Thursday, November 15, 2012


Opinion: Ben McLemore slams home beauty of the dunk

Kansas guard Ben McLemore sticks his tongue out after a jam against Chattanooga during the second half on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Ben McLemore sticks his tongue out after a jam against Chattanooga during the second half on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self

Kansas coach Bill Self talks to reporters following the Jayhawks' 69-55 victory over Chattanooga on Nov. 15, 2012.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Elijah Johnson, Ben McLemore and Jeff Withey

Elijah Johnson, Ben McLemore and Jeff Withey talk to reporters following the Jayhawks' 69-55 victory over Chattanooga on Nov. 15, 2012.

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Box score


Outlawing the dunk in college basketball doesn’t quite rank with banning Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” on the dumbest moves of all-time list, but it’s a close call.

The NCAA banned the dunk from 1967 to 1976 in an attempt to make life more difficult for an extremely bright, thoughtful, well-mannered, one-man basketball promotional machine who dominated with grace. Good thing the NCAA changed the rules on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar when his name was Lew Alcindor. After all, if you can’t legislate against someone like that, why even exist as an organization?

No exit polls were conducted Thursday night as the 16,300 spectators transformed by Ben McLemore’s gravity-defying dunks from nervous wrecks into giddy noise boxes strolled out of Allen Fieldhouse. None were needed. Surely, 100 percent of those polled would have agreed that reinstating the dunk was a smart move by the NCAA. It’s reassuring to be reminded that more than 40 years after the rest of the country learned that prohibition of really fun things just doesn’t work, the NCAA got the hint.

Leap-easy McLemore had five slams and even threw a lob that Jeff Withey slammed home. In so doing, McLemore enabled the release of all that pent-up frustration from a crowd that had to watch a Kansas offense that only the game’s inventor and the first and only losing basketball coach in Kansas history, Dr. James Naismith, could have enjoyed.

A number of factors enabled Kansas to defeat Chattanooga, 69-55, in a game it trailed 36-28 at the half. For one thing, Bill Self let his three senior starters have it in the locker room during the halftime intermission while disciplined, athletic dogs were running down Frisbees on the court and leaping for sensational catches. Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford and Jeff Withey, who had been awful in the first half, all were terrific in the second. (Basketball definition of infinity: Releford playing against a clone of Releford in a game of one-on-one up to one.)

Not to be forgotten in reviewing Thursday’s turn-around that included a 19-1 run from the home team: the power of the dunk.

Nobody fuels that symbiotic basketball player-crowd energy flow more than a high-flying flusher. Thanks to McLemore, the home crowd-advantage could be greater than ever this season for the Jayhawks, who will need all the help they can get if they don’t start shooting better (.245 on three-pointers three games into the season).

UCLA’s legendary coach John Wooden and UConn women’s coach Geno Auriemma, the most accomplished all-time women’s hoops coach not named Pat Summitt, represent different viewpoints on the dunk.

“Coach Wooden always said he hated the dunk and that kind of stuff, and I could understand how people could feel that way,” 10th-year KU coach Bill Self said. “But I’m totally different. I think those type of plays are the plays that change games from a momentum standpoint.”

Auriemma rocked the women’s hoops world recently when he said he thinks the rim should be lowered to bring the dunk into the women’s game as a more common play, not just a novelty executed by the very best. He suggested lowering it “about seven inches,” and even offered 7.2 inches as a way of honoring Title IX, equality-in-sports legislation passed in 1972. He, by the way, is not the first to advocate lowering the rim in the women’s game, just the most respected. But that’s a column for another day. Or did I already write that one a few years ago?

Anyway, Self loves the dunk and constantly reminds his players that theirs usually start on defense.

“How many times do you get more run-outs and more dunks when you actually guard and you don’t have to take the ball out of bounds?” he said. “We had more fun in the second half in large part thanks to defending. That’s what makes it fun.”

For everybody. Dunk you very much for rescinding the ban, NCAA.


FlashyThundercat 7 years, 7 months ago

I wonder if these columns are ever edited for wordiness before they're published.

Bobby Burch 7 years, 7 months ago

Although they certainly can, editors — i.e sports editors, community editors, editor-in-chiefs etc. — typically don't review and edit stories before they're printed. Copy-editors are generally tasked with the job of checking for grammar, wordiness, accuracy etc. I'm nearly positive TK passes his columns off to copy editors before its posted online or printed.

hawk316 7 years, 7 months ago

As one who remembers the unfortunate NCAA decision to ban the dunk, I thought Keegan's angle on this story was a decent one. Was this one of his best pieces ever? Probably not, but so what?

In any case, to all of those readers who seemingly can't wait to pounce on Tom Keegan whenever he fails to write a Pulitzer Prize-worthy column, just try writing a brilliant article every couple of days. When you discover that it's not as easy as it appears, perhaps you could extend a bit more grace to this man. Seriously. All the sniping gets very old.

Allen Shepard 7 years, 7 months ago

Keegan is making fun of us with these columns at this point....

Brianna Zaleski 7 years, 7 months ago

I think you nailed it. That, or he's drunk.

KUFan90 7 years, 7 months ago

"Dunk you very much". I believe that phrase has been trade marked by Gary Bedore. You'll have to write him a royalty check Keegan.

Makes me miss the old "Ask Gary" columns. Anyone else remember those?

None of Ben's sweet dunks made Top 10 tonight but certainly deserved to seeing a couple that did make it. At least Traylor's block was #9.

finestack 7 years, 7 months ago

Seriously? I always sit back and enjoy these LJW columns and opinions ( and your comments frequent posters ! ). This I did not enjoy. What is this?

RJ King 7 years, 7 months ago

Trying to type now . . . waiting for vertigo to subside . . .

leonard 7 years, 7 months ago

To quote a long time sports anchor:

Rumbling, bumbling, stumbling...

