Entries from blogs tagged with “ku”

Most Crucial Jayhawks 2016: No. 19 - DE Damani Mosby

It's more pass rushing on the list of the 25 most crucial Jayhawks for the 2016 season today, because, in the Big 12 Conference, stopping the pass (or at least slowing it down), either in the secondary or at the point of release, is a critical part of slowing down some of the country's best and most explosive offenses.

Last week, at No. 21, we saw senior defensive end Anthony Olobia's name pop up on this list. And today it's the man Olobia is battling with for a starting job who is our featured Jayhawk.

Both are coming off of 2015 seasons in which they showed flashes of great ability and it'll likely come down to the one who's most consistent getting the starting nod and more reps. Both will play, however, and both need to have strong seasons to help this KU team climb out of the cellar.

Reminder: This is not a list of the 25 best players on this year's team. That would be much easier to pinpoint and, while still key, would not exactly demonstrate the full value that each player has in regard to the 2016 season.

This is a list of the 25 players who need to have strong seasons in order for the Jayhawks to have a chance to compete.

Matt Tait and I came up with the list by each making our own list of 25 and then combining the results. We did the same thing for the last two years, but the amount of fresh faces made this list much tougher to put together.

Track the list every weekday at KUsports.com, where we'll unveil the list one-by-one in reverse order. And, in case you miss some, be sure to check the links at the bottom of each entry for an up-to-date look at the list of 25.

Kansas junior defensive end Damani Mosby (#13), photographed at a KU football media day event Saturday August 8, 2015.

Kansas junior defensive end Damani Mosby (#13), photographed at a KU football media day event Saturday August 8, 2015. by Mike Yoder

19. Damani Mosby, Sr. Defensive End

An explosive first step immediately caught the coaching staff’s eyes and Mosby used that step to get around KU’s offensive tackles and into the backfield regularly throughout the 2015 spring football season.

But when the Big 12 portion of the schedule arrived, Mosby faced bigger, quicker bodies in games than those who competed against in practice and at times, such as against the behemoths from Oklahoma and Texas, he looked overwhelmed by the sheer size of the blockers.

He played last season at 239 pounds and logged just 1.5 sacks in 10 games, including three starts. He didn’t meet expectations, so it was time to shift to Plan B.

Mosby put on 19 pounds in the offseason and is listed at 258 pounds. The challenge now becomes restoring the explosiveness he showed at a much lighter weight.

His best game during the 2015 season came late, when he totaled four solo tackles, including a sack, and two assists against TCU. He showed in that game, vs. strong competition, what he could do for the Kansas defense when he is able to turn his explosive first step into strong plays from start to finish.

Mosby and Anthony Olobia are in their third seasons at Kansas, where they both redshirted in their first seasons after two-year junior college careers.

Fellow defensive end Dorance Armstrong is as good an NFL prospect as Kansas has on its roster and the potential for big sophomore season from him has a better shot at becoming reality if Mosby and/or Olobia bring heat on the quarterback from the other edge.

If Mosby can become a disruptive enough force to make the opposing quarterback hurry, thus doing a huge favor to the secondary, KU has a shot to stay in more games into the fourth quarter.

Top 25 Most Crucial Jayhawks of 2016:

No. 25 - OL Jayson Rhodes

No. 24 - CB Kyle Mayberry

No. 23 - OL Joe Gibson

No. 22 - WR Steven Sims, Jr.

No. 21 - DE Anthony Olobia

No. 20 - RB Denzell Evans

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Say something nice about Kansas football: Culture of keeping each other accountable taking root

Kansas football team members react to a series of weightlifting reps by teammate Ryan Schadler during an early morning workout Friday morning, June 24, 2016.

Kansas football team members react to a series of weightlifting reps by teammate Ryan Schadler during an early morning workout Friday morning, June 24, 2016. by Mike Yoder

Strength and conditioning coach Je’Ney Jackson and the rest of his staff put in multiple 15-hour days a week this time of year, but somehow the days don’t seem as long to them as they did last summer.

“I love coming in here every day and grinding every day because they’re giving everything they’ve got,” Jackson said.

The most encouraging aspect of summer conditioning so far, Jackson said, is that the players are doing some of his work for him.

“The thing that is so different in this team is truly how hard they are straining,” Jackson said. “We train four days a week. They’re out there in the heat for a long time and guys are pushing so hard, but the best part about it is they are holding their teammates to the right standard, so if it’s not done the right way, I don’t have to jump them and tell them to go over and do it again. By the time that guy gets done with his rep, he’s got four or five guys telling him, ‘That wasn’t good enough. Go back and do it again.’ And we haven’t had that. Before that what we had was, ‘What do you mean that’s not good enough?’ We haven’t had any of that. A guy tells him it’s not good enough, it’s not good enough. And they do it until it’s good enough. That has been a huge difference in this team.”

Establishing a culture of accountability won’t change the raw talent level, but will increase a program’s ability to compete deeper into games against more talented teams as the bond among players grows stronger. Even if just small strides can be made every year in terms of raw talent among recruits, the culture of accountability will enable the better athletes to improve at a faster rate.

How did the change from a year ago happen?

