Entries from blogs tagged with “Jayhawks”

Numbers contradict Kansas reputation as tournament underachiever

In this April 7, 2008 file photo, an estimated 40,000 people celebrate on Massachusetts Street in downtown Lawrence after the Kansas Jayhawks defeated the Memphis Tigers to win the 2008 NCAA National Championship title.

In this April 7, 2008 file photo, an estimated 40,000 people celebrate on Massachusetts Street in downtown Lawrence after the Kansas Jayhawks defeated the Memphis Tigers to win the 2008 NCAA National Championship title. by Mike Yoder

Mike Vest, formerly of the Atlantic 10 Conference and the Big Ten Network and a graduate of the University of Kansas, took to Twitter (@mike_vest) to poke holes in the notion that Kansas has underachieved in the NCAA basketball tournament under coach Bill Self, who has reached the Elite Eight in half of his 14 seasons, been to two Final Fours and won a national championship in 2008.

Kansas has earned a No. 1 seed in 7 of 11 seasons, a remarkable feat, and, of course, has an active regular-season conference winning streak of 13. Vest’s research also revealed that KU’s performance as a No. 1 seed is pretty much in line with the national average.

Vest also tweeted that No. 1 seeds have made the Final Four 35.7 percent of the time. Kansas under Self as a No. 1 seed seven times checks in at 28.6 percent. That borders on underachievement, until you consider a little overseeding likely was at work there. Nobody does a better job of schedule to exploit the RPI than assistant athletic director Larry Keating.

Some things in sports pitch tents in people’s minds and never leave and this is one of them. Another example: McKenzie Calvert’s playing time was cut back after the Dec. 9 incident at the Yacht Club that resulted in Josh Jackson being charged with doing less than $1,000 in damage to her car. False. Calvert averaged 22.9 minutes in her next 11 games and her playing time wasn’t cut until her performance dropped off. Yet, I turned on ESPN one day and heard it being stated as fact, as it has been in print in various outlets. Once a narrative gets on down the road, it’s too inconvenient for some to stop it with facts and it takes on a life of its own.

In a couple of radio appearances the day before KU’s loss to Oregon, I shared my theory as to why Kansas has an unfair reputation as tournament underachievers. I believe it dates back to back-to-back first-round losses to Bucknell and Bradley in Self’s second and third seasons. It was so unusual for a blue blood to take back-to-back hits like that and it stayed in everybody’s brains.

Self’s 2-5 record in Elite Eight games at KU is not good any way you slice it, but it also demonstrates that he has reached the Elite Eight in 50 percent of his seasons at Kansas, an amazing success rate.

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Stock watch: Where does Devonte’ Graham’s NBA candidacy stand after his junior year?

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From the moment Josh Jackson decided to play at Kansas, everyone knew he would spend one season with the Jayhawks before becoming an NBA lottery pick. And now that his freshman year is done, we can see Jackson’s a near lock to go in the first three picks this coming June.

The immediate future of KU junior guard Devonte’ Graham — and his whole should I stay or go conundrum — qualifies as far more cloudy.

At various points before and during the Jayhawks’ now completed 31-5 season, Graham’s name appeared on mock drafts near the bottom of the first round and/or hovering close to the top of the second round. At DraftExpress.com, his stock peaked at 28th overall, in October.

However, in a Draft Express projection updated this past weekend, the name of the 6-foot-2 guard from Raleigh, N.C., didn’t appear until near the bottom third of the two-round mockup, with Graham predicted as the 50th overall selection, by the Denver Nuggets.

What’s to be made of him going from a possible first-round pick to the 20th choice in Round 2? It could have to do with Graham’s shooting.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) puts up a three over Purdue guard Dakota Mathias (31) during the first half, Thursday, March 23, 2017 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) puts up a three over Purdue guard Dakota Mathias (31) during the first half, Thursday, March 23, 2017 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. by Nick Krug

In his third season at Kansas, Graham took 32 more 3-pointers than he did in his first two years combined, but only totaled two more 3-point makes than when you add up his freshman and sophomore numbers. In other words, his accuracy took a noticeable dip.

