Entries from blogs tagged with “Kansas”

Fearlessness, desire to improve made Andrew Wiggins Rookie of the Year

Minnesota Timberwolves Andrew Wiggins (22) dunks on New Orleans Pelicans Omer Asik in the half of an NBA basketball game Monday, April 13, 2015, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)

Minnesota Timberwolves Andrew Wiggins (22) dunks on New Orleans Pelicans Omer Asik in the half of an NBA basketball game Monday, April 13, 2015, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)

Sit down. Take a deep breath. Some shocking news came out Thursday.

Andrew Wiggins won the NBA’s 2014-15 Rookie of the Year award.

While this honor was far from a no-brainer when the high-flying wing left Kansas and became the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft, season-ending injuries suffered by No. 2 pick Jabari Parker and No. 3 pick (and Wiggins’ KU teammate) Joel Embiid left just a few contenders for Wiggins to outplay.

The Timberwolves finished 16-66, with the worst record in the Western Conference (second-worst in the league, to New York), but Wiggins’ play put him a cut above the rest of the competition.

None by Scott Howard-Cooper

The first Canadian and Timberwolf to win the award, and the first Jayhawk to do so since Wilt Chamberlain (1960), Wiggins’ 16.9 points per game led all rookies (in 25 games, Parker scored 12.3, finishing second).

The one-and-done KU product shot 43.7% from the field, 31% from 3-point range, 76% at the free-throw line and averaged 4.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.1 steals and 2.2 turnovers a game.

The foregone conclusion now exists as fact. Wearing a navy tuxedo with a black bow tie, the ever-smiling Wiggins accepted his hardware at a press conference in Minneapolis, where the man who brought him to the Twin Cities from Cleveland, Timberwolves head coach and president of basketball operations Flip Saunders, couldn’t stop singing his praises.

Minnesota Timberwolves' Andrew Wiggins holds his trophy at a news conference after he was named NBA basketball Rookie of the Year, Thursday, April 30, 2015, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Minnesota Timberwolves' Andrew Wiggins holds his trophy at a news conference after he was named NBA basketball Rookie of the Year, Thursday, April 30, 2015, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Saunders traded former franchise player Kevin Love as part of a package to bring Wiggins to his team, and it turned out he got a “game-changing” player in return. The coach saw Wiggins’ maturity grow by the day as he gave the rookie, now 20 years old, enough responsibility that he could accept it and improve. Saunders said he stuck with that model throughout the season. What Wiggins’ boss saw in response was one of the most coachable players he’s ever been around.

“He loves to play the game,” Saunders said. “He’s a student of the game. He watches a lot of film. One of the positive things is when you look at him, he wants to get better.”

To the coach’s point, the league’s top rookie averaged 20.9 points, and got to the free-throw line 9.1 times a game during the last month of the season.

None by ESPN Stats & Info

Even more impressive, Wiggins finished second in the entire league this season in minutes played (2,969), just behind MVP candidate James Harden (2,981). It didn’t take him long to emerge as one of the more difficult players to guard, either. The 6-foot-8 small forward finished sixth in the NBA in free-throw attempts (466). The guys ahead of him? Harden, Russell Westbrook, DeMarcus Cousins, LeBron James and DeAndre Jordan.

The youngster said he learned to love playing against The Association’s best.

“It’s just competitive nature,” Wiggins said at his award ceremony.

The star-in-the-making speaks with his father, Mitchell, every day. The elder Wiggins played in the NBA, too, so he didn’t sugarcoat anything when they spoke about the pros and cons of the rookie’s game. Wiggins said he also inherited his drive from his pops.

“I’m not really scared of nobody,” the new face of the Timberwolves said, “no matter who I go up against.”

His personal turning point, Wiggins revealed, came when he played at Cleveland in December and scored 27 points against the team that drafted him and then shipped him away.

“Ever since then,” he said, “I feel like my game has really moved on. I got a lot better at certain things.”

Saunders recalled skeptics questioning Wiggins’ will to compete entering his first go-round in the NBA.

“I think he pretty much answered most of those critics,” the coach said, “and those questions.”

None by NBA Canada

On a number of occasions during the press conference, Saunders and general manager Milt Newton, a self-described “fellow Kansas Jayhawker” who played for the 1988 NCAA Championship team, described Wiggins as Minnesota’s cornerstone. The young man who heard those expectations replied by saying he has a long way to go: “That’s just motivation to my ears.”

Asked about his next goal, Wiggins replied he had plenty. First off, he wants the T’wolves to have a better season next year. Making the playoffs is also on his list, as is becoming a better teammate and leader, and earning a spot in the All-Star game.

The way the Rookie of the Year sees it, he needs to spearhead an uprising for this franchise that has put so much trust in him, and his award is just a sign of things to come.

“It should bring a lot of hope to the future of the Minnesota Timberwolves,” Wiggins said.


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


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Weekend Picks: Major Games Album Release; #MXM2015 Conference; Kansas Food Truck Festival; David Mamet’s The Shawl; Taproom Poetry Series

This weekend isn't as festival-heavy as the previous two, but we still have one major festival to showcase, along with two major rock shows (one of them from Major Games!). Also on tap: a music conference, an unusual theatrical event, and an edgy Sunday afternoon of poetry.

Here's the scoop:

Major Games Album Release, Thursday, Bottleneck, 9:00 p.m.

If you're in the know on the local music scene, you've probably already heard Major Games long-awaited new album, which is unsurprisingly dense and intense (we're currently digging the track "Prism"). As a live band, they're well-known for moments that will melt faces clean off, Raiders of the Lost Ark-style. Be prepared for a full-on musical onslaught at the Bottleneck tonight from one of LFK's best (and occasionally loudest) bands.

The openers for this official album release bash are Maybe Not (fresh off their 3rd place finish at Farmer's Ball) and the mighty Psychic Heat. It's the rock show of the week, folks. You may want to call in sick on Friday.

Visit the Facebook event page here.

Bloodbirds, Drakkar Sauna, Eye Contact, Friday, Love Garden, 7:00 p.m.

This show is so cool it needs absolutely no description on the Facebook event page apart from "jam times." The fact that 125 people are currently listed as attending should tell you that this is the place to be on May Day.

Bloodbirds' Facebook page suggests that this gig (along with a KC show next weekend) will likely be the last for a long while, so don't miss this beloved psych-rock trio (featuring former Ad Astra Per Aspera members Mike and Brooke Tuley) as they "jam" with beloved locals Drakkar Sauna and up-and-comers Eye Candy (a band also described on the event page as "ex-Ad Astra Per Aspera").

#MXM2015 Music Conference and Showcase, Saturday, Bottleneck, Conference from noon-5 p.m. and showcase from 7 p.m. till closing

Are you in a struggling band and wish that YOU had a major album release party on the horizon? Consider attending this second annual event designed to offer musicians insight into recording and promoting and other facets of the industry. The afternoon is devoted to panels and workshops focusing on issues of "audience development" and "music industry mechanics" and the evening gives way to a major slate of well-regarded local bands such as Westerners and Pink Royal.

Visit the Facebook event page here and the official website here for full schedules of panels and bands and other necessary info.

2015 Kansas Food Truck Festival, Saturday, Warehouse Arts District, 5-10 p.m.

Last year's inaugural Food Truck Fest in East Lawrence was a raging success in terms of attendance but, we're gonna level with you here: It was also a bit of a frustrating mess after a certain point in the evening, with the bigger-than-expected crowds often waiting in line more than an hour for food truck fare. However, the organizers are insisting that this year's festival has more space, more trucks, and more volunteers ready to make this into the great event it can and should be. Let's hope so...especially since 1500 people are currently listed on Facebook as attending.

Among the new participants this year are LFK's very popular purveyors of creme brulee, Torched Goodness and KC's Bochi Truck, serving up "The only real boneless wing in town." Paper Buffalo will be on hand to play some tunes and this year's Fest will also feature buskers (it's hard to escape them these days).

Visit the Facebook event page here for full info on ticket prices and participating trucks.

David Mamet's "The Shawl," Aimee's Coffeehouse, Friday and Saturday, 8:30 p.m.

We love showcasing unusual theatrical events, and it doesn't get much more unusual than this staging of David Mamet's "The Shawl" by Orange Mouse Theatricals at Aimee's Coffeehouse.

