Big 12 Team Preview: Kansas Jayhawks

Posted by KoryCarpenter on November 8th, 2013

This week, the Big 12 microsite will finish previewing each of the league’s 10 teams. Today: Kansas.

Where We Left Off: With seven minutes left in its Sweet Sixteen match-up with Michigan, Kansas led by 14 points. With 21 seconds left, the lead had dwindled but the Jayhawks still held a controlling five-point lead. Not long after that, Michigan guard Trey Burke’s last-second three-pointer sent the game to overtime, and the Wolverines held on to win the game, 87-85. That game was a microcosm of Kansas’ season, with senior point guard Elijah Johnson committing five turnovers without tallying a single assist. All five starters either graduated or, in freshman guard Ben McLemore’s case, declared for the NBA Draft. At the time, the nation’s No. 2 recruiting class – led by five-star recruit Wayne Selden – softened the blow of another tough March loss for Bill Self. But a little less than two months later, everything changed when No. 1 overall recruit Andrew Wiggins committed to Kansas and transformed this year’s team from a top-25 squad into national title contenders.

Andrew Wiggins Has A Lot Of Reasons To Be Smiling These Days.

Andrew Wiggins Has A Lot Of Reasons To Be Smiling These Days.

PositivesThe Jayhawks have more talent and balance than almost any team in the country. Andrew Wiggins is the Preseason Player of the Year, an AP First-Team All-American, and the projected No. 1 pick in next summer’s NBA Draft. He’ll be joined on the perimeter by the No. 12 overall player in the 2013 class, Wayne Selden, forming one of the best backcourts in the country. Freshman center Joel Embiid has only been playing basketball for a few seasons but skyrocketed up the recruiting rankings during his senior year, ending up at 25th overall and a projected lottery pick next summer. He’s unlikely to even start at the beginning of the season. That looks to be Memphis transfer Tarik Black, who graduated early and is able to play immediately at Kansas. Even with three potential lottery picks in the starting lineup, Bill Self has said that sophomore forward Perry Ellis could lead the team in scoring. I wouldn’t bet on that, but Ellis did come on strong late last season, leading the team with 14.3 PPG in the Big 12 Tournament. There isn’t a big dropoff when Self looks to his bench, either. Three freshmen – Brannen Greene, Conner Frankamp, and Frank Mason - were four-star recruits and will be fighting for playing time this season on the perimeter behind Selden and Wiggins.

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Big 12 Microsite Roundtable: Preseason All-Conference And POY Selections

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 7th, 2013

After a seven-month wait, we can taste the start of the season. We tasked the four Big 12 Microsite contributors – Kory Carpenter, Taylor Erickson, Brian Goodman and Nate Kotisso – with selecting their own all-conference teams and backing up their selections. For the sake of transparency, they are as follows:

All-Conference Picks

Right away, there’s a clear consensus on three players, with all four contributors agreeing that Andrew Wiggins, Marcus Smart and Isaiah Austin are the toast of the conference:

  • On Andrew Wiggins (TE): “There’s a chance by the end of the season we could be looking at a conference with the two best players in college basketball, period. Going with Wiggins here isn’t a knock on Marcus Smart, because I do think Smart will once again be fantastic, but Wiggins will be the best player on the conference’s best team. Both players come into this season with an extraordinary amount of pressure, and if the preseason banter between the two is any indication, we should be in for one heck of a season.”
  • On Wiggins (KC): “There has been some Andrew Wiggins backlash the last few months from people looking to be contrarian. ESPN’s Jeff Goodman picked not one, but TWO freshmen (Jabari Parker and Julius Randle) on his First Team All-American ballot. That was foolish, and so would picking against Wiggins for Big 12 Player of the Year. Marcus Smart is great, Wiggins is greater.”
  • On Marcus Smart (NK): “Smart is a once-in-a-blue-moon type of player who led the Cowboys in points, assists and steals last season. He also tied for second on the team in rebounds per game with 5.8 as the starting point guard. He’s got a basketball IQ that’s off the charts and is an incredibly selfless person on and off the floor. Clark Kellogg’s definition of a ‘stat-sheet stuffer’ was meant for players like Marcus Smart.”
  • On Isaiah Austin (BG): “As was the case with Marcus Smart, Isaiah Austin returned to school despite a very promising draft projection. His three-point accuracy can be a deadly weapon, and because of his height (7’1″), very few players will be able to disrupt his shot. Closer to the hoop, his reach makes him a target for easy baskets both on set plays and putbacks. If Baylor manages to shake things up at the top of the conference, he’ll be a huge reason why.”

Meanwhile, Nate Kotisso explains why Cory Jefferson could also be in line for some accolades: 

  • “Consistency will be the key this season. Baylor went 13-3 last season in games where Jefferson scored 15 points or more. We hope to see the same Jefferson that lit up the NIT.”

Taylor and Brian went slightly off the beaten path, giving preseason props to two of the country’s biggest sleepers:

Overlook Markel Brown at your own peril.

Overlook the Cowboys’ Markel Brown at your own peril.

  • On Markel Brown (BG): “Brown is a dangerously underrated player. While I enjoy watching hyped-up draft prospects as much as anyone, there’s something about the four-year player who constantly improves that will always get my attention. Casual fans may see Brown as a novelty dunking machine, but once you catch him in action over a longer stretch or dig into his numbers, you’ll see that there’s so much more to his game than that. While he isn’t shy about attacking the hoop with a level of authority completely atypical for a 6’3″ guard, Brown also provides value from the three-point line and can even hang on the defensive glass. I’m done sleeping on him and you should be, too.”
  • On Perry Ellis (TE): “While there’s certainly a case that could be made for putting Cory Jefferson here, I think it becomes difficult to recognize a team that won’t finish in the top two in the conference with two All-Big 12 selections. Ellis has been under the radar heading into this season after closing out last year with strong performances down the stretch and in the Big 12 Tournament for Kansas. While the trio of freshmen at Kansas are generating most of the buzz, I think there’s a good chance Ellis could lead the Jayhawks in scoring this year.”
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2013-14 RTC Preseason All-America Teams

Posted by Walker Carey on November 5th, 2013


With the season tipping off Friday night, there’s no better time to roll out our preseason First, Second, and Third All-America Teams. More than anything, these three groups of outstanding players are here to foster and encourage discussion. Our crack panel of eight national columnists provided ballots over the last week or so, and this, perhaps unsurprisingly, is where we ended up.

First Team All-America

team1Andrew Wiggins, Kansas (unanimous) – Wiggins begins his career in Lawrence as one of the more ballyhooed freshmen in recent memory. The 6’8″ swingman, who was unanimously considered the top player in the Class of 2013, committed to Kansas in April following a recruiting process that was primarily kept close to the vest. While some of the hype surrounding the dynamic freshman may be a bit overblown, it is impossible to deny Wiggins’ credentials, as he was named 2013 Naismith Prep Player of the Year, 2013 Gatorade National Player of the Year, and Mr. Basketball USA. Wiggins has already acknowledged that he would like to be a one-and-done and enter the 2014 NBA Draft, so it is logical to see why expectations are so high in Lawrence this season.

Factoid: It is not exactly a surprise that Wiggins is a top-flight athlete when you consider the fact that his father, Mitchell Wiggins, had a lengthy professional basketball career and his mother, Marita Payne-Wiggins, won two silver medals for Canada as a sprinter in the 1984 Summer Olympic Games.

Doug McDermott, Creighton (unanimous) – McDermott’s ability to score from anywhere on the court makes him one of the most feared offensive players in the country. It is rare for a two-time First Team All-American to return to school, but that is the case with McDermott, who spurned the NBA to return for his senior season in Omaha. With Creighton making the big move from the Missouri Valley to the Big East this season, the Bluejays are going to be counting on him to fill the stat line each night out – and McDermott is good enough to come through for them.

Factoid: Due to Creighton guard Grant Gibbs receiving a rare sixth-year of eligibility from the NCAA (and thus, needing a scholarship), McDermott will be an extremely talented walk-on for the 2013-14 season.

Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State – The reigning Big 12 Player of the Year shocked the basketball world when he announced in mid-April that he would return to Stillwater for his sophomore season. The Flower Mound, Texas, native is widely considered the best returning player in all of college basketball. Smart brings a little bit of everything to the floor. His 6’4″ frame is elite for the point guard position and he uses that size as well as any perimeter player in the country. The leadership and intangibles that Smart provides are also second to none. After Oklahoma State finished third in the Big 12 during Smart’s freshman season, it is projected to contend with perennial powerhouse Kansas for the conference crown this season.

Factoid: Making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2010, Oklahoma State’s stay in the 2013 event was a short one. The Cowboys, a five-seed, were upset in the Round of 64 by 12-seed Oregon. This loss affected Smart’s decision to return to school, as the setback helped him realize he was not ready to be one-and-done in a Cowboy uniform.

Russ Smith, Louisville – Smith returns to Louisville for his senior season looking to lead the Cardinals to a repeat as national champions. “Russdiculous” is coming off a season that saw him average 18.7 points per game and take home the Most Outstanding Player of the Midwest Regional. While Smith gets a majority of his attention for his performance on the offensive end of the court, he is also a defensive stalwart who keys the relentless full court pressure of the Cardinals. Even though Smith certainly figures to be Louisville’s most explosive player this season, you better believe he will still at times do some things on the court that will drive Rick Pitino crazy.

Factoid: Smith spent his fall interning with WHAS-TV in Louisville, working local high school football games on some Friday nights.

Julius Randle, Kentucky – Kentucky coach John Calipari brought in one of the best recruiting hauls in history for this season and the star of the class is the ultra-athletic Randle. The Plano, Texas, native arrived in Lexington as the second-best prospect in the Class of 2013 – only behind Andrew Wiggins – and early returns on Randle as a Wildcat forward have been overwhelmingly positive. Randle’s talent level is so elite that ESPN‘s Jeff Goodman declared in late September that he would take Randle over Wiggins with the first pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.

Factoid: Randle missed three months of his senior season at Prestonwood Christian due to a fractured foot, but he was able to return in time to lead the school to a Texas state championship.

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Big 12 M5: 10.30.13 Edition

Posted by Taylor Erickson on October 30th, 2013


  1. Kansas kicked off the exhibition portion of their schedule on Tuesday evening with a 97-57 win over MIAA opponent Pittsburg State in Allen Fieldhouse.  Most notably, this game featured the much anticipated debut of Andrew Wiggins, who along with Perry Ellis lead the Jayhawks in scoring with 16 points.  Wiggins appeared to be nervous and a little passive for a good chunk of the first half before settling into the flow of the game.  It wasn’t until late in the first half that Kansas fans got their first taste of the athleticism of Wiggins that has been so widely discussed leading up to this season as he threw down an impressive alley-oop at the expense of a Pittsburg State player.  It wouldn’t be surprising to see more highlights like this regularly throughout the course of the year.
  2. Despite the flashy play from Andrew Wiggins and other Jayhawks, perhaps the biggest take away from the game was the impact the new “hand checking” rules had on the contest itself.  As Rustin Dodd of the Wichita Eagle explains, during the first half Kansas and Pittsburg State combined for a total of 27 fouls and 39 free throw attempts.  The intention of the new rule in college basketball is to prevent defenders from impeding the offensive player’s movement with this ball in his hands, but it appears in the eyes of officials this rule translates to a significantly tighter called game all over the floor.  There will be many early season non-conference games that well exceed two hours in duration because of the number of stoppages in play.
  3. We mentioned yesterday that Texas head coach Rick Barnes was among those entering the 2013-2014 season on the proverbial “hot seat” in college basketball.  On Tuesday, the Dallas Morning News reported that according to multiple sources, West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck is the leading candidate to replace DeLoss Dodds as the Texas AD next season.  If true, it would appear that Luck would be the one to decide Barnes’ fate with the Longhorn basketball program.  If you feel like you’ve heard the name before, Oliver Luck is the father of Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck.  It’s unclear as to when the timetable for a new head coach will be set, but perhaps you could consider this season a year-long job interview for Rick Barnes.
  4. At the TCU media day, head coach Trent Johnson said the team has still yet to receive word from the NCAA if UTEP transfer Chris Washburn will be allowed to suit up for the Horned Frogs this season.  Washburn figures to be an important piece for Johnson’s squad after forward Devonta Abron tore his achilles earlier this year as Washburn would provide TCU with a nice 1-2 punch alongside 6’10” big man Karviar Shepherd.  This is yet another example of the NCAA struggling to make an eligibility decision in a timely manner like we have come accustomed to the last several seasons.
  5. On Tuesday, Canadian sports network TSN announced that the station will cover every game Kansas plays this season in an effort to allow further access to Andrew Wiggins for folks across Canada.  As Brian Goodman noted in his article yesterday examining the impact of this announcement and how it affects the interpretation of the amateurism of college athletics.  For Kansas, this announcement in-turn allows further access to the program and will provide exposure to kids throughout the northern country to the Jayhawk program.  With recent emerging talents from Canada like Wiggins and Anthony Bennett last season, it would appear this deal could position Kansas with a leg up on future Canadian talent.
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Big 12 M5: 10.29.13 Edition

Posted by Taylor Erickson on October 29th, 2013


  1. In the last few weeks leading up to the tip-off of the college basketball season, it seems like every media outlet universally decides to release as many meaningless preseason lists as possible. Despite how little weight these opinions actually carry, we love to read them anyway. On Monday, posted a rundown of the top 30 players poised for a breakout season that featured Big 12 players Perry Ellis (#2), Thomas Gipson (#9), and Naadir Tharpe (#10). While there’s plenty of room for debate as to whom else from the Big 12 should have been included on this list, it’s clear that these three individuals will need to perform well this season for their respective teams to fulfill expectations. At Kansas, Tharpe will be the leader of the team at the point guard position, and despite the talents of Andrew Wiggins and Wayne Selden surrounding him, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Ellis lead the Jayhawks in scoring. In Manhattan, Gipson will pair with Shane Southwell to anchor Bruce Weber’s team.
  2. Ask anyone around the country who the best player in the Big 12 is this season, and you’ll probably receive a split vote between Marcus Smart and Andrew Wiggins.  Monday, recognized Smart as its preseason Player of the Year, and joining Smart on the All American first team was fellow Big 12 rival, Andrew Wiggins. There’s been no shortage of words this preseason directed at Wiggins by both Smart and his head coach Travis Ford that have set up one of the most anticipated conference match-ups as there has been in recent memory. We will certainly enjoy the first two and a half months of the season, but the first meeting between these two teams on January 18 in Lawrence can’t come soon enough.
  3. As if the first two preseason lists we discussed weren’t enough, Gary Parrish at posted an article discussing coaches on the hot seat as the season gets underway, and to no surprise, Texas’ Rick Barnes was featured. Although Barnes has made the NCAA Tournament 14 times in 15 years in Austin, the days of Kevin Durant, T.J. Ford, and D.J. Augustine are but a distant memory he once enjoyed with the Longhorns. Couple the lack of recent success with the fact that Texas has missed out on several recent high profile recruits from the Lone Star state – Julius Randle and Emmanuel Mudiay, to name a couple – and there’s no wonder Barnes’ job security seems to be in serious question. Given the facilities and alumni support at Texas, many consider the basketball program a sleeping giant waiting to erupt with the right fit at head coach.
  4. We discussed on Monday how Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger would be relying on Cameron Clark to bring leadership to this team this season, and because Halloween is on Thursday we figured any opportunity we had to use the name “Kruger” this week would be fitting (although the two are spelled differently, you get the point). This time, the Oklahoma head coach was featured at the school’s media day explaining how his trio of sophomore guards – Isaiah Cousins, Buddy Hield and Je’lon Hornbeak – would be looked upon to use the experience they gained during their freshman campaign to play a vital role in the Oklahoma system this season. Although the Sooners are replacing several outstanding scorers from last season, the goal will be to follow up last season’s success with a return trip to the NCAA Tournament.
  5. In a press conference yesterday, Kansas head coach Bill Self explained how his lineup appears to be taking shape. Anticipated starters Naadir Tharpe, Wayne Selden, Andrew Wiggins, Perry Ellis and Tarik Black are joined by Joel Embiid, Andrew White III, and Jamari Traylor, all of whom appear to be poised for significant minutes this season. In customary Self fashion, the lineup will fluctuate throughout the season, but the biggest battle in the first few exhibition games appears to be for the backup point guard position to Tharpe.  Both Frank Mason and Connor Frankamp were highly touted guards in Self’s latest recruiting class, and each will be important in spelling Tharpe at points throughout the season. Mason may be the more natural point guard of the two, while Frankamp is regarded as one of the best shooters in this year’s incoming class.
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The Big 12 All-Drone Team: Five Guys Flying Under the Radar

Posted by Taylor Erickson on October 17th, 2013

On Tuesday, released a ranking of the top 100 players in college basketball for the 2013-14 season. Andrew Wiggins and Marcus Smart were slotted as the top two players in the list, highlighting the type of talent we will be fortunate enough to see this season in the Big 12. Even for the casual Big 12 basketball fan, Wiggins and Smart are household names, but what about those “other” guys out there? The ones who will take a back seat to the Wiggins and Smart media exposure, but are fully capable of putting on a show in their own right? If we were to take a page out of the Dick Vitale vault, we might refer to this list as the All-Drone Team – guys who will fly a bit under the radar, but certainly remain viable weapons for their respective teams. Here are five Big 12 players to keep an eye on this season:

Markel Brown Isn't Well-Known Outside Big 12 Circles (Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)

Markel Brown Isn’t Well-Known Outside Big 12 Circles (Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)

Markel Brown: 6’3” Senior Guard, Oklahoma State:  While Marcus Smart is the one who garners the national media attention for Oklahoma State, Brown is a vital part of the Cowboys’ success in Stillwater. Brown initially made his mark in college basketball with his knack for throwing down monster dunks, but proved last season that he’s much more than just a high-flying guard, averaging 15.3 points per game and shooting 36% from the three-point line. It was Smart’s play down the stretch in Oklahoma State’s win last season in Allen Fieldhouse that drew praise nationally, and rightfully so, but Brown was the thorn in the side for the Jayhawks in the first half, knocking down five of seven three-point attempts to build a lead. There certainly won’t be a moment too big for Brown this season, given his fearlessness and confidence.  Opposing players and fans alike should refrain from sleeping on him, or they’ll quickly be reminded just how impressive he is at dunking the basketball.

Georges Niang:  6’7” Forward, Iowa State:  Unlike Brown, Niang isn’t a superior athletic specimen, but that’s what makes his European-inspired game all the more impressive. The fact that Niang is a staple in Fred Hoiberg’s three-point heavy system shows his ability to shoot the ball from deep. Add that to his ability to put the ball on the floor and his crafty ways of scoring around the rim and you have a match-up problem for almost any team in the country. Niang will be looked at as a key component this season after the departure of the Cyclones’ leading scorers. The combination of he and fellow forward Melvin Ejim will provide an ability to stretch the floor and test the frontcourt depth of Iowa State’s opponents this year.

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2013-14 RTC Class Schedule: Kansas Jayhawks

Posted by BHayes on September 16th, 2013

Bennet Hayes is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @HoopsTraveler. Periodically throughout the preseason, RTC will take an in-depth look at the schedules of some of the more prominent teams in college basketball.

We have seen rapid and successful overhauls in Lawrence before, but perhaps never on this scale. Kansas is short five starters from a year ago, and in their wake arrives a decorated freshman class headed by a once-in-a-generation talent. Commitments from top-50 recruits Joel Embiid, Wayne Selden, and Conner Francamp had Jayhawk fans believing a quick rebuild was possible, but it was the May signing of Andrew Wiggins, the top player in the high school class of 2013, that has turned hope into belief. Another Big 12 championship and a return to the Sweet 16 would no longer constitute a brilliant coaching job by Bill Self, a man who has crafted many of them. Wiggins’ presence on campus has not only turned those achievements into mere expectations, but also transports hope to Lawrence that the ultimate prize – a National Title – is again a realistic possibility.

Could Perry Ellis Emerge As The Most Important Jayhawk Not Named Andrew Wiggins This Season?

Could Perry Ellis Emerge As The Most Valuable Jayhawk Not Named Andrew Wiggins This Season?

  • Team Outlook: Wiggins’ talent and projected impact has been well-documented, but even if he becomes the star he is expected to be, the Jayhawks will still need to develop the supporting cast around him. Perry Ellis (5.8 PPG, 3.9 RPG) is the one returnee that will almost definitely be a key part of that equation, but Nadiir Tharpe (5.5 PPG, 3.1 APG) and Jamari Traylor (2.1 PPG, 2.1 RPG) should also see minutes. We have seen Jayhawk role players emerge into key contributors after an offseason before, but no matter what happens with that trio, Bill Self will surely be relying on newcomers not named Wiggins to carry the load. Prime among them are freshmen Wayne Selden and Joel Embiid, who are expected to take over starting duties at shooting guard and center, respectively. Like Wiggins, both are projected as top-ten picks in next year’s NBA draft, so it’s a distinct possibility that this could be their lone rodeo in Lawrence. That being said, both need to add significant polish to their games, and despite the top-ten ranking recruiting gurus bestowed upon him, Embiid even drags the “project” title with him to Kansas. Freshmen guards Conner Frankamp and Brannen Greene are also consensus Top-100 recruits, and both will have the opportunity to compete with Tharpe and Selden for minutes in the Kansas backcourt. Rounding out the frontcourt rotation is Memphis transfer Tarik Black (8.1 PPG, 4.8 RPG) and redshirt freshman Landen Lucas. Black’s addition was another significant coup for Self this offseason, as he provides the Jayhawks with a player who has actually been through it all before at the college level. Black, like nearly every Jayhawk outside of Wiggins, could end up as a thirty-minute a game starter, a marginalized bit player, or nearly anything in between. There is tons of talent in Lawrence and a superstar to headline the show, but much of the onus for the destination of this Jayhawk campaign rests on Bill Self and how he fits all the pieces together – something Jayhawk fans should feel pretty good about. Read the rest of this entry »
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Big 12 M5: 03.12.13 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on March 12th, 2013


  1. It’s been quite the year for Kansas State first-year coach Bruce Weber. On March 9, 2012, Weber was fired as the head coach of Illinois. A year and a couple days later, he was named Big 12 Coach of the Year (I wonder how many times that’s happened to a coach). The article walks us through how Weber tackled the largest recruiting class he’d ever seen: the entire Kansas State roster. It’s crazy to think that had K-State not called Weber, he would have been off to the College of Charleston. It would have been a shame, regardless of how bad he looked in media circles last season, because he was worthy of a better job.
  2. Back in late January, TCU coach Trent Johnson called this team the most talented in the country. Now it’s Travis Ford passing the complements Baylor’s way, calling them “as talented as anyone” in the Big 12. Sure there’s some hyperbole somewhere in these statements, but the fact is they returned important pieces from last year’s Elite Eight team including the conference preseason player of the year. Even as a non-Baylor fan, it’s been so frustrating for me to watch a team like this hang on for their tournament lives lately when they should be a team worried about seeding like Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma or Iowa State. If they get into the Dance, beating the Cowboys on Thursday (and likely the Wildcats the day after) is what I think will be enough to get them there. Of course, they could just win the whole thing and leave no doubt about it as well.
  3. We love Bob Huggins for his frankness and quotability at press conferences, but lordy, don’t quote him on this: “I think we can still can make a run [in the conference tournament].” I understand why he said it, but with all due respect, it’s not gonna happen. If there’s going to be a team or teams that’ll make a surprise run in Kansas City, it’s probably Baylor or Texas. If I were Huggins, I’d want this season to end as swiftly as possible.
  4. Had you asked me how many conference games TCU would have won in November, I would have said none. But then they went and beat Kansas and Oklahoma, two teams with Tournament plans for next week. What’s next for Horned Frogs basketball? An outstanding recruiting class, that’s what. Led by Karviar Shepherd, the Class of 2013’s third-best center, Trent Johnson hopes that this year’s smidgen of success can build serious momentum for recruiting top talent in the Metroplex. The problem for previous coaches at TCU hasn’t been their ability to recruit players from Dallas-Fort Worth but to reel in the best that DFW has to offer. Hopefully, Johnson’s onto something there.
  5. There wasn’t a whole lot of good that came for Kansas out of the Baylor lossThey failed to clinch the outright Big 12 regular season title, they were blown out on the road (which almost never happens), and they lost a regular season game to the Bears for the first time in 12 years. But we did see some potential shine through for KU freshman Perry Ellis. He hit 5-of-7 from the field in the most playing time he has received since the season opener. He’s one good offseason in the weight room away from becoming another Marcus Morris-type for KU (Ellis: 6’8″, 225 pounds; Morris: 6’9″, 235 pounds).
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What We Learned: Kansas Beats Kansas State in Manhattan

Posted by KoryCarpenter on January 22nd, 2013

It was close, as Vegas suggested it would be (Kansas closed as a three-point favorite). But the Jayhawks survived another tough game in the type of battle Kansas State wanted to play — slow and muddy. Kansas now takes sole possession of first place in the Big 12 and improves to 17-1 on the season. Here is what we learned tonight:

1. Kansas is learning how to win close games. Or shall I say, Kansas has learned how to win close games. Coming into tonight’s game, here is how the Jayhawks have played down the stretch in close games since losing a three-point game to Michigan State on November 13.

Picture 1

KU is Getting It Done in Crunch Time

After Bill Self called a full timeout with 4:55 left in the game and a 54-49 lead, Kansas State finished the game 2-of-6 from the field including 0-of-3 from three-point range with a pair of turnovers. It’s fair to criticize close games against Iowa State or Temple at home, but Kansas State is a tough squad this year and Bramlage Coliseum is always rowdy when the Jayhawks are in town. Coming away with a close win is another positive learning experience this Kansas team will need in March.

2. Kansas State’s win over Florida wasn’t a fluke. The Wildcats shot 35.1% from the field and were still within three points of the Jayhawks with 40 seconds left. They held Kansas under its season shooting averages, both from two and three-point range (From two: 48.4% on the year, 45.7% tonight; from three: 36.2% on the year, 30.8% tonight). They have solid wins over Oklahoma State and #8 Florida, and their only losses are to #2 Michigan, #10 Gonzaga, and now #11 Kansas.

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Four Thoughts as Kansas Survives Against Iowa State In Overtime

Posted by KoryCarpenter on January 9th, 2013

A Melvin Ejim jumper that put Iowa State up 77-73 with 25 seconds left looked like it might end Kansas‘ 30-game home court winning streak, but the Jayhawks were able to force overtime thanks to some late-game heroics that included a banked three-pointer by Ben McLemore. Once they were able to force overtime, the Jayhawks cruised to a 97-89 victory. It was the second nail-biting home win in a row for Kansas after beating Temple on Sunday, 69-62. Here are four thoughts about what we learned about Kansas after Wednesday’s close call:

Ben McLemore Is As Good As Advertised.

Ben McLemore Has Proven to be as Good as Advertised

  1. Ben McLemore Is As Good As Advertised. He might be the #1 overall pick in the NBA Draft. The redshirt freshman guard had 33 points on 10-of-12 shooting and was a perfect 6-of-6 from beyond the arc. We heard all the glowing praise for McLemore last season while he sat out due to academic issues, but it was hard to fully believe a teammate’s or coach’s compliments until you saw him in live action. And through 14 games, McLemore has surpassed even those lofty expectations. He is averaging 15.6 PPG and 5.5 RPG and has scored over 20 points five times now. While his game still needs a little work (see his disappearing act against Temple), has McLemore at #4 on its latest NBA Mock Draft while updated their mock to put him #1 overall this week.
  2. Naadir Tharpe Need Not Shoot 11 Times in a Game. He was 2-of-11 from the field and finished with eight points. It was the second time this season he has taken 10 or more shots, the other coming against Southeast Missouri State on opening night, when he went 4-of-11 including 1-of-6 from three-point range. Tharpe took more shots Wednesday night than every Jayhawk not named Ben McLemore, and that isn’t a winning recipe for Kansas this season. Tharpe can be a good backup to spell starting point guard Elijah Johnson when he needs to rest or is in foul trouble. He is beginning to get more acclimated to Bill Self’s system and can become a capable floor leader, someone to move the ball and keep the offense flowing. He is not, however, a guy who should ever take 11 shots a night. Read the rest of this entry »
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Big 12 Morning Five: 12.14.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on December 14th, 2012



  1. It’s a novelty in college basketball these days: A neutral site series between in-state foes from both power and non-power conferences. Come again? Yup, it’s time for the Big Four Series in Des Moines this weekend, which features a game between Iowa and Northern Iowa followed by a showdown between Drake and Iowa State. It strips the programs of a home game, but it’s been unbelievable to watch these teams play each other over the last several years. And to set up an actual tournament? That’s unheard of with the modern we-have-nothing-to-gain philosophy employed by almost every single BCS league team in college basketball.
  2. Mark your calendars for next season. It looks as though Kansas State will likely host Gonzaga in Wichita as a salute of sorts to the fans in that city. The Wildcats will face the Zags in Seattle this weekend, but in the return game, Weber may opt for Wichita instead of the Sprint Center in Kansas City as a neutral destination. Apparently, those are the two choices he has, and he told a reporter with the Wichita Eagle he is leaning toward playing at Intrust Arena instead of the Sprint Center. Either way, you know it will probably be a sellout in either city.
  3.  The Kansas City SB Nation blog has begun previewing Big 12 Conference play, since it is amazingly almost here. In the first edition of the preview, we get yet another reminder that Kansas rules all and probably will be hardly challenged in Big 12 play this year. Oklahoma State could do it, sure. Baylor could improve. So could Kansas State. But right now, amidst all of the chaos in the Big 12 and the league’s poor performances in non-conference play, the Jayhawks are the one thing you know you can count on. The Big 12 might be lost without Kansas this season.
  4. When I saw this headline — “Jayhawks’ Ellis plans to work over break” — I thought Ellis had decided to get a part-time job outside of basketball. For a moment, I tried to figure out how in the world a guy playing Division I basketball would have enough time in the day to have a job, too, and then I read the story. It’s about how Ellis and the freshmen will work on their game during winter break without school in session, and then things started to make a little more sense. Ellis will need to use the time off to clear his head and relax a little bit. He’s playing only about 16 minutes a game right now, but Self said his minutes will continue to increase as long as he keeps working. Not at a job, of course. At basketball.
  5. This news is a few days old, but it’s so priceless we just had to include it. West Virginia’s mascot is no longer allowed to hunt with his musket after he killed a black bear and got caught on tape. That seems like a pretty reasonable request. It would also make Fake Dwight Schrute from The Office pretty happy.
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Big 12 M5: 12.06.12 Edition

Posted by KoryCarpenter on December 6th, 2012

  1. As a five-star recruit, Oklahoma State freshman point guard Marcus Smart received plenty of fanfare before beginning his college career last month. But as Ryan Fagan of The Sporting News points out, Oklahoma State’s 20-point win over then No. 6 North Carolina State last month in the Puerto Rico Tip-off is when Smart’s name really became known across the country. Last night, he helped the Cowboys improve to 6-1 with a win over South Florida in Stillwater, a game in which Smart had 15 points, six rebounds, five assists, four steals, and two blocks. In just six short weeks, all of the “potential” is gone. Smart is great. He’s one of the best, if not the best, freshmen in the country and one of the best point guards, too. And with an easy schedule the rest of December leading up to a New Year’s Eve home game against No. 10 Gonzaga, Smart may soon be leading a top 10 team when Big 12 play begins in January.
  2. For every Marcus Smart, there are usually about 10 Perry Ellises. Ellis won four consecutive Kansas state titles in high school and was a McDonald’s All-American last year, but he has been lost in the shuffle of the Jayhawks’ lineup a bit early on this season. It’s not a surprise that senior forward Kevin Young is starting at the four spot ahead of him, not in Bill Self’s system. Self loves having experience on the floor, and Ellis as a young first-year player is still adjusting to the college game. He’s playing 16 MPG this season and averaging 6.4 PPG and 4.0 RPG, and he reminds me of former Jayhawk forward Wayne Simien, a great four-year player at Kansas. Ellis and Simien’s freshmen numbers aren’t far off each other right now, either. Simien averaged 15.3 MPG, 8.1 PPG, and 5.3 RPG as a freshman in 2001-02.
  3. Jeff Goodman of unveiled another 2013 NBA mock draft, and four Big 12 players made his first round predictions: Baylor forward Isaiah Austin (7th), Kansas guard Ben McLemore (15th), Oklahoma State guard Le’Bryan Nash (16th), and Kansas center Jeff Withey (21st). Baylor point guard Pierre Jackson led off the second round at 31st, followed by West Virginia center Aaric Murrary (41st), Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart (47th), and Texas guard Myck Kabongo (53rd). It’s hard to imagine Murray leaving a year early if he is indeed projected that low, but a year struggling in a new system could sway his decision. I don’t see a scenario where two underclassmen like Smart and Kabongo leave to be picked in the second round, not with the potential to climb up these sort of lists in the next few years. Isaiah Austin looks like a bust at No. 7, and Jeff Withey and Pierre Jackson are NBA wildcards in my mind. But McLemore and Nash both look like solid picks, especially in the middle of the first round. Both players have the size and speed to excel at the next level.
  4. Jeff Eisenberg at Yahoo! Sports made a list of teams who have failed to live up to expectations this season, and not surprisingly, two Big 12 teams are mentioned: West Virginia and Texas. Making its debut in a new conference, it was hard to judge just how much of an impact the Mountaineers would have this season, but I didn’t think they’d be this bad. Losing on the road to Gonzaga isn’t terrible. Getting ripped by 34 to Gonzaga, or anyone, for that matter, is terrible. And as Eisenberg writes, that still isn’t as bad as losing to Davidson and Oklahoma. For Texas, at least they have somewhat of an excuse while awaiting the return of sophomore point guard Myck Kabongo. But if the Longhorns want an NCAA Tournament invitation, they better hope Kabongo is really, really good this season, because he has a lot of holes to fill. Teams who are only missing a single piece typically don’t put up 41 points against Georgetown.
  5. If you like second-level stats, Sport’s Illustrated‘s Luke Winn is your guy. Yesterday, Winn updated his weekly power rankings. Unfortunately for every Big 12 school not named Kansas, Winn only discusses his 16 best teams in the country, in which Kansas stayed at No. 9 on his list. Wynn rounds out his top 32 at the bottom of the column, however, and Oklahoma State and Kansas State come in at 25th and 26th. I’m not sold on Kansas State, but with Oklahoma State’s schedule this month, they should climb in every poll until that meeting with Gonzaga, with a win in that game vaulting the Cowboys to the top 10 early in 2013.
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