Entries from blogs tagged with “ku”
Here is the Cliff's Notes version of Kansas basketball coach Bill Self's comments from KU men's basketball media day on Thursday.
• Self is surprised that KU was picked to win the conference. He joked that often he says that coaches are smarter than the media, but that might not be the case this year. Self goes into this year with tempered expectations, which he believes should be accurate. He thinks being picked to win the league is fine, and he won't shy away from that.
• This year's team will be different. KU won't score a lot of points, even if it plays fast. The Jayhawks will have to be very good defensively this year. Self believes this team has the potential to be good on defense.
• Self believes Tyshawn Taylor and Travis Releford have the potential to be the top defensive players in the Big 12 at their respective positions.
• Self thinks the Big 12 is tougher because it's round-robin. The league is going to be good. Self picked Baylor to finish first in the league and Texas A&M second in his preseason poll. If a team goes 14-4 in the conference, it will have had a great year. Self thinks 18 conference games is too many. Any coach who says differently is lying. The 18-game conference schedule makes for a harder season and limits a coach's flexibility with scheduling in non-conference.
• Thomas Robinson is a good player. Self loves his attitude and energy. His "try" level is off the charts. He's never carried the water before. If he didn't play well earlier in his career, Self could put the starters back in. Robinson is going to be the first guy interviewed after every game, whether he plays well or not. That's a different pressure.
• Self thinks Tyshawn Taylor is ready for the leadership role. Self thinks he's going to have a great year. Tyshawn is ultra-competitive. He had a lot of success early, then labored a little later when he had expectations. Self thinks he's matured and grown up. All indications from the coaching staff are that he's ready to lead this year. Taylor is coaching guys as opposed to telling them what to do. He's doing a lot of things that natural leaders do.
• Kevin Young has the potential to be a starter. He's a hybrid player in that he can play inside and outside. He's a little like Julian Wright in that sense. He's a high-energy guy. He's a great kid. He just has to get comfortable playing for KU.
• Thomas Robinson has to get into great shape. Fouling and negatives like that come from being tired. He needs to be one of the most well-conditioned players in the league. He should play between 32 and 35 minutes.
• Last year, KU didn't protect the rim very well. Self thinks Jeff Withey has the potential to lead the Big 12 in blocked shots, if he gets enough minutes. Self never took Cole Aldrich for granted because he corrected bad defense. Withey has gained some muscle in the offseason.
• KU is still waiting for clarification from the NCAA to see if Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor can play at Late Night. They can't practice right now, but Self just wants the two to be with their teammates. KU should find out Friday if those two can participate in Late Night. Self thinks their final status will be decided soon.
• Self thinks Releford is a perimeter guy that might allow KU to do different things. For example, there may be times when Releford can post up on a possession to allow Robinson to play on the perimeter to draw the defense away from the basket.
• Self said it'd be nice to get 20 minutes per game from Withey, because he's going to foul. A lot of his minutes will be dependent on how well he defends. In a perfect world, he's a 20-minute-per-game guy. The staff thinks he's gotten a lot better. When he's playing well, he can cause a lot of problems for the opposition.
• Elijah Johnson has a chance to blow up this year. He's been impressive to the coaches so far. He was a kid, even in high school, who never quite put it all together. This could be the year for him to put it all together. KU expects a lot out of Johnson this year.
• Naadir Tharpe is going to play. Self says he's going to get minutes and hopefully be very productive. Tharpe reminds Self, personality-wise and how he plays, of Aaron Miles.
• Merv Lindsay played well in some AAU events to impress KU's coaches. Some ACC schools were on him as well. He's a talented kid. He can shoot. Physically, he hasn't gotten strong enough yet. He's working hard. He's gained a lot of good weight.
• Kevin Young is a smart kid. He wants to please. He's like a sponge. Self wouldn't be surprised if he becomes a coach someday.
Here is the Cliff's Notes version of Kansas football coach Turner Gill's comments at his weekly press conference today.
If you want to get live updates from each week's press conference, be sure to follow us on Twitter (@kusports).
• Gill says there are a lot of positives through five games: 1. KU is No. 1 in the Big 12 net punting; 2. KU is No. 1 is least amount of penalties; 3. KU has 9.5 yards per passing attempt and 6.1 yards per play; some of these numbers compare favorably to Oklahoma's offensive numbers. Gill has been pleased with his team's offense and special teams this year.
• Running back Brandon Bourbon and safety Keeston Terry are both questionable for the Oklahoma game.
• Playing the top team in the nation is an opportunity not many teams get, and the Jayhawks are looking forward to it.
• The switch to the 3-4 defense has had ups and downs. KU hasn't been consistent with it. Part of the reason for the switch was to get more speed on the field.
• Gill says he's been up against the odds before in his life. He was against the odds when he became starting quarterback at Nebraska. He said that 98 percent of the people wouldn't have said he was going to earn that spot.
• Gill says KU can't turn the ball over. The defense has struggled, but the offense hasn't helped with the giveaways. Turnover margin is a big equalizer. KU has to improve in that area.
• Quarterback Jordan Webb has only had a couple instances in the last two weeks where he's tried to do too much. But he's still played extremely well. He's very accurate. He's improved, and he's still only a sophomore.
• Before college, the last two schools Gill chose between were Oklahoma and Nebraska. He said that made his first win as a player over OU a little more special.
Here is the Cliff's Notes version of Kansas football coach Turner Gill's comments at his weekly press conference today.
If you want to get live updates from each week's press conference, be sure to follow us on Twitter (@kusports).
• Gill says his guys were upbeat Sunday. The coach believes his team is making good progress, despite not getting wins lately. He listed a few areas of improvement:
In the first three games, KU had three three-and-outs. KU's defense forced three three-and-outs against Texas Tech.
KU has twice the pass breakups that it had a year ago at this time.
KU is averaging 9.9 yards per pass attempt. The goal is six or seven yards per attempt, so that is exceptional.
• KU has no significant injuries from the last game. The coaches anticipate running back Darrian Miller will be ready to go.
• Oklahoma State's 13 turnovers forced was one of the statistics that jumped out to Gill when he was looking at their totals. KU will have to have good ball security.
• KU has talked about halftime adjustments as a staff. The coaches have made a few changes and will try to be a little more specific with what they want from the players. The coaches also are going to try a few different things in practice to attempt to improve the team's play in the third quarter.
• Gill would like to see improvement in both kickoff returns and punt returns. Gill said punt returns have been disappointing this year. Some of that has to do with blocking at the line of scrimmage.
• Gill said when the other team is in the hurry-up, it's important to simplify the defensive calls. It needs to be one word or one symbol. Substitutions also can be challenging against fast-paced offenses. One key is to stop the offense before it gets a first down, as usually a first down triggers the faster pace.
• It's tough for a defensive coordinator when you don't have a spring practice to work with your guys. The players probably aren't adjusting to Vic Shealy's system as fast as the coaches hoped they would. Gill said when that happens, you have to take a step back as a staff and try to simplify things a bit.
• Keeston Terry switched from strong safety to free safety last week against Texas Tech. With the switch, he does not have to make as many defensive calls. Gill believes that helped him think less and play better. That also gives the responsibility of making calls to the more experienced (and older) Bradley McDougald.
• Gill hasn't been surprised by his running backs' production, but he has been happy with their ball security this year.
• Gill isn't using the fact that KU is a huge underdog to Oklahoma State as motivation for his team. That doesn't do any good. That's emotions. It comes down to execution.
Here is the Cliff's Notes version of Kansas football coach Turner Gill's comments at his weekly press conference today.