A variety of ticket prices will earn you everything from drinks to food to a tarot reading to accompany Mamet's "biting exploration of trust, greed and betrayal, and the power of spiritual knowledge in a secular world" (Mark Shenton, Playbill).

Visit the Facebook event page here to learn more about this "immersive event."

Taproom Poetry Series, Sunday, Taproom, 5-7 p.m.

We had an absolute blast listening to the great Southern poet Tim Earley read at the last installment of this series, and we have it on good authority that this month's event (the last before a summer break) is another don't-miss lineup of great poets.

For those who fear an evening of polite verse, think again. One of the evening's featured poets, Jennifer Knox, is as funny and filthy as LFK's own "smutty metaphor queen" Patricia Lockwood. Her work has been featured in the New Yorker and, even hipper, McSweeney's. Read Knox's poem "Chicken Bucket" via this blog and, if you're still bold enough, come and listen to her along with Meg Johnson and Rich Smith on Sunday.

Visit the Facebook event page here for more details and to read the impressive bios of each of the readers.

Tweet us @LarryvilleLife with future tips or angry rants.

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Cheick Diallo might be the next great Kansas big man

Our Savior New American's Cheick Diallo #13 dunks against Linden during a high school basketball game on Friday, Feb. 13, 2015, in Kean, NJ. Our Savior won the game. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)

Our Savior New American's Cheick Diallo #13 dunks against Linden during a high school basketball game on Friday, Feb. 13, 2015, in Kean, NJ. Our Savior won the game. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)

Meet Cheick Diallo.

He’s 6-foot-9, 220 pounds. He was MVP of the McDonald’s All-American game and co-MVP of the Jordan Brand Classic.

And he just might be the next great big man at Kansas.

None by _cd13

Originally from Mali, the five-star post player turned himself into one of the nation’s elite college prospects at Our Savior New American High, in Centereach, New York. He joins KU as the No. 5 overall talent in the Class of 2015, according to Rivals.com.

The big man stole the show at the McDonald’s all-star game earlier this month, where his name was called repeatedly, bucket after bucket, and he wowed the Chicago crowd with a fast-break spin-move on his way to an 18-point/10-rebound performance.

He even blocked some shots in the offense-oriented showcase and dropped a dime inside.

Diallo appears to have everything you’re looking for in a traditional big man: length, toughness, and the ability to finish at the rim on one end of the floor while intimidating the opposition from doing the same on the other end.

The guy even snags defensive rebounds anticipating the ensuing outlet pass he’s about to sling down the floor.

That makes him a perfect fit for KU coach Bill Self. Even better, the lean, young big fills a need for next season’s roster.

Self continually referenced the Jayhawks’ lack of an elite interior presence during the 2014-15 season. Unlike most Kansas teams, this one couldn’t throw the ball into the post and get a basket. Even worse perhaps, there was no rim protector waiting in the paint on defense.

That gaping hole in KU’s lineup likely is the very reason Diallo will be playing at Allen Fieldhouse next season.

"I felt like Kansas was the best place for me," Diallo told ESPN.com’s Paul Biancardi. "I can earn playing time right away. I played against Joel Embiid in high school and watched his development. I need to work on a lot of things and feel coach (Bill) Self can help my game. On my visit, the campus was great and the people were nice. I could see myself there."

Picture Diallo in a Kansas uniform, playing alongside all the returning Jayhawks and fellow freshman Carlton Bragg, and it’s easy to envision KU getting past the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three seasons. And back to the Final Four for the first time since 2012.

Here are a few more Diallo highlight reels as your mind wanders about the possibilities.

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Paul Pierce loving life as a veteran in NBA Playoffs

Washington Wizards forward Paul Pierce (34) shoots over Toronto Raptors forward Amir Johnson (15) in the second half of Game 4 in the first round of the NBA basketball playoffs, Sunday, April 26, 2015, in Washington. The Wizards won 125-94 to complete the first sweep of a seven-game series in club history, and advancing them to the second-round. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Washington Wizards forward Paul Pierce (34) shoots over Toronto Raptors forward Amir Johnson (15) in the second half of Game 4 in the first round of the NBA basketball playoffs, Sunday, April 26, 2015, in Washington. The Wizards won 125-94 to complete the first sweep of a seven-game series in club history, and advancing them to the second-round. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

There might not be many miles left on Paul Pierce’s NBA odometer.

So what’s a 17-year league veteran to do? Of late the former Kansas star has taken the route of soaking every ounce of enjoyment out of the playoffs and life in general.

First off, the 37-year-old can still take over for stretches on the court. With Pierce’s help, the Wizards (No. 5 seed in Eastern Conference) rolled through the first round by sweeping the Raptors (No. 4 seed) in four games.

Washington’s veteran leader averaged 15.5 points per game in the series, establishing a tone in Game 1. Pierce found his spots to take over, and shot 19-for-33 (57.6%) from the field in the sweep. He made four three-pointers in Games 1, 3 and 4, and shot 14-for-24 (58.3%) from deep against Toronto.

The most critical trifecta came late in Game 3, with Washington only up three points and the Raptors still feeling like they had a chance to steal a victory on the road. Pierce calmly drained a dagger from the left wing.

“You know my famous saying, ‘That’s why they brought me here,’” Pierce told ESPN after the game, referencing his on-court rant in last season’s playoffs against Toronto, when he played for Brooklyn. “You know, I just wait for opportunities. I really feed off John (Wall) and Bradley (Beal) and these guys that get me going.”

“The Truth” had to feel good about that hot start to the postseason, because after the Wizards moved on to the conference semifinals, he continued to troll the Raptors’ fan base.

None by Paul Pierce

Washington, which wrapped up its opening-round series Sunday, now has the luxury of waiting to see who will advance between No. 1 seed Atlanta and No. 8 Brooklyn. The series currently stands at 2-2.

While the Hawks and Nets continue beating each other up, Pierce and his teammates can let their bodies recover and bond as a team. Monday night, Pierce and a few of the Wizards had choice seats for the Capitals’ Game 7 against the Islanders. So, of course, the outspoken old man of the group got into it.


Afterward, Pierce dubbed himself the Capitals’ “hype man.”

All of this comes less than two weeks after the outspoken vet shared candid thoughts with ESPN.com’s Jackie MacMullan about some of his former teammates, including the Nets’ Deron Williams and former Celtic Ray Allen.

A reporter asked Pierce Tuesday about his approach these days, specifically on social media.

“I just look at it,” the veteran said in an interview posted at monumentalnetwork.com, “as good banter. That’s the word.”

“A lot of this stuff, I don’t pre-think it, man,” he added. You know, it just comes out naturally.”

“The Truth,” who became the Wizards’ hype man of sorts in his first season with the organization, summed up his personality and approach perfectly:

“Paul Pierce is just gonna be who Paul Pierce is gonna be. I’ll be myself. It wasn’t like they said, ‘Come in here and be a hype man or be a leader.’ I’m just being myself. If it helps our team, if it hurts our team, I’m just trying to be myself and see where that goes. I speak up. I tell the guys how I feel. I’m emotional. That’s just me being me, truthfully.”


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


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Watch: Something and the Whatevers cover La Guerre

This might be the best thing you see on the Internet today.

Something and the Whatevers aren't just a local band, they're a band that loves all things local. That includes other local musicians. On Saturday, they proved their love for Lawrence with an outstanding set at Middle of the Map Fest. In the past, we've seen them bust out covers of other local bands, including Dean Monkey and the Dropouts and The Sluts. But on Saturday, they introduced a cover of La Guerre's "Any Other."

La Guerre makes really beautiful, soothing, and ethereal-sounding music. But on this day, Something and the Whatevers applied everything they know about making loud, obnoxious noises to the song. What erupted was a spunky little pop-punk melody with blasting vocals. It was pretty impressive.

Something and the Whatevers may come off as a goofy little band, but in actuality they're fairly talented and dynamic. They can tackle any song, add their own flavor, and produce tunes that are catchy as all heck. On this particular cover, you may hear someone screaming at the mic as hard as he can, but he's actually hitting all those notes perfectly… something we've only seen the amazing songstress behind La Guerre do. If anything, this just reinforces what we already knew. La Guerre writes really amazing, perfect, and wonderful songs.

Words and photos by Fally Afani

Note: This post originally appeared on I Heart Local Music.

— Fally Afani is a freelance writer and editor of I Heart Local Music. She enjoys long walks, photography and rock and roll. She does not like cats, but makes exceptions for the ones at Love Garden. For more local music coverage, visit iheartlocalmusic.com.

