Entries from blogs tagged with “football”

Frank Mason takes back seat to no other Bill Self player at Kansas

Kansas head coach Bill Self, point guard Frank Mason and the Jayhawks will open their season tonight with an exhibition game with Pittsburg State.

Kansas head coach Bill Self, point guard Frank Mason and the Jayhawks will open their season tonight with an exhibition game with Pittsburg State. by Nick Krug

Thomas Robinson was runner-up to Kentucky’s Anthony Davis in national player-of-the-year awards.

Sherron Collins was a third-team All American as a junior, a second-teamer as a senior. Brandon Rush earned first-team Big 12 honors in each of his three seasons at Kansas and led the team in scoring all three years. Mario Chalmers was right behind Rush in scoring in each of those years and was named Most Outstanding Player in the 2008 Final Four, the only featuring all No. 1 seeds.

Tyshawn Taylor started four years and earned third-team All-American honors as a senior. Marcus and Markieff Morris did terrific things in teaming with Taylor for three years before heading to the NBA.

Andrew Wiggins was the first pick in the NBA draft, Joel Embiid the third.

Wayne Simien was a first-team All-American in Bill Self’s second season at Kansas.

Frank Mason need not take a back seat to any one of those Jayhawks.

“He’s meant to us as a program as much as any one player has since I’ve been here,” 14th-year Kansas coach Bill Self said on the Big 12 conference call, a day after his team clinched the school’s 13th consecutive Big 12 regular-season title.

Self looked back one more time at assistant coach Kurtis Townsend discovering Mason.

“So thankful that coach Townsend saw him in a back gym in Vegas when we were there recruiting another kid,” Self said. “Kurtis said, ‘Bill, I think this kid is as good or better as anybody we’re recruiting.’ I said, ‘Well, who else is recruiting him?’ That’s what all coaches would say. ‘Well, not really too many folks at all.’ ‘Well, are you sure he’s that good?’ He said ‘Well, I’ll go back and watch him some more.’ First impression was he was (that good). After watching him more, Kurt liked him even more.

“We knew he’d be a good player when we got him, but his maturity and how hard he’s worked on his game and his knowledge of the game has grown so much. I don’t know if he can win national player of the year or if he deserves to, but I would say positively he deserves to be in the very immediate discussion with two or three other guys as the primary candidates.”

Mason’s averaging 20.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 5.0 assists, is shooting .512 from 3-point range and has guided his No. 3 team to a 25-3 record with victories against schools that at the time Kansas played them were ranked No. 1 (Duke), No. 2 (Baylor), No. 4 (at Kentucky, at Baylor) and No. 9 (West Virginia). He consistently has produced in the clutch.

Others who belong in the discussion for the Wooden Award include UCLA's Lonzo Ball, Purdue's Caleb Swanigan and Villanova's Josh Hart.

I like Mason's chances. A lot.

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Happy presence a factor in longevity for Brandon Rush

Former Kansas guard Brandon Rush waves to the crowd as his jersey is retired during a halftime ceremony.

Former Kansas guard Brandon Rush waves to the crowd as his jersey is retired during a halftime ceremony. by Nick Krug

One simple sentence from Brandon Rush's halftime address to the Allen Fieldhouse auidence resonated Wednesday, the night Kansas clinched its 13th consecutive Big 12 title and Rush's jersey found a new home on the wall: "I'm happy."

Always glad to hear nice people say they're happy. Rush, always a straight shooter, not to mention a pure one, doesn't say that if he doesn't mean it.

It's nice to know Rush has not let playing time define his happiness. After being chosen by the Portland Trailblazers with the 13th pick of the 2008 NBA draft and being immediately traded to the Indiana Pacers, Rush played significant minutes in each of his first four seasons: 24.0, 30.4 and 26.2 with the Pacers, and 26.4 with the Warriors in 2011-12. His second season in the league was the only time he started more games (64) than he came off the bench.

His playing time dipped starting with his fifth season: 12.5 with Golden State, 11.0 with Utah, 8.2 with Golden State, 14.7 with Golden State and he's averaging 18 minutes a game this season with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

He's an unselfish teammate and easy to coach, factors in him never having trouble finding a job in the NBA. And when you manage to stay in the league as long as Rush has, you make a very nice living. By season's end, Rush will have earned $22,675,676 in NBA salaries, according to figures listed on the terrific website basketball-reference.com, which lists a "may be incomplete" disclaimer with all of its salary information. That ranks Rush fifth among the 14 Jayhawks on NBA rosters as of Wednesday and will put him $47,787 ahead of Mario Chalmers, a free agent whose Achilles injury has left him without a team this season. Chalmers has healed and has had tryouts, but so far hasn't hooked on with a team.

1 - Paul Pierce (Clippers): ..........$197,024,552

2 - Nick Collison (Thunder): ........ $57,993,990

3 - Darrell Arthur (Nuggets): ........$25,757,663

4 - Markieff Morris (Wizards): $24,463,279

5 - Brandon Rush (T-Wolves): ......$22,675,676

6 - Marcus Morris (Pistons): ........$18,338,781

7 - Andrew Wiggins (T-Wolves): ...$17,269,920

8 - Cole Aldrich (T-Wolves): ..........$16,583,663

9 - Joel Embiid (76ers): .................$13,880,760

10 - Ben McLemore (Kings): .........$13,087,722

11 - Thomas Robinson (Lakers): ...$12,611,701

12 - Tarik Black (Lakers): ...............$7,543,395

13 - Kelly Oubre (Wizards): ............$3,926,880

14 - Jeff Withey (Jazz): ...................$2,779,454

*Source: basketball-reference.com

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Jayhawks old and new react to KU’s 13th consecutive Big 12 title

The Jayhawks' 13-straight Big 12 conference trophies are lined up along the court, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

The Jayhawks' 13-straight Big 12 conference trophies are lined up along the court, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Kansas versus TCU didn’t exactly stand out on the college basketball schedule Wednesday night in terms of mass appeal, what with Duke facing Syracuse and North Carolina tangling with Louisville. But there’s something about a team winning its league 13 seasons in a row that will capture any college basketball observer’s attention.

Though some might have considered it a foregone conclusion, the Jayhawks officially became Big 12 champions yet again, sealing at least a share of the title with an 87-68 win over the Horned Frogs, allowing them to hoist a league championship trophy at Allen Fieldhouse afterward.