“I think the biggest thing is your best players decide they’re sick of falling below the standard,” Jackson said. “And they’re sick of working as hard as they work and then seeing other people not do it. So now it’s come to a point of, ‘Hey, if I’m going to work this hard, I’m holding you to that same standard.’ And us as coaches say: ‘Hey, if your teammate calls you out in a constructive way, then I’m going to have a problem with you going back at that guy.’ That’s what we’ve had to instill in them: ‘Hey, if you’re not being a man and you’re not doing what you’re supposed to do to help your teammates and to be a great teammate, then someone’s got to tell you you’re not at that standard.’ ”

Kansas picks last or close to it on the Big 12 recruiting trail, so it must do an excellent job of developing talent to close the gap. That was a huge key to the rise of the program when Mark Mangino was head coach and Chris Dawson was strength and conditioning coach, a role he now fills for Kansas State. That can’t happen without the culture of accountability about which Jackson genuinely is excited.

There you have it, I said something nice about Kansas football. Your turn.

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A look at Big 12 NBA draft history

Kansas' Andrew Wiggins answers questions during an interview after being selected as the number one pick overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2014 NBA draft, Thursday, June 26, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Kansas' Andrew Wiggins answers questions during an interview after being selected as the number one pick overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2014 NBA draft, Thursday, June 26, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Rob Carolla, director of communications for the Big 12, distributed interesting NBA draft facts from the conference.

Such as:

The Big 12 has had 28 lottery picks since 2000, which puts the conference second behind the ACC (31). Others: Big East 27, SEC 25, Pac-12 24, Big Ten 19.

The ACC also ranks first over the same period in first-round draft picks with 40, followed by the Pac-12 (33), Big 12 and SEC (28), Big East (24) and Big Ten (20).

Big 12 players drafted in the past 19 years: Kansas 28, Texas 17, Iowa State and Oklahoma State 8, Baylor and Oklahoma 7, Texas Tech 3, Kansas State 2.

Blake Griffin in 2009 and Andrew Wiggins in 2014 are the lone Big 12 players taken with the first pick of the draft. Three players were chosen with the second overall pick: LaMarcus Aldridge, 2006, Kevin Durant, 2007, Michael Beasley, 2008.

The record for Big 12 players chosen in one draft is 10, set in 2008 and tied in 2010.

The five Kansas players chosen in 2008 is a Big 12 record for one school in one draft. Brandon Rush was the first player chosen from the reigning national champions with the 13th pick, followed by Darrell Arthur (27th), Mario Chalmers (34th), Darnell Jackson (52nd) and Sasha Kaun (56th).

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) roars after hitting a three against the Jayhawks during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016 at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla.

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) roars after hitting a three against the Jayhawks during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016 at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla. by Nick Krug

Although the Big 12 has had nine players or more taken in a draft three times since 2008, nobody expects anywhere near that total this season.

Draftexpress.com projects just four players: 5. Buddy Hield (Oklahoma), 23. Cheick Diallo (Kansas), 50. Wayne Selden (Kansas), 54. Isaiah Cousins.

The consensus seems to be that Perry Ellis won’t hear his name called in tonight’s draft, which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. It would enable him, with the help of his agent, to select the team that best fits his talents, the roster that gives him the best shot at making the team.

It will be interesting to look back in 10 years to see which KU player eligible for this year’s draft plays the most NBA minutes. My guess: Ellis. Your guess?

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Most Crucial Jayhawks 2016: No. 23 - OL Joe Gibson

In case anyone needed any further proof of just how important the offensive line will be to the Kansas football program's chances on the field this fall, we're now encountering our second lineman in three tries during our summer series that highlights the most crucial Jayhawks for 2016.

Guard Jayson Rhodes came in at No. 25 on Monday. And today it's the only player guaranteed to touch the ball on every offensive snap.

Reminder: This is not a list of the 25 best players on this year's team. That would be much easier to pinpoint and, while still key, would not exactly demonstrate the full value that each player has in regard to the 2016 season.

This is a list of the 25 players who need to have strong seasons in order for the Jayhawks to have a chance to compete.

Matt Tait and I came up with the list by each making our own list of 25 and then combining the results. We did the same thing for the last two years, but the amount of fresh faces made this list much tougher to put together.

Track the list every weekday at KUsports.com, where we'll unveil the list one-by-one in reverse order. And, in case you miss some, be sure to check the links at the bottom of each entry for an up-to-date look at the list of 25.

Kansas offensive linemen Joe Gibson (77) and D'Andre Banks (62) catch a breather on the bench during the second quarter on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015 at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa.

Kansas offensive linemen Joe Gibson (77) and D'Andre Banks (62) catch a breather on the bench during the second quarter on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015 at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa. by Nick Krug

23. Joe Gibson, Jr. Offensive Lineman

Walk-ons must play a big part in Kansas digging out of the scholarship deficit partly responsible for an 0-12 season in 2015 and Las Vegas setting the over/under for 2016 victories at 1.5.

Walk-ons who earn scholarships after two years in the program, don't count against the maximum 25 scholarships per class, just against the 85 total. It's one thing to tell walk-ons that they have a legitimate shot at earning scholarships once they prove themselves in practice. It's a far more powerful thing to be able to point to an example of a walk-on who worked his way into a scholarship and then into a starting assignment.