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Local bands bring Lawrence to Middle of the Map Fest

Middle of the Map Fest is a big festival. This year saw more than 100 bands scattered across several stages in Westport, and only a handful of those bands were from Lawrence. While large bands like Murder By Death, Peter Hook & The Light, and OK Go impressed with lively performances, Lawrence bands had a little something up their sleeves as well.

Bonzo Madrid was one of the first local bands to play, and he hit the recordBar stage solo on Friday night. CJ Calhoun's songwriting prowess is really starting to take a definitive form. Seeing Bonzo Madrid songs performed live is nothing short of astonishing. Calhoun has mastered a labyrinth of pedals and loops to create spacious sounds on his guitar and reverb-saturated vocals that could lift you off the ground if you close your eyes and concentrate hard enough.

Spirit is the Spirit hit the big outdoor stage on Saturday. Watching these majestic musicians perform is heavenly. Their soothing songs feel like a gentle, warm hug. The frontman's long and golden locks flow gently in the wind while the bright lights of the big stage shine through, making him look a little bit like an angel. Yes, watching Spirit is the Spirit is a very spiritual experience. They're technically a psychedelic band, but they can also feel a little folky and comforting.

On the other end of the spectrum, Arc Flash got really weird at the Riot Room. They played perhaps their best show yet, nailing that exciting, thrilling space-punk sound over a solid driving beat. They also wore their "Sunday best," jumped into the crowd, and rocked the heck out… all while maintaining that fashionable chip on their shoulder. Arc Flash is very quickly shooting to the top of the local scene, and should be watched in dark corners of downtown as often as possible.

Something and the Whatevers continued serving their new robot overlord, a trend they started at SXSW. The giant talking iPod now dictates what goes on during most of their set. The band has been steadily playing songs from their last album for more than a year, but at their Middle of the Map Fest set, they knocked out a lot of new tunes. This could be a sign of another album on the horizon, should their robot master allow it.

The Sluts have gotten so popular in Kansas City that it took no time at all to fill the Riot Room. In fact, we saw fans leave other shows and sprint down just to catch their performance. The all-too-short set left everyone hungry, and the crotch-rock duo will be feeding that appetite this summer with a series of big, iconic performances in both Lawrence and Kansas City. Stay tuned.

— Fally Afani is a freelance writer and editor of I Heart Local Music. She enjoys long walks, photography and rock and roll. She does not like cats, but makes exceptions for the ones at Love Garden. For more local music coverage, visit iheartlocalmusic.com.

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Undrafted Tarik Black exceeds expectations in rookie campaign

Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, left, and Los Angeles Lakers forward Tarik Black battle for a rebound as Clippers forward Matt Barnes grabs Blacks jersey during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, April 5, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, left, and Los Angeles Lakers forward Tarik Black battle for a rebound as Clippers forward Matt Barnes grabs Blacks jersey during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, April 5, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Given how the 2014 NBA Draft played out for Tarik Black, it’s hard to imagine his rookie season turning out any better than it did.

Sixty players — including two of his Kansas basketball teammates — heard their names called on draft night this past June, while Black went unpicked. The big man with little flash to his game would have to scrap his way into the professional ranks the hard way, by proving himself in the Summer League and earning a roster spot at a fall training camp.

And even though Houston, the organization that gave him a chance, ended up dumping him when veteran forward Josh Smith unexpectedly became available, that turned out just fine for Black.

A happy and productive member of the Los Angeles Lakers the final 38 games of his rookie season, Black said during his exit-interview press conference he went from a pick-setter and offensive rebounder in Houston to a situation that allowed him to flourish in L.A.

The lottery-bound Lakers, of course, needed him a lot more than the Rockets, the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. Wearing the vaunted purple and gold, Black started 27 games and averaged 7.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 0.6 blocks in 21.1 minutes a game, while making 58.9% of his field goals.

“I 100 percent feel like I found a home here,” Black said in an interview posted on the Lakers’ website. “It was a great opportunity and a great blessing.”

Been a pleasure but it's a wrap. Very thankful to the Laker fans and organization for affording me this opportunity. Until next year ✌️

Been a pleasure but it's a wrap. Very thankful to the Laker fans and organization for affording me this opportunity. Until next year ✌️ by tarikbblack

In Black’s own words, he was “not even a big name on the team” in his one season at KU, after transferring from Memphis. Once the entire league passed on him at the draft, he didn’t spend any time worrying about the guys who were selected and whether they were better than him. Instead, he successfully kept himself from over-analyzing any perceived misfortune. As it turned out, Black eventually landed in the right situation — and he admitted that doesn’t always happen for rookies.

“I’ve always felt that I had the potential,” the 23-year-old post player said, “and I had the talent that everyone else had.”

The Lakers gave Black a chance to make a name for himself, and upon his exit interview with coach Byron Scott and general manager Mitch Kupchak, he left encouraged by the praise he received.

According to Black, who played center for L.A. even though he says he is only 6-foot-9 while wearing sneakers (don’t trust those roster listings that put him at 6-11), the Lakers’ brass spoke highly of his potential. They said he can become an effective undersized presence in the paint, much like a Charles Barkley, for example. Black isn’t going to become an NBA MVP like Sir Charles, but the confident young man has high expectations for himself.

“I feel like I have the opportunity to be a great basketball player,” Black said. “How that’s been defined? Many greats have done many different things.”

Ideally, he’d like to play power forward in the league, instead of center. Black knows his rebounding is his biggest asset, and he wants to get to a point where he can defend an opposing 3, 4 or 5. He hopes his bulk, athleticism and footwork will allow him to turn this rookie-year success story into a long NBA career.

“I’m undersized as far as height goes,” he admitted, “but I’ve got some tools that I can play five, and that’s gonna make me more valuable at this level.”

Black’s contract with the Lakers isn’t guaranteed for the 2015-16 season, and his success these past few months isn’t going to stop him from continuing his development in the upcoming Summer League. After facing NBA big men for a season, he learned not only do they all have go-to post moves, they also know how to maneuver past screens and work on defense. All the greats, Black said, have perfected aspects of their games, and that’s what makes them unstoppable at times.

His summer plans also include returning to KU. Black said he is one course and a thesis away from completing his master’s degree in African-American studies. Not that he’s sweating the thesis. His mother used to work for the National Civil Rights Museum, in his hometown of Memphis.

“Whatever I decide to write it on,” Black shared, “I’m gonna knock it out. Trust me.”

Confidence carried him far in his first tour of the league. But black said faith proved huge for him, too, because so much of his life as a professional basketball player is out of his hands.

Still, there he sat at the season’s end, having accomplished more than the majority of the 60 players drafted last summer.

“A lot of those guys who were listed above me,” Black said, “I’m amongst them now.”


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


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Kenny Perry keeps KU football coaches relaxed in midst of challenging overhaul

Kansas co-defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach Kenny Perry grits his teeth as he prepares to give some criticism during spring practice on Tuesday, March 24, 2015.

Kansas co-defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach Kenny Perry grits his teeth as he prepares to give some criticism during spring practice on Tuesday, March 24, 2015. by Nick Krug

Kansas offensive coordinator Rob Likens walked into his office at Anderson Family Football Complex in early April and found an unexpected gift of sorts waiting for him.

There, placed on a shelf sometime in Likens’ absence, sat a framed photograph of KU’s co-defensive coordinator, Kenny Perry.

This would have caught Likens off guard had Perry not established himself as the unpredictable instigator on new coach David Beaty’s staff.

“He embraces that role,” Likens said. “He loves it.”

At Kansas practices this spring, Perry’s intensity while coaching the cornerbacks leads one to think he might not have a light-hearted cell in his DNA. That’s on-the-field Perry. The one ambling around the coaches’ office quarters, playing Elf on the Shelf with a framed photo of his own mug helps his fellow staffers retain their sanity while embarking of the arduous mission of turning around a downtrodden program.

“I like to bring a lot of different energy,” Perry explained. “I love coaching, and it’s so stressful you’ve gotta add some light to it.”

That’s why not long after Perry received a framed photo of himself from Beaty on his birthday, the assistant decided he could have some fun with it.

“It’s gonna be Coach Perry on the Shelf,” the former TCU corners coach declared. “It’s gonna show up in different offices.”

Wearing a wry grin, Perry said he will decide who “deserves” the photo, which doubles as a trophy.