LVCHawk 7 years, 7 months ago

Ummm, what? Someone help me out with this. Its 6 in the morning, so maybe I cant process the genius of this yet.

"(Basketball definition of infinity: Releford playing against a clone of Releford in a game of one-on-one up to one.)"

KUFan90 7 years, 7 months ago

I think he is saying Releford can't score, so if he played himself in a game of "1 on 1" where the winning score is first person to score one point, the game would never end.

I did have to read it a few times...not sure Im correct, but it was the best I could come up with.

Tyler Fox 7 years, 7 months ago

He's good at defense, but below average on offense. He would never be able to score on himself.

Steve Kubler 7 years, 7 months ago

Took me a couple of readings to get it to and I am wide awake, I think. However he nails it Relly on Relly would be a never ending game. At least until one or the other decided to drive. I believe Travis has decided to take it to the rim, in a half court set not a run out, 6 times this season in the games I have been able to watch. I am working off of memory here but I believe he scored four times, shot foul shots once, and dribbled off his foot out of bounds once.

When he gets it in his head to drive good things happen more often then not so why does he keep tossing threes? Anyone have a clue?

LAJayhawk 7 years, 7 months ago

I actually thought that was the one interesting and funny sentence in an otherwise total mess of a weird and pointless article.

It was pretty clever. The rest of the piece, however.....

gimmetheclaw78 7 years, 7 months ago

Keegan made reference to The Grateful Dead in a spot on 810 yesterday. It all makes sense now ;)

kellerman411 7 years, 7 months ago

I swear to god that two sentences into this article I knew it was Keegan without even looking. I still haven't looked and I know it's Keegan.

Robert Brock 7 years, 7 months ago

This column could have been written by a freshman journalism student. Perhaps it was.

mattiesdad 7 years, 7 months ago

Let's focus on the positive here: Ben DunkLemore!

HawkKlaw 7 years, 7 months ago

or Ben "You're My Only Hope" McLemore

Steve Gantz 7 years, 7 months ago

Copycat! I introduced that name on the live feed last night! Either that or it's great minds think alike!

Adam Collins 7 years, 7 months ago

At least the LJ World puts most of his articles under "Opinion" now to separate it from the other pieces.

notjustbread 7 years, 7 months ago

there were frisbee dogs at halftime? I love frisbee dogs.

PSM 7 years, 7 months ago

Jeez it's an Op-Ed piece people. Keegan does a pretty good job coming up with fairly unique insight on a daily basis, which isn't easy. He's a good writer and he's witty. Plus, he's nice as hell in person. And stuff like that.

Steve Gantz 7 years, 7 months ago

I'm all in favor of banning I mean the dunk. I've never been able to do it so why should anyone else be able to?

Sandeep Kalburgie 7 years, 7 months ago

I love Keegan's articles .... because the comments at the end of his articles crack me up!!!! :)

kugrad93 7 years, 7 months ago

Only Keegan would work a 50-year-old novel about rape and racism into a sports column about dunking. And there is a reason for that. It's dumb. It's a reach. And it's a reference probably lost on some readers. But at least it's poorly written.

Katie Bieber 7 years, 7 months ago

The only thing that bothered me about the article was the title. It's not an opinion! It is fact! BMac is AWESOME!!!

Tony Bandle 7 years, 7 months ago

Gee...and I thought the Audubahn Society got tried to get "To Kill A Mockingbird" banned for cruelty to our feathered, you learn something every day!!

wildjayhawk 7 years, 7 months ago

Good artricle Tom, you're right on and keep it up.

mikehawk 7 years, 7 months ago

I love dunks as much as the next person, except when we are on the receiving end. What I would really be giddy about is seeing some skill at hitting mid range jump shots, that boring, old, lost art of basketball. Especially if Withey, who will never be a power player from inside, would be able to step out more and take some from mid range. You hit a few of those and suddenly their bigs have to come out opening up the inside for more of the high flyers via B-Mac off the baseline. Dunks and their impact on changing games occur more at home against weaker teams, and tend to dry up against the elite teams and on the road. You don't want to live and die by that sword. The fact is this team remains a huge work in progress. HCBS is doing what he always does, building his teams defense (inside) out. He works from the Ibaesque philosopy shots and offense will come and go, but defense is your constant. They seem, at this point, disjointed from the standpoint of a gap between the seniors and their knowledge, and the raw talent of the younger players. We spoiled KU fan base need to be patient and enjoy the development that will surely have a "two step forward, one step back," at times frustrating look and feel. One thing for sure, although I'm glad other bloggers were able to help me understand the Releford reference (it was a mystery to me), is that Travis is going to get many more chances to hit some three balls because every scouting report now says, "let 24 take as many as he wants." The good news is Travis is historically a bit streaky with his shot. If he ever hits one, he may hit 5 or 6 in a row. Travis's body, which is Hudy and age impacted, looks like a man's body more and more, and could be of much more use driving to the basket where he tends to be a terrific finisher. I do love the way he seems to never let his misses impact the other areas of his game. For many players, that is a rare quality.

Tim Orel 7 years, 7 months ago

Why not add links to video clips of the dunks? Is it because of who has the rights to telecast games? Is is that the LJW doesn't want to possibly direct people to other sites? That's old fashioned journalism and while I feel the LJW does a terrific job with this site, it sure would be nice to have a better multi-media and 2012 presence to it than just taking the print articles from the paper, putting them out here and letting the commenters be the ones to post links. BTW in fairness, I couldn't find anyone posting the video online of the dunks from the last game but there are lots of links to his dunk against Emporia State in the exhibition season. Here's a link (hope this doesn't get this post banned) to a collection of Ben McLemore dunk listings on another site.

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