Joe Gibson a fourth-year junior out of Rockhurst High, projects as the team's starting center, although he faces a strong battle from emerging red-shirt freshman Mesa Ribordy, a walk-on from Louisburg.

Gibson, 6-foot-3, 310 pounds, missed the second half of last season with an injury. In his three starts before that, he showed that he was more ready for competition than as a red-shirt freshman, when he played in eight games, started seven, and at times was dominated by more athletic, bigger, veteran Big 12 behemoths. For example, his play against Baylor from freshman to sophomore season noticeably was better.

Centers have responsibilities that extend beyond blocking and snapping. Gibson has the brain to handle those, having earned Academic All-Big 12 second-team honors.

Gibson and fifth-year senior Jordan Shelley-Smith, in a battle with Clyde McCauley for the starting spot at left tackle, share the team lead for career offensive-line starts with 10.

Convincing Gibson to come to Kansas as a walk-on wasn't a tough task, thanks to his lineage. His great uncle, Ray Evans, was an all-time KU great, starring in football and basketball. Evans is enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame. Joe's uncle, Harry Gibson, was a basketball standout for the Jayhawks. Gibson's father, Paul, played football at Pittsburg State.

Idaho, Pennsylvania and Western Michigan recruited Gibson, but walking on at KU appealed to him more. A healthy 2016 season from him would do a lot to stabilize the O-line and build chemistry on it. In the event he suffers from injuries, Ribordy or projected starting guard Jacob Bragg could slide in to replace him.

Top 25 Most Crucial Jayhawks of 2016:

No. 25 - OL Jayson Rhodes

No. 24 - CB Kyle Mayberry

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Say something nice about Kansas football: Offense returns more experience than a year ago

Kansas running back Ke'aun Kinner (22) makes his way in for a touchdown during the third quarter on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas running back Ke'aun Kinner (22) makes his way in for a touchdown during the third quarter on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Just one Big 12 school has failed to reach 30 offensive touchdowns in each of the the past four seasons. It was the same school every time.

Kansas scored 27 offensive touchdowns in 2012, 22 in 2013, 25 in 2014 and 22 in 2015. Texas posted the next lowest single-season total during that span with 34 offensive touchdowns in 2014.

Although those KU numbers are ugly, that does not violate the title of this blog. Those numbers are facts and facts are indisputable and can’t be categorized as either mean or nice. They are kindness-neutral.

Given the horrific nature of the numbers, saying something nice about the Kansas offense presents quite the challenge.

Here goes:

Heading into the 2015 season, Kansas did not have a single player on the roster who had scored a single offensive touchdown in 2014. All the players who had accounted for the 25 six-pointers were unavailable for action, whether it be from exhausting their eligibility, suffering an injury or in the case of Corey Avery, doing something to earn a dismissal: Avery (six), Nick Harwell (five), Michael Cummings (four), Jimmay Mundine (three), Tony Pierson (three), Justin McCay (two), Nigel King and Trent Smiley (one).

Heading into this coming season, 6 of the 10 rushing touchdowns return (Ke’aun Kinner five, Montell Cozart one), as do half of the 12 receiving touchdowns (Steven Sims and Tyler Patrick two, Shakiem Barbel and Bobby Hartzog one.)

Departed players who reached the end zone via rush or pass reception: Tre’ Parmalee four, Taylor Cox and Darious Crawley two, De’Andre Mann and Kent Taylor one).

So 12 touchdowns return and 10 are gone. That’s not a good number, but it’s far better than not having a single player who creased the end zone the previous season returning to the offense, as was the case heading into 2015.

So even though Kansas still is the safe bet to have the least productive offense in the Big 12, it should be better than last year’s anemic attack, in part because the offensive line will bring a little bit more experience.

Enough better to reach the 30-TD milestone for the first time since producing 35 in 2011 when Turner Gill was head coach, Chuck Long was offensive coordinator and the roster was filled with recruits from Mark Mangino and Gill? Possibly.

There, I said something nice about Kansas football.

Your turn.

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Say something nice about Kansas football: Faster tempo showing up

KU football recruits head into the weight room Friday morning at the Anderson Sports Complex as KU football practice starts early in the morning as the players go through a rigorous session for conditioning.

KU football recruits head into the weight room Friday morning at the Anderson Sports Complex as KU football practice starts early in the morning as the players go through a rigorous session for conditioning. by Richard Gwin

Kansas head football coach David Beaty's desire to increase his team's tempo seems to be taking root. Spring practices picked up the pace, and after I spent 45 minutes watching the Jayhawks work with weights Friday, the thing that stood out most was how swiftly it all happened with no standing around and waiting.

"You have to match what you're trying to do on the field," KU's strength and conditioning coach Je'Ney Jackson said. "You have to match the head coach's philosophy with the way you train. So now they don't know any other way but to do anything at a high rate. No one should ever be idle. Once you get done with one exercise, usually you're going to another exercise. So we're constantly moving, constantly moving."