None by ROB LIKENS

“It’s a memento of my appreciation for the job they’re doing,” Perry said.

Countered a laughing Likens: “Yeah, I was a ‘winner,’ right, to have his photo? Exactly. That’s the way he looks at it.”

Perry got his start as a high school assistant coach in 1994 and worked his way through the ranks, eventually landing at TCU as director of high school relations in 2013. Along the way, he decided to take on the practical joker route with his fellow coaches to alleviate the stress.

KU running backs coach Reggie Mitchell said he has worked on some staffs in the past and he didn’t want to be around his co-workers once practice ended. But he’s having a blast with this group assembled by Beaty, thanks in part to Perry’s ability to catch other assistants off guard with his wisecracks.

“You can put him in any circle of people and he’s gonna fit right in,” Mitchell said. “He has the kind of personality to make you feel like you’ve known him all your life.”

Beaty’s staff, the coaches hope, are building a foundation through their camaraderie. Likens said they have more fun together than any staff he has worked on in 23 years. There is something to that, he added, because this can be a trying time for them as they attempt to build Kansas into a successful program.

Kansas head football coach David Beaty and Je'Ney Jackson, director of strength and conditioning have a laugh as the team waits under the Memorial Stadium stands as a lightning storm passes during spring practice on Tuesday, March 24, 2015.

Kansas head football coach David Beaty and Je'Ney Jackson, director of strength and conditioning have a laugh as the team waits under the Memorial Stadium stands as a lightning storm passes during spring practice on Tuesday, March 24, 2015. by Nick Krug

“Coaches are perfectionists, and we get very, very frustrated. There’s days I come off that practice field. ‘Wooo,’” Likens reenacted, letting his head hang low to mimic the end of a rough day. “And it’s hard. And (Perry’s) there to lift me up.

“He comes off the practice field some day and his corners had a bad day and he’s down, I’m there to lift him up,” Likens added. “We all encourage each other, because we all understand the vision. We all know it’s going to get there. It’s not there yet, and it’s gonna take some time.”

One benefit of that chemistry is that it can trickle down to the players — Likens has seen that happen before. It may not show up immediately, he added, because the Jayhawks wearing helmets and pads are still in the feeling out process with their new coaches, seeing how they will react on good days and bad ones.

The more the players and the guys in charge can build strong relationships in the midst of this restoration phase, they’re betting it will pay off in the years to come.

“God hoping, we win a lot of games,” Perry said. “But there’s gotta be a happy medium. You spend so much time together, if you’re not having fun you’re not happy together, and it doesn’t create a good house. Right now we got a great house. You’ll go through some growing pains, and you’ve gotta have a solid foundation. I think that’s what David’s built.”

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Weekend Picks: Riptide Comedy Festival; See/Saw Film Festival; Red Rockin Music Fest; Final Friday; Farmers’ Ball finals

Many local scenesters will likely trek to Kansas City this weekend for the music portion of KC's massive Middle of the Map Fest, but it's also a diverse festival weekend right here in LFK, with at least three festivals delivering comedy, film and music. Mix in a wealth of Final Friday activities and the Farmers' Ball finals, and there's surely enough close at hand to keep any culture-seeking citizen well-satisfied.

Riptide Comedy Festival, Thursday-Sunday, multiple locations

"It's not about us." That's the first thing that local comedy collective Harpoon Presents wants you to know about its second annual Riptide Comedy Festival. Sure, you can and will see plenty of familiar faces from the local scene, but the festival itself is bringing in talent from all over the country, including high-profile comics like Daniel Kibblesmith and collectives such as Denver's Fine Gentleman's Club. Expect more than just stand-up too, as these events will range from the debate format of the "Arguments & Grievances" event at the Taproom to the bizarre, sleepover-themed affair "Joe Pera Talks You To Sleep," a late-night Final Friday offering on Wonder Fair's not-so-secret "secret patio."

This is our TOP festival pick of the weekend if you are looking for booze-fueled vulgarity. Visit the official website here for info on festival passes, individual prices, participating venues and info on the performers and schedule. You can read more about this event in this LJWorld article, and check out the Facebook page here for handy links to individual event pages for all the varied showcases.

Final Friday, all over LFK

The most high-profile event of this month's Final Friday is almost certainly the Lawrence Inside Out project compiled by local photographer/artist Rachael Perry. These excellent large black-and-white photographs of local artists and art advocates of all stripes have likely been prominent in your Facebook feed for months, and have started popping up in various locations around town over the past few weeks.

The official Final Friday opening for this cool project is listed as the Percolator (visit the FB event page here), but you'll also encounter some of the portraits at the Lawrence Arts Center, Watkins Museum, the Warehouse Arts District, and elsewhere as you make the rounds tonight. Where will YOUR face be hanging? Read a nice LJWorld article on the project here.

Other events that intrigue us include an evening of music plus "live print making and live blacksmithing and live rock carving" at Art Emergency in the Warehouse Arts District (details here) and Ann Dean's photography exhibit "365: From Kansas to the Caribbean" at the Arts Center (details here).

See/Saw Film Festival, Friday-Sunday, Lawrence Public Library plus one screening at KU's Woodruff Auditorium

You'll find a festival of a very different kind at the Lawrence Public Library this weekend as the first See/Saw Film Festival offers up a well-curated selection of films from a variety of genres that "focus particular attention on children and youth whose experiences are under-considered or not considered at all." Among the highlights of the festival are "Rich Hill," a terrific documentary set in small-town Missouri (this one screens on Friday evening in Woodruff Auditorium on campus and is accompanied by a panel discussion) and the Oscar-nominated animated film "Song of the Sea" (the "Family Night" selection on Friday at LPL).

This is our TOP festival pick for educational value as well as a great choice for budget-minded film buffs: the festival is free but donations are encouraged. Visit the official website here and the Facebook event page here, and read Eric Melin's great LJWorld interview with festival founders Sorcha Hyland and Maggie Beneke here.

Rockin Red Music Fest, 3-7 p.m. Saturday, South Park

How about a family festival with music, food (including LFK's new BBQ food truck), beer for the grown folks, and a lot of activities for the kids? Stop by South Park on Saturday for the annual concert fundraiser for the Lawrence Community Nursery School (AKA "The Little Red Schoolhouse," hence the name of the festival). Visit the Facebook event page here for more info.

This is our TOP festival pick for exhausted adults looking for an excuse to drink beer in a park in the middle of the day while the kids hop around in a bounce house.

Farmers' Ball Finals, doors at 9 p.m., bands at 10 p.m. Saturday, the Bottleneck

On Saturday, one worthy band (or possibly the band who has convinced the most friends to attend and vote) will win this year's Farmers' Ball along with $2,000. After last weekend's semifinals, the four remaining bands are No Cave, Maybe Not, Toughies, and Via Luna. Click the links and study up before the finals.

Our prediction (based on very little research aside from their Facebook sound descriptions) is that the "dark bandicoot jazz" of No Cave will win the day. We'll predict that the "chandelier shakers" of Maybe Not take second. But does the "Tap-Happy/Twinkle" band Via Luna stand a chance? Perhaps. And it's also entirely possible that the Toughies could tough it out.

Do your scenester duty and stick around and vote.

Tweet us @LarryvilleLife and let us know what's on tap for next weekend.

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Bill Self better off at Kansas than with home-state Oklahoma City Thunder

Kansas head coach Bill Self gets at his defense during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2014 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.

Kansas head coach Bill Self gets at his defense during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2014 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. by Nick Krug

The Oklahoma City Thunder has a coaching vacancy.

Cue the wild speculation.

Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday afternoon the small-market NBA franchise not too far from Lawrence, Kansas, decided to get rid of head coach Scott Brooks.

So don’t be too surprised if rumors start swirling about the Thunder having interest in Kansas head coach Bill Self or vice versa.

According to Wojnarowski, Oklahoma City has strong interest in Florida coach Billy Donovan. If the two-time NCAA champion Gators coach wants to jump to the league, the job could be his for the taking.

Plus, UConn's Kevin Ollie, who played for OKC, could figure into the coaching search.

None by Adrian Wojnarowski

But KU fans long have feared Self would leave Allen Fieldhouse behind for a lucrative, appealing job in the professional ranks. Throw into the equation that Self grew up in Edmond, Oklahoma, and went to Oklahoma State, and one could easily infer the Jayhawks’ coach would listen if OKC gave him a call.

