Entries from blogs tagged with “ku”
Here is the Cliff's Notes version of Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self'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).
• Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson being back won't be a big change for KU, as both have run with the first team in practice. Both players have gotten better. Both need to improve defensively and also with taking care of the basketball. Both have a tendency to lose focus. Russell Robinson was a pretty good standard when it came to defensive guards. The best perimeter guards defensively that Self has had at KU were 1. Brandon Rush; 2. Russell Robinson; 3. Brady Morningstar.
• Elijah Johnson has the capability to make a big jump this year. He will start on Friday. He might be a guy that plays better when he knows he can play through mistakes.
• Thomas Robinson is going to foul, but it was nice that last Tuesday, his first foul came in the second half. KU coaches will try to protect Robinson from getting fouls way away from the basket by defending in different ways than they have in the past.
• Towson hasn't scored the ball well yet, but it's exhibition games. It'll be great to see how KU's guys react in the first game.
• Self has been pleasantly surprised by Naadir Tharpe's shooting ability. KU recruited a pass-first point guard, which he should still be. He's been a bonus with his shooting. Self thinks he can still do a better job of running the team and understanding what the team is trying to accomplish. There's a chance he could be out there in a game with both Johnson and Taylor.
• Self would like to see KU play every possession, as opposed to being inconsistent with effort in focus. Self believes not losing focus will be an issue with this team all year. The coach would like to see that reduced.
• The Champions Classic will be the highlight of the opening of the next three basketball seasons. Self doesn't know if college basketball has had an event like this to kick off the season that will generate this much interest.
• John Calipari's recruiting at Kentucky hasn't been a surprise to Self. He's been able to do very well with the NBA talent-type guys. The thing about Cal that is misleading is that a lot of people think he's just a good recruiter, whereas as Self thinks he's also a really good coach and gets his teams to play hard and guard.
• Jeff Withey is a very coachable. He's a great kid. He's probably a little bit too laid back. Self would like to see him get angry sometimes. His lower body strength isn't going to allow him to do some things in the post like other players, but he's very skilled.
• The coaching staff put a lot of time into Perry Ellis. Danny Manning did a great job of that. Self believes that he could have the same impact as Wayne Simien, as far as being a home state player coming to KU. He's a hybrid at the 3 and 4. KU will use him both positions. Ellis is really quiet. When Self talked to him a couple days ago, Ellis told him he was playing "Call of Duty." Ellis wants to be valedictorian. He wants to go into business once he comes to KU.
• KU's team in 2005-06 was talented, but Kentucky's team this year has more one-and-done-type players. There are a lot of things that go into having a great team, and talent is the most important.
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 they are looking forward to showing their determination as a football team to end this season on a positive note while showing that they are moving the football team forward. The players are continuing to believe in their coaches and teammates.
• Against Iowa State, Gill was pleased that his team's defense had forced multiple turnovers. KU has forced multiple turnovers in three of its last four games. Also, KU held Iowa State scoreless in the third quarter. KU also held ISU to just 13 points — the lowest total KU has allowed in a Big 12 game since 2007.
• Offensively, KU had 63 plays and 65 knockdowns against ISU. Having more than one knockdown per play is a positive.
• Running back Tony Pierson will be back this week after sitting out last week with an injury.
• Gill says the two keys to the Baylor game are: 1. The defense has to create multiple turnovers; 2. KU has to have a big play in special teams and win that area.
• Quarterback Jordan Webb has been above average in what the coaches have asked him to do. Other guys have to help him out. Right now, KU needs to maintain its success in the red zone and finish drives.
• KU's defense didn't have any major busts against Iowa State. That stood out to Gill about his team's defensive performance. Also, KU had a lot of players around the football.
• Safety Bradley McDougald's performance against Iowa State was good to see. He was a little more hesitant early in the season. Now, he "gets it." KU needs him to have those types of games from him.
• Behind the scenes, the seniors on this team are still being leaders. They've gathered their position groups on their own to meet. They've helped out their teammates with academics. As seniors, these guys have taken it upon themselves to make sure the team is close.
• Linebacker Steven Johnson leads by example. It's more about your actions than it is your words. The one thing that gains him a lot of respect is that he came from Pennsylvania as a walk-on, worked and worked and worked and now he's having success and could have a chance to play at the next level.
