Posts tagged with Ku

Tinsley Tracker: Following KU catcher Michael Tinsley’s chase for .400

Kansas catcher Michael Tinsley is chasing that magic mark of .400 at the plate and we'll track his sprint to the finish right here.

Kansas catcher Michael Tinsley is chasing that magic mark of .400 at the plate and we'll track his sprint to the finish right here. by Matt Tait

Junior catcher Michael Tinsley's chase for .400 took a pretty big hit on Tuesday night, when he finished 0-for-3 during the Jayhawks' 7-6 loss at Wichita State.

Tinsley, who has been in a bit of a mini-slump since watching his average climb above .400 in the final game of KU's series with Texas Tech, struck out twice and also scored a run in the loss to the Shockers.

He now will need to finish the season on a major hot streak if he's going to get back above the magic number.

KU, which sits a game and a half behind the Wildcats and Baylor Bears for the eighth and final spot in the conference tourney, now has three conference games remaining in the regular season (Thursday through Saturday at Oklahoma State), giving Tinsley just three more guaranteed games to attempt to finish at or above .400.

We won’t be there for all of Tinsley’s at-bats, but we will track his chase for .400 in this blog right here, as he attempts to become the first Jayhawk since Joe DeMarco in 1997 (.439) to finish a season above .400 and just the seventh Jayhawk to accomplish the feat since 1971.

Let's take a look...

Updated Batting Average: .386

Name: Michael Tinsley
Year: Junior
Position: Catcher
Measurables: 6-foot, 194 pounds
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Multi-hit games: 25

Most recent outing: 0-for-3 in 7-6 road loss at Wichita State on Tuesday, May 17.

Details: Tinsley scored a run in the loss, but also struck out twice during his hard-luck night. As has been the case throughout his recent cool stretch, Tinsley hit a couple of balls right on the sweet spot but also right at WSU defenders. He clearly continues to see the ball well but needs to see the ball start finding some gaps again if he's going to make a run at .400.

Up next: 6:30 p.m. Friday at Oklahoma State.

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Is a new, red, Jayhawk-themed helmet in the works for KU football?

New KU commitment Jay Dineen, a senior-to-be at Free State High, poses with a new-look KU football helmet during a visit to campus before committing to the Jayhawks.

New KU commitment Jay Dineen, a senior-to-be at Free State High, poses with a new-look KU football helmet during a visit to campus before committing to the Jayhawks. by Matt Tait

Recruiting news, be it on the basketball front or the football trail, always seems to drum up serious interest from fans of Kansas University athletics.

And this week certainly has provided plenty of excitement. Second-year KU football coach David Beaty and company landed three oral commitments from athletes in the 2017 recruiting class, including local standout Jay Dineen, the younger brother of current KU linebacker Joe Dineen and a senior-to-be at Free State High in Lawrence.

Wide receivers Kaltuve Williams, of New Orleans, and Reggie Roberson, of Dallas, rounded out the commitments — thus far — bringing KU’s total in the class of 2017 to six, four of which are three-star prospects according to Rivals.com.

While all of the accolades and numbers associated with these players certainly speak for themselves, one of the more subtle moments of the aftermath of their commitments might be just as interesting to KU fans.

A couple of hours after Dineen committed to Kansas on Monday night, his mother, Jodi, a former KU volleyball player herself, posted a photo of Dineen at KU’s Anderson Family Football Complex, presumably during one of his visits to campus.

In it, Dineen is sporting his Free State letter jacket and holding a football helmet that features a wild design representing the Kansas mascot — big blue eye, shiny red sheen, gold facemask.

Could this be the unofficial unveiling of a new KU football helmet for the 2016 season and beyond? It obviously won’t be KU’s permanent helmet, but maybe it’ll be used for one of those throwback or gimmick games, when the team wears something out of the ordinary to get the players and fans fired up and, of course, sell more merchandise.

Over the years I’ve seen a bunch of fan mock ups of what KU’s football helmets should look like. Some have been pretty slick and others have fallen just short of horrendous.

This helmet that Dineen is showing off, at least to me, lies somewhere in between the two and I wouldn’t mind for a second seeing the Jayhawks take the field for a game or two wearing these bad boys.