And any coach with a pulse would have to contemplate such an offer, because the Thunder have arguably two of the best five players in the NBA in Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.

Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant is pictured with the MVP trophy during the news conference to announce that Durant is the winner of the 2013-14 Kia NBA Basketball Most Value Player Award in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant is pictured with the MVP trophy during the news conference to announce that Durant is the winner of the 2013-14 Kia NBA Basketball Most Value Player Award in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki) by Sue Ogrocki

Here’s what we know:

• NBA teams have reached out to Self in the past. Just last year, Cleveland had some exploratory discussions with him about his interest.

• But Self told Gary Bedore last summer “not many” organizations have actually sought him out.

• As recently as last offseason, Self shot down the notion of leaving Kansas for an NBA job anytime soon.

“We’ve got so many good things going on right here,” Self told 610 radio in May of 2014. “You add the DeBruce Center (for Naismith rules and training table) and add the living quarters (new apartment complex to be built) to go along with the way we’ll be fed, from a recruiting standpoint we’ve done pretty well. I think we can even take a step up.”

The Thunder might not even have Self on their short list. It’s too early in the process to know either way. Whomever OKC goes after, expectations will be monumental. Injuries to Durant, Westbrook and Serge Ibaka at various junctures left the Thunder out of the playoffs this year. And Oklahoma City has a championship-level roster when everyone is healthy.

The new guy, whether that’s Donovan, Ollie, a coach with NBA experience or someone else, will be expected to not only guide the Thunder back to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2012, but bring the Larry O’Brien Trophy to Oklahoma.

OKC general manager Sam Presti made that clear in a statement he released:

“We move forward with confidence in our foundation and embrace the persistence and responsibility that is required to contract an elite and enduring basketball organization capable of winning an NBA championship in Oklahoma City.”

Self operates at KU with those types of job requirements, and maintaining those is easier at the college level when you’re working at a name-brand program such as Kansas.

For all the talent the Thunder has, nothing in the NBA is guaranteed. Durant will be a free agent in 2016. Westbrook’s contract expires the following season. We might be two years away from Oklahoma City falling into irrelevancy.

You couldn’t say that about Kansas.

Are the Thunder interested in Bill Self? Who knows at this juncture.

Given Self’s situation, and contract with KU, it’s hard to imagine he would want to leave that behind to become the head coach of his home state’s pro team.

UPDATE — 5:30 p.m.

The Oklahoman’s Thunder beat writer, Anthony Slater, on Wednesday posted a long list of possible replacements for Brooks. Of course, Donovan and Ollie topped the lineup as favorites.

However, The Oklahoman also pointed to Self and Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg as currently employed options. Slater wrote Self would be a “widely popular” hire in OKC:

“Self is from Edmond and is as charismatic as they come. Not sure he fits the Thunder mold or is even on the radar at all. But, man, is it a fun hire to think about. Particularly from a media perspective.”

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Why local musicians shouldn’t miss the MixMaster 2015 Music Conference

If you are in any way involved with local music, you might want to sign up for an upcoming conference.

MixMaster 2015 is an event that helps local musicians connect with industry professionals such as journalists, record labels, promoters and more. The conference helps musicians learn about anything from copyright issues to production.

Speaking of which, this year's conference is adding production workshops at the Lawrence Public Library's Sound + Vision studio on Friday, May 1, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Producers and engineers will share their knowledge with attendees. Later that night at 7 p.m., Five Bar & Tables will host a Songwriter Night.

The actual music conference takes play the next day on Saturday, May 2, at the Bottleneck from noon to 5 p.m. The venue will also host a live showcase later that night.

I Heart Local Music attended MixMaster 2015 last year and was thoroughly impressed with the plethora of necessary knowledge available to local musicians. We encourage anyone to attend conference and showcase, spearheaded by Silly Goose Records.

You can RSVP to the event on Facebook here, or go to MixMaster's website here.

— Fally Afani is a freelance writer and editor of I Heart Local Music. She enjoys long walks, photography and rock and roll. She does not like cats, but makes exceptions for the ones at Love Garden. For more local music coverage, visit iheartlocalmusic.com.

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The musical mad scientist: This Is My Condition

Craig Comstock might be the only person in town who can get a crowd worked into a frenzy over a series of noises.

The musical madman performs under the name This Is My Condition. On Saturday night, a rather large audience crowded around the solo performer perched behind a drum set and a few beat-up devices.

The shrill joy of a This Is My Condition show is the kind of bizarre experience you'll only find in a place like Lawrence. Comstock beats the holy heck out of his drums, and then he beats them some more. He also uses his sticks to slap a guitar that lays flat across the kit, while an infinite number of noisemakers decorate his left side. He's a scientist of sorts, crafting all sorts of gadgets to get the sound he desires. This series of unpredictable twists and turns expand your melodic mind. Think of it as jazz for punk rockers.

Here's what he sounded like:

Note: This post originally appeared on I Heart Local Music.

— Fally Afani is a freelance writer and editor of I Heart Local Music. She enjoys long walks, photography and rock and roll. She does not like cats, but makes exceptions for the ones at Love Garden. For more local music coverage, visit iheartlocalmusic.com.

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Veteran Paul Pierce turns it on for postseason opener

Washington Wizards forward Paul Pierce plays against the Detroit Pistons in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Auburn Hills, Mich., Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Washington Wizards forward Paul Pierce plays against the Detroit Pistons in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Auburn Hills, Mich., Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

That Paul Pierce from the 2014-15 regular season — you know, the one that looked every day of 37 years old, with 17 seasons of NBA games continuing to break down his body. That was a hoax. A con man.

At least that’s what the former Kansas star would have us believe after scoring a game-high 20 points Saturday at Toronto, helping Washington take a 1-0 lead in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

On the court for his post-game interview with ESPN, the sideline reporter pointed out Pierce hadn’t scored that much since an 18-point effort at Utah on March 18 — a month earlier.

Sure enough, Pierce only scored in double figures twice in his final 10 games.

“I was resting, I was resting for this moment right here,” Pierce responded, with a grin.

Now that the playoffs have arrived, maybe the real Paul Pierce will keep making appearances. “The Truth” lives for this stage. He now has 3,027 career postseason points — moving past Lakers great James Worthy to take 22nd place on the all-time NBA Playoffs scoring list.

Pierce, who said he felt good entering the postseason because coach Randy Wittman didn’t push him too hard down the stretch, spent some time as Washington’s stretch-4 to give Toronto issues in what turned out to be a 93-86 overtime road win for the Wizards.

He took over the game and scored half of his points in the second quarter, as Washington battled a raucous crowd that has gown to despise Pierce in particular after he knocked the Raptors out of the playoffs last season, when he played for Brooklyn.

“I don’t mind playing the role of underdog, villain or whatever you want to call it. I was just trying to help my team win, try to give us a mental edge,” Pierce said in Michael Lee’s writeup for The Washington Post. “If that’s the role I’m going to play, I just got to embrace it. It’s not that I’m a bad guy. Everybody knows I’m a good guy. I mean, off the court.”

He evidently didn’t mind a Toronto tabloid poking fun at his age, either, because he posted a photo of the back page graphic on his Instagram account.

Lol

Lol by paulpierce

Pierce, who opened OT by draining a 3-pointer that have D.C. the lead for good, said afterward the Raptors are down and the Wizards have to take advantage.

“We’re going to try to get greedy,” Pierce said in Jorge Catillo’s Washington Post story. “We didn’t come up here to try to get one game. We came up to take it one game at a time. We got Game 1, and now we’re trying to get Game 2.”

While Pierce hit 7 of 10 shots, 4 of 7 from deep and secured four rebounds, his teammate Drew Gooden, another former KU star, hauled in 10 rebounds, scored 6 points off the bench and helped protect the rim.

None by NBA

It never hurts to have savvy veterans this time of year — especially ones who saved their legs for the playoffs.

“As a unit, we’ve been here before,” the 33-year-old Gooden told The Washington Post. “It’s nothing new to us. We know it can be done. We got that first one from them and now we got to taste a little bit of blood.”

Game 2 in Toronto is Tuesday night (7 p.m., NBA TV).


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


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Five Jayhawks chasing glory in playoffs

The 2014-15 regular season concluded this week in the NBA, marking the end of the road for the majority of former Kansas players in the league.