KU’s latest hardware put the program in a tie with the UCLA teams of the 1960s and ’70s for most consecutive conference championships in a row and set off reactions from current and former KU players on social media platforms.

National analysts, too, weighed in on the Jayhawks’ long run of dominance. Below are some of the highlights from the aftermath.

None by Josh Jackson

What a birthday man 🙏🏾 BLESSED #13Straight

A post shared by Devonte' Graham ️️ (@dtaegraham) on

What a birthday man 🙏🏾 BLESSED #13Straight by dtaegraham

None by Sviat Mykhailiuk

None by Tyler Self

✨👌🏾😎 13 in a row 🏆 #KUCMB #RCJH

A post shared by Josh Jackson (@josh_j11) on

✨👌🏾😎 13 in a row 🏆 #KUCMB #RCJH by josh_j11

None by Dwight Coleby

None by Joel Embiid

None by _cd13

None by Jeff Withey

None by Cole Aldrich

None by Wayne Selden Jr.

None by tyshawn taylor

None by Evan Manning

None by Brannen Greene

None by Mario Chalmers

None by Andrea Hudy

None by Ray Bechard

None by Jeff Eisenberg

None by ESPN College BBall

None by Dick Vitale

None by Dick Vitale

None by Jeff Eisenberg

None by Jeff Eisenberg

By the Numbers: Kansas 87, TCU 68.

By the Numbers: Kansas 87, TCU 68.

— See what people were saying about the game during KUsports.com's live coverage.


More news and notes from Kansas vs. TCU


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Kansas QB Peyton Bender deflects credit for 566-yard passing day

Washington State quarterback Peyton Bender in action in an NCAA college football game against Washington Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Seattle. Bender, who played his sophomore season at Itawamba Community College, signed Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016, with Kansas football.  (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Washington State quarterback Peyton Bender in action in an NCAA college football game against Washington Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Seattle. Bender, who played his sophomore season at Itawamba Community College, signed Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016, with Kansas football. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The number is so unusual that it forces you to re-read it to make sure your eyes aren’t messing with you again.

Quarterbacks don’t throw for 566 yards every day. In fact, not many at any level ever throw for that many yards in a single game.

Kansas quarterback Peyton Bender did as a sophomore at Itawamba Community College in Mississippi, where he played a season after spending two (one as a redshirt) in Mike Leach’s Washington State Air Raid offense. The fact that Bender’s freakish total was amassed against the most famous football team in junior college charges the number with an even louder echo.

It came in a 44-42 loss to East Mississippi, the school introduced to America in “Last Chance U,” a wildly popular Netflix Documentary about a football team rife with talented transfer students who either grew impatient waiting for playing time or ran afoul of the law and had to find a new place to continue their football careers and rehabilitate their tainted images.

If you haven't seen the documentary series, make it happen soon. East Mississippi’s head coach, Buddy Stephens, at times in the six-episode series makes Mount Vesuvius look like Lake Placid.

“I didn’t meet him or get the chance to speak with him, but I saw him over there throughout the game,” Bender said.

Netflix is scheduled to air a second season of episodes in the summer and it will chronicle East Mississippi’s 2016 season.

“I was a big fan of the first season,” Bender said of Last Chance U. “I thought it was really cool, something I could relate to because I was going to play in the Mississippi League. I don’t know how many highlights of mine they’ll be showing, but the Netflix crew was there for our game and all that, so it was a cool experience.”

In answering questions about his monster day against juco’s most famous football factory, Bender deftly and sincerely deflected credit.

“Our coaching staff did a great job of putting together a good game plan and it was just a night where our offense clicked,” Bender said. “Everything seemed to be working and I have to attribute a lot of that to the coaching staff. Everything was clicking. Receivers were making good catches for me and on some of them I only threw the ball 10 yards and they took it for 70 yards.”

Bender has had a chance to work with KU's receivers in seven-on-seven drills and said, "I like what I see."

What else is he supposed to say? But there is reason for optimism with Alabama transfer Daylon Charlot joining speedy returning receivers Steven Sims and LaQuvionte Gonzalez.

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Frank Mason and Josh Jackson shoo-ins for first-team Big 12 honors

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) slaps hands with Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) after getting a bucket and a foul during the second half, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016 during the championship game of the CBE Classic at Sprint Center.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) slaps hands with Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) after getting a bucket and a foul during the second half, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016 during the championship game of the CBE Classic at Sprint Center. by Nick Krug

Filling out a first-team, All-Big 12 ballot never has been quite the no-brainer that is is this year. You don’t need to look at statistics, mull over any tough decisions or worry that you’re leaving off someone deserving.

Try it in your office or wherever you’re having lunch. Write down the 10 names of the Big 12 schools and my guess is that within three minutes you’ll come up with the same five names as I did. All stats listed below are for conference games only because that’s the only fair way to compare players.

The five names that surely will be announced as first-team Big 12 selections:

Frank Mason (Kansas): Leads the Big) 12 in scoring (20.9) and 3-point percentage (.524), is second in free-throw percentage (.850) and minutes (36.9) and consistently leads the team running away with the conference title late in close victories. Definite Big 12 player of the year.

Josh Jackson (Kansas): There isn’t a player in the conference he wouldn’t volunteer to guard and not a player who would not have a difficult time guarding him. Ranks sixth in scoring (17.1), rebounding (7.1) and steals (1.9), seventh in field-goal percentage (.486), 13th in blocked shots (1.0) and 15th in assists (2.9).

Monte Morris (Iowa State): His 7.4 assists-to-turnovers ratio looks more like a typo than any statistic in college basketball. He leads the conference in minutes (38.3) and ranks seventh in the Big 12 with 16.9 points per game.

Johnathan Motley (Baylor): Is second in rebounding (10.1) behind only KU’s Landen Lucas and is third in scoring (17.4), fifth in field-goal percentage (.519) and ninth in blocked shots (1.3).

Jawun Jawun Evans (Oklahoma State): Leads Big 12 with 6.6 assists, is eighth in scoring (16.9), ninth in steals (1.6) and his relentless aggressiveness is the primary reason the Cowboys have won 8 of 9 games to put themselves in position to make the NCAA tournament field, despite starting Big 12 play with an 0-6 record.

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Former KU teammates Charles Gordon and Aqib Talib reunited with Broncos

Kansas receiver Charles Gordon pulls in a long pass from quarterback Jason Swanson under the coverage of Colorado safety Tyrone Henderson in the first quarter of the KU-CU game Saturday in Boulder, Colo., in October, 2005.

