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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Seniors still trying to cope

Jackson, Stewart deal with distraction

Kansas guard Rodrick Stewart looks to grab a steal from Oklahoma State guard Obi Muonelo during the first half Saturday, Feb. 23, 2008 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Left is Kansas forward Darnell Jackson.  Stewart and Jackson both played in the game despite deaths in their families.

Kansas guard Rodrick Stewart looks to grab a steal from Oklahoma State guard Obi Muonelo during the first half Saturday, Feb. 23, 2008 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Left is Kansas forward Darnell Jackson. Stewart and Jackson both played in the game despite deaths in their families.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self's Feb. 25 weekly press conference

KU coach Bill Self held his weekly press conference Monday in Hadl Auditorium. Self discussed his teams problems right now - many of which are intangibles. Plus, Self said Darnell Jackson will not miss Wednesday's or Saturday's games, but will return to Oklahoma City to be with his family Thursday ...

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Jackson, Stewart travel to be with families

Every Division I college basketball team has suffered at least one on-the-court loss this season. But this week the Kansas hoops family is dealing with losses of a different kind.

It has been difficult for Darnell Jackson to concentrate on basketball the past six days since learning his beloved cousin, Kascey Corie McClellan, died of gunshot wounds sustained in a Feb. 9 incident at an Oklahoma City nightclub.

"It's frustrating because I lose track of my mind on the court. I go off into a daze thinking of stuff," said Jackson, Kansas University's senior forward from Midwest City, Okla.

He will play in Wednesday's KU-Iowa State game in Ames, then travel to Oklahoma City on Thursday in time for McClellan's funeral. He'll return to Lawrence for practice Friday.

"We were real close. I go home over the summer, and he used to put my picture on his computer as a screen saver," Jackson said. "It's going to be hard to see him when I go back."

Jackson's teammates have kept a close eye on the 6-foot-8, 250-pound teddy bear the past several days.

"They are making sure my mind is in the right place, that I don't do anything crazy like going home again (as he did last year for a few days while mourning the death of his grandmother). They watch over me," Jackson said.

Senior Rodrick Stewart currently is in Seattle for Wednesday's funeral services for his brother, Allen, who was murdered Wednesday. Stewart will miss the 6 p.m. Iowa State game. He'll be back in Lawrence on Thursday.

Coach Bill Self said Tyrel Reed and Jeremy Case could see significant playing time Wednesday, especially if Sherron Collins' bruised right knee isn't feeling well.

"The bruise is under my kneecap," Collins said. "It's one of those deals : it's real sore. It's gotten better every day."

¢

Coach must lead: Self said he has stopped looking for a vocal leader on the team.

"It's not going to happen this year. We've been talking about this four years. It's not going to happen," he said, noting his last vocal leaders were Aaron Miles and Wayne Simien.

"It needs to come from me. I need to do a better job providing leadership. I can't talk on the court. From an on-court standpoint, I'd hope the guards would take the team under control."

Comments

didjabuti 9 years, 4 months ago

Agreed ku_phog, I also like the fact that Coach Self said he needs to do a better job providing leadership. However as far as "hoping" the guards would take control, I wish he'd tell them to take control then hold them accountable.

ku_phog 9 years, 4 months ago

I feel horrible for our players and there families, especially djack after all that he has been threw. I send my condolences to you and your family.

Hopefully the jay hawks can get some positive momentum rolling here soon. I think the team might have needed a wake up call and from the sounds of it not only is the lose giving a well needed wake up call but Coach Self is as well with some harsh words in comments to the media. Our team has all the talent needed for a long run in the tourney, but we still need that one player who will step up when the team is struggling to score. I love playing team basketball and giving everyone touches, but when we are struggling to score and on a couple minute scoring drought( all three of our losses we saw couple minute stretches without points) someone needs to step it up and take the game over. Rush and Chalmers need to realize that we will only go as far as they take us. Yes we have lots of talent that can carry us but when it really matters our team needs one of these boys to step it up and just say "give me the damn ball."

NH_JHawk 9 years, 4 months ago

I find it surprising/disturbing that nobody on this team has become a vocal leader yet.

We know that RR has always been a quiet guy. It's been written that Rush only gets fired up when he's being beaten on defense (although even that's been questionable lately). It's impossible for DA to be our vocal leader from the bench in foul trouble. Sherron is still injured.

So that leaves Mario or D-Block. D-Block is leading by example on the court so in my opinion he's fulfilling his leadership role. Seems like Mario is the guy we need to step up and take control of this team. He's been described as "fearless" and not being afraid to take the big clutch shots down the stretch. I hope he can take us the rest of the way and become that inspirational leader we so desperately need right now.