Cole Aldrich, Darell Arthur, Tarik Black, Ben McLemore, Marcus and Markieff Morris, Thomas Robinson and Andrew Wiggins? All of them already find themselves in offseason mode.

Even playoff regulars Mario Chalmers of Miami and Nick Collison of Oklahoma City are on the outside, looking in, after monumental injuries derailed their team’s seasons.

So when you start watching the 2015 NBA Playoffs, you’ll only find five Jayhawks playing on the 16 teams chasing a championship.

TORONTO VS. WASHINGTON

Washington Wizards forward Paul Pierce (34) shoots against Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala (9) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Oakland, Calif., Monday, March 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Washington Wizards forward Paul Pierce (34) shoots against Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala (9) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Oakland, Calif., Monday, March 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

As you might have figured, Paul Pierce is the most prominent KU product in the hunt. Even at 37, “The Truth” still finds ways to make an impact on the floor. Now in his 17th season, Pierce averaged 11.9 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 0.6 steals in 26.2 minutes, and made 44.7% of his shots, 38.9% of his 3-pointers and 78.1% of his free throws.

Pierce proved last season as a member of the Brooklyn Nets he can still come through with game-winning plays during crunch time in the playoffs.

And he also became quite a villain in Toronto in the process.

None by SLAM Magazine

A pseudo first-round rematch — Pierce vs. the Raptors — should provide plenty of entertainment. Especially when you consider how competitive Pierce is and that he is getting closer to retirement.

The 2008 NBA Finals MVP spoke about the urgency of the postseason with The Washington Post’s Jorge Castillo. As a veteran leader on a team that features an explosive young backcourt in John Wall and Bradley Beal, Pierce’s responsibilities these days aren’t limited to play-making.

“I just try to get the guys to focus in on the task at hand. These are special moments,” Pierce told The Washington Post. “You got to take advantage of these moments. There’s nothing like playoff basketball. The intensity, the smell of the popcorn, the national televised games every night. This is where good players become great players, and you try to relish these moments and that’s what I’m trying to [instill] into these guys, that every moment counts.”

The Wizards, of course, have another veteran from Kansas: Drew Gooden. In his 13th season, the journeyman power forward comes off the bench for Washington and has provided two double-digit rebound games, as well as a pair of double-digit scoring efforts in April.

In D.C.’s last 10 games, Gooden has seen his minutes and production go up: 7.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists in 25.7 minutes.

Compare that with his season numbers: 5.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 16.9 minutes.

If Pierce and Gooden can find some of their youthful bounce inside those high-mileage legs, Washington might have a chance to advance to the next round.

MILWAUKEE VS. CHICAGO

Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich directs his team against the Charlotte Hornets in an NBA basketball game Friday, March 13, 2015 in Charlotte, N.C. Charlotte won 101-91.(AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich directs his team against the Charlotte Hornets in an NBA basketball game Friday, March 13, 2015 in Charlotte, N.C. Charlotte won 101-91.(AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

Another old man by NBA standards, 12th-year guard Kirk Hinrich has a chance to play a complimentary role for one of the Eastern Conference favorites, Chicago. That is assuming he is healthy enough to do so.

According to an ESPN.com report, Hinrich didn’t practice Friday and he was listed as uncertain for Saturday’s series opener, while recovering from a hyperextended right knee.

Hinrich, who plays alongside ultra-talented Bulls Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol, Jimmy Butler and Joakim Noah, sat out the final two games of the regular season. He hasn’t played more than 20 minutes in a game since March 28.

If/when Hinrich plays, he’ll mainly be asked to facilitate and defend. He averaged just 5.7 points this season in 24.4 minutes a game, shot 37.3% from the field and made 34.5% of his 3-pointers. He hasn’t knocked down more than one 3-pointer in a game since Jan. 23.

GOLDEN STATE VS. NEW ORLEANS

Golden State Warriors' Brandon Rush, right, drives the ball against Charlotte Hornets' Kemba Walker during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014, in Oakland, Calif. The Warriors won 112-87. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Golden State Warriors' Brandon Rush, right, drives the ball against Charlotte Hornets' Kemba Walker during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014, in Oakland, Calif. The Warriors won 112-87. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Don’t hold your breath waiting to see former KU stars in this series.

Brandon Rush is lucky enough to play for the league’s best team, but Golden State — No. 1 in the Western Conference — doesn’t need to use him much when the Warriors have guys like Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala.

Rush, who only played in 33 games this season, last played significant minutes (23) against Denver in mid-March and went scoreless. He didn’t play in five straight games before making brief appearances in three of the last four, highlighted by 5 points, 2 rebounds and 1 steal in 14 minutes in the finale.

The Warriors might advance far enough for Rush to be the last Jayhawk standing in the playoffs, but when you see him it will usually be on the bench cheering on one of the most entertaining teams in recent memory.

The Pelicans’ Jeff Withey finds himself in the same situation (except that his season figures to end much sooner, playing for No. 8 New Orleans).

The former Kansas pivot only played 7.0 minutes a game in the regular season, which ranked him next-to-last on the team. With big men Anthony Davis (an emerging superstar), Ryan Anderson, Dante Cunningham, Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca eating up all the minutes inside, Withey isn’t a part of the Pelicans’ game plan.

The lean 7-footer averaged 2.6 points, 1.7 rebounds and 0.5 blocks this season while shooting 50% from the field.

In theory, he could get some run if New Orleans finds itself on the wrong end of a blowout. Withey last made a field goal on March 20, at Golden State. The Warriors won, 112-96, and he played 29 minutes, going for 14 points (5-for-9 shooting) and 8 rebounds.

Mostly, he should be ready to pose for any celebratory post-game photos quickly, having not expended much energy beforehand.

The squad! #playoffbound #pels #nola #squad #myclique #notdoneyet

The squad! #playoffbound #pels #nola #squad #myclique #notdoneyet by jeffwithey


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


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Brace yourselves: Record Store Day is coming

Record Store Day is this Saturday, and Love Garden Sounds will be having a sale on top of selling the day's exclusive releases.

Record Store Day is this Saturday, and Love Garden Sounds will be having a sale on top of selling the day's exclusive releases.

By now the staff at Love Garden is in busy mode getting ready for Record Store Day, an annual event that draws music aficionados to local record stores across the country.

RSD is this Saturday and features loads of exclusive releases. Love Garden set up an event page on Facebook and says they'll send out an email the night before detailing all the RSD merchandise they'll have in stock. You can sign up for the email list over at www.lovegardensounds.com. They'll also post those items on the Facebook event page and take your questions online.

There will be some perks for those hitting the downtown store on Saturday. If you spend $50 or more there, you'll get a credit slip for 10 percent of your ticket subtotal to use on a future visit. Additionally, Love Garden merchandise (T-shirts, hoodies, bags, etc.) will be 25 percent off on RSD.

If you're lining up for the event on Saturday, employees will hand out numbers to people waiting in line before they open. The order of those numbers determines who gets their hands on exclusive items first. The store is allowing each person to grab five items to purchase from the exclusives table.

Whether you end up grabbing loads of music or just browsing, it's a fun community event for music lovers. Waiting in line hardly feels like a chore, as most attendees tend to excitedly chat about their various tastes in music.

— Fally Afani is a freelance writer and editor of I Heart Local Music. She enjoys long walks, photography and rock and roll. She does not like cats, but makes exceptions for the ones at Love Garden. For more local music coverage, visit iheartlocalmusic.com.

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KJHK Farmers’ Ball semifinals feature 8 (mostly psychedelic) bands

This year's KJHK Farmers' Ball semifinals and finals will be April 18 and 25 at the Bottleneck.

This year's KJHK Farmers' Ball semifinals and finals will be April 18 and 25 at the Bottleneck.

A battle of the bands is brewing.

The finalists for KJHK's Farmers' Ball have been announced, with the semifinals scheduled for Saturday, April 18, at the Bottleneck. That's where the following bands will compete for cash and prizes:

While this year's competition sees some familiar faces, including doo-wop heavy-hitters Dean Monkey and Dropouts and aggressive garage-rockers Arc Flash, there are some new bands in the mix. Toughies, a new band comprised of members of Haunt Ananta and Panda Circus, has just one show under its belt. Maybe Not, another newer band featuring a former member of Haunt Ananta, has also seen some growing buzz lately.

