Entries from blogs tagged with “roll”
The NCAA basketball tournament was born March 17, 1939, and Dick Vitale belted out his first cry 84 days later. Do the math. Dick Vitale, who has a blast throwing himself into the middle of college basketball crowds, is 75. I guess I never thought about his age, but that just blew me away when I read that recently.
At the age of 40, Vitale was on the call for ESPN's first college basketball game, Dec. 5, 1979, when De Paul defeated Wisconsin, 90-77, and he hasn't stopped since, except to take a break for a couple of months after undergoing vocal-cord surgery seven years ago today.
Vitale's had a blast doing games, but his best work has come when he uses his fame to help causes in much the same way his look-alike, actor Brad Pitt, has. Vitale's passion, of course, is raising funds to battling cancer. He's relentless in trying to find ways to help. His latest effort is a fun book, "It's Awesome, Baby!" written with Dick Weiss and Joan Williamson. Proceeds go to cancer research.
Kansas freshman Cliff Alexander is quoted in the book about his plans: "One-and-done and then come back and get my degree."
Vitale also writes about Kansas coach Bill Self in a chapter titled, "Future Hall of Famers," and about ex-KU coach Larry Brown in the chapter, "Senior Citizens Thriving."
Nobody has to tell Vitale that the secret to life is living it up. He's a great lover of life, which might have something to do with why he's so moved by premature deaths caused by cancer. Two words best sum up Dick Vitale: Kind man.
Kansas tends to play either like a top five team or an unranked one, but knows how to pull out games at the end. All of that adds up to the nation's Associated Press college basketball poll voters leaving the Jayhawks at No. 10 for the second week in a row.
The Jayhawks play the toughest schedule in the country and might have to play it all with one scholarship point guard on the roster, unless Devonte Graham can make it back from a severe case of turf toe of the big toe. He's sidelined anywhere from four weeks to the rest of the season.
The top 25 teams in the AP poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Dec. 14, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week's ranking:
My AP top 25 ballot:
Record Pts Prv
- Kentucky (65) 11-0 1,625 1
- Duke 8-0 1,545 2
- Arizona 10-0 1,505 3
- Louisville 9-0 1,349 4
- Wisconsin 10-1 1,331 5
- Virginia 9-0 1,294 6
- Villanova 10-0 1,215 7
- Gonzaga 9-1 1,175 9
- Texas 8-1 1,154 8
- Kansas 8-1 1,102 10
- Wichita St. 7-1 959 11
- Ohio St. 8-1 838 12
- Iowa St. 8-1 772 14
- Utah 7-2 670 13
- Oklahoma 6-2 647 16
- Washington 8-0 598 17
- Maryland 10-1 512 19
- Miami 9-1 426 20
- San Diego St. 7-2 424 18
- St. John's 8-1 353 24
- Notre Dame 10-1 351 25
- West Virginia 9-1 333 22
- Butler 8-2 259 15
- North Carolina 6-3 122 21
- Michigan St. 7-3 116 _
Others receiving votes: Baylor 97, TCU 80, Colorado St. 75, N. Iowa 65, Georgetown 41, California 37, Arkansas 19, Seton Hall 14, VCU 6, LSU 4, Oklahoma St. 4, Old Dominion 4, Penn St. 3, Davidson 1.
1 - Kentucky: Alex Poythress would have been a star on many teams but for Kentucky he was a glue guy who did a little bit of everything. Defended extremely well, blocked shots, ran the floor hard in both directions, rebounded well for a small forward, shot free throws at an .857 clip. Now he’s gone for the season, KO’d by a knee injury. No other team could handle losing a starter as well as Kentucky. Still, Poythress will be missed.
2 - Duke: Semi Ojeleye, around whom everything was built at Ottawa High, where he was encouraged to shoot first pretty much whenever he touched it, never smoothly made the transition to a star-studded roster. He averaged three points and 2.3 rebounds in six games for the Blue Devils (8-0). The 6-foot-8, 230 pound forward armed with a soft, long-range shooting touch, has decided to transfer. In 63 minutes this season, Ojeleye made 4 of 16 three-pointers, 1 of 2 two-pointers, had 14 rebounds, three steals and 11 personal fouls.
3 - Arizona: It hasn’t taken 6-7, 245-pound freshman Stanley Johnson long to figure out how to fit into talented team, what distinguishes a good team from a bad one and just about everything else that troubles new college basketball players. In the past seven games, Johnson’s averaging 15.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.1 steals and shooting 50 percent from three. Johnson stung Michigan for 17 points, seven boards and three assists in an impressive 27-point trouncing of reeling Michigan.
4 - Virginia: Ranked third-most efficient defense in nation and 10th in offensive efficiency. Opponents shoot just .345 from inside the three-point arc, third-best in nation, per kenpom.com.
5 - Wisconsin: Bo Ryan’s swing offense results in high-percentage shots from inside and open ones from long range, but he’s an even better defensive coach. Five foes have scored 45 or fewer points. ... Badgers are a better three-point shooters than they have shown (.347) so far.
6 - Louisville: After Terry Rozier burned Indiana for a career-high 26 points in a 20-point victory, Hoosiers coach Tom Crean called Rozier, “one of the premier guards in the country.” Cardinals coach Rick Pitino called Montrezl Harrell (21 points, 11 rebounds) “the best player in the nation.” At the very least, Harrell is trending in that direction with five consecutive double-doubles a season double-double (17 points, 10.4 rebounds) average.
7 - Texas: Defensive effective field-goal percentage (1.5 credits for three-pointers made) of .343 best in the nation, per kenpom.com. Foes shooting .325 from two, .258 from three.
8 - Gonzaga: Big Zags never trailed in 87-74 victory at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion and showed they shoot well playing at fast pace (.585 overall, .474 from three, .842 from line). Kentucky transfer Kyle Wiltjer averaging 20 points in past six games.
9 - Villanova: Bucknell and Michigan only teams to come within single figures of undefeated Wildcats. Up next: Syracuse comes to Philly on Saturday.
10 - Kansas: Frank Mason averaging more than 35 minutes in past five games. Fatigue not getting in way of improved shooting. Shot .327 from three and .662 from line last season, .500 from three, .879 from line this season.
11 - Wichita State: Ron Baker attempted 11 field goals, made just one free throw and scored 22 points in home-court victory against previously undefeated Seton Hall. Shockers remain a pain-in-the neck team to play, as illustrated by 24-5 advantage in points off turnovers in that game.
12 - Iowa State: Abdel Nader, Cyclones 6-6, 230-pound forward and Northern Illinois transfer, delivered monster contribution off bench in 15-point road victory at Iowa. Totaled 19 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots. He made 4 of 6 three-pointers and teammate Naz Long made 5 of 9. Coach Fred Hoiberg does an amazing job of finding transfers and getting them to quickly learn NBA system.
13 - Oklahoma: All six Sooners victories by double figures. UCLA and Butler among the victims.
14 - Ohio State: Buckeyes have shot at first victory against ranked opponent when they face North Carolina in the United Center in Chicago in the first game of a doubleheader known as the CBS Sports Classic. UCLA and Kentucky play in the second game.
15 - Utah: Not many 6-5 players have the quickness of Delon Wright, who in 39 minutes vs. Kansas made 9 of 13 shots and delivered five rebounds, four assists, four steals and 23 points.
16 - Washington: Huskies have opportunity to move up rankings Saturday if they can figure out how to beat Oklahoma in Coaches vs. Cancer game in Las Vegas.
17 - Maryland: Coach Mark Turgeon will try to improve to 2-0 vs. Big 12 teams Sunday at Oklahoma State. Cowboys could vault into rankings with a victory.
18 - St. John’s: Nigerian Chris Obekpa, a 6-10, 240-pound center, is offensively challenged but plays a huge part in Johnnies ranking as ninth-most efficient defense in the nation. He averages 3.7 blocks per game and enables Johnnies guards to apply pressure, knowing he’s waiting by the rim if guards blow by their men.
19 - Michigan State: Spartans haven’t defeated a ranked opponent and won’t face another until opening Big Ten play vs. Maryland, if the Terps are still ranked Dec. 30.