If you want to get live updates from each week's press conference, be sure to follow us on Twitter (@kusports).
• Cornerback Isiah Barfield is questionable for the Texas Tech game with an ankle injury. The coaches will see how he does over the next two or three days. Gill thinks he will be available.
• Gill says coaches have looked at personnel and schemes this week in trying to improve the defense. There could be personnel changes, with a few different guys getting more snaps.
• Getting defensive tackle Pat Dorsey back from injury will help KU. It adds depth and gives KU an experienced player.
• The receiver rotation should be more stable going forward. Six to seven guys should play a majority of the time. Four to five will get a majority of the repetitions.
• Outside linebacker Toben Opurum has played well. Gill thinks he will make more plays going forward, as teams will be throwing more. Opurum has a good motor playing off the edge.
• Gill says the KU coaches are still trying to best fit their schemes defensively to their personnel. The Jayhawks are still trying to find their identity defensively.
• Quarterback Jordan Webb has done a great job with his footwork this year. His feet have been in position to make a good throw. He's improved on that this season. He's matured like the coaches hoped he would.
4:35 p.m. update
That's going to wrap up the live coverage of the event here. Be sure to check back to KUsports.com for full press conference video after we get it all uploaded this evening. Also be sure to check out Gary's full story later on KUsports.com or in Thursday's Journal-World.
4:13 p.m. update: By Gary Bedore
Wichita Heights senior forward Perry Ellis orally committed to Kansas University at 2:45 p.m. Wednesday at the Wichita Heights High School gymnasium. Ellis, who was seated at a table next to his dad, Will, and mom, Fonda, chose KU over Kansas State, Wichita State and Kentucky.
"I knew for so long. I've been there so many times. I felt so comfortable there," Ellis said. "It made me realize that was the school for me. All the schools were so great, but I was so comfortable there."
Ellis said he was looking forward to working with KU big-man coach Danny Manning, who he's developed a relationship with.
He cited the improvement of the Morris twins as an example of Manning's coaching ability.
Ellis — the 24th-ranked player in the class of 2012, according to Rivals.com — called the coaches of the four schools immediately before the news conference.
"I'm happy it (recruiting) is over with," Ellis said. "I'm really excited."
4:05 p.m. update
Here's the short video of Perry Ellis announcing that he's going to KU. We'll have more of the press conference coming in a video later.
4 p.m. update
Quick poll question: Do you think Perry Ellis will start at KU his freshman year?
3:50 p.m. update
Have some short video of Ellis' announcement coming shortly.
3:28 p.m. update
Here are two photos from Gary Bedore. Couldn't get too close to him during the presser, or he'd have blocked all the cameras.
3:20 p.m. update
Working on photos/video. Should have more posted shortly.
3:07 p.m. update
Here's what Perry Ellis was looking out at, just to give you an idea of the setting.
3:02 p.m. update
There were no hats for the Ellis decision. Actually, I thought he and his family handled it well. Very little self-promotion. Came in, announced, answered questions and didn't make this a circus.
2:58 p.m. update
Press conference has ended. Ellis just walked out of the gym with his parents.
2:57 p.m. update
Ellis: "Even going up there (to KU), you could see the tradition before the games. ... It's one of the top tradition programs, I would say. I'm proud to be a part of it."
2:55 p.m. update
"It's one of the happiest days (of my life)," Ellis said.
2:53 p.m. update
Ellis said he was looking forward to working with Danny Manning. He mentioned the Morris twins as a sign of how well Manning develops players.
Ellis also said KU coach Bill Self was the first one to come to his games freshman year. "That really impressed me and humbled me," Ellis said.
2:50 p.m. update
"All these schools are real close to me. They've been there for three or four years now. It was a tough decision."
2:48 p.m. update
Ellis hugged both his parents after making the decision.
"I just felt so comfortable there (at KU)," he said.
2:47 p.m. update
After thanking God, his parents and Wichita Heights, his coach and his trainer and all the schools that recruited him, Perry Ellis picked Kansas University.
2:45 p.m. update
He's coming out right now.
2:40 p.m. update
Just been told this announcement shouldn't be delayed and will take place at 2:40 p.m.
Here's a photo of all the mics to show you the media presence here.
2:35 p.m. update
Hey guys. We're here live at Wichita Heights High School, waiting the announcement for Perry Ellis, who will choose his college destination at 2:45 p.m. His final four schools are Kansas, Kansas State, Wichita State and Kentucky.
We arrived here about a half-hour early, and already, about 10 cameras were set up. This is announcement is drawing quite a media crowd, especially because the 24th-ranked player in the class of 2012 has three local schools left on his list.
Check back for more as we get closer to the announcement.
Here are some numbers I found interesting about this year's KU football team.
All stats come from cfbstats.com or KUathletics.com.
• KU is the only team in the nation that has played three games without recording an interception or throwing one. Only nine other teams haven't recorded an interception, while 11 others haven't thrown one. Utah State and Rice also have no interceptions offensively or defensively, but both have just played two games.
• KU's offense is sixth in the nation in third-down conversion (57.45 percent). The two Div. I teams that KU has played this season also rank in the top eight nationally (Georgia Tech, first; Northern Illinois, eighth).
• KU is eighth nationally in punting, averaging 47.8 yards per boot. Ron Doherty doesn't make the national leaders list, though, because KU has not punted enough; a punter has to average 3.6 punts per game, and Doherty has 3.3.
• Even with the defensive struggles, KU has more first downs than its opponents this year (74-73).
• KU's defense has allowed the most 20-plus-yard plays (24) of any Div. I team. The Jayhawks also have allowed the most 30-plus-yard plays (14) and 60-plus-yard plays (four). The Jayhawks are tied for second nationally in 10-plus-yard plays allowed (56).
• KU has allowed 13 rushing plays of 20-plus yards this season. The second-most allowed by any Div. I team is eight.
• KU's 44 points per game allowed is tied for second-worst nationally. The Jayhawks' 282 rushing yards per game allowed also is the second-worst mark in the nation.
• KU has allowed 550 yards per game, which is second worst in the nation next to North Texas (559 yards per game). As a side note, North Texas' defensive coordinator is former KU defensive coordinator Clint Bowen.
• KU has allowed 7.49 yards per rush this season. That's almost a full yard more than the second-worst run defense in Div. I (North Texas, 6.56 yards per rush).
• KU's opponents are averaging just 32.4 yards per punt.
• KU has allowed five sacks in three games this year (1.7 per game). Last year, the Jayhawks allowed 37 sacks in 12 games (3.08 per game).
• There have been only two 90-yard runs in Div. I this season: Oregon's LaMichael James' 90-yard run against FCS school Missouri State and Georgia Tech's Orwin Smith's 95-yard run against KU.
• Opponents are averaging 8.5 yards per play against KU's defense.
• KU quarterback Jordan Webb has completed 39 of 59 passes this year (66.1 percent). The school record for best completion percentage is held by Todd Reesing, who completed 66.5 percent of his passes in 2008.
• On third down and 10 or more yards to go, Webb is 4-for-5 passing for 89 yards and two TDs. All four of his completions have gone for 15-plus yards.
• Running back James Sims is averaging 5.3 yards per carry on first downs (27 carries, 143 yards).
• Running back Darrian Miller averages 6.0 yards per carry in the first half (23 carries) and 3.3 yards per carry in the second half (11 carries).
• Linebacker Steven Johnson is second in the Big 12 in tackles (31, 10.33 per game).
• Receiver/kick returner D.J. Beshears leads the Big 12 in all-purpose yards per game (183.7).
• KU's rushing offense (235 yards per game) is second in the Big 12 behind Missouri.
