Entries from blogs tagged with “ku”
Here is the Cliff's Notes version from Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self's comments at his press conference today.
• Self said he saw the elbow Thomas Robinson threw on TV. It looked like Robinson got the guy pretty good. Self didn't see what led up to that play. He figures NBA commissioner David Stern will hand down some discipline.
• Self said offensively, against Washburn, his team looked like it did in Europe. His team didn't put pressure on Washburn on either end of the floor.
• Self said Wednesday's practice wasn't great. It wasn't awful, but it wasn't anything special. It wasn't a lack of effort, but the circumstances probably didn't lend themselves to having an enthusiastic practice. Self said he talked to his team and reiterated leadership and enjoying the process of winning ugly. It's OK to win ugly, but you have to enjoy it, or you won't continue to do it over time.
• Self says SE Missouri State is athletic. It runs sets similar to KU. It also has two active big men.
• A majority of Jeff Withey's blocked shots come from help defense. Withey needing to get more rebounds shouldn't affect him getting blocks this year.
• Elijah Johnson is trying to do what he thinks the coaches want him to do, but he's forgotten about playing. He's thinking instead of playing, too. Self thinks the film session was good for him. Self wants him to penetrate more, along with the other guys. Self said he has a team full of guys that should be decent at it. Most of KU's team is explosive and athletic. Johnson should do that more than anyone, though. That hasn't been his mind-set with this team yet. He can do it, though. Johnson has to be a guy to get others easy baskets. ThisKU team doesn't have the natural low-post scorers that it's had in the past.
• Kevin Young is definitely out for Friday's game with his broken hand.
• KU's preparation won't change because Michigan State is next after SE Missouri State. Three days is enough time to prepare for a team in college basketball.
• Forward Zach Peters might be feeling a little better, but he's still out of practice. Self says if he doesn't get back soon, KU will have no choice but to red-shirt him.
• Forward Landen Lucas will not play Friday and may not play Tuesday to keep the potential for him to red shirt. It's not certain just yet. Self says you don't red-shirt guys that you don't think can play. A red shirt would trade his age 19 year for his age 23 year. Peters and Lucas are the only two red-shirt candidates on this year's team.
• Andrew White wants to be a complete player. Right now, his shooting skills are definitely ahead of his ball-handling skills. It appears that way now, but Self isn't sure that'll be the case a month or two by now. KU hasn't been practicing too long yet.
• Self says Johnson has been as important to the success of KU's program as about anyone he's had at KU. Johnson has taken pressure off other guys prior to this year. It's going to be different for him this year, as he's going to have to have the ball in his hands a lot more.
A few months ago, I stumbled upon Jeff Haley's Hoop-Math website and was immediately interested by his analysis.
Basically, Haley breaks the shots of each team's possession using play-by-play data from box scores.
The data can be broken down by team and individually, giving us some insight into the patterns of players that we might not have had before.
Here are five interesting things about last year's KU basketball team I found from sifting through the Jayhawks' team page, followed some thoughts about what those numbers might mean for KU this year.
1. Elijah Johnson's wacky shooting splits
Haley's data breaks down each player's shots into three categories: shots that are at the rim (listed as layups in the box score), two-point jumpers and three-point jumpers.
Last year, the NCAA average for each was easy to remember: 34 percent of shots were at the rim, 33 percent were two-point jumpers and 33 percent were three-point jumpers.
Now, let's take a look at Elijah's splits.
|%Close||%2pt. jumpers||%3pt. jumpers|
Ken Pomeroy had a similar finding about Johnson over the summer, as after sorting through shot-chart data, he discovered that Johnson took only 50 of his 330 shots from between six feet and the three-point line.
Perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that so far that Johnson has looked a bit timid trying to get to the lane and create a shot off the dribble in the exhibition season.
In case you were wondering, Johnson took 19 shots in KU's two exhibition games. Fourteen of those (73.6 percent) were three-pointers, three of them (15.8 percent) were close shots and two of them (10.5 percent) were two-point jumpers.
It appears that Johnson has still has a ways to go if he's going to diversify his offensive game in 2012-13.
2. Jeff Withey's unassisted two-pointers
Jeff Withey earned the most praise because of defensive play last year, and deservedly so, as he was one of the nation's most feared shot-blockers.
He also averaged nine points per game, and without Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor on the team this year, I think quite a few people anticipated that those scoring numbers would go up significantly.
That perhaps isn't a realistic goal if you consider Withey's assisted layup splits from a year ago.
|Withey %Close shots assisted||Robinson %Close shots assisted|
Out of the Final Four teams, there was no player with more than 25 field-goal attempts who had a higher percentage of layups that were assisted than Withey. Very few of his layups came from him making a move on his own; almost all came with the help of a pass from a teammate.
That's not to say that Withey can't improve his one-on-one game this season. And that's also doesn't mean that Withey couldn't increase his point production by making more two-point jumpers (though known as a good free-throw shooter, he made just 29 percent of his two-point jump shots last year, which is well below the 35-percent NCAA average).
It does mean, however, that last year he didn't necessarily display the skill set to create his own easy shots like Robinson did. That's a part of his game that will still need development if KU coach Bill Self continues to run the offense through him.
3. KU's best mid-range shooter
Any guesses as to which KU regular ended up as the Jayhawks' best two-point jump-shooter?
It actually was Travis Releford, who made 48 percent of his two-point jumpers (remember, 35 percent is NCAA average).
Releford wasn't getting too much help, either. Just 27 percent of those two-point jumpers were assisted, meaning the numbers would suggest that he is an effective scorer when pulling up off the dribble.
On a KU team that might struggle to score, Releford should at least consider being more aggressive in pull-up situations, where he was an effective player in 2012-13.
4. The importance of getting back
I touched earlier on Jeff Withey's defensive presence for KU, and that impact comes through pretty strong in these numbers.
Opponents shot just 54 percent on close two-point jumpers against KU last year, compared to the national average of 61 percent.
One of the biggest problems for KU last year was allowing opponents to score against an unset defense — aka, when Withey hadn't made it back into the paint yet.
Let's take a look at some of the time splits for KU's defense last year on the opposition's layups (Note: For shot clock data, Haley only looks at the first shots of possessions).
0-10 seconds into possession
11-35 seconds into possession
After opp. score
After opp. score
Now you can see why Self goes so crazy on the sidelines urging his players to get back on defense after a missed shot.
The differences in the two percentages after a rebound are especially striking. If opponents grabbed the rebound, then raced down the court and were able to get a layup against KU in the first 10 seconds of the shot clock, they made 77 percent of those shots (NCAA average is 64 percent).
If those teams waited 11 seconds or more for those layups, they made just 53 percent of them (NCAA average is 58 percent).
After every KU missed shot with Withey on the floor, you can be confident in knowing that, if the shot clock gets down to 25, the opponent already missed out on its best opportunity to score against KU.
5. The value of waiting for three-point attempts
We only have one year's worth of data on Haley's site, but KU's numbers are fascinating when it comes to three-point percentage based on time remaining on the shot clock.
Take a look at the chart below.
0-10 seconds into possession
11-35 seconds into possession
After opp. score
0-10 seconds into possession
After opp. score
11-35 seconds into possession
0-10 seconds into possession
11-35 seconds into possession
After deadball TO
0-10 seconds into possession
After deadball TO
11-35 seconds into possession
If last year is any indication, KU would be smart to wait on three-pointers — especially after opponent turnovers.
The most shocking of the numbers above are that KU shot just 17 percent from three in the first 10 seconds of the shot clock after a steal (NCAA average was 36 percent), but 42 percent from three from in the final 25 seconds of the shot clock (NCAA average was 34 percent).
The same sort of trend held true after a dead-ball rebound. KU made quick threes 37 percent of the time and delayed threes 45 percent of the time (NCAA average was 34 percent on both).
In Self's quick ball movement offense, there appears to be a definite benefit to being patient before putting up a three-point attempt.
Here is the Cliff's Notes version from Kansas football coach Charlie Weis' comments at his press conference today.
• Weis said he met Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville previously on an overseas trip to visit troops. He spent a lot of time with him there and respects the work he does. At the time, Tuberville was the head coach at Auburn when its big game each year was against Alabama. Weis says whenever he saw an Auburn or Alabama fan over there, Tuberville would hold up six fingers, which signified the six victories Auburn had over Alabama in a row at the time. Weis thought that was hilarious and awesome.
• The goals don't change for KU this year. Weis says KU would still like to win a road game this year. But you add goals. For example, Weis said it'd be nice to play a complete game on the road. It'd also be nice to play well in the second half of a road game as well.
• Weis said he's not as nice this week as he was last week to his players. He said he's frustrated after the Baylor loss. KU is going to leave earlier this week for a road game. It's going to practice at Texas Tech's stadium as well. Weis said he can't stay status quo if it's not working.
• Weis says running back James Sims is becoming more of a potential leader on the team. Everyone is starting to rally around him because he's the workhorse. Weis and running backs coach Reggie Mitchell have talked to him recently about taking the team with him and being more of a leader.
• Weis says running back Taylor Cox is probably just as hard-nosed of a runner as Sims is. Cox will get more action going forward. The coaches and offensive line trust him. He only has one speed, and it's full speed.
• Weis thinks the NFL Draft has little to do with a player's team record. It has to do with a player's ability. People get paid a lot of money in the NFL to evaluate players. It doesn't make much difference if you're a fourth-round draft pick or an undrafted free agent, because the real money is made if you stick in the league and get a second contract.