I tried to get ahold of a couple of people in the football office who might be able to provide more details, but they were out. Beaty and a few others are in Tulsa tonight talking to KU supporters in the Sooner State so it’s possible they were en route as I wrote this.

I'm guessing it's just one of those one or two-of-a-kind helmets they make up for recruiting purposes and won't actually be used on game day. I know KU and pretty much every other major college football program likes to create these types of things to get the recruits jacked up when they come tour campus.

I’ll jump back on here with an update if/when I get some kind of answer. For now, enjoy imagining what 100 of these helmets might look like lining the west sideline at Memorial Stadium.

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Tinsley Tracker: Following KU catcher Michael Tinsley’s chase for .400

Kansas catcher Michael Tinsley is chasing that magic mark of .400 at the plate and we'll track his sprint to the finish right here.

Kansas catcher Michael Tinsley is chasing that magic mark of .400 at the plate and we'll track his sprint to the finish right here. by Matt Tait

One day after going hitless for just the second time since April 5, KU catcher Michael Tinsley returned to the hit column in KU's series finale at Kansas State.

Tinsley, who actually made four plate appearances in Sunday's 8-5, rubber-match loss to the Wildcats, recorded an RBI sacrifice fly in the third inning to give KU a 4-0 lead. He also scored a run in the loss.

Tinsley was back behind the plate after being removed from Saturday's lopsided 12-2 loss late in the game in order to give the Jayhawks' top hitter a little extra rest.

KU, which fell a game and a half behind the Wildcats and Baylor Bears for the eighth and final spot in the conference tourney, now has three conference games remaining in the regular season (Thursday through Saturday at Oklahoma State) and a single non-conference match-up with Wichita State, giving Tinsley four more guaranteed games to attempt to finish at or above .400.

We won’t be there for all of Tinsley’s at-bats, but we will track his chase for .400 in this blog right here, as he attempts to become the first Jayhawk since Joe DeMarco in 1997 (.439) to finish a season above .400 and just the seventh Jayhawk to accomplish the feat since 1971.

Let's take a look...

Updated Batting Average: .392

Name: Michael Tinsley
Year: Junior
Position: Catcher
Measurables: 6-foot, 194 pounds
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Multi-hit games: 25

Most recent outing: 1-for-3 in 8-5 road loss at K-State on Sunday, May 15.

Details: Tinsley's up and down day at the plate included a walk in the first inning on a full count, the RBI sac fly in the third, a fly-out to center field in the fifth and a bunt single on the first pitch of his at-bat in the Top of the 7th inning. Later, with the leadoff batter reaching first base after a walk in the Top of the 9th with KU trailing 8-5, Tinsley grounded into a 1-6-3 double play to all but put an end to KU's hopes of a late rally. From here, if Tinsley were to average four at-bats per game during the final four games of KU's regular season, he would need to record eight or more hits down the stretch to bring his average back above .400.

Up next: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday night at Wichita State.

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Tinsley Tracker: Following KU catcher Michael Tinsley’s chase for .400

Kansas catcher Michael Tinsley is chasing that magic mark of .400 at the plate and we'll track his sprint to the finish right here.

Kansas catcher Michael Tinsley is chasing that magic mark of .400 at the plate and we'll track his sprint to the finish right here. by Matt Tait

KU catcher Michael Tinsley’s quest to finish the season above .400 took a blow and a break on Saturday in Manhattan.

Tinsley, who was removed late in the game for some extra rest heading into Sunday’s huge series finale, was part of a KU offense that struggled for most of the night in a 12-2 loss at Kansas State.

Outside of freshman outfielder Devin Foyle, who had three of KU’s six hits in the game, the Jayhawks were shut down and never really threatened to pick up a victory that would have been both huge for the weekend and the Jayhawks’ chances for qualifying for the Big 12 tournament in Oklahoma City.

KU, which fell back to a half game behind the Wildcats for the eighth and final spot in the conference tourney, now has four conference games remaining in the regular season and one match-up with Wichita State, giving Tinsley five more guaranteed games to finish at or above .400.