Red-shirt sophomore defensive tackle Daniel Wise, the team's reigning Workout Warrior of the Week, makes sure all the new faces know there is only one speed during workouts and that speed is pedal to the metal.

“We have to change the momentum around on the team, pick up the pace,” Wise said. “Some new guys coming in may not know what to expect and you have to let them know from Day 1.”

As team speed increases through recruiting, the fast-pace at which Beaty wants to play will result in more big plays. For now, fast or slow, the players' job is to do everything as fast as they can.

“Yes, sir, that’s how it is," Wise said. "That’s how it’s going to be on the field too in the Big 12. Tempo, tempo, tempo. So we have to practice tempo, tempo, tempo. As soon as coach Jackson came in he instilled that tempo. As soon as coach Beaty came in he instilled that tempo. Tempo walking around in the meeting room. Tempo in the weight room. Tempo on the field. Tempo all the time.”

The pace is picking up.

There, I said something nice about Kansas football. Your turn.

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Say something nice about Kansas football: Dorance Armstrong the real deal

Kansas defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr. (46) runs through drills during practice on Tuesday, April 11, 2016 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr. (46) runs through drills during practice on Tuesday, April 11, 2016 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

For years, I have been guilty of looking for the slightest reason to believe that help is on the way for Kansas’ too-often invisible pass rush.

I look at the schools who recruited the player. Or I see the quick first step or the long arms and convince myself that this is an athlete built to harass quarterbacks. Usually it’s a junior-college or graduate transfer, sometimes one straight out of high school, who fools me. I hype him because I believe he will change things. And nothing changes.

Naturally, the proof will come on 12 autumn Saturdays, but it looks as if the Jayhawks actually do have a legitimate Big 12 pass-rusher with the potential to become the secondary’s best friend for the next three seasons.

I can’t recall a KU coaching staff being as excited about a defensive end as this staff is about sophomore Dorance Armstrong since transfer Charlton Keith, whose final year of eligibility came in 2005. Based on his size -- they both stand 6-foot-4, and the thicker Armstrong already weighs more than Keith as a senior — Armstrong has an even higher upside.

The staff considered Armstrong the top signee of the Class of 2015 and nothing about his serious approach and coachability, promise shown as a true freshman (3.5 sacks as a part-time player), and ability to take on pounds without losing speed has changed anyone’s mind.

Armstrong already has packed on 16 pounds of muscle in the past year, has shown an ability to develop pass-rush moves, plays with fire and has speed that will impress NFL scouts a couple of years down the road.

If Armstrong does develop into an NFL prospect, he will get paid to play a year earlier than he would have if he had gone to a powerhouse program that would have put a redshirt on him as a freshman. Maybe the staff can use that to entice another talented recruit.

Armstrong said no to Illinois, Michigan State, Texas Tech and several other programs to come to Kansas. That’s impressive recruiting by KU and sound coaching to get him to the point he appears to have reached already.

There, I said something nice about Kansas football. Your turn.

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Say something nice about Kansas football: Speedier Joe Dineen primed for big junior season

A frustrated Kansas linebacker Joe Dineen Jr. (29) shows turns away after a Texas touchdown during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 at Darrell K. Royal Stadium in Austin, Texas.

A frustrated Kansas linebacker Joe Dineen Jr. (29) shows turns away after a Texas touchdown during the first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 at Darrell K. Royal Stadium in Austin, Texas. by Nick Krug

Linebacker Joe Dineen not only had a productive season as a sophomore at a brand-new position for him, he showed during the spring that it pays to work hard during the offseason.

Dineen improved his speed noticeably, which will put him in position to make more plays on runs and perform better in coverage.

A rising junior out of Lawrence Free State High, Dineen played quarterback and safety in high school and depth issues during his freshman season forced a temporary move to running back. He found a home in the middle of Kansas' defense and has emerged as a leader for the defense.

Dineen put on weight during his first two seasons, which kept him from getting faster. He has grown accustomed to carrying the weight and has trained so hard that his latest stop-watch time and spring playing speed has coaches excited about his prospects for the coming season.

Dineen's personality and quarterback background make him a perfect mentor for Maciah Long, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound incoming freshman who played QB at Houston North Shore High. KU recruited him to play linebacker, where new linebackers coach Todd Bradford, a highly regarded football mind, will teach him the position and Dineen will be there to encourage him to fight through growing pains.

KU plays with two linebackers and seniors Marcquis Roberts and Courtney Arnick bring an abundance of experience, so if Long needs time to learn the position without burning a year of eligibility, KU can afford to go that route.

There, for the fourth consecutive Monday, I said something nice about Kansas football. Your turn.

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Ben McLemore dons Chewbacca mask in video parody

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore (23) drives past Phoenix Suns center Alex Len (21) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 11, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore (23) drives past Phoenix Suns center Alex Len (21) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 11, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

As sweet a life as the NBA provides its players, it honestly can’t be all that much fun to play for one of the league’s struggling franchises.

Still, former one-year Kansas standout Ben McLemore proved to be a good sport when someone with Sacramento pitched him the idea of paying tribute to a viral video that exploded across social media a few days ago.

If you’ve been on Twitter or Facebook or any other social media platform in the past 72 hours, surely you’ve come across the video of a woman laughing hysterically as she tries on her Star Wars Chewbacca mask.