Kansas receiver Charles Gordon pulls in a long pass from quarterback Jason Swanson under the coverage of Colorado safety Tyrone Henderson in the first quarter of the KU-CU game Saturday in Boulder, Colo., in October, 2005. by Nick Krug

Before Kansas football great Aqib Talib made the No. 3 jersey his own in Lawrence, wowing spectators in Memorial Stadium with his prowess in the secondary, Charles Gordon did the same.

Donning the very same No. 3 on his chest and back and drawing the adulation of the KU faithful as both a defensive back and receiver, Gordon was the Talib prototype for Mark Maningo’s teams in advance of people knowing about the future NFL Pro Bowler, Talib.

Gordon and Talib spent one season together at KU, on a 2005 team that went 7-5 and beat Houston in the Fort Worth Bowl. Now the two get a chance to team up under different circumstances in the NFL. The Denver Broncos have hired Gordon as a defensive quality control assistant.

The move to the pro ranks for Gordon came after the former Jayhawks standout spent four seasons on Northern Colorado’s staff at the college level, coaching defensive backs on Earnest Collins’ staff. A former KU assistant from 2003-06, Collins coached Gordon on special teams and in the secondary for Mangino’s teams.

"Anytime you run a program you want your coaches to excel and move on," Collins said in a UNC release about Gordon’s new job with Denver. "When you had a player that played for you, like Chuck did for me, and then also worked for you moving on to bigger and better things – it's like a family member moving on, or a son in a sense. I'm thankful for everything Coach Gordon did for me while he was here and I'm proud to see him moving into a new role with the Broncos."

Gordon was a two-time First-Team All-Big 12 selection (2004 and 2005) at KU, and earned Third-Team All-American AP honors in 2004. He was also a First-Team Freshman All-American in 2003, after catching 57 passes for 769 yards and 5 touchdowns.

In his three seasons at Kansas, prior to turning pro, Gordon caught 106 passes for 1,232 yards and 9 touchdowns on offense, and made nine interceptions on defense, while averaging 10.4 yards on his 99 punt returns.

The 5-foot-11 corner spent three seasons with the Minnesota Vikings before suffering a career-ending leg injury in 2008. Gordon started six games in the NFL, and made 2 interceptions and 64 tackles.

KU's Charles Gordon (3) breaks up an intended pass in the first half against Louisiana Tech's Johnathan Holland (7), in September, 2005.

KU's Charles Gordon (3) breaks up an intended pass in the first half against Louisiana Tech's Johnathan Holland (7), in September, 2005. by Richard Gwin

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Josh Jackson, America’s most versatile college basketball player

Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) drills home a dunk over Baylor forward Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. (0) during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.

Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) drills home a dunk over Baylor forward Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. (0) during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. by Nick Krug

Nearly 30 years ago, when I was covering the UC Irvine basketball beat, I enjoyed getting to know Andy Andreas, a volunteer assistant coach who was convinced he could get the high-scoring Anteaters to play better defense. He quit at the end of the nonconference season after back-to-back losses in which Irvine allowed a combined 255 points.

Long after I forget any other details about that season, I’ll remember what Andreas told me about the question he used to ask himself if undecided as to whether a player was worth recruiting: “If I cloned him four times and sent those five players onto the court, could I win with them?”

That’s a tough standard because so few players meet it. Landen Lucas has done a fine job for Kansas at center, but you can’t win with five of him. Even Frank Mason, such a relentless thorn in any defense’s side, underrated defender and a strong defensive rebounder, doesn’t qualify. National player of the year, yes, but can you win with five of him? No, because he can’t defend a post player.

Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan, a 6-foot-9, 250-pound force on the block, averages 18.9 points and 13 rebounds and shoots .483 on 3-pointers. Close, but teams would apply full-court pressure against five Swanigans.

Villanova’s Josh Hart? Close, but he’s not who you want defending a low-post scorer.

Josh Jackson. Now you’re talking.

Watching Jackson’s defensive versatility in KU’s most recent late-game domination to pull out another squeaker made me think of Andreas, who by the way was the first man to hire Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight, assigning him to the JV team at Cuyahoga Falls High (Ohio) in 1962. Five Josh Jacksons could win a national title.

Jackson spent much of Saturday’s game guarding Baylor’s 7-foot center, Jo Lual-Acuil, who averages 9.4 points and 6.7 rebounds. He totaled 11 points and two boards Saturday.

On the game’s final possession, Jackson left Lual-Acuil to double-team point guard Manu Lecomte with Frank Mason. Long enough to guard a 7-footer, quick enough to stay in front of a 5-11 guard, Jackson did a great job all afternoon of getting his fingertips on passes and lent timely help defense on the interior. Lucas and Jackson trapped Johnathan Motley late in the game to force a key turnover.

NBA talent judges put great value on being able to guard a wide variety of players because of all the switching NBA defenders are required to do.

Jackson’s just as versatile offensively. His vision makes him a great passer, sometimes too good a passer for teammates to be ready, such as on the game’s opening possession. He drives and dishes and does a nice job of picking apart zones from the high post with precise passes. He blows by defenders on the dribble and has a nice post-up game, knowing just where on the glass to hit with his bank hooks.

He’s terrific starting fastbreaks with outlet passes and even better finishing them by throwing down lobs and is equipped to have the ball in his hands in transition as well.

Jackson’s consistently tuned in and turned up, which leads to a rapid improvement rate because his mind never rests, a big factor in him stuffing the box score across the board.

He’s an easy pick for first-team all-conference honors. Using conference games only is the only fair way to compare players since every team’s nonconference schedule is different.

In Big 12 games, Jackson ranks sixth in the Big 12 in scoring (17.1), tied for sixth in rebounding (7.1), ninth in field-goal percentage (.486), tied for 14th in assists (2.9), tied for sixth in steals (1.9) and 13th in blocked shots (1.0).

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Frank Duncan a strong spring away from big-leauge roster spot

Senior pitchers Frank Duncan, left, and Jordan Piché relax before practice shortly after the Jayhawks found out they made it into the NCAA Tournament and will play University of Kentucky in Louisville, Kentucky, on Friday, May 30, 2014.