20 - North Carolina: Tar Heels hung tough at Kentucky in 14-point loss and won second half buy a point. Theo Pinson’s three-pointer with 10:23 left drew Heels within nine with 10:23 left, but Wildcats quickly pushed it back to double figures and kept it there. Moral victory for UNC? Not quite, but not a discouraging effort either. “I thought they dictated what we did on the offensive end with their athleticism, quickness, strength and size,” UNC coach Roy Williams said afterward. That gives Roy’s team something in common with every other Kentucky opponent.
21 - Notre Dame: Fighting Irish play a soft non-conference schedule, too soft to properly prepare them for the rigorous ACC. Best long-range play for Domers: Join the Big 12 with BYU.
22 - Baylor: Add the Bears to the list of schools that have the potential to give KU problems in the paint. If Johnathan Motley’s breakout performance in a victory against a much improved Texas A&M squad gives him confidence he can use to fuel him to more consistent performances, look out. Motley, a 6-9, 230-pound red-shirt freshman from Houston, dominated the Aggies with 22 points and 11 rebounds in 23 minutes. He made 9 of 16 field goals. That’s 22 more points than Motley delivered in a combined 27 minutes vs. Texas Southern and Vanderbilt. Motley, ranked No. 110 by Rivals in the Class of 2013, added more than 20 pounds during his red-shirt season. His wingspan has been measured at 7-3. He and wide-body Rico Gathers complement each other well when Motley is on his game.
23 - San Diego State: Struggling Aztecs had to outscore so-so Long Beach State team 19-10 in the closing minutes just to pull out a one-point victory at home.
24 - Miami, Fla.: Kansas State transfer Angel Rodriguez led Hurricanes with 17 points in 70-39 victory vs. Savannah State. K-State could have used Rodriguez six days later against Savannah, which was within single figures with inside eight minutes remaining before Wildcats pulled away for 20-point victory.
25 - California: Bears have one loss, but haven’t played much of a schedule, other than a 14-point victory vs. Syracuse and a 16-point loss to Texas.
Facing a tough week with a Wednesday road game at Georgetown and a Saturday game at Sprint Center against No. 13, the Jayhawks start the week as the No. 10 team in the Associated Press college basketball poll released Monday. Kansas moved up one spot from last week.
The top 25 teams in the AP poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Dec. 7, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week’s ranking:
Record Pts Prv
- Kentucky (64) 9-0 1,600 1
- Duke 8-0 1,518 4
- Arizona 8-0 1,486 3
- Louisville 7-0 1,319 5
- Wisconsin 8-1 1,316 2
- Virginia 9-0 1,285 7
- Villanova 8-0 1,173 10
- Texas 7-1 1,155 6
- Gonzaga 7-1 1,145 9
- Kansas 6-1 1,083 11
- Wichita St. 5-1 929 8
- Ohio St. 6-1 808 14
- Utah 6-1 717 25
- Iowa St. 5-1 668 20
- Butler 7-1 593 23
- Oklahoma 5-2 557 22
- Washington 7-0 428 _
- San Diego St. 6-2 390 13
- Maryland 8-1 370 21
- Miami 8-1 359 15
- North Carolina 6-2 350 12
- West Virginia 8-1 313 16
- N. Iowa 8-0 232 _
- St. John’s 6-1 211 _
- Notre Dame 8-1 200 _
Others receiving votes: Michigan St. 120, Illinois 91, Georgetown 62, Iowa 60, Seton Hall 57, Baylor 49, TCU 45, Colorado St. 28, Arkansas 22, California 19, Michigan 14, Creighton 7, VCU 6, LSU 5, Indiana 3, NC State 3, Old Dominion 2, Dayton 1, Yale 1.
My top 25 ballot:
1 - Kentucky: The thoroughbred owners weren’t angry yet when the Texas game was 26-26 at the half. Maybe a little nervous, but fury was on one knee in the on-deck circle. Then the best defensive team in college basketball in years showed its fangs and in the first 8:59 of the second half, the Wildcats outscored the Longhorns, 18-2.
2 - Duke: Finally, the voters realize that the Blue Devils have been the second-best team in the nation all season. It took them shooting .652 from the field and .583 from three in a 10-point victory vs. Wisconsin for everyone to see what should have been obvious. Hands off my back and back on the keyboard.
3 - Virginia: Since the start of conference play last season, the Cavaliers are 30-3. Tony Bennett has brought the Virginia program from rags to riches in the ACC. Bennett doesn’t draw the attention of more established ACC peers such as Coach K, Rick Pitino, Roy Williams and Jim Boeheim, but that’s OK. he doesn’t mind being the stranger in paradise.
4 - Arizona: Brandon Ashley outscored Gonzaga, 6-2, in the final 3:03 of regulationa nd T.J. McConnell bettered the Zags, 6-3, in overtime.
5 - Wisconsin: Leave Josh Gasser to help elsewhere and he’ll make you regret it. He’s shooting .464 from three.
6 - Louisville: Cards pestered Ohio State into shooting .304 because that’s what they do.
7 - Texas: They tied Kentucky for a half, which isn’t half bad. If Cameron Ridley could find a way to rev his motor a little louder, Longhorns could take a step or two up the rankings.
8 - Gonzaga: Przemek Karnowski, a 7-1, 288-pound center from Pland. Kyle Wiltjer, a 6-10 transfer from Kentucky. Domantas Sabonis, a skilled 6-10 freshman from Lithuania. Kevin Pangos, a drive-and-dish senior point guard who doesn’t turn it over. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Zags could be team best equipped to upset Kentucky in the tournament. Taking Arizona to overtime in Tucson did nothing to make that seem outlandish.
9 - Kansas: I asked freshman Devonte Graham what the coach’s tone was like at halftime when KU was down 15 points in its comeback victory against Floriday. Graham looked down, smiled and said, “It wasn’t pretty good.” It worked.
10 - Villanova: Schedule about to heat up for Jay Wright’s team. Next seven opponents: Illinois, Temple, Syracuse, NJIT, Butler, Seton Hall, St. John’s. De Paul and Xavier, teams with a combined 51-17 record. Only NJIT has a losing record and it’s coming off a victory at Michigan.
11 - Wichita State: No shame in losing by a point in overtime in the Huntsman Center to a very good Utah squad.
12 - Washington: Huskies defend the whole court well. Opponents shooting .244 on three-point shots, .375 inside the arc.
13 - San Diego State: Aztecs scored school-worst 36 points in 13-point loss at Washington and shot .246 from the field, making int second time they have missed three-quarters of their shots.
14 - Utah: Utes represent a tough out Saturday at Sprint Center. Coming off a one-point, overtime victory vs. visiting Wichita State, Utes will try to make it 2-0 against Kansas schools Saturday in Sprint Center.
15 - Ohio State: Facing intense Louisville defense in nine-point loss will help Buckeyes to get better, especially point guard Shannon Scott (five turnovers, 1 for 7 shooting).
16 - Maryland: Fifth-tallest team in the coungtry, per kenpom.com.
17 - Iowa State: Cyclones three-point shooting percentage in five victories: .402. In one loss: .222.
18 - St. John’s: Senior D’Angelo Harrison leads the team with 18.4 points and ranks second with 8.1 rebounds and shoots .372 from three. Johnnies won by a dozen at Syracuse behind Harrison’s 24 points.
19 - Oklahoma: One of four legitimate contenders for the Big 12 title, the Sooners slammed Missouri, 82-63.
20 - Michigan State: Best three-loss team in the country, but coach Tom Izzo won’t be passing out trophies for that honor.
21 - Butler: One of many Big East teams off to good starts, Bulldogs have defeated North Carolina and Georgetown. Lone loss to Oklahoma.
22 - North Carolina: Brice Johnson totaled 19 points and 17 rebounds in confidence-building rout of East Carolina.
23 - Notre Dame: Fighting Irish backcourt tandem of Jerian Grant and Demetrius Grant combined for 49 points in one-point overtime victory against Michigan State.
24 - Baylor: It’s difficult to see a Baylor basketball jersey without thinking about the coolest NBA draft moment ever. NBA commissioner announced Isaiah Austin as the NBA’s draft choice. Diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, Austin can’t ever play basketball again because of the risk of stressing enlarged arteries in the heart.
25 - Northern Iowa: UNI is 2-0 in overtime games played against schools named after men (Stephen F. Austin and George Mason).
Understandably, the college football playoff selection committee didn't have the guts to omit undefeated Florida State from its four-team playoff and because of that, no Big 12 team will have a shot at the national title.