We won’t be there for all of Tinsley’s at-bats, but we will track his chase for .400 in this blog right here, as he attempts to become the first Jayhawk since Joe DeMarco in 1997 (.439) to finish a season above .400 and just the seventh Jayhawk to accomplish the feat since 1971.

Let's take a look...

Updated Batting Average: .393

Name: Michael Tinsley
Year: Junior
Position: Catcher
Measurables: 6-foot, 194 pounds
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Multi-hit games: 25

Most recent outing: 0-for-3 in 12-2 road loss at K-State on Saturday, May 14.

Details: The Wildcats held Tinsley hitless for just the 10th time all season and only the second time since April 5. He grounded out twice and flied out once before being replaced behind the plate by sophomore Tanner Gragg. Tinsley now needs a 3-for-4 effort in today’s series finale to pull his average back up to .400.

Up next: Game 3 of the Sunflower Showdown, 1 p.m. today at Kansas State.

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Tinsley Tracker: Following KU catcher Michael Tinsley’s chase for .400

Kansas catcher Michael Tinsley is chasing that magic mark of .400 at the plate and we'll track his sprint to the finish right here.

Kansas catcher Michael Tinsley is chasing that magic mark of .400 at the plate and we'll track his sprint to the finish right here. by Matt Tait

The Kansas baseball team picked up a huuuuuuge Game 1 victory at Kansas State on Friday night, riding the strong pitching of senior ace Ben Krauth to victory.

Junior catcher Michael Tinsley managed one hit in four official at-bats and helped the KU offense do just enough to bring home the victory.

The win improved KU to 6-12 in Big 12 play and dropped the Wildcats to 6-13, giving Kansas a half-game lead in the race for the final spot in the Big 12 tournament later this month.

KU now has five conference games remaining in the regular season and one match-up with Wichita State, giving Tinsley six more guaranteed games to finish at or above .400.

We won’t be there for all of Tinsley’s at-bats, but we will track his chase for .400 in this blog right here, as he attempts to become the first Jayhawk since Joe DeMarco in 1997 (.439) to finish a season above .400 and just the seventh Jayhawk to accomplish the feat since 1971.

Let's take a look...

Updated Batting Average: .399

Name: Michael Tinsley
Year: Junior
Position: Catcher
Measurables: 6-foot, 194 pounds
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Multi-hit games: 25

Most recent outing: 1-for-4 in 4-1 road win at K-State on Friday, May 13.

Details: KU's red-hot catcher stepped into the box five times in the victory over K-State and hit the ball hard three times but managed just one hit. As is expected when a player is swinging the bat as well as Tinsley has been, he was intentionally walked in the 7th inning, a move that helped produce a two-run 7th for the Jayhawks that padded their lead to 4-1. His lone hit came in the fifth when he singled through the right side on a 1-2 count to drive in Joe Moroney.

Up next: Game 2 of the Sunflower Showdown, 6:30 p.m. tonight at Kansas State.

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Tinsley Tracker: Following KU catcher Michael Tinsley’s chase for .400

Kansas catcher Michael Tinsley is chasing that magic mark of .400 at the plate and we'll track his sprint to the finish right here.

Kansas catcher Michael Tinsley is chasing that magic mark of .400 at the plate and we'll track his sprint to the finish right here. by Matt Tait

There are all kinds of numbers and statistics in the game of baseball that stand alone and are universally recognized as milestones that dozens of baseball players chase year after year.

Few are as powerful as the .406 batting average delivered by legendary Boston Red Sox slugger Ted Williams in 1941, the last time a Major League Baseball player finished a season above .400.

Kansas City Royals legend George Brett came close in 1980, finishing that year at .390, but the quest for .400 has remained elusive and, with pitchers only getting more powerful, seems to more of a longshot than ever.

That’s at the Major League level. In college, although hitters top .400 on a much more regular basis because there are fewer games, fewer at-bats and fewer top-quality pitchers, hitting the milestone is still something to write home about, and, this season, the Kansas baseball team has one guy chasing the mark.

His name is Michael Tinsley, he’s a junior catcher from Menlo Park, California, and, with a 2-for-3 effort in a losing effort against Texas Tech on Saturday, he brought his average to exactly .400 for the season.