Here’s a look at his percentages from beyond the arc at Kansas:

- Freshman year: 17-for-40, 42.5% (29 games, 17.8 minutes)

- Sophomore year: 75-for-170, 44.1% (38 games, 32.5 minutes)

- Junior year: 94-for-242, 38.8% (36 games, 35.3 minutes)

Graham definitely has other qualities that will help him as he tries to make an NBA roster, but his 3-point marksmanship a year ago made the idea of selecting a 6-2, 185-pound guard more appealing. Graham’s mark of 38.8% this season wasn’t bad by any means — it currently ranks tied for 52nd nationally — but that 44.1% really made him stand out as a shooting prospect.

We still don’t know whether Graham will enter the draft or return to Kansas for his senior year. He could opt to test the waters without hiring an agent. Should he choose option No. 3, Graham could go to the NBA Draft Combine in May, get feedback on his status from various franchises and determine then what to do next.

Withdrawing from the draft in order to pad a pro résumé worked well over the past year for Purdue big man Caleb Swanigan, North Carolina wing Justin Jackson, Oregon’s Dillon Brooks, Villanova’s Josh Hart and Clemson’s Jaron Blossomgame.

A late second-round draft pick isn’t guaranteed anything, so Graham could be more interested in returning to Kansas for the 2017-18 season and another run at a Final Four next March if his stock doesn’t take a jump upward in the next several weeks.

Of course, it’s ultimately his decision, and if Graham is ready to become a professional, Bill Self won’t stop him. The coach only will help his 22-year old guard make the most informed resolution possible.

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Frank Mason III: Jayhawks rushed a lot of shots in Elite Eight loss, couldn’t complete comeback

After his stellar Kansas basketball career ended in the Elite Eight, with a loss to Oregon in Kansas City, Mo., senior point guard Frank Mason III said the top-seeded Jayhawks didn’t give up after trailing by 18 in the second half, but couldn’t complete a comeback to get to the Final Four.

At times, Mason admitted, KU’s players felt a bit unlucky with Oregon’s shots falling and Kansas making only 35 percent of its attempts from the field and five of 25 3-pointers. Still, the veteran said the Jayhawks mostly had themselves to blame for those percentages.

“I think we had a few good looks,” Mason said, “but some of them was rushed shots and we didn’t give the defense a chance to break down and get a better look.”

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KU Sports Extra: Elite Eight Ending

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Josh Jackson: First-half foul trouble disrupted his rhythm versus Ducks; no NBA decision announced

Kansas City, Mo. — After two quick fouls in the first half kept him on the bench early in what became an Elite Eight loss to Oregon Saturday night, Kansas star freshman Josh Jackson addressed in the locker room his thoughts on the whistles.

“I feel like my first foul, yeah, I fouled him,” Jackson said. “My second foul? No. I don’t feel like I fouled him at all. Maybe he did travel. I didn’t look at his feet. It’s just an opinion. Refs, they’re all just people out there. They make mistakes, too.”

Jackson, who only played 10 minutes in the first half, said his early foul issues “screwed up” his rhythm and made it difficult for him once he returned to the floor.

The likely top-three pick in this June’s NBA Draft also opted not to discuss his immediate plans.

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Bill Self: KU settled for ‘marginal’ shots in Elite Eight loss to Oregon

Kansas City, Mo. — After rolling through the first three rounds of the NCAA Tournament, Kansas finally had an off night offensively in the Elite Eight versus Oregon.

After the Ducks moved on to the Final Four Saturday night at Sprint Center, KU coach Bill Self said his Jayhawks played tight at times and often settled for what he considered less-than-desirable shots, instead of finding opportunities within the rhythm of the offense.

