Entries from blogs tagged with “ku”
1 p.m. update: We've now completed this maintenance.
We'll be doing some maintenance on all of our sites at 12:45 this afternoon, meaning our sites may go down for as much as 10 minutes at that time.
Since midnight, we've been getting sporadic site overload errors that last a minute or less. To correct that problem, we're switching to a back-up server. That can't be done seamlessly however, leading to the downtime.
We try to avoid maintenance in the middle of the day, but because of when this problem cropped up, it's unavoidable.
We regret this problem and appreciate your patience.
Our sites include: LJWorld.com, KUsports.com, lawrence.com, WellCommons.com, KTKA.com, FreeStateStudios.com, TheDriveShow.com, ShawneeDispatch.com, TonganoxieMirror.com, BaldwinCity.com, BonnerSprings.com, BasehorInfo.com, DeSotoExplorer.com and EudoraNews.com.
Now, you’re at work, and you can’t listen for fear that your boss might fire you if you put in headphones.
No problem. Below, I’ve summarized some of the most interesting things I took from the chat with Connelly earlier this week.
For those that don’t know, Connelly studies the advanced statistics in college football and writes for the college portion of the 2010 Football Outsiders Almanac, which was released last week.
Here are some of the topics we discussed.
• Two of the best predictive factors for a college football team’s future success is past success (especially in the last three to five years) and recent recruiting rankings.
• In the Football Outsiders Almanac, KU has a predicted mean win total of 7.4. The numbers project a 7-5 record for the Jayhawks and a 5-3 record in conference, which would put them at second place in the Big 12 North.
• Because the FO Almanac is based all on statistics, the projections don’t take into account coaching changes (like KU’s). Connelly believes a lot of times when a coaching change occurs, expectations lower in the first year. For the Almanac, KU’s program (recent history) rank was 39th, and its recruiting rank was 41st. Because those are two of the best predictive factors of future success, KU ranks relatively high (49th) in the preseason ranking.
• KU’s schedule ranking in the FO Almanac was 38th last year. This year, it’s 89th. Obviously, that makes for many more winnable games this season.
• Schedule often plays a bigger factor than we give it credit for. Connelly brought up the example of Tennessee. Though the Volunteers are ranked 20th in the FO Almanac, they play seven top-25 teams this year. Because of that, UT is only projected to go 7-5 (like KU) even though its projected ranking is much higher.
• Another positive KU has going for it is recent offensive success. Though KU had a “down” year offensively last season, the Jayhawks still ranked 42nd in the FO Almanac’s offensive rating.
• Though Todd Reesing, Kerry Meier, Dezmon Briscoe and Jake Sharp are all gone from last year’s team, the Almanac only takes into account lost starters. KU did lose big names, but the Jayhawks still return seven offensive starters and seven defensive starters.
• A team like Texas may fall back a bit offensively because of extreme success on passing downs*. Last year, the Longhorns ranked 12th in the Almanac’s offensive rating, but second in passing downs. Passing downs success is usually not something that is sustainable from year to year.
* — Passing downs are second-and-8 or more, third-and-5 or more, fourth-and-5 or more.
“Kansas, on the other hand, despite Meier and Briscoe, they weren’t too successful on passing downs,” Connelly said. “Their overall offensive success seemed a little maintainable, but obviously, that’s going to depend upon Johnathan Wilson, Toben Opurum and all the new skill position players to at least maintain a little bit of that.”
• KU needs most improvement in rush defense. The Jayhawks ranked 112th in the Almanac’s rush defense rating, which was easily last in the Big 12.
“That’s a case where returning most of your defensive line, which Kansas does this year ... really might not be a good thing,” Connelly said. “They really need help on the defensive line and in the front seven overall.”
In comparison, KU’s pass defense ranked 53rd in the Almanac.
“(The Jayhawks) gave up a ton of yards on first down. They gave up a ton of yards on the ground. ... It just really handicapped Kansas overall,” Connelly said. “ ... When you struggle against the run so much, you have to overcompensate, and it makes you vulnerable in passing situations as well.”
• Two other factors that are usually not easily repeatable year to year by teams are fumbles and interceptions. The percentage of fumbles recovered in a year is, for the most part, is out of a team’s control, but it can have a huge impact on the final record of a team.
• The FO Almanac rankings are not kind to Kansas State, which is predicted to go 4-8 overall and 1-7 in conference. Part of that is KSU’s program hasn’t been successful in recent years (program rank of 72nd) and also hasn’t recruited at an extremely high level either (recruiting rank of 54th).
KSU’s underlying numbers last year weren’t great either, as the Almanac’s numbers ranked the Wildcats’ defense 93rd and their pass defense 104th, while KSU’s offense was ranked 95th.
“There’s no way they should have won six games last year,” Connelly said. “The numbers aren’t sympathetic to a coach being able to pull a magic act.”
How did KSU do it? The Wildcats had a great turnover margin (+7) and also played two FCS opponents.
“They seemed to outperform what the statistics would have suggested,” Connelly said. “Part of that could be (KSU coach) Bill Snyder. Really good coaches, you can overachieve you projections because you know how to win close games.”
• Another team that is being projected to fall back this year is Iowa State, which the Almanac projects at 3-9 overall and 1-7 in the Big 12.
The Cyclones haven’t had much recent success (81st in the Almanac’s program rank); they also forced more fumbles last year than any team in the nation.
“It’s just really hard to duplicate that as your main mode for success,” Connelly said.
• Connelly’s research has shown that lost talent on the offensive line doesn’t have as much of an effect on a team as many people would think. That’s part of the reason that Texas Tech (No. 16) and Oklahoma State (No. 32) have such high rankings in the Almanac despite having inexperience up front.
• Texas Tech’s high ranking has a lot to do with its recent success (Almanac’s program ranking of 16th) and a top-40 ranking in recruiting.