• Weis says Sunday is the most fun week as far as practices go. The guys on scout team get a chance to run KU's real plays. It's a competitive practice, because there's no "show" team. It's just offense against defense.
• Quarterback Jake Heaps is frustrated that he can't help KU this year. Weis says there are two good things happening with him: 1. He's been able to learn the offense; 2. He's formed relationships with guys that aren't front line. Weis says Heaps is the "show" team player of the week every week, even though the team doesn't give him the award every week. Weis says it's not close. Heaps is developing relationships with people that he'll potentially play with like receiver Justin McCay. Heaps sometimes will get on McCay if he doesn't run a route correctly. Heaps also helps KU with recruiting. Weis calls him a "hidden gem," because all the guys that potentially want to come to KU talk to him on social media about the school.
• Weis says his views on social media are basically: "Don't be stupid." When his players say dumb things on Twitter, Weis says he's forced to say something to them. Weis said he just wants his players to use common sense. When the guys don't use common sense, Weis says he's forced to treat them like little kids.
• Weis says back home in New Jersey is still a disaster. As bad as you hear it is, it's worse. His mother and brother still don't have power. Weis has been following it as much as he can and has been trying to reach people. Everyone he knows is OK, but it's going to take a long time to repair all that damage.
• Weis thinks running back Tony Pierson will be improved this week as he won't be wearing his elbow brace. That brace limited his movement.
Matt Tait is behind the wheel, talking non-stop, on the road from Dallas to Waco.
Jesse Newell is behind him, buried in his computer, trying to find out Baylor’s average gain on third-down plays into the wind in games that kick off at 2:30.
Nick Krug has his camera at the ready in case an opportunity to turn a fallen road-side deer into art presents itself.
Time for a quiz to test your trivial knowledge of America’s most interesting 1-7 football team.
The roster with which KU started the season had 35 players from Texas and 24 from Kansas. What state ranked third with six natives?
He has been an assistant at Kansas for Glen Mason, Turner Gill and Charlie Weis.
a.) Clint Bowen
b.) Rob Ianello
c.) Reggie Mitchell
d.) Buddy Wyatt
He was head coach of the Dallas Cowboys for three seasons.
a.) Dave Campo
b.) DeMontie Cross
c.) Tim Grunhard
d.) Charlie Weis
Started camp wearing No. 89 as a wide receiver and now plays cornerback and wears 25.
a.) Brandon Bourbon
b.) Ray Mitchell
c.) Chris Omige
d.) JaCorey Shepherd
KU’s losing streak in games played outside of Lawrence.
He was head coach at Franklin Township High in New Jersey when it won a state championship in 1989.
a.) Dave Campo
b.) Rob Ianello
c.) Reggie Mitchell
d.) Charlie Weis
Had a team-high four interceptions for the 2005 Kansas team that won the Fort Worth Bowl.
a.) Theo Baines
b.) Randy Fowler
c.) Charles Gordon
d.) Aqib Talib
Four Jayhawks average at least 15.0 yards per reception. Which player is not one of them?
a.) Chris Omigie
b.) Daymond Patterson
c.) Kale Pick
d.) James Sims
e.) Andrew Turzilli
Born in Luanda, Angola.
a.) Keba Agostinho
b.) Tunde Bakare
c.) Pat Lewandowski
d.) Aslam Sterling
My twitter account.
Answer key: 1. a; 2. c; 3.a; 4. d; 5. d; 6. d; 7. a; 8. b; 9. a; 10. e.
Kansas football coach Charlie Weis deserves a share of the credit for Notre Dame revival under Brian Kelly
Third-year Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly has his team undefeated, ranked third in the nation and in contention for a national title.
First-year Kansas coach Charlie Weis, fired by Notre Dame five years into a 10-year contract, can’t be left out of the conversation entirely when discussing the revival of Fighting Irish football. Weis left Kelly with strong talent to develop.
Eight of the 11 starters on offense were recruited to Notre Dame by Weis: Linemen Braxston Cave, Mike Golic, Zack Martin and Chris Watt; tight end Tyler Eifert; wide receivers John Goodman and Robby Toma; running back Theo Riddick.
Eifert leads the Irish in receiving yards (341) and touchdowns (three) and Riddick leads the team in rushing yards and is tied for the team lead with four rushing touchdowns. Senior Cierre Wood, another Weis recruit, ranks second with 467 rushing yards and averages 6.5 yards per carry.
On defense, in addition to high-character Heisman Trophy candidate Manti Te’o, an inside linebacker, defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore, outside linebacker Dan Fox and safety Zeke Motta are Weis recruits.
Weis has some lingering bitterness about getting fired by his alma mater, but that doesn’t mean he’s wishing ill on the Fighting Irish. I asked him at a press conference earlier this month whether he was happy for his recruits.
“I’ll always root for anyone who I ever recruited,” Weis said. “I’ll never, ever root against them, you know, so I find enjoyment in their success.”
Weis won’t have the rich ND football tradition to dangle when he recruits for Kansas, but the ability to judge talent is such an underrated aspect of recruiting.
As well as the Irish offensive line has performed this season, that suggests Weis knows how to evaluate the position. With fifth-year seniors Trevor Marongelli, Duane Zlatnik and Tanner Hawkinson anchoring this season’s line, Weis needs to score big at the position immediately.
Here is the Cliff's Notes version from Kansas football coach Charlie Weis' comments at his press conference today.
Just a few changes on the depth chart, including tight end Jimmay Mundine, right tackle Aslam Sterling and fullback Brandon Bourbon moving into starting positions.
• Weis says Baylor's offense is unique in that coach Art Briles uses the entire field from sideline to sideline. The splits of Baylor's receivers are wider and closer to the sideline than Weis has seen anywhere else.
• Weis says the only reason Baylor has lost games is because of turnovers. Baylor has 16 giveaways in its last four games.
• KU defensive coordinator Dave Campo loves the game of football. He hasn't enjoyed going against the Big 12 defenses, but it challenges you, trying to take your personnel and limit the damage against an opposing offense. Weis thinks Campo's knowledge of the game has earned respect of KU's players. Weis also thinks Campo is a great teacher.
• Receiver Daymond Patterson will be back this week. KU will work him back in following his head injury. He's one of the most experienced guys KU has at the receiver position. Those experienced guys know the tricks of the trade.
• KU defensive lineman Toben Opurum should be in good shape for Saturday's game. Linebacker Jake Love passed his concussion test. That bodes well for his chances of playing this week.
• Weis says Love had a little bit of a "psycho" coming into KU. He was a wrestler in high school, and he has that kind of mentality. Weis said linebacker Ben Heeney also plays like a "wild man."
• Weis says watching tape on Sunday is worse than living it on Saturday. You have to relive it. You never see a lot of mistakes when you watch the game. Many more of those show up on film.
• Weis says he talks to tight end coach Jeff Blasko in his headset when he's on the sideline during games. Blasko basically gives Weis the down and distance and where the ball is spotted to help him with play-calling.
• Left guards Damon Martin and Duane Zlatnik will be listed as co-starters on the depth chart again. Offensive line coach Tim Grunhard will determine who goes in when.
• Offensive lineman Aslam Sterling will start at right tackle. He has as much talent as anyone on KU's line, but he's had highs and lows. He has to make sure that mentally he stays sharp so KU doesn't turn anyone free. His effort has been great. He's changed his body as much as anybody at KU this year. This is a cerebral game. He just needs to stay on top of things mentally.
• Michael Cummings is starting at quarterback again this week. Weis thinks he's making progress. Weis said he didn't look too good at the end of the spring. He just keep on working. Cummings gave Weis another option at QB, and when that happened this year, Weis put him in there.
Here is the Cliff's Notes version from Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self's comments at his press conference today.
• Self said he wants to see how his guys react to guarding different offensive actions against Emporia State. KU will have a small scouting report on Emporia State. KU has only scrimmaged once with officials this year. Self wants to see how his young players like Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor react.
• Self likes having talented young kids with good leadership. KU has that this year.
• Self can't remember having a situation like this year. But it's a good situation. If you're going to have freshmen, you might as well have seniors to lead them. KU has three fifth-year seniors as well. KU has a good freshman class, but it's kind of unheralded and lacks star power. The 2005 class with Brandon Rush and Mario Chalmers was different. Those players came to KU to be stars.
• Jamari Traylor is going to start for KU against Emporia State at the 4 spot. He's played the hardest, and in the last week, he's played the best. Perry Ellis will be the first one of the bench. Self wants to see how Traylor reacts to a game. There's a lot of pressure there.
• Self thinks it's easier to get guys to guard than to get them to score.
• KU's freshmen need to have a more aggressive mind-set. Self doesn't know that any freshman has told Travis Releford, "Don't get hurt, or you'll lose your spot." Self says KU has nice freshmen. Nice kids are great. Guys shouldn't be mean or belligerent, but the old guys want that challenge. KU doesn't need freshmen that are blenders. It needs freshmen who will take charge.
• Zach Peters is doing better with exercises, but the other day, Self asked him if he could shoot, and he said it hurts too badly. Self said he doesn't see a resolution to that soon.
• This team is fairly athletic. That should show up on the defensive end and with rebounding.
• The first perimeter guy off the bench will be Andrew White. Naadir Tharpe will be after him. Ben McLemore and Travis Releford have separated themselves on the wing.
