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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Experts say KU Final 4 shoo-in

Kansas head coach Bill Self grins as he waves to the fans following the Jayhawks' 89-76 win over Iowa State on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas head coach Bill Self grins as he waves to the fans following the Jayhawks' 89-76 win over Iowa State on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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It’s never too early for college basketball analysts and fans to discuss the NCAA Tournament and Final Four.

Thus, ESPN this week asked eight experts to identify 12 teams they would be “least surprised to reach the Final Four.”

Twenty one teams were named, including the Kansas Jayhawks (19-3, 8-1), selected on 100 percent of the ballots.

“I would not be surprised to see the Jayhawks reach the Final Four because the Jayhawks are starting to come together,” ESPN’s Jeff Goodman wrote. “KU has played an extremely difficult schedule, and Bill Self’s team has only three losses. There may not be a bona fide star on the roster, but there is more than enough to win four games come March.”

Other teams named on 100 percent of the ballots: Arizona, Gonzaga, Kentucky and Wisconsin. Teams named on more than 50 percent of ballots: Duke, Virginia, Notre Dame, Villanova, Louisville and North Carolina. Teams named on fewer than 50 percent of the ballots: Iowa State, Utah, Ohio State, Stanford, West Virginia. Teams named on one ballot: Georgetown, Indiana, Oklahoma, SMU and Wichita State.

The panel consisted of: Jay Bilas, Dan Dakich, Sean Farnham, Fran Fraschilla, John Gasaway, Goodman, Seth Greenberg and Joe Lunardi. To read the story at ESPN Insider go to http://ljw.bz/1xm6giO.

UK again?: Self spoke about a possible KU-Kentucky rematch. UK drilled KU, 72-40, on Nov. 18 in Indianapolis.

“We didn’t play smart. A lot of that’s on me,” Self said Tuesday on (Andy) “Katz’s Korner” on ESPN. “We didn’t want to shy away from their size. We probably made too big a point to try to drive to shoot as opposed to drive to pass. I think that’s something you have to do.

“With any great team that protects the rim so well, it’s great to challenge and you can’t back away from that, but you can challenge by being a passer and not just a shooter or a scorer. We didn’t do that at all the first time. Hopefully we’d be better at that. Even with that being said, if they play that day, you could play very well but still they’d be very difficult to beat.”

Big games: ESPN’s Goodman has compiled a list of the 20 biggest games in February and early March.

He includes KU at West Virginia on Feb. 16, KU at Kansas State on Feb. 23 and KU at Oklahoma on March 7.

Of the West Virginia game, he wrote: “The Jayhawks travel to the unfriendly confines of Morgantown and will face a Bob Huggins team that keeps coming on the defensive end. West Virginia is only two back from KU in the loss column.”

Of the KSU game, he wrote: “It’s another huge in-state rivalry game. K-State had a dismal nonconference slate, but a win over the Jayhawks could give Bruce Weber’s team some hope of sneaking into the NCAA tourney.”

And of the OU game, he wrote: “It’s still too early to say what, if anything, this one means. But depending on what happens over the next month or so, it could have a major bearing on whether the Jayhawks continue ‘The Streak’ (10 consecutive Big 12 regular-season titles).”

To read Goodman’s story go to http://ljw.bz/1xm6Kp4

Maker may reclassify: Thon Maker, a 7-foot center from Orangeville Prep in Ontario who is the No. 1-ranked player in the recruiting Class of 2016 by Rivals.com, will decide next week whether he’ll be reclassifying to the Class of 2015, Zagsblog.com reports.

Maker’s guardian, Ed Smith, said Maker finished his classes a week ago.

Smith has said Maker will visit KU and Kentucky if he reclassifies and possibly other schools as well.

Smith told Zagsblog he will ask NCAA officials if Maker is a likely candidate to make it through the NCAA clearinghouse. If he’s deemed a likely nonqualifier, he’d likely play in China or Europe a year before the NBA Draft, Smith told Zagsblog.

Newman decides on five: Malik Newman, a 6-3 senior shooting guard from Callaway High in Jackson, Mississippi, who is ranked No. 3 in the Class of 2015 by Rivals.com, tells ESPN’s Reggie Rankin he will visit KU, Kentucky, North Carolina State, LSU and Ohio State. It’s expected he will wait until April to commit to a school.

Comments

Ian Emerson 5 years, 8 months ago

Oh. My. Goodness. People if Thon Maker reclassifies and we land him (not that far of a stretch..) all bets are OFF about next season. He would fit perfectly...

Joe Ross 5 years, 8 months ago

I wrote a blog about recruiting African players, and in it is a revelation that the NCAA is intentionally trying to make it more difficult for foreign-born players to enter the college ranks. Some of this likely has to do with the fact that amateur club teams often mix competition with professional teams. But there seems to be some element of the NCAA's wanting to maintain a certain level of participation of native-born players, so that they dont get crowded out in favor of foreigners. I think that's wrong. Basketball should be a global sport, without borders. Thon Maker may find himself in a political quagmire.

Ian Emerson 5 years, 8 months ago

That would be interesting Joe considering i know Thon has attended multiple High Schools and Academies.

Joe Ross 5 years, 8 months ago

THERE could be no more imports in the NCAA five years from now. That is the time frame estimated by the NCAA management committee as the country’s oldest collegiate league enters the