Entries from blogs tagged with “ku”

Ben McLemore, seniors take top five spots in rankings

1. Ben McLemore: KU coach Bill Self asked him to be more aggressive offensively, and the freshman showed more flashes of his potential while shouldering the scoring load for KU on Thursday night. McLemore finished with 25 points, which included a pair of dunks that sent the Fieldhouse crowd into a frenzy and shifted the momentum. He also added eight rebounds, three assists and a steal with a single turnover. Self also revealed afterwards that McLemore continued playing in the second half after having his dislocated finger popped back into place twice.

2. Elijah Johnson: After a dreadful first half, Johnson torched Chattanooga's sagging defense in the second half. Here's the senior's second-half line: 13 points, 5-for-5 shooting, 3-for-3 shooting from three, four assists, one steal, one turnover, 19 minutes. His final total included 18 points, four assists and four turnovers.

3. Jeff Withey: The slow starts are becoming troublesome for Self, but Withey — like Johnson — had a stellar second half. Here's his second-half line: nine points, seven rebounds and five blocks in 19 minutes. His final total was 11 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks in 28 minutes.

4. Travis Releford: KU might not win the game without his tenacious second-half, on-ball defense on Farad Cobb, but Releford's poor offensive performance keeps him from being any higher on this list. The senior finished with two points on 1-for-6 shooting (0-for-5 shooting from three) with six assists, three turnovers, two steals and a block. He's now 0-for-11 this season from three-point range.

5. Kevin Young: Showed great energy in the first half when few other players did. The senior tied for the team lead with four offensive rebounds in his 19 minutes. His final stats included five points (2-for-4 shooting) and seven rebounds.

6. Naadir Tharpe: Hit one of the biggest shots of the game, pulling up for a quick three that pushed KU's lead to 49-43 in the second half. He made just 1 of 6 shots (1 of 5 from three) but did contribute five assists with no turnovers. Still has a long ways to go defensively, as he was guarding UTC's Farad Cobb quite a bit during the freshman's 18-point first half.

7. Rio Adams: Made the most of his four minutes, driving into the lane for an impressive scoop-shot layup. He also had a couple of nice passes, though only one was rewarded with an assist. He finished with two points and a turnover.

8. Perry Ellis: Second straight rough game for Ellis, who still appears to be adjusting to the physicality of Div. I basketball. He had two points and four rebounds to go with a block, steal and turnover in 20 minutes.

9. Jamari Traylor: He started but played only four minutes in the second half. Had an impressive first-half block, but ended with just one point and three rebounds to go with two turnovers in 13 minutes.

10. Andrew White III: Missed his only shot — a three-point attempt — in two minutes.

KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Ben McLemore (27 points)
2. Jeff Withey (25 points)
3. Elijah Johnson (21 points)
T4. Travis Releford (18 points)
T4. Jamari Traylor (18 points)
6. Naadir Tharpe (17 points)
7. Perry Ellis (15 points)
8. Kevin Young (8 points)
9. Rio Adams (7 points)
10. Justin Wesley (5 points)
11. Andrew White III (3 points)

— Compiled by Jesse Newell and Tom Keegan. Written by Jesse Newell.


Jayhawks should be able to bomb away against Chattanooga

Team: Chattanooga
Record: 1-0
KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 283

3 Strengths

Foul avoidance: I'll say this about Chattanooga — though it doesn't appear to be very good defensively, it isn't going to give up free points at the line. Coach John Shulman's teams have traditionally not fouled often, which includes averaging just 17.3 fouls per game a year ago despite playing at a very fast pace.

Defensive rebounding: This has been another staple of Shulman's teams, and though the Mocs lost four starters from last year's team, they should still be solid in this area. Chattanooga grabbed 70.8 percent of the available defensive rebounds a year ago (60th nationally) and returns one of its best rebounders in 6-foot-9 forward Drazen Zlovaric. The Mocs have finished in the top 100 in defensive rebounding percentage in six of Shulman's eight seasons.