• KU is one of only nine teams nationally to have at least 13 trips to the red zone and score on every one of them.
• KU has scored touchdowns on 84.62 percent of its trips to the red zone — the fifth-highest mark nationally for teams with at least 13 red-zone trips.
• KU's offense had eight, 70-plus-yard TD drives in 2010. The Jayhawks already have nine, 70-plus-yard TD drives in three games this year.
• KU does not have a punt return yet this season.
• KU's defense has allowed 28 points per second half and 18.3 points per third quarter this year.
This week's Sideline Report is with Kansas sophomore safety Keeston Terry.
Jesse Newell: What’s something interesting that not many people know about you?
Keeston Terry: I don’t think most people know that I was born in Lawrence, Kan. Both of my parents were going to school here. I was actually born at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. The week before, my dad played Colorado (in football). He played, and then they came back over here for my birth.
What else? I think one thing people don’t know about me is that when I was in elementary school, I participated in this thing called, “Circus Skills.” It was just all about juggling, a lot of clown stuff. So I learned how to juggle clubs, balls, scarves, basketballs, plungers. Pretty much anything you could think of.
JN: How does that work?
KT: Our teacher was big about juggling and hand-eye coordination. So in classes, we learned how to juggle and things like that. You come here in the morning, start basic with some scarves, maybe some balls.
Some people learn how to ride unicycles. You practice, practice, and then you get better at it.
JN: So who signed you up for that? Your dad?
KT: If you were interested, you’d just go ahead and do it. I liked juggling just because it was something that worked on my hand-eye coordination and was fun. Once I got good at it, I started doing other things.
JN: What’s the most you could juggle at one time?
KT: Probably the most I could juggle was four balls, five balls. That’s not a lot to some people, but once you get into other things ... I thought it was fun to do the plungers and the bowling pins. I kind of found that more fun than just juggling regular balls.
JN: That’s got to be really hard, juggling those things.
KT: Yeah, (laughs) it was kind of difficult at first. Frustrating. But once you get it, it comes easy.
JN: Do you ever show it off?
KT: Nah, I don’t think anybody knows that, except for maybe my mom and some of my friends. But I haven’t done it in a while, so I might be a little rusty.
JN: What’s a TV show that you’re embarrassed that you watch?
KT: Teen Mom.
It’s funny. It’s just interesting to watch how people live through the teen years. But it’s probably the most embarrassing.
JN: Are there times you watch it when you think you should be doing something else?
KT: Yeah. But I’m a TV guru. I just like watching MTV shows. My roommate watches it with me: the kicker Ron Doherty. We don’t see it as a big deal.
JN: What’s something interesting about living with him?
KT: His dance. He has this little dance he does. He doesn’t like to show most people, but it’s quite interesting to watch.
JN: Describe it to me.
KT: You ever seen a marching band? You know how they march? (pumps arms in the air) That’s kind of like what it is. It’s kind of funny.
JN: When does he use it?
KT: (laughs) He tries to make fun of the kids on the team, because a lot of them might like to dance in the locker room, just on their free time. So he just tries to make fun of them. It’s not a good imitation at all. He just kind of made up his own dance after that.
JN: What was last year like for you?
KT: It was fun. Definitely a great experience, because not a lot of people get to experience playing as a true freshman. I definitely enjoyed it. It was crazy going out and playing in front of 40-thousand-plus fans and actually having some success out there.
JN: What was the toughest part about your season-ending injury?
KT: Really getting into the flow of things. You feel like you had an opportunity towards the middle and end of the season to start, because people were going down with injuries and people were not always playing well. So I think that was the toughest part, knowing that you had the opportunity to do bigger and better things, but you get cut short.
JN: What about the rehab? What was the toughest part of it?
KT: Trying to come back, and you’re not really ready yet. Going through things and still feeling some soreness. You’re not sure if you’re really going to feel the same when you actually come back. Things like that.
JN: Do you feel the same now?
KT: I don’t think I’ll ever feel completely the same after having that knee injury, but I feel like I’m close. Will I ever get back to where I feel like I’m 100 percent? I don’t know yet. But I feel a lot better than I was previously when I was hurt.
JN: Your dad played for the Chiefs. Do you remember anything about that?
KT: Briefly. I attended a couple games with my mom. We really didn’t watch out in the stadium that often. It was more inside with the other teammates’ families. I remember him always being gone a lot, things like that, but not too much about it.
JN: Did you meet any of the players?
KT: Yeah, I met some of the players. He was really good friends with Neil Smith, David Whitmore, Tracy Simien, guys like that. They were pretty close friends with him.
JN: What’s your goal for this year?
KT: I want to get opportunities to make plays and just help out my team as much as I can to get wins. Any personal accolades come after the season. I just really want to win. Three-and-9 is tough, and getting predicted to go 1-11 ... I just want to win games. That’s most important to me.
JN: You happy at safety?
KT: Yeah, I’m happy. I think I’m happy. I don’t know. (smiles) I really enjoy playing receiver, but I want to do whatever they need me to do to help this team be successful. That’s what I’m going to do.
JN: Is there one time it’s hardest for you to not be a receiver?
KT: The hardest time is watching people when they drop passes or do things that you think you’re capable of doing. I think that’s the hardest time, but you’ve just got to brush it off and do your job.
JN: You remember the day you decided you were coming to KU?
KT: Yeah. I know I had a previous commitment to Nebraska before I decommitted. I came up here a couple times. I really enjoyed the atmosphere of being around Lawrence, Kan. It really just wore on me throughout that time.
I finally decided to tell coach (Clint) Bowen, who was recruiting me at the time, that I wanted to be a Kansas Jayhawk. I was excited and happy about my decision. I still am.
I'm very excited today to introduce you to Alex Parker, our new digital editor here at LJWorld.com.
Alex will replace Whitney Mathews, who you'll all remember left LJWorld.com and The World Company just before July 4 this year. It's taken us a little longer than we would have liked to replace Whitney, but it was important to us to have the right fit. Alex is the right fit.
Some of you may recognize Alex's names from his previous time at the World Company. He was our education reporter — coincidentally one of his clearest memories is reporting on the USD 497 decision to build new stadiums at its high schools — and then a reporter and web producer for our websites. One of the works I'll most remember from his time here was the multimedia story he did on a Fort Riley unit's preparation to deploy to Iraq.
Alex left us in 2009 and has worked for the Chi-Town-Daily News and the Chicago Reader before returning to Lawrence just this week. I'm really excited to be putting the LJWorld.com community in his hands.
With LJWorld.com in good hands, I feel like it's an appropriate time to announce news of my own. A few weeks ago, I let The World Company know I'd be leaving to take a new role at Public Radio International in Minneapolis, Minn. My last day is next Tuesday.
I've spent the past five years working here — and I've lived here for more than eight — and I cannot tell you all how thankful I am for all of the support and wisdom I've gained from working with the community here — both virtually on LJWorld.com and our other websites as well as in person in Lawrence. Leaving will be bittersweet for me; I'm sad to leave my friends and colleagues in Lawrence, as well as the community we have here, but I'm excited for the new opportunity.
So, thanks again, for being a fantastic community. And don't be surprised if you still see me lurking in the comments occasionally. There's a great community here and I just don't want to totally get away.
• Gill said KU's fans have been tremendous in the Jayhawks' two home games. He appreciates it, and his players and coaches do, too.
• Receivers Daymond Patterson and JaCorey Shepherd are out for the Georgia Tech game. Shepherd's injury is anticipated to be short term. The bye week after the Georgia Tech game could help KU in that respect.