“I thought we took a lot of marginal shots,” Self said after Kansas lost, 74-60. “Step-back threes. Corner threes that led to numbers for them. It’s one thing if you’re a terrific offensive rebounding team to shoot the ball as impatiently as we did. But we didn’t do much on the offensive glass.”

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Baseline View Highlights: Jayhawks season ends with 74-60 loss to Ducks

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Devonte Graham on tourney wins: We’re defending way better

Kansas City, Mo. — After three straight double-digit wins in the NCAA Tournament, Kansas junior guard Devonte Graham discussed why the team's playing so well and what the keys are against Oregon in Saturday's Elite Eight showdown (7:49 p.m., TBS) at Sprint Center.

"I actually think we are defending way better. I think that would have to be it," Graham said of KU's blowout wins. "We've just been locked in so, so much defensively, holding each other accountable."

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Frank Mason, Svi Mykhailiuk on trying to avenge last year’s Elite Eight loss

Kansas City, Mo. — One day before facing Oregon in the Elite Eight, Kansas guards Frank Mason III and Svi Mykhailiuk discussed using last year's Elite Eight loss to Villanova as motivation for this season.

The Jayhawks will play Oregon for a spot in the Final Four at 7:49 p.m. Saturday at Sprint Center.

"Just ending the season that we did last year is something that we thought about for a while," Mason said. "We just want to come out this year ad try to do everything we can to make sure that doesn't happen this year."

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Fun-loving Carlton Bragg: Tourney game prep serious business

Kansas City, Mo. — The Jayhawks have been enjoying themselves on the floor thus far in the NCAA Tournament, blowing teams out on the way to an Elite Eight meeting with Oregon at Sprint Center.

But fun-loving sophomore Carlton Bragg Jr., said KU’s game preparation away from the court is serious business this time of year.

“Sometimes it can be fun, but coming into March, no. Nothing is fun,” Bragg said. “We try to make the game fun, try to let it go and all of that but we just have one focus, and that’s winning.”

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Landen Lucas excited to face father’s alma mater, Oregon, in Elite Eight

Kansas City, Mo. — Growing up with a father who played center at Oregon, Kansas senior big man Landen Lucas has seen a lot of Ducks games in his time.

The Portland, Ore., native said it will be strange to battle against a program he has long admired with a spot in the Final Four on the line Saturday night at Sprint Center.

“I mean, just seeing the Oregon colors and the O and everything that was such a big part of my childhood and growing up,” Lucas said, “and now to be going out there with so much on the line — my college career on the line, a Final Four on the line — against that team, it’s exciting for me and I’m sure that it’ll be exciting.”

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Oregon players discuss matching up against KU, Josh Jackson

Kansas City, Mo. — About 24 hours prior to Saturday's Elite Eight showdown (7:49 p.m, TBS) against Kansas, Oregon basketball players discussed the similarities between teams and what makes KU freshman Josh Jackson so difficult to guard.

"Everyone on that team knows their role," Oregon forward Dillon Brooks said. "Once a team knows their role, they are hard to stop, especially with a player of the year like Frank Mason. You have to come out there and really change it up on them."

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Ducks prepared to play in front of pro-KU, KC crowd

Kansas City, Mo. — Sitting in the locker room after a one-point Sweet 16 victory over Michigan, Oregon basketball players heard the pro-Kansas crowd at Sprint Center when the Jayhawks tipped off against Purdue on Thursday.

It was loud and definitely felt like a home game for the Jayhawks, but the Ducks are confident that it won't be too much of a factor when the two schools meet in the Elite Eight at 7:49 p.m. Saturday (TBS).

"It's going to be a fun atmosphere," Oregon freshman guard Payton Pritchard said. "We don't want it any way different — playing in Kansas' backyard with all those fans there. That's going to make it fun."

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Oregon players hope to use Elite Eight experience to their advantage

Kansas City, Mo. — One season after a 12-point loss in the Elite Eight to Oklahoma, Oregon basketball players want to use that experience to their advantage when they face Kansas on Saturday at Sprint Center (7:49 p.m., TBS).