• Gill said if a crime takes place in the football complex, the protocol is to come in and tell him. The protocol for players, generally, is to talk to your position coach, then coordinator then head coach. Obviously, you can go above that if there is something is very, very serious, but you tell somebody. Coaches give players a list of phone numbers of almost everyone in the athletic department at the beginning of the year if there are any issues. This is for anything in general, not necessarily something to the magnitude of the Penn State situation. Gill says he makes his players promise that they don't isolate themselves. Everyone has things come about, but you need to talk about it.
• There has been no decision on KU's kicker for the Baylor game yet. The coaches will decide later in the week.
For the second straight week, SBNation national columnist (and friend of the blog) Bill Connelly posted some interesting numbers about the Kansas football team in his mailbag column.
Connelly is a specialist with college football advanced statistics, and earlier this week, he compiled an advanced box score of KU's 43-0 loss against Texas.
That box score showed that KU's offense earned -0.8 equivalent points* against Texas — meaning the Jayhawks' offense would have been better off running a QB sneak every play than running the plays that they did.
* — Equivalent points are a method used by Connelly that gives each yard line a point value based on the average number of points a team can expect to score from that spot on the field. From there, each gain or loss is given a point value based on the change in EqPts.
According to Connelly, an offense earning negative equivalent points has only happened 25 times in the last seven years.
It's very rare, though, in games between two BCS conference schools; in fact, that feat has only happened four times in games between two BCS schools in the last seven years.
So, if we want to be technical, KU's offensive effort against Texas was the fourth-worst in the last seven seasons by a BCS school against another BCS school.
Connelly also talked a bit in his mailbag about how poorly KU has played this year, bringing up how the Jayhawks rank last out of all BCS schools (and 113th overall) in the F+ rankings, which are based off both drive and play-by-play data.
Though KU coach Turner Gill would disagree, Connelly says the numbers show KU hasn't gotten better this season.
"Their current minus-21.0% F/+ rating perfectly matches what they produced last year, meaning there has not been one iota of improvement in Turner Gill's second season in charge," Connelly wrote. "Gill played a ton of freshmen and sophomores last year, and those players have not improved as sophomores and juniors. I was not lying when I said 'Teams don't collapse out of nowhere like this and immediately rebound with much velocity' in this summer's Kansas profile, but it was not unreasonable to expect some sort of improvement. It has not arrived."
Check out the link at the top for more good info from Connelly, as he also mentions that if KU keeps up its current pace, Gill's two KU teams will produce two of the six worst season-long performances for a BCS conference team in the last seven years.
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 started by talking about where KU was at as a program. He said he's telling his players and coaches that it's a new month. And it's also about how you finish. Gill is telling players and coaches they need to finish this season in a positive way. He said KU players and coaches just need to keep working hard, keep watching a few more things (like film) a little bit longer and keep talking about things to get better at. Gill said the goal is for everyone to become more detailed in what they do. Then, the team just needs to keep on pressing forward.
• Gill says he's determined to change what KU has done so far this football season. He's says he's going to do everything in his power and his will to continue to work hard with the coaching staff and players to finish the season in a positive way.
• Gill said there were no significant injuries for the Iowa State game.
• One thing that stands out to Gill about Iowa State is that it is averaging 5.5 yards per carry.
• Gill said that calling this season "disappointing" would be a good assessment. It's not the way you'd like to have it be at this point in time, but KU has an opportunity to improve with four games left.
• Gill says there have been some areas of improvement, but there has been a lot of inconsistency. The team needs to be exactly right on everything. There's no room for error.
• Gill says his players have been playing with passion at times, but it's been inconsistent.
• KU deferred after winning the coin toss simply to change it up. The coaches had been talking about the third-quarter problem and wanted to try something different to see if that would make a difference. Gill said one small victory was that KU played better in the third quarter compared to what it had been doing (KU was outscored 7-0 in the quarter by Texas).
• As a coach, when you hit tough times like KU is going through, Gill says you have to come up with new ways to give your team hope. In most cases, if you finish well in November, you can show everyone, including your fans, that you are making progress.
During media day sessions in the last two weeks, I was able to talk to all 15 Kansas men's basketball players to ask their opinions for an anonymous poll. Players were not allowed to vote for themselves.
Here are the results (and a special thanks to Nick Nelson for making the graphs look really nice):
Question: Who is the best offensive player?
Thoughts: This surprised me quite a bit, as I was actually expecting Thomas Robinson to win in a landslide. This shows the respect that teammates have for Taylor's ability to drive and score. The fact that Elijah Johnson snagged a couple votes also could be a positive sign for KU in 2011-12.