In a parody of the latest queen of the Internet, the third-year Kings guard claims on camera he just got back from the store and is excited about his purchase.

What did McLemore supposedly buy?

What else?

A Chewbacca mask. The Sacramento guard isn’t moved to hysteria over trying out the mask, which comes with a recorded Wookiee roar, but he enjoyed the gag all the same.

Check out the video, tweeted out by the Kings, below:

None by Sacramento Kings

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Say something nice about Kansas football: Lone Star state recruiting paying off

SportsDayHS.com ranked the top 100 high school football recruits in North Texas and three of them already have committed to Kansas. Fortunately for the Jayhawks, one of them is a running back.

Kansas will need to have a little luck to make it through the season with enough healthy backs and the best of the lot, Ke’aun Kinner, has just one year of eligibility remaining. All of that makes the recruitment of Dominic Williams from Parish Episcopal in Dallas a huge one.

A 5-foot-9, 186-pound shifty back with breakaway speed, Williams has transferred to Independence High in Frisco, Texas, for his senior season. He rushed for more than 2,400 yards and 30 touchdowns in each of his past two seasons.

Dominic Williams is ranked nationally by Rivals as the 31st-best running back in the Class of 2017. To put that in perspective, consider that the No. 29 running back is headed to Michigan State and the No. 30 is bound for LSU.

Kansas was the first school to offer Williams a scholarship, which gave the Jayhawks the edge on schools that offered later, including Arizona State, Illinois, Purdue and SMU.

Kansas also has received commitments from top 100 North Texas recruits Jared Hocker, a 6-5, 295-pound offensive lineman, and Reggie Roberson, a 6-0, 180 wide receiver.

Recruiting appears to be ahead of last year’s schedule, as evidenced by 4 of the 6 verbal commitments receiving three-star rankings from Rivals.

There, for the third consecutive Monday, I said something nice about Kansas football. Your turn. Are you up to the task?

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Chris Harris: KU football players won infamous fight vs. basketball counterparts

Denver Broncos cornerback and Kansas alum, Chris Harris Jr. celebrates after his team scored a touchdown during Alumni Game prior to the Spring Game on Saturday, April 9, 2016 at Memorial Stadium. Harris served as one of the coaches.

Denver Broncos cornerback and Kansas alum, Chris Harris Jr. celebrates after his team scored a touchdown during Alumni Game prior to the Spring Game on Saturday, April 9, 2016 at Memorial Stadium. Harris served as one of the coaches. by Nick Krug

Former Kansas football star and Super Bowl champion Chris Harris of the Denver Broncos didn’t hold back Thursday in an appearance on ESPN’s Highly Questionable.

In the midst of an interview with co-hosts Dan Le Batard and Bomani Jones, Harris offered his recollection of an infamous on-campus altercation between members of the KU basketball and football teams, back in 2009.

“Were you on the Kansas football team that lost the fight to the basketball Morris twins?” Le Batard asked.

Smiling, Harris responded: “We definitely won that fight.”

Jones followed up: “We hear the other way.”

As reported by the Lawrence Journal-World at the time, the brawl left KU guard Tyshawn Taylor with a dislocated left thumb weeks before the start of the 2009-10 basketball season.

According to LeBetard, Marcus and Markieff Morris’ account of the incident includes them back-to-back, taking on football players “over someone who was on the track team.”

Harris remembers the fracas differently.

“Nah, man. I mean that story right there, I think it was over one of the little track girls, but, I mean, we had 300-pound dudes fighting these basketball guys, so they definitely didn’t win,” Harris said. “I definitely watched it and seen it with my own eyes. We definitely won that for sure. I love the Morris twins, though. Those my boys, though.”

Furthermore, Harris claimed there wasn’t really a football versus basketball dynamic at KU.

“We (the football team, coming off back-to-back bowl-win seasons) were actually pretty good at that time,” Harris said. “I guess you could say they were running the campus. We were, too.”

Reiterating his love for the Morris twins, Harris said he had to have his football teammates’ backs during the heated disagreement, before again laughing at the idea of a humongous defensive tackles in a melee against slighter basketball players.

“It’s not fair to fight a 6-foot point guard or 6-7, 6-9 power forward. I think we had a little advantage,” Harris recalled, wearing a grin.

Harris, who played with volatile cornerback Aqib Talib at Kansas and is teamed up with him again in Denver, also shared on ESPN one of his favorite Talib stories from back in the day.

“I was a true freshman, and I was starting opposite of Talib, who was an All-American. We were playing Missouri. They had their whole team on the 50-yard line, and Talib just like ran through their whole team,” Harris said. “And they were warming up, running plays, and he like, they had to get the cops to come drag him off there, off their side of the field for warmups, back in the tunnel. So I was like, ‘Man.’ That was one of the craziest times I’ve seen Talib right there.”

Watch the entire entertaining segment with Harris below:

None by Highly Questionable

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Cheick Diallo thanks fans in letter announcing decision to turn pro

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) pulls down an offensive rebound during the first half on Saturday, March 5, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) pulls down an offensive rebound during the first half on Saturday, March 5, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Hey, everyone. You’ll never believe this. Cheick Diallo is entering the NBA Draft.