• This past offseason, KU's coaches evaluated everything in terms of conditioning. They put together a plan to try to get the players better.
• Gill says the biggest key for his team against Georgia Tech's offense is to tackle well. Last year against Georgia Tech, KU's defense tackled well and created a few turnovers.
• Linebacker Tunde Bakare is probable for the Georgia Tech game. Gill anticipates that he will play. The coaches feel good about Bakare's progress this season.
• Gill believes his team will be more prepared for its first road game this year. Many players are back from last year, and the coaching staff has been here more than one year now.
• Gill says it's OK to call KU's running back as QB formation "The Wildcat." It's less confusing for people that way because it's the formation's common name. He's not concerned that the name is also the mascot of one of KU's biggest rivals.
• Gill says KU improved its speed and passion last week. "Passion" was the word of the week.
• Gill was happy with his team's ball security offensively. The offense also got off to a good start.
• Gill was pleased that his defense allowed just three points in the first half. He also was happy his defense tallied three sacks and held McNeese State to under 100 yards rushing.
• KU's special teams won four out of six phases against McNeese State. KU did not win kickoff or kickoff return but won the other four.
• Receiver Daymond Patterson is doubtful against Northern Illinois. Receiver Christian Matthews is out for violating team rules. Quarterback Jordan Webb is just fine and will play.
• Gill says the keys against Northern Illinois are: 1) to be plus-two in turnover margin; 2) have a two-to-one ratio when it comes to 20-plus-yard plays; and 3) make sure KU wins four or more phases in special teams.
• "Focus" is the word of the week. KU needs to key in on the small details.
• Running back Darrian Miller talked about committing to KU early, then backed off that for short time to weigh his options. He later gave his full commitment to KU. Gill says it's nice to have K.C. area players be part of Kansas football.
• Gill thought linebacker Tunde Bakare showed his explosiveness against McNeese State. He made plays that some guys can't make. Gill also thought Darius Willis was steady.
A fan first (in New Mexico), KU walk-on Shane Smith expected to play in first collegiate game Saturday
Shane Smith couldn’t keep his eyes open.
It was April 1, 1991. Shane — currently a sophomore Kansas University defensive lineman — was watching the men’s basketball national championship game between Kansas and Duke with his father, Terry, at their home in New Mexico.
There are times when Terry still blames his son for the loss. If only Shane wouldn’t have fallen asleep at halftime, the Jayhawks would have beaten Duke and won the title. Understandably, Shane never takes him too seriously.
“I was 5 months old,” Shane said with a smile. “He still likes to joke about it.”
Because of his dad — who grew up in Topeka — Shane was raised as a Jayhawk fan in Albuquerque, N.M.
On Saturday, Shane is expected to play in his first game for the school he’s always followed.
Smith, who has competed on KU’s scout team the last two seasons, has moved his way up the depth chart following some injuries on the Jayhawks’ defensive line.
The 6-foot-5, 280-pound defensive tackle played with KU’s first-team defense during its scrimmage on Aug. 20.
“I just want to be able to contribute,” Shane said. “That’s my goal: to get on the field and get some playing time in a Jayhawk uniform. Get my jersey dirty.”
So far in his career, he hasn’t gotten that chance.
After red-shirting his first season, Smith dressed out for home games last year but didn’t make it in for a single snap.
“You’ve got to keep the right mind-set is what it is,” Smith said. “If you’ve got the right mind-set, you’ll show up, you’ll put in the work and you’ll get something out of it.”
Smith's best attribute is his speed. Part of that stamina comes from playing for so long in the New Mexico altitude.
“I come down here, and I can run for days,” Smith said. “I just think that quickness factor is more my strength. I’m not the biggest, strongest, but I can move around a little bit.”
KU defensive coordinator Vic Shealy has praised Smith's improvement in the offseason, saying there have been times at practice he's impressed coaches by shedding a block then popping a ball-carrier in the hole.
For now, Smith will mostly be in during assumed rushing downs, as he projects more as a run-stopper.
He wouldn’t be the first KU football player on the roster to make the jump from preferred walk-on to contributor. KU senior linebacker and team captain Steven Johnson arrived at KU in 2008 without a scholarship before earning one prior to the 2009 season.
Smith admits that he recruited himself to KU after being named an all-state offensive lineman his senior year. He sent highlight tapes in to then-KU coach Mark Mangino, who offered him a spot as a preferred walk-on.
Though Smith had scholarship offers to Div. II schools and also interest from New Mexico, he picked the Jayhawks.
“I came up here and have been living the dream ever since,” Smith said.
As a child, Shane still remembers making a 5 1/2-hour trip to Lubbock, Texas, with his mother, Susan, to watch the Jayhawks’ basketball team take on Texas Tech.
Afterwards, Susan took Shane and his sister, Kaley, down to the locker room to where the Jayhawks were signing autographs.
A picture of Shane and former KU coach Roy Williams still hangs prominently in the Smiths’ house.
It’s not the only KU photo there.
Walk in the front door, and on the right side of a photo montage are pictures of Shane in his KU football uniform.
The left side has a photo from the day Terry and Susan's child committed to KU.
That side is Kaley’s. The high school senior is committed to KU’s soccer team; she’ll be joining her brother at KU next year.
“Everything about it up here just feels right,” Shane said. “That’s why I love it.”
• Gill's reasons that fans should be excited about this season: 1. Team speed and explosiveness; 2. More playmakers; 3. Being more physical.
• Seven to 10 true freshmen will play in KU's first game. Gill later clarified and said that as few as six true freshmen could play in the first game, but at least eight will play in the first two to three games, based on different scenarios.
• Tight end Jimmay Mundine and receiver Erick McGriff have been suspended two games because of violation of team policies. Defensive end Tyrone Sellers has been suspended one game for violation of team policies.
• Defensive tackle Pat Dorsey, linebacker Jake Farley and receiver Chris Omigie will be out the first game with injuries.
• Darrian Miller has stood out the most out of the true freshmen. Gill won't list the other names just in case something changes between now and Saturday.
• Freshman defensive end Pat Lewandowski will be available to play on Saturday. He suffered a leg injury on Aug. 9.
• Gill said he's talked to his players about what they can learn from last year's North Dakota State loss. But the coaches have also shown the players on film how they have improved and how they are different from last year.
• Receiver Kale Pick is a great example of how you would want a KU football player to be. He understands the game, is a team player and wants to be the best.
• Gill said linebacker Toben Opurum is talking more this season. He sees now that he can make more plays. Gill likes his demeanor.
• Kicker Alex Mueller is a guy that is consistent when he strikes it and gets the kick up quickly. He's been consistent. Ron Doherty might handle longer field-goal attempts. Coaches haven't determined who will handle kickoffs yet.
• Texas A&M and Big 12 speculation hasn't affected KU's football team. The biggest thing for Gill is that he has confidence in his chancellor and athletic director. He doesn't believe any potential changes in the conference would affect KU's recruiting.
This week's Sideline Report is with Painesville, Ohio, native and Kansas junior left tackle Jeff Spikes.
Jesse Newell: Do you remember the moment you decided to come to KU?
Jeff Spikes: I do. Actually I was on another recruiting visit, and a prior coach, Ed Warinner called me and he said, ‘I’ve made a transition to Kansas football, and we’re in the Big 12, and we’d like for you to come.’ At that moment, I realized, ‘Big 12 football is where it’s at.’ And that right there was when I decided to come.
JN: Where were you at? What visit were you on?
JS: I’d rather not say. (laughs)
JN: Just so they don't know that they failed, right?
JS: Oh no. They did a great job. It’s just, things seemed to fit better for me here.