TCU dropped from third to sixth after a 55-3 victory against Iowa State. Baylor moved from sixth to fifth, after defeating Kansas State.
"They were really 3 a,b,c and d," selection committee chairman Jeff Long told ESPN. "They were really that close."
It was not difficult to predict correctly in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep the order the committee would seed the teams: 1. Alabama, 2. Oregon, 3. Florida State, 4. Ohio State.
But that's not how I would have voted. I would have had Baylor in there instead of Florida State.
Some will call for the Big 12 to apply for an exception that would allow a 10-team conference to have a playoff game or for the conference to expand to 12 teams. Instead, encouraging conference members to beef up their non-conference schedules is the way to go.
Florida State beat every team it played and nobody else can say that.
Under normal circumstances, that ought to be enough to keep playing for a national title. But with a six-team logjam with only four national-playoff spots available, it’s time for the selection committee members to toss out all conventional thinking and vote based on one parameter.
Each member needs to ask herself or himself: Which four teams are the best in the nation?
Based on that, here’s how I would vote:
1. Ohio State: Nobody had a more impressive victory this season than the Buckeyes’ 59-0 domination of a good Wisconsin team that features the nation’s best running back, Melvin Gordon. And the Buckeyes did it with their third-string quarterback.
Heisman hopeful Braxton Miller lost his entire season to injury. J.T. Barrett played his way into Heisman contention before going down with an injury. Cardale Jones led the Buckeyes to the Saturday night romp of the Badgers.
2. Oregon: Leading Heisman candidate Marcus Mariota (38 touchdown passes, two interceptions) passed for 300-plus yards for the seventh time in Friday’s 51-13 blasting of No. 7 Arizona. Nobody has more speed than the Ducks.
3. Alabama: The Crimson Tide defense is second to none.
4. Baylor: The Bears defeated TCU, always the best tie-breaker.
Florida State didn’t lose a game but probably would have lost a couple if it played in the SEC or Big 12.
Those are my four best teams in the nation and that’s how I would vote. That’s not how I think the committee will vote. The six teams are so close, so let the screaming about the need to expand the field to eight begin.
Best guess on how the committee will seed the first playoff: 1. Alabama, 2. Oregon, 3. Florida State, 4. Ohio State. Nick Saban and Urban Meyer coaching in one semifinal, last season’s Heisman Trophy winner, Jameis Winston going against Mariota, this season’s Heisman favorite in the other semi.
No matter what the committee decides, two schools will be furious and will have plenty to back up their feelings. If this were an eight-team playoff, two schools would feel fortunate to join the six college football teams that stand at the front of the class. This season's outrage will make the eight-team format arrive sooner even than no doubt secretly planned, which is why I'm happy two schools' fan bases will be furious starting today and ending maybe never.
Many across the country might have asked, “Who is David Beaty?” upon learning that Kansas has identified him as its first choice to become next football coach at a school coming off its worst five-year record in history.
High school football coaches in talent-rich Texas need not ask the same. That is the No. 1 reason why KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger chose the Texas A&M recruiting coordinator/wide receivers coach to lead the program.
Zenger is gambling that Beaty, who has just one year of college experience as offensive coordinator, can woo Texas talent to Lawrence better than any KU coach ever has.
Beaty, 44, is a 1994 graduate of Lindenwood College in St. Charles, Mo., where he led the team in receptions for three consecutive seasons.
He played football and soccer at Garland (Texas) High, so maybe he can finally recruit a placekicker he can trust in games.
He first became a head coach at North Dallas High in 2001, where he finished with a 6-4 record. From there, he went to MacArthur High (2002-05), where he went 33-11 in four seasons as head coach.
Next up was the first of two stints at Rice, where he was wide receivers coach in 2006 and 2007.
Beaty joined Mark Mangino’s staff at Kansas for the 2008 and 2009 seasons as wide receivers coach. Turner Gill did not retain him, but brought him back to KU a year later, after Gill’s first wide receivers coach left for Texas.
Beaty wasn’t out of work for long and was brought back to Rice as OC in 2010, when the Owls finished 52nd in the nation with 28.7 points per game, 64th in total offense with 374 yards per game and 64th with 215.9 passing yards per game. He left for Texas A&M after one season.
Beaty has a reputation for being good with generous boosters and fans in general. He and wife, Raynee, have two daughters, Averie and Alexa.
Minnesota coach Jerry Kill has a strong record for turning around losing programs. He is a native Kansan, from Cheney to be exact. He played college football in Kansas (Southwestern). He coached college football in Kansas at Pittsburg State and Emporia State. Plus, he has a colorful personality.
In short, if Kansas decides it would rather have an experienced head coach than interim head coach Clint Bowen, Kill would be the perfect choice to tackle the challenge of reviving a football program that just finished its worst five-year stretch in history.
Kill, 53, is in his fourth season at Minnesota and has the Golden Gophers (8-4) headed to a bowl game for the third season in a row.
Everywhere Kill has coached, he steadily produces better records from year-to-year.
Saginaw Valley State: 6-4, 7-3, 7-3, 9-2, 9-2.
Emporia State: 5-6, 6-5.
Southern Illinois: 1-10, 4-8, 10-2, 10-2, 9-4, 9-4, 12-2.
Northern Illinois: 6-7, 7-6, 10-3.
Minnesota: 3-9, 6-7, 8-5, 8-4.
Now that he has Minnesota moving in the right direction, why would he want to take on an even bigger challenge in trying to get Kansas back into bowl games when playing a schedule that features facing every Big 12 team every season?
Excellent question. But if he is interested in the job, don’t look for him to coach the Gophers in a bowl game before moving. He left Northern Illinois without coaching in a bowl game and took most of his staff with him when he headed to Minnesota, including defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys, who made a strong impression when he took over as acting head coach when Kill took a leave of absence as he recovered from seizures. Kill four times suffered from seizures on game days, but has not had any such issues this season.
Claeys, from Claeys Center, also is a strong candidate for a head coaching job.
Kansas University won the eight-team Orlando Classic with three victories, but remained No. 11 in the weekly Associated Press college basketball poll.
The AP top 25, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Nov. 30, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week's ranking:
Record Pts Prv
- Kentucky (62) 7-0 1,622 1
- Wisconsin (3) 7-0 1,511 2
- Arizona 6-0 1,488 3
- Duke 7-0 1,475 4
- Louisville 5-0 1,260 6
- Texas 6-0 1,254 7
- Virginia 7-0 1,196 8
- Wichita St. 4-0 1,165 9
- Gonzaga 6-0 1,133 10
- Villanova 6-0 1,075 12
- Kansas 5-1 1,063 11
- North Carolina 5-1 864 5
- San Diego St. 5-1 784 15
- Ohio St. 5-0 759 16
- Miami 7-0 697 17
- West Virginia 7-0 601 21
- Michigan 5-1 454 19
- Arkansas 6-0 438 25
- Michigan St. 5-2 423 20
- Iowa St. 3-1 330 13
- Maryland 7-0 306 _
- Oklahoma 4-2 254 _
- Butler 5-1 222 _
- Illinois 6-0 104 _
- Utah 5-1 88 _
Others receiving votes: N. Iowa 83, UConn 76, Oklahoma St. 69, Providence 56, VCU 52, Syracuse 49, Florida 40, Georgetown 30, Creighton 29, Washington 17, NC State 12, Wyoming 10, California 8, Seton Hall 5, St. John's 5, Nebraska 4, Baylor 3, UCLA 3, Mississippi 2, Old Dominion 2, TCU 2, Notre Dame 1, Saint Mary's (Cal) 1.
My AP top 25 ballot:
1 - Kentucky: Points scored by last three opponents: 28, 44, 38. Next up is Texas on Friday in Lexington.
2 - Duke: Blue Devils shoot .601 from inside the arc, .387 from outside it and turn it over on just 13.6 percent of their possessions, fourth best in the country, per kenpom.com. They also rebound 41.2 percent of their misses. Crazy efficient.
3 - Wisconsin: Duke visits Wednesday night in a possible preview of Final Four teams. Must-watch game in a week packed with many.
4 - Arizona: The Wildcats made 20 of 24 foul shots, compared to 13 of 24 from San Diego State in a two-point game. Practice your free throws.
5 - Virginia: Held Rutgers to 26 points, making it four times in eight games that the Cavaliers have held the other team to 42 or fewer points.