Senior pitchers Frank Duncan, left, and Jordan Piché relax before practice shortly after the Jayhawks found out they made it into the NCAA Tournament and will play University of Kentucky in Louisville, Kentucky, on Friday, May 30, 2014. by Mike Yoder

This could be a big spring for former University of Kansas right-hander Frank Duncan, traded last week from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Arizona Diamondbacks for infielder Phil Gosselin, who has spent parts of five seasons in the big leagues.

Duncan, 25, is not on Arizona’s 40-man roster, but was invited to the big-league camp, where he’ll have a chance to show his stuff against major-league hitters while the Diamondbacks evaluate him for a potential bullpen spot.

Duncan has progressed rapidly through the minors since the Pirates chose him in the 13th round of the 2014 draft.

His spent his first season in short-season Class A ball in the fabled NY-Penn League, pitched in advanced A ball in 2015 and after starting last season in Double A quickly earned a promotion to Triple A, where in two stints with the Indianapolis Indians he went 9-6 with a 2.33 ERA in 20 starts and pitched for the International League in the Triple-A All-Star Game.

“He’s got a chance to make the roster this spring,” Kansas coach Ritch Price said. “We’re really excited for him.”

Duncan is slated for a spot in the Triple-A Reno Aces rotation, but with an impressive spring could eke out a long-relief spot on the Diamondbacks’ roster.

Price said that the Pirates made adjustments to Duncan’s delivery, including changing his arm slot, with the goal of him inducing more ground balls.

MLBpipline.com ranks the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Duncan, a native of San Francisco, as the Diamondbacks 22nd-best prospect.

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Ahead of KU-Baylor battle of potential No. 1 seeds, Bill Self says Big 12 not top-heavy

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) hangs for a shot against Baylor guard Manu Lecomte (20) during the first half, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) hangs for a shot against Baylor guard Manu Lecomte (20) during the first half, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

When No. 3 Kansas plays at No. 4 Baylor Saturday in Waco, Texas, the nation will be able to tune in (noon, CBS) and check out not only the top two teams in the Big 12, but also two potential No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament.

Still, KU coach Bill Self doesn’t want those unfamiliar with the conference to get the idea the Big 12 is top-heavy. Ahead of the marquee meeting at Ferrell Center, Self shared Thursday afternoon he thinks “the strength of our league is the middle of our league.”

To his point, the five teams trailing the Big 12’s top three — KU, Baylor and West Virginia — in the standings all have a shot at making The Big Dance in March, too.

“The difference between the middle and the teams that are perceived to be at the top is not very much at all,” Self said, “as evidenced by (Baylor’s) scores and also by our scores.”

Baylor just lost at Texas Tech this week, and in February one-possession games dropped one at home against Kansas State and beat Oklahoma State, in Stillwater.

KU, as you’ll recall, only won by a single point at Texas Tech this past Saturday, clawed its way to a three-point victory at rival K-State and suffered a rare Allen Fieldhouse defeat at the hands of Iowa State during the past couple of weeks.

“I do think it’s a monster league,” Self said, “because 18 games, round-robin, and even home games, as you guys well know with us, they’re not a cinch by any stretch.”

The overall quality and depth of the Big 12 could get as many as eight teams into the NCAA Tournament in March, depending on how the next few weeks play out. As of Thursday, ESPN’s Bracketology projected seven Big 12 teams in the tourney:

Kansas: 1 seed in Midwest region

Baylor: 1 seed in South

West Virginia: 4 seed in West

Oklahoma State: 8 seed in East

Iowa State: 9 seed in West

TCU: 10 seed in East

Kansas State: 11 seed in South

Texas Tech: “Next four out,” behind “first four out”

The NCAA Tournament selection committee identified Kansas and Baylor as No. 1 seeds (as of Feb. 11), this past Saturday. Self said, in the case of this year’s Big 12 makeup, there isn’t a “bottom-heavy” factor, where teams such as Kansas and Baylor can pencil in three or four automatic victories.

Coach Socrates — oh, sorry, Coach Self, that is — said the Big 12 may be undervalued by outsiders because “the appearance of parity breeds the thought of mediocrity.” In the conference KU calls home, though, nothing comes easily this season. Just look at the average margin of victory for the top two teams in the league: Kansas (11-2 in Big 12) is at +4.1 and Baylor (9-4) at +3.9.

“But having two teams this late in the year,” Self said, “that are projected as one seeds — and even though we KNOW that that’s gonna change from week to week — I think speaks well for our league.”

BIG 12 STANDINGS — As of Feb. 16

1. Kansas, 11-2 (23-3 overall)

2. Baylor, 9-4 (22-4)

3. West Virginia, 8-5 (20-6)

4. Iowa State, 8-5 (16-9)

tie-5. Oklahoma State, 6-7 (17-9)

tie-5. TCU, 6-7 (17-9)

tie-7. Texas Tech, 5-8 (17-9)

tie-7.Kansas State, 5-8 (16-10)

9. Texas, 4-9 (10-16)

10. Oklahoma, 3-10 (9-16)

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Watching Bill Self try to teach Trae Young to become unselfish would have been enjoyable

Screen grab from the live stream of Trae Young's announcement Thursday, Feb. 16 in Norman, Oklahoma, courtesy of The Oklahoman.

Screen grab from the live stream of Trae Young's announcement Thursday, Feb. 16 in Norman, Oklahoma, courtesy of The Oklahoman. by The Oklahoman

The back end of the teenage years is a little late in the maturation process to learn how to share, which would have made point guard Trae Young’s time at Kansas a fascinating thing to watch had he chosen to move from his hometown Norman, Okla.

Instead, he’ll play for the Sooners and make them better.

Young has reached 40 points 11 times, 50 three times and had a season-high 62 points and he also had a 12-assist game, so he obviously dominates the ball.

That would have changed playing in a system where ball movement is rapid and the one with the ball in his hands when the defense has fallen a step behind takes the shot.

I can’t find attribution for the quote, “There is no limit to what can be accomplished when nobody cares who gets the credit,” perhaps because the one who came up with it didn’t care about getting credit for it. Eventually it will get attributed to John Wooden because all quotes used in sports do. It would have been interesting watching Self massage Young's brain in such a way to make him embrace that quote.

Anyway, if you haven’t read USA Today’s Jason Jordan’s all-access interview with Young breaking down his final six schools, give it a look.

In it, Young and his parents shared their thoughts on the pros and cons of each school. Young told USA Today, “Well, how many point guards has coach (Bill) Self gotten to the NBA?” His father, Ray, quickly mentions Mario Chalmers and Deron Williams, to which Trae says, “Besides them,” and then goes on to mention Sherron Collins and Josh Selby as flip sides to that coin.