Depth: I know this was just against Tennessee Temple — an NAIA team — but Shulman played 11 players for 10 minutes or more in his team's season-opening 88-53 victory ... something I'm not sure I've seen before in a box score. Shulman's teams typically run at a very fast pace, and it appears that the coach has enough bench players this year to substitute freely while playing his run-and-gun style.

3 Weaknesses

Three-point defense: This is the reason I'm interested to watch Thursday night's game: to see exactly what the Mocs do to guard the three, because statistically, it doesn't look like they do anything.

Last year, a whooping 48.9 percent of opponents' shots against Chattanooga were three-point attempts (NCAA average was 32.9 percent). That was the highest percentage in the country, and Shulman's teams have been in the top five in that statistic in each of his eight seasons.

Another way of looking at it: Opponents scored 41 percent of their points from three-point range last year, which again was the highest split in the country. NCAA average is just 27.5 percent.

KU should have plenty of opportunities to score from long range Thursday night.

Blocked shots: Chattanooga was next-to-last nationally in blocked shot percentage a year ago, rejecting just 3.3 percent of opponents' two-point attempts. Zlovaric was the only player on the team to have a block percentage above 1 percent (2.7 percent). To put this in perspective, all four of KU's big men a year ago (Jeff Withey, Thomas Robinson, Justin Wesley, Kevin Young) had higher block percentages than Zlovaric, and he was by far the best Moc at blocking shots.

Three-point shooting: Though the Mocs have traditionally jacked up a lot of threes under Shulman, they weren't successful at making them a year ago. Chattanooga made just 32 percent of its threes last season (265th nationally) and backed that up with a 2-for-22 shooting effort from three (9 percent) in the opener against Tennessee Temple.

3 Players to Watch

• Six-foot-9 senior Drazen Zlovaric (No. 20) was UTC's best shooter a year ago after transferring from Georgia. He made 55 percent of his twos last season (147 of 266) and was especially dangerous at the rim, making 71 percent of his layups (team average was 58 percent). He's also a strong defensive rebounder who limited his turnovers in 2011-12.

• Six-foot-5 forward Z. Mason (No. 30) will be relied upon more in his second season after transferring in from Ole Miss, where he played tight end for for the Runnin' Rebels for two seasons. Mason led the Mocs with 16 points (7-for-12 shooting) to go with five rebounds in 19 minutes against Tennessee Temple.

• Six-foot point guard Farad Cobb (No. 22) stood out defensively in the Mocs' opener, setting a freshman record with six steals in his first game. Cobb, who was ranked the No. 38 point guard in the class of 2012 by ESPN.com, also wasn't afraid to shoot, putting up 11 field-goal attempts in his 20 minutes. He made three of them to finish with eight points.


Combine an up-tempo pace with a team that doesn't defend well, and this could be a game filled with highlight-reel plays for the Jayhawks.

Looking at KenPom's rankings, Chattanooga will probably end up being the worst team that KU plays all season.

KU coach Bill Self should have plenty of opportunity to empty his bench to get guys more game experience.

Kansas 81, Chattanooga 49

Hawk to Rock

Sharpshooter Andrew White III should get his longest look of the season, and he'll also be playing against a team that most likely won't bother covering him on the three-point line. I'll say that White puts in three three-pointers while limiting himself to two turnovers or fewer.

Predictions tally
2-0 record, 4 points off (2 points off/game)

Hawk to Rock
SE Missouri: Perry Ellis (2nd in KUsports.com ratings)
Michigan State: Jeff Withey (4th)
Average: 3rd in KUsports.com ratings


Jamari Traylor earns top honors against Michigan State

1. Jamari Traylor: Had the highlight of the night — a vicious, stickback dunk in the first half — and provided consistent play the rest of the time. He flew high for a second-half, fast-break block against the backboard, showed some good post moves and earned KU a couple extra possessions by winning 50-50 balls. He finished with six points on 3-for-5 shooting with four rebounds, three blocks, two steals and just one turnover in 25 minutes off the bench.

