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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Gary Bedore’s KU Basketball Notebook

Kansas forward Markieff Morris sits for questions in the Jayhawks' locker room Saturday March 21, 2009 at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.

Kansas forward Markieff Morris sits for questions in the Jayhawks' locker room Saturday March 21, 2009 at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.

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GameDay Cram Session: NCAA Tournament, Game Two - Dayton

KUSports.com online editor Jesse Newell & Journal-World sports editor Tom Keegan take a look at what to expect during the Jayhawk men's basketball team's second NCAA Tournament matchup.

Flyers resemble familiar foes

Dayton’s basketball team is quick and athletic.

The Flyers of the Atlantic 10 Conference, who play pressure man-to-man defense, resemble three teams the Jayhawks have met this season: Tennessee, Missouri and Michigan State.

“It’s not our first time going against a pressure team. Tennessee is that way,” KU coach Bill Self said. “They are a little different than anybody in our league. Even Missouri is more trapping zone stuff. They come at you man-to-man.”

Dayton coach Brian Gregory worked for Tom Izzo at MSU.

“They run some of the same sets,” Self said. “Their defense to offense (transition) is fabulous. They have the same philosophy as Michigan State,” Self added of a team that beat the Jayhawks, 75-62, in KU’s final nonconference game in East Lansing, Mich.

“Defensive transition, rebounding, being able to guard, be sound handling pressure will all be important,” Self added.

The Wright stuff

Dayton is led by 6-foot-8, 226-pound sophomore forward Chris Wright, who exploded for 27 points in Friday’s 68-60 first-round victory over West Virginia.

“He’s quicker on his feet than normal big guys,” said KU freshman Marcus Morris, who figures to open defensively on Wright. “I think I'm going to have to slide a little more, but he’s very aggressive. So the technique I just have to use is just be aggressive with him and don't let him overpower me going to the basket.”

Here’s coach Self’s take on Wright, who averages 13.4 points a game off 48.9 percent shooting:

“He’s so very active. Puts a lot of pressure on the defense. He’s one of those guys that can play so aggressive that there’s always going to be contact. If you’re not in the proper defensive positioning, you can pick up a lot of fouls.

“But on the flip side, if you are, maybe you can get a cheap one or two on him as well. But he is a fabulous player. And probably puts as much pressure on you defensively as anybody that we played this year from either posting it, rebounding it, or catching it and driving it. I mean, he’s a guy that can really drive the ball.”

No relation

KU junior Mario Little is not related to Dayton’s Charles Little.

“I’m not going to go up and ask him about his name unless I see him at a family reunion,” Mario Little quipped.

Aldrich attends alma mater’s prep game

KU sophomore Cole Aldrich watched his high school basketball team win a state sectional final basketball game on Friday night.

“I just went for a few minutes. It was fun,” Aldrich said of watching Bloomington Jefferson High advance to state.

Taylor pulls prank on teammates

Kansas freshman Tyshawn Taylor put on a show for the media on Saturday in a Metrodome hallway. He opened several plastic containers that held the lunch of his teammates. He grabbed a handful of Oreo cookies from each container and placed them in his pockets, certain to tease his teammates later about his thefts.

Self on KU as favorite in today’s matchup:

“The villain, that’s kind of strong, isn’t it?” Self asked a questioner. “I think that we like the role that we have because usually when Kansas plays and it’s somebody else’s building, it is usually a pretty big game. But it’s that way with a lot of schools across America.

“And these guys don’t feel like they are defending the national championship. We never talked about it with our guys because there’s only really one guy (Sherron Collins) that played ample minutes that really played a big part of us winning it last year. Cole would be the second, and he averaged 2.8 points per game. Nobody else contributed on the court as far as the games go.

“So these are all new guys. We’re not trying to defend anything; we’re trying to go take what we want as opposed to defending.”

Comments

John Randall 10 years, 10 months ago

“The villain, that’s kind of strong, isn’t it?”

... we’re trying to go take what we want ...