Ray, a former Texas Tech star, mentions that it scares him that Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger never mentioned, “Trae going to the league,” since he started recruiting him as an eighth grader.

You can’t blame parents and players for having an eye toward the NBA — it’s not a fair rule that requires prospects to wait a year before becoming eligible for the draft — but selfishly, it’s more fun covering players such as Josh Jackson who unpack their bags and do whatever it takes to win with current teammates. Jackson’s college announcement was on the low-key side, so it’s not a shocker that he’s an unselfish player.

If Self didn’t think he could turn Young into an unselfish teammate, he wouldn’t have recruited him. He’ll find somebody less talented to take the scholarship slotted for Young and Kruger will take on the challenge of helping Young make the transition from a ball-hog to a scoring point guard who also brings out the best in teammates.

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Norman prep PG Trae Young announces he’ll play for Oklahoma

Kansas recruit Trae Young (11) pushes the ball up the court during the KC Hardwood Classic Friday at Shawnee Mission South High School in Overland Park.

Kansas recruit Trae Young (11) pushes the ball up the court during the KC Hardwood Classic Friday at Shawnee Mission South High School in Overland Park. by John Young

A five-star point guard from the heart of Big 12 country, Norman North High (Okla.) senior Trae Young made his college basketball destination official Thursday just after noon.

A dynamic 6-foot-2, 170-pound play-maker who is ranked the 14th-best prospect nationally in the Class of 2017 by Rivals.com, Young’s options came down to choosing between the University of Kansas and Oklahoma.

Play for Bill Self at Allen Fieldhouse? Or stay at home and star in your own backyard for Lon Kruger at OU?

Ultimately, Young went with the Sooners.

It had to be a difficult, yet exciting, decision for Young, as he weighed the pros and cons of his options.

None by Trae Young

Young’s choice was big news not just in Lawrence, but also in his home state, where The Oklahoman covered his announcement live.

Watch Young's press conference from the NewsOK.com live feed below.

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Bill Self proud of his team’s hustle

Kansas head coach Bill Self celebrates with Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) following the Jayhawks' 84-80 overtime win against West Virginia, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas head coach Bill Self celebrates with Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) following the Jayhawks' 84-80 overtime win against West Virginia, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Unsolicited, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self got something off his chest in the wake of his team’s remarkable comeback victory against West Virginia, 84-80, in overtime Monday night in Allen Fieldhouse.

“Anybody who says their guys play harder than mine, it’s a ridiculous statement,” Self said. “I’m not saying they play harder. I’m saying nobody competes harder than my guys.”

Might that have been a counter-punch to Kansas State coach Bruce Weber’s contention that in two close losses to Kansas his team twice beat Kansas on the “play-hard chart”? Probably. Weber also said, “We out-rebounded them. We kicked their butts again.”

Should the teams meet again in the Big 12 tournament, look for those words to be posted on the Sprint Center locker room wall.

The Self-Weber relationship forever will be strained, dating back to Weber holding a mock funeral for Self during his first season at Illinois as his successor because he was so tired of players telling him how they used to do things.

But Self’s words about nobody competing harder than his guys were more than just an opportunity to settle a score with a nemesis. They were spoken from the heart. He genuinely appreciates the consistent hustle of the players on a 23-3 team that needs no effort-coaching and isn't full of itself.

Noticeably absent from this year’s post-game press conferences are Self’s creative efforts to find fault in winning box scores. In years past, after his team hammered an opponent, Self would immediately get to work at defending against encroaching complacency. He would point out something such as his team gave up too many offensive rebounds in the second half, or the other guys had wide-open shots that they usually make and Kansas isn’t going to get away with that sort of defense and expect to win the next one.

Not this year. Gratitude replaces nitpicking as the overriding theme of most post-game sessions. Clearly, he really likes this team because it plays with a great deal of confidence, yet without a shred of conceit or complacency.

“Our guys have a lot of pride,” Self said.

Yet, the players have not allowed that pride to spin into hubris. They do a nice job of playing together without pausing to reflect on their own achievements. With the minutes they play, they’re too exhausted to stand in front of a mirror. They get off their feet at every opportunity. Counting only conference games, Iowa State’s Monte Morris leads the Big 12 with 38.6 minutes per game, followed by Frank Mason (36.8) and Devonte’ Graham (36.7).

The seven-man rotation and four-guard lineup are new wrinkles for Self, but the Big 12 standings look quite familiar.

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Avengers: Bill Self’s KU teams never have suffered a Big 12 sweep

Kansas head coach Bill Self pulls in the Jayhawks for a huddle with seconds remaining in overtime, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas head coach Bill Self pulls in the Jayhawks for a huddle with seconds remaining in overtime, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

As astonishing as the Kansas basketball team’s do-or-die comeback was in the final minutes Monday night against West Virginia, the Jayhawks’ absurd rally and overtime victory helped preserve an equally staggering example of the program’s dominance.

The Mountaineers, up 14 points with less than three minutes to play in regulation, had a chance to do something no team has pulled off since Bill Self became the head coach at Kansas before the 2003-2004 season: sweep KU.

That’s right. No Self-coached Kansas team has ever suffered two regular-season losses to the same Big 12 opponent. The Jayhawks, in the 14th season of the Self era, now have played 88 home-and-home series. KU has swept 60 of them, split 28 and never come away 0-2.

As one might predict from the program’s toughness-preaching coach, Self said after KU’s 84-80 overtime win against WVU he and his players take pride in the fact that Big 12 foes just don’t sweep his teams.

“Sure we do. They probably should’ve,” Self added, of WVU ending the sweep-less streak this season. “They were better than us in Morgantown and they were better than us tonight for the most part — for the large part of the game.”

However, with the Allen Fieldhouse crowd growing more rambunctious by the second as the No. 3 Jayhawks (23-3 overall, 11-2 Big 12) chopped away at the West Virginia lead, KU preserved a less-discussed aspect of its conference dominance. What’s more, it marked the fifth occasion in Self’s tenure that KU thwarted a sweep with an overtime victory.

The last team to sweep Kansas was Iowa State, in 2001.

Below is a rundown of the Jayhawks’ avenging ways over the course of the past 14 seasons. When Big 12 opponents won the first meeting with Kansas, Self’s teams are a perfect 16-0 in rematches.