• Though many people do not believe recruiting rankings mean much, Connelly’s research shows that they actually are somewhat reliable when predicting a team’s future. OSU coach Mike Gundy has recruited extremely well in the last five years (24th in Almanac’s recruiting ranking), and the Cowboys’ defense was actually its strength last year, whether people realized it or not (19th in Almanac’s defensive ranking).
“If they can make something out of the offensive line, they have talent everywhere else,” Connelly said.
• Connelly’s research has shown that college players make the most improvement between their freshman and sophomore seasons and also their sophomore and junior seasons.
I've got good news for Kansas fans. I know of a college basketball transfer* who wants to play at KU.
He played major Division I basketball last year and is looking for more minutes this upcoming season.
He's also a big man. And after KU losing Cole Aldrich to the NBA, the Jayhawks could use a talented big guy in the middle.
This player only received limited minutes last year at his school, but in the time he was in, he put up some impressive numbers.
Here are some of his statistics compared to Aldrich last year.
As you can see, many of Player X's statistics were eerily similar to Aldrich's last year.
Ready for more good news? He'll be eligible next year for the Jayhawks. That's because he's already on the team.
That's right, "Player X" is Jeff Withey.
* — Sorry, I had to be tricky or you weren't going to be surprised.
Now I know I'm basing these numbers off an unfair sample size that is way too small to come to definite conclusions (45 minutes for Withey last year). And, yes, Withey did make it into the game for mop-up duty quite a few times.
Withey still performed best during the games he received extended minutes. In 12 minutes against Iowa State, he scored eight points (4-for-6 shooting) to go with five rebounds, a block and turnover. In nine minutes against Nebraska, he posted four points (1-for-3 shooting) to go with six rebounds, two blocks, one steal and no turnovers.
Also, because he was only eligible at semester, 13 of the 15 games he played in were during the Big 12 season or later.
One of KU's major needs next year will be a defensive presence in the middle. The Jayhawks were the top team in the nation in two-point field-goal percentage last season, and Aldrich was the main reason for that by blocking and altering shots as a defensive presence inside.
Judging from his block and rebounding numbers above, Withey has the potential to be that kind of defensive player for KU next season.
Should KU expect the same statistical production out of Withey with more minutes next season? Probably not.
Still, the seven-footer deserves a chance to see if he can keep his Aldrichian pace with extended playing time in 2010-11.
I've been wrangling comments and commenters and breaking news and other things online for two full years now. I finally feel like I've developed a rhythm.
That's twice as long as I've held any specific job — so that means, of course, it's time for a change.
Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be training Whitney Mathews to be our company's new online editor. Meanwhile, I'll be stepping into a new role as the company's assistant director of media strategy.
What does that mean? Well, for me, it means I'm stepping away from the day-to-day operations of LJWorld.com, in favor of a more strategic and longterm focus. I'll monitor our growth and work with Whitney to continue to make LJWorld.com a better place for news and community. You'll probably still see me posting in the comments from time-to-time, but not as often as before.
More broadly, I'll spend most of my time working to nurture our niche sites, including WellCommons, plus work on other projects that we're not quite ready to talk about. I'll also coordinate with the folks in our advertising department to make sure our websites are not only useful to all of you, but also to local businesses.
I'm excited for the new challenge and increased responsibility, but I'm being honest when I say I'll miss the relationships I've built with many of you. But I don't feel too bad because I'm really not going anywhere, just juggling what I do.
When all the conference realignment shakes out, who will have the better conference: the Big 12 or the Pac-10?
There are a million different ways to try to determine the answer, but ESPN has come up with an interesting way of looking at things: trying to determine which conference has more "prestige" schools.
On the site, ESPN is asking fans to rank the 21 teams in the Big 12 and Pac-10 "in order of the prestige you think they bring to the college sports scene."
I have to admit that the results are pretty intriguing.
Keep in mind that fans are voting on prestige and not the actual wins and losses of each athletic team. Prestige, to me, relates more to the fans' perception of a university's athletic department.
Here are the results as of 2 p.m. Thursday:
- Texas A&M
- Oklahoma State
- Texas Tech
- Arizona State
- Oregon State
- Kansas State
- Iowa State
- Washington State
A few thoughts right away:
• To me, this explains why a lot of national media attention was focusing specifically on whether Kansas was going to get left out of the realignment picture. According to this public opinion ranking on ESPN, KU is in the top half of the 21 schools listed.
Even though KU struggled in most sports in 2009-10, the perception of it being a strong athletic department hasn't seemed to change much in the public's eye.
Unfortunately for KU fans, "prestige" doesn't mean as much to potential conferences as "TV markets available" in this age of college athletics.
• Though many KU fans were worried (and for good reason) about the conference realignment possibilities, KU actually might have been in the best shape of the "Forgotten Five" — KU, Missouri, Kansas State, Baylor and Iowa State.
Looking at these public opinion rankings, KU is higher than the other four, though Missouri (14th) isn't too far behind.
Kansas State (17th), Baylor (19th) and Iowa State (20th) would have had more reason to worry that if the Big 12 dissolved, they might have been headed for a lesser conference.
• The Pac-10 is getting one school from the Big 12 (Colorado), but its public-opinion ranking isn't exactly stellar (18th). The Buffs did seem to jump pretty quickly when the offer was given to join the Pac-10.
So, as of now, which new conference has the most prestige?
For help with that answer, I gave a point value to every school based on their prestige ranking. Texas received 21 points, USC 20 points and so on, all the way down to Washington State with 1 point.
Here's how the conferences ranked:
Big 12 (without Colorado) — 10 teams, 107 points (10.7 prestige points per team)
Pac-10 (with Colorado) — 11 teams, 124 points (11.3 points per team)
If you look at things that way, the Pac-10 edges out the Big 12 in terms of average prestige ranking.
In case you were wondering, if the Pac-10 had become the Pac-16 (adding Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech as was first rumored), its prestige ranking would have jumped from 11.3 points per team to 12.6 points per team.
It's hard to blame Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott for trying to enhance his conference by extending an invitation to some of the most highly thought-of teams in the Big 12.