Tinsley followed that up with a 2-for-4 effort against Tech in the series finale on Sunday and pushed his average to .402 with seven guaranteed games remaining.

KU plays a three-game series at Kansas State this weekend and then will play one game at Wichita State next week before closing the regular season with a three-game set at Oklahoma State.

We won’t be there for all of Tinsley’s at-bats, but we will track his chase for .400 in this blog right here, as he attempts to become the first Jayhawk since Joe DeMarco in 1997 (.439) to finish a season above .400 and just the seventh Jayhawk to accomplish the feat since 1971.

Let's take a look...

Updated Batting Average: .402

Name: Michael Tinsley
Year: Junior
Position: Catcher
Measurables: 6-foot, 194 pounds
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Multi-hit games: 25

Most recent outing: 2-for-4 in 6-3 home loss to Texas Tech on Sunday, May 8.

Details: Tinsley, who has worked hard on going to the opposite field all season, singled to left on a 2-2 count in the bottom of the first inning. In the bottom of the fifth, Tinsley repeated the feat, singling to left on a 2-2 count with one out. Tinsley also walked in the seventh and grounded out in the fifth and ninth.

Up next: Friday night at Kansas State.

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10 reasons why Bill Self is not leaving Kansas for the Houston Rockets

ESPN’s Marc Stein sent a jolt through the Kansas University basketball world on Wednesday when he Tweeted that the Houston Rockets are “intrigued” by the idea of Bill Self as their next head coach.

As many have mentioned on Twitter already, just because the Rockets are intrigued by Self does not mean Self is intrigued by the Rockets’ opening. What’s more, Stein has a long list of names on the Rockets “wish list” and most of them are guys with NBA experience, which the Rockets seem to value in their search.

Sure, it’s possible that Self could one day explore the idea of coaching in the NBA. Many believe that it’ll happen eventually in San Antonio, where his good buddy R.C. Buford runs the team. And even Self has talked about what a special situation Oklahoma City is, in his home state, with a couple of world-class talents like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. But those jobs are not available at the moment and I just can’t imagine Houston being the situation that makes Self jump.

So, without further ado... 10 reasons why Bill Self is not leaving Kansas for the Houston Rockets:

1. Josh Jackson – There’s no way Self worked as hard as he did to land Jackson to say goodbye before he ever gets the chance to coach him. Especially not in exchange for the roster the Rockets have.

2. Big 12 title streak still in tact – We all know that it’s March success that gets remembered, but this Big 12 title streak is a big deal and there’s no reason to think it’s going to end any time soon. It’s not like he’ll stay to see it through the 27 in a row (or will he?) but I think passing UCLA and putting that kind of stamp on the history books is meaningful.

3. Have you seen James Harden “play defense” – Enough said. The guy is an amazing offensive talent, but he has no interest in playing defense — or even faking it — and I can’t imagine Self or anyone else getting through to him and changing that. And we all know how Self feels about players who don't play D.

4. More hardware, please – I’ve always thought (and heard) that winning a second national championship means a lot to Self. And until he gets one, I can’t see him going anywhere. There have been a lot of college coaches who have won one title. A lucky run, a hot streak or one strong recruiting class or player can deliver the trophy. But the coaches who have won multiple NCAA titles put themselves in elite company and I believe Self wants to be and belongs in that group. Add to that the fact that KU is positioned to be right there again at the end of the 2016-17 season and it’s easy to see him sticking around.

5. Tyler Self – It’s not as if Self’s son still being on the roster would prevent the coach from taking an amazing opportunity elsewhere. But it is a factor and this is not an amazing opportunity. Tyler has come this far and I can’t imagine Self choosing to bail during his son’s final season on the team.

6. Dwight Howard has to be a factor – Self loves big guys, but I don’t think he would love Howard. The Houston center has been a big time problem everywhere he’s been for the past several years and, even though he possesses all the talent and physical skill in the world, there’s just something missing there and I can’t imagine adding the Howard headache to your daily duties would be something anyone who already has a great job would want to take on.

7. Seniors matter – Much the same way Roy Williams had a hard time saying goodbye to Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison the first time he was offered the job at North Carolina, I think it would be tough for Self to say goodbye to guys like Frank Mason and Landen Lucas. Those two might not be as talented as Hinrich and Collison, but Self has been through a lot with both of them and respects them so much. Ditching them would be tough to do.