• Self said this team reminds him a little of when Rush, Chalmers and Juilan Wright were freshmen. Self thinks there will be a time when the light comes on with this year's team.
• Self recruited Elijah Johnson because he thought he'd be a great all-around player. He's kind of a jack of all trades, master of none at point guard. When you add it all together, though, there's not many guys out there better than him. Johnson needs to get to the free-throw line more. Self says that should happen, because he'll be more aggressive. Johnson should shoot 4-5 free throws per game.
• Self says his team still has issues with turnovers. Self joked the guys on press row should have their hands ready Tuesday for passes.
• Self texted Cole Aldrich after his trade to Houston. It's a good situation for him. He's looking forward to it. Self was disappointed because he likes Oklahoma City so much, but he's excited for Aldrich because he thinks he has an opportunity there.
For this blog, I have consulted a Div. II offensive assistant coach, someone we'll just call "Coach."
This is the second "Breakdown" blog this week, with this one focusing on Roy Finch's 100-yard kickoff return for touchdown against Kansas last week. (The "Breakdown" blog on Justin Brown's 90-yard punt return was posted Thursday.)
Before looking at the film, Coach says there's one main truth when it comes to the kickoff team.
"The kickoff team, from the beginning of football until the end of football is always going to be about the players that you have on it — from your kicker to the 10 guys you have running down there," Coach says. "You can draw up every fancy scheme and place the ball on the right hash, the left hash, in the middle, whatever you want to do. But it will always, until the end of football, be about the guys you have running down there to make the play."
One of KU's mistakes, Coach says, comes early.
Coach says that during the first 20 yards of sprinting to cover a kickoff, one of the main objectives for KU's players should be trying to avoid blockers to the blockers' "butt side."
The reason for this is simple: KU's guys are trying to not get blocked to the lanes that the Sooners want them to be blocked into. By going to the butt side, KU's players will be going the opposite way of where the Sooners want them to go.
We see when Finch catches the ball that KU's players have not succeeded in getting to the "butt side" very well.
That's especially evident at the bottom of the screen, where KU's Nick Sizemore (No. 45) and Tyler Hunt (No. 49) are blocked toward the side of the field closest to us.
"Those guys should both be on the other side of the Oklahoma players, who are pinning them to the field (the side of the field away from the returner). Them getting pinned to the field causes No. 47 (Brandon Bourbon) to be pinned to the field."
Coach also says KU's Josh Ford (No. 8 above) doesn't do a good job, either.
On this play, Ford's responsibility is to "fold" behind blocks to make a tackle.
"Basically, you send seven guys to the ball, then maybe you have two or three guys that are still going to the ball, but sometimes they motor down five or eight yards behind it, so they're more like a linebacker," Coach says. "The front guys take up more blocks, then your fold players can jump in there and make the play after some of the other blockers have been taken up.
"He should technically motor his feet down and 'fold' a little bit sooner right there. He knows he's not going to be able to run and make the play on the 15-yard line right there. But 'fold' underneath those blocks (blue arrow below) and try to make the play on about the 25-yard line."
Coach says the other major failing for KU comes when its players are approaching blockers.
If you're one of the first men down, Coach says it's important to 1) stay in your lane as long as possible, and 2) be physical when you get to the block zone.
On this play, the Jayhawks aren't physical enough.
Coach singles out two players: Ray Mitchell (No. 26) and Michael Reynolds (No. 55).
As we can see at the 20-second mark of the video, Mitchell gets knocked off his feet — "absolutely destroyed" as Coach describes it — by OU's Tyler Fields.
Reynolds, meanwhile, slows down to contact after sprinting the entire length of the field and allows himself to be blocked.
"Those guys need to continue to sprint and try to run through those two Oklahoma blockers," Coach says. "Don't slow your feet down. Run through those guys, and blow those guys up back into the return man."
By not moving those blockers, Reynolds and Mitchell not only are putting themselves out of position for a tackle, they're also making it tougher on their "fold" players, as Finch can now choose from more openings.
Those blocks on Mitchell and Reynolds, along with more blocks from OU players to the boundary at the top of the screen, result in a huge lane for Finch.
"Those Oklahoma blockers are doing an excellent job right there," Coach says. "Oklahoma's got good players on their kickoff return team. They've got a solid scheme. It's not a scheme that is very difficult to see what they're trying to do.
"Basically, they're just whipping KU right here."
Here is the Cliff's Notes version from Kansas football coach Charlie Weis' comments at his press conference today.
Lots of changes to the depth chart this week, especially on the offensive side, with Michael Cummings listed as the starting quarterback and left guard Damon Martin listed as a co-starter.
• A lot of the fast guys on defense are already on special teams. Weis said that he told KU special teams coordinator Clint Bowen — after jokingly saying he threw up following last week's game — that Bowen could use anyone he wants for special teams this coming week. There will be no limitations. Weis isn't throwing his players under the bus. Sometimes, guys have to make a play. But a lot of coaching has to go into it, too.
• Weis says some of the problems on special teams stem from KU not getting production out of its specialist. Special teams get noticed more when the specialist is struggling. For example, kickoff return gets noticed more because KU hasn't had many touchbacks this year.
• Weis said quarterback Michael Cummings will start at quarterback. There will be no "OR" on the depth chart. Both Cummings and Dayne Crist have been told that Cummings will start. Weis thinks he owes it to his team to see what Cummings has. The game at Oklahoma wasn't too big for Cummings, who handled himself well.
• Crist will still have some plays that are specifically for him. Most of those will be third-down-type plays. The foundation of the play sheet has to be for the starter, though. Crist will remain as a captain. He was voted that by the team.
• The season isn't over yet, but Crist and Weis are both disappointed about Crist's production. Weis says his job is to put his team in an upward spiral and not a downward spiral. If your team is struggling, you can't stay status quo.
• The coaching staff doesn't sit still and play guys because they're entitled. Duane Zlatnik and Damon Martin will be listed as co-starters at left guard. After last week's tape, Weis said Martin might deserve to start. Chris Omigie also will be listed as a starter at the X receiver position.
• Weis will go into this week assuming that receiver Daymond Patterson will not play. Weis says head injuries are ones you don't mess with.
• In the drive he was in against Oklahoma, Damon Martin played well. If you'd have asked Weis last spring if Martin would have played this year, he probably would have said no. Martin has just gotten better and better. He was always strong, but now he's playing to his strength. He's starting to figure things out mentally.
• Defensive back JaCorey Shepherd is always around the receiver. Now, KU just has to get him to make plays on the ball.
• Running back Tony Pierson's elbow is better. He got about 14-15 touches last week. He felt good after the game. He was a little bit worried about what might happen the first time he was hit.
• Tight end Jimmay Mundine is one guy who has been productive in the pass game but hasn't been as good in the run game. With as much as KU runs the ball, he's not going to get in as much until he improves his blocking. He's learning with that.
• Weis says he could design the offense to get KU to score more points, but it wouldn't be beneficial for the whole team. Opening it up would most likely lead to more turnovers and would put more pressure on KU's defense. KU's strength right now is running the football, so Weis is trying to cater to what KU does best.
• Weis says KU's coaches know what they have to do: They have to coach the heck out of the guys they have and also get more players. Weis believes he has a quality coaching staff. Recruiting is the lifeline, along with the development of your own players. Weis would love to do what Texas did last week, which is play the same defensive coverage on every play and then relax as a coach. That's not possible for KU at this point.
• KU has some players where you say, "They could be really good players." There are some players that are just going to be OK players. Weis was that when he played, if he was even OK. Weis says the coaches' responsibility is to get the most out of each player as possible.
• Weis believes wide receiver Justin McCay has made big strides. He didn't stand out in the spring, but Weis believes that's because he was worried about all of his eligibility issues.
• The young quarterbacks — like Cummings — know they have their work cut out if they want to beat out Jake Heaps next year. They see during Sunday practices how good he is. Cummings doesn't want it to be Heaps' job next year. He wants it to be his job.
• KU defensive coordinator Dave Campo told Weis he did as much practicing this past Sunday as he had in any practice this year. You can do more individual work on that day.
• Weis has known Texas coach Mack Brown for a long time. Weis says he's a big fan.
• Weis says he'll be targeting every position at the junior-college level this season except for quarterback. Weis said he could even take one running back, even though there's not a great need there.
• When asked about his goals for the rest of this year, Weis says, first, he'd like to win a conference game, and second, he'd like to win a road game.
• Weis says Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Brady Quinn is one of the favorite people he's ever met. Unfortunately, Chiefs' QB Matt Cassel is also in that category. Weis will support both guys whatever their roles are.
One-year transfers Dayne Crist, Anthony McDonald, Mike Ragone and Josh Williams not making loud impact for Kansas football
Kansas football coach Charlie Weis took advantage of the rule that allows players who have graduated and have a remaining year of eligibility to transfer without sitting out a year by bringing four such college graduates to Lawrence.
So far, the four players have not made their previous schools look bad for not playing them more often.
Notre Dame graduate Dayne Crist ranks 121st among 122 rated quarterbacks with a 97.5 QB rating. Only Mike Wegzyn of Massachussetts (92.9) ranks behind Crist. Former KU quarterback Jordan Webb, now at Colorado, ranks 113th, and like Crist plays for a 1-6 team.
Nebraska graduate Josh Williams has performed well enough to hold down a starting job all season. He receives high grades for assignment soundness, but hasn’t been the impact playmaker Weis sounded like he expected when he talked about him in the summer.