Here is the Cliff's Notes version of Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins' comments at his press conference today.
• Perkins says KU is unbelievably happy that all 10 schools were able to stay together in the Big 12. There's lots of value in that.
• In Perkins' opinion, it is one of the greatest things to happen in intercollegiate athletics in a long time. Ten is a great number for the Big 12. Some things are still unanswered, and the league is trying to work through those as quickly as possible. Basically, it's like starting a new conference with all the details that still need to be worked out. This will not be finished for a long time.
• One of the questions he gets asked most is about the conference name. Perkins doesn't know the answer, and he believes everyone in the league will have to talk about whether a name change is needed.
• Though he thinks many of the reporters will want to know about the numbers, Perkins doesn't have completely accurate numbers right now. Things could change over time. He doesn't think any Big 12 schools would have accurate numbers right now.
• No one in the Big 12 is interested in expansion right now. The schools like having 10 teams. Perkins believes that perhaps this could start a trend for schools to go smaller. KU coach Bill Self said it well yesterday when he talked about the new Big 12 being like the old Big Eight.
• KU worked hard behind the scenes to keep this thing together. There are always going to be disagreements. That's never going to go away. But Perkins came away thinking this was the best thing for the Big 12, for the 10 teams still involved and for intercollegiate athletics.
• Perkins believes the basketball league will be stronger.
• Perkins said he kept KU's coaches in the loop throughout the process as much as he could.
• Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe deserves to be thanked. He has been blamed for a lot of things, but he and his staff might have saved intercollegiate athletics as we see it today. Perkins doesn't think the change would have been best for the student athletes involved.
• KU chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little was a rock star, and she and Perkins were in constant contact through the whole process.
• If Perkins ever had to "go to war," he'd want to do so with Kansas State's president Kirk Schulz and KSU athletic director John Currie. Everything between KU and KSU was done step in step.
• As the five "leftover" Big 12 schools looked at things — Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Baylor and Missouri — they came up with a business plan to try to keep the Big 12 together. Perkins compared it to a starting five of players and an institution trying to keep a good basketball coach. The schools knew what the other schools were being offered by other conferences.
• The five leftover schools then tried to figure out what they had to do to keep those other schools on board. Perkins said that the five leftover schools agreed to help subsidize the other three schools — Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M — if they didn't make a certain number of dollars. The "leftovers" were going to make more money with 10 teams in the Big 12 than if they were left on their own. At the end of the day, the leftover schools might have to pay a little bit, and they might not have to pay anything. Those leftover schools will guarantee, though, that those other schools would make at least what they would have made elsewhere.
• The five leftover schools hope they won't have to give additional funds to the other three schools. That's not guaranteed, though. Time will tell. The agreement just allows the leftover schools to guarantee that the Big 12 schools that were thinking about leaving, even with a worst-case scenario, will make at least as much money as they would have made in other conferences.
• The Big 12 schools signed an agreement to stay in the conference 10 years. If other things happen, it could be longer. Perkins says he has no reason to fear that any other Big 12 team will bolt on the league. All indications are that the teams are in the Big 12 for the long haul.
• Perkins says his only concern was the Big 12 during the process. His only concern now is the Big 12. He won't address the other hypotheticals and things that might have taken place in previous weeks. Everything else is meaningless now.
• Perkins says not to focus on liquidating damages. It's a non-factor in this whole situation.
• Perkins says it doesn't matter if this situation could have been averted. It doesn't matter now. There are a lot of coulda, woulda, shouldas. Things happen. Everybody wants to point a finger at somebody. Perkins says he's not going to worry about yesterday. He feels good that the 10 teams are in this for the long haul.
• Perkins' guess is that it's going to take a year to put everything in the Big 12 back together, because the conference is starting at zero.
• Scheduling is very important, but no one has gotten that far yet.
A previous version of this entry incorrectly quoted Perkins' description of KU chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. He actually called her a rock star, as is reflected above.
For the last two seasons, the Kansas football team combined to go just 13-12, but it also did something that many might have overlooked.
It bore the brunt of a brutal conference schedule.
During the two-year swing, the Jayhawks' three opponents in the Big 12 South were Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech — the "big three" football powers in the South.
The reward for KU was going to be the 2010 and 2011 seasons. KU's slate was poised to get much easier, as Baylor, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State were going to be substituted for UT, OU and TTU in the schedule.
With the recently rescued Big 12, though, KU will only be paid 50 cents on the dollar for going through murderer's row the last two years.
Though KU will have its normal 2010 schedule, the 2011 schedule will be greatly altered because of the new 10-team format. The Jayhawks will now play every Big 12 opponent in football every season.
So how does 2011 change? Just take a look at what KU's final nine games would have been, and what they will be now. The changed games are in bold:
2011 original schedule
@ Kansas State
@ Texas A&M
vs. Iowa State
@ Oklahoma State
2011 new schedule
@ Kansas State
@ Texas A&M
vs. Iowa State
@ Oklahoma State
* — I'm assuming Colorado leaves the Big 12 after the 2010 season, which is now being speculated in some news sources.
** — The sites/dates of the Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma games have not been determined.
As you can see, the "new" Big 12 makes things way, way more difficult for KU in 2011.
Essentially, KU is "trading" a non-conference game, a winnable game at Colorado and a game at Nebraska for three games against Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma.
I've been one to say that expectations should be tempered for KU coach Turner Gill's first year at KU. Not only is there an adjustment period to a new staff, but KU also has to replace a ton of lost starters at the skill positions, especially on offense. I was thinking any bowl game would be a success.
Now, though, it's all about opportunity. And as crazy as it sounds, KU's best opportunity to make a serious run in the Big 12 might be next season.
Though everything might not be set up perfectly for Gill next season, KU gets to avoid Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma one last time.
Take another look at KU's 2010 schedule.
vs. North Dakota State
vs. Georgia Tech
@ Southern Miss
vs. New Mexico State
vs. Kansas State
vs. Texas A&M
@ Iowa State
vs. Oklahoma State
I'm thinking an "average" team would finish with as many wins against the 2010 schedule as a "good" team would finish against the 2011 schedule.