2. Ben McLemore: Once again, perhaps his only fault was not being more aggressive. McLemore scored an efficient 14 points on 5-for-7 shooting, adding in three rebounds and three assists to go with three turnovers. Afterwards, KU coach Bill Self said he would have liked to have seen the freshman drive more late in the game.

3. Elijah Johnson: Solid game for Johnson, who penetrated more and had a better shooting night than in the opener. He posted a team-high 14 points on 6-for-15 shooting (2-for-5 from three) and tied for second on the team with four rebounds. He added three steals but had just two assists to go with four turnovers.

4. Jeff Withey: Limited because of foul trouble in the first half, Withey actually had a pretty good second half. He finished with eight points on 4-for-6 shooting, putting in a couple of hooks while going across the lane. He led KU with seven rebounds, and it seemed like the official scorer might have skimped him on blocks (two) while blaming him for a turnover or two that weren't his (four).

5. Travis Releford: He had a chance to be at the top of the ratings before making a couple of poor plays that resulted in turnovers in crunch time. He finished with eight points on 2-for-6 shooting to go with three assists and two giveaways. The senior added four steals, but he also was beaten off the dribble a few times by MSU freshman Gary Harris.

6. Naadir Tharpe: Confidently stepped into a three and made both of his free throws to finish with five points in 13 minutes while posting only one turnover.

7. Justin Wesley: Played well in his limited time, showing nice touch in the lane to make his only field goal. He finished with two points and one rebound in seven minutes.

8. Perry Ellis: The freshman struggled against length, and after getting blocked, he seemed hesitant with his decision-making. Ellis posted four points on 2-for-6 shooting with three rebounds and one turnover in 17 miuntes. Twice in the second half, after poor plays, he was substituted out by Self for Traylor.

9. Kevin Young: Looked rusty defensively in his first game back. He had one point in three minutes, though he did come away with a crucial loose ball with 56 seconds left that led to a three-point play for McLemore.

KUsports.com Season Standings
T1. Jeff Withey (17 points)
T1. Ben McLemore (17 points)
3. Jamari Traylor (16 points)
4. Perry Ellis (12 points)
T5. Naadir Tharpe (12 points)
T5. Elijah Johnson (12 points)
7. Travis Releford (11 points)
8. Justin Wesley (5 points)
9. Rio Adams (3 points)
T10. Andrew White III (2 points)
T10. Kevin Young (2 points)

— Compiled by Jesse Newell and Tom Keegan. Written by Jesse Newell.


Could Jeff Withey be in line for big game against Michigan State?

Michigan State center Derrick Nix (25) and Connecticut forward Tyler Olander (10), back, watch the ball during their NCAA men's basketball game on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, on the Ramstein U.S. Air Force Base, in Ramstein, Germany.

Michigan State center Derrick Nix (25) and Connecticut forward Tyler Olander (10), back, watch the ball during their NCAA men's basketball game on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, on the Ramstein U.S. Air Force Base, in Ramstein, Germany.

Team: Michigan State
Record: 0-1
KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 6

3 Strengths

Rebounding: Michigan State was a dominant rebounding team a year ago, and the Spartans did nothing to hurt that reputation against UConn. The Spartans were most impressive on the offensive glass, grabbing nearly half of their own missed shots (47.6 percent). Six-foot-6 sophomore Branden Dawson and 6-9 senior Derrick Nix are the two to watch on the offensive boards, as they combined for 15 of MSU's 20 offensive rebounds against UConn. MSU also controlled the defensive glass against the Huskies, allowing only seven offensive boards in Game One.

First-shot defense: It was tough to score against MSU from anywhere on the floor a year ago, as opponents shot just 30 percent from three and 42 percent from two (both numbers ranked in the top 15 nationally for defense). Though Big Ten player of the year Draymond Green has graduated, MSU should still be stingy defensively with above-average size on the wing and inside. MSU ranked third nationally in KenPom's adjusted defensive efficiency stat a year ago, and odds are, the Spartans will have a top-10 defense once again this year.