Through seven games, six KU players are credited with a sack and two others have a half-sack on their records. Williams is not among them, but does share with Ben Goodman the team lead in quarterback hurries with two, has forced a fumble and has recovered two fumbles. Williams has contributed the most of the transfers who arrived with diplomas in hand.
Linebacker Anthony McDonald’s Notre Dame career was stunted by injuries and they have played a part in him appearing in just four games with one start for Kansas. Even when healthy, he hasn’t displayed enough quickness to establish himself as a starter.
At Notre Dame, tight end Mike Ragone built a solid reputation as a blocker, but had just 11 receptions in three seasons. For KU, he has blocked well but has just two receptions, one for a touchdown.
The so-so performances of the four college graduates doesn’t mean Weis should abandon taking advantage of the rule. It can work in a big way, as Russell Wilson proved in 2011 when he finished ninth in Heisman Trophy voting after transferring from North Carolina State to Wisconsin.
Matt Tait’s at the wheel, Nick Krug and Jesse Newell in the back seat on the road to Norman. Needed something to pass the time, so I gave them this mid-season KU football pop quiz:
He leads the team in passes defended (interceptions plus pass breakups) with seven:
a.) Greg “Lockdown” Brown
b.) Tyler Patmon
c.) Bradley McDougald
d.) Lubbock Smith
Number of Jayhawks who have more than one sack this season:
Number of KU wide receivers to catch a touchdown pass this season:
He leads the team with 248 receiving yards:
a.) Daymond Patterson
b.) Kale Pick
c.) Tony Pierson
d.) Andrew Turzilli
He has not rushed for a touchdown this season:
a.) Taylor Cox
b.) Tony Pierson
c.) Schyler Miles
d.) Christian Matthews
He leads the team with 22.9 yards per kick return:
a.) D.J. Beshears
b.) Bradley McDougald
c.) Tony Pierson
d.) Tre’ Parmalee
His 40 solo tackles are a team-best:
a.) Greg Brown
b.) Ben Heeney
c.) Bradley McDougald
d.) Huldon Tharp
Among 124 rated quarterbacks, Dayne Crist ranks:
Kansas ranked last (120th) in the nation in 2011 with 516.4 yards allowed per game. This season’s ranking and yardage average:
a.) 32nd with 341.3
b.) 60th with 382.8
c.) 93rd with 433.7
d.) 124th with 558.8
KU averages 19 points a game, which gives it a national ranking in scoring offense of:
Answer key: 1. b; 2. a; 3. a; 4. b; 5. d; 6. d; 7. c; 8. d; 9. c; 10. d.
Contrary to the beliefs of so many in the Moneyball camp, numbers don’t define value. But they do trigger deeper looks at issues and influence decisions in all sports.
A study of Kansas University football statistics by my friend Gimpy the Stick revealed a paradoxical set of numbers involving the team’s two tight ends, Jimmay Mundine and Mike Ragone. They have combined for just eight of the team’s 97 receptions, yet have three of the four TD catches.
Running backs: 26 catches, one touchdown. Special teams player: One catch, no touchdowns. Wide receivers: 62 receptions, no touchdowns.
If the tight ends get open when the field shrinks, it stands to reason they do the same when the defense has to spread out to cover a much longer field.
What to make of such odd figures?
Does Charlie Weis’ offense all but ignore the tight end outside the red zone? That doesn’t make sense when viewed in the context of his career.
As Gimpy points out, the year Weis served the Kansas City chiefs as offensive coordinator, Tony Moeaki ranked second on the team with 47 catches, averaged 11.8 yards per catch and made it to the end zone three times. The Chiefs’ three tight ends combined for 60 catches and five TDs. Patriots tight ends also were targeted frequently with Weis as OC. In the final three years of the Brady-Weis working relationship (2002-04), Brady threw 27 of his 79 touchdown passes to tight ends. Pro-style offenses typically use the tight end more than college spreads.
OK, so what we have here are tight ends who can get open, a head coach/offensive coordinator who knows how to utilize them and eight receptions in six games. That paradox must be a function of Dayne Crist not getting far enough in his reads to identify the tight end. The closer to the end zone an offense draws, the more a tight end gets his number called as a first-or-second option. The longer the field, the deeper down the line of progressions the tight end usually becomes and Crist doesn’t get far enough to check the tight end very often.
Weis said he will use both Michael Cummings and Crist at QB against Oklahoma, but the smart guess has Cummings playing first and more often. He energized the team against Oklahoma State and deserves a chance to build on that. Plus, he might get the ball to the tight ends.
Cummings threw 10 passes and completed half, not enough evidence to draw conclusions. Still, it is mildly interesting to consider 40 percent of his completions and his only touchdown pass were to Mundine, an under-utilized receiving talent. Just 7 percent of Crist’s completions, but 67 percent of his touchdown passes have been to tight ends.
Mundine explained his 21-yard TD from Cummings: “They were running a man coverage and I made the first guy miss and then they rammed into each other. I didn’t plan to make them run into each other, but that left me open, I caught the ball and ran in.”
It wasn’t supposed to work that way, but it did, and when Mundine sprung open, Cummings hit him. Kale Pick was all alone on a play that wasn’t supposed to work that way against Northern Illinois. Remember what happened?
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A man becomes familiar with the details of his own funeral and it spooks him to the bone. This sort of thing is only supposed to happen in that dimension that lies between the pit of Rod Serling’s fears and the summit of his knowledge.
And at Bruce Weber’s basketball practice.
In a move that at some level has haunted Bill Self since it happened — despite how he has played it off publicly — and could haunt Weber every time his Kansas State team plays against Kansas, Weber held a mock Self funeral at an Illinois practice.
Since his own funeral, Self has won eight consecutive Big 12 titles, plus a national title, has gone 3-1 in Final Four games and has signed a 10-year, $53 million contract, all of which helps to explain why he’s such a friendly ghost.
Tired of his players getting peppered with questions about Self, Weber showed up for practice wearing black and informed the players there would be a funeral for Self.
Weber’s nearly decade-old macabre act is grist for the Kansas-Kansas State rivalry, but only to an extent. Bob Huggins, as his is custom, got right to the point regarding the rivalry when he started his only season in Manhattan. It’s only a rivalry, he said, if both teams win their fair share of games.
Huggins, back in the conference with West Virginia, added rivalry spark with the national reputation he brought and the alley-fighter quality he and his teams bring to every game, but he went 0-3 against Kansas.
Huggins left K-State after a year, but left behind key recruits and his combative spirit in the form of his long-time assistant. Frank Martin coached 11 games against Kansas and his court-side antics — death glares, foot stomps and verbal bombs aimed at his players and referees — made his rivalry role memorable, but he only won twice.
Other than winning more often, about all Weber could do to approach the sizzle Huggins and Martin brought to the rivalry is wear all black every time he faces KU, but he’s not likely to cling to the weirdest incident of his career.
I asked Weber about the mock funeral and whether if he had to do over again he would not have done it. He stopped short of saying that.
“To me it was a compliment to Bill,” Weber said this morning in the Sprint Center at Big 12 Media Day. “The players loved him. The fans loved him. And he left. And I always joked, the fans were mad at me for coming and he’s the one who left. It didn’t make sense to me and I would always tell people, this is bass-akward.”
Why the funeral?
“I did it for the players,” Weber said. “The players kept saying, ‘Coach, we can’t move on. The media’s not letting us.’ Just like you’re not letting me move on. ‘They keep asking the same question.’ So I said, ‘I’m going to end it for you guys.’ That was my way of doing it.”
The after-shock continues.
“Now, did I ever anticipate it would get the publicity it did? No, I didn’t anticipate that,” Weber said. “For Bill’s sake, it was a compliment for what he had done there in a short period of time. Just like now, there are a lot of people who love Frank Martin. Now you’ve got to kind of win those guys over.
"Bill obviously did a great job at Illinois, at Tulsa, at Oral Roberts, and now at Kansas. He’s an exceptional coach. I’m just happy I’m at K-State and have a chance to compete against one of the top programs.”
In a five-year stretch that spanned his final two seasons at Southern Illinois and his first three at Illinois, Weber averaged more than 28 victories and won 10 NCAA Tournament games. He took his second Illinois team, loaded with Self’s recruits, to the national-title game, where it lost 75-70 to Roy Williams and North Carolina.
Timing is everything. Had Weber come to K-State in the midst of that run of big-time success, Manhattan might have erected a purple statue in his likeness. Instead, some faces turned purple with outrage, clinging to the belief that athletic director John Currie was responsible for Martin fleeing to South Carolina.
“What I’ve done is try to be out there,” Weber said. “You’ve got to be around and let them get to know you. I know there was some people grumbling a little bit when I took the job, but overall I just can’t believe the reception. They keep coming up to me and saying, ‘Thank you for coming to K-State.’ I tell them, ‘Thank you for having me.’ ”
Weber said that during his interview for the Kansas State job after getting fired by Illinois, one of the first questions athletic director John Currie asked him was, “Do you want to come here and deal with that?” meaning the KU rivalry.
“I think as a coach you want to compete against the best,” Weber said. “... I hope we can make it a rivalry. Obviously, it is a rivalry, but we hope we can compete and have a chance to really get them worried about us also. It should be fun.”
Big 12 media days blog: Travis Releford says dance moves ‘pretty close’ to Psy’s; plus, a recap of Self’s comments
4:26 p.m. update
A few more videos before signing off on our live coverage.