The Ducks advanced to the Elite Eight with wins over Iona, Rhode Island and Michigan.

"We know what to expect," Oregon guard Dylan Ennis said. "It's not these bright lights where it blinds us. We know what we have to do to win. We know what feeling we had when we lost, watching Oklahoma play in the Final Four."

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Landen Lucas goes from rooting for Ducks to trying to beat them

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) grabs a pass over Purdue center Isaac Haas (44) during the first half, Thursday, March 23, 2017 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) grabs a pass over Purdue center Isaac Haas (44) during the first half, Thursday, March 23, 2017 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. by Nick Krug

Josh Jackson grew up a fan of Michigan State’s winning basketball program and played a huge part in knocking the Spartans out of the NCAA tournament.

Now it’s Landen Lucas’ turn to do the same to the team for which he rooted.

A native of Portland, Lucas’ father, Richard Lucas, a 6-foot-7 center, played at Oregon from 1987 through 1991. He averaged 15.3 points and 8.8 rebounds as a senior, 10.9 and 8.6 as a junior.

Richard wore an Oregon shirt and cheered for the Ducks throughout Thursday's one-point victory against Michigan.

“He had a Kansas shirt under it so he took that off and supported us,” Landen said after Kansas blew out Purdue in the second half Thursday night in Sprint Center. “I told him he needs to get rid that for the next 48 hours.”

Richard tweeted about how his no-lose situation.

Blood is thicker than water, even for a man who doubles as a Duck.

“Obviously, he should be rooting for us in this matchup,” Landen said. “It’ll be nice to play against them.”

Foul trouble limited Lucas to 20 minutes against Purdue, so he should be fresh, even after battling Purdue’s massive post players.

"I grew up watching them all the time, big fan," Landen said. "I’ve watched them a lot. They’re a good team, an athletic team. I feel like we match up well with them, they match up well with us.”

“I’m just going to play my game and I won’t try to force anything, but it’s going to be fun,” Lucas said. “And I’m obviously going to be ready to go because it’s the Final Four on the line, but it does add a little to it because it’s my dad’s school.”

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Josh Jackson: KU won the paint vs. Purdue by executing game plan

Kansas City, Mo. — Leading up to a Sweet 16 meeting with Big Ten champion Purdue, much was made of the Boilermakers’ bulk and height in the frontcourt and how Kansas would be able to handle it.

After the Jayhawks destroyed Purdue, in part by out-scoring their opponent 34-22 in the paint, KU freshman guard Josh Jackson, who also spent some time covering the Boilermakers’ bigs, said his team found satisfaction in its interior play.

“We came out with a game plan. We knew exactly what we had to do to stop them down there and we did a good job of executing tonight,” Jackson said. “We did a good job of keeping their bigs away from the basket and we did a good job of just not giving up free points. I would rather have Landen (Lucas) or Dwight (Coleby) foul a guy down there, rather than just giving up free points.”

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KU Sports Extra: Storming into the Elite Eight

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Lagerald Vick entered Sweet 16 hoping for 360 opportunity

Kansas City, Mo. — After blowing away his teammates, the Sprint Center crowd and the NCAA Tournament-loving public with his open-court finish against Purdue Thursday night, Kansas sophomore guard Lagerald Vick described how he pulled off a 360-degree slam dunk that highlighted the Jayhawks’ 98-66 thumping of the Boilermakers.

Vick essentially called his slam hours in advance, telling teammate Carlton Bragg Jr. in the locker room beforehand he wanted to try it.

“It was kind of a before-the-game thing,” Vick said. “I talked to my teammate about it. And I just happened to be in the right spot at the right time, timed it up well. And I had the open court, so I had to get the crowd involved.”

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‘Always ready’: Dwight Coleby comes through again on tournament stage

Kansas forward Dwight Coleby (22) and Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) have a laugh after a bucket by Coleby and a Michigan State foul during the second half on Sunday, March 19, 2017 at BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla.