6 - Louisville: Cards shoot just .586 from the line and .240 from three, yet would be a No. 2 seed if brackets came out today. How does that compute? They play incredible defense. Three-point defense (.194) best in nation, two-point defense and turnover rate eighth-best. Opponents are so exhausted trying to figure out how to score on Rick Pitino’s relentless competitors that they can’t even shoot free throws (.533). Maybe that last stat has a little to do with a weak schedule so far.
7 - Texas: If the Longhorns can’t give Kentucky a game Friday, what does that say about their chances of winning the Big 12? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
8 - Gonzaga: A Saturday trip to Arizona represents chance for Zags to show they belong in the Top 10.
9 - Wichita State: Shockers have nation-best 35-game winning streak in games played in the regular season. Last loss was March 2, 2013 at Creighton.
10 - Kansas: Freshman Cliff Alexander’s averages per 40 minutes played: 20.7 points, 12.9 rebounds, 3.2 blocks, 4.6 personal fouls. He and Perry Ellis playing well together. If Alexander can play with same aggression and curb fouls a little the dynamic duo will be able to team up more often.
11 - Villanova:Defense elevates this team. ‘Nova does such a good job of challenging shots in the paint that opponents make just 38 percent of their two-point attempts.
12 - San Diego State: A check of weather.com shows that temperatures will fluctuate more than usual in san Diego this week. Tuesday’s forecast calls for a high of 68, followed by 69 on Wednesday, 68 on Thursday and back to 69 on Friday.
13 - Ohio State: Freshman D’Angelo Russell leads team in scoring (18.0), ranks second to Shannon Scott in assists (5.4) and steals (1.8) and is second to Marc Loving in three-point percentage (.483). If Russell can score Tuesday night on Louisville, he can score on anybody. Well, maybe not Kentucky.
14 - North Carolina: Lost to Butler, but bounced back with victories against UCLA and Florida to take fifth place in the Bahamas tourney. Kennedy Meeks, the 6-foot-9, 280-pound sophomore, produced 18 points, 13 rebounds against Florida.
15 - Maryland: Coach Mark Turgeon, in the wake of five transfers, said he would reassess his coaching style to stem the trend. Maybe he did, or maybe it’s easier to win without disgruntled players weighing themselves down with selfish motives. Terps are undefeated with victories against Arizona State and Iowa State. Freshman Melo Trimble has played so well that nobody’s crying about the departure of starting point guard Seth Allen.
16 - Michigan: Next up for Wolverines, Syracuse, in Tuesday night game in Ann Arbor. Three-point shooters can burn many zones, but not Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 variety that gets out on shooters. Syracuse almost as good at defending the three (.266) as it is poor at shooting threes (.198).
17 - Iowa State: It doesn’t pay to foul Georges Niang. He’s made 23 of 25 free throws. Maryland kept him off the line (1 for 2) and won by nine points.
18 - Michigan State: Spartans coach Tom Izzo delivered the quote of the week when asked about whether Branden Dawson’s flu could have been a factor in his poor shooting game (4 for 15) against Kansas: “A dead man can make a layup.”
19 - Miami, Fla.: Big 12 transfer update: Sheldon McClellan (Texas) and Angel Rodriguez (Kansas State) combining for 31.6 points, .456 three-point shooting.
20 - West Virginia: Turgeon and Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins won’t be holding mutual pity party over rash of offseason transfers. They rather like the players they’re coaching. Huggins, a 100-percent genuine article, is one of the easier guys for whom to root in the coaching business. Ditto for Turgeon.
21 - Arkansas: Thursday night game at Iowa State a must-watch between contrasting styles. Outcome could say plenty about both teams’ worthiness in top 25.
22 - Utah: Deadly from three (.446), Utes do a great job of drawing fouls. Wichita State pays Wednesday night visit to Huntsman Center to play Utes. Winner of this one will be rewarded for it on Selection Sunday.
23 - Oklahoma State: Cowboys not getting national love yet, in part because of soft schedule, but also because the nation hasn’t caught on to the big impact from 5-11 LSU transfer Anthony Hicks.
24 - UConn: Huskies led Texas until Jonathan Holmes hit a three-pointer from the left baseline with two seconds left for a one-point victory.
25 - Illinois: Rayvonte Rice, a native of Champaign, was not offered a scholarship by his hometown school when Bruce Weber coached there. John Groce, Weber’s replacement at Illinois, had tried to get him to commit to Ohio. Instead, he started for two seasons at Drake and then said yes to Groce the second time. In his second season with the Illini, Rice leads the team with 17.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.8 steals and a .571 three-point shooting percentage. He produced 17 points, seven rebounds and three steals in eight-point victory against Baylor. Big game coming up Tuesday at Miami.
If Sheahon Zenger decides that Clint Bowen is not the best man to reverse the fortunes of a football program in the midst of its worst five-year record and saddled by a 2015 roster woefully thin in quantity and quality, look for the following in the background of the coach to whom Zenger turns:
1 - A leader with a background working on offense.
2 - A coach who knows the Big 12’s most fertile recruiting areas of Texas and Oklahoma and would have concrete ideas on how to assemble a staff that has well-placed contacts.
3 - A man with experience leading a turn-around program.
4 - Inside knowledge of what works and what doesn’t in the KU football program.
Third-year Memphis coach Justin Fuente never worked for the KU football program, but he meets all the other criteria.
Fuente, 38, inherited a program that had a 5-31 record in the previous three seasons and, according to the Associated Press, had 51 scholarship players upon his arrival, a figure similar to what KU will have this spring.
Typically, it takes at least three years to show positive signs when starting in such a deep hole. The Tigers (8-3 overall, 6-1 in the American Athletic Conference) are riding a five-game winning streak. Unless upset by UConn on Saturday, the Tigers will win the conference and have their first-game winning streak since 1969. Fuente went 4-8 and 3-9 in his first two seasons at Memphis.
His three losses this season: At UCLA, 42-35, at Ole Miss, 24-3, at home vs. Houston, 28-24.
A native of Tulsa, Fuente played quarterback at Union High and then at Oklahoma. He won the job and lost it a couple of times with the Sooners and then transferred to Murray State, where he excelled.
Fuente was hired by Illinois State as quarterbacks coach in 2001. By the time Zenger was hired as ISU’s AD, Fuente was the offensive coordinator. He left there for TCU.
He doesn’t have the Kansas ties that Clint Bowen, Ed Warinner and David Beaty bring to the job interview, but Utah State head coach Matt Wells does have similar passion, a trait the past two KU football bosses lacked, and he has experience as a head coach.
Wells has been at the school four seasons, worked as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach in 2011, and was recruiting coordinator/quarterbacks coach in 2012. He is 18-8 as a head coach, not including his five seasons spent as Navy’s head coach of the junior varsity squad (1997-2001), a secondary job to working as an offensive assistant.
A native of Sallisaw, Oklahoma, Wells, 41, played quarterback for Utah State, from which he graduated in 1996. After Navy, he spent five seasons at Tulsa (2002-2006), where his duties included recruiting coordinator. Two seasons at New Mexico, a year at Louisville, back to New Mexico for one season and then off to his alma mater to coach for Gary Andersen. During his time as Andersen’s OC, Utah State amassed impressive passing numbers.
Does the geography make sense? The off-the-cuff answer would be no. A deeper probe suggests Wells did a nice job of either maintaining or rekindling the Texas recruiting ties he established during his time at Tulsa. Nine players on the Aggies roster are from Texas.
Consider for comparison purposes that Chad Morris, the highest-paid assistant coach in the nation who came to college football after 16 years as an extremely successful high school football coach in Texas. He works for Clemson, which does not have a single player from the Lone Star state on the roster. Morris and Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman are considered the leading candidates at SMU, but Herman might be in play at Florida as well.
Wells has gained a reputation as an outstanding recruiter and has handled the transition from assistant coach to head coach well.
Kansas dropped six spots to No. 11 in the Associated Press college basketball poll in the wake of a 72-40 loss to No. 1 Kentucky, which received 62 of a possible 65 first-place votes. Wisconsin received the other three first-place votes.