It's extremely likely, then, that KU could be better in 2011, but have a much worse record than 2010.
Ready or not, KU's time to make a serious run in the Big 12 might be now.
The Jayhawks won't be able to hide from the powers of the Big 12 South much longer.
Here is the Cliff's Notes version of Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self and KU football coach Turner Gill's comments at their press conference today.
KU men's basketball coach Bill Self
• KU is better off than it's ever been. That's not a knock to the schools leaving. For basketball, this is the old Big Eight. This is the old ACC. Everybody plays everybody else twice. This will enhance recruiting and revenue. Teams will get into rivalries playing twice per year.
• Self gets to sell to every kid in Texas that he is going home four times per year.
• Texas has been a state that Self has dabbled in, but he says KU will have more of a presence down there now. Those kids will be more excited to play at KU, as they'll know they'll get to play near home more often.
• Self likes that KU's schedule is tougher, because KU will be more hardened. If the Big 12 was the No. 1 in RPI last year, then the conference RPI strength went even higher with the new conference.
• In basketball, you lose something with the shift to 10 teams, but look what you pick up. You play all the South teams twice per year. A lot of credit needs to go to the Big 12 commissioner. He has elevated himself in a positive way. The athletic directors that didn't panic also deserve credit. There's something to be said that there was an anchor and foundation that kept everyone together.
• Self doesn't think the Big 12 is now the "Texas+9" conference. The decision-making power is not at the coach's level. All the coaches were hopeful that the Big 12 would stay intact. Self doesn't think people should be bitter over things that happened over what they can control. An offer was presented, and the schools chose to remain loyal to the Big 12. The end result speaks volumes. You can't blame schools for listening to offers.
• The appearance was that the Big 12 was imploding, but the commissioner never changed his stance. Good leadership prevailed in the whole thing. If there are problems in the future, fans in the area should know that there is good leadership in the Big 12.
• KU went through a period of time where they were duds. For a period of time, it was like, "What's going to happen next?" Self feels like that time is behind KU. He doesn't see those things being a problem in the future. This is a big momentum boost for KU.
• Self believes the league can be even more competitive and, for KU, it will be much easier to have serious rivalries from teams outside the Big Eight area.
• Self is most satisfied with win where you come back in the second half to win. This conference scenario is like that kind of win. It didn't look good for a long time, but the Big 12 pulled it off.
• Self has always been told if you like your A.D., president and the people you work with, why would you want to leave? Self feels like that's what happened with the Big 12. At the end, there was no reason for those teams to move elsewhere.
• KU basketball fans didn't circle Nebraska or Colorado on the calendar. That's not a knock on them. But KU could pick up more intense rivalries, for example, with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. From KU's standpoint, playing some of the South schools twice will enhance the rivalry.
KU football coach Turner Gill
• Gill said the new conference couldn't have been drawn up any better for KU.
• Losing Nebraska hurts national exposure, but other things with the change will help KU in the long term.
• Gill has respect for all the teams that did what they had to do. Everyone has to look out for themselves.
• The Big 12 is stronger today. By bringing up the negatives, some of the necessary issues were brought up.
• Gill was excited and pleased when he heard the news that the Big 12 was staying together. He was pleased with the job the commissioner did. Gill learned the news while working camps and recruiting.
• Even with all the turmoil, Gill had high-school kids commit to KU and had kids that wanted to be in Lawrence. There were a lot of good things going on during that time.
• The Nebraska game this year won't be a big deal for Gill. KU will try its best to win that game and then move on.
• Gill hasn't thought about the possibility of playing NU after it leaves the conference.
I came across something interesting when reading the latest blog post from ESPN's Andy Katz.
As we know, the NCAA Tournament will transition from 65 to 68 teams next year, meaning there will be four opening-round games instead of one.
Here is the paragraph from Katz' article that especially caught my eye.
The consensus seems to be that the opening-round games would remain in Dayton, Ohio. But [St. Joseph's coach Phil] Martelli said Saint Joe's athletic director Don DiJulia suggested that they move them to historical buildings like the Palestra in Philadelphia or Phog Allen in Lawrence, Kan., to give the games even more meaning.
I had never heard anything about this, but I think the idea is intriguing. I'm guessing this option would most likely be put in place if the four opening-round games pitted 16 seeds vs. 17 seeds (usually the conference tournament champions of the smaller, one-bid leagues). For those teams, playing an NCAA Tournament game at Allen Fieldhouse would probably be a much better reward than playing in a mostly empty Dayton arena.
Keep in mind that this would take some cooperation on KU's part as well. In the last few years, the KU women's basketball team has hosted quite a few WNIT games in the Fieldhouse, so hosting a men's NCAA Tournament play-in game might mean KU could lose the opportunity to host one of its own teams' games in Lawrence.
I would be interested to hear how KU fans would feel about this. Would they be in favor of hosting an NCAA play-in game? Would they attend an opening-round game between two smaller schools that had played their way into the NCAA Tournament? Would the game sell out? Would people care about it? Would some show up just to give the smaller teams the "true" Allen Fieldhouse experience?
Though this change of venues is only one athletic director's idea at this point, I'd say the possibilities with it are interesting to say the least.
We're going back 11 years for this week's "Jayhawk Flashback."
Kansas' 67-66 overtime victory over Oklahoma State on Feb. 22, 1999, was made memorable for another reason: Oklahoma State's Doug Gottlieb came out with his shorts on backwards.
Highlights of the game are below:
• In case you were wondering, Gottlieb later said he did not put his shorts on backwards on purpose.
• Gottlieb, a current ESPN analyst, has dealt with being the "Shorts on Backwards" guy pretty well. He even references the incident in this article while complimenting KU fans, saying the Jayhawks have "maybe the most adoring, knowledgeable fans in college hoops."
