough against SEMO.
Finding a third victory on the schedule is where it gets a little sticky. Then again, a year ago not many would have picked Kansas to score its first victory against Texas since 1938.
Week 3, a road game against Ohio, offers a decent shot at victory, but I’ll skip to Week 4 in guessing at the opponent for the third victory: Texas Tech.
Nic Shimonek threw for 271 yards and four touchdowns on a night Patrick Mahomes also threw for four touchdowns against the Kansas defense and Shimonek will have a whole game to see what he can do against the Jayhawks in Lawrence, a scary proposition.
Kansas didn’t have what it took to get into a shootout with the Red Raiders last season and punted on its first six possessions against a defense most of the rest of the Big 12 shredded.
KU has more playmakers and Tech's defense won't be any better, maybe even a little worse.
Doug Meacham comes to Kansas after spending the past four seasons with the title co-offensive coordinator. He spent 2013 at Houston and the next three seasons at TCU.
During that four-year stretch, the offenses with which he worked never finished worst than 29th in the nation in passing.
True, an offensive coordinator is only as good as his quarterback, receivers, offensive line and running backs and Meacham worked with some good ones.
At Houston, true freshman John O'Korn was his quarterback for most of the season. The Cougars finished 26th in the nation with 280.5 yards per game, threw 30 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. The next season, when Meacham was at TCU, O'Korn was replaced as starter in midseason and transferred to Michigan. His performance wasn't as good once Meacham left.
In 2014, Trevone Boykin became one of the nation's most improved players and TCU finished seventh in the nation in passing offense (326.2 yards per game) and the Horned Frogs threw for 37 touchdowns with just 11 interceptions. More of the same in 2015 with Boykin at the controls (eighth in nation, 347.5 passing yards, 39 touchdowns, 15 interceptions).
Last season, the Horned Frogs slipped to 29th (268.2, 18 TDs, 14 picks) with Kenny Hill at quarterback.
Neither Peyton Bender nor Carter Stanley is Trevone Boykin, but the winner of the KU QB competition might be better than Hill.
The Meacham acquisition was a big one and it will start paying off immediately for a Kansas offense that has been embarrassingly bad for several seasons in a row.
With his team in the midst of a potentially embarrassing drubbing versus an undermanned Los Angeles Lakers squad late Monday night at the NBA’s Las Vegas Summer League, former Kansas All-American Frank Mason III got a chance to outshine some of the event’s stars — the more highly regarded first-round picks who went before him in the June draft.
Sacramento’s No. 5 overall pick, De’Aaron Fox tweaked an ankle in the first half, enabling Mason, the 34th pick, to put on a second-half show. Mason nearly helped the Kings rally from a 28-point deficit against L.A. with a game-high 24 points — scoring 20 in the second half. The backup floor general shot 9-for-13 (2-for-3 on 3-pointers) and contributed six assists, five rebounds and two steals in a 95-92 loss.
Predictably humble, Mason downplayed his big night and the comeback that fell short versus a Lakers lineup which did not include Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart or Kyle Kuzma.
“The goal is always to win,” he told reporters afterward. “I’m happy that my team fought pretty hard to make it interesting, but we didn’t come out with the win, so I’m not really happy.”
While Mason’s assertive approach in the second half resembled his senior season at KU, the point guard credited his coaches’ strategy and teammates for getting him open with screens.
“I was pretty much just driving the ball downhill, creating for my teammates and myself,” said Mason, who went 2-for-9 in his first summer exhibition and 2-for-10 in his second outing, leading up to a breakout performance.
The 23-year-old lead guard said his four years of Kansas experience kicked in at some point, and he was able to make a positive impact for his team and get the Kings back in the game. Not that he ever was overly concerned with his slow start in Las Vegas.
“I just made shots in this game,” said Mason, who is now averaging 11.3 points, 3.3 assists and 4.0 rebounds, while shooting .406 from the floor. “The last two games I had pretty good looks; they just didn’t fall.”
Fox’s minor injury set up Mason with more playing time (24 minutes). Instead of subbing in and out, he got to experience a prolonged stay on the court. While Mason admitted that helped him feel comfortable, he also said, “it’s the NBA. No matter when your number is called you’ve got to be ready.”
Even the summer league is a step up for the former Kansas star, which means a new reality: coming off the bench.