This obviously isn’t news at this point, but we do have Diallo’s somewhat official statement on the matter as of Monday afternoon.

The big man who spent one season at Kansas tweeted out a letter regarding his decision to sign with an agent and forego his college eligibility.

“After spending the last couple of weeks thinking about my future,” Diallo stated in his Twitter message, “I took the decision to enter the 2016 NBA Draft, and signed with an agent today.

“It was not an easy call, but time has come for me to take that step up to the next level and make my goal of joining the NBA come true.”

Diallo details his unlikely life path from Kayes, Mali, to where he is now in the open letter, which includes thank-yous to those he encountered along the way.

The gregarious post player also thanks his fans, and declares himself “a Jayhawk for life.”

“This is the first step of many more to come,” Diallo says in the closing paragraph, “and I am looking forward to the new challenges with confidence and determination.”

Read Diallo’s entire letter below.

None by _cd13

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Bill Self sends video message to young fan in hospital

Kansas coach Bill Self speaks during a news conference following the NCAA Tournament selection show on CBS, Sunday, March 13, 2016. The Jayhawks were given the No. 1 seed in the South Regional and will play Austin Peay on Thursday in Des Moines.

Kansas coach Bill Self speaks during a news conference following the NCAA Tournament selection show on CBS, Sunday, March 13, 2016. The Jayhawks were given the No. 1 seed in the South Regional and will play Austin Peay on Thursday in Des Moines. by Nick Krug

Bill Self is a popular and busy man around Lawrence, but the Kansas basketball coach doesn’t mind taking some time to boost the spirits of a young fan.

A short video message from Self began making the rounds on Facebook Monday.

The coach wished a bleated happy birthday to a young fan named Brooklyn, who, as the KU coach pointed out, had to celebrate from a hospital room.

“I know you’ve been going through a little bit of a rough stretch here recently,” Self says to the young Jayhawks fan in the video, “and your lungs are filling with blood right now, but I’m sure they’ll get that straightened out.

"But I just wanted to wish you a happy birthday. I hope you’re doing fine. I know that’s gotta get you down a little bit, especially on an important day like this.

"But I’m sure mom and dad are gonna take care of you in a big, big way.”

And, in typical Self fashion, the coach found a way to really personalize the interaction.

“I wish my players were just half as tough as what you are,” Self told the youngster.

Watch Self’s message below:

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Say something nice about Kansas football: On Cajun Country recruiting

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

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

Only five schools from the state of Louisiana compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision: LSU, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana Monroe, Louisiana Tech and Tulane.

Only one of those five schools, LSU, is a member of one of college football’s Power Five conferences. The SEC is recruiting the state of Texas harder than ever, a benefit of enticing Texas A&M into the conference. More Texas recruits means fewer from Louisiana, which translates to opportunity for other schools.

The state has far more Div. I prospects than LSU can recruit and Kansas head coach David Beaty has made an aggressive play to become a place for Cajun Country recruits to visit. Beaty hired Tony Hull, former head coach of Warren Easton High in New Orleans, as his running backs coach.

Kansas gained a commitment from dual-threat QB Class of 2016 recruit Tyriek Starks, who played for Hull, before Hull joined the staff. Travis Jordan, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound, three-star athlete from Louisiana, committed to KU in early April. Nebraska reportedly wanted him and Kansas landed him. Take a bow, coach Hull.

Just last weekend, Hull brought in two more Louisiana prospects for a visit. Wide receiver L’Dontrae Davis is being recruited by LSU, Ole Miss, etc. And he visited Kansas and was quoted as saying he loved it. That doesn’t mean Kansas will land him. It does mean he will spread the word in Louisiana about a Big 12 school that otherwise might not have been on their radar. His cousin, defensive end prospect Justin Harris, joined him on the visit.

Because Kansas lacks a winning tradition, convincing prospects to visit campus always has been the toughest challenge for football coaches throughout the decades. Once they make the visit, most are pleasantly surprised with the beauty of the campus, the family feel, and in recent years, the Anderson Family Football Complex.

Developing talent, putting it in the right place on the field, and playing smart football with a nasty edge still rank as the biggest keys to establishing a winning culture, but upgrading recruiting certainly plays a big role as well. I believe starting from scratch in Louisiana is well worth the gamble.

There, I just said something nice about Kansas football, which is coming off an 0-12 season. Now it’s your turn. Say something nice about Kansas football.

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Wayne Selden and Georges Niang trading jabs on Twitter

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) hangs for a shot against Iowa State forward Georges Niang (31) during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015 at Hilton Coliseum.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) hangs for a shot against Iowa State forward Georges Niang (31) during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015 at Hilton Coliseum. by Nick Krug

When former high school teammates get together, it doesn’t take long for some shenanigans to break out — even at the NBA Combine.

With Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. and Iowa State forward Georges Niang both in Chicago for this week’s pre-draft combine, it only makes sense that the former Tilton School teammates would reunite as they embark on an important step in their professional careers.

This morning, Selden didn’t hesitate to take advantage of an opportunity to try and clown Niang, a star for one of KU’s biggest rivals over the past few seasons.