Kansas forward Dwight Coleby (22) and Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) have a laugh after a bucket by Coleby and a Michigan State foul during the second half on Sunday, March 19, 2017 at BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla. by Nick Krug

Kansas City, Mo. — As has become the norm for the reserve big man during his debut season with Kansas, Dwight Coleby’s numbers Thursday night against Purdue didn’t jump off the final stat sheet and leave anyone in awe.

But his top-seeded Jayhawks needed everything they got out of Coleby’s 13 minutes off the bench at Sprint Center, where KU limited the Boilermakers’ powerful front line and advanced to the Elite Eight with a 98-66 beating of fourth-seeded Purdue.

The 6-foot-9 Coleby and sophomore guard Lagerald Vick, one of the night’s numerous stars for KU in a Sweet 16 rout, gave a couple starters a breather less than five minutes into what evolved into a Kansas track meet late.

“I expected to play a big role,” Coleby said at the end of a night when his two points and two rebounds didn’t tell the full story of how he battled inside with massive Purdue bigs Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas, “but I had no idea I’d be the first off the bench or something like that. I just take it as it comes and I’m always ready.”

That showed less than 30 seconds after the big man checked in, when Coleby handled a difficult pass from Josh Jackson and kicked the ball out to a wide-open Devonte’ Graham for one of the junior guard’s five successful 3-pointers.

Just more than a minute later, Coleby benefited from a Vick post-feed and scored easily inside.

Initially, though, Landen Lucas’ fill-in wasn’t matching the starting center’s defensive prowess. The Boilermakers’ massive backup big, 7-2 Haas, pinned Coleby in the paint within arm’s reach of the rim and scored over him easily.

When Coleby subbed out, though, he received some more positive reenforcement than scorn.

“Just play better defense. Just do your work early and you should be fine,” Coleby related of the message, a reminder of KU’s game plan to stop Swanigan and Haas.

The junior from Nassau, Bahamas, didn’t feel satisfied with his seven first-half minutes because of his defensive lapses. But Coleby said he got a second wind for the second half, when he, Lucas, Jackson and Carlton Bragg Jr. helped keep Haas scoreless and limited Swanigan to three two-point field goals on six attempts — Purdue’s star big stepped outside to knock down two 3-pointers, which Coleby said KU could live with.

“He was huge,” Kansas junior guard Devonte’ Graham said, when asked about Coleby’s contributions. “We have been telling him, ‘Be ready when your number is called,’ and he's been doing a great job in practice. He's been looking ready since the tournament started and we're going to need him to keep playing like that.”

The reserve helped KU survive a night when Lucas had to navigate four fouls and played just 20 minutes, in part because the Jayhawks blew Purdue out down the stretch.

Like Coleby did earlier in the week, in KU’s second-round win over Michigan State, he left his teammates impressed with his preparedness.

“We never know,” Frank Mason III said, “when guys are going to get in foul trouble or something like that, so they have to be ready and he did a great job of coming in and being confident and being ready to play.”

Now just a win away from KU’s first Final Four trip since 2012, coach Bill Self credited Coleby’s role in the team’s latest tourney rout.

“Obviously, Dwight bought us a ton of minutes whenever Landen was in foul trouble,” Self said. “But I thought Carlton came in and did a good job, too. You add those guys together you get 23 key minutes out of that position when Landen can't be in the game. So I think they both kind of bailed us out.”

Though one might assume Coleby is riding the excitement of two productive March Madness outings in a row, at the tail end of a season in which his minutes usually varied between sparing and none, the steady big man isn’t getting carried away.

“I feel great. But we can’t worry about this game,” Coleby said, minutes after KU reached a regional final and a Saturday night (7:49) matchup with Oregon. “This game is over. We’ve just got to move forward and try to win the next one.”

By the Numbers: Kansas 98, Purdue 66

By the Numbers: Kansas 98, Purdue 66

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Baseline View Highlights: Kansas blazes past Purdue to Elite Eight

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