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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Jayhawks begin quest for ninth straight Big 12 title with ISU

Kansas players come to a huddle while trailing Temple during the second half on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas players come to a huddle while trailing Temple during the second half on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Kansas University’s basketball players and coaches tonight begin their two-month quest for a ninth straight Big 12 Conference regular-season title.

If successful once again, the Jayhawks, who went 12-1 in the nonconference season, will not only be elated, but, yes, relieved.

“Everybody always talks about not being ‘that team,’ the one that messed up the streak. How would that look?” KU sophomore backup point guard Naadir Tharpe said Tuesday.

“The dudes I played with last year ... that’s all they talked about, ‘It can’t be us. We’ve got to get focused. We’ve got to make sure this, that.’ That’s all Tyshawn (Taylor) and Thomas (Robinson) talked about. They always said, ‘We can’t be the ones.’

“It’s that way this year. Elijah (Johnson), Travis (Releford) and those older dudes are all saying the same thing. We have to make sure we all help them out the best we can,” Tharpe added.

KU coach Bill Self acknowledges his squad, which meets Iowa State (10-3) at 6 tonight in Allen Fieldhouse in the Big 12 opener for both teams, views winning the league as more of a “responsibility” than an “opportunity.”

“Everybody wants to motivate from an opportunity standpoint,” Self said. “We have a chance to do something special. There is also responsibility we don’t want to get our butts beaten and certainly be the team that doesn’t do it. I think we’re motivated both ways.”

KU’s school-record streak of eight straight conference titles ties for the seventh longest string in NCAA history.

UCLA won 13 conference titles in a row in the Pac-8 and Pac-10 from 1967-79. Gonzaga won 11 straight West Coast Conference titles (2001-11); UConn (1951-60) and UNLV (1983-92) 10 straight Yankee and Big West Conference crowns respectively; and Idaho State (1953-61) and Kentucky (1944-52) nine straight Rocky Mountain and SEC titles.

As far as current streaks ... just three teams enter league play having won as many as three titles in a row.

Belmont, Ohio State and Murray State have won or tied for titles in the Atlantic Sun, Big Ten and Ohio Valley the past three campaigns.

“I didn’t start it, but I’d like to continue it, go out there and work hard and help my teammates win,” freshman guard Ben McLemore said. “Eight in a row is great. I want to keep that going. Nine in a row would sound great.”

Tenth-year KU coach Self acknowledged that eight straight league titles, “is pretty good. We’re proud of it. We don’t have nine, we’ve got eight. The ninth would be certainly as difficult to win as any of the others.”

KU has won 55 regular-season conference titles throughout history. Kentucky is second with 51 and Penn third at 37.

“If you want to talk impressive,” Self said, “watch what Alabama is doing in football. That humbles you a little bit. To win three (national championships) in four years is a remarkable feat. No matter what we’ve done here locally, on the national scene there is a lot more to be done if we want to be considered elite like what they’re doing in football.”

Self senses no complacency in his team.

“It was kind of neat watching tape yesterday,” Self said. After we watched Temple tape (69-62 win on Sunday), the guys were really excited about talking about what lies ahead in starting the second season.”

Self, whose Jayhawks went 16-2 in the conference last year, said he has no idea how many victories it would take to win No. 9 in a row.

“Between 11 and 16,” he said, smiling. “You know you’re going to have to win a lot of games to win the league. Not everybody is going to go .500. You’re going to have to probably win 14 or 15 I would think to have a reasonable shot at it. We’re 0-0, so we’re getting way ahead of ourselves. We haven’t played a game yet.”

Tharpe added: “It’s what everybody talks about — that KU is the favorite to win. How can we be the favorite to win? We’ve not even played a game in the Big 12. We just have to come out and show it.”

Self said the Big 12 winner annually can expect to be a national title contender.

“If we’re not the best in our league we don’t deserve to be considered the best in the country is the way I look at it,” Self said. “I don’t think our players are ever satisfied, overconfident or relaxed based on the Big 12. That’s a stepping stone to where you want to go. It’s a big step, important step, one we take great pride in.”