Question: Who is the best defensive player?
Thoughts: Releford should have the chance to thrive this year, and he has the length and quickness to become one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. KU coach Bill Self just has to hope that injuries don't force Releford into the post. If Robinson or Withey were to go down with an injury, Releford would quickly become one of KU's only options left to play inside, a role he accepted last season because of KU's depth. The hope, of course, will be that everyone stays healthy, and Releford is allowed to thrive on the wing.
Question: Who is the best newcomer?
(Thirteen of the 15 players were interviewed on Oct. 13 when both Jamari Traylor and Ben McLemore were still expected to play.)
Thoughts: This illustrates how big of a blow KU suffered when McLemore was ruled a partial qualifier by the NCAA. Like Self often says, no one will be feeling sorry for KU, but B-Mac appeared to be set to play major minutes this season.
Young will be an important player for KU, as the Jayhawks desperately need depth in the post. Tharpe, meanwhile, appears to be in the Aaron Miles mold as a pass-first point guard.
Question: Who is the best leader?
Thoughts: I was surprised by the results on this question as well. I expected a few more Robinsons and Teahans, but this just shows that this is Taylor's team.
This year, the Jayhawks are relying more on Taylor than ever, and because of that, they can't afford a silly suspension or off-the-court antics from him. My gut tells me that this will be the year where he keeps himself out of trouble and plays every game for KU.
Question: If you couldn't play for KU, which Big 12 school would you most want to play for?
Thoughts: Though I tried to get responses from every player, a few said they wouldn't be in the Big 12 if they didn't play at KU. I was mostly just asking to see which Big 12 school the players most respected, and, not too surprisingly, Texas was at the top of the list.
Here is the Cliff's Notes version of Kansas football coach Turner Gill's comments at his weekly press conference today.
• Gill says this week's game is about two teams trying to find a way to win a football game.
• Gill focused on his team's improvements to start the press conference. KU is averaging 30 points per game this year, whereas it was averaging 16 points per game last year. KU has 15 rushing TDs this year, compared to seven last year at this time. KU has 14 passing TDs this year, compared to seven at this time last year. KU is at 5.5 yards per play, compared to 4.6 last year. KU's quarterbacks have completed 67 percent of passes this year, compared to 57 percent last year. KU has 8.1 yards per pass attempt this year, compared to 5.9 last year.
• On special teams, KU has not had a punt blocked this year, whereas it had one blocked last year. Also, KU has blocked two punts this year compared to none last year.
• Gill says there has been improvement this year, no doubt about it, particularly on offense. The team still has to improve defensively. Gill sees some things going in the right direction. Some scores have been unfortunate, but two phases have been better this year.
• There are no injuries of to report of significance.
• Gill says one of the keys to this game is seeing how how his team responds on the first two possessions of each half.
• Gill thinks its lower energy level last week in practice was due to inexperience. The coaches are demanding on the players to do what they need to do. KU is inconsistent right now.
• All the coaches are trying to pinpoint why the defense has struggled so much this year. Losing defensive coordinator Carl Torbush has something to do with that. Other teams are exploiting KU's mistakes. Gill says you keep working and keep trying different things in practice.
• Gill says one of the adjustments the team has made is simulating a halftime in practice. After taking time off, the No. 1 offense goes against the No. 1 defense.
• Gill says his players' comments about the energy level being low against Kansas State might have been out of context. Some guys may have been just talking out of frustration. KU just has to keep working.
• Gill says there are physical things done to players in practice for discipline, like up-downs or repeating plays.
• When asked about athletic director Sheahon Zenger's comments after the Kansas State game, Gill says that Zenger is the boss and has to say what he has to say. Gill says he came to KU to try to fix something, and that's what he's here to do. He still believes in his plan and doing things the right way.
• Gill says part of his plan is being able to focus on running the football. KU is running it about 60 percent of the time. KU has many of the pieces in place there. Gill feels good about his speed on special teams.
• The plan is in place. Gill says now he needs the people, though some of the players here now have the ability. But you have to work. You have to have some time to get players in place to know what the coaches are trying to do.
• Gill says recruiting new people and juggling the coaching staff could both be options to help KU's defense. You have to evaluate after the season.
• Gill says he talks to Zenger about once a week. Most of those conversations are about life and not football.