2004

Lost at Iowa State, 68-61 | Won rematch, 90-89 (OT)

Lost at Nebraska, 74-55 | Won rematch, 78-67

2006

Lost at home to Kansas State, 59-55 | Won rematch at K-State, 66-52

Lost at Missouri, 89-86 (OT) | Won rematch, 79-46

2008

Lost at Kansas State, 84-75 | Won rematch, 88-74

2009

Lost at Missouri, 62-60 | Won rematch, 90-65

2012

Lost at Missouri, 74-71 | Won rematch, 87-86 (OT)

2013

Lost at home to Oklahoma State, 85-80 | Won rematch at Oklahoma State, 68-67 (2OT)

Lost at TCU, 62-55 | Won rematch, 74-48

2014

Lost at Texas, 81-69 | Won rematch, 85-54

2015

Lost at Iowa State, 86-81 | Won rematch, 89-76

Lost at West Virginia, 62-61 | Won rematch, 76-69 (OT)

2016

Lost at West Virginia, 74-63 | Won rematch, 75-65

Lost at Oklahoma State, 86-67 | Won rematch, 94-67

Lost at Iowa State, 85-72 | Won rematch, 85-78

2017

Lost at West Virginia, 85-69 | Won rematch, 84-80 (OT)

West Virginia forward Nathan Adrian (11) reacts after losing a ball off of his knee during overtime, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

West Virginia forward Nathan Adrian (11) reacts after losing a ball off of his knee during overtime, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

In the old days of the Big 12, when Kansas only played the teams from the south division once in the regular season, the Jayhawks didn’t even encounter any potential sweeps in 2005, 2007, 2010 or 2011. Still, in both 2008 and 2011, KU earned retribution for losses to Texas in the Big 12 Tournament.

Since the round-robin, 18-game schedule went into effect in 2012, KU has overcome a potential 0-2 mark against a league team at least once every season.

The Jayhawks’ latest star freshman, Josh Jackson, obviously has only been around for a few weeks worth of Big 12 battles. But the culture Self long ago established was apparent to Jackson and his teammates on Big Monday, with a West Virginia sweep in play.

“Sometimes it’s not our night, like tonight I don’t really think it was,” Jackson said after chipping in 14 points, 11 rebounds, five steals and three assists. “But you’ve just gotta get it done on the defensive end. As long as we make our opponents play bad, I think we’ll be fine.”

Now 408-86 as KU’s head coach, Self’s teams thrive on pulling off the preposterous, particularly at Allen Fieldhouse, where he improved to 218-10. On the rare occasions when an opponent looks like it has KU’s number, that’s when Self can employ atypical tactics.

“I didn’t talk once about the league race. I didn’t talk about any of that stuff,” Self said of his message leading up to the West Virginia rematch. “All I told ’em was, ‘You’ve got a chance to play a team that put a pretty good knot on your head the last time we played.’ And they were motivated. I think they just tried too hard early on in the game.”

— Addendum: On the subject of losing twice to the same team in a season, it has happened in the Self era — just not in terms of a regular-season sweep. Below are the teams who pulled off multiple victories over Self teams during one campaign, over the past 14 years.

2004

Lost at Texas 82-67 | Lost Big 12 Tournament rematch, 64-60, in Dallas

2009

Lost at Michigan State, 75-62 | Lost Sweet 16 rematch, 67-62, in Indianapolis

2012

Lost to Kentucky, 75-65, in New York | Lost NCAA title game rematch, 67-59, in New Orleans

2015

Iowa State, after splitting in the regular season, won Round 3, 70-66, in Big 12 title game, in Kansas City

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America’s best backcourt turns sure loss into another close victory

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) celebrates the Jayhawks' 84-80 win over West Virginia, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) celebrates the Jayhawks' 84-80 win over West Virginia, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Layups, 3-pointers, dunks, it didn’t matter what Kansas put up, the rim kicked back nearly everything. And then the Jayhawks couldn’t miss on the way to as crazy a comeback as Allen Fieldhouse spectators ever had seen in an 84-80 overtime victory over West Virginia.

The numbers are almost as startling as the comeback itself.

West Virginia went on a 33-18 run from late in the first half to late in the second to take a 64-50 lead with 2:58 left. Over the game’s final 7:43, including the five-minute overtime period, Kansas outscored West Virginia, 34-16.

Even more amazing, Frank Mason (15 of his 24 points) and Devonte’ Graham (14 of his 18), America’s best backcourt, outscored the Mountaineers, 29-16, over that period.

KU scored 18 points in the first 17:17 of the second half, 21 points in the final 2:43.

In the first 17:41 of the second half, Kansas made 3 of 18 field goals and 0 of 8 3-pointers. In the final 2:19, the Jayhawks made 5 of 7 shots, including 3 of 4 3-pointers.

Once the Jayhawks kicked it into desperation mode and applied full-court pressure, which coach Bill Self said the team had not practiced in about a month, they simplified the game to two basic thoughts: First, steal the ball. Second, the first man open needs to “let it fly,” as Graham put it.

“We’re not a team that usually presses like that, but if we’re down and need stops we can really get up and get active and we’re quick enough to do it," Graham said. "We just made some good plays and got some good deflections late.”

Kansas improved to 9-2 in games decided by six or fewer points and won a game in which it started the first half with a 10-0 deficit and watched West Virginia scored the final eight points of the first half.

“Coming back and fighting like we did, I’m proud of the guys and what we did,” Graham said. “We have to come out with better starts, can’t start a game like that.” They don’t always start great, but they can finish with anyone.

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‘Anything is possible!’: Jayhawks, college basketball world react to KU’s wild rally and OT win

Kansas head coach Bill Self celebrates with Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) following the Jayhawks' 84-80 overtime win against West Virginia, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas head coach Bill Self celebrates with Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) following the Jayhawks' 84-80 overtime win against West Virginia, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

No one who stuck around for the entirety of the Kansas Jayhawks’ Big Monday showdown versus West Virginia could quite believe what they witnessed.

The No. 9-ranked Mountaineers let a 14-point lead with less than three minutes remaining in the second half slip from their grasps and the No. 3 Jayhawks happily took advantage, setting up an epic rally and 84-80 overtime victory that seemed just about impossible minutes earlier.

From Super Bowl comparisons, to bewilderment regarding the Mountaineers’ collapse, to giving KU credit for pulling it off, the college basketball world had plenty to say about the Kansas comeback.