JN: You remember your first day on campus?
JS: I do.
JN: What was it like?
JS: I came a week later. In Ohio, we graduate a couple weeks after the southern schools. But everybody had friends, and I was just the weirdo. (laughs) The big weirdo.
I always talked on the phone. I had my little Bluetooth. And I just talked and talked and talked. Because I hadn’t been this far from home and was by myself with nowhere to swim, nobody close. So my first day on campus was foreign to me. And I was foreign to everybody else. I was different.
JN: So who talked to you first? Who friended you first?
JS: Isiah Barfield and Steven Foster.
[Ed. note — Isiah's the one in the middle. And it's a cool pic by Nick.]
It was a break, and I couldn’t go home, because it was a short break and I lived so far away. But they were getting in this little bitty, old Mitsubishi car. A two-door car. And Isiah and Steve Foster were in there, and they were like, ‘Hey, yo. You want to go get something to eat?’ And I was like, ‘I ain’t got no friends. Why not?’ Ever since then, we’ve been good friends.
JN: Where’d you go?
JS: Steak 'n Shake.
JN: How was it?
JS: It was pretty good, but I haven’t been back since.
JN: So help me picture of this. You’ve got a big guy walking around campus. Did you have the Bluetooth on the whole time?
JS: I did. I had a Bluetooth on and I had my phone in my pocket, and I always tried to stay with my phone. I’ve got a big family. We’re very close. So talking to them just made me feel comfortable, even though I was in a foreign area. So, (my teammates) were just like, ‘Who are you talking to?’ but I was on the phone.
Or they were like, ‘You’re always talking on the phone and didn’t want to talk to anybody.’ I acted weird. I don’t think I did, but to them (I did). You know, everybody from here is either from Texas, Kansas or Oklahoma, and I was the only guy from Ohio — even the only guy from the northeastern area. So I just seemed weird to them. But we got past it. They understand me now, who I am and who they are.
JN: So you felt like an outsider for a while?
JS: Pretty much. I still kind of do, but I’m cool with myself. And I’ve got my little group of friends that understand me, so I’m not worried about it.
JN: What’s something interesting about you that not many people know about?
JS: I’m a very family-oriented guy. I’ve got four brothers and three sisters, an aunt. Without them, I don’t think I would be anywhere. I don’t think I would be happy without one of them in my life. That’s common to know I have that big of a family, but it’s crazy how close I am to them. I expect to talk to them every day, and if I don’t talk to them for a certain amount of time, it throws me off personally.
I try to talk to them every single day. I try to talk to my mother to see how her day’s going. I talk to my godfather. I talk to my brothers and sisters. I’m not the oldest one, but they do look up to me in that sense that I’m one of the older brothers, and I’m far away.
JN: Was it tough leaving your family in Ohio?
JS: It was definitely tough. I was really close. I am still close to them. It was just tough to know that I won’t be around to see them grow up. I knew that back then, but now, I really realize it.
They’re going to prom and junior prom and going to high school, and my sister started walking when I came. It’s just things I miss like that. I had a little nephew ... he cried the first couple times I would go home, because he was like, ‘Oh my God. This is the biggest dude I’m ever going to see.’ But we got past it, and I still try to stay close.
Every time I go home, I’m in the house. I make sure I’m there, so whenever somebody’s walking around, they’re talking to me or seeing me there. I want them to see my face.
JN: What was your favorite game since you’ve been here?
JS: The Missouri game.
We were down, and the pass from Todd Reesing to Kerry Meier was the best moment of my life. It was. It was like ... I don’t know. I couldn’t even explain it. It was like, maybe, the first time you’ve seen fireworks. It’s like, ‘Wow, this is real? Does it really exist? Does something this beautiful exist?’
And when that pass happened, it was like, ‘This is what we have practiced for every single day. This is what we live for.’ It’s that feeling. That feeling was amazing.
JN: Did you get to see it? Were you on the ground?
JS: I was on the field, and I was blocking somebody. As soon as I saw the pass go up, and I saw he caught it and just ran into the end zone ... all I did was stop, throw my hands in the air and was like, ‘Thank you, Jesus. Thank you.’ It was an amazing feeling.
JN: Do you tell people that was your best moment ever?
JS: Oh yeah. That was the greatest moment ever. Like, the greatest moment, the greatest feeling. I was just happy to be a part of it, to be honest.
There’s a lot of younger guys now who are like, ‘I watched that game,’ and it was exciting for them, knowing they were coming to Kansas. But to know that I was there and I was a part of it, and I was on the field at that moment, is just amazing. It was a great feeling.
JN: What was your favorite TV show growing up?
JS: Cartoons. Boomerang (TV channel). I would say Boomerang. The Cartoon Channel. I’ll watch Tom and Jerry, The Jetsons, the Smurfs. Everything. Looney Tunes. I just love cartoons.
JN: You still watch them?
JS: I do. Every day. I don’t really watch too much regular TV. You don’t have to focus, but it’s entertaining to me. Not in a kiddie way, but I still enjoy watching cartoons.
JN: Do people give you crap about it? Or are you too big?
JS: They can’t really do that. Because I know, one of my best friends, he still watches Dragon Ball Z.
And that’s Anthony Davis, No. 30.
He’s got DVDs of Dragon Ball Z. I don’t have DVDs of cartoons, but I definitely watch them. Like I said, we know each other, and we crack on each other for everything. But they’re going to have to accept that.
JN: What’s the toughest part about KU?
JS: Originally, the toughest part was just learning the game of football, and then driving to get that mentality that you’ve got to play every play for that play. And I say that in two ways, in the fact that, if you messed up the last play, you’ve got to continue to fight through the next play. You can’t worry about the last play. Then you’ve got to also realize, this play right here, you’ve got to play like your last play.
For me, overall, that’s been the biggest thing is actually just learning the game of football and trying to play every play like your last play, or have that mind-set. And also trying to forget the last play so you can get better.
JN: What is the best meal that you can cook? Are you a chef?
JS: My family’s pretty much the chef. But I can cook. I can do a little bit of something. I’ve been learning to cook an omelet. I cook a mean omelet right now.
JN: An omelet?
JS: An omelet. I whip it up and put the meats in it and the cheese. I’m not a vegetable-eater, but I’ll put some green onions in there. Ham, turkey, bacon ... whatever I have. I really like spicy foods, so Polish sausage, things like that. Crack three eggs, cheese. Just whip it up.
JN: Did you have to tell the coaches about your Achilles injury in the offseason last year?
JS: Yeah. Whew, it was stressful. I don’t even know how to explain it. It’s like you broke your mother’s last China plate, and it was passed down from generation to generation. That’s how I felt. I was like, ‘I don’t know if I should tell them I was doing this or I told them I was doing that or I should tell them I’ll be OK.’ I didn’t know what to tell them. I just had to break the news, like, ‘I messed it up.’
JN: What are you most looking forward to this year?
JS: I’m looking forward to just playing the game. Like that feeling when we come out, we warm up, and the crowd is getting in the stadium. Then as we go in the locker room, we get our motivation. We look at each other in the eyes, like, ‘We’re about to bleed today. We’re about to grind today. We’re about to win today.’ Then we come back out, and the crowd is just ready to see us.
I’m looking forward to that moment, because it’s a goosebump feeling. Like Jake Sharp told me, after he left, he always came back to every game the season after he left. He was like, ‘I miss it so much, just playing in front of this many people and getting that feeling when you come out. It’s something you can’t find doing a 9-to-5. You can’t find it really doing any other aspect of your life, because this is what it is now.