“I think I do a pretty good job of accepting my role and giving whatever the team needs from me,” Mason said of entering the league as a backup. “It’s a different feeling, obviously, from the past three years — starting and playing for a lot of minutes throughout the game — to coming here and just getting limited minutes. But I accept my role, whatever it is, and just give my best effort.”
He didn’t enter his latest summer league game expecting a chance to take over, but Mason did just that given the opportunity. The more looks he gets with the Kings, the more the second-rounder will force others around the NBA to take notice.
Kansas volleyball has what could be remembered as the school’s most talented and accomplished senior class in school history this coming season, but that doesn’t mean the Jayhawks won’t miss last year’s senior class.
Libero Cassie Wait and middle blocker Tayler Soucie were All-Big 12 players and reserve Maggie Anderson was known as one of the team’s better servers.
“We lost three big-time culture kids who were unbelievable teammates,” KU coach Ray Bechard said. “Maggie didn’t play as much, but she was big-time in the gym and the locker room, as were Cassie and Tayler.”
Winning programs have a way of sustaining themselves in part through winning traits being passed down from older to younger players, traits such as those that made Anderson, Soucie and Wait — recently nominated by the Kansas athletic department for the NCAA Woman of the Year award — “unbelievable teammates.”
Anderson, Soucie and Wait experienced a pair of firsts in KU volleyball history, making it to the Final Four in Omaha in 2015 and winning the Big 12 title in 2016.
For every promising young rookie who enters the NBA, there’s always some inevitable player comparison slapped on him — fairly or unfairly — by those who have analyzed his skills, style, strengths and weaknesses.
Months before Josh Jackson became the fourth overall pick in the 2017 draft, the 20-year-old small forward’s defensive intensity and offensive potential had some observers equating Jackson’s longterm career path with that of All-Star San Antonio forward Kawhi Leonard.
As it turns out, Jackson welcomes that demanding player analogy.
Appearing on NBA TV’s “The Starters” following a Phoenix Suns win at the the Las Vegas Summer League, Jackson said he, too, would compare his game to Leonard’s, and he hopes to model his career after the 2014 NBA Finals MVP and two-time Defensive Player of the Year.
“The way he just plays both ends of the floor, defense and offense,” Jackson said of how he wants to emulate Leonard. “He’s just a really good player, and in today’s NBA league it’s kind of hard to find a guy who plays so hard on both ends just all the time.”
Leonard, the 15th overall pick in 2011, wasn’t as touted then as Jackson is now. But the Spurs’ latest franchise player, a two-time member of the All-NBA team, currently finds himself in the running for MVP honors every season after entering the league as a supposed defensive specialist.
“Defense creates offense,” Jackson said.
A 6-foot-8 small forward, Jackson would like to establish himself as someone who can do that for Phoenix, in Las Vegas. Teaming up with other key members of the Suns’ very young core — such as bigs Dragan Bender (19) and Marquese Chriss (20) — has Jackson locked in months before the real season starts.
“I’m really excited. Especially playing in summer league with a few guys who are actually going to be asked to play major minutes this year,” Jackson said. “That’s why I think it’s just really important for us to come out and take this serious. It’s actually a lot more important (for us) than some other teams here, because, like I said, we are so young and we’ve got so many guys who are going to play major minutes for us this year on the team.”
That means it’s more likely than not Jackson’s fiery side will come out on the court before he leaves Vegas. He told “The Starters” he’s the best trash-talker in this year’s rookie class, but he only utilizes that strategy “here and there, when I want to.”
While he admitted he has taken trash talk a step too far in the heat of battle before, Jackson said the approach can be harnessed to his benefit, too.
“It gets me going. I try to get under other players’ skin,” he said. “But mostly it gets me going.”
Among the many topics Jackson dove into, he also touched on why he is wearing a No. 99 jersey for the Suns this summer. When he was a ninth-grader and coming up on the AAU circuit he wore that same unique basketball number on his chest and back.
“That was actually the last number I wore before I wore 11,” Jackson said, adding he can’t have the same digits that donned his Kansas jersey for Phoenix (guard Brandon Knight currently wears No. 11).
Through two exhibitions in Vegas, Jackson is averaging a summer league-high 36 minutes a game, while putting up 16.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks, and shooting .343 from the floor.
The 41-game road losing streak Kansas takes into the upcoming football season overshadows another streak of futility that hasn’t been all that uncommon for the Jayhawks through the decades.