Apparently when Niang wasn’t around, Selden put his KU 2016 Big 12 Tournament champions T-shirt with his buddy’s phone and snapped a pic to share on Twitter, claiming Niang was showing his support for the Jayhawks.

Not exactly a likely scenario for one of the most popular ISU players in the program's history.

None by 1

However, maybe Selden should have chosen another piece of KU gear for the joke. He set up Niang for an easy comeback, considering the Cyclones won the Big 12 Tournament in both 2014 and 2015.

“That’s cute that you only won one of those things,” Niang tweeted in response, “I’ll make sure to bring my 2 shirts out tonight!!”

None by Georges Niang

Selden had no choice at that juncture but to bring out the big guns — or big rings. The KU guard posted a photo of him wearing two Big 12 regular-season championship rings.

“Bear with me,” Selden added, “my 3rd one is being made now.”

None by 1

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A different view on Brannen Greene’s decision

Kansas guard Brannen Greene (14) puts a three over West Virginia guard Jaysean Paige (5) from the wing during the second half, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Brannen Greene (14) puts a three over West Virginia guard Jaysean Paige (5) from the wing during the second half, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

I agree with colleague Matt Tait's opinion that Brannen Greene made the right decision in leaving Kansas, but disagree that he did the right thing by declaring for the NBA draft and hiring an agent.

Transferring to a school that would have built its offense around his three-point shooting touch, spending two more years in school, improving his ball-handling, earning credits toward a graduate degree and proving he can go two years without a suspension, all would have served to pique the curiosity of NBA talent scouts, maybe even enough for him to earn an invitation to the NBA combine.

As it is, he was left off the guest list, despite having one of the prettier jumpers on the planet. He carries the baggage of never having established himself as a major-minutes player, the baggage of multiple suspensions.

Greene wasn't the right player for Bill Self and Self wasn't the right coach for Greene. But that doesn't mean that with a long look in his mirror and fresh start, he could not have succeeded at another school.

Davidson and Wyoming are two programs that jump to mind as ones Greene could have explored as potential destinations. Davidson's Jack Gibbs averaged 23.5 points per game as a junior, and averaged 18.2 shots, 7.9 from beyond the three-point line. Wyoming's Josh Adams averaged 24.2 points, 16.1 shots and 8.4 three-pointers in his junior season. Greene could have practiced with either player for a year then inherited the available shots.

Those are just two examples of schools that might have been interested. An NBA franchise would be more interested in Greene coming off a stellar senior year. He wasn't going to get that at Kansas, where he had exhausted his chances.

Transferring would have required patience, a quality in short supply among basketball players seeking paychecks.

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Say something nice about Kansas football

KU coach David Beaty celebrates an early score in the Jayhawks' 45-14, season-ending loss to Kansas State on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015, at Memorial Stadium.

KU coach David Beaty celebrates an early score in the Jayhawks' 45-14, season-ending loss to Kansas State on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015, at Memorial Stadium. by Richard Gwin

Welcome to the first “Say something nice about Kansas football,” blog, which will appear here every Monday.

Here’s how it works: I’ll say something nice about the KU football program and challenge you to do the same.

Sure, it’s not necessarily easy given that the Jayhawks have gone 4-57 in the Big 12 in the past sevens seasons and have lost their last 38 games played outside of Lawrence. Going 0-12 in 2015 and losing their conference games by an average of 35.7 points doesn’t make it easy. Who said life is supposed to be easy all the time?

To ease the challenge, nice comments unrelated to on-field performance count. For example, you might like a certain uniform combination, a particular food or drink from your friend’s tailgate, a specific chant from the students, etc.

All nice words, provided they aren’t linked in any way to basketball, are welcome. This is a football blog. Jokes about basketball season starting early are so stale and weren’t particularly funny in the first place. No basketball comments of any kind allowed in the “Say something nice about Kansas football” blog.

Sarcasm, although not encouraged, is not discouraged. For example, if someone were to write, “I like the bathrooms in Memorial Stadium because I can’t see the scoreboard from them,” that might not be within the spirit of the blog, but certainly is within the letter of the law.

One more rule: If you disagree with someone who says something nice, that’s fine, but you must then say two nice things about Kansas football to make your contribution a net positive, twice the challenge. Here’s your chance to prove you can say something nice about KU football.

I can.

Here goes: Coach David Beaty has parted from recent reliance on recruiting offensive linemen from junior colleges. More than any position, O-linemen must be recruited out of high school and grown in the weight room. That takes five years, the first as a redshirt, in most cases the first few as a backup building strength and polishing technique.

Beaty’s recruiting class of 2016 included four offensive linemen (Cam Durley, Antione Frazier, Hunter Harris, Chris Hughes), all from Texas high schools.

Kansas already has received a verbal commitment from a Texas high school O-lineman, Jared Hocker, in the Class of 2017. Grant Polley, another prep O-lineman, withdrew his commitment.

Beaty gets that it’s impossible to rebuild a football program without building the foundation with high school blockers. I like that.

Your turn. Say something nice about Kansas football.