This video shows a little bit of personality from the KU seniors as they flip through this year's KU media guide.
In this video, I ask KU guard Elijah Johnson about his experience at Big 12 media days. All four seniors also wore their Big 12 championship rings, so I asked him if that was a coincidence. He says it was, but he's not very convincing.
And finally, Travis Releford talks about his now-famous "Gangnam Style" dance that he performed at Late Night.
Here it is if you haven't seen it yet, as the video is over 14,000 views on YouTube in less than a week.
That's going to wrap up our live coverage from Big 12 media days. Thanks for being a part of it.
3:16 p.m. update
Nick Krug just posted his photo gallery from Big 12 media days if you haven't seen it. Some good behind-the-scenes shots in there.
2:33 p.m. update
Haven't put it in here yet, but be sure to check out Tom's blog about K-State coach Bruce Weber and his fake funeral at Illinois for Bill Self. Some interesting quotes in there from Weber about the situation and why he did what he did.
I just uploaded a couple videos as well. The first is Self talking about what he believes was the key to winning the Big 12 eight straight years.
You'll also want to check out this video, as Self talks glowingly about freshman Ben McLemore, saying the guard now has a new appreciation for learning because of last year ... the year he didn't play basketball.
1:46 p.m. update
If you haven't seen it yet, KU is ranked No. 7 in the USA Today preseason coaches poll released today.
When asked about the ranking, Self said he was surprised that KU was that high, but he added that his team would embrace the ranking.
12:25 p.m. update
I stood at Bill Self's table for a half-hour — long enough to drop my recorder and have it shatter into three pieces before Self stopped in mid-question to say, "Nice hands, Jess."
Anyways, here are some of the interesting notes from what Self said:
• Self said his teams benefited a lot from having Larry Brown around the program last year, even though he couldn't coach the players because of NCAA rules. There were times when Brown would tell Self, "I have an idea for you, though it might be a dumb idea." Self said he always listened to him when that happened. The players love Brown.
• After being asked about perhaps going to the NBA sometime in the future, Self said. "I like my job. I like my job a lot." He later said he believes he has one of the "best jobs that basketball has to offer."
• Self said he's changed as a coach over the years in that he's more understanding, he's more patient and he doesn't worry about things as much. He wants guys to show their personalities. Earlier in his career, he said some of the things that happened with Tyshawn Taylor last year off the court would have bothered him. Now, he realizes that's part of growing up. Self sees things more big picture and is more concerned about winning the war and not necessarily winning every battle. He also believes he's learned more about college kids and how to better interact with them.
• Self believes AAU has a good impact on basketball. For the most part, there are good guys involved with it that give players exposure. Sometimes, things like AAU get a bad reputation, even if 97 percent of it is good and 3 percent of it is bad.
• Self said, hypothetically, if he could get four one-and-done recruits in one year, he would take them. KU will always go after the high-end talent. He believes the perfect team, though, has a foundation of older guys with younger guys who are the most talented. Self said Kentucky coach John Calipari did a "remarkable" job at getting so many high-level players to buy into their roles last year to play as a team.
• Self told his team before the year that he was going to take it as hard on them as any group he's had, but he said that's probably not true so far, because the guys try so hard. Self says his freshman have to perform at sophomore, junior and senior levels in the next month for KU to be successful. The biggest challenge for Self right now is to get his players to play hard and aggressive like he expects.
• Regarding the 4-spot, Self said he's looking most for players "who can play the way I want them to play." Self said Kevin Young is ahead of everyone right now because of experience. Perry Ellis is a better scorer. Self is not looking at which players complement each other on the floor yet. He doesn't know enough about the potential level of play of guys like Ellis and Jamari Traylor to start looking further down the line at things like that.
• Self said Young might be a better guy coming off the bench because he's an energy guy, but the coach isn't going to say that to him, because he's worked hard enough to start.
• Even with his contract extension, Self says the pressure is still on, because if you're not successful, there are ways to get a coach out of a contract. That's the way it should be, Self says. The pressure should always be on.
• Self said Travis Releford will graduate in December. The coach said Releford is the best player on the team at stealing extra possessions. "He's one of the most fun kids I've coached," Self said. "I love the guy."
• Self said his old guys like the young guys, and the young guys are deferring to the old guys. That could change. Right now, the team is unselfish almost to a fault. Self gave the example that Ellis would be totally satisfied this year if Withey did well and had a great senior year.
• Self said Withey has the skill set to average double figures in points. He benefited from Thomas Robinson offensively, but Self said people don't realize how much Robinson benefited last year from having Withey there. Self wants KU to play inside-out this year offensively, and Withey is a big reason for that.
• Self said assistant Norm Roberts' years coaching at St. John's made him an even better coach. He's a basketball junkie. Self is amazed with the stuff that Roberts is doing in drills that has helped the Jayhawks' big men.
• Self complimented KSU coach Bruce Weber, saying he took a team that Self left behind at Illinois and made it a better team than his staff would have, just because of the way Weber coached the players and because of the motion offense he implemented.
11 a.m. update
One-on-ones begin right now with coaches and noon with players, so I'll be spending a lot of time over there in the next couple hours. I should be back for a post or two to keep you guys updated.
10:56 a.m. update
Huggins says teams in the Big 12 have the best home-court advantage of any teams in the country. Some of the Big East teams play at arenas away from college campuses. For the Big 12, having arenas on campuses make a huge difference.
Huggins said things have changed since he coached in the Big 12. At the time, the conference had north and south divisions when it came to scheduling. Huggins deadpanned that he didn't get to visit Lubbock, Texas, as K-State's coach in his one year, and he thought about sticking around another year just to visit there.
Someone asked Huggins at Big 12 media day about his team's rival in the conference. He said he joked it was probably Iowa State, because it was closest to West Virginia — at only 853 air miles. Huggins said he thought about staying the night at Big 12 locations, but his players don't sleep much anyways. Plus, he said those guys sleep well on planes. He also jokingly asked if everyone else had noticed that college kids sleep better sitting down than they do laying down.
Huggins said KU's eight-year Big 12 conference title run is amazing. Huggins said no one has a better home-court advantage than Kansas. He joked that his K-State team lost by about 106 when it went into the Fieldhouse during his one year there. He says Self does a great job. When you talk about who's responsible for that streak, it mostly should be him.
10:45 a.m. update
West Virginia's Bob Huggins will be the final coach at the podium.
10:39 a.m. update
Texas coach Rick Barnes said his team will start the season by going 11 players deep. At the end of his press conference, he joked with Matt Doherty, asking him how old he was. Barnes then talked about how he recruited Doherty to play for him earlier in his career, which is interesting, because both appear to be about the same age looks-wise.
A quick Google search shows that Barnes is 58, while Doherty is 50.
10:25 a.m. update
Baylor coach Scott Drew says his staff teaches both man defense and his 1-1-3 zone at the beginning of the year. Then, as the season goes along, he uses whichever gives his team the best chance to win. With his personnel this year, Drew said he could see his team playing more man defense this year.
10:22 a.m. update
Bill Self's full transcript can be found through this link at ASAP Sports.
10:16 a.m. update
Just posted the full audio from Bill Self's time at the podium, in case you want to hear the whole thing for yourself.
10:02 a.m. update
Here are the Cliff's Notes from KU coach Bill Self at the podium here at Big 12 media days.
• Self is excited about this year's team. It has some seniors and also "a lot of puppies." Self likes the possibilities of his team competing for another championship.
• Last year, guard Ben McLemore spent a lot of the time in practice guarding Tyshawn Taylor. McLemore was long enough and athletic enough to give Taylor problems. Forward Jamari Traylor went against Thomas Robinson in practices. Self said Traylor held his own for about three out of five days against Robinson, and the other two days, he was beaten badly. Those practices helped both guys improve. They're picking up things quickly this year.
• Depth was a factor for KU last year. KU went seven deep and not eight. This year, Self thinks KU can go 10 or 11 deep. Self thinks his team can shoot it better, but it doesn't have star power. The challenge will be to get the good players to step up and be excellent players and to get the blend players to step up and have greater roles.
• An emphasis for KU has been helping Jeff Withey improve his offensive game. He's a good face-up, jump-shooter and an excellent free-throw shooter. He's good at scoring over his left shoulder, but he needs to learn to score over his right shoulder. KU assistant coach Norm Roberts is working with him every day. Scoring isn't natural for Withey. It doesn't come easy for him. Withey benefited a lot offensively from the defensive attention Robinson received last year. If Withey scores 12 points per game this year, that will show great improvement. Self is excited for him.
• Self thinks the Big 12 reloads. He believes the league has just as many prospects this year as it did starting last year. The league won't take a step backwards. Last year, the Big 12 had three teams in the top 10 almost all season long, and Self would anticipate about thee same this year.
• Self said KU's newcomers will make mistakes. Self's bigger concern is getting his seniors playing like seniors. Self thinks some nights KU will look really good, and other nights, the team won't look so good. Self is going to enjoy "getting there" with his team.
• Self believes KU's run of eight straight Big 12 titles is a reflection of good players. It's a great source of pride for everybody in the program. The players don't want to be the team that doesn't win it. There might not be as much jubilation at KU for winning the conference title, because they believe it's their job. That's what they came to KU to do.
• Self said that it was a great rule change to allow coaches access to players in the summer more often. Guys always do better when there's structure. The Europe trip was good for KU. The Jayhawks didn't perform well there, but that might be good, because they were humbled. Self hasn't heard one coach say that he disliked the new rule that allows coaches more access to players in the summer.