There seems to be a heavy psychedelic theme in this year's competition, likely because so many musicians in this year's lineup come from the Whatever Forever family. No Cave might possibly have the most perfected psychedelic sound of the group. We're also seeing a surge in electronic sounds thanks to bands like LION and Wolf, The Rabbit. Via Luna also leans toward the instrumental side, but with a more organic (rather than electric) sound.

The eight semifinalists beat out 86 other bands for the competition. The audience at the Bottleneck this Saturday will vote to decide which four bands go on to the final round at the Bottleneck on Saturday, April 25. Audience members will have to stay until the last band plays in order to vote.

For updates regarding the competition, you can follow KJHK's website.

— Fally Afani is a freelance writer and editor of I Heart Local Music. She enjoys long walks, photography and rock and roll. She does not like cats, but makes exceptions for the ones at Love Garden. For more local music coverage, visit iheartlocalmusic.com.

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Weekend Picks: KJHK Farmers’ Ball; Record Store Day; Pop-Up Festival; Poetry Fair; Letter Writing Club

Spring is here and that means festival season is upon us. But you don't have to run off to KC's Middle of the Map to fill your festival needs. We'll be showcasing several festivals and festival-like events in LFK over the next few weekends alongside the other worthy picks.

CS Luxem/Mat Shoare Release and Tour Kickoff/La Guerre (full band), 10 p.m. Thursday, Replay Lounge

Consider kicking off the weekend early with this nice triple-header at the Replay. The prolific and always-experimenting CS Luxem headlines an evening that also serves as a release party for Mat Shoare (check out his new video "Murder" via PopMatters). Make sure to get there early, as Katlyn Conroy's La Guerre will be expanding to a full-band for this show, and La Guerre in a full-band incarnation is a treat.

The Facebook event page is here.

Record Store Day, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Love Garden

Record Store Day is like an early Christmas for music-loving scenesters, and Love Garden is the best (and pretty much only) place to celebrate in LFK. Visit their Facebook event page here for helpful links regarding the day's exclusive releases. And make sure to study the page closely, as you'll find Love Garden's specific regulations that have been devised to keep you crazed collectors from getting too unruly as you try to snag such treats as a colored-vinyl heart-shaped 7" of Father John Misty's "I Love You, Honeybear."

Farmers' Ball semifinals, doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Saturday, Bottleneck

KJHK's long-running and ever-popular Battle of the Bands competition known as Farmers' Ball returns this weekend and the next. The eight bands chosen for Saturday's semis range from familiar faces like Dean Monkey and the Dropouts (who have been performing in holes in the ground behind the train station as far back as 2011) to newer bands like NO CAVE (who play "dark bandicoot jazz," according to their Facebook page).

As always, the audience votes on the winners, who then advance to the final round on April 24. Top prize is $2,000, which buys a lot of PBR or perhaps some recording time, depending on the band's work ethic.

The Facebook event page is here with helpful details but (unhelpfully) no links to the respective Facebook pages of the eight participating bands. You can, however, check out Fally Afani's I Heart Local Music blog where she gives a quick rundown of the participating bands. Also click here and see a cool profile of Arc Flash on YouTube via KJHK, and maybe more will be added as well.

Pop-Up Festival, 11:30 a.m. Saturday to 5 a.m. Sunday, North Sands Warehouse

The Farmers' Ball is sort of like a festival, in that it has a lot of bands. But a true festival really needs several stages. Saturday's Pop-Up Festival in North Lawrence has two stages, and they will be filled to bursting all day and (literally) all-night long on Saturday with many of the area's solid bluegrass, folk and jam bands. Don't miss those lovely Sugar Britches, who received the full Weekend Picks showcase treatment recently, along with local favorites like Tyler Gregory and Cowgirl's Trainset, plus bands paying tribute to The Meters (cool) and Grateful Dead (groovy, if you like that sort of thing).

Hopefully attendees are not too stoned to find their way to the address listed on the flier above. What IS the North Sands Warehouse? Our personal North Lawrence music treks consist mostly of the Gaslight and Frank's, so it's a new venue to us.

The Facebook event page is here.

'Dark Command' screenings and exhibit opening, Saturday, Watkins Museum of History

In 1940, none other than John Wayne (along with Gene Autry and Roy Rogers) came to town for the world-premiere of the Lawrence-set film "Dark Command," based on Quantrill's 1863 raid on our fair town. It's a legendary Lawrence event, and some claim as many as 75,000 people turned out for the premiere and a massive parade. Read a great 1998 LJWorld piece on the event here and stop by Watkins Museum on Saturday to see a new exhibit about the premiere, as well as three screenings of the film at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.).

Second Annual Lawrence Poetry Fair, noon-4 p.m. Sunday, Lawrence Arts Center

Perhaps you prefer fairs to festivals? Stop by the LAC Sunday as it celebrates National Poetry Month with the second-annual Lawrence Poetry Fair. Here are some details via the LAC site:

"All poets who have published at least one book (or chapbook) and representatives from poetry journals are welcome to attend, sell books/journals, and participate in poetry reading at an open mic. Readings will be limited to 10 minutes each. If you plan to sell books or journals, please bring dollar bills for making change. To register, email Beth Schultz at: eschultz@ku.edu."

Letter Writing Club, 2-4 p.m. Sunday, Decade Coffee Shop (hosted by Wonder Fair)

If you're like us, perhaps you enjoy taking occasional breaks from writing smart-ass tweets in order to pen heartfelt letters to friends and lovers (though we suppose angry rants to bitter foes could work just as well). This month's installment of Wonder Fair's Letter Writing Club promises to be extra-cool, marking the debut of the event's custom return-address stamp carved by local paper/printmaker Kelsey Pike.

Give Letter Writing Club a "like" on Facebook here and find the full details about the events at the Wonder Fair site here so that you will know what to bring (pens and paper) and what NOT to bring (laptops...because this event is old-school!!)

Tweet us @LarryvilleLife with tips for next week, which is slated to include at least TWO Festivals: the second annual Riptide Comedy Festival and the inaugural (and free) See/Saw Film Festival at Lawrence Public Library.

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Joel Embiid wowing Sixers while working back into game shape

For the Philadelphia 76ers, next season can’t come soon enough.

As expected (and, let’s be honest, intended), 2014-15 has been a giant bust: Eighteen wins. Sixty-one losses. Three games left.

With another campaign of tanking coming to a close, what makes anyone within the Sixers organization optimistic next season will be any different? For one thing, they should finally have Joel Embiid in uniform and contributing.

In the past few days, interest in the rookie-to-be out of Kansas has grown. Still working his way back into shape after suffering a stress fracture in his right foot prior to being picked No. 3 in the NBA Draft, Embiid played two-on-two basketball for the first time earlier this week.

Bob Cooney of the Daily News reported the recovering young 7-footer also displayed his jump-shooting and post moves after a recent practice. Philly coach Brett Brown, of course, has seen far more. And he says Embiid has a long way to go.

"Physically, it's important that none of us get ahead of ourselves or expect something too quick, too soon, because that's not going to happen,” Brown said. “But when you see glimpses of his skill package, you can't help but say, 'Wow.' Just like we saw when we saw him play at Kansas. It's a two-way player and you're just seeing hints of some of the great players and all wrapped up into somebody that hasn't played basketball in a really long time.”

The work Embiid is putting in is impressing teammates, too. Fellow KU product Thomas Robinson said he would bet on the phenom from Cameroon soon becoming a productive NBA player.

"He's my teammate and a KU guy. He'll be great,” Robinson predicted. “I like that he's not a typical back-to-the-basket center. He is a little versatile. He can do a lot more than just stand in the post and shoot jumpers. He can handle the ball. I'm not saying he's going to do these things, but he has the package to use them if he has to. Later on in his career, once everything gets together, then he'll be a problem."

Kansas center Joel Embiid and Oklahoma State forward Kamari Murphy tangle for position during the first half on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Kansas center Joel Embiid and Oklahoma State forward Kamari Murphy tangle for position during the first half on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

The next big step for the 21-year-old with monumental upside figured to be the NBA’s Summer League, his first chance to prove himself in live competition since his final game for the Jayhawks, a loss at Oklahoma State in which he had 13 points and 13 rebounds before re-injuring his back.

However, The Inquirer’s Marc Narducci reported the Sixers have yet to officially decide whether Embiid will play in the summer showcase for young, developing players and unaffiliated free agents.

Brown first wants to see the injury-plagued big man run up and down the court.

“When we get to that level,” the coach told The Inquirer, “then we are really cooking, and a hell of a lot closer than we are today to making better assessments and projecting him out as it relates to summer league."