8. Money – I’m not sure what the Rockets could or even would offer to pay Self, but you can bet Kansas would do everything in its power to get close to that number to keep him around. So don’t think that this decision — if and when it ever happens — will be about money.

9. Big fish, little pond – Self likes being the man and as long as Kansas is winning he always will be the man in Lawrence, not to mention college basketball. Moving to Houston puts him in the position of having to compete — in a much bigger market — with the likes of the up-and-coming Houston Astros and the Houston Texans. Sure, Houston will support a winner in any and every sport, but those two programs are in great shape right now and definitely steal some of the thunder from the Rockets on an annual basis. There’s nothing stealing Self’s thunder in Lawrence and it just keeps rumbling louder and louder year after year.

10. Because he’s the friggin head coach at Kansas – Year after year, people love to discuss Self heading to the NBA. And it may happen some day. But it also may not. Self has a great gig, is king of the world in Kansas and has this thing rolling. Besides, just last year he talked about how he thought the program was on the verge of turning a corner for landing a ton of big time recruits. Why would anyone leave a situation like that?

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It’s gotta be the shoes

When people used to talk (and probably still do) about a school’s footwear of choice playing a role in the decision-making process of top-ranked basketball recruits, I used to think they were crazy.

I mean, are we really living in a world where a young man might pass on going to Kansas because the Jayhawks are an adidas school and he would prefer to wear Nike?

I guess in some ways we are. And as sad as that is for so many reasons, it still is not entirely true.

After all, that was the scuttlebutt during the recruitment of Andrew Wiggins a couple of years ago. Because Wiggins’ Huntington Prep crew wore Nike, there was talk that the Jayhawks had no shot at landing him because he was not going to wear adidas.

That, of course, turned out not to be true. Wiggins came to KU, wore adidas everything for 10 months and, after being drafted No. 1 overall in the 2014 NBA Draft, signed a deal to have his own adidas line and become one of the few faces of the company’s basketball brand, joining such NBA stars as Derrick Rose, John Wall, Damian Lillard and, in years gone by Tracy McGrady and Kobe Bryant.

I’m not a huge shoe guy. Don’t get me wrong. I like the looks of so many of them and enjoy scouting out who wears what and how they look on the floor. But rarely do I commit such information to memory and, when it comes to slapping sneaks on my own two feet, I keep it pretty simple and shoot for comfort, price and functionality as my main criteria.

Benton Smith is our resident shoe guy here at KUsports.com and while I know his shoe game has helped him build a rapport with all kinds of KU athletes during the past several years, I’ve also heard from more than a few people who believe Benton may have a problem. He tends to do that. If you ever run into him or anyone who knows him, feel free to ask about last summer’s phenomenon known as “Jerseys July.”

Anyway, back to the shoes and why I’m even writing this.

As I said, I used to think that these things did not matter. After all, they’re just shoes. And it’s not as if KU, by signing a lucrative, long-term deal with adidas, is asking its athletes to wear low-top Kangaroos with the zippers on the sides that put them at a disadvantage. Nike, adidas, Under Armor, they all make quality shoes that are worn and trusted by some of the best athletes in the world.

So Nike here, adidas there, who cares, right?

Well, evidently at least one former Jayhawk does. Wayne Selden Jr., who, last month, announced that he would forego his senior year and head to the NBA Draft on Monday night posted a photo of himself working out at a training facility in California.

The post, which popped up on Selden’s Twitter feed (@WayneSeldenJ) highlighted the work Selden has been putting in leading up to the June draft and featured a photo of him shooting a jumper in a gym.

There, toward the bottom of the photo, Selden’s shoes jumped off the screen at me. Instead of the adidas kicks that he’s been wearing for the past three years, Selden was rocking a pair of black Nikes. (I’m sure Benton could tell you in two seconds what kind they were).

What does all of this mean? Nothing, I suppose. I just found it interesting that he would be working out in Nikes when he spent the past three years playing and training in adidas gear.

To be fair, this could have been a one-time thing or Selden could be wearing both brands depending on the type of workout he’s doing.