Tonight, KU opens against an Iowa State team that has played just one game in the last three weeks. The Cyclones, whose only losses have come to Cincinnati, UNLV and Iowa, rank first in the Big 12 and seventh nationally in scoring at 82 points a game. The Cyclones also lead the conference in rebounding at 43.4 boards per game and rebound margin at +10.8.

Senior guard Will Clyburn averages a team-leading 14.1 points and is second on the team in rebounding at 7.4. Junior forward Melvin Ejim averages 10.5 points and 9.4 rebounds. Senior guard Korie Lucious averages 9.7 points and 5.4 assists. Senior guard Tyrus McGee, who averages 13.4 ppg off the bench, has hit 48.1 percent of his threes.

“They score easier than anybody in our league,” said Self, whose team averages 77.7 ppg while allowing 59.2. “They shoot a ton of threes (118 of 330 for 35.8 percent to KU’s 84 of 223 for 37.7 percent). They are a terrific rebounding team.

“There really are no guys that you can play off of. That puts pressure on your defense and other areas. They are probably the best offensive team in our league, I would say, watching tape.”

Hoiberg on ‘Hawks: ISU coach Fred Hoiberg was 4-5 versus KU as a player and is 1-3 as a head coach.

“It’s a fun place to play. I’ve never won there in six chances as a player and coach, but it’s a great experience for the players to go experience that atmosphere,” Hoiberg said. “We are in a stretch we played one game in 21 days. Our guys are sick of each other right now. We’re ready to start playing some other people.”

Of KU’s team, he said: “It is impossible to simulate Kansas’ pressure in the way they get after you, especially the first six, seven minutes. It’s almost like playing eight guys on the floor. The big thing is you have to play with effort. If you don’t match their intensity the first five minutes, a lot of times it’s over by the first media timeout. We are going to go down there, lay it out there and see what happens.”

Of KU senior center Jeff Withey, Hoiberg said: “I was thinking of putting paddles on our big guys’ hands playing the scout team (at practice to simulate Withey’s blocking ability). You’ve got to be so selective as far as taking the ball to the basket. When he blocks a shot, it’s a dunk on the other end. The kid has a chance to be a terrific player for a long time (NBA).”

Familiar foes: KU’s Tharpe and ISU’s Ejim were teammates at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire (2009-10).

“We won our conference and national championship together,” Tharpe said. “He’s a good player, a good guy who works real hard. He rebounds. He can step out and shoot the ball well.”

This, that: ISU is the only team in the country to score 70 points in every game this season. ... KU leads the all-time series, 171-59, dating to 1908 and has won 12 of the last 13 meetings. KU is 47-9 vs. Iowa State in Allen Fieldhouse. KU has won seven in a row vs. ISU in Allen. The Jayhawks have won 99 of their last 100 games at home.

Comments

GreatJake 1 year, 3 months ago

Does anyone know when a replay on ESPN will be? I recorded the game and missed the last 20 seconds of regulation and the entire OT.

Cant watch channel 6 cable as we have Dish.

Thanks.

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jjarmstrong 1 year, 3 months ago

In the photo at top it looks like the guys are sadly observing a dead squirrel on the ground.

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Micah Mandy Haase 1 year, 3 months ago

Last year when Tharpe was put in, I cringed (although it was usually only 1-2 minutes at a time) The beginning of this year I started to do the same, but now I'm actually growing fond of him. Ben has been my favorite so far and I am looking forward to seeing them all in person when they come down here to Norman on Feb 9!

RCJHKU!

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jgkojak 1 year, 3 months ago

The problem is solved if they have an 8 team (not 16 or 32) team playoff in football.