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Perry Ellis pens farewell letter to KU fans

Former Kansas University forward Perry Ellis, who still is less than a month removed from being the face of the KU basketball program, teamed with the popular web site The Players' Tribune to pen a farewell letter to Jayhawk fans everywhere.

The letter, titled "Thank You, Kansas," takes Jayhawk fans on a journey all the way back to Ellis' freshman year and before, with pictures from his days as a young baller and tales of his childhood in Wichita.

Some of it you've heard before, but even if you have it's one final look at what being a Jayhawk meant to Ellis.

Dubbed "a new media company that provides athletes with a platform to connect directly with their fans, in their own words," The Players' Tribune has taken the sports world by storm, with letters, flashbacks, inside stories and memorable moments from some of the world's best known athletes.

Founded by former New York Yankees great Derek Jeter, The Players’ Tribune publishes first-person stories from athletes, providing unique insight into the daily sports conversation. Through impactful and powerful long and short form stories, video series and podcasts, The Players’ Tribune brings fans closer than ever to the games they love.

Fellow former KU great Paul Pierce already has been featured on the site 11 times, including this look back at the heartbreaking loss to Arizona during the 1997 NCAA Tournament.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) jokes with the coaching staff during the Senior Day speeches following the JayhawksÕ 85-78 win over the Cyclones

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) jokes with the coaching staff during the Senior Day speeches following the JayhawksÕ 85-78 win over the Cyclones by Nick Krug

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Kansas vs. Villanova one of 2016 tournament’s best games

Every March — and one weekend each April — the NCAA Tournament churns out indelible moments that live on in the consciousness of college basketball fans like the very March Madness promos designed to remind us of the mega event’s greatness.

The 2016 tournament featured a phenomenal national title game, capped by a buzzer-beater for the ages by Villanova’s Kris Jenkins.

But that wasn’t the only great game of the most recent postseason — nor the only Villanova matchup that kept fans on the edges of their seats.

Zac Ellis of SI.com ranked the top 10 battles of the 2016 tourney, and the Wildcats’ Elite Eight meeting with Kansas made the list, as well.

While Villanova’s 64-59 victory in Louisville will linger in the hearts and minds of KU basketball fans for years, because it meant the end of the road for the top-seeded Jayhawks, the regional final also stood out for neutral parties.

Ellis (Zac of SI.com, not Perry of KU) said Kansas vs. Villanova, which he ranked No. 6, had a “Final Four feel to it.”

See the complete top 10 over as SI.com. (You can probably guess which game topped the rankings.)

Where does KU-’Nova rank in your mind? It certainly turned out to be a more defensive-oriented game, but the effort exerted by both teams is undeniable.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) and Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) trap Villanova guard Ryan Arcidiacono (15) in the Jayhawks' game against the Villanova Wildcats, Saturday, March 26, 2016 in an NCAA Elite Eight matchup at KFC YUM! Center in Louisville, Kentucky.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) and Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) trap Villanova guard Ryan Arcidiacono (15) in the Jayhawks' game against the Villanova Wildcats, Saturday, March 26, 2016 in an NCAA Elite Eight matchup at KFC YUM! Center in Louisville, Kentucky. by Mike Yoder

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Video of poignant pint-sized patriot with KU family ties goes viral

Starting with Bob Frederick, late athletic director of Kansas University, the Frederick family has built a rich Final Four tradition.

Bob served as the chairman of the NCAA tournament selection committee and hired Roy Williams, who took the Jayhawks to four Final Fours.

Bob’s son, Brad Frederick, director of operations on Williams’ staff at North Carolina, went to two Final Fours as a player at North Carolina and earlier this month was in Houston, where the Tar Heels lost at the buzzer to Villanova in the national-title game.

But a pint-sized patriot by the name of Sawyer Frederick, the youngest of Brad and Jocelyn’s three children, has become the most famous of all the Fredericks.

A video of Sawyer, all of 2 years old, shaking the hands of several military personnel on the tarmac after the North Carolina basketball team’s chartered flight landed for the Final Four has gone viral.

Jocelyn took the video with her phone, and her brother-in-law, Chris Frederick, a KU graduate student and bartender at The Sandbar, posted it on Youtube, triggering a frenzy of interest from global media outlets, including (London-based) The Telegraph.

“Sawyer is really funny because he is adorable to look at, but he doesn’t talk a whole lot,” Jocelyn said by phone from North Carolina. “But he’s a busy body, toddles around like a pint-sized version of an adult, so he’s very funny.”

Jocelyn said the "Pint-Sized Patriot," nickname has caught on in North Carolina.

Jocelyn and Sawyer appeared Thursday on “Fox and Friends,” and the video appears on the ABC news website.

Margey Frederick, Sawyer’s grandmother and a Lawrence resident, said she is “incredibly proud. We are a family that always supported the military. It was really fun. I had no idea it would mushroom into this much attention.”

Chris Frederick, the youngest of Bob and Margey's four sons, said that at last check, one of the Youtube postings had reached 1.3 million views.

“I read the comments under it and so many people posted that watching it brought them to tears,” Chris said. “So I sent my sister-in-law a text saying, ‘I bet you didn’t imagine when you were filming this you would make people all over the world cry.’ ”

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