Either way, I guess the shoes really do matter to these guys.

I'm sure a much bigger concern for Selden today, however, is putting in the work required to be selected in this summer's draft.

As things stand today, DraftExpress.com has Selden listed as a second-round pick, No. 42 overall to Utah. Seems like a safe bet that he'll fall somewhere in that range, but if he does enough to impress teams at the pre-draft workouts, he could slide into the late first round and high 20s.

It should be interesting to track his path along with the paths of fellow former Jayhawks Cheick Diallo, Perry Ellis and possibly Brannen Greene.

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Which version of Frank Mason was better? 2014-15 or 2015-16?

The speculation from most fans and observers regarding Kansas guard Frank Mason throughout the 2015-16 KU men’s basketball season was that some kind of nagging injury might have been bothering him during various portions of the Jayhawks’ run to a 33-5 record and trip to the Elite Eight.

There certainly were times when Mason, a junior from Petersburg, Virginia, looked a little off of his game and did not play at the same level that he had during his stellar sophomore season.

Mason, like the consistently solid player he has proven to be, always found a way to contribute and, more importantly, always bounced back from those rough stretches, but it seemed to me and most of the people I talked to about Mason throughout the season that he was not playing at quite the same level as a junior as he did as a sophomore.

With the season now in the past and my curiosity racing, I checked out Mason’s stats from both seasons to see how they compared.

The result? It turns out Mason is way more consistent than I even realized.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) floats in for a bucket past Texas Tech forward Zach Smith (11) during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) floats in for a bucket past Texas Tech forward Zach Smith (11) during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

In the 25 statistical categories kept every season for each player, Mason stayed the same or improved in 20 of them.

The entire lot will be outlined a little later, but, for now, let’s focus on the five categories in which he took a step backwards.

• FG percentage — Mason shot .434 as a junior, seven tenths of a percentage point lower than his .441 average as a sophomore. The interesting thing about this stat, however, is that Mason both took and made more shots during his junior season, with the higher number of attempts creating the slightly lower shooting percentage. It’s also worth noting here that Mason, who played in and started every game during the past two seasons, received the benefit of two more games as a junior because the Jayhawks advanced two rounds farther in the NCAA Tournament. So keep that in mind when reading these stats.

• Three-pointers attempted — Depending on how you look at it, this, too, could have gone down as an “improvement” because Mason took 113 threes as a junior and just 98 as a sophomore. The reason I tossed it into the “got worse” category, though, was because the higher volume of three-point attempts led to Mason shooting a worse percentage.

• Three-point percentage — Mason shot .429 from behind the three-point line as a sophomore and dipped to a .381 three-point shooter his junior season. As mentioned above, the 15 more attempts (again, remember the two extra games) was a big factor for the lower percentage and it’s interesting to note that Mason made just one more three-pointer (43) as a junior than he did as a sophomore (42). In fact, Mason either tied or missed tying by one in seven of the 25 statistical categories: Games started (all), minutes per game (33.5), three-point makes (43-42), turnovers (73-74), steals (50) and blocks (3-4).

• Free throw percentage — As was the case with his three-point shooting, a higher volume of free throws led to a lower percentage for Mason, who shot .739 as a junior compared to .786 as a sophomore. That .739 clip came in 44 more free throw attempts and Mason made 26 more free throws in 2015-16 than he did during the 2014-15 season. Again, you have to take into account those two extra games when considering these and all of his numbers, but, even with that included, Mason exceeded what a lot of his numbers should have been based on his career averages.

• Personal fouls — Mason fouled a whopping 19 more times during the 2015-16 season, hacking opponents 84 times compared to just 65 the previous season. When you consider that his minutes per game and starts were the same as the year before, this stat is a pretty good illustration of just how the way officials emphasized the new rules for fouls (especially early in the season) impacted the game.

So what does all of this mean? As with most stats, it really can mean whatever you interpret it to mean. But one thing that cannot be argued is that Mason, injured or not, was at least as productive as a junior as he was during his sophomore season.

In fact, even his points-per-game average was nearly identical — 12.9 ppg as a junior and 12.6 ppg as a sophomore.