It’s been three weeks since I took over as digital editor of LJWorld.com and the Lawrence Journal-World, and in the whirlwind of starting a new job and clawing my way through the dozens of cardboard boxes that now clutter my home, I’ve neglected to say hello and introduce myself to you.
My most sincere apologies.
As Jonathan Kealing noted in September, I was a reporter for Journal-World – first as a general assignment reporter, then covering the education beat – before I went to cover news in Chicago. I worked most recently as online content producer for the Chicago Reader, the city’s venerable alt-weekly. I also covered public health for the online Chi-Town Daily News and wrote about the circus that is Chicago politics for the Chicago Current, a short-lived political journal. Along the way I freelanced for the Chicago Tribune, RedEye and other publications.
What Jonathan didn’t mention is that I’m taller than Chicago’s last two mayors, one of which castigated me at a press conference for a question he didn’t like. I’m friends with a friend of Steve Bartman. I grew up in Kansas City, Mo. The strangest interview I’ve ever done was with Ron Jeremy, who I believe recorded the conversation and was more candid than I care to remember. I was once within mere feet of the Stanley Cup and squealed with joy. I did. I squealed.
I’m quite pleased to return to Lawrence. I lived here for about two years, attending graduate school at Kansas University and then working for the Journal-World. In my time away, I’ve thought more and more about this town. I’ve thought about the ties that bind it together, from a unique homesteading history to the 2008 NCAA basketball championship (I still get chills from watching “The Shot”).
I’ve learned more about the social fabric of Lawrence (if you’ve not read “This is America?” you’re missing out.) And I’ve thought about how passionate people are about their town.
Yes, I’ve thought a lot about passion. That’s one reason I decided to return to Lawrence; people care deeply about what happens here. I feel very strongly about the role of local news organizations in a community. Yes, print journalism is in a tough spot, but journalists like the ones that work at the News Center are some of the smartest and most passionate people I know. You may not agree with everything that’s written in the Journal-World, but without it, there would be an unacceptable information void.
The passion Lawrencians have for their town is obvious on LJWorld.com. It shows up in different ways, such as the fantastic Dear Lawrence photo project. It is especially obvious in the hundreds of comments posted each day on this site.
The steady flow of discussion proves that people here believe their city, state and country can be a better place. I firmly believe that the exchange of viewpoints, opinions and facts can make us more informed, and perhaps even more enlightened.
But it also has its drawbacks. Too often, online discussions devolve into name-calling, unaccountable invective and general nastiness that take away from the communal experience of our lives in Lawrence. I simply ask you engage in respectful discussion with each other. Banter is one thing; cheap shots and derogatory insults are another.
You may have also noticed a change that occurred on LJWorld.com yesterday evening. We’re trying something new, and allowing only verified users to comment on stories such as those that involve a death under investigation or a sexual assault. These stories often attract the worst comments, those that are insensitive to grieving families or those that offer little more than baseless – and potentially libelous – speculation.
My hope is that users of these boards will foster a respectful and thoughtful exchange of ideas, even when other say things that are counter to their opinions or ideas. It’s very easy to fire back a knee-jerk reaction. It’s harder to sit for a moment and think how to best respond to a comment – if at all.
In my endeavor to keep LJWorld.com a welcoming community, there are a few things I won’t stand for. In the Harry Potter series, there are the Unforgiveable Curses, which result in death and maiming. Here, there are Unforgiveable Comments, which result in a comment’s removal and possibly banishment of the user who leaves them.
In accordance to the terms of service, comments that are libelous or defamatory are unacceptable. I hope you’ll refrain from racist, sexist or otherwise insensitive or unnecessarily needling comments, especially when it comes to our neighbors who find themselves in the paper, either by choice or not. “Outing” users by referencing what users may presume to be their real names will not be tolerated.
And I’ll ask that users stay on topic in discussions. Arguments between a few users or long missives that detract from the point waylay many discussions. If you see a comment that violates the terms of service, please flag it for removal. Together we can make LJWorld.com, KUSports.com, Lawrence.com, WellCommons and Sunflower Horizons fun places where we can learn from each other.
I think these are fair parameters, and I think the overall community appreciates having a spot to discuss the news of the day. No doubt you’ll disagree with some of my decisions down the line, but I invite you to message me through the site or email me at email@example.com; I’m happy to explain my position and listen to yours.
I’ve enjoyed interacting with some of you so far, and look forward to getting to know this community better.