Some famous Jayhawks who used to call Lawrence home had to hop on Twitter to let their followers and fans know about the victory, while a number of college basketball media members chimed in, as well.

Even a few of the players who helped pull off the unlikely victory shared some of their thoughts.

Below are the social media highlights from the aftermath of an absurd night at Allen Fieldhouse.

None by Devonte' Graham

None by Devonte' Graham

None by Sviat Mykhailiuk

None by Landen A. Lucas

None by Landen A. Lucas

PULL UP ON HIS BLOCK 🤷🏾‍♂️

A post shared by Devonte' Graham ️️ (@dtaegraham) on

PULL UP ON HIS BLOCK 🤷🏾‍♂️ by dtaegraham

None by Joel Embiid

None by Wayne Selden Jr.

None by Wayne Selden Jr.

None by Chris Harris

None by Brannen Greene

None by Cole Aldrich

None by Myron Medcalf

None by Pete Thamel

None by Pat Forde

None by Jeff Goodman

None by Jay Bilas

None by Jeff Eisenberg

None by Rush the Court

None by Seth Davis

None by Doug Gottlieb

None by Dick Vitale

None by Fran Fraschilla

None by John Gasaway

None by CBS Sports CBB

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Zenger opens window to AD/football coach relationship

Kansas University chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, left, shakes hands with new head football coach David Beaty, right, after an introductory press conference Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, at the Anderson Family Football Complex at KU in Lawrence, Kan. Beaty, the wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at Texas A&M, was hired by KU Friday. At center is Sheahon Zenger, KU director of athletics.

Kansas University chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, left, shakes hands with new head football coach David Beaty, right, after an introductory press conference Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, at the Anderson Family Football Complex at KU in Lawrence, Kan. Beaty, the wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at Texas A&M, was hired by KU Friday. At center is Sheahon Zenger, KU director of athletics.

As head football coach David Beaty’s boss, Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger could have vetoed Beaty’s decision to take over the offense for his second year on the job, but he didn’t.

Why not?

“When you’re in college, an AD’s not a general manager, so you’re not responsible for just one sport. If you’re a general manager, you’re probably more heavy-handed,” Zenger said. “When you’re an AD, you’re probably more of an adviser with regard to those things. When you hire a coach, you need to let him recruit who he thinks is going to fit. You need to let him hire who believes is going to fit and assign the roles that he believes are going to fit. He’s not the head coach, unless he’s able to make those calls.”

Zenger said that as the AD, he’s “always here to advise and guide, suggest or strongly suggest, depends on the situation.”

As Zenger sees it, the shift from Rob Likens, now receivers coach at Arizona State, to Beaty taking over the offense, makes for a smoother transition to the current offensive coordinator, because of the similarity in Air Raid versions that Beaty and Meacham teach.

“I had great comfort when he approached with that plan that that was something that was important to him to implement the offense as we see it now,” Zenger said of Beaty telling him he needed to take over the offense after his first year. “Otherwise, we’d just be implementing it now. It was important to get that year, regardless who was pulling the trigger, in play.”

Zenger said that after a year of running the offense, Beaty let him know he wanted to hire an offensive coordinator and that Meacham, who was co-offensive coordinator at TCU, was at the top of his list. We might never know if Beaty’s decision to surrender the offense was preceded by a strong suggestion from the AD, but it doesn’t matter. Beaty got his man.

“The way I saw it, David, to use a slang term, ‘manned up’ to take on responsibilities he felt were necessary for the program last year and now has the opportunity to do what he does best as a head coach,” Zenger said. “I was excited for him that he could then breathe and be able to do those things, like recruit. We see what he’s able to do when he’s the lead guy in recruiting. He has such a skill set for that and passion for that.”

And Zenger’s excitement level when Beaty told him he could sway Meacham from TCU?

“Real excited,” Zenger said. “We all know Doug’s past, just in the coaching world, his reputation precedes him. He has a certain way about him that I think people will find very impressive. . . . I think it’s well known that Doug is someone David would have liked to have in Year 1.”

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Record in close games bodes well for NCAA tournament for Kansas

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) roars after hitting the final shot for a 77-75 win over Duke during the Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) roars after hitting the final shot for a 77-75 win over Duke during the Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016 at Madison Square Garden in New York. by Nick Krug

Earlier this week, Lunch Break looked at the average point margins in each of Kansas basketball coach Bill Self's 14 teams. This year's plus-5.1 margin in Big 12 regular-season games easily is the smallest of any Self team.

The Jayhawks are 21-3 and leading the Big 12 by a game over second-place Baylor, so the smaller margin doesn't bother Self.

“I think sometimes fans equate parity or closeness to not playing well, and that’s not been the case at all," Self said. "I think any win is a good win regardless of where you play. I think we’ve been behind at least eight points in five our wins, and behind double figures in at least four of our wins.”

Average margins are a decent predictor of NCAA tournament success, but not as accurate as performance in close games. For comparison purposes, let's define "close" as any game decided by six or fewer points, plus all overtime games.

In the six seasons Self's teams have advanced to at least the Elite Eight, his teams have gone 40-10 in close games (all games, not just Big 12 counted). In the seven seasons his teams didn't reach the Elite Eight, the record in close ones has been 37-32. This year's squad is 7-2 so far. Good sign. Not surprisingly, Self had young guards in the only three seasons he had losing records in close ones.

Here's how each of Self's teams has performed in close games and how far each team advanced in the NCAA tournament.

Year Rec.* NCAA

2003-04: 4-3 Elite Eight

2004-05: 7-3 First round

2005-06: 2-4 First round

2006-07: 9-2 Elite Eight

2007-08: 7-2 National championship

2008-09: 2-4 Sweet 16

2009-10: 6-1 Second round

2010-11: 7-0 Elite Eight

2011-12: 7-2 National runner-up

2012-13: 7-4 Sweet 16

2013-14: 4-7 Second round

2014-15: 9-5 Second round

2015-16: 6-1 Elite Eight

2016-17: 7-2

*Record in games of with margins of six points or fewer.

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Louisiana has most fertile football soil in America

Kansas safety Mike Lee (11) intercepts a pass during overtime on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas safety Mike Lee (11) intercepts a pass during overtime on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Recently promoted Kansas associate head coach Tony Hull has made the Jayhawks a player in Louisiana and there isn’t a better place in America to chase football players.