KU has lost 37 consecutive Big 12 road games, the last victory coming by a 35-33 margin vs. Iowa State in 2008 when Mark Mangino was the coach.
That marked Mangino’s sixth road victory in a seven-game stretch of conference road games. Constantly turning over football coaches is no way to build a program that gains enough momentum to be able to compete on the road in the Big 12. David Beaty will be the first coach since Mangino to earn the time to see if he can build a winner.
Mangino’s predecessor, Terry Allen, didn’t win a Big 12 road game until his 14th try. Mangino’s first road victory in the Big 12 came in his 12th attempt and he finished his tenure with a 7-24 record in conference road games.
Turner Gill went winless in eight tries and Charlie Weis went 0-9, interim head coach Clint Bowen 0-5.
Beaty is 0-9 on the road in the Big 12 and has four shots to claim his first in 2017: at Iowa State (Oct. 14), at TCU (Oct. 21), at Texas (Nov. 11) and at Oklahoma State (Nov. 25).
Ben McLemore, no doubt, needed a change of scenery. Four seasons in Sacramento brought the former Kansas standout declining returns in terms of both his on-court production and his perceived value around the NBA.
Free agency offered McLemore a way out this summer, and now that he officially has signed with Memphis (reportedly for two years and $10.7 million), the 24-year-old shooting guard hopes he can start to live up to the potential that made him the 7th overall pick in the 2013 draft.
“So far it’s been great,” McLemore said in an interview for the Grizzlies’ website. “Memphis is going to be a great fit for me. (Agent Rich Paul and I) came up with that decision and now I’m here, a Memphis Grizzly.”
For the 6-foot-5 shooting guard, who started a career-low 26 games in his final season with the Kings, his greatest asset on the floor remains his explosiveness, and that’s what he referenced first when asked about the best aspects of his game and how he fits in with Memphis.
“My shooting ability, athleticism and the way that I run up and down the floor, and getting to the basket,” McLemore began. “And also playing both ends of the floor, being a two-way player for them, especially playing defense,” he added, saying he knows from facing the Grizzlies through the years they tend to be a “great” defensive team.
Memphis long has needed a wing capable of knocking down 3-pointers and playing a complementary role to its now primary pieces, point guard Mike Conley and center Marc Gasol. McLemore’s shooting ability is trending in a positive direction. During his fourth year he shot a career-best .382 from 3-point range, knocking in 65 of 170, while playing a career-low 19.3 minutes a game.
His plan, though, involves much more than spotting up for 3-pointers, considering he has a chance to play with Conley and Gasol, both willing passers.
“Me coming in, I definitely can adjust to that,” McLemore said, “running the floor for Mike and cutting to the basket for Marc.”
His first four seasons in the NBA haven’t gone nearly as well as the former college All-American would have hoped. But this might be McLemore’s chance to start anew and find ways to flourish.
“Now I can focus on myself and grind it out and continue to have the great summer that I’m having and get ready and prepare myself for next season,” he said of moving on with his career.
McLemore might be more likely to take on a sixth man role with Memphis, rather than become the team’s new starting shooting guard. The Grizzlies already have lost veterans Zach Randolph and Vince Carter through free agency during the past week and its possible fan favorite shooting guard Tony Allen could be the next to move on. But if Allen returns he could continue to start.
McLemore has more competition in the backcourt, including another Grizzlies free-agent addition, Tyreke Evans, as well as former KU guard Wayne Selden.
However it plays out, McLemore is embarking on a potentially career-defining season, and those who follow the Grizzlies are hopeful he finally will break through in 2017-18. Chris Vernon, who covers the organization for its website and hosts The NBA Show for The Ringer, thinks the inconsistency of Sacramento’s organization might have kept him from reaching his ceiling as a player.
“Sometimes people can roll their eyes at the idea of a player becoming something that they have not been yet,” Vernon said, referring to McLemore making a leap with the Grizzlies. “Clearly, you’re making an investment on Ben McLemore being better than what he has been in his first four years. It’s totally possible that Ben McLemore’s career so far has been affected in a very negative way by the situation he was in.”
Unfortunately for McLemore, Sacramento finally began to stabilize this offseason, just as he and the team that drafted him parted ways. Memphis might find it difficult to extend its streak of seven consecutive playoff appearances in the loaded Western Conference as it re-tools with a younger core. But it’s clear the young guard is excited about having a fresh start with an organization that hasn’t been the butt of jokes in NBA circles for years.