A couple of reasons it might not have seemed that way throughout the season? 1. The better season turned in by Wayne Selden, who replaced Mason as the Jayhawks’ second leading scorer behind Perry Ellis. 2. The emergence of sophomore Devonte’ Graham, who played a much bigger role during his second season with the Jayhawks than he did during his first, which often allowed Mason to do more blending in rather than leading the charge.

Either way you viewed it then or view it now, Mason, as any coach would like to see from his point guard, has been remarkably consistent during the past two seasons and has been the steady driving force behind the team’s recent success.

So what should we expect from Mason as a senior in 2016-17? Here’s a wild guess — more of the same.

— Here's a quick look at the comparison between the two seasons, first in overall stats and second in numbers per 40 minutes. The only stats of the 25 I referenced not shown in the table below are (totals listed in parentheses, with 2015-16 listed first): Games started (38-36), Average minutes (33.5), Average rebounds (4.3-3.9), Assist per game (4.6-3.9) and Average points (12.9-12.6) —

Mason's past two seasons

Season G MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2014-15 36 1207 150 340 .441 42 98 .429 110 140 .786 22 119 141 142 50 4 74 65 452
2015-16 38 1272 155 357 .434 43 113 .381 136 183 .743 27 136 163 175 50 3 73 84 489
Career 109 3044 368 848 .434 103 266 .387 293 394 .744 57 293 350 389 118 8 184 214 1132
Provided by Sports-Reference.com/CBB: View Original Table
Generated 4/18/2016.

Mason's past two seasons per 40 minutes

Season MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2014-15 1207 5.0 11.3 .441 1.4 3.2 .429 3.6 4.6 .786 4.7 4.7 1.7 0.1 2.5 2.2 15.0
2015-16 1272 4.9 11.2 .434 1.4 3.6 .381 4.3 5.8 .743 5.1 5.5 1.6 0.1 2.3 2.6 15.4
Career 3044 4.8 11.1 .434 1.4 3.5 .387 3.9 5.2 .744 4.6 5.1 1.6 0.1 2.4 2.8 14.9
Provided by Sports-Reference.com/CBB: View Original Table
Generated 4/18/2016.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) is held back by Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) after he was whistled for a foul on Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) with seconds remain during the first half, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) is held back by Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) after he was whistled for a foul on Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) with seconds remain during the first half, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

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What caught my ear during spring football 2016

As you may have read yesterday, the Kansas University football team has changed up its open-practice policy and limited how much we can see this spring.

Because of that, the “What Caught My Eye” blogs that many of you have come to enjoy during the past six years have gone by the wayside, with most of the media portion of practices this spring being limited to stretching and a special teams drill or two — the same thing, day after day.

In an earlier blog, I promised to come up with something to fill the void and that’s what this is. Instead of “What Caught My Eye,” it’s “What Caught My Ear.”

As I hustled around the room to get to as many players and coaches as I could during the player availability sessions this Wednesday and last Wednesday, I did so with the dog days of summer in mind. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t learn a few tidbits about the progress of this team at this point along the way.

The Kansas Jayhawks come together for a huddle during the beginning of practice, Thursday, April 7, 2016 at Memorial Stadium.

The Kansas Jayhawks come together for a huddle during the beginning of practice, Thursday, April 7, 2016 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Here’s a look at a few things that caught my ear...

• LaQuvionte Gonzalez has definitely emerged as a team leader and seems to be dying to hit the field to show what kind of play maker he is. Most guys I talked to said “Quiv” is the fastest dude on this team and Gonzalez himself said, as difficult as it was to sit out last season, it made him appreciate his opportunity to play this game more than ever before and positioned him to make the most of every opportunity, every rep, every drill and every game in 2016. There’s not a ton of known commodities to look forward to with this team this fall, but Gonzalez should definitely land on that list.

• Speaking of speed, I keep hearing about sophomore running back Taylor Martin and how much faster and better he looks this season. Martin, who was a star in Texas at the prep level, didn’t get a ton of opportunities to carry the ball and showcase his game last season, but it sounds like he’s healthy and much more comfortable with the speed and complexities of the college game this spring. Given the lack of depth at KU’s RB position, that qualifies as very good news for this team, provided Martin can carry it over to preseason camp and then the season.