Take the top 5 conference champs as ranked by the BCS (or your selection cmte, whatever)

Take the top 3 ranked non-con teams

Seed 'em

Top 4 conf champs host a home game 3rd week of Dec

Final Four teams play Jan 1

This year the first round is 8 N Illinois at 1 Notre Dame, 7 Stanford at 2 Alabama, 5 Florida at 4 KSU, 6 FSU at 3 Oregon St

On New Year's we would have likely seen 1 Notre Dame vs. 4/5 KSU or Florida 2 Alabama vs. Oregon St

You wanna pick the winners of those games? Any of those teams could end up in champ game - and that Bama - OSU game would have been awesome

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justanotherfan 1 year, 3 months ago

Football is so much different than basketball.

In football, its easier to win the title (not easy, but easier) because you don't have as much in the way of random occurrences. For example, a really strong team like Alabama won't lose very many games because they are strong in every facet. There seems to be a team that flirts with going undefeated every year in college football. In basketball, the last unbeaten usually falls in late January, or by mid February at the latest. In basketball, one guy can get hot and carry an average team to a win over a great team. In football, that's much less likely.

I think the equivalent of what Alabama has done would be going to 4 straight FF's with a couple of titles mixed in. Proof of how tough that is, though, is to look at Kentucky this year. FF, national title, this year probably won't make it past the round of 16. Or look at KU. Top notch teams each of the last 6 years. Elite 8 in '07. Won the title in '08. Lost in the Sweet 16 in '09. Lost in the round of 32 in '10. Elite 8 in '11. Title game last year. Looks like they could run to the Elite 8 or further again this season. But they could get tripped up like the 2010 squad, because upsets happen in the tournament, even to the best teams. But that's basketball for you. Still, KU has a mini dynasty going right now on the national level.

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JayDocMD 1 year, 3 months ago

On the recruiting front, wondering if we have a real chance at Tyus Jones ('14 PG - Rivals #3 player?) Anyone know if he is still planning on a KU visit? He had mentioned last Fall making a trip to KU.

I know we've got Mason, Frankamp and Selden coming this year with Tharp (and Rio?) still here. But it would be nice to have an elite pure PG prospect for a change.

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Ludwig Supraphonic 1 year, 3 months ago

Bill Self is a brilliant tactician and does not make random comments without an objective. No one is winning 3 of 4 NCAA basketball championships in today's tournament. Wooden could do it in another era with a 16 team tournament and no media/social media microscope. The appearance of dominance that Alabama currently enjoys in football will not occur in NCAA basketball and for many of us makes hoops that much more entertaining.

The BCS format engineered what seemed to be a compelling battle of traditional powers and most of the gameday talking heads were questioning Bamas being 9 1/2 points better. In hindsight, everyone is now clear it was a mismatch. Oklahoma's home beatdown by the Irish helped establish ND as legit. Alabama had match up problems with a Freshman quarterback on a team one year away from mediocrity in the Big12. Match ups often make games and I don't think Bamas or the SECs dominance is permanent. Next years four team playoff, isn't much, but is a speed bump against a hookslide through a mediocre, nonconference schedule into the championship game.

As Coach Self notes, most of us would be delighted if our hoops program could produce 3 NCs in 4 years. In a competitive atmosphere with great athletes and HOF coaches that can never happen. Unless the deck were stacked in a way that limits competition. UKs current status suggests we aren't there yet.

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Jack Wilson 1 year, 3 months ago

Watching us play Temple tells me we lose at least 3 in Big 12 play. Maybe 16-2. But I'd bet 15-3.

We are good. But we're not that good yet. If we finish with 3 or 4 losses, that's still probably a number one seed. But who needs that? A #2 is fine. See 2003 and 2012. Matchups are what matters. But more, it's building to be ready.

The key for this team is being ready to play in March. To be that fine tuned, well oiled machine that can deal with adversity, that can deal with foul trouble, that can deal with the hot shooting team, that can deal with a down night. A team that has a clear character to it.

I am proud of the Big 12 titles. But I would trade all 8 in this stretch for one national title .. perhaps the one last season. But that's just me.

Now, with the run of titles, what builds legacies, what cements teams as "great", and programs as "great", and coaches as "great", are national titles. It's not the entire story, it just sets the concrete. One for coach Self is not enough.