2:30 p.m. update
One last note from today: KU is ranked 13th in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll that was just released.
With that, we're going to wrap up our coverage from Big 12 media days at Sprint Center.
Be sure to check back later to KUsports.com for additional coverage, including videos from the event and also a wrap of the day from Journal-World KU basketball guru Gary Bedore.
1:35 p.m. update
Just wrapped up interviews with players. Here are a few more things of note:
• Gary Bedore, who was at the KU table for the duration, said Self, Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson all talked glowingly about Jeff Withey.
"You'll see a new Jeff Withey," Robinson said.
Robinson also said Withey had been working hard after practice to improve his game.
• Gary also said that Self indicated that KU would try to sign about five players in recruiting this year.
• Here's KU coach Bill Self's direct quote about Missouri from earlier, courtesy of ASAP Sports:
"I think our league is probably stronger today than it ever has been because you have key players in our league that seem to be on the same page more than they ever have been.
"So it's not like Missouri's putting our league in jeopardy. I don't feel that at all. But it is something that I think we'd all agree to maintain what's been going on for 100 years, I think, is something that's pretty special."
• Tyshawn Taylor talked about what it was like to play with Thomas Robinson:
"It's exciting, man. He's a high-energy guy who likes to run. That fits me perfectly, because I like to run. I threw, like, five lobs to him at practice yesterday, so I think we're going to see a lot of that this year."
12:16 p.m. update
I stood next to KU coach Bill Self's table for about 10 minutes. Here are some of the highlights from what he had to say:
• Self said six guys have separated themselves in practices as ahead of the others: Tyshawn Taylor, Thomas Robinson, Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford, Jeff Withey and Conner Teahan. Self said Teahan had done a great job, and if KU played today, he'd be the first guy off the bench.
• Self likes freshman guard Naadir Tharpe's potential to lead. He takes charge and is a vocal guy.
• Self on Missouri: "If they leave, they leave. Big deal." He came back quickly with, "We don't want them to (leave the conference)," and, "I want to make it clear: I want Missouri to stay."
He also made mention of Texas making a bold statement when it declared it wouldn't play Texas A&M in non-conference.
When it came to scheduling, though, Self was adamant.
"What we do will not be based on what other people want us to do," he said.
• Self said he thought the fact that Sprint Center was in the state of Missouri was overrated when it came to discussions for it being a potential host for the Big 12 Tournament if Missouri leaves.
"I think it's Kansas City," Self said, emphasizing the "Kansas."
Self said which state the building is shouldn't matter. He also emphasized that KC was a good location for schools like Kansas State and Iowa State, who had been known to bring big crowds.
• Self said he heard from others that Thomas Robinson "out-tried" others during camps over the summer.
• In the past, Self said there were times he hoped his big guys drew some fouls just so he could play all of his big men. Obviously, with KU's depth issues, he won't hope for that this season. Still, Self said at Tulsa one year his starting four-man was 6-foot-4, and his backup was 6-4 also. So being successful with a smaller lineup can be done.
• Self was impressed with how much Paul Pierce talked to the guys about working hard when he came back for Legends of the Phog. He believed that had an impact on his players.
11:03 a.m. update
Quickly, here is KU coach Bill Self's audio from his time at the main table. The Missouri comments are at the very end.
10:52 a.m. update
There will be a bit of a lull here in the blog, as one-on-ones begin at 11 a.m. with coaches and noon with players. It's best to make the most of the time with that access, but hopefully I'll get back for an update or two anyway.
In the meantime, even though I know this is a KU basketball blog, The Gridiron is definitely worth checking out this week. If nothing else, fast forward to the middle for inspirational speeches from boxer Victor Ortiz and linebacker Steven Johnson. Serious goosebump material.
10:38 a.m. update
While at the main table, Missouri coach Frank Haith commented on what he knew about the KU-MU rivalry.
"I know it's a big rivalry. No doubt about it. I spent some time in the state of Texas at Texas A&M and at Texas. Seeing that game being played, and the interest in that game and the enthusiasm in that game, I'm excited about that opportunity. ...
"Being a part of a rivalry is exciting, and I've been at places where we've had that opportunity, but I hear there's no game like this game."
10 a.m. update
KSU coach Frank Martin elaborated more on his team's media guide cover (discussed at the bottom of this blog).
He said the photos were shot in the spring, and the original concept came from the Kansas State sports information directors.