Yep, you got that right, coach.

kranny 10 years, 10 months ago

Thanks Azhawk. I've been following him since he committed. He can't get here soon enough. Just think-Withey, Taylor, Johnson, T. Robinson, Woolridge, Reed, and rest. I figure if Lance Stephenson commits, he'll be here for just one season.

Chris Shaw 10 years, 10 months ago

Anybody have any info on Lance Stephenson. I thought he was making a decision on March 20th.

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

Dayton Coach Brian Gregory is a Ratso Izzo disciple?

Translation: They work team's over physically with rubber billyclubs.

Handling Chris Wright will be tough, but between Marcus and Mario Little, we ought to be able to slow him down. Marcus needs to play very tough however long he can stay on the court. Mario Little, it is time to be a force again. I would not be surprised to see Quintrel Thomas get off the bench for this game. He's the right size and he's got the fouls to give. Look for him to get 3-5 first half minutes banging Wright, if Marcus gets 2 fouls and Little cannot find the inner beast. This is the ideal kind of game for Quintrel to make a small, but vital contribution.

If KU can get by Dayton, they will have played Ratso Izzo ball twice this season. This means they should be prepared for the violence come next week when we get our chance for revenge on reigning dirtiest coach in college basketball.

Still our green team has not really seen Ratso's team at the level of violence they apply in the tourney games.

Issue the whole team brass knuckles for Dayton, just so they can get practice using them for MSU. They'll need them for both games.

It might be wise to bring Cole's mask to both games.

Michael Mulvihill 10 years, 10 months ago

Lance will commit after the McDonalds All American Game

odc213 10 years, 10 months ago

April 1st now for Lance Down to St Johns, Maryland and Kansas. St Johns and Kansas listed as front runners. He has noted in the press that he has made his decision, just waiting for the McDonald's Game to announce. He visited KU on the weekend of the KU Neb. game. I think the crowd chanted, We want Lance or 'We like Lance alot" He seems like a FIT for us since we seem to have a gap at the 3 spot. Which is why I'm worried about today. Rock Chalk. Also we will have alot of seniors next year so if he was 2 years and done he'd be a perfect fit. He is not necessarily one and done. If he has his head on his shoulders he understands the ups and downs of this level already and that one year might not put him in the place of 1st round definite money draft spots. Big East would be good for him but so would Big 12. Lots of talent here in Big 12 as evidence is shown with our record in the dance right now. Paul Pierce was here 3 years. I think if he wants to learn team play which ultimately will help him in the NBA, he'll come here, probably staying 2 years. NBA elite teams play TEAM BALL... like the Celtics.... and if you don't have that foundation, that rythmn, you are nothing.

jchief40 10 years, 10 months ago

March 31st actually not April 1st. Get the latest update at zagsblog.com

It sounds like he'll come to Kansas. Just think Elijah Johnson, Tyshawn Taylor, Lance Stephenson, Marcus Morris, Cole Aldrich. Regulars off bench: Jeff Withey, Thomas Robinson, Brady Morningstar, Markieff Morris, Travis Releford, Tyrel Reed. Then you have Quintrell Thomas, Appleton, etc.

Wow. That has preseason top 5 written all over it. Simply loaded with talent!

Chris Shaw 10 years, 10 months ago

You know what I think we need to do. I think the Kusports.com staff needs to have a column on Lance Stephenson every day until Stephenson commits. I want this kid! KU wants this kid and all we need to do is convince Lance Stpehenson that he wants KU. Is it too much to ask for a story everyday in some capacity about Lance Stepenson? LOL! Yes, it probably is!

Tony Bandle 10 years, 10 months ago

Drgnslayr,

I totally agree...why would you move your announcement out of New York if you were going to pick a New York team.

Also, I have a local contact in Lawrence who can verify that Lance's Dad loved Lawrence, loved KU but, most importantly, loved that his son would have an opportunity to play for a quality coach as HCBS. His comment was my son can come here and leave a better basketball player, but more importantly, leave a better man!!!!

Also, I think his family wants him away from the destructive element that has followed him around since grade school. And next year's team will be loaded so Lance can be part of the team, not bear the whole weight as he would at the other schools.