The Boot has a higher concentration of loud football talent than any other state and the numbers prove it.

I used three different sources of data to determine the most fertile football state: First, a Cleveland.com report that broke down by state the number of NFL players on opening-week rosters; second, the 2013 U.S. Census Bureau; third, a look at the number of schools in each state from power-five conferences.

NFL players by state, the population rank of the state, number of schools from power-five football conferences:

1 - Florida (193, 4, 3)

2 - California (187, 1, 4)

3 - Texas (160, 2, 5)

4 - Georgia (97, 8, 2)

5 - Ohio (80, 7, 1)

6 - Pennsylvania (66, 6, 2)

7 - Louisiana (63, 25, 1)

8 - Alabama (60, 23, 2)

Louisiana has one 2016 opening-week NFL player for every 73,420 residents, based on 2013 census figures, tops in the nation, ranking just ahead of Alabama, which has one for every 80,562 residents. For comparison purposes, Texas has one for every 165,301 residents.

The six states with more NFL players than Louisiana all rank in the top eight in the nation in population. Louisiana ranks 25th.

Also, with the exception of Ohio, every state with more NFL players than Louisiana has more than one school from a power-five conference. Texas has five power-five schools, California four, Florida three.

Kansas long has relied heavily on players from Texas and Kansas and to a lesser extent, Missouri and Oklahoma.

It’s getting tougher and tougher to land prospects from Texas, in part because of Texas A&M’s defection to the SEC. So Kansas needed to extend its recruiting footprint. Glen Mason did a nice job of establishing Kansas as a player in Ohio, recruiting athletes Ohio State was not pursuing. David Beaty, by hiring and a year later promoting, is playing it smart by getting aggressive in Louisiana, where LSU doesn't have enough scholarships to hog all the good prospects.

Beaty’s not alone in that strategy in the Big 12, where Baylor did well under Art Briles, but he is ahead of others. Texas Tech just hired Jabbar Juluke, demoted by LSU from running backs coach, to become associate head coach/running backs coach. Smart move, but iHull has a head start on him.

Hull drew national attention in recent days by receiving six verbal commitments from Louisiana prospects, all of whom are rated as either three-star or four-star prospects. The bigger the Louisiana class he lands, the better chance they all band together and become determined to be the ones to turn Kansas into a winning program.

It can’t hurt that Mike Lee, from Landry Walker High in New Orleans, had such a positive experience as a freshman. Lee earned Rivals freshman All-American honors at safety. He had 77 tackles (70 solo), broke up four passes, forced two fumbles and had an interception. His 12 tackles, forced fumble and interception in overtime sparked Kansas to its first victory against Texas since 1938.

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Tony Hull promotion to associate head football coach smart, timely move by David Beaty

Kansas running backs coach Tony Hull encourages his players as they warm up during practice on Tuesday, April 5, 2016.

Kansas running backs coach Tony Hull encourages his players as they warm up during practice on Tuesday, April 5, 2016. by Nick Krug

Kansas head football coach David Beaty has assembled his best staff in preparation for this third season and he's in no mood to see it raided. So he acted swiftly in giving Tony Hull reason to want to stay put.

Beaty announced this morning on his Twitter account that Hull, who recently received verbal commitments from six high school juniors from Louisiana, has been promoted to associate head coach.

Hull, former head coach at Warren East High in New Orleans and a former industrial engineer at NASA, grew up in New Orleans East, the neighborhood hit hard by a tornado Tuesday. Hull was driving in New Orleans when it hit.

None by Coach Tony Hull

The promotion comes at a good time because LSU is in the market for a running backs coach after head coach Ed Orgeron demoted Jabbar Juluke, a move that infuriated area high school coaches, especially considering it happened after signing day.

Hull would have been a logical successor to Juluke because his replacement will need to be someone popular with the coaches who are talking about organizing an LSU boycott.

None by David Beaty

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Blowouts not as common but experienced backcourt keeps Kansas on top

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) and Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) watch a free throw during the second half, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016 during the championship game of the CBE Classic at Sprint Center.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) and Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) watch a free throw during the second half, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016 during the championship game of the CBE Classic at Sprint Center. by Nick Krug

Kansas is where it almost always is in the Big 12 basketball standings, which of course, is on top. But blowouts are the exception rather than the rule this season.

KU’s depth problems, the lack of a rim protector and the absence of a go-to, low-post scorer all have played roles in other teams bringing more confidence against the Jayhawks than in typical seasons. Udoka Azubuike’s season-ending injury played a major factor in the depth and shot-blocking deficiencies and might by now have given the team more of a low-post offensive presence as well.

But nobody is going to feel sorry for Kansas losing a player to injury. The Jayhawks remain the team to beat in the Big 12.

A look at past margins in regular-season conference games — adding the points in victories and subtracting the losses — reveals, not surprisingly, that this is the least dominant of Bill Self’s 14 teams.

Kansas has a plus-5.1 margin of victory in Big 12 play. The largest margin during Self’s tenure came in 2006-07 when the Jayhawks outscored Big 12 foes by 16.9 points. KU lost to UCLA in the Elite Eight that season. The next season, when KU won the national title, was the second-largest (16.6).

Margins for Self’s KU teams in Big 12 play:

2003-04: 11.8, Elite Eight;

2004-05: 8.6, first-round loss;

2005-06: 11.8, first-round loss;

2006-07: 16.9, Elite Eight;

2007-08 16.6, national champions;

2008-09: 10.3, Sweet 16;

2009-10: 11.8, second-round loss;

2010-11: 12.1, Elite Eight;

2011-12: 11.3, lost in national-title game;

2012-13: 10.9, Sweet 16;

2013-14: 9.3, second-round loss;

2014-15: 7.7, second-round loss;

2015-16: 9.7, Elite Eight;

2016-17: 5.1.

Self's six teams that made it to the Elite Eight and beyond averaged a 13.1 margin in the Big 12 regular season and the seven teams bounced earlier than that won by an average 10.1 points.

The declining margins in recent seasons also might indicate that the Big 12 is a tougher basketball conference with 10 teams than it was with 12.

Generally, Self’s teams that averaged double-digit margins performed better in the NCAA tournament, but experienced backcourts also tend to be important factors in the tournament for all schools and Kansas has that. This team isn’t deep enough or balanced enough to score many blowouts, but it knows how to perform late in close games, thanks largely to the poised, experienced backcourt.

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