"Credit to people at K-State," Martin said. "They come up with some great ideas."
Through emails and phone calls and Twitter, Martin has heard nothing but positive response about the media guide cover.
He said his players were killing him about it, though.
9:51 a.m. update
Kansas State coach Frank Martin made a quick joke while waiting for the Big 12 to fix a microphone problem while he was at the lead table.
"Did this happen when Bill Self was up here?" he deadpanned.
9:43 a.m. update
Bad camera work by me, but this attempt at a panorama still should give you a bit of an idea of what the coaches are looking at when they're answering questions at Sprint Center today.
9:26 a.m. update
The Big 12 media guide shows that 12 of Texas Tech's 16 players are newcomers.
Also, here are the class breakdowns for the Red Raiders' players:
• 11 freshmen
• 2 sophomores
• 2 juniors
• 1 senior
I don't think I've ever seen a more inexperienced roster at the Div. I level
9 p.m. update
Texas coach Rick Barnes was asked about playing Kansas twice this season.
Here's what he said:
"What makes rivalries is a consistently competitive situation played well at a very high level. I think the Kansas-Texas game has been. We've even talked about in the past, and kidded about maybe even playing a non-league game, because we think that Texas-Kansas playing twice ... I know our fans are excited about it. We've always enjoyed coming to play up here, because it's one of the great places to play. You want to win obviously, and we were fortunate to do that last year.
"I think it has been — and I think it will get even better — with being one of the best rivalries in college basketball."
8:38 a.m. update
The KU-Missouri rivalry isn't the only rivalry that looks like it will be coming to an end soon.
In the last two days, the Baylor basketball coaches haven't seemed to have much interest in scheduling Texas A&M in the future.
"We don't see anything on the horizon, at least," Baylor coach Scott Drew said Thursday.
Baylor women's coach Kim Mulkey gave a much more entertaining answer on Wednesday at Big 12 women's media day.
"Who wants to be in a relationship that's over and has no value for you?" Mulkey said. "And that stuck with me. So basically (the Texas A&M president) is talking about a divorce. And I think I know a little bit about a divorce.
"And my feeling is this: If a man wants to divorce me and says our relationship has no value to him, and then he asks me if he can sleep with me, the answer is: No!"
8:15 a.m. update
Here are the Cliff's Notes from KU coach Bill Self at the podium here at Big 12 media days.
• Self says he is excited about his team. He says his team is a very thin team that is very talented. The Jayhawks will have less margin for error this year because of their depth. The league will be terrific, with perhaps as much parity as there ever has been.
• One thing about reduced numbers is it forces guys into roles. No question, Tyshawn Taylor will be the leader of the team, and Thomas Robinson will be the emotional leader. Taylor has paid his dues, and he's learned how to lead better.
• Robinson has to have improvement similar to what Cole Aldrich had between his freshman and sophomore year. Robinson needs to be an All-American for KU. He needs to be a player that's one of the top 10 to 15 players in the country. Self thinks he has the ability, but he still is very inexperienced. He's never been the focal point of the opposing defense. It will be a different role for him, but Self thinks he's talented enough and cares enough to be one of the best players around.
• Robinson has improved his shooting stroke. Self hasn't come up with a rule for him on which shots he can take. For example, with Russell Robinson, the coaches knew he'd take two bad shots per game, so they expected that. But Thomas Robinson won't make his living on the perimeter.
• Thomas Robinson didn't have a good offseason. He had a fabulous one. He performed well at camps across the country.
• Jeff Withey is a talented guy, and he hasn't had a chance to play a lot. In recent memory, KU has had some talented fourth big guys, like Aldrich and Thomas Robinson. Withey is trying hard and has gotten stronger, though he can still get stronger yet. Self likes him. He's not a prototypical big guy. He's a finesse big guy. If he plays enough minutes, he'll block a lot of shots.
• Self doesn't know if expectations should change that much with KU's two lost freshmen lost because of academics. KU has a talented team. Expectations can be tempered a little bit, but Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford and Withey are good players that haven't had a chance to show it yet. Self thinks his guys expect to be pretty good.