Chris Shaw 10 years, 10 months ago

ODC: I was lingering on the fact that Lance Stephenson might not commit to KU, but your post has renewed my vigor that Stephenson might indeed sign with KU. I'm with you, I've been "High" on Stephenson all year. Yes, he has some baggage, but it's nothing that Self and the overall environment of KU can't fix.

Hey, anyone else think that Wear twins from California did not deserve to be on this McDonald's All-American team. How does Thomas Robinson not make the team? It's a deep class at power forward so maybe that was the committe's thinking.

jchief40 10 years, 10 months ago

No I completely agree with the potential in Appleton and Thomas! It's just something called a pecking order..

cpatcheak1 10 years, 10 months ago

Hey i talk to a kid that gos to his high school.. I meet the kid on youtube . Well he said to me was that hes very cocky and alot students dont like his attiude lol. The kid said that lance has been sayin to his close friends that its ku hope he is right.But sounds like he also wants someone to work him who better than self. Then next year i think we memphis lance vs xavier it be great.

InfiniteJ 10 years, 10 months ago

If Lance Stephenson is down with playing "team ball" than I'm all for him coming to KU, but if he is going to be a "me first" player, which many people believe he will be, then I don't want him on the team. Either way, I think Stephenson has "one-and-done" written all over him.

bentleytiger 10 years, 10 months ago

Thanks for the invite to the conversation drgnslayr. Memphis SAID NO TO LANCE!!! We didn't want him, just like we didn't want the Cheek and Robinson. And he is selfish, I doubt if he signs with KU because you do play team ball. Hold on, News flash, your point guard takes almost 30 shots a game..Is that team ball? Wow,, lol Hope you guys can get by Dayton..

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

odc213,

This one seems pretty clear: the Okie Baller mafia is playing tag team again. Self did this with Michael Snaer, after Howland at UCLA dumped Snaer and left him high and dry. Snaer appears to have come to Self and said I want to commit to KU, but Self only wanted Snaer, if he couldn't get some of the guys ahead of Snaer. So: Self appears to have made an implied deal with Snaer: he would ask Snaer to wait and to insure him against the risk of waiting and Self not needing him he would get implied guarranties from Okie Ballers Leonard Hamilton at FSU and Buzz Williams at Marquette to take Snaer, if either Self could not use him, or Snaer felt he needed to commit sooner for his own good. Snaer decided he could not wait and opted for Hamilton and FSU.

Now we have Lance Stephenson, who, for a long time was playing Memphis and KU off against each other; then Memphis loaded up and had no room for him and left him high and dry. KU became the number one option, but Collins' failure to be ranked as a high pre draft draft pick caused there to be uncertainty about whether Collins would jump this year. So: Stephenson and Self appear to have worked out a similar kind of deal to that worked out with Snaer. If Collins jumps and Self has a scholie for Stephenson, Stephenson comes to KU. If Collins stays, and Self can't shake another ride free, Self has a gotten a guarranty from his former assistant Norm Roberts at St. Johns to take Stephenson (a guaranty which Roberts is very willing to make). Again, this insures away Stephenson's risk of waiting till late to make his decison about where to go, now that Memphis dropped him. Stephenson is hedging a little with Maryland, but the deal appears to reduce to KU and St. Johns.

The Okie Baller mafia appears to have created a system that may not be able to corner the very best players all the time, but it is solid gold at placing all the players that non Okie Baller mafia coaches at major programs leave high and dry. And over time word gets round that the Okie Baller Mafia takes care of guys by giving them decent insurance options when the lead school, KU, decides to go another direction. Contrast this with being left high and dry by UCLA, or UConn, or UNC. And right now, Bill Self seems to be the Don of this Okie Baller Mafia.

Talking about playing 70 point take what they give you in recruiting! :-)

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

Regarding Lance's Possible Role at KU: I hope Lance comes, but how does he solve a problem at the three exactly?

