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Friday, January 10, 2014

Young Jayhawks ‘fired up’ for Kansas State rivalry

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It hasn’t taken Cameroon native Joel Embiid long to immerse himself in Kansas University’s basketball program.

The 7-foot freshman — who in a recent interview discussed the exploits of Jayhawk legend Wilt Chamberlain — on Wednesday invoked the name of a certain school located 85 miles down the road.

“Definitely,” Emibiid first said, asked if the Jayhawks’ 90-83 victory over Oklahoma would spark a 10-4 KU team that’s off to a 1-0 start in league play after dropping four of the last eight games. “The next game we have is K-State, our rival, so we definitely will be fired up. We’ll be trying to get another win.”

Bundled up in winter gear for his walk out of Norman’s Noble Center to the team bus, Embiid, who scored six points and grabbed six rebounds while playing 19 minutes Wednesday, didn’t have time to regale reporters with specifics of the Jayhawk-Wildcat rivalry.

That’s sure to come at a later date.

For now, he’s hoping one of his freshman buddies builds off of Wednesday’s breakout game and takes some momentum into Saturday’s game against the red-hot Wildcats (12-3, 2-0), set for a 1 p.m. tipoff in Allen Fieldhouse.

“I mean, that’s how we want him to play,” Embiid said of Wayne Selden, who scored a career-high 24 points off 9-of-17 shooting — 5-of-10 from three — versus Oklahoma. “The last practice he was showing us how he can play, so we knew it was coming.

“That’s the best thing about this team. Every game we have anybody who can step up, either Andrew (Wiggins) or Perry (Ellis), me, or Wayne, anybody can step up,” Embiid added.

Selden not only led the way offensively, but he provided an emotional lift in the second half when he dove for a loose ball in front of KU’s bench.

“That’s what we need to do. Coach likes that energy. We know what coach wants us to do,” Embiid said of Kansas coach Bill Self.

KU junior Naadir Tharpe applauded Selden as well.

“Just him being aggressive to start out the half gave everybody a boost,” said Tharpe, not specifying which half. Selden, a 6-5 guard from Roxbury, Mass., scored 15 of KU’s first 24 points to open the game, then had eight of KU’s first 10 to open the second half. “It started with defensive intensity the first half,” Tharpe noted.

Embiid a tweeting machine: Embiid, who may be the most entertaining Jayhawk on Twitter, wrote after the game: “Good win on the road tonight!!!!!! Glasses or not next game???? Haha.”

Embiid, who was elbowed in the eye at practice earlier in the week and wore goggles versus the Sooners, initially told reporters after the game he’d have to wear goggles Saturday vs. KSU.

Another tweet, from Jan. 4: “I’m starting ballet dancing lessons next week to improve my footwork<<<<<<

Tharpe excels: Tharpe, who had four points, three assists and three fouls the first half as KU led, 50-44 at halftime, exploded for 13 points in 13 minutes the second half.

Tharpe hit a three-pointer to stretch a 78-74 lead to seven points at 5:48. He hit a jumper to give KU a 83-75 lead at 4:56. He also hit five of six free throws in the final 2:41. He finished with 17 points, three assists and a turnover.

“It was something coach talked to me about in practice before we came out here,” Tharpe said of attacking more. “He was talking about watching film from last year and how aggressive I was getting into the lane and getting guys shots. He talked to me about that. I talked to myself.”

Tharpe said he was extra fired-up following Sunday’s home loss to San Diego State.

“We were going to try to get after it,” Tharpe said. “We have had a lot of lapses and downfalls. Losing at home, that’s something we don’t do. Everybody on the team looked at themselves in the mirror and understood, ‘This is Kansas basketball. We have to put in more effort and show more on the court.’”

The Jayhawks next meet a KSU team that has won 10 straight games and, like KU, has a road win in league. KSU has defeated Oklahoma State at home and TCU on the road.

“If you are able to go on the road and get a win, it gives us confidence in ourselves and know there will be less pressure at home,” Tharpe said. “We have fans in Allen Fieldhouse that are always helping us out. Getting a win on the road is what we need to start out the Big 12, and I’m happy we did that.”

KSU gets used to sound: Kansas State coach Bruce Weber had sound pumped into the Wildcats’ arena Thursday in preparation for Saturday’s game at KU.

“We did not do that last year, because coaches did not even know it was going to be that loud,” junior Thomas Gipson said of the noise generated by KU fans in the Jayhawks’ 83-62 win over KSU last Feb. 11 in Allen. “Today, we handled it pretty well. We were still focused and people were still communicating and trying to talk over the music and system. I feel like we did well.

“I told (the freshmen) it was going to be loud, but I feel like it is going to be loud anywhere we go. This is probably the toughest crowd that we are going to be in, so I just told them to not worry about the crowd and just play hard and focus on the court,” he added.