9:43 a.m. update
KU coach Bill Self will be at the podium here shortly. I'll get up a Cliff's Notes version wrapping up his comments right after he wraps up.
9:29 a.m. update
Shaw also says that a coaches' box has been added to the rulebook. Officials have told the referees to allow spontaneous reaction to calls. Officials can help coaches get under control after that. If the conduct continues, it's a technical foul.
Jumping up and running down the sideline by a coach to dispute a call is a technical foul. Ripping off a suitcoat is a technical foul. Falling to the floor is a technical foul.
"You're going to see a tougher enforcement," Shaw said.
Shaw says if coordinators don't see officials calling technicals for the behavior above, those officials will be fined. That usually gets things changed.
9:19 a.m. update
Big 12 coordinator of officials Curtis Shaw is talking now, and he's going through block/charge calls on some monitors. He says, all things equal, there should be more blocks called than charges in basketball. If calls are 50-50, officials are being told to default to a block call.
9:08 a.m. update
TCU coach Trent Johnson just finished up at the podium. He said that now — following TCU's switch to the Big 12 conference — the kids in the Dallas/Fort Worth area know they will be playing in one of the premier basketball conferences in the nation if they join the Horned Frogs. He said players that choose TCU also will have to have a lot of courage, as those players will have to want to build a basketball tradition in Fort Worth, Texas.
9:02 a.m. update
Here's the full Bruce Weber quote on Bill Self, courtesy of ASAP sports:
"It was difficult to follow him. He did a tremendous job at Illinois. The kids liked him, the fans liked him, and I had to get them sold that, hey, we'll be OK. We actually did pretty good. So it was a good run for us. Bill was truly missed there when he left. But we kind of got our own thing going.
"Now, obviously, as one of the first questions John Currie asked me, my athletic director, when I interviewed. Why do you want to come here and deal with that? And I think as a coach, you want to compete against the best. Kansas, and running the Big 12 is amazing.
"Obviously, nationally the last three or four years Bill has been to the Final Four, runner up, won national champions. As a coach, you want that challenge. That's the exciting part of it. I hope we make it a rivalry. It's obviously a rivalry, but we hope we can compete and have a chance to really get them worried about us also. So it should be fun. He's done a great job, and hopefully we can compete with them."
8:52 a.m. update
Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg just finished up at the podium. He said his team had to play unconventional team last year with talented forward Royce White and a team without many ballhandlers. Hoiberg said, in many ways, it was a perfect team for White, because ISU had a lot of shooters that he could pass the ball to. White was ISU's biggest mismatch for opponents, so Hoiberg catered the offense around him.
This year, ISU will play more conventionally with a true point guard in Michigan State transfer Korie Lucious. Hoiberg believes his team will be able to run more this year because of that.
8:36 a.m. update
Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford says incoming freshman Marcus Smart (No. 10 in Rivals.com's rankings for class of 2012) can play four positions ... every position except for center. Ford has been especially impressed with Smart in practice, as the coach said the freshman is involved in every play. He's vocal, and Ford has never seen a player make more extra-effort plays. Ford said it's refreshing to have a player like that and says that's it's fun to watch him play every day.
8:24 a.m. update
Our own Tom Keegan asked Weber which would be tougher: following Bill Self at Illinois or facing him in the Big 12.
"It was difficult to follow him," Weber said. "He did a tremendous job at Illinois. The fans liked him. The kids liked him. I had to get them sold that things would be OK."
Weber said that while Self was missed, Illinois did get its own thing going under Weber.
The KSU coach said one of the first questions posed to him in his interview with KSU athletic director John Currie was, "Why would you want to come here and deal with that?"
Weber says he likes the challenge. He acknowledges KU's recent run in the Big 12 is "amazing."
"I hope we make it a rivalry," Weber said. "It's obviously a rivalry, but we hope we can compete and have a chance to really get them worried about us also."
8:17 a.m. update
Kansas State first-year coach Bruce Weber up now.
He says his main focus was getting his upperclassmen, like guard Rodney McGruder, to buy in.
"The thing I've done since I've took the job is focus on those guys," Weber said. "I want them to be successful."
8:10 a.m. update
Walker says his team's biggest challenge is to get his players to believe they can win in Lubbock. He said looking at the Big 12 preseason coaches' poll (TTU is picked ninth) can get players down if they don't believe they can win. Walker wants to create a road mentality for his team all the time, because on the road, he says, teams have greater intensity and focus in on the goal. Walker commented that Texas Tech's players are even wearing their road black colors at today's event to signify the road mentality they hope to take.
Walker should have quite a challenge this season, as he takes over for Billy Gillespie, who resigned last month.
8:05 a.m. update
New Texas Tech coach Chris Walker is at the podium now. He seems excited to be here, showing some good energy while starting off his press conference by saying it was a great day to be a Red Raider.
A familiar face in one of the front rows here, as former KU men's basketball assistant Matt Doherty has already asked Walker a couple questions. Doherty is here reporting for ESPNU.
If you're just landing here, also be sure to also check out Gary Bedore's KU basketball story from today, which talks about KU's 2013 recruiting class being ranked No. 2 in the nation.
7:45 a.m. update
Welcome to the Newell Post (early morning version) live from Big 12 men's basketball media days at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.
Kansas coach Bill Self will be sixth at the podium this morning at 9:45 a.m., but before that, the goal will be to keep you updated on what other conference coaches are saying. Surely a few of them will be asked about KU, which was the unanimous coaches' pick last week to win the conference this year.
After Self talks at the podium, I'll also type up a Cliff's Notes version of what he says to keep you updated on the latest.
Here's the schedule of coaches, for those wondering:
8 a.m. — Texas Tech coach Chris Walker
8:15 a.m. — Kansas State coach Bruce Weber
8:30 a.m. — Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford
8:45 a.m. — Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg
9 a.m. — TCU coach Trent Johnson
9:45 a.m. — KU coach Bill Self
10 a.m. — Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger
10:15 a.m. — Baylor coach Scott Drew
10:30 a.m. — Texas coach Rick Barnes
10:45 a.m. — West Virginia coach Bob Huggins
11 a.m. — One-on-one interviews with coaches
Noon — One-on-one interviews with players
I wanted to start the discussion with some interesting information I found in a report from the NCAA men's basketball rules committee meeting on a sheet of paper here by the media guides.
The thing that caught my attention most was the committee "expressing concern regarding the number of incorrect block/charge calls, especially those called as charges which should have been, by rule, blocking fouls."
Here are the key teaching points listed for immediate implementation this year:
• Before the offensive player (with the ball) becomes airborne, the defender must have two feet on the floor, be facing the opponent and be stationary to draw a charge. Otherwise it should be a blocking foul.
• Secondary defenders (help defenders) moving forward and/or to the side are also in violation and these should be blocking fouls.
• Contact that is "through the chest" is not de facto proof of a charge. The rule in its entirety must be considered before making a foul determination.
• In some cases, it appears that a defender is being rewarded solely for being outside the arc, without considering the other aspects of the rules.
At first glance, this seems like it could benefit some teams that don't take a lot of charges (like KU) and hurt others that have been known through rely on the defensive tactic (Duke and North Carolina).
So what are your thoughts on the new rules?
Keep checking back throughout the day for more Big 12 media day updates.
Mention the name Matt Williams to sports fans outside of Lubbock, Texas, and most will think of the retired power-hitting third baseman. In Lubbock, the name conjures memories of a student who started the football season sitting in the stands and midway through the schedule found himself on the field scoring points.
Williams made his debut for Mike Leach’s Texas Tech team in Lawrence on Oct. 25, 2008, when he made all nine extra-point kicks in a 63-21 rout of Kansas.
Leach discovered Williams when he booted a 30-yard field goal at halftime of a game in a fan competition five weeks before the kicker’s debut.
At Notre Dame, Charlie Weis had an assistant coach call David Ruffer in his dorm room to see if he would be interested in trying out for the football team. Ruffer passed a three-day tryout. The year after Weis was fired by Notre Dame, Ruffer was one of the three finalists for the Lou Groza Award, which goes to college football’s top kicker.
Kansas so desperately needs a kicker that instead of taking what would have been considered a near-sure three points in most programs, Weis opted Saturday for a fake field goal in the first quarter of a scoreless game on fourth and seven from the Oklahoma State 17. A strong wind would have been at the kicker’s back for a 35-yard attempt. Holder Blake Jablonski was stopped five yards short.
Ron Doherty, a better punter than kicker, has been replaced at the top of the kicker depth chart by walk-on Nick Prolago, shaky even on extra points.
A search for a hidden foot among the KU student body has come up a foot short.
“I scoured the campus,” Weis said. “We had a couple of guys who came in, an Australian rules football player and a couple of other guys. So we had them come over, but they couldn’t kick a football. They forget it’s a different ball. There have been multiple guys from Australia who have shown up in the NFL, punting and all that other stuff, but no, we haven’t been that fortunate.”
Williams had spent two years at Tarleton State University in Texas, one as a walk-on kicker, before transferring to Tech. The NCAA granted the Red Raiders an exception to the rule that requires transfers to sit out a year because he had not been on scholarship. The 15 minutes of fame was not without its costs for Williams, who kicked a 49-yard field goal in a high school game. The NCAA did not allow him to collect the year of free rent he won by booting the 30-yarder through the uprights at halftime.