Swiping the ball: Michigan State was skilled at getting steals a year ago, ranking 61st nationally in steal percentage. Against UConn, the Spartans had nine steals, which included five from the aforementioned Dawson. Four other players registered steals in the game for MSU, meaning a sometimes-careless KU team will need to be wary of MSU's pressure.

3 Weaknesses

Shooting over length: Michigan State had problems getting shots off inside against UConn's size, as the Spartans had 10 shots blocked in the opener. Dawson and Nix appeared to have the most issues, as Dawson had four shots blocked, while Nix had three rejected. Partly because of those blocks, MSU made just 43 percent of its twos against UConn.

Three-point shooting: The big man Green actually was MSU's best and most frequent three-point shooter a year ago, and his departure (along with Austin Thornton and Brandon Wood) leaves the Spartans a little thin as far as perimeter shooting goes. It's a small sample size, but MSU made just 4 of 17 threes against UConn (23.5 percent).

Turnovers: A really good Michigan State team was only average at taking care of the ball a year ago, ranking 147th in turnover percentage (19.8 percent). The Spartans didn't do any better against UConn, turning it over on 23 percent of their possessions. MSU's big men appear to be the most turnover-prone, as the three frontcourt starters combined for eight of the team's 15 giveaways.

3 Players to Watch

• Six-foot-1 junior point guard Keith Appling (No. 11) is Michigan State's most dangerous player creating his own shot. He made 51 percent of his two-pointers last year while getting assists on just 29 percent of his shots at the rim and 15 percent of his two-point jumpers. He's also a threat to get to the line, as he had nearly as many free throws (170) as two-point attempts (211) a year ago. Though Appling was a good free throw shooter in 2011-12 (79 percent), he struggled from behind the arc, making just 25 percent of his three-point tries (24 of 96).

• Six-foot-4 freshman shooting guard Gary Harris (No. 14) was a McDonald's All-American last year and is known as an athletic player who has the ability to attack the rim. He struggled against UConn on Friday, making just 4 of 13 shots, including 1 of 7 from three-point range, though that's an extremely small sample size from which to draw. Harris has scored in double figures in each of MSU's first three games, which includes two exhibitions.

• Six-foot-6 sophomore Branden Dawson (No. 22) plays much bigger than his height. After tearing his ACL in March, Dawson showed no ill effects against UConn, posting 15 points and 10 rebounds (eight offensive) to go with five steals. The offensive rebounding isn't a fluke, as Dawson was the nation's 60th-best offensive rebounder as a freshman last season.


This game could be ugly ... really ugly. Both teams play tough defense when set, and neither one was particularly impressive shooting the ball in its first game.

Though the Spartans dropped to No. 21/22 in the latest national polls, I think that might be a bit of an overreaction to one loss in an unfamiliar setting (the UConn game was played in Germany). Michigan State was ranked in the preseason top five by quite a few polls (including KenPom and Basketball Prosectus' Dan Hanner), so there's a pretty good chance that this Michigan State team ends up as a top 10 team by the time the season's over.

I'm expecting a close game, but I think Michigan State prevails, taking advantage of a young KU team that will struggle with turnovers in its first big-stage game.

Michigan State 60, Kansas 56

Hawk to Rock

This seems like the perfect game for Jeff Withey. It's no secret by now that the KU center plays better against true big men, and MSU has plenty of those. Also, Michigan State struggled getting shots over UConn's shot-blockers, meaning Withey should have plenty of chances for rejections. Withey has not always been known for his toughness, though, and he'll need to find his mean streak to fight for rebounds against MSU's bruisers. I'll still say Withey gets to 10 points, 12 boards and six blocks against the Spartans.

Predictions tally
1-0 record, 3 points off (3 points off/game)

Hawk to Rock
SE Missouri: Perry Ellis (2nd in KUsports.com ratings)


Football pop quiz No. 3

Matt Tait and Nick Krug are snoring away in Lubbock, Texas, getting a solid nine hours of sleep.