I want to live that up as much as I can, because I know eventually, there will be a time that I won’t get that feeling. I’m just trying to learn to soak it in, because this is all we got. Twelve games, and trying to go for 13.
Here is the Cliff's Notes version of Kansas football coach Turner Gill's comments at KU football media days today.
• Gill likes the speed he's seen on offense. He also likes the body language of his quarterbacks. That tells him that they have confidence.
• Gill has seen more speed and physicality on defense.
• There's been a better approach with the football team this year. The coach gives a lot of credit to the seniors, who have been leaders. KU only has 15 seniors, including walk-ons.
• On defense, Steven Johnson has stood out. He's running well from sideline to sideline. Bradley McDougald has stood out as well after five practices. He's been around the ball and has tackled well.
• On offense, Tanner Hawkinson has stood out. He's a leader on the offensive line. D.J. Beshears has been good as well. He's moved more to the receiver position this year. He has good hands and is very fast.
• Cornerback Dominic Foreman, originally from Coffeyville Community College, has been added to the roster to take D.J. Marshall's spot.
• Coaches will have a better feel after Saturday's scrimmage of who might play as a true freshmen. Gill guesses that eight or nine true freshmen will play this year.
• James Sims is KU's best running back at this point in time.
• Coaches and players have been a lot more relaxed in Year Two. A lot of coaches last year were waiting to see how Gill would respond to certain situations. Gill feels a lot less tension in the room.
• Gill says there's a definite gap between KU's top two quarterbacks (Jordan Webb and Quinn Mecham) and its next two quarterbacks (freshmen Mike Cummings and Brock Berglund).
• Gill repeated his stance on Brock Berglund, saying he is still a part of the football team. "When he's around, he's around," Gill said. Gill is going to let the court system play out.
(Note: I did see Berglund walk by today, so he's here now.)
• Darrian Miller is right in the thick of the running back race. The coaching staff still needs to see if he will be able to take the hits, bounce back and get up for the next play. He has big-play potential.
• Gill says he understands his football team a whole lot better. He also understands KU and the fans a lot better.
• After five days of practice, Gill would say that KU is a better offensive team than defensive team. It depends on the day, though. Part of that, too, is because new defensive coordinator Vic Shealy is still working on implementing some of his defensive schemes.
• The coaches anticipate that freshman defensive lineman Pat Lewandowski will be available for the first game following his injury.
It's hot. There's no denying it.
In fact, according to the AP, Kansas was home to the hottest place in the country on Sunday.
No, it wasn't Lawrence.
But we did top 100 degrees for the first time all year, and that means it's time to announce the winner of our Ron King Agency Guess the First 100-Degree Day contest.
As it turns out, according to the National Weather Service, the arbiter of all things temperature and precipitation, we officially hit 100 in Lawrence at 4:15 p.m. (We topped out at 101 at 6 p.m., they said).
So, that means it's time to announce our winner. We had hundreds and hundreds of entries and out of all of them, our winner was just 45 minutes off.
Meghan Kinley of Lawrence guessed we would hit 100 degrees at 3:30 on July 10. Well, it was 4:15, but that's close enough to win the prize.
So, congratulations Meghan! Meghan claimed a prize package that included:
• Four tickets to a T-Bones game • Over-the-shoulder bag cooler • Giant beach towel • 16-inch flying disk toy • Toy sand shovel and molds • Neutrogena spray-on sunscreen • Roll-up picnic blanket tote • EZ-Freeze water bottles • Fruit Burst drink syrup
Special thanks to Ron King Agency for being the presenting sponsor for our contest, and also to the Kansas City T-Bones for the baseball tickets.
Also, if you'd like to get severe weather information via cell phone or email, sign up for our severe weather alerts.
After talking with new/old Kansas receivers coach David Beaty in the spring, I could tell one area that he especially wants to stress is blocking.
In Beaty's two previous seasons with KU in 2008 and 2009, much of the Jayhawks' success offensively came because of well-executed wide receiver screens.
For this blog, I wanted to get a little more into wide receiver blocking, an area many of us overlook while watching the games because we tend to follow the football.
I once again have consulted a Div. II offensive assistant coach, someone we'll just call "Coach" in this blog.
After going through film, I pulled out each of the Jayhawks' wide receiver screens from last year's Colorado and Missouri games and also this year's spring game.
I then had Coach grade each play.
With his receivers, Coach reviews film of every play, giving a grade of either 0, 1 or 2.
Here's a look at how Coach would have graded each of KU's receivers on the following seven plays. Use the video clip above each breakdown to follow along with Coach's assessment.
Coach's words: "No. 83, the receiver on the outside (Chris Omigie), he doesn’t initially take a very good angle to make sure and cut off the cornerback. You see how he lets the cornerback get inside of him right there? He’s really pretty lucky that that cornerback didn’t really get a big hit on his slot receiver right there.
"Now obviously, this slot receiver (Daymond Patterson) doesn’t do a good job of catching this ball on the first try. But really, that wide receiver, No. 83 up there, needs to step inside first to protect against the inside from this corner right here. Then, if the corner does come back outside, then he can get back and return to his original aiming point. Footwork first."
Grades: "I’d probably give them both zeroes, No. 83 (Omigie) for his technique, and then the slot receiver (Patterson) for a drop."
Coach's words: "This is an outside receiver screen right here. The two inside receivers (Tim Biere and Patterson) both do a pretty good job of keeping two of the defenders away from their outside receiver right here. They both go to cut, and neither one of them actually gets their guy down on the ground, but they do an OK job at occupying them long enough to give their other receiver time enough to make a good catch and get a first down here.
"If you’re going to go cut a guy, you definitely want to get them down on the ground. Some keys to a cut block are making sure you don’t try to cut too early. You need to have very little space between you and the defender.
"And a lot of times, you’ll see guys making mistakes in cutting. They try and cut down around the shins or down around the ankles when really their aiming point when they go to cut should be at the thigh level. And (they need to) run through their cut, not just dive at them and dive straight down into the ground — really run through when you go to cut. Now eventually, you will dive and end up on the ground, but you really want to have a lot of momentum going so that you can take their legs out from under them."
Grades: "I would grade all those guys ones right there. There was nothing spectacular that really went on, but they all pretty much got the job done and they ended up getting a first down out of the play."
Coach's words: "No. 86 (Biere), he’s the one on the line. He initially doesn’t do a great job right there. Notice how he kind of takes too wide of a step with his first step and allows that defender to go directly inside of him right there? That could have caused a big problem for KU if that defensive back would have looked up and saw the ball. He could have had an easy interception and return for touchdown right there. He almost overruns the play.
"He needs to be a little more patient and let the guy come to him so he can keep him covered up right there. Now, he does come back and gets a nice knockdown on the play when No. 17 reverses his field. That’s good.
"The No. 3 receiver, the slot receiver (Kale Pick), when he goes to cut this guy, he doesn’t really run through it. He kind of just dives down at the guy’s ankles.
"See, he needs to continue to run his feet and run through his cut right there and really try to work to get the guy down on the ground. Now, he does occupy the guy long enough, so if the ball would have been caught, he would have technically had the guy blocked. He kind of just stuffs his face right down into the ground."
Grades: "The outside receiver (Chris Omigie) is going to get a zero for a drop. I’d probably end up giving (Biere) a one on that play, just because he comes back and makes a nice play and gets a knockdown. I’d probably give (Pick) a one. If the outside receiver makes the catch there, he probably would have had long enough to run by that corner."