A risk to taking a student kicker who did not have the same college experience Williams gained at Tarleton: The ball is placed on a tee for high school kickers, on the ground in the college game, an adjustment some make better than others.
Not one of the 27,939 students enrolled this fall can give Kansas a legitimate kicking game.
Or could it be he or she just has not yet used that foot to step forward?
Also, there are quite a few changes to the depth chart, with James Sims moved to starter at running back, Brandon Bourbon moved to starter at fullback and Aslam Sterling moved to starter at right tackle.
• Weis says linebacker Tunde Bakare will be back this week after sitting out last week following a head injury. Running back Tony Pierson looks better, but KU will wait and see with him. Receiver D.J. Beshears has a slight fracture in his shoulder and will be gone for a long period of time. Receiver Daymond Patterson has concussion-like symptoms after getting hit hard on a punt return against Oklahoma State. He's questionable for the OU game.
• Weis says both Dayne Crist and Mike Cummings will play against Oklahoma. He's not going to say who the starter will be. Also, neither QB will be made available for media interviews this week. Weis says the reason for that is to limit distractions. The quarterback who plays the most significant role in Saturday's game will be made available for interviews after the game.
• Weis says his team can't go vanilla and expect to slug it out against OU. Both QBs will get plenty of reps in practice. Weis says he hopes the first guy plays so well that he isn't tempted to put in the second guy, but he knows that probably won't happen. He says he's fired up with how this two-QB system might look. He joked that he's been drawing up plays in the dirt this week for his QBs.
• Cummings is still significantly behind Crist when it comes to reading coverage. But seeing how Cummings has handled everything ... he hadn't played significant snaps in two years. Weis hopes his best football is ahead of him.
• During Cummings' last play against OSU, there were a lot of guys open. A corner route was open for a TD. With that defensive end rushing, instead of trying to throw over him, Cummings should have stepped up in the pocket and looked downfield. Weis isn't mad at him for that play. That's all part of learning.
• What Weis saw out there was, on defense, KU was being physical and winning the line of scrimmage against OSU. Those weren't lucky tackles. There were a lot of gang tackles by KU.
• Weis said a couple guys came in to try out for kicker earlier this year. One was an Australian rules football player. The problem was, those guys couldn't kick a football well. Weis said he took a kid out of a dorm team one time, and he ended up as a finalist for a Groza award. KU hasn't been that lucky to find a kicker on campus to help. Weis thinks the problem will be fixed soon.
• Ron Doherty will be the starting punter this week. He also will be the backup kicker. Doherty was banged up a little bit last week.
• Weis said knowing he's going to play might take pressure off of Cummings. It also keeps Crist from being in the tank. Weis said he joked with Cummings to "check his pants," because he was going to play this week in Norman. Weis thinks both QBs were at ease. Weis says he always tells the players exactly what's happening. Weis met with both QBs on Monday night along with QBs coach Ron Powlus.
• Two weeks ago against Kansas State, KU defensive coordinator Dave Campo was miserable. KU's defense had a nice turn-around against OSU. The players haven't seen good play until this year. The expectations of play have gone up. KU's defense played well against the best offense in the country last week. That gave the players confidence. They have some bounce in their step.
• All running back James Sims has done is verify what Weis thought of him in the preseason. Sims is physical. He can pick up the blitz. He can catch.
• KU has been a run-first team for some time. The better the backs run, the better the offense, as teams have to move more defenders toward the line of scrimmage.
• On KU's side of the field against OSU, James Sims told his offensive linemen, "Just give me a little bit of space, and I'll get it into the end zone." A few plays later, he was in the end zone. The linemen block a little harder when they hear that.
• Oklahoma has a bunch of good players on both sides of the ball. You look at draftable guys on OU compared to KU, and it's night and day. If both teams play their best game, OU wins, because it has good coaches and players. Weis is hoping his team plays well while OU doesn't.
• Weis told his team after the game that it was the second time he was proud of them, because since he'd been at KU, it was the first time he saw his team with a different attitude in the fourth quarter like it wanted to win. The first time was for its grades. As miserable as he was after the game, Weis was proud of his team. You could see true pride in the locker room after the game. That's a good thing.
• Darius Willis has moved up the depth chart. He started as a middle linebacker at KU. He got beat out by a bunch of guys, and instead of complaining, he went down to show team. KU moved him to defensive end, and he played hard. Eventually, Weis told the other coaches they had to take a look at him, because he was making plays. He's disruptive. He's helping KU.
• Weis says he can't see any reason why James Sims won't eventually play on Sundays. Weis thinks he's a solid player. He would want him on his team.
• Crist will never change who he is. When he isn't in there, he will be the first guy trying to help Cummings. Realistically, it's tough to be the leader when he's not on the field. Weis said he had a conversation like this with quarterback Phil Simms when he was with the New York Giants. Weis wanted him to talk to the team when it was struggling, and Simms told him that players don't want to hear from players that aren't on the field.
Just wanted to put out a quick plug for our KUsports.com online preview magazine, which was just released today and is available for $3.95 plus tax.
We're excited about a lot of the extra features that are only in the magazine. They include:
• A behind-the-scenes look at the magazine cover photo shoot.
Here's a quick video from photographer Nick Krug showing a bit of what will be shown in the full-length video posted in the magazine.
• A new Q&A with Rivals.com national recruiting expert Eric Bossi.
Bossi is one of the knowledgeable guys in the business, and he was nice enough to talk exclusively about KU's upcoming recruiting class to give his insight.
Here are a couple of snippets from the interview:
Q: KU commit Brannen Greene has made a pretty big jump in the Rivals.com rankings (from No. 42 to 22) this year. What has he been up to lately that has helped him make that jump?
A: I guess he made kind of a big jump, but not a huge one. He's always been been ranked pretty highly. I think maybe the fear — this wasn't a bad fear — but that maybe he was becoming a bit too reliant on being a spot-up jump shooter when he's got such great size and good touch. I thought that this summer he really looked a lot more apt to give a shot-fake and use a dribble or two to get somewhere and use that big body of his to shield off defenders.
So I just think that he's begun to show a bit more of a diverse game on the offensive end than just being a jump-shooter, which is obviously a good trait. But you still want to be more than a one-trick pony, and I think he's starting to show that.
Q: He's not ranked by Rivals.com right now, but it seems like a lot of analysts have been really talking seven-foot center Joel Embiid up. Where would you guess he's going to end up in the rankings?
A: I conservatively guessed it yesterday as top 50 to 75, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was more top 25 to 50. I have had coaches from three different schools now tell me they're convinced he's going to be in the NBA in three years.
He's good, and he really is a nice kid. He's just so happy to be here and to have this opportunity. I'm a human being, too. I want to see kids like that do well no matter where they are.
• Video from KU commit Conner Frankamp during a shooting workout with his father, Marty.
During his trip down to Wichita to shoot photos for a feature story on Conner Frankamp, Krug captured various aspects of Frankamp's after-school routine.
Here's a short trailer previewing what's in the full video in the online magazine.
• Tyshawn Taylor videos discussing last year's NCAA run and this year's team.
Get Taylor's take on Elijah Johnson's ability to lead and surprise players for this year while also hearing about memories of going against Naadir Tharpe last year in practice.
Taylor gives memories from last year, including this video where he discusses KU's 87-86 overtime victory over Missouri at Allen Fieldhouse, saying it was "the legit best feeling that I've ever had in my life."
The online magazine also includes audio from KU coach Bill Self at KU media days where he discusses individual members of this year's team, an exclusive podcast from Tom Keegan and myself previewing the year and additional photos from our archives and also submitted ones from KU's European trip this summer.
Those who buy the online magazine also will have access to all our preview stories in the print magazine, which includes player profiles, photos and a Big 12 preview.
The casual sports fans first heard the name of Kansas University quarterbacks coach Ron Powlus when ESPN’s Beano Cook predicted before Powlus took a snap for Notre Dame that he would win the Heisman Trophy twice.
Cook was one of three sports characters who died during the week, joining former NFL player and color commentator Alex Karras and Chicago Tribune sportswriter/TV panelist Bill Jauss. I asked Powlus last winter if he had ever met Cook, whose prediction many blamed for adding unfair pressure and expectations to Powlus. He said he had not.
“People always say, ‘Are you mad at Beano Cook?’ ‘Do you blame Beano?’ I don’t,” Powlus said last winter. “The guy, his job is to make ridiculous statements. That’s what he does. That’s why people know his name, because he makes the statements and predictions. It’s not his fault. That’s his job. As a player, I was flattered. It was a nice thing to say. But I’m not mad at Beano. I don’t know Beano.”
Powlus never finished in the top 10 in Heisman voting, but did start 42 games for Notre Dame, set single-season school records for completions (182) and attempts (298) as a senior and set the ND record for touchdown passes in a game with four (three times).
As a coach, Powlus and KU receivers coach/recruiting coordinator Rob Ianello are in danger of enduring a third consecutive 1-11 season. Powlus worked as quarterbacks coach at Akron for Ianello, who had back-to-back 1-11 seasons in his only two years as Akron’s head coach.
Powlus has a tough challenge ahead of him this season. Dayne Crist entered the Oklahoma State game ranked 119th among 122 rated quarterbacks. Interestingly, Garrett Gilbert, more highly touted coming out of Lake Travis High in Texas than his predecessor, Todd Reesing, is ranked 121st. Gilbert, a bust at Texas, now plays for SMU. Tulane’s D.J. Ponder is ranked last.