The top 25 teams in the AP poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Nov. 23, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week's ranking:
Record Pts Prv
- Kentucky (62) 5-0 1,622 1
- Wisconsin (3) 4-0 1,494 3
- Arizona 3-0 1,491 2
- Duke 5-0 1,474 4
- North Carolina 3-0 1,314 6
- Louisville 3-0 1,219 7
- Texas 4-0 1,187 10
- Virginia 4-0 1,165 9
- Wichita St. 3-0 1,120 11
- Gonzaga 4-0 1,077 13
- Kansas 1-1 981 5
- Villanova 3-0 917 12
- Iowa St. 2-0 828 14
- VCU 3-0 760 15
- San Diego St. 3-0 736 16
- Ohio St. 3-0 557 20
- Miami 5-0 521 _
- Florida 2-1 473 8
- Michigan 3-0 401 24
- Michigan St. 2-1 399 19
- West Virginia 5-0 344 _
- UCLA 4-0 173 _
- Creighton 4-0 148 _
- UConn 3-1 144 17
- Arkansas 3-0 131 _
Others receiving votes: Oklahoma 109, Stanford 80, Providence 63, Utah 38, Minnesota 21, N. Iowa 17, Rhode Island 16, Syracuse 15, Oklahoma St. 14, Georgetown 10, Memphis 10, Baylor 7, Indiana 6, California 5, Illinois 5, Nebraska 5, Cincinnati 4, NC State 4, Wyoming 4, Dayton 3, Maryland 3, UTEP 3, BYU 2, Northeastern 1, Xavier 1.
My AP top 25 ballot:
1 - Kentucky: For Kentucky to reach its outrageous potential, point guard Andrew Harrison and twin Aaron Harrison, a shooting guard, must play 32 minutes a game. The four post players can split time equally and play physically without fear of foul trouble and not have to pace themselves, but the twins are such a dynamic duo, they’ll need to play more eventually. No shortage of extremely athletic candidates can fill the reserve backcourt and small forward minutes.
2 - Duke: Blue Devils took care of Michigan State, Temple and Stanford, all by double figures. Five games in, freshman point guard Tyus Jones has a 5-to-1 assists-to-turnover ratio, the team’s shooting .417 from three, freshman Jahlil Okafor and junior Amile Jefferson combine for 7.4 offensive boards a game and strong perimeter defender Quinn Cook averages 17 points, shoots .486 from three and has a 5.2-to-1 assists-to-turnovers ratio. In other words, the Blue Devils are strong on the perimeter and in the paint.
3 - Arizona: T.J. McConnell, the 6-foot-1 point guard who started his career at Duquesne, not only sets up the big men on a tall roster, he helps them out on the boards. In a 17-point victory against a good UC Irvine team, McConnell totaled 12 points, nine rebounds, four assists and six steals.
4 - Wisconsin: Preseason All-American Frank Kaminsky leads a talented team in scoring (19.3), rebounding (10.3), steals (1.3) and blocks (2.8), is second in assists (2.8) and third in three-point percentage (.444). Duke’s Dec. 3 visit to Kohl Center represents Badgers’ first serious test.
5 - Virginia: Opponents averaging 46.7 points per game against Cavaliers, who hunt shots patiently and hit them at a .415 clip from three-point land.
6 - Texas: Point guard Isaiah Taylor, who had shown signs of a much improved three-point shot to add to his ability to break down a defense, suffered a broken wrist that will cause him to miss most or all of the rest of the nonconference schedule. Barring setbacks, he’s expected to return right about the time Big 12 season arrives. Thanks to experienced junior Javan Felix, the Longhorns are better equipped than most to withstand the stretch without Taylor, but the injured sophomore is a first-team All-Big 12-caliber player.
7 - Gonzaga: At 6-10, Lithuanian freshman Domantas Sabonis, 18, is five inches shorter than his father, Arvydas Sabonis, a 7-3 European basketball legend before joining the Portland Trailblazers at age 31. The son appears to have inherited his father’s feel for the game. Domantas clearly knows a good shot from a bad one. He has an active streak of 14 consecutive field goals made. He leads the Zags in scoring (14), rebounding (7.5), field-goal pct. (.759) and free-throw percentage (.750).
8 - North Carolina: Tar Heels sixth-best offensive rebounding team in the nation, snagging 46.6 percent of their misses, compared to national average of 31.6, per kenpom.com.
9 - Louisville: Shy on shooting — .619 from the line, .219 from three so far — the Cardinals will use smothering defense and other ways to win big.
10 - Wichita State: Shockers play great defense. Memphis committed 24 turnovers in 15-point loss to Wichita State.
11 - Villanova: So far, 32.1 percent of opponents’ possessions have ended in a turnover, the fourth-best figure in the country.
12 - Virginia Commonwealth: Prediction: Tonight’s game vs. Villanova will be decided in the fourth overtime. Both teams shoot a lot of threes, force a lot of turnovers.
13 - Kansas: The statistic that best captured the 32-point loss to Kentucky: The Jayhawks had the exact same number of shots blocked (11) as they made.
14 - Iowa State: Sophomore guard Monte Morris is off to terrific start. He’s averaging 37.5 minutes and 16.5 points and is shooting .647 overall and .667 from three.
15 - San Diego State: Steve Fisher looks to have one of the nation’s top defensive teams, which is a good thing because the Aztecs aren’t the greatest collection of shooters. In 53-49 victory against Utah, Aztecs shot just .327.
16 - Ohio State: Super quick guard Shannon Scott has embraced the role of playmaker, dishing more than looking to score. He set a school record with 16 assists in Sunday night a rout vs. Sacred Heart and he’s averaging 9.3 points and 13.7 assists.
17 - Michigan: Junior Spike Albrecht, who scored 17 points and made four three-pointers in the first half of a title-game loss to Louisville two seasons ago, isn’t off to as hot a start this year. He has scored 12 points in 77 minutes so far.
18 - Michigan State: Senior guard Travis Trice off to a monster start. He’s averaging 17.7 points and has hit half of his three-point shots.
19 - Miami, Fla.: Angel Rodriguez, the point guard who transferred from Kansas State, scored 24 points and hit a three-pointer with 16 seconds left to spark the Hurricanes’ victory at Florida. Another Big 12 transfer, Sheldon McClellan from Texas, also played a big role in the upset with nine points, seven rebounds and five assists.
20 - Arkansas: Mike Anderson making his old coach Nolan Richardson proud by coaching a defense that makes it tough for teams to take care of the ball. As hard as his players plays, particularly defensively, they need to take breathers. Anderson substitutes frequently and has 10 players averaging at least 15 minutes.
21 - UCLA: Sometimes the coach’s son plays a lot because he’s the coach’s son. Not the case here. Bryce Alford strokes it like his father Steve used to for Indiana. Bryce has made all 12 of his free throws and half of his three-point shots and is averaging 21 points, 10.7 assists and 1.7 steals.
22 - West Virginia: Bob Huggins’ coaching style isn’t for everyone and plays a part in a high transfer rate. Star Eron Harris and Terry Henderson were the latest to leave the program in the offseason. But give Huggins players with thick enough skin to take his brutal honesty and improve from it and Huggins will squeeze the most out of a team. The Mountaineers are off to a 5-0 start. After WVU harassed UConn into 19 turnovers in a 78-68 victory in Puerto Rico, Huggins said what he liked about his team.
“I’ve got my kind of guys again,” Huggins said. “I’ve got guys that are just going to keep swinging, you know?”
23 - Utah: If you like a player who does a little bit of everything, watch Utes 6-5 guard Delon Wright, who averages 11 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 3.0 steals and 1.7 blocks.
24 - Georgetown: Senior Josh Smith, the Hoyas’ 6-10, 350-pound center who started his career at UCLA is off to a strong start. He’s averaging 17.3 points and 8.3 rebounds and will have a chance Wednesday to show what he can do against Florida.
25 - Oklahoma State: Anthony Allen, Jr., a 7-footer from Kingston, Jamaica, was the leading shot-blocker a year ago with 6.2 blocks a game. He’s not a scorer, but in 18.3 minutes a game is averaging 10 rebounds and 3.3 blocks a game. Is 7 for 7 from the field. But he’s going to have to do a better job of checking his temper to maximize his contributions to the Cowboys. He already missed a game because of a Flagrant 2.
Ohio State lost four starting offensive linemen, including three NFL rookies, from last season’s team. It showed in a 35-21 loss to Virginia Tech in the season opener for both teams.