Coach's words: "81 (Johnathan Wilson) probably just could have ran through his hit a little bit harder. See how when he goes to hit him on the 20-yard line how his feet get stuck in the mud right there? He could have really ran his feet and shot his hands through the guy’s chest and really just continued to run his feet, instead of having his feet and hands kind of go dead right there. See how he kind of gives him the chicken wing instead of putting his hands right into his breastplate and really running his feet?"
Grades: "(Colorado's) No. 3 doesn’t make the tackle, and 81 (Johnathan Wilson) does a good enough job to allow 15 (Daymond Patterson) to get upfield a little ways, so I’d give him a one right there.
"I would have given 15 (Patterson) a one right there. Probably would have given him a two if he would have ended up getting by ... see how he makes No. 19 miss originally and then No. 19 comes back in and makes the tackle? If he would have been able to get away from him and get 5 or 10 more yards, I probably would have given him a two for a great move, but that’s pretty much a one.
"I expect most of my guys to be able to make that move right there. He didn’t stand much of a chance, obviously, because there were two or three defenders out there. That was an overall productive play right there, though, by the receivers."
Coach's words: "Really good job by 81 (Johnathan Wilson). See how No. 81 has a nice aiming point and basically has his nose on the corner’s outside number? And really, No. 15 should continue to chase the numbers, see, because 81 has the corner blocked.
"81 has a nice aiming point. He’s using his hands well.
"If No. 15 continues to chase the bottom of the numbers to the outside here, they’re probably going to have a lot bigger play than what they ended up having, because he cut back into trouble.
"You teach your guys on bubble screens like this to chase the numbers and really continue to work outside, because all the defense is coming from the inside. And he cuts right back into trouble here. Trust your outside receiver to continue to work this guy up the field and go outside and try to get some big yards here."
Grades: "81 could do a little better job. See how he’s giving a bunch of ground right here?
"He could really drop his butt and try to drive this corner back more and give 15 a better angle to run, but he really does a good enough job right here. I’d give both receivers a one."
Coach's words: "The No. 2 receiver, 43 (Ted McNulty), does a good job. He gets his hands on the defensive back. He could have his butt down a little more and drive his feet a little bit harder.
"Again, with the No. 3 receiver (Pick), he could do a better job with his cut. See how he dives at the defender’s ankles right there? He could really do a better job, take two more steps upfield, and make sure that he’s trying to cut the guy at thigh level instead of just trying to cut his ankles right there."
Grades: "I’d probably give (Pick) a zero right there. I’d probably give the slot receiver (McNulty) a one. I’d give the outside receiver (Omigie) a one. Overall, pretty productive by the No. 1 and No. 2 receivers right there."
"I believe it’s No. 46 right here (Jimmay Mundine), his guy makes the play.
"The No. 1 receiver (Erick McGriff*), I think he’s doing an OK job here. I think he realizes that the defense is playing man-to-man, and he’s just going to run the corner off, which is totally fine as long as the corner continues to run with him. See how the corner turns a man turn to him?
"A man turn is turning toward the receiver. Zone turn would be turning to the inside of the field. The cornerback doesn’t take a zone turn; he takes a man turn to that receiver. And the receiver just runs him off.
"If you can tell the guy’s going to play man-to-man by reading the coverage and reading the defense, then yeah, just go ahead and run the guy off."
* — It's hard to tell which receiver this is from the film, though it looks to me like it's McGriff.
Grades: "That’s a good job by the No. 1 (McGriff). I’d just give him a one right there.
"(Mundine), zero. His man makes the play. The No. 2 receiver (Connor Embree), I’m going to give him a one, because he really didn’t stand a chance because his No. 3 receiver didn’t get it done for him right there."
Kevin Young is still making headlines in San Diego.
The 6-foot-8 forward, who originally signed a grant-in aid with San Diego State eight months ago, reconsidered and committed to Kansas University on Friday.
Evidently, people close to SDSU are still fuming.
On Tuesday, the San Diego Union-Tribune posted another story about Young, this time disputing KU coach Bill Self's assertion that Young decommitted from SDSU before taking a campus visit to KU.
The story is definitely interesting. Here's part of what the Union-Tribune's Mark Zeigler wrote:
Two sources close to the situation, speaking on the condition on anonymity, say it went like this:
The SDSU coaches got wind about Young’s trip to Kansas the week before and phoned him to confront him about it. And even then, the sources said, Young never formally decommitted from SDSU before taking the trip — wanting to keep his options open.
Zeigler also makes mention of Young’s AAU coach, Elvert “Kool-Aid” Perry, saying he "is believed to have been influential in the decision behind the switch."
Don't think we'll ever know exactly what happened with Young's recruitment, but so far, that hasn't stopped both schools from trying to convince others that their version of the story is correct.
If you're a KU fan, you'll probably want to check out these videos featuring Jayhawk athletes that first appeared online Wednesday.
The first video is of Marcus and Markieff Morris on ESPN's Sport Science set. The brothers have their basketball skills broken down scientifically and also have their skills compared to some current NBA players. Definitely worth a look.
The next video from KU Athletics, featuring football players Daymond Patterson and A.J. Steward challenging the KU soccer team to a shootout, evidently is so good that it's going to be featured on ESPN's SportsCenter.
I'm not going to ruin the surprise, but let's just say, you'll want to watch until the very end.
Danny Manning has often been praised for his work with the Kansas University big men since being hired on as an official KU assistant before the 2007-08 season.
But exactly how much have KU's big men improved?
Let's take a look.
For this blog, I will be looking at offensive rating, which basically tells us how many points an individual player produces per 100 possessions.
First, I wanted to take a look at the big men that Manning inherited when he became an assistant coach in 2007: Darrell Arthur, Darnell Jackson and Sasha Kaun. Manning had each of these players one season.
Before working with Manning, the three players averaged an offensive rating of 108.1; after, they averaged 116.1.
As you can see, each player improved offensively under Manning, with Kaun (9.1 percent improvement) and Jackson (11.6 percent improvement) making the biggest leaps*.
* — A note on offensive ratings: The numbers above don't necessarily mean Darnell Jackson was a better offensive player in 2007-08 than Darrell Arthur. To compare different players, you also need to look at their usage percentage — the percentage of possessions they consume on the floor.
In that year, Arthur's usage percentage was 24.8 percent, while Jackson's was 19.9 percent. Because Arthur was more of a go-to player with KU and took more shots (and tougher shots), it would be expected that his offensive rating might be a touch lower than Jackson's.
Because in all these graphs we are comparing each player to themselves, I didn't include usage percentages. All the usage percentages are listed in parentheses here if you want to see them.
Manning also has worked with six different scholarship big men from their first year at KU (I'm counting Mario Little, who played the four position during most of his time at KU).
Here is what their progression looks like.
OK, there's a lot to get to here.
• First off, there have been 12 instances in these two graphs when a player has spent an additional year at KU under Manning.
In 11 of those 12 instances, that player's offensive rating improved.
Sounds like a potential recruiting tool to me.
Cole Aldrich's junior season is the only time under Manning that a KU big man's offensive rating has gone down from the previous season. And even then, it went from an off-the-charts 124.3 his sophomore year to a still-all-league-like 116.8 his junior season.
• Here are the average offensive ratings for KU players in each playing year under Manning:
Year 1 — 102.1
Year 2 — 115.0 (12.6 percent increase)
Year 3 — 118.9 (3.4 percent increase)
From looking at this, KU's big men are making a huge jump between year one and year two. I was a little surprised that the offensive ratings for KU first-year big men were so low. This would seem to indicate that even though KU isn't bringing in elite freshmen big men that can dominate immediately (think Jared Sullinger and DeMarcus Cousins), it is getting great production out of them after a year in the program.