• In basketball, the KU-Missouri rivalry is underrated because it's in the middle of the country, but at worst it's one of the best five to 10 rivalries in the nation. There's mutual respect between the two programs. Self would hate to lose the rivalry. Self feels good about the Big 12. He believes it's stronger today than it ever has been. Missouri is not putting the league in jeopardy. He thinks putting 100 years of tradition to the side isn't a smart move. It's hard to develop new rivals. Rivalries are important. KU has had some great games with Texas, and that rivalry is going to get better because the teams play each other twice. But Texas still circles Texas A&M, and KU still circles Missouri and Kansas State. KU will develop greater rivalries going forward because it will be playing teams twice.
7:56 a.m. update
A lot of times, teams come into the year trying to play the "We get no respect" card.
It's going to be tough for KU to make that argument after looking at their rankings in the preseason polls.
To be fair, most of these polls came out before the announcement that freshmen Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor would sit out this season.
Still, here's how KU ranks in each of the following polls:
Sporting News — 14th
Blue Ribbon — 11th
Lindy's — Unranked
ESPN.com (Andy Katz) — 18th
CBSsports.com — 14th
Athlon Sports — 13th
NBCsports.com — 15th
Dick Vitale — 17th
Seems a bit high for a team with depth issues heading into the season like KU.
7:10 a.m. update
Welcome to the Newell Post (early morning version), as we're getting ready to set up at Big 12 men's basketball media days at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.
KU coach Bill Self is first at the podium this morning at 8 a.m., so the blog will pick up quickly. We'll have Cliff's Notes of what he says, plus updates from other coaches throughout the day.
Here's the schedule of coaches, for those wondering:
8 a.m. — KU coach Bill Self
8:15 a.m. — Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger
8:30 p.m. — Baylor coach Scott Drew
8:45 p.m. — Texas coach Rick Barnes
9 a.m. — Texas A&M Associate Head Coach Glynn Cyprien
9:30 a.m. — Texas Tech Coach Billy Gillispie
9:45 a.m. — Kansas State coach Frank Martin
10 a.m. — Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford
10:15 a.m. — Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg
10:30 a.m. — Missouri coach Frank Haith
11 a.m. — One-on-one interviews with coaches
Noon — One-on-one interviews with players
Let's get started with some discussion on a topic that has gotten a lot of attention lately: Kansas State's media guide cover.
Here's a screenshot of it, taken from the Kansas State athletics website.
Personally, I like the cover, and I commend Martin for agreeing to do something different (and memorable).
So I've made my vote in this informal, fun, not-too-important poll: What is your opinion of the Frank Martin "faces" media cover? I'm interested to hear what KU fans think about it after seeing the results from a poll done on Kansascity.com.
Keep checking back throughout the day for more Big 12 media day updates.
• Gill says his guys played with great determination and confidence against Oklahoma. The team played with great physicality. Gill thinks the team can build on last week's game, and he expects his guys to do that.
• Gill said linebacker Steven Johnson did a great job of being a leader and bringing the team together during the week.
• KU safety Keeston Terry is questionable for Saturday's game against Kansas State. Center Jeremiah Hatch is questionable. Running back Rell Lewis is out, while RB Brandon Bourbon will be ready to play.
• Gill says the key to the game is turnovers. KU has to win that battle to improve its chances to win.
• The coaches are aware that it hasn't been playing as well in the third quarter. The coaches are evaluating a lot of things and have addressed the issue. Coaches have discussed for a few hours how to improve in that area.
• No one can say how many years it takes to turn around a program. Gill doesn't have that magic number. But he believes in the plan the staff has at KU. You just have to stick with your plan and keep believing in it. Bill Snyder had enough time to put his plan together at Kansas State. In general, Gill says in life, people jump to certain things and tend to want change.
• Gill says his team can't allow itself to get hurt on special teams. Against Kansas State, the team at least needs to not get beaten in that category.
• Center Jeremiah Hatch is excited to go. He's a little bit sore. Gill is glad that physically, he's going to be all right after his injury against OU.
Sometimes – well, often, really – the Internet gives us a chance to chuckle at things that are serious. In the case of the Occupy Wall Street movement, where clarity about pretty much anything is lacking, one man at an Occupy Denver rally knows what he stands for.
He is a Jayhawk.
From the good folks at Deadspin we bring you the rantings of a man who is crazy. Crazy for Kansas basketball. He even nominates Bill Self for chairman of the Federal Reserve. And how many championships has Missourah won? Anyway, it's good for a chuckle.
Update: The fan is apparently the father of a Kansas University graduate, who was moving into a new home in Denver, if this blog is to be believed. The father is a banker, the family thought it would be funny to take pictures of him in the middle of the protest.
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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.