That seemed like a distant memory when the Buckeyes went into East Lansing and buried then-No. 8 Michigan State, 49-37, nine weeks later.
Clearly, Ohio State offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator Ed Warinner knows how to develop linemen. He knows offense, period. As he showed in three years at Kansas with Todd Reesing at quarterback, he also knows how to coordinator a pass-happy offense.
Everywhere else he has been, the lines he has coached produced big rushing numbers. The Buckeyes rank 14th in the nation with 263.1 rushing yards per game.
Warinner coached on offenses that led the nation in rushing at Army (three times) and at Air Force. He worked twice for Mark Mangino, first as offensive line coach and then after returning from Illinois he was offensive coordinator. With Reesing standing short and playing tall and Warinner coordinating the spread offense and calling the plays, KU had its three best offenses in history in terms of yards per game and passing yards per game.
He spent two years at Notre Dame and has been at Ohio State the past three seasons.
Warinner has worked under head coaches Brian Kelley and Urban Meyer, considered two of the best in the business. At Michigan State, he worked as a graduate assistant for defensive coordinator Nick Saban, who stands at the top of his profession.
Starting with 2007 at Kansas, the teams for which Warinner has worked the past eight seasons have posted a .740 winning percentage.
Can he recruit? Rivals.com thinks so and named Warinner a 2014 Rivals Top 25 recruiter.
Warinner’s daughters, Madisyn and Merideth, worked at the KU football complex.
Warinner has proven all can as an assistant coach and is primed for his first head-coaching job. His chances would be better of that happening at KU if not for Bowen making such a good impression thus far. Sometimes, possession is nine-tenths of the law.
It's amazing how many Kansas basketball fans have lost sleep over Kelly Oubre playing just four minutes in the season-opening, 10-point victory against UC Santa Barbara. It was one game, not even 3 percent of basketball season.
Whatever point Self made in limiting Oubre's minutes, the freshman McDonald's All-American either adjusted or he'll continue to spend long stretches on the bench until he gets the point. For all we know, Oubre already has worked his way out of a short stay in the doghouse, every coach's favorite word to read in the newspaper.
Self has not revealed the identity of his fifth starter tonight and it won't come as a surprise if it's Brannen Greene, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk or Devonte Graham, playing with Frank Mason, Wayne Selden, Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor.
But if I had to guess the identity of tonight's fifth starter against Kentucky, I'd say Oubre. He didn't like sitting for 36 minutes, so my guess is he gave Self what he wanted of him in practice. If Oubre does start, it doesn't hurt Kansas than Kentucky hasn't seen more than four minutes of regular-season game action to learn how Self wants to use him.
If Self had more showmanship in him, he would substitute his entire starting lineup two minutes into the game, beating John Calipari to the punch, just for laughs. It would last forever as one of the most memorable moves in Champions Classic history, lead every SportsCenter and add juice to the already strong Self-Calipari rivalry. Self's too old-school for that. Every move will be designed at trying to win tonight's game. Maybe even every move he made last game had a little of tonight in mind as well.
Ten Big 12 players, four from Kansas, make Wooden Award preseason top 50 list; UCSB’s Alan Williams snubbed
I wonder how John Wooden, in some ways the most famous name in the history of college basketball, would feel about the list of preseason candidates for the player of the year award that bears his name being based on NBA potential, not college performance.
Actually, having seen him coach and be interviewed on TV many times, I don’t wonder. Surely, he would not like it.
Yet, the preseason list of 50 candidates for the Wooden Award, released Monday, three days after the season started, had an omission that anyone who spent Friday night in Allen Fieldhouse would agree is unfortunate.
UC Santa Barbara center Alan Williams is not on a list that four Kansas players made: freshmen Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre, sophomore Wayne Selden and junior Perry Ellis.
Kansas defeated UCSB, 69-59, and in the process did a nice job of defending Williams. The senior finished with 22 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots. He scored 10 of his points in the final 5:16.
Oubre played four minutes and didn’t score a point or pick up a rebound. That’s not to say he won’t develop into a fine player by midseason, but that’s why the midseason Wooden Award watch list and allows for midseason adjustments. Twenty-five will make that cut and all the names don’t have to come from the original 50.
Williams ranked 12th in the nation in scoring (21.3) and second in rebounding (11.5) last season, but that didn’t merit top 50 status. Shame.
Interestingly, the Big 12, not the ACC, had the most candidates (10), followed by the ACC (eight), and the Big Ten and SEC (7).
The other Big 12 players on the list, listed in alphabetical order by player’s last name: Marcus Foster (Kansas State), Buddy Hield (Oklahoma), Georges Niang (Iowa State), Juwan Staten (West Virginia), Isaiah Taylor (Texas), Myles Turner (Texas).
Kansas and Kentucky (Willie Cauley-Stein, Aaron and Andrew Harrison, freshman Karl Anthony-Towns) are the only schools with as many as four players. Wichita State’s Fred Van Vleet is among the 50, which makes Kansas the only state represented by three different schools.
Kansas, which remained No. 5 in the Associated Press college basketball poll, faces No. 1 Kentucky in the second game of a Champions Classic doubleheader, in Indianapolis. No. 4 Duke faces No. 19 Michigan State in the first game.
The top 25 teams in The Associated Press' college basketball poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Nov. 16, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week's ranking:
Record Pts Prv
- Kentucky (49) 2-0 1,574 1
- Arizona (4) 2-0 1,491 2
- Wisconsin (7) 2-0 1,475 3
- Duke (4) 2-0 1,422 4
- Kansas 1-0 1,306 5
- North Carolina 2-0 1,254 6
- Louisville 1-0 1,130 8
- Florida 1-0 1,127 7
- Virginia 2-0 1,065 9
- Texas 2-0 1,061 10
- Wichita St. 1-0 1,002 11
- Villanova 1-0 858 12
- Gonzaga 1-0 841 13
- Iowa St. 1-0 746 14
- VCU 1-0 654 15
- San Diego St. 1-0 564 16
- UConn 1-0 525 17
- Oklahoma 1-0 466 19
- Michigan St. 1-0 443 18
- Ohio St. 1-0 361 20
- Nebraska 1-0 298 21
- SMU 1-0 290 22
- Syracuse 2-0 190 23
- Michigan 1-0 177 24
- Utah 1-0 118 25
Others receiving votes: Stanford 63, Colorado 52, Iowa 48, UCLA 41, Kansas St. 29, Arkansas 23, Memphis 11, Minnesota 11, Notre Dame 10, Pittsburgh 10, Louisiana Tech 9, Dayton 7, Florida St. 6, NC State 6, Oklahoma St. 6, Cincinnati 5, George Washington 5, LSU 5, Illinois 3, Maryland 3, BYU 2, Baylor 2, UTEP 2, Georgetown 1, N. Iowa 1, Stephen F. Austin 1.
My AP top 25 ballot:
1 - Kentucky: If John Calipari could convince all nine McDonald’s All-Americans to return in 2015-16, SMU coach Larry Brown would predict a 75-0 season, instead of 45-0.
2 - Duke: Jahlil Okafor, a 6-11, 270-pound freshman from Chicago, averages 18 points and 7.5 rebounds. He’s made 85 percent of his shots and looks like a guy who really enjoys playing basketball.
3 - Arizona: The Pac-12 school in Tucson is one of seven schools appearing in AP’s top 25 in both basketball and football, joining Duke, Oklahoma and four Big Ten schools (Wisconsin, Michigan State, Ohio State and Nebraska).
4 - Wisconsin: Two games in, underrated sophomore Nigel Hayes from Toledo has 23 rebounds.
5 - Kansas: Which KU player will earn the most money in the NBA over the next 15 years? I’ll say Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, even though others will get a head start on him. And you say?
6 - Texas: Sophomore point guard Isaiah Taylor made made five three-pointers all of last season, four two games into this season. And 6-foot-11, 240-pound freshman Myles Turner has played 40 minutes, totaling 25 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocked shots. The Longhorns are loaded and shape up as legitimate national-title contenders.
7 - North Carolina: The academic scandal looks worse with every breaking story.
8 - Wichita State: Tekele Cotton has improved significantly every year and if his season debut (17 points, five rebounds, three steals) was an accurate indication, he’s primed for a big senior year.