Also, the jump isn't as significant from year two to year three. Part of the reason for this, of course, is that KU's big men had such high offensive ratings in their second years, many times it was hard to improve much.
• This also might be a good time to temper expectations in the first year for incoming freshmen Braeden Anderson and Jamari Traylor. Recent history would tell us that KU's big men aren't usually offensive studs as freshmen (though as sophomores, they often are).
• Jeff Withey also is an interesting case study here. He had one of the highest offensive ratings from a big man during his first year at KU (109.0) but didn't have a significant increase following his sophomore season like most of the other Jayhawks have had (109.8). I'm sure injuries and limited playing time had something to do with this, along with the fact that Withey's offensive rating his freshman year was pretty darned good for a part-time player.
Just for fun, here's a look at how KU's Manning-led big men compare to other schools' big men over the same time period.
For the schools below, I pulled players out based on three criteria:
- Players had to be 6-foot-7 or taller
- Players had to join their schools in 2007-08 or later
- Players had to play at least 10 minutes per game in their final season
I compared those players' offensive ratings with those of KU's big men from 2007-present under Manning. In each graph, the dark blue lines represent KU players.
Because of the small sample size we can't take too much from these graphs, but I still thought they were interesting to look at. Manning's big men seem to fare pretty well compared to recent big men from other schools.
Note: Reader avaholic below requested a graph of KU's guards in the last four years to compare to the graphs above. Here is that graph. Please note that Tyrel Reed played just six minutes per game his freshman year, and his offensive rating is a bit inflated because of that.
A few notes for a rainy Friday ...
• So just how much do Kansas fans care about recruit DeAndre Daniels' decision?
Quite a bit, if you only go by the KUSports.com traffic reports.
Only three times during the 2011 calendar year has KUSports.com had more than 100,000 visits in one day. Those days are:
- Mon., Feb. 21 (Tyshawn Taylor suspended; 120,250 visits)
- Sun., March 27 (KU loses to VCU; 124,122 visits)
- Thurs., May 19 (Daniels, um, doesn't make a decision; 107,409 visits)
That's a lot of refreshing back to KUSports.com, especially on a day when no new story was posted on Daniels.
In case you're wondering, the latest news I've seen on Daniels comes from Inside Texas Magazine's Blake Munroe, who Tweeted, Just spoke to IMG Academy's Andy Borman who told me he has "no clue" when DeAndre Daniels' decision will be made.
• I was trying to figure out which KU player will be affected most by Daniels' decision, and the one I keep coming back to is Travis Releford.
The junior-to-be was having a solid season last year until a severe sprained ankle kept him out five games. After he returned, he never was able to fully regain his explosiveness, and KU coach Bill Self seemed to lack confidence in him during games late in the season.
Releford's offensive numbers from last year suggest that he was helping the Jayhawks while he was in. His offensive rating (basically, point produced per 100 possessions) was 119.5 according to Statsheet.com, which was fourth-highest in the Jayhawks' rotation behind Brady Morningstar, Marcus Morris and Tyrel Reed.
Releford wasn't a huge go-to guy offensively, putting up 17.9 percent of KU's shots while he was in, but these numbers indicate that he was providing a positive contribution offensively when he was in.
Without Daniels, Releford would appear to be the Jayhawks' starter at the small-forward position, where he would have a huge jump in minutes and also would most likely be the Jayhawks' best on-ball defender, taking that role from the graduated Brady Morningstar.
With Daniels, though, I'm not sure where Releford would squeeze in. Most likely, Daniels would take a majority of the minutes at small forward, leaving Releford as a backup at that position.
Releford did play some at the four position last year, but he's undersized there and would at best be a reserve there competing with Braeden Anderson and Jamari Traylor to be one of the first guys off the bench. Playing at the four also takes away one of Releford's greatest strengths, which is his ability to shut down a perimeter player defensively.
There are other ways this could play out, too. If Daniels came to KU, he could transition to power forward, leaving the three spot open for Releford.
Either way, I'm interested to see what a healthy Releford can do both offensively and defensively in 2011-12. His numbers would suggest that he's ready to handle an increased role.
• Even with Daniels stealing the headlines, KU fans shouldn't overlook the importance of signing forward Jamari Traylor.
Every time I went back to look at KU's rotation for next year, I kept seeing one glaring weakness: post depth.
Before Traylor signed, here were KU's options in the post:
Travis Releford (not his natural position)
Justin Wesley (walk on)
With even one injury next year (and remember, three of the guys on the above list missed some of last season because of injuries), KU would have been down to a scary-thin big-man bench.
During Spodcasters earlier this week, JayhawkSlant.com's Shay Wildeboor compared the 141st-ranked Traylor to Darnell Jackson — a hustle guy and a good rebounder.
And though it's impossible to know how good Traylor will end up being, here's a list of players I found ranked between Nos. 140 and 150 on the Rivals150 in past years who were productive players during college:
2004 — DeMarre Carroll, Missouri (148th)
2005 — Taylor Griffin, Oklahoma (141st)
2006 — Desean Butler, West Virginia (147th)
2006 — Dexter Pittman, Texas (150th)
2007 — Lavoy Allen, Temple (142nd)
2008 — Jio Fontan, USC (147th)
2008 — Marcus Denmon, Missouri (150th)
2009 — Khris Middleton, Texas A&M (140th)
• For KU football fans, this link is a couple weeks old, but it's still a good one if you haven't seen it.
Owen Kemp at the blog Rock Chalk Talk once again sat down with someone "close to the program" to get his post-spring thoughts on the Jayhawks. That person "close to the program" has enough insight in the blog that I would assume it's a current player.
The most interesting thing that I saw was that, so far, KU's vocal leaders have been the offensive linemen and not the quarterbacks. Sounds like a good thing, and a bad thing, for KU.
• Finally, I had to laugh when I stumbled upon Statsheet.com's new site Statsmack.
Basically, the site is set up to help you prove to your friends that, statistically, your college is better than theirs.
I was curious about the site, so I went ahead and typed in the biggest rivalry around this area: Kansas vs. Missouri.
Statsmack listed 45 reasons KU is better than MU. Here are a few of the basketball ones:
• AP Voters think Kansas is better than Missouri (Latest AP Poll: #2 vs Not Ranked)
• Computers think Kansas is better with an RPI this season that is better than Missouri (RPI: #1 vs #37)
• Kansas is a better shooting team (51.4% vs 46.1%) than Missouri this season
• Kansas has been the favorite 32 out of the 35 times (i.e. everyone expects KU to win)
• Over the past 10 years Kansas has had more players drafted by the NBA than Missouri (13 vs 4)
And also a few of the non-basketball ones ...
• More violent crime happens per capita in Columbia so be careful if you visit (when compared to Lawrence (according to the FBI)
• More property crime happens per capita in Columbia so you better protect your valuables if you visit (when compared to Lawrence -- according to the FBI)
• Lawrence isn't as congested as Columbia (population is significantly lower)
• The Kansas basketball team is smarter with a better graduation rate than Missouri (80% vs 44%)
OK, fair enough. So I went ahead and flipped it around.
The site only came up with 10 reasons MU was better than KU. And those reasons weren't the strongest, either. Here are the first three:
• Missouri has an average margin of victory of 7 over Kansas in 24 wins since 1980
• Missouri has come back to win after being down at half against Kansas 4 times since 1996
• The Missouri blocks leader (Laurence Bowers) has more blocks than the Kansas blocks leader (Markieff Morris)
New MU coach Frank Haith has some work to do if that's some of the best Statsmack his fans can claim against their biggest rival.