• For the record, I was able to talk to Gottlieb when he was in Lawrence a few months ago, and he's a great guy. From talking to Gottlieb for a few minutes, you can tell he truly cares about his craft and watches a ton of college basketball games to gain the insight that he has.
• I'm so glad to see the game-opening highlight from Jelani Janisse, as I've been waiting a long time to share this Slamball highlight video of him.
In the league, he was known as "The Sheriff."
Man, whatever happened to Slamball? I'm not too proud to say that I was a fan back in the day, mostly because of the vicious dunks those guys threw down.
• Any lipreaders reading the blog? What is it, exactly, that KU coach Roy Williams screams at the 2:27 mark?
Williams: "I almost lost it. I was going to tackle his butt. If it hadn't been for Nick (Bradford) I'd have tried to tackle him."
Freshman guard Jeff Boschee: "Coach had that look in his eye. I thought he might strangle that guy. I don't know what that guy was thinking or what he was on."
Williams: "You don't do that at Kansas. If you want to go to a carnival, go to a carnival."
• That's some impressive long-range shooting by OSU down the stretch to come back in this game.
Williams put it this way afterwards: "I'll tell you what I told Eddie (Sutton, OSU coach) and my players in the locker room: I thought at one point, 'Gosh are we lucky.' Then I thought, 'Gosh are they lucky.' Then 'Gosh are we lucky. Gosh are they lucky.' We were the last lucky ones tonight."
• For all the crap he received at times during his career, Eric Chenowith sure looked good in this highlight tape. Against OSU, he tied a career high with 25 points.
• Nice play by Robertson to get the foul at the end. From the replay, it looks like he initiated the contact, but it still looked pretty convincing.
"I would have been really scared to miss the first two," he said, "and have to depend on the last one to make one."
• By the way, I love the mullet that then-OSU assistant Sean Sutton is rocking in this video.
• Would this be the best Senior Night ending for a senior in Allen Fieldhouse history? Tough to argue with hitting the game-winning free throw in overtime.
• There were some funny comments after the game in the Senior speeches from Pugh and Robertson in the video below.
Worth a look.
• T.J.'s mother, Jan Pugh had this to say after the game: "I feel we dropped off a very nice boy and now we have an excellent young man. A grown man."
• Williams on Robertson: "The best thing that comes to mind ... what a great kid. He is a youngster I will truly miss."
• The game also was KU coach Roy Williams' 300th career victory.
Though Kansas and Texas have played some great games in the past decade, I think this is probably the most memorable KU win of the bunch.
March 3, 2007. Also known as "The Kevin Durant game."
The highlights of KU's 90-86 victory are below:
• Ever watch a game that you feel like one team has dominated, yet the other team is winning? I couldn't help but feel like that watching this one.
Durant was so good in the first half — and Texas was making so many shots — that KU was actually lucky to have been only down by 12 at the half. In fact, as I remember it, KU had to play pretty well in the first half to keep it that close.
Even when KU made its comeback and took the lead in the second half, it still didn't feel like KU was winning (The Jayhawks actually took a 59-58 lead with 16 minutes left in the game). That makes this one of the most impressive KU comebacks I can remember, as KU had to play pretty well to stay close, then had to play extremely well to come back, take the lead, and then hold that lead.
• Could anyone — college or pro — have kept Durant from getting 25 points in the first half of that game? Those stepback shots are just sick, especially the three over Julian Wright at the 20-second mark.
• I think some people forget how ridiculously talented that Texas team was without even including Kevin Durant.
Add on D.J. Augustin (shown above) and A.J. Abrams, and that's three extremely gifted college players all playing on the same team.
We also shouldn't forget Damion James and Dexter Pittman were both freshmen being mixed into that rotation as well.
• I feel like the highlights of this game encapsulate the entire college career of Julian Wright perfectly.
He has a horrible turnover early, dribbling the ball off his foot while trying to do too much offensively. The bad play leads to two easy points and a thunder jam by Durant on the other end.
But then, a few seconds later, we see the good Julian, the one that makes the play you've never seen before. Dribbling to his right, he zips a pass over and around a defender with one arm to give Sasha Kaun a layup. It's a pass I'm not sure any other Jayhawk in the past decade could have made, and it's the kind of play that surely made every NBA scout in attendance start to dream about what could be with Julian Wright.
It's just interesting to me that we see both ends of the Julian Wright conundrum wrapped neatly in one game's highlights.
• A lot of folks remember this game as the one where Texas dominated until Durant got hurt.
As you can see from the video, that's not how it actually played out.
Durant rolls his ankle at the 11:20 mark of the second half. Obviously, that did have an impact on the game.
But KU had already made its comeback. At the time, the Jayhawks were leading, 69-65.
So, for the record, KU completed its comeback from 16 points down with the Longhorns still at full strength.
• How hot was Texas in the first half? The Longhorns made 11 of their 14 three-point shots before halftime (78.6 percent).
"I don't know if I ever coached a game where a team shot it better than they did the first half," KU coach Bill Self said after the game. "I don't think we've ever had anyone play that good offensively against us. They were unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable."
• KU, though, made 11 of its 18 threes in the game (61.1 percent).
• Here's Durant's first-half line: 25 points, 10-for-14 shooting, 5-for-5 from three.
Has there ever been a better individual half in Allen Fieldhouse?
• Here was what KU sophomore Brandon Rush said about Durant's first-half performance.
"It was frustrating," Rush said. "When's he gonna miss? Is he ever gonna miss? Is he Michael Jordan?"
• Also worth noting: When Durant returned from the locker room in the second half after injuring his ankle, he received a standing ovation by the Fieldhouse crowd.
• Both of KU's starting guards set career-highs for three-pointers made in a game. Mario Chalmers went 5-for-5, while Russell Robinson was 3-for-4.
• The two teams each had four players in double figures.
UT was led by Durant (32), Augustin (19), Abrams (18) and James (12).
• It's always interesting to see which recruits were visiting during these particular games.
• The game was significant for more than just the comeback.