9 - Louisville: None of the 15 players on the three All-American teams returned this season, so somebody had to be named preseason All-American. Montrezl Harrell, the 6-foot-8, 240-pound junior from Tarboro, North Carolina, seemed as good a choice as any. He certainly played like an All-American in delivering coach Rick Pitino a victory over son Richard. Harrell attempted 12 shots from the field and scored 30 points. He made 3 of 4 three-pointers and 9 of 10 free throws.
10 - Florida: The Gators are in the market for a football coach, which means the basketball team can fly under the radar for a while. Anybody else rooting for Steve Spurrier to return to Gainesville?
11 -Virginia: Big bodies, soft long-range shooting touches and a patient offensive approach combine to frustrate opponents who tend to fall behind and stay behind, getting tighter and tighter as the game clock shows less and less time.
12 - Villanova: Will need to shoot better than it did against Lehigh (8 for 33 from three) to win games in Big East, but did do other things well to compensate. In 77-66 victory, Wildcats limited Lehigh to four offensive rebounds and committed nine turnovers to the Mountain Hawks’ 23.
13 - Iowa State: Georges Niang, a tough guy to guard, is even tougher with improved conditioning, more experience and the team’s need for him to be the go-to guy. He totaled 30 points, nine rebounds and five assists in the Cyclones’ season-opening, 11-point victory against Oakland. And UNLV transfer Bryce Dejean-Jones, a 6-6, 210-pound scorer from Los Angeles, didn’t waste any time fitting in, with 20 points and 11 rebounds in his debut.
14 - Virginia Commonwealth: In scoring a 16-point victory against Tennessee, the Rams didn’t shoot well or take care of the basketball (18 turnovers), but they rebounded an amazing 47 percent of their misses.
15 - Gonzaga: Kyle Wiltjer, a 6-foot-10, 240-pound shooter, read the writing on the wall, which spelled the names of lottery picks galore, and bolted Kentucky, where he had averaged 10.2 points as a freshman. Nothing happened in his Zags debut to make him question that move. He scored 18 points and made 3 of 5 threes in 20 minutes against Sacramento State.
16 - Nebraska: Terran Petteway scored 25 points and made 6 of 9 threes in season-opener. Coming off averaging 18.1 points a year ago for the Cornhuskers, Petteway scored just 3.1 points a game as a freshman at Texas Tech.
17 - San Diego State: Coach Steve Fisher, an easy guy for whom to root, needs two more victories to reach the 500 milestone. His sixth won Michigan a national championship.
18 - SMU: Larry Brown will go down as one of the greatest coaches in basketball history and he wasn’t too shabby as a player. After playing for North Carolina, Brown was one of the original ABA players. In fact, Brown led the ABA in assists in each of the league’s first three seasons. He still sees the floor as well as anybody.
19 - Ohio State: Freshman guard D’Angelo Russell turned down Arizona, Florida, hometown Louisville and North Carolina to join the Buckeyes. He’s exactly what Ohio State needed, having its top three scorers from a team that needed scoring. A 6-5 lefty shooting guard, Russell debuted with a team-high 16 points and six assists.
20 - Oklahoma: TaShawn Thomas, a beast of a scorer and rebounder (15.4, 8.1) at Houston last season, has been granted immediate eligibility, which puts one more hurdle in KU’s way on its quest for an 11th consecutive Big 12 championship. He only had four points in 23 minutes in his Sooners debut, but he’ll be a force in time.
21 - Connecticut: The Huskies’ first title defense battle went better than that of Buster Douglas nearly a century ago, but not a whole lot better. Huskies had to get off the deck from a six-point deficit at the half to defeat Bryant, 66-53.
22 - Michigan: Wolverines opened season against Hillsdale College, a Div. II school in Michigan. The Wolverines shot threes (11 for 19) much better than they defended them (10 for 23).
23 - Notre Dame: Rough, rough ACC baptism for the Fighting Irish a year ago (15-17 overall, 6-12, tied for 11th in ACC), but that could be traced to Jerian Grant’s academic ineligibility for most of the season. He averaged 19 points a game. He and fellow senior Pat Connaughton give the Irish a great tandem at forward and sophomore guard Demetrius Jackson makes the team play at a fast pace.
24 - Michigan State: Putting the Spartans on the ballot is a reflex, but after they snuck by Navy by just eight points it’s worth wondering whether they deserve it, especially considering Notre Dame wasted the 25. Midshipmen by 39 points.
25 - Syracuse: The Washington Generals weren’t available so the Orange opened the season slaughtering Kennesaw State by 47 points and Hampton by 18.
I don’t think UC Santa Barbara will upset Kansas in tonight’s season-opener in Allen Fieldhouse. The home-court advantage is much greater in the fieldhouse than most places — especially in home openers, in which KU has won 41 in a row. Plus, Kansas has greater depth of talent.
But I will say that this sort of experience imbalance fits the profile of a March Madness upset. Two players on the floor tonight best illustrate the challenge for a young, elite school trying to defeat an experienced mid-major with a star player, and the challenge the mid-major faces in trying to overcome a raw talent disparity.
UCSB senior Alan Williams, all 6-foot-8, 265 pounds of him, ranked 12th in the nation with 21.3 points per game and second with 11.5 rebounds.
Kansas freshman Cliff Alexander, all 6-8, 240 of him, ranked fourth per rivals.com among Class of 2014 recruits.
Both men have long wingspans — Williams 7-1-1/2, Alexander 7-3 — and Alexander is a more explosive jumper, a faster runner, blessed with better lateral quickness. Alexander can do certain things Williams never will be able to do because he has a more athletic body. Alexander can’t yet do many things Williams can, such as know how to make himself available in the post to receive passes for easy buckets, because he didn’t need to develop sophistication in his game to dominate. Properly sealing his man for an over-the-top pass is a reflex to Williams from any spot in the post. It’s something Alexander is learning on a daily basis at the big-man laboratory that on an annual basis is as good as any in the country. Williams knows how to draw fouls and avoid them. Alexander is learning how to do that.
Williams, who won’t play as difficult a schedule as Alexander, will produce more consistently. Alexander, coming off the bench tonight, will have help if he ever guards Williams. (Kansas likely will start with Jamari Traylor on him). During his time on the floor last season, Williams took 37.17 percent of his team’s shots, fifth-highest figure in the nation. So how does Kansas stop him tonight? The first step includes rattling the guards into throwing the ball away, even using full-court pressure at times.
“Williams is a great guy at getting angles,” Self said. “He scores before he catches. He’s a man down there. And he goes after the ball like a man. We haven’t had a man compete like he’ll compete against us, even in practice guarding each other, because he really gets after it.”
Nobody expects Alexander at this stage of his career to be as good at putting himself into easy scoring position as Williams, but nothing would make Alexander’s coach happier than if he duplicated the Gauchos All-American candidate in one area.
“You guys see him when the lights are on in the games,” Self said of Alexander. “I see him every day, and I will tell you this: I want him to be much more aggressive than what he’s been, but he is an aggressive-by-nature guy.”
Beyond Traylor and Alexander, Kansas has shot-blocker Hunter Mickelson and physical Landen Lucas are available to throw different looks at Williams.
Post defense ranks high among Self’s list of concerns about his shorter-than-usual roster and the Jayhawks are hit with a big test right off the bat, thanks to Williams.
“I wonder a lot about it and our length,” Self said. “He’s plenty good enough that if you play behind, he catches it and scores over you. If you front him, he’s great at sealing and they throw over and they look to do that, so we’re going to have to be pretty alert on the weak side, that’s for sure.”
UC Santa Barbara went 21-9 overall and 12-4 in the Big West last season, good for second place behind UC Irvine.
Michael Bryson, a 6-4, 201-pound junior, averaged 11.5 points a year ago and shot .417 from three-point range. Kyle Boswell, a 6-2 senior guard, averaged 10.4 points and shot .429 from three.
“Williams is their star, but Byron is a really good player, too, and he can move around the post, he’s a good three-point shooter, good athlete and they’re really quick on the perimeter,” Self said. “And they can stretch it the majority of the game at four spots, so it’ll be hard to trap the post and do things like that.”
After totaling 39 points, nine rebounds and eight blocked shots in an 83-64 rout of South Dakota State last December, the humble Williams showed he is as comfortable in front of a microphone as he is in the paint.
Finally, Charlie Weis’ strategy of recruiting transfers from four-year schools has significantly upgraded one unit of the Kansas University football program.