Crist was off to a good start (4 of 5 for 55 yards) against Oklahoma State when lightning struck.
*Alex Karras isn’t the only athlete noted for punching a horse, but at least Karras only portrayed Mongo punching a horse in “Blazing Saddles.”
Arthur Long, who played at Cincinnati for Bob Huggins and is from my hometown of Rochester, N.Y., really punched a horse and was arrested for it. According to an old friend who was an assistant coach at a Division I school recruiting Long, he punched more than horses. During a junior college practice, Long punched a teammate during a scrimmage, was not disciplined for it and was allowed to continue playing in the scrimmage. That’s when my friend stopped recruiting Long.
*Really enjoyed covering DePaul with Jauss in the early ’90s, but the funniest DePaul-related story about Jauss came long after that.
In 2006, Jauss visited Ray Meyer on his deathbed and the coach was so weak he could barely whisper. As Jauss was leaving, Meyer motioned him closer, closer, close enough to hear him and then whispered in the sportswriter’s ear: “Hey Jaussy, you don’t look so hot yourself.”
A minor spat between a football coach and a newspaper somehow has turned into a national story.
I’ve had hundreds of spats with coaches, media relations officials, etc., — Tommy Lasorda once stood so close when he was hollering at me I actually swallowed some of his chicken spittle — that didn’t seem to me to be newsworthy. But I suppose because this has become national “news,” it’s time to comment on it.
The University Daily Kansan, the student newspaper, ran a sharp, fair, prophetic cartoon cover that portrayed the Jayhawks as Kansas State road kill. From there, just about everybody involved tripped all over themselves. Now it’s a national story.
Mistake No. 1: Charlie Weis, whose press conferences have been extremely candid and entertaining, showed a hole in his swing when he tweeted, “Team slammed by our own school newspaper. Amazing! No problem with opponents paper or local media. You deserve what you get! But, not home!”
For such a smart guy who does such a good job of interacting with the media at press conferences, this was a shockingly naive viewpoint. A school newspaper is a training ground for future journalists. Yell leaders cheer. Reporters report.
Mistake No. 2: Kansan reporter Blake Schuster tweeted a link to his well-written story about quarterbacks taking hits in practice that week, as opposed to the normal routine of wearing a red shirt that reminds defenders the QB can’t be tackled. With the link, Schuster wrote, “Here’s my story from today’s Kansan, I guess coach Weis wasn’t a fan”. The story had nothing to do with Weis’ beef. It was all about the cover art. Schuster knew that, but misrepresented to Twitter nation that his story set off Weis, making Weis’ tweet look even worse.
Mistake No. 3: Reviving a story that should have been swallowed in the wake of Kansas getting outscored in the second half, 35-2, by Kansas State.
Katy Lonergan, the sports information department’s football contact, is at the very least indirectly responsible for this one. Lonergan met with Schuster on Tuesday before Weis’ weekly press conference to let him know to be prepared for unpleasant responses if he asked questions of Weis and the players. Even if she thought she were helping the young reporter, she should have just let the football coach, a big boy, handle whatever questions Schuster sent his way.
Mistake No. 4: Schuster didn’t ask any questions at the press conference. He’s young and inexperienced, so he probably was a little shaken. He needed to ask a question and put what he perceived as an implied threat to a test.
Mistake No. 5: Kansan wrote a story about the Lonergan conversation, making itself a part of the story.
Mistake No. 6: Lonergan talked to 810 sports talk radio host Kevin Keitzman off the air, trying to explain why she talked with Schuster, thus giving more legs to the “story.” Keitzman added fuel to the controversy. National websites took it from there. Now the national perception is that Weis makes a habit of bullying college reporters. Until his tweet, nothing could have been more untrue. Until his ill-advised tweet, Weis consistently showed incredible patience with stupid questions from some reporters, more patience than any coach at any level I’ve covered in more than 30 years on the job.
Normally, I would be extremely careful about not criticizing a reporter from a student newspaper, but since the Kansan decided to make itself part of the story, it opened up its reporters to this revelation: Schuster twice asked Weis about using running back Tony Pierson as a wide receiver sometimes, apparently thinking that when a running back comes out of the backfield to make a catch, he switches positions. On both occasions, Weis explained Pierson is a running back and didn’t mock the reporter for not knowing the difference.
That’s why Weis over-reacting to the cartoon came as such a shock. If he had not tweeted his pre-historic thoughts on the role of a student newspaper, this molehill — Weis’ players being upset over a cartoon — never would have grown into a mountain.
Here is the Cliff's Notes version from Kansas basketball coach Bill Self's comments at the KU basketball media day press conference today.
• Self thinks KU is talented. He thinks the young kids will be good. Self thinks Ben McLemore is the most talented. He can do about as many things as any player KU has had under Self. The next-most heralded young guy would be Perry Ellis. He has a knack for getting the ball in the basket, but he needs to be more aggressive, too. Self thinks Jamari Traylor is going to be good. Self thinks they'll all be good, but he says Andrew White has been the biggest surprise. He has length, and he can shoot.
• Self is excited for his son Tyler because he thinks he'll be a good teammate. The players will like him. Coach Self said, if anything, he will be tougher on Tyler. Self is also excited because he gets to see him everyday. Self sometimes feels like he's cheated Tyler and hasn't spent as much time with him as he wanted to growing up. Being able to be with his son every day might be recharging Self's batteries for this year more than anything.
• Self thinks Jeff Withey can be an All-America type guy. It's not a stretch to say he could be the best defender in the country. He just needs to be a little more consistent offensively, and he needs to not wear down.
• Self likes freshmen that come in and think that they can dominate. KU needs Ben McLemore, Perry Ellis and Andrew White especially to come in with a confident attitude.
• Self thinks Elijah Johnson has to have a big year. Self said seeing how Johnson played in the last third of last season ... there's not many guards better than him around. The added thing he's got to understand is that his words and attitude and approach will have as much impact on KU winning as his play. He's getting better with that. Self is definitely expecting a big year from Johnson.
• Self would say his most talented guys on the perimeter right now would be Ben McLemore, Perry Ellis and Elijah Johnson. That's two wings and a combo guard. This is more of a lineup like Self had with Keith Langford, J.R. Giddens and Aaron Miles. Tyshawn Taylor had the ball in his hands during game point most of the time last year, but Elijah Johnson could take pressure off him ball-handling-wise. KU has to develop some help in that aspect for Johnson this year.
• Self was more surprised KU being picked first this year in the Big 12 than not being picked first in the past. KU lost a lot with Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor. Self thinks his team could be good by the end. Baylor will be good, and Self thinks Oklahoma State could be the sleeper team in the league. Kansas State and Texas both return good teams. Other teams will be much improved. Self thinks that his team's ranking might be a little bit high, but his team will embrace it.
• Self says the Zach Peters injury deal has him confused. He was doing well, then complained of shoulder problems. KU tried to give him time off, but it didn't work. KU tried some rehab, but it didn't work. Peters plays a certain way, and he has to be healthy to play that way. Rest and rehab should be able to take care of the injury, but there's still the possibility it could be a long period of time before he's back. Self says, right now, KU is probably looking at 4-6 weeks. Peters was one of the better players in Europe, so Self thinks this team needs him. He's not even thinking about at a potential red shirt at this point.
• Self says he wasn't sure the Europe trip helped his team basketball-wise as much as he thought it might. The guys got humbled, though, and that includes the older guys. They played just good enough to get beat.
• KU has to get the young guys to buy in to understanding that the team has to get a shot each possession. Self would say his team's greatest weakness, right now, is valuing the ball. That usually happens with younger teams.
• Jamari Traylor is going to be good. He's never played. He's 19 and played one year a little bit in high school. That's it for his life. Even in Europe ... he looked good in practice before that, but he struggled in games. It's going to take time with him.
• Thomas Robinson gave KU an air of toughness that made others believe they were tough as well. This team has to be great at stealing possessions. Self thinks he has competitive guys this year, too.
• Self says last year was hard for him, because he thought McLemore and Traylor both should be playing. It ended up being a good thing for their lives, though. They took a negative and turned it to a positive by both posting 3.0 GPAs last year. Self says McLemore has a chance to be one of the special ones to come through here. He's not there yet.
• Self says there's a difference playing under the lights. Late Night will be nerve-wracking for a lot of the young guys. Some of them haven't played in front more than 1,000 people. There's a lot of pressure playing here, which is part of the reason guys come here. Guys have to learn to play in those situations through experience.
• Self didn't feel like last year's team felt much pressure. Once the team got on a roll, it was like KU was playing with house money. So much of it for Self is learning how to close. The games are going to be close. KU's record was 32-7 last year, and it easily could have been 25-12 if it didn't show toughness at the end of games. This team will have to play with that sort of toughness.
• Self think Naadir Tharpe has gotten better. Rio Adams is a talent. Evan Manning is a pretty good player, but Self says hopefully he's a guy KU doesn't have to rely on. Self hopes Tharpe and Adams are able to fill in that backup point-guard role.
• Self thinks KU will have more balance scoring, but this team needs two guys to step up and score 15 points per game.
• Perry Ellis is quiet. Self joked that if Ellis had his way, he might go through a whole day without talking. The coaches have to get him to where he's more comfortable talking. Self likes his talent, though.
• Self felt like he had decent security before signing his new extension, as he still had six years left on his contract. Through security, Self says, in general, perhaps a coach could be more inclined to do what's best for his program over time instead of going for a quick fix.