I simply want coach Self to prepare this team for March. The best way he can. Think March. Think national title. It's fine to think .. "what do I need to do to win tonight" .. but please be thinking "what do I need to do for this team to be at its peak in March." Have that thought as the overriding thought in decision making.

If we had a bit of a collapse, lost 5 league games, and OSU surprises and wins the league ... but we win the national title ... no one will care that we didn't win the league.

This is a chase for a real national championship. With the hardware we have, that is absolutely all that matters from here on out. This is a team that can win it all.

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Steve Gantz 1 year, 3 months ago

I heard that a coach, I think it was in the SEC was advocating for their league to go to a full round robin schedule, 26 games. Wouldn't that be great to see in all conferences? For a number of years there when Texas was really good, the whims of the schedule meant we'd either play there or they'd play here, but rarely at both places. That robs the league of a marquee matchup.

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Tony Bandle 1 year, 3 months ago

I could see the possibility of losing to ISU in Hilton......but, no way in Allen!!

Still, this game will be a good initial guage of what Kansas will have to do to take NUMBER NINE!!

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Steve Kubler 1 year, 3 months ago

Sorry Mr Hoiberg, strapping paddles on your players won't help much. Might extend the reach but you can't simulate the timing and body control. Not that I wouldn't like to see you give it a go, there is one YouTube video that would go viral.

I agree with Blownjay in that Jeff is likely to have a slow night on D stat wise. He is going to be dragged all over the perimeter, unless of course HCBS see's this possibility and schemes around it. Is it time for Jaybate's 1-3-1, 2-1-2 or box and 1, is it time for mixing things up and muddying the water for future teams scouting reports? Heck a box and 1switching everything would be fun to watch and with KU's team speed just might prove effective from time to time.

Oh well, it's about 9 hours to tip-off and I'm about worked up to game time fever already. Better start pacing myself a bit!

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theend 1 year, 3 months ago

Remember......ISU almost beat us last year at Allen. So KU needs to be ready tonight. I think KU will win......but I always worry. It's my nature.

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Kit Duncan 1 year, 3 months ago

If ISU's plan is to drag Jeff away from the basket, it means Kevin Young will have to be the on-basket defender. He should have a big game... Fear the 'Fro!

RCJH!

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REHawk 1 year, 3 months ago

Fans who appreciate "out of the box" maneuvering have got to love Hoiberg. He represents a fresh breath of life to Big 12 hoops. Utilizing Royce White to run the point was a brilliant move. Even coping with Royce's complexities has to rank right up there with Bill Self's nurturing of Tyshawn Taylor. I am braced for a very different brand of game in The Phog tonight. My Hawks to Rock: Ben and Perry.

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FearlessJayhawk 1 year, 3 months ago

Iowa State always plays tough. All we have to do is stay focused and take care of the ball. Turnovers is the one weakness of this team. If any of you players are reading this, keep it under control. Don't play like a scatter-brain. THINK!

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clevelandjayhawker 1 year, 3 months ago

That photo makes it look like Tharpe is leading this team, not EJ

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Jayhawk470 1 year, 3 months ago

I've always hated Iowa State. Their players are punks and thugs, their fanbase is trash, and their coach has got to be doing something shady to lure so many talented transfers to Ames. I hope KU runs up the score on the Cy-Clowns. Rock Chalk Jayhawk; and to hell with Iowa State! >:(

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Ron Franklin 1 year, 3 months ago

Bill Self is so simple, yet so complex.

Hoiberg is a very smart coach. Right up there with Self. I get nervous everytime KU matches up against ISU. I cannot say that for ANY other Big 12 team.

I don't see Withey having a big game tonight, In fact, I anticipate he'll be a non-factor other than a few boards and some points. There will be too much perimeter play and really bad match up for Jeff.

Speaking of Jeff: I love seeing the show Withey is putting on even in the wake of DMan leaving. It is so very refreshing to once again have one of our bigs dominate the lane and the headlines. What is even more refreshing, there are no 'mean mugging', 'elbow dropping', 'straddle-over-you-while-you-are-on-your-back" reputations that accompany Mr. Withey.