Receivers Nick Harwell (Miami of Ohio) and Nigel King (Maryland) have had a chance to show their talent since Michael Cummings took over at quarterback, halfway into Clint Bowen’s first game as interim head coach, at West Virginia.
Sophomore Montell Cozart played the first four games and half the fifth game, so he and Cummings both have started four-and-a-half halves.
Cummings faced tougher competition (West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Baylor, Iowa State) than Cozart (Southeast Missouri State, Duke, Central Michigan, Texas, West Virginia). The remaining three games (TCU, at Oklahoma, at Kansas State) give Kansas the toughest remaining schedule in the nation, according to computer rankings.
A look the quarterbacks’ numbers:
Cozart...... 64-128-701-50.0%-5.48-5................ 61-128
Cummings 94-158-1,160-59.5%-7.34-5............ 103-142
Now a look at the top three receivers, including senior tight end Jimmay Mundine:
Harwell In halves started by Cozart: 16-121-2
Harwell in halves started by Cummings: 21-280-2
Mundine in halves started by Cozart: 10-119-0
Mundine in halves started by Cummings: 23-281-2
King in halves started by Cozart: 6-92-0
King in halves started by Cummings: 17-276-0
Since Cummings took over at quarterback, Mundine (281), Harwell (280) and King (276) are within a five-yard span in reception yardage totals, an indication of how well Cummings has spread the wealth.
Before Harwell and King came to KU, the Jayhawks didn’t get much production out of transfers Dayne Crist and Anthony McDonald of Notre Dame, Jake Heaps of Brigham Young and Josh Williams of Nebraska. UCLA transfer T.J. Millweard remains third on the quarterback depth chart.
A pair of players who took advantage of the rule that enables graduated players to transfer without sitting out a year have done well after leaving Kansas. Defensive back Tyler Patmon played well for the Oklahoma State Cowboys and recently had a pick-six for the Dallas Cowboys.
Andrew Turzilli, who clocked the second-fastest 40 time on the team, ranking behind only Tony Pierson last spring, has used his speed to make big plays for Rutgers. He has just eight catches for the Scarlet Knights, but three of them have gone for touchdowns and he’s averaging an eye-popping 38.1 yards per catch. Four of his receptions have gone for 36 yards or more and he had a 93-yard TD catch vs. Tulane and an 80-yard catch against Michigan.
Turzilli’s a big target and deep threat, but the way Harwell and King are playing for KU, he would have had difficulty finding playing time.
The temptation for any hot-shot assistant college football coach is to take the first head-coaching offer that comes along, especially if it’s in a glamour conference such as the Big 12.
But with Kansas projecting to have such a weak roster for next season and with so little success in the past five seasons, it will be difficult for any coach to recruit top prospects and win games right off the bat.
A hot coaching prospect’s star fades faster than that.
Baylor coach Art Briles’ remarkable turnaround has been driven by an offense that perennially ranks among the best in the nation.
Philip Montgomery, 42, worked under Briles at Stephenville High, at the University of Houston and for the past seven seasons at Baylor, where he has been the Bears’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the past three seasons.
At Baylor, Montgomery always has the offensive mastermind Briles as a resource, a talented quarterback, fleet wide receivers, talented running backs and an efficient offensive line.
Going from that to the talent at Kansas might be a shock to his system.
Then again, Montgomery has had a front-row seat to Briles’ path from coaching a program with a losing tradition to one that is a perennial power on a national level.
Working for the charismatic Briles, Montgomery has remained in the shadows. He doesn’t appear to enjoy being dragged out of his comfort zone and interviews are not in his comfort zone. He doesn’t do very many of them. That begs the question of whether he would enjoy all that comes with being the head coach, the face of the program. If Montgomery has a colorful personality behind his stoic veneer, he would have to remove the mask as head coach at Kansas, which doesn’t sell out its football games and needs all the promotion it can get.
It also is a bit more of a risk taking a coordinator who works for a head coach whose strength is on the same side of the ball. In contrast to Montgomery, TCU's Doug Meacham works for Gary Patterson, a coach with a revered defensive mind.
On the positive side, Montgomery knows what a good quarterback looks like, having tutored Case Keenum and Kevin Kolb at Houston and Robert Griffin III, Nick Florence and Bryce Petty at Baylor. Those are great ties to talk up in a visit with recruits.
Another plus: More than 20 head high school football coaches in Texas either played for or coached for Briles, so their first call when they coach or play against an extremely talented sophomore, goes to Briles. He can’t take everybody. Maybe Montgomery would get the second call and upgrade the caliber of Texas recruits heading to Kansas.
TCU ranked 88th in the nation in scoring offense in 2013 with 25.1 points a game and ranks second now with 48 points per game. Same head coach. Same quarterback. Different offensive coordinators.
Doug Meacham and former Texas Tech quarterback Sonny Cumbie were hired in December as co-coordinators to install the Air Raid offense invented by Hal Mumme and made more famous by Mike Leach and then Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.
Meacham, 49, was hired away from Houston, where he spent one season as the OC. Before that, he spent eight seasons as an offensive assistant at Oklahoma State, his alma mater. He landed that job after coordinating offenses at Samford, Henderson State, Jacksonville State, Georgia Military College.
As an offensive lineman for Oklahoma State, he earned all-conference honors, started 35 consecutive games and blocked for Thurman Thomas and Barry Sanders.
Meacham, 49, “is going to be the next hot guy and be a head coach,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy told the Oklahoman in the days leading up to TCU’s 42-9 rout of the Cowboys.
Horned Frogs junior quarterback Trevone Boykin threw seven touchdown passes and seven interceptions and averaged 6.8 yards per attempt in 2013. This season, Boykin has thrown 22 touchdowns, four interceptions and averaged 7.8 yards per attempt under the tutelage of Meacham and Cumbie.
Meacham never has been a head coach. Could he handle the multi-tasking required? Does he have the right demeanor to establish discipline, etc., or is he just an offensive guru? I don’t know, but if you’re doing a comprehensive search, you might as well put him on your long list and try to find the answers to those and many more questions.
Meacham has recruited Texas and Oklahoma and with Houston spanned the country seeking the right fits for the Air Raid offense.
Let me start with a disclaimer: When I write about potential fits for the Kansas University football coaching job, which might not even come open if Clint Bowen shows he’s the best man for the job, I’m not saying athletic director Sheahon Zenger is considering the coach. I’m just turning over every stone as would any AD searching for a coach.
Today, let’s consider the profile of the youngest of the 128 Football Bowl Subdivision head coaches.
His name is P.J. Fleck. He is 33. And his Western Michigan football team that went 1-11 in 2013, his first year, is 6-3 and in contention to win the Mid-American Conference title. Fleck is one of three former NFL players (South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier, Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury heading an FBS program.
A wide receiver at Northern Illinois, from which he graduated in 2004, Fleck compiled one statistic as an NFL player when he returned a punt 10 yards for the 2004 San Francisco 49ers.
Enough about his playing career, it’s his fast rise as a coach that has generated headlines.
He first worked as a graduate assistant for Jim Tressell at Ohio State in 2006. From there, he went to Northern Illinois and worked as wide receivers coach (2007-09) and recruiting coordinator (2009) and gained a reputation as an energetic, effective recruiter. Fleck spent the next two seasons working for Joe Novak for one season, current Minnesota coach Jerry Kill for two. Next, the ambitious Fleck went to work at Rutgers (2010-11) for Greg Schiano and followed Schiano to the NFL and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2012).
Western Michigan, a Mid-American Conference in Kalamazoo, hired Fleck on Dec. 18, 2012, charging him with the task of rebuilding the program. Nobody had any right to expect him to deliver this quickly.
Western Michigan ranks 37th in the nation with 457.1 yards of offense per game and 36th with 34.6 points per game.
Fleck turns 34 on Nov. 29, which seems awfully young to tackle a Big 12 job. Then again, Ara Parseghian was 32 when he left his MAC job at Miami of Ohio for Northwestern, Woody Hayes 36 when he left Miami for Ohio State and Glen Mason 37 when he left Kent State for Kansas.
A native of Sugar Grove, Illinois, Fleck’s recruiting contacts are in Big Ten country, not Big 12, which didn’t stop Mason from doing well at Kansas.
Turner Gill came to Kansas from Buffalo, a MAC school, and went 5-19 in two seasons.