After covering Friday night’s season-opening basketball victory, Jesse Newell and I are sitting in Kansas City International Airport, awaiting our first of two flights. With any luck, we’ll get to Lubbock in to time to catch kickoff for today’s Kansas football game against Texas Tech.

Tait will start the live-game blog before handing the baton to Newell.

As Tait and Krug snore and Newell and I fly, feel free to try your hand at a KU football pop quiz that’s not too difficult, but more challenging that the last one.

  1. He leads the Big 12 with 124.7 rushing yards per game.
    a.) Andrew Buie (WVU)
    b.) John Hubert (KSU)
    c.) Joseph Randle (OSU)
    d.) James Sims (KU)

  2. Seven Jayhawks share the team lead in sacks with one. Which player does not have any?
    a.) Tunde Bakare
    b.) Ben Goodman
    c.) Jake Love
    d.) Josh Williams

  3. Averages a team-best 23.6 yards per kick return.
    a.) D.J. Beshears
    b.) Brandon Bourbon
    c.) Taylor Cox
    d.) Tre’ Parmalee

  4. Three of these players are Texans, one a native of Tonkawa, Okla. Select the player from Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plains.
    a.) Marquis Jackson
    b.) Dexter Linton
    c.) Jake Love
    d.) JaCorey Shepherd

  5. This player has more solo tackles (one) than he does touchdown passes thrown to a wide receiver.
    a.) Dayne Crist
    b.) Michael Cummings
    c.) Christian Matthews
    d.) Blake Jablonski

  6. Among players who have at least 25 rushing attempts, he leads the team with a 5.4-yard average per carry.
    a.) Taylor Cox
    b.) Michael Cummings
    c.) Tony Pierson
    d.) James Sims

  7. KU’s losing streak against schools from the Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly known as Division 1-A, stands at how many games?
    a.) 10
    b.) 13
    c.) 18
    d.) 20

  8. KU’s losing streak in Big 12 games stands at how many games?
    a.) 10
    b.) 13
    c.) 18
    d.) 20

  9. He leads the team with 54 solo tackles and ranks second to Ben Heeney with 70 total tackles.
    a.) Greg Brown
    b.) Jake Love
    c.) Bradley McDougald
    d.) Huldon Tharp

  10. Kansas is 1-12 all-time against Texas Tech. The only victory came in Lubbock in overtime by a score of 34-31. Name KU’s head coach in that game.
    a.) Terry Allen
    b.) Turner Gill
    c.) Tom Hayes
    d.) Mark Mangino

  11. Three of the four men on the case in Lubbock for KUsports.com graduated from Kansas. Name the Marquette graduate.
    a.) Tom Keegan (first career third-person reference)
    b.) Jesse Newell
    c.) Nick Krug
    d.) Matt Tait

Answer key: 1. d; 2. d; 3. c; 4. c; 5. a; 6. a; 7. c; 8. c; 9.c; 10. a; 11. a.


Jeff Withey tops first ratings of year

1. Jeff Withey: He was KU's leading scorer with 17 points, but his biggest impact came on the other end of the floor. He had five blocks and changed numerous other Southeast Missouri shots, leading KU's stifling defense in the first half. Withey also tied a team-high with 12 rebounds, including five offensive boards.

2. Perry Ellis: After his first game, he's probably already established himself as KU's best scorer in the post. The freshman showed an array of moves — including a left-handed baby hook — on his way to 15 points on 5-for-9 shooting. He also posted eight rebounds and no turnovers in 23 minutes.

3. Ben McLemore: Though he wasn't as aggressive as he could have been offensively, McLemore still impacted the game in nearly every way possible. He posted nine points, 12 rebounds, five assists and three blocks with just one turnover. He also won a pair of 50-50 balls that led to layups, which should make his coach happy.