Not only did it clinch the regular-season conference title outright for KU (the Jayhawks' 50th league title), it also was the program's 1,900th win.
If you're a Kansas basketball fan, you now have an NBA rooting interest for next season.
You should be cheering for an NBA lockout.
Around this area, I get the impression that not many folks pay attention to the NBA. They don't have to. No NBA team is located in Kansas City, and the NBA game usually doesn't affect the Jayhawks.
This upcoming year is different, though.
If there is a lockout, most college players with eligibility remaining would opt to stay in college.
Take a quick look at the Jayhawks' 2010-11 roster, and you can see why an NBA lockout might be the equivalent of KU coach Bill Self hitting the lottery for the 2011-12 season.
Still, facts are facts when it comes to Rivals.com's No. 1-ranked players.
Here's a list of the No. 1-ranked players according to Rivals since 2003.
2003 — LeBron James
2004 — Dwight Howard
2005 — Gerald Green
2006 — Greg Oden
2007 — Michael Beasley
2008 — B.J. Mullens
2009 — John Wall
2010 — Josh Selby
Three of the players above (James, Howard, Green) went straight to the pros. The next four (Oden, Beasley, Mullens, Wall) spent one year in college.
Since 2003, no No. 1-ranked Rivals.com player has stayed in college more than one season. And, with a lockout, KU would be nearly guaranteed that Selby would stay at least two years.
Though Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich took most of the headlines last season, Marcus Morris ended up being KU's most efficient offensive player.
What impressed me about Marcus last year, though, were his decreased turnovers.
Consider this: During his freshman year, Marcus had 57 turnovers in 646 minutes (3.5 turnovers per 40 minutes). Last year, Marcus had only 48 turnovers in 889 minutes (2.2 turnovers per 40 minutes).
He's too big to be guarded by a three, but too fast to be guarded by a four. He can also shoot inside and outside and can defend guards on switches when needed.
Marcus should have a chance to compete for Big 12 player of the year in 2010-11, but even if he gets the honor, an NBA lockout could keep him in Lawrence for his senior season. If he stays that long, he'd be the best forward KU's had stay four years since Wayne Simien.
Though many fans seem to have soured a bit on Taylor, mostly because of some off-the-court issues, the fact remains that he is perceived as one of the Jayhawks' top future NBA prospects.
Though consistency has always been the knock on Taylor, I wouldn't be surprised if the junior-to-be was one of KU's most improved players in 2010-11.
Even if Taylor combines with Selby to become "among the best 1-2 combos in the nation" as one national writer is predicting, Jayhawk fans would have the luxury of knowing that, with an NBA lockout, both would probably still be around for an encore in 2011-12.
Time to get back into the flow of "Jayhawk Flashbacks," taking a look back at some of the most memorable moments of KU's past.
The following game is the second-loudest I've ever heard it at Allen Fieldhouse in person: KU's 81-74 victory over Michigan State on Nov. 25, 2003.
The highlights of the game are below.
• We have to start with the J.R. Giddens consecutive dunks.
Following the second dunk was the second-loudest I'd ever heard it in the Fieldhouse*.
* — The loudest I've heard in the Fieldhouse, if you're wondering, was this game after Keith Langford's alley-oop (45-second mark of video) put KU ahead of No. 1 Arizona, 44-24, in the first half. KU went on to lose the game, 91-74, before defeating Arizona in the Elite Eight later in the season.
Here was the amazing part for me, and you can hear it a little better in the video below.
The KU fans go nuts after Giddens' alley-oop jam, then the noise rises from there. Then, after Giddens' steal, it grows even louder.
But right before he dunks it — just as he's rising to the rim — a crazy thing happens: The Fieldhouse goes silent.
It was almost as if 16,300 were holding their breath to see just exactly what Giddens was going to do next.
After his dunk, the roar was nearly deafening. And Dan Shulman and Dick Vitale give a great call in the ESPN broadcast below as well.
• By the way, there are some great reactions to Giddens' dunks on here.
For one, check out KU assistant coach Joe Dooley's reaction at the 1:37 mark.
Pretty funny stuff.
Another good reaction to a Giddens dunk comes from the KU ball boy underneath the basket. Check out this photo.
You can also see him jumping up and down at the 18-second mark of the video under the basket.
• Is this a highlight tape for Wayne Simien or what?
I think sometimes I forget just how dominant he was when healthy.
I'm sure it's games like this that Self is talking about when he says that Simien was the best college player he's ever coached.
By the way, Self said this after the game about Simien: "He was as good as any player in America tonight."
• Does the crowd seem especially loud in this game to you as well?
Said Self afterwards: "That's probably as much fun as I've had in coaching. It was a fun night, the best atmosphere I've been a part of."
And here is former assistant Norm Roberts talking about the atmosphere: "I would rank it as the best so far I've experienced as far as atmosphere, energy and support. It's the loudest arena I've been in. The great thing is the knowledge of the fans, when to yell, get loud, bring it up and tone it down. It's awesome. What the loudness does is brings energy. It brings so much energy it's hard to communicate with the players."
• It's also hard to not realize that KU was dunking like crazy against the Spartans in this game.
Maybe it's just me, but last year, KU didn't seem to dunk or convert alley-oops as often as Self teams of the past. I'm not sure if there's an explanation for that or not.
• Watching this makes me appreciate the new rule that has KU players wait five years to come back before getting their jersey retired.
Nick Collison was going to the rafters no matter how you slice it, but he still looks like a college kid in this video. I'm sure a ceremony would have meant more to him had he come back a few years later after being able to reflect a bit more on his KU career.
• Wow, Keith Langford had some crazy ups this game.
I can't think of anyone in KU's recent history that was better at getting by his defender on a baseline drive than Langford.
• MSU coach Tom Izzo, meanwhile, was most upset about his team's 24 turnovers. KU scored 34 points off those 24 giveaways.
• Pretty good stat line for Aaron Miles this game. Try 17 points on 5-for-11 shooting to go with six assists and seven steals. He did have six turnovers, though.