The draft: Chad Ford of ESPN.com updated the race for the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft on Thursday.

“There are five to six players who are getting serious looks with the No. 1 pick. Though, based on my latest intel, it looks like (Duke’s Jabari) Parker, Wiggins and Embiid are the heavy favorites to take home the No. 1 pick,” Ford wrote.

Ford’s breakdown, including which teams might take Wiggins or Embiid with the top selection, is available at http://es.pn/1eJRuLo.

Comments

Justin Diederich 3 months, 1 week ago

Benz. The players do come out and sign after the games. The best way is to go down by the locker room 5 min before the game is over. Stand right by the barrier they put up as close to the door to the locker room as you can. It usually takes up to an hour after the game for all the players to come out. I would suggest buying a ball for your daughter. They are real nice about signing for kids. Hope this helps!

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Tony Bandle 3 months, 1 week ago

Aaron, not to totally disagree with you but I wouldn't categorize AWIII's time on the court as worthy of "rotation recognition". His injury, of course has been a factor, but even before, he was the "Claude Raines" of the roster.

But what you are saying is basically true...HCBS uses 9 guys a game. it's just not always the same 9 guys!!

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Aaron Paisley 3 months, 1 week ago

The KSU games looks to be perfectly set up for Black to play 10-15 minutes to beat up Gipson. It's match ups like this why Self has an expanded rotation this year. Not expanded in the number of players he plays per game because that strategy hasn't altered, but rather it's expanded because of the players he has on the bench. We've seen Lucas play about 10 minutes a couple of times this year, Connor Frankamp had his first extended minutes against OU, Black played extensively against a physical Georgetown team, Mason has had extended minutes a few times this year, Brannen Greene has had a couple of extended looks this year. Normally, Self chooses the same 7-9 guys depending on the season, but this year he's legitimately using all 12 available scholarship players in different situations based on the match of the individual game and that's a great luxury to have. Some of those extended minutes were due to foul trouble, but we've seen years past where Self was forced to only go 9 or 10 deep even with foul troubles because the end of bench scholarship players weren't ready for prime time and this year there are 12 players that can give legitimate minutes and not significantly hurt the output of the team when their number is called.

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Brad Morford 3 months, 1 week ago

FYI, Wichita State does not have football because half of the team died in a plane crash in 1970 on their way to play Utah State. One of the two planes carrying the team crashed into the side of a mountain. They still have a stadium they use to hold high school state track meets.

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Ron Franklin 3 months, 1 week ago

Anybody catch Bilas during the OU game saying he knows Embiid is thinking about staying? Perry, Embiid, Cliff, & Lucas. Wow, what a rotation.

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Robert Brock 3 months, 1 week ago

Oklahoma was Charmin soft on defense. Expect a much tougher defensive effort from the Wildcats.

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Kent Richardson 3 months, 1 week ago

What Selden showed in Norman was more mental than physical, Andrew can do the same. He will get roughed up against K-State and may respond with fire. You can say he has before but this is 5 or 6 games later and we be freshmen.

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Bryce Landon 3 months, 1 week ago

So Embiid is taking ballet lessons to improve his footwork? If Danny Manning were still here, would that even be necessary?

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Michael Pannacciulli 3 months, 1 week ago

Marshall...couldn't agree more. I hope you feel ok today. ;)

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Marshall Everett 3 months, 1 week ago

First time poster here! I wish that still meant something- like calling in for the first time on the old Dan Patrick show. As far as Wiggins is concerned I just wanna say this: college hoops today whether we like it or not is an audition for the league. Wiggins is never going to be a Hinrich or Simien in the sense of bleeding the Crimson and Blue, and really that's OK. I've always said that if you wanna leave Kansas early for the Pro's- then fine, it probably means you beasted for us and we are gonna hang a banner - That's the condition to leaving early that I warrant. My worry with Wiggins is that most of the players to ever touch the floor in AFH have always had a sense of what wearing the name on the front of our Jersey means. Wiggins picked us because of the sense of family that the teamates have with eachother, not necessarily the name- he could of gone to any blueblood school he wanted to. I do like the guy and I want to see him play-for at least his teammates, if not for KU. When he takes possessions off its a slap in the face to everyone on the team. As much as it is to my chagrin to say this- be more like Melo @ Syracuse and takeover the game with leadership and effort. Win a championship and go make your dollars - if not for the fans that's OK, do it for Bill and your teamates.....full disclosure- I wrote this after having a few! RCJH

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Ferd Magellan 3 months, 1 week ago

I'm hoping this is the big game in AFH we've all been waiting for from Wiggins. He had a nice showing against Toledo, but they along with OU were horrid on the defensive end. KSU is going to pressure our guards all day.

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Steve Zimmerman 3 months, 1 week ago

I wonder if Wichita ever gets invited into Big-12. That'll be a better rivalry. No more excuses for not playing them.

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