4. Naadir Tharpe: Attacked the paint more often in the second half and also looked confident in his jumper. He posted 10 points on 4-for-11 shooting, which included 3-for-5 shooting from two-point range. The sophomore also added two assists to go with two turnovers in 28 minutes, playing point guard for most of the night with Elijah Johnson held back by fouls and cramps.

5. Jamari Traylor: KU coach Bill Self commented afterwards that he thought Traylor did some good things. The freshman posted five points on 2-for-4 shooting, which included a composed spin move and two in the lane. He also added a rebound, assist, steal and block to go with two turnovers in 16 minutes.

6. Travis Releford: The senior struggled with threes (0-for-5) and turnovers (four), but he still provided some stability when Johnson went to the bench. His best offense was in transition, as he had nine points on 3-for-11 shooting to go with five rebounds in 34 minutes.

7. Elijah Johnson: Didn't look like himself, perhaps because of leg cramps. He also couldn't avoid the whistles, fouling out of the third game of his career after playing just 22 minutes. He posted three points on 1-for-5 shooting, missed all four of his threes and had just one assist.

8. Rio Adams: He's trying hard defensively but might need to back off the aggressiveness just a bit. He had two fouls in five minutes, but he did make both of his free throws for two points.

9. Andrew White III: He ended his team's stretch of 17 consecutive missed threes with a trey late. He posted three points on 1-for-2 shooting in his three minutes.

10. Justin Wesley: He had two rebounds, two fouls and two turnovers in eight minutes.

KUsports.com Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (10 points)
2. Perry Ellis (9 points)
3. Ben McLemore (8 points)
4. Naadir Tharpe (7 points)
5. Jamari Traylor (6 points)
6. Travis Releford (5 points)
7. Elijah Johnson (4 points)
8. Rio Adams (3 points)
9. Andrew White III (2 points)
10. Justin Wesley (1 point)

— Compiled by Jesse Newell


SE Missouri has punch in post, problems on D

Team: SE Missouri
Record: 0-0
KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Preseason Ranking: 229

3 Strengths

Shooting, inside and out: The Redhawks thrived last year at shooting both two-pointers and threes. SEMO ranked in the top 63 nationally in both categories, which included an impressive 37.4-percent accuracy from three (though the Redhawks didn't shoot from the outside often). SEMO's best-three-point shooter, Marland Smith, returns for his senior year after making 63 of 158 treys in 2012-13 (39.9 percent).

Defensive rebounding: Six-foot-8 forward Tyler Stone ranked in the top 85 in defensive rebounding percentage a year ago, and teammate Nino Johnson has also turned additional playing time into production. The 6-8 sophomore Johnson had nine defensive rebounds in each of SEMO's first two exhibition games, giving the Redhawks two strong options on the defensive glass.

• Blocked shots: Stone was decent at blocking shots a year ago, rejecting 3.8 percent of his opponent's two-point shot attempts (308th nationally). Meanwhile, Johnson has excelled at this in the Redhawks' first two exhibition games, blocking three shots in each game. Teams shot just 46.3 percent from two-point range against SEMO a year ago, which was better interior defense than the NCAA average (47.8 percent).

3 Weaknesses

Forcing turnovers: This was Southeast Missouri's biggest weakness a year ago, as the Redhawks forced giveaways on just 15.9 percent of opponents' possessions (340th nationally out of 345 teams). SEMO hasn't shown signs of being much improved in that area, either, forcing just 14 turnovers per game against a pair of Div. II teams in exhibition play.

• Committing turnovers: SEMO was about NCAA average in this stat a year ago, but the two exhibition games should be reason for some concern. Junior-college transfer small forward A.J. Jones provided some scoring punch in exhibition play (15.5 points per game), but he also turned it over nine times in just 24 minutes. Also, starting guard Lucas Nutt had more turnovers (nine) than field-goal attempts (eight) in SEMO's two exhibitions. This should be a team that KU can get after defensively, especially on the perimeter.