• Funny to think this was only the second regular-season game for coach Bill Self at KU.
Actually, six and a half years later, Self doesn't appear to have aged much at all.
Former Kansas University basketball guard Mario Chalmers recently recorded the following public service announcement to promote bone marrow donations.
For those interested, KU will be holding bone marrow donor registration from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, May 6, on the Fourth Floor of the Kansas Union. Participants must be between 18 and 55 and in good health.
Here is the latest from Kansas basketball targets Josh Selby, Doron Lamb and Terrence Jones after talking with each of them at media day for the Jordan Brand Classic today in New York City.
Though Selby — ranked No. 4 overall by Rivals.com — is considered to be a heavy Kansas lean, the 6-foot-3 guard said Thursday that he hadn't officially decided on a school yet.
"I'm trying to cut the schools down, but it's so hard," Selby said. "I'm waiting for my mom and my uncle to come up here Saturday. We're supposed to sit down and talk about every school."
He listed his finalists in this order: UConn, Arizona, Tennessee, Kansas and Kentucky.
"I don’t know who it’s going to come down to, because all the schools have a lot of positive and negative things about them," Selby said, "so I don’t know yet."
Selby said that No. 1-ranked Rivals.com player Brandon Knight's decision to attend Kentucky on Wednesday wouldn't affect his decision.
Interestingly, Selby said he doesn't view himself as a Derrick Rose or a John Wall type of player.
"I don’t see myself as them, because right now, I don’t look at me as one-and-done," Selby said. "They were one-and-done in high school.
"That’s the way I humble myself. I think I lack everything. You’re always working on every part of your game."
Selby will announce his college choice during following a first-half media timeout at the Jordan Brand Classic game on Saturday.
When asked to compare his game to someone from the past, the Baltimore native came up with an interesting response.
"The old Steve Francis. Not the new one, the old one," Selby said. " ... The old Steve Francis, he was the man."
Unlike Selby, the 6-foot-4 Lamb already has made up his mind which school he will attend next year. He's just not letting anyone know until Saturday.
Like Selby, Lamb will commit following a first-half media timeout at the Jordan Brand Classic game.
Lamb, the 21st-ranked player in Rivals.com's rankings, listed his finalists in this order: UConn, Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky and West Virginia.
Looking for clues as to whom he will sign with? Try reading into this quote.
"I wanted to go to a school that had the right program, a winning program, a winning coach," Lamb said. "Somewhere I could play right away at. Just (a place) that felt like home to me."
Lamb said he had not alerted any coaches of his decision. He said the coaches would find out where he was going to school by hearing the announcement like everyone else.
He also said he had talked some with Selby.
"I don’t know where he’s going. He doesn’t know where I’m going," Lamb said. "We both have to wait and see where we’re going Saturday. We’ve just got to wait."
The two will figure out Friday which player will have their announcement first. If both were to commit to KU, that could make for interesting television.
Lamb, by the way, said he will put on the winning school's hat during his announcement.
There have been some rumblings about KU perhaps having a chance at Jones, a 6-foot-8 forward and the 13th-ranked overall player according to Rivals.com.
So, I asked Jones today if KU was in his mix of schools.
"I won’t really know until after this (Jordan Brand Classic) is over," Jones said. "I haven’t really started my recruitment over. It’s been on pause."
Rivals.com says Jones is considering Kentucky, Oklahoma, Oregon, UCLA, Washington, Arizona and Kansas.
Jones said he talked with KU coach Bill Self before the first signing period ended.
"He’s a great coach with a great program," Jones said. "That’s a great school."
A while back, we asked you about some changes we were considering to our comments.
We listened, developed, tested and Wednesday we rolled out threaded comments on all of our sites.
What does this mean? Well, in short, that's up to you. You could still comment the way you have been, with the most recent comment at the end.
But we think having threading will help you and us keep conversations together. Want to respond to something a specific commenter has said? Just reply to that comment. Your comment will be grouped with the other comment and it will be easier to follow the conversation.
Whenever I or anyone else on the staff replies to a comment of yours, we'll be using the reply feature.
Incidentally, we also made one other small change when we rolled out threaded comments. When we remove a comment, instead of being bright red (or pink), that comment is now grayed out. After discussing it with Ben Spaulding, one of our internal designers, we agreed that drawing attention to removed comments was probably the exact thing we didn't want to do.
If you have questions or feedback about either of these changes, please leave them in the comments below.
Like many of you, the first exposure I had to the documentary "The Street Stops Here" was the movie trailer on YouTube.
The three minutes of this video are intriguing, well-edited, emotional, fascinating — all one pretty much could ask for out of a documentary.
So, when I was able to watch an advanced copy of the movie — which will be shown for the first time to the public at 9 p.m. Wednesday on PBS — I was looking forward to it.
It's too bad that I had built the movie up so much. Because, truth be told, it made for a bit of a letdown.
Obviously, many Kansas basketball fans will watch the movie to see its portrayal of Tyshawn Taylor as a high-schooler at St. Anthony's. And though Taylor isn't a focal point through most of the movie, he plays a large enough role to keep Jayhawk fans interested.
Former KU forward Quintrell Thomas also has a brief cameo as a player on rival school, St. Patrick's. Again, he isn't seen much, but he's in there enough to be spotted a few times, especially during game action.
What's most disappointing about the film is that it could have been so much more if the producers would have just picked out an angle and stuck to it.
Instead, it's almost like they couldn't decide which storyline was best, so they watered down 10 different ones and tried to cram them all into an 82-minute documentary.
Unfortunately, it doesn't work.
To me, the movie is both too short and too long.
I found myself getting bored during periods when, repeatedly, the producers chose to reiterate the financial struggles that St. Anthony's faces.
Then, just when I felt like I was starting to get a feel for the players, the movie ends. It was like eating popcorn when you're expecting steak: The documentary might have held off starvation, but it didn't stop me from being hungry for more.
With so much video shot from that season (the video crew was given unlimited access, according to the movie's press release), I'm surprised at just how little we saw from the team.