He is listed as a shooting guard, not a small forward? Has he indicated that he wants to switch to small forward? Does he shoot over 44% from three, so that he's a better trey shooter than Morningstar? Could he make fewer TOs than Morningstar? Could he immediately guard the opponent's best perimeter player for 30 minutes per game consistently as Brady as proven time and again that he can do?

Plus we already have Mario Little for the three, when we need to go bigger and more muscular than Brady.

I could see Lance getting some of Brady's minutes, but not all of them, unless he is that most unusual of freshman--the guy who shoots 45% from trey, lock down defends, and takes it to the rim--the last of which Brady apparently does not do.

If Lance did come to KU, I would think he would also take some of Tyshawn's minutes. Tyshawn has plateau-ed down the stretch. If Lance were as good as everyone seems to think, it would mean he were much stronger than Tyshawn, much better at getting to the rim, and a much better trey shooter than Tyshawn's 37% trey shooting.

But does anyone really think Lance would come somewhere where he had to split minutes with two guys? It might work. He might wind up playing 30-35 minutes by taking half their minutes. Maybe Tyrel, a 41% shooter could be cut back, or pick up more minutes at the point to keep his three point gun involved, but it sounds kind of a dicey for an OAD.

I just don't see Lance coming to KU, if Sherron is here again. If Sherron jumps, then Lance is an obvious fit. If not, then I think he goes to St. Johns.

Would we be better with Lance even if Sherron stays? Absolutely. The guy is a great talent. But there is a lot of difference between being a great talent and taking over the show as a freshman, when there are so many able bodies already here.

Dirk Medema 10 years, 10 months ago

Jaybate - Is there that much difference between a 1, 2, or 3 in Self's O? I seem to recall him commenting on there being a lot less difference that in other systems. That he is really looking for 3 primeter players that can handle the ball and score.

The place where Lance could be a significant improvement is defending the taller, more athletic 3 of other teams, and providing a bit more than a 3-pt threat on O. Brady has performed amazingly well this year, so there is no slam intended here. I repeatedly defended him early in the year when so many claimed he should barely be playing much less starting. There is more potential at the position - if someone steps up to take the opportunity.

Minutes definitely not a given if Lance comes, since Mario will also have something to say about it also. That being said, the 3rd option on O is still missing from this team, and Lance and Mario have the potential to be that with a full season to work at the 3. Tyrel and Brady both become phenominally solid reserves that you can totally depend on.

InfiniteJ 10 years, 10 months ago

Why would Stephenson not consider KU if he was a "me first" player? I'm sure the dude wants to be on a winning team, right? The reason I said that he has one-and-done written all over him is because there were some fools saying that he would stay in college for two years, which more than likely would not be the case, no matter what school he decides to play for. I want Stephenson to come to KU just as much as everyone else, but I'm not going to cry if he decides to go to St. John's or Maryland.....and everyone has to admit, there is a chance Stephenson could be a cancer on whichever team he plays for.....KU included.

Jason Roberts 10 years, 10 months ago

After hearing Lance Stephenson was moving his decision to April 1st after the McDonald's all-star game I became optimistic that he would possibly choose KU. However, I'm more inclined to think that he may have pushed his decision back so that he could gauge the performance of the Big East in the NCAA Tournament in order to get an idea as to which conference would bring forth more exposure on his "one and done" trek. As we speak at least two draft websites (NBAdraft.net and DraftExpress) don't even have Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins in the first or second round so it would be a safe assumption that they would both come back.

In a perfect world, next year's starting five would be: PG - Sherron Collins SG - Lance Stephenson SF - Mario Little PF - Marcus Morris C - Cole Aldrich

Bench PG - Elijah Johnson, Jordan Jueneman, Tyrone Appleton SG - Tyshawn Taylor, Tyrel Reed, Brady Morningstar F - Quintrell Thomas, Thomas Robinson C - Jeff Whitney, Markieff Morris

Even if Lance goes elsewhere, it makes for a loaded team and justifies Jaybate's idea of Norm Roberts obtaining Lance if Bill Self has SC and Cole Train return.

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