Free-throw shooting: Southeast Missouri was especially poor in this area a year ago, making just 62.6 percent of its freebies (321st nationally). In the preseason, SEMO mirrored that performance exactly, making 37 of 59 free throws (62.7 percent). Johnson is the biggest liability, as he made just 8 of 18 tries in the Redhawks' two exhibition games (44.4 percent).

3 Players to Watch

Tyler Stone (No. 33) is the Redhawks' best returning player from a year ago. He displays a nice all-around game, as he's a good two-point shooter (54.3 percent) and excellent defensive rebounder that rarely turns the ball over. SEMO's offense will go through the 6-8 forward, who was a preseason All-Ohio Valley selection.

• Nino Johnson (No. 1) appears to be an emerging forward, taking the place of the graduated Leon Powell in the post. The 6-8 sophomore had a breakout game in SEMO's final exhibition win over Truman State, posting 20 points on 7-for-9 shooting with 15 rebounds, three blocks, three assists and just one turnover. He's someone KU will have to pay attention to on both the offensive and defensive boards.

Marland Smith (No. 23) joins Stone as a preseason All-OVC selection. At 6-foot-2, 155 pounds, the senior is SEMO's most consistent three-point threat, ranking sixth in the OVC in three-point accuracy a year ago. Almost all of his threes were assisted last year (98 percent), so he appears to be primarily a spot-up shooter on the perimeter. He also doesn't turn the ball over often and was slightly above average from two-point range last season.


Southeast Missouri doesn't project out to be a very good defensive team, as Ken Pomeroy's preseason defensive efficiency ranking of 272nd suggests. The Redhawks fouled too often a year ago, and that's usually not a good characteristic to have when entering Allen Fieldhouse.

KU has some dangerous mid-major teams on the schedule, but this shouldn't be one of them. Be sure to pay attention to KU's turnovers, though. Though the Jayhawks were careless in a 62-50 exhibition victory over Washburn, there really is no reason to give the ball away Friday night against a Redhawks' team that should provide little to no defensive pressure.

Kansas 82, Southeast Missouri 60

Hawk to Rock

Perry Ellis will start in his first official game for KU, and this looks to be a matchup that suits him. The 6-8 freshman is one of KU's best players at getting to the free-throw line, and he shouldn't be overwhelmed by SEMO's size in the paint. I'll say Ellis leads KU in scoring in the opener while also going for a double-double.


Cliff’s Notes: Bill Self press conference, 11/8/12

Here is the Cliff's Notes version from Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self's comments at his press conference today.

Full audio has been posted.

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.


5 things to learn about the KU basketball team from Hoop-Math.com

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson grabs a steal from Washburn guard Jared Henry during the second half on Monday, Nov. 5, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson grabs a steal from Washburn guard Jared Henry during the second half on Monday, Nov. 5, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

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
23% 18% 59%

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
78% 60%

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.

Kansas teammates Travis Releford (24) and Ben McLemore bump elbows after a bucket by McLemore against Emporia State during the first half, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas teammates Travis Releford (24) and Ben McLemore bump elbows after a bucket by McLemore against Emporia State during the first half, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

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.

Kansas center Jeff Withey comes over the top to block a shot by Washburn forward Joseph Smith during the second half on Monday, Nov. 5, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. Withey finished the game with seven blocks.

Kansas center Jeff Withey comes over the top to block a shot by Washburn forward Joseph Smith during the second half on Monday, Nov. 5, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. Withey finished the game with seven blocks. by Nick Krug

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).

Close FG%
After rebound
0-10 seconds into possession
Close FG%
After rebound
11-35 seconds into possession
77% 53%
Close FG%
After opp. score
0-10 seconds
Close FG%
After opp. score
11-35 seconds
71% 65%
Close FG%
After steal
0-10 seconds
Close FG%
After steal
11-35 seconds
67% 62%

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.

After rebound
0-10 seconds into possession
After rebound
11-35 seconds into possession
34% 32%
After opp. score
0-10 seconds into possession
After opp. score
11-35 seconds into possession
31% 37%
After steal
0-10 seconds into possession
After steal
11-35 seconds into possession
17% 42%
After deadball TO
0-10 seconds into possession
After deadball TO
11-35 seconds into possession
37% 45%

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.