Rewatching all of the NCAA tourney games today as I put them on disc. A couple things continue to amaze me. Tyshawn was really really really fast. Duh, huh :) Second; what spectacular luck it takes for even a really good team to get the Title game. I wonder what that UNC game would have looked like with a healthy Kendall Marshall.

Rock Chalk

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minnhawk84 1 year, 3 months ago

Wait a minute.....Alabama got their asses kicked by Texas A&M this year. AND, Notre Dame was yet another creation of the national media -- they weren't that good to be in the national championship game. Who did they play, who did they beat? Teams wax and wane over time. Oklahoma so dominated college football in the fifties it is a wonder opponents even showed up to play. Alabama "escaped" with a victory in several games this year, and there are definite cracks in the program. The SEC wants you to believe they are dominating college football, and the conference probably is, except several of those teams lost their bowl games. Auburn went from national champs to national chumps in just one year. It all evens out in the end.

What is boring is the NFL. College football will always have the emotion of college kids, game day, bands and cheerleaders.

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William Blake 1 year, 3 months ago

"“If you want to talk impressive,” Self said, “watch what Alabama is doing in football. That humbles you a little bit. To win three (national championships) in four years is a remarkable feat. No matter what we’ve done here locally, on the national scene there is a lot more to be done if we want to be considered elite like what they’re doing in football.”"

I watched Alabama in the NC game, and the word "impressive" did not come to mind. Yes... competitively they were impressive. But I saw what was the beginning of the end to college football. When sports become monopolistic they get ugly real fast... and in this case, totally boring. How fun was that game to watch? I didn't make it past halftime. How long before other fans think the same as I?

There is no mechanism in college sports to balance the field. Even in the pros, it isn't easy, but they at least throw a bone or two to the worst teams by honoring them with high draft picks in the next draft.

Alabama has a lineman that benchs 650 lbs. In one play he completely lifted the ND running back and threw him several yards back, like he was a blow-up sex doll.

College football is on a collision course with death. The team rosters are large... enough so that a team like Alabama can gulp most of the top talent recruits. Fortunately for us, basketball teams number only a few, and so it is harder to stack the deck exclusively because there are always more quality recruits than can fit on one or two teams.

So the elite shakedown is on... and we are well-poised to stay elite in basketball in the immediate future... barring the possibility of a B12 meltdown. But is that enough to know when the game will continue to create further separation between the top and the bottom? Look at our season winning percentages over the last 20 years and you can see the gradual train wreck coming. At what point will we start losing fan interest when our winning steaks are plagued with redundancy and the knowledge we have the inside track on recruiting every year?

Alabama could have squashed the Kansas City Chiefs this year.

Something ain't right in college football and you can feel it coming in college basketball, too. The money is huge... enough to feed Africa times 10. I'm old enough to know the game when it was different, and I miss those days when it was treated more like a game than a business.

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RJ King 1 year, 3 months ago

"KU has won seven in a row vs. ISU in Allen."

My only return trip to the Phog since college was a loss to ISU in 2004. It was the second loss of 3 in a row. In fact, that team closed out at 3-5 and then lost to Bucknell (with an F). I promise to stay far away from Allen today, to watch the start of something big. . .

One starts the Run

Two makes a Queue

Three is Key

Four is Lore

Five to Archive

Six for Kicks

Seven is Heaven

Eight Straight, oh wait . . .

Nine would be Divine

Ten? Let's do it Again! Rock Chalk!

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en1gmatikk 1 year, 3 months ago

"The Jayhawks have won 99 of their last 100 games at home".

That's pretty staggering no matter how you look at it.

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Scott MacWilliams 1 year, 3 months ago

ALright already!! time for the league season, and all those familiar faces. I guess that the newbies aren't going to do too much, with TCU and WV not making much noise as of yet.

The Mayor will have his guys ready to play, so get up and get busy, Jayhawks!!

Jayhawks by 18.

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