Embiid, of course, can’t wait to be an active member of the 76ers. He recently suited up just to be on the floor for pre-game introductions.


Philadelphia plans to pair Embiid with 6-foot-11 rookie Nerlens Noel to form a dynamic, rim-protecting wall of “we dare you to come in here.” Noel, averaging 9.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.9 blocks, told Sixers.com he expects his fellow big man to be a welcome, game-altering addition.

“He takes up a lot of space. He is always going to draw attention. His shooting ability is definitely there,” Noel said. “He practices shooting the three. I don't know how much he will be doing that, but just having that ability is going to open up a lot of things."

Inquirer beat writer Keith Pompey recently posted some clips of Embiid working out on his Instagram account, and he’s definitely working on his inside game, too.

The Sixers just hope they get a chance to see even more out of their potential franchise cornerstone. And soon.


Embiid dancing on the bench while wearing a suit only provides so much entertainment value.


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.


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Kawehi exceeds Kickstarter goal for next album in a hurry

Hello, World. I've been quiet the last week...because I'm putting together a new project!! I'm SOOO excited I can't even.....it's gonna be BANANAS!! Details coming tomorrow yo!!!!!!

Hello, World. I've been quiet the last week...because I'm putting together a new project!! I'm SOOO excited I can't even.....it's gonna be BANANAS!! Details coming tomorrow yo!!!!!! by iamkawehi

"My name is Kawehi and I am a DIY musician. I am not rich. I am not signed to a record label. But what I do have… is all of you! And that makes me the luckiest moo on the planet."

Those are the words that greet you when you land on Kawehi's Kickstarter page. It might have been more than luck that came to the Lawrence musician and Internet sensation recently. She just launched a Kickstarter to fund her next album, "INTERAKTIV," and in a very short time far exceeded that goal. In less than 24 hours, the project was 400 percent funded.

Kawehi initially needed just $3,000 for the album, but as of Friday had raised more than $21,000. The musician known for going at it solo (through a series of intricate loops) sure had a lot of hands on deck for this fundraiser. With more than 300 backers, Kickstarter named it a staff pick with still a month left in the campaign.

Last month, Kawehi wrapped up a nationwide tour in support of her most recent album, last year's "Robot Heart." To follow along with Kawehi's Kickstarter project, click here.

— Fally Afani is a freelance writer and editor of I Heart Local Music. She enjoys long walks, photography and rock and roll. She does not like cats, but makes exceptions for the ones at Love Garden. For more local music coverage, visit iheartlocalmusic.com.

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Weekend Picks: Rave of Thrones, Charlie Crawl, sports trivia at Watkins, Farmers’ Market, ‘The Last Unicorn’

Readers, we're drifting a little further from the mainstream than usual this week in an effort to convince you that LFK is still trying hard to keep things weird (or eccentric, at least).

From a Charlie Chaplin parade to a medieval dance party, we've got you covered. Get out there and get freaky. Or just keep things normal and go to opening day of the outdoor Farmers Market. It's one of our picks as well.

Rave of Thrones, 8 p.m. Thursday (doors at 7 p.m.), Granada

As many of you geeks well know, the new season of "Game of Thrones" premieres this Sunday on HBO. If you love the show AND love to writhe around on a dance floor, you can't afford to miss the Granada's sure-to-be-epic event called "Rave of Thrones" Thursday night. The evening centers around a DJ-set from GoT's Kristian Nairn (Hodor) and the press material assures attendees that "medieval times-themed party Renaissance costumes are encouraged." Personally, we're working on some sweet baby dragon costumes!

This is our pick for best people-watching event of the week (if not year). Visit the Facebook event page here.

Watkins Museum Sports Trivia Night, 7 p.m. Thursday, Watkins Community Museum of History

If you're like us, you enjoy drinking not just in bars but also in unexpected places, like museums. Consider spending an evening of trivia with our friends at Watkins Museum, where $10 will get you some snacks, drinks and a chance at a $50 gift card for downtown hotspots.

Hopefully there aren't any questions about KU basketball's recent habit of second-round tournament exits, because those questions are just too painful to reckon with on an otherwise pleasant evening.

The Facebook event page is here and the flier above is pretty "terrific" (as Bill Self might say, since he seems to love that word in interviews).

Lawrence Farmers Market opening day, 7-11 a.m. Saturday, 824 New Hampshire St.

The Farmers Market is one of the few events that will get scenesters and foodies up at a reasonable hour on Saturday morning. If you're ready for breakfast burritos, buskers, Hurtz Donuts, and (oh yeah) fresh fruits and vegetables, you'll want to be on hand for this year's debut.

Too bad the lovely Pollinators mural is no longer blooming in the background, however.

Charlie Crawl and Chaplin short films, crawl at 2:30 p.m., films at 4 p.m. Saturday, Liberty Hall

From the Mardi Gras parade to the Zombie Walk to the SantaCon pub crawl, LFK loves any opportunity to get dressed up and promenade up and down Mass. Street or its sidewalks.

Saturday brings a new opportunity with the Charlie Crawl, in which a group of folks dressed as Charlie Chaplin will (silently) amble their way from the Replay to Liberty Hall for a viewing of three short Chaplin films. Here are the necessary details from Liberty Hall's website:

"Join a mob of Chaplin lookalikes and strut down Massachusetts Street in the style of the Little Tramp. Don your derby, slap on a toothbrush moustache, grab your bamboo cane, and congregate at the corner of 10th and Mass (in front to The Replay Lounge) at 2:30 p.m.

This leisurely, silent stroll will conclude at Liberty Hall, where we will have a COSTUME CONTEST with PRIZES, then watch the short films on the big screen in Liberty Hall’s grand, main theater!"

The films themselves start at 4 p.m. if you prefer to watch without crawling.

Note: Looking for a more traditional street parade this weekend? LFK's annual Earth Day parade proceeds along Mass. Street starting at 11 am with festivities following in South Park. Their flier-less Facebook page is here.

'Flora the Red Menace,' April 10-16, Inge Theatre at Murphy Hall

Looking for a nice comic musical this weekend? Consider KU University Theatre's production of a lesser-known work from Kander and Ebb, the renowned songwriting duo behind Cabaret and Chicago.

Flora and the Red Menace is set in Depression-era New York and tells the story of "an optimistic and high-spirited young woman whose love life is complicated by the Communist Party." According to the KU University Theatre website, this production is modeled on "the stripped-down, 1987 off-Broadway revival" and is being staged in the smaller and more intimate Inge Theatre at Murphy Hall.

Day of Creativity and Closing Party, noon-5 p.m. Sunday, Spencer Museum of Art

It's Kansas Art Week at KU, and with the Spencer Museum poised to close for major renovations, you'll want to take in one more event at the museum followed by a last peek at the galleries.

The Day of Creativity will feature a "pop-up museum" on the front lawn plus as manner of interactive activities and music from The String Beans and Truckstop Honeymoon. Find the full slate of possibilities and set times here.

The Closing Party is scheduled immediately afterward from 3-5 p.m. with refreshments, bluegrass from MAW, T-shirt giveaways, and remarks from museum Director Saralyn Reece Hardy. More details here.

Lawrence Civic Choir 40th Anniversary Concert, 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Lied Center

If you've read our columns over the years at our former blog Larryville Chronicles, you've probably said to yourselves: those guys probably don't know a whole lot about choral and classical music. Well, you're right.

But we do try to get cultured on occasion, and a good opportunity this weekend is a major 40th anniversary Lied Center performance from the Lawrence Civic Choir as they present Brahms' "Requiem." The Civic Choir will be joined for this event by the considerably newer Lawrence Community Orchestra (a group that just debuted last year).

Make sure to click here and check out Joanna Hlavacek's excellent Lawrence Journal-World piece from this week that examines the Civic Choir's 40-year history.

"The Last Unicorn" screening and talkback, 8 p.m. Sunday, Liberty Hall

Should you return to Liberty Hall for ANOTHER film event on Sunday? You certainly should. After all, it's not every day when you can see a digitally remastered version of the 1982 fantasy cult classic "The Last Unicorn" complete with a Q&A from fantasy legend Peter S. Beagle, who wrote the screenplay and the novel the film is based upon.

Find details here via Liberty Hall.

Tweet us early and often @LarryvilleLife if you have events for possible inclusion here in the coming weeks.

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