Cliff’s Notes: Charlie Weis press conference, 11/6/12

Here is the Cliff's Notes version from Kansas football coach Charlie Weis' comments at his press conference today.

No changes in the depth chart this week.

Full audio has been posted.

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.


Football pop quiz on the road to Waco

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.

  1. The roster with which KU started the season had 35 players from Texas and 24 from Kansas. What state ranked third with six natives?
    a.) California
    b.) Missouri
    c.) Ohio
    d.) Oklahoma

  2. 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

  3. He was head coach of the Dallas Cowboys for three seasons.
    a.) Dave Campo
    b.) DeMontie Cross
    c.) Tim Grunhard
    d.) Charlie Weis

  4. 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

  5. KU’s losing streak in games played outside of Lawrence.
    a.) 10
    b.) 12
    c.) 14
    d.) 19

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. Born in Luanda, Angola.
    a.) Keba Agostinho
    b.) Tunde Bakare
    c.) Pat Lewandowski
    d.) Aslam Sterling

  10. My twitter account.
    a.) @CoachWeisKansas
    b.) @GaryBedore
    c.) @JesseNewell
    d.) @mctait
    e.) @TomKeeganLJW
    f.) @NickKrug

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.


Cliff’s Notes: Charlie Weis press conference, 10/30/12

Here is the Cliff's Notes version from Kansas football coach Charlie Weis' comments at his press conference today.

Full audio has been posted.

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.


Cliff’s Notes: Bill Self press conference, 10/29/12

Here is the Cliff's Notes version from Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self's comments at his press conference today.

Full audio has been posted.

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.


‘Coach’: KU players not physical enough during Oklahoma’s 100-yard kickoff return

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.


Blocked by Jesse Newell

"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.

Josh Ford

Josh Ford by Jesse Newell

"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.

Ray Mitchell

Ray Mitchell by Jesse Newell

Reynolds, meanwhile, slows down to contact after sprinting the entire length of the field and allows himself to be blocked.

Michael Reynolds

Michael Reynolds by Jesse Newell

"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.

Finch lane

Finch lane by Jesse Newell

"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."


Cliff’s Notes: Charlie Weis press conference, 10/23/12

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.

Full audio has been posted.

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.


KU football pop quiz

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:

  1. 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

  2. Number of Jayhawks who have more than one sack this season:
    a.) None
    b.) One
    c.) Two
    d.) Three

  3. Number of KU wide receivers to catch a touchdown pass this season:
    a.) None
    b.) One
    c.) Two
    d.) Three

  4. He leads the team with 248 receiving yards:
    a.) Daymond Patterson
    b.) Kale Pick
    c.) Tony Pierson
    d.) Andrew Turzilli

  5. He has not rushed for a touchdown this season:
    a.) Taylor Cox
    b.) Tony Pierson
    c.) Schyler Miles
    d.) Christian Matthews

  6. He leads the team with 22.9 yards per kick return:
    a.) D.J. Beshears
    b.) Bradley McDougald
    c.) Tony Pierson
    d.) Tre’ Parmalee

  7. His 40 solo tackles are a team-best:
    a.) Greg Brown
    b.) Ben Heeney
    c.) Bradley McDougald
    d.) Huldon Tharp

  8. Among 124 rated quarterbacks, Dayne Crist ranks:
    a.) 18
    b.) 58
    c.) 102
    d.) 122

  9. 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

  10. KU averages 19 points a game, which gives it a national ranking in scoring offense of:
    a.) 56
    b.) 81
    c.) 91
    d.) 111

Answer key: 1. b; 2. a; 3. a; 4. b; 5. d; 6. d; 7. c; 8. d; 9. c; 10. d.


Kansas tight ends scoring touchdowns and getting ignored outside the red zone

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 State basketball coach Bruce Weber can’t shake the ghost of Bill Self

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.”