The documentary is mostly focused around St. Anthony's coach Bob Hurley, who has coached 36 years at the school and won more than 900 games.
Immediately, North Carolina coach Roy Williams talks about how great Hurley is as a high-school basketball coach: "All the wins that he has pale in comparison to the life lessons that he has taught his kids."
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski follows, saying that Hurley turns kids' dreams into reality.
After being told how great Hurley was by two Hall of Fame coaches, I expected that I'd see some of that magic over the next hour and a half.
It never happened.
In fact, the foul-mouthed, disciplinarian Hurley does little in the film to make himself look like a good guy or a caring coach. He creates drama on his team even when there isn't any and oftentimes appears to play mind games with his players when it appears they would have functioned just fine without the tinkering.
When St. Anthony's wins its first 11 and rises to No. 1 in the nation, he runs his players harder, almost punishing them for their victories. When star guard Mike Rosario is named a McDonald's All-American, Hurley jumps on his case quicker.
And even though Hurley demands near-perfection from his players, at one point he taunts an opposing coach, telling him to look up at the scoreboard where St. Anthony's holds a comfortable 32-point lead.
While I waited for the good side of Hurley to come out, I was disappointed that the players' stories were mostly glossed over. The editors give us a decent glimpse into the hardships of Jio Fontan (USC), Travon Woodall (Pittsburgh) and Mike Rosario (Rutgers), but the rest of the guys barely received a mention early in the film. In movies like this, you find yourself wanting to cheer for the players. You want to know their stories. Unfortunately, we don't delve deep enough into the players' lives to get to know them as well as we could have.
Perhaps part of the reason for making the documentary was to help raise funds for St. Anthony's. I'm sure the movie will increase donations to the school that could definitely use help.
But the fund-raising portions of the documentary were the most dull and disappointing. Throughout the film, everyone keeps saying (dramatically of course) that if money isn't raised, St. Anthony's will shut down.
Yet, when the fund-raising efforts mostly fail, the school still goes on. Hey, I thought you said the school would close if that happened?
Let's be honest: Most of the people reading this blog will watch the film to see Taylor. And they should. The documentary is interesting and shows a different side of the Jayhawk guard.
This movie reminds me a bit of some lyrics from the Gin Blossoms, though: "If you don't expect too much from me, you might not be let down."
That's my advice when watching the documentary: Just don't expect too much like I did.
It's the best way to avoid a letdown.
President Barack Obama wasn't the only one whose bracket took a beating Saturday night.
Out of 3,369 brackets entered into the KUsports.com Bracket Competition, 3101 picked Kansas. Those 3,101 people all saw their brackets catch fire Saturday night.
In addition, nine people who picked Villanova to win it all, seven who picked Georgetown, one who picked Robert Morris and one who picked Louisville all have seen their brackets bust as their pick to win the national championship already has lost in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.
All told, as of 8:30 p.m. Saturday night, just 291 brackets in the KUsports.com competition still stood a chance of picking the eventual winner of the National Championship.
Should Kansas State or Kentucky lose their games — though they were leading at the moment this was written — that number would dwindle into the very low double digits.
Oklahoma City — Kansas State guard Denis Clemente says it doesn't take much for him to stay motivated in basketball.
"In life, when I get out of college, I want to be somebody," Clemente said Wednesday while sitting at his locker in the Ford Center. "That's the way I think. That's the way I look at it."
The 6-foot-1, 175-pound guard out of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, knows he has plenty of folks counting on him back home.
"I always say I want to help my mom when I stop playing — I hope pro basketball one day," Clemente said. "That's what I'm trying to do. That's my inspiration, helping my family. I think that's why I keep getting better and better."
Conditions haven't always been great for Clemente's family in Puerto Rico. That includes his mother, Raquel Perez.
"The economy where we live, it's not very good," Clemente said. "I think one day, God's going to give me the opportunity to do it (help my family), and I will."
It's been a growing process for Clemente, who is averaging 16.2 points per game this season for KSU. He admits he's toned down his emotion on the court this season, knowing that's what he needs to do to have the best chance at a pro career.
"Every day," Clemente said, "I keep growing up."
The senior said most of his family members will be watching today's game against North Texas in their native Puerto Rico.
Clemente already can envision his mother's face when he comes back to Puerto Rico after signing a pro contract.
"She's going to be smiling. Crying. I know that," Clemente said. "I've been working so hard for this."
Oklahoma City — Ready to meet this year's Stephen Curry?
It could be BYU's 6-foot-2 guard Jimmer Fredette, who plays against Florida in today's first NCAA Tournament game in Oklahoma City at 11:20 a.m.*
* — Update: Thanks to our own Nick Krug for giving me some great photos of Fredette from today's game.
Fredette, who is averaging 21.7 points and 4.9 assists per game, told me Wednesday that he wouldn't mind becoming like Curry was for tiny Davidson two years ago — a go-to scorer that helped a mid-major team advance to the later stages of the tournament.
"I hope so. That's the plan," Fredette said. "We definitely want to go out and advance in this tournament. If I have to have big games in order to do that, then I'll do that."
Want toughness? Fredette's got it. He used to play pickup basketball with his brother and father at prisons around his hometown of Glen Falls, N.Y.
Want scoring? Fredette is one of the most lethal in the country. Not only does he make 44.8 percent of his threes, he's also a danger to drive and get to the free-throw line. He draws 6.8 fouls per 40 minutes played (39th nationally) and on top of that, makes 89.6 percent of his free throws.
Want a strong performer on a big stage? Well, Fredette scored 49 points at Arizona this year — a new McKale Center record.
Still, almost no one east of the Rockies seems to know about the kid.
"It's great," Fredette said about his anonymity. "I'm an East coast kid. I'm from New York. Some of that area knows about me. I'm starting to get more recognition. I like it. It's not a big deal to me."
If the West region plays out the crazy way that I've predicted, Fredette might get all the recognition that he's ever dreamed of over the next few weeks.