• Speaking of running backs, we learned this spring that juco transfer lead back Ke’aun Kinner played hurt all of last season. He had a torn labrum in his left shoulder entering college and it never fully healed while Kinner stepped into a heavy load with the Jayhawks during his first season in town. I talked to Kinner this week and he said he’s healthy now and feels great. I doubt it will impact much in terms of how he runs, but it should help in areas like pass protection, stiff-arms and those sorts of things.

• As far the quarterbacks go, you know by now that Ryan Willis was severely limited this spring because of a right wrist injury and that wrist issue will keep Willis out of Saturday’s spring game. Because of that, Montell Cozart — who lists himself at 90-95 percent healthy — got the first chance to run as the top quarterback in Beaty’s new “more of a true Air Raid” offense. It should be interesting to see how Cozart looks on Saturday and it will be good to talk to Beaty about Willis’ progress, too. At this point, if you made me bet, I’d bet on Cozart starting at quarterback in the season opener against Rhode Island. But it’s still very early and a lot could change in that department. As for the other QBs, I didn’t hear much about Deondre Ford, Keaton Perry or Carter Stanley this spring and newcomer Dagan Haehn is still recovering from his knee injuries and has been a non-factor. The only other intriguing player at this position is Louisiana athlete Tyriek Starks, who will report to campus in June.

• Here’s a quick look at a few names who have earned “Player of the Day” honors this spring: — Offense — James Sullivan (RB), Emmanuel Moore (WR), Tyler Patrick (WR), Austin Moses (WR), Darious Crawley (WR), LaQuvionte Gonzalez (WR), DeAndre Banks (OL), Jacob Bragg (OL) and Jayson Rhodes (OL). — Defense — Stephan Robinson (CB), Joe Dineen (LB), Damani Mosby (DE), Chevy Graham (CB), Tyrone Miller (S), Anthony Olobia (DE), Fish Smithson (S), Derrick Neal (CB), Osaze Ogbebor (LB) and Greg Allen (S). — Special Teams — Keith Loneker (LB), Joe Dineen (LB), Josh Ehambe (DE), Chevy Graham (CB), Matthew Wyman (K), Damani Mosby (DE) and Ben Johnson (TE). Joe Dineen and Damani Mosby were both two-time winners and Chevy Graham was a three-time honoree.

• Defensive end Dorance Armstrong continues to impress and is looking to build on a solid freshman season. But the biggest thing he’s focusing on right now is adding weight. D-Line coach Michael Slater said he wanted Armstrong to add some bulk so he can stay on the field and hold up.

• New special teams coach Joe DeForest said the vibe around KU today reminds him a lot of the feeling in Stillwater, Oklahoma, when he joined Les Miles’ staff at OSU at the beginning of the Cowboys’ rebuild in 2001.

• Offensive coordinator Rob Likens said the carry-over from last year’s initial installation to this year has been phenomenal. There has not been much time devoted (and/or wasted) on reteaching fundamental things about the Jayhawks’ offensive, defensive and cultural philosophies.

• Regarding the new offense, the main thing I keep hearing over and over about it is, "it's easier." They're also talking about how much fun it is and how it presents great potential for big plays all over the field. That, as much as anything, should be on full display during Saturday's spring game.

• As for last year’s 0-12 season, the Jayhawks have not forgotten about it and are eager to use it to drive them and fuel their fire this season. Having said that, they definitely are not dwelling on it and seem to be operating like a new team with a fresh start. That’s no surprise given the fact that this group actually held up pretty well mentally while going through that winless season. Obviously, none of this means more wins are automatically on the way, but, from the mental side of things, this team appears to be in good shape and continuing to move forward — however slowly — in its attempt to strip away the culture of losing that has hung over the program since the end of the Mark Mangino era.

• The spring game is set for 1 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium and the weather forecast is fantastic. 67 degrees under mostly sunny skies with 0 percent chance for rain. It will be windy, so keep that in mind when looking at kicks and deep balls. And also be forewarned that this year’s spring game won’t actually be a game at all, more of an extended scrimmage. I’ll have a little more on that in my preview story later tonight.

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