Robert Rauktis 9 years, 4 months ago

So why are these kids required to have public scrutiny for personal issues?

CaramelMacchMan 9 years, 4 months ago

I understand its not DA.

I understand its not RodStew.

I undertand its not DJ.

but Come on!!!!!!

B Rush?? Mario??? Collins??

All there of the above (BRush,Mario,Collins) needs to say in huddle.. "Give me the damn ball.I'm not losing this game.".... that is it...

jayhawkinATL 9 years, 4 months ago

Wow, I was hoping that b-ball could provide somewhat of a distraction, at least for the time they're on the court, for DJ and Rod. That sucks!!!!

truehawkfan 9 years, 4 months ago

Finally, Coach Self came out and took some blame, and said he would take over. (Maybe he does read our posts!!) I believe that Mario has proven he is the guy to take the last shot. We all found out that Rush can't handle that. I don't want one to step up and take over the team, I want them all to step up and do this thing together. Now that Self has said he will step up and take control of this team, they just need to follow the coach. Once he steps up, you will see players stepping up. 9 times out of 10, the players are a direct reflection of the coach. Their mentality, leadership ect.. I hope Self follows up on this statement. This is what I have been waiting for.

I feel for the guys who have lost someone close. They will be in my thoughts and prayers.

Ben Kane 9 years, 4 months ago

I definitely think that the leadership role needs to stepped into by Mario but I find it unlikely to occur before next season and I'd bet on his return to campus next year.
Last year Self talked a lot about going for the neck of our opponents and not letting go but it seems lately that we don't even know where the neck is...I hope this can be straightened out soon because after UT beat KSU last night there is no more room for any losses. UF had one of the easiest paths to the final four last year that I've ever seen but that will not be the case for this team. They are going to have to learn to come out of the gates quick and aggressively or will end up in trouble against slow paced hot shooting teams throughout the tournament.

okjhok 9 years, 4 months ago

Yes, these words coming from Coach Self are definitely a good sign. I'm not giving up on DA being our go-to guy along with Mario. Very few can handle DA on the block if he could JUST STAY ON THE FLOOR!

John Stowell 9 years, 4 months ago

I hope Stewart and Jackson are given enough time to mourn. Players are expected to deal with a lot of distractions, but these tragedies far exceed what any player could be expected to deal with. I'd much rather see Stewart and Jackson take the time they need and have them return ready to play than to rush them into games. The Texas loss was a loss to a good team, and the OSU loss was a fluke. This team still has the ability to be a final four contender, but it will require Coach Self get everything out of these guys. If they play with passion on Saturday, I won't be worried.

cklarock 9 years, 4 months ago

Agreed, Shazam. One thing a death of a close relative will do (and a murder even moreso) is put life into perspective.

Darnell and Rodrick are great young men, and great ambassadors for the Jayhawk Nation. I know we all hope that they do the mourning they need to do, whatever the cost in basketball terms.

Family and loved ones come first; basketball is (at best) a distant second.

John Strayer 9 years, 4 months ago

I'm not surprised there hasn't been a "vocal leader"...everyone talks about how balanced this team is and I think the leadership is balanced. The problem with that is "committees" don't move very fast by nature. Its troubling to me to see when this team faces on-court adversity, it seems lost...or passive, waiting for something good to happen. There need to be one person step up and take control consistently.

This team at times seems lost, until it can be determined who is going to be "hot" for that particular game.

smitty33 9 years, 4 months ago

All due respect to DBlock and Stewart's losses, but enough with the excuses. Am I the only one that saw DBlock have a great game at OSU? I also don't see how Stewart's loss could affect the team much. So please, stop using this excuse. Here are better excuses for our slump....poor perimeter D and turnovers.

To change the subject, I'm beginning to like the idea of a 2 seed. This removes a target from our back. It also would be less embarrassing if we play in the tourney like we did at OSU and lose. (I have hopes this won't happen). I'd LOVE to have Memphis or Tenn in our bracket as a 1 seed. I think both are overrated and will crumble under stress. I don't want NC or UCLA in our brackets... they have experience deep in the tourney. However, beating Roy to go to the final 4 would almost be as good as winning it all. Hmmm.

Joe Ross 9 years, 4 months ago

smitty33...

I agree about not making excuses. The fact of the matter is we were playing poorly long before players lost loved ones (incidentally, their loss means SO much more than basketball--let's keep this in perspective).

I have to disagree about the team selection though. Watching both Memphis and Tennessee play head-to-head, I think it's fair to say they play at a level that's ahead of where UNC and UCLA are now. Just my opinion.

okjhok 9 years, 4 months ago

I was thinking the same thing about the seedings, smitty. However, I don't know if there are any "good" scenarios this year. All of the regional sites are a good distance from Lawrence, so we kind of got screwed there. At this point I'm anticipating a regional final with a team as good as KU. Whoever ends up with the #1 overall is the only team that I think will have a distinct advantage, because, IMO, there is a drop-off after the top 7 teams. That may change in the coming weeks.

LAJayhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

I commented the other day that I think (probably) losing the #1 seed and now (after last night) having basically zero chance at a regular season B12 title may be a good thing going forward. It may take some of the pressure off, and allow the boys to start having fun again playing basketball. But I think more than anything, it gives them something to be pissed about, and something they need to prove to the country. If they really feel like they are a top team, then now is the time they need to step up and prove it. Whether or not this will happen, I think, will be the ultimate test for everyone on this team.

The leadership clearly has been a problem, and that is shown when we are not playing well; everyone looks around and waits for someone to step up. The thing is though, they lose track of what makes us a good team at those moments, and things start to be forced causing more turnovers and more problems. I know that's broad and vague, but I think we can all pick out points when that is clear.

One more thing, the color man during the KState and Texas game last night (his name escapes me) said if us and Texas both win out, whoever wins the tournament (between the two of us) will be the #1 seed. Interesting, but I just don't think we deserve a number 1. Lack of a marquee win, and we have shown difficulty in winning on the road. At the same time, it would be hard to NOT see a team from the B12 without a #1 considering the power of the conference this year.

smitty33 9 years, 4 months ago

I couldn't agree more about the 'drop off' okjhok. KU, I was so pissed off after the OSU game, I couldn't watch the Tenn/Memphis game. Although they may be good, I still think experience is worth alot. I'm surprised to hear you think they're better than UNC and UCLA. Also, although the Tenn SOS says #1, I don't think their record looks alot more impressive than ours. The SEC sucks compared to the Big 12 this year.

Funny how we were talking a month ago (including me), how this is one of our best teams ever. I hope this team realizes how exciting, special, and fortunate to have this opportunity to be AWESOME. Their time together is very limited. As the coach in Hoosiers says, I don't care if they win or lose as long as they play to their potential. If we play to our potential (and are coached well), it would take one hellova team to beat us. Let's hope KSU gives it their all this Saturday and we still spank them.

PS - thanks for the apologies jhawkfan - I too like to 'vent' on here, but we must keep it 'classy'.

William James 9 years, 4 months ago

This season has paralleld(spelling?) Hillary Clintons campaign. Everyone had a since of destiny and inevitability in the beginning, but as it goes on things just keep going south and upstart Texas is now in the drivers seat. Maybe we can do what Florida did last year and get it turned around in the conference tournament, or even before then.

Ben Kane 9 years, 4 months ago

they usually don't wait for the sunday conference championships before announcing seeding. I doubt there is anyway to supplant texas if they win out to that point.

well put fabio!

d_prowess 9 years, 4 months ago

I worry about Collins. It seems that he continues to get hurt. Can his body just not handle the abuse that comes from big time athletics? Or can we look to the coaches and trainers and wonder if they are pushing him too much?
I think he is a difference maker on offense (Our problem area right now, imo) when he is healthy, but if not, he is a liability. Therefore, I would much rather rest completely him until really ready to play than have him only practice 15min during the week and then get limited game time. I can't believe playing him like we are now is better than having some of the subs fill in for him during that time.

LAJayhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

chuckberry32, I heard an interview with one of the tournament committee members in the last few years (sorry, I don't have a name), and he said they had contingency plans in place based on the conference championship games. I do think there is some wiggle room depending on the game, but some teams can lose and still get a #1 or another high seed (which I believe has happened in the last 10 years). Either way, I was only bringing up what I heard, and I agree with you that it would be hard to not give it to Texas even if they lost. On the other hand, we do only have 3 losses on the road in, arguably, the toughest conference in D1. And if we beat Texas in the championship, we would have a big win in the state of Texas. I still don't think we would deserve it, but I could see some rationale behind giving us the spot.

This, of course, is all academic, though, as we have four very tough games to win before the tournament. Interesting fodder for the comment board, however.

Ben Kane 9 years, 4 months ago

i think we have over a 90% chance of a #2 seed. Not too much to worry about though, i don't think there is much of a statistical difference there. Be nice to get to play some games close to home but the coastal bias in sports won't let that happen regardless.

LAJayhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

90% is pretty good estimation, I would say. If we don't lose again, it would hard to see us fall below that (probably, even if we lost the B12 championship). The committee, however, never ceases to surprise me.

86finalfour 9 years, 4 months ago

I actually agree with some of these posters - Self has not been a great coach, not yet, at least. Although he has had tough shoes to fill and Kansas basketball always brings high expectations, I'm still a very depressed KU fan and, objectively, losing faith in any of Self's "talented" teams. But they won't fire Self. No, no......so, Ted Owens era here we come......

speedy 9 years, 4 months ago

here lets see you remove this blog!! you get rid of all the rest.

9 years, 4 months ago

Just like we ran off all the other coaches, speedy? The only thing we need to get rid of is the track at Memorial Stadium.

Ben Kane 9 years, 4 months ago

track stays... we actually have a very proud track and field tradition which includes being the host of the kansas relays.

Mitch_4_KU 9 years, 4 months ago

no one seemed to notice but I did.... No problem jhwkfan1625... I have said a few things in my life I wish I hadn't..so forget it. I hope Jackson and Stewart can endure the pain and finish school. I don't care if they are "good" at basketball, they need so much more in life than that. If for some reason they read this, which I hope they don't, mine and many others prayers are sent to you to try and reduce the pain a little. God bless and keep you...

Mitch_4_KU 9 years, 4 months ago

One more comment..all of us are so spoiled by the GREAT tradition at KU in BB and the quality of the young men that choose KU to attend, that we seem to forget we could be as sorry as Mizzou and then what would these boards look like, get a grip folks, 24-3 for a record, good grief. I can't imagine how anyone could be disappointed with this team..............Rock Chalk.

actorman 9 years, 4 months ago

I've always thought the idea of a "go-to" guy at the ends of games is a little overrated. I don't think it's that big a problem to have a balanced team where anyone is capable of making a big shot. The problem is not so much that there isn't one person to step up, but that the entire TEAM seems to fall apart when the game is on the line. How many times now have we heard Self say that the team didn't run the play properly at the end of the game? Twice this year, and I'm pretty sure he's said it in previous years too. Why does the same thing keep happening? That says something about the coaching.

If KU could look for the good shot and the open man and not lose their poise at the end of a game, rather than to panic, they could still pull some of them out. I'm not saying it would be a bad thing for Mario to step forward more, but I also think it's a team-wide problem.

jaybate 9 years, 4 months ago

We're all ready to say the team has problems and is struggling.

But they are 24-3.

And they have been in a trey shooting slump that had to come sooner or later. And had it come later, we would now be 26-1 even with our struggling.

And having two players lose loved ones to murder is completerly outside the norm for a team.

And K State is a very tough out on its good nights.

And Texas is a Final Four team.

I suspect things are not quite as bad as we think, just as they were not quite as good as we thought before the funk set in.

86finalfour 9 years, 4 months ago

as for everyone reciting this team's record of 24-3.
I have this to say...it's not so much about how this team has failed but more what they haven't done. So far, they've achieved very little. They haven't beaten a top 25 team, at all, not even at home! And they haven't beaten a big 12 team with a winning conference record.

So they have a lot to prove before we talk about final four, nat'l championships.

By the way, can anyone answer this question about Self's era at KU: What's Self's most signature* win at KU?

*a game that is late in the season with big implications against an equally as good or better team.

All I can come up with is Texas in the Big 12 championship game two years ago. Note: Florida, in November, doesn't count.

Now.....turn this question on Roy Williams in his first four-five years. Wow! there's so many, it's hard to think of them all....

hmm...1991 Indiana, arkansas, north carolina....

This really gives some perspective, doesn't it?

Has Bill Self even topped an Orange Bowl victory??

KEITHMILES05 9 years, 4 months ago

If Self allows this team to falter in the tourney (by that I mean absolutely nothing less than Elite 8) then the season will be a MONUMENTAL failure.

TXJayhawk92 9 years, 4 months ago

I'm not worried at this point. I'd rather see us struggle now than in a few weeks. I agree that coaching has a lot to do with it. In my humble opinion, a coach has two responsibilities to his team (recruiting, etc. is a separate issue). A coach needs to TEACH at practice and prepare his team to compete at the highest possible level. At game time it's too late to teach and he needs to MOTIVATE. Be it through inspirational pep talks or old good old-fashioned butt chewing, a coach needs to fire up his team and send them on the court/field/pitch spittin' fire and refusing to lose. When they are struggling, a well timed tirade can do wonders. I always loved it when Roy would pull all five starters at once and sit their butts on the pine for a few mintues. Without saying a word, he turned up the heat and they almost always responded - quickly. Asking a player to be the vocal leader on the floor is one thing, but the coach needs to be THE leader ALL of the time.

smitty33 9 years, 4 months ago

Great posts everyone, except you 'Downer Debbie' 86final4.

Right now I don't mind being a #2 seed or even a #3 if we fix our problems and get hot. However, I'd hate to end up in the West again with UCLA, UNC or Duke in the East, or Texas in Houston. Give us anyone in Detroit... the Region I hope we get.

Come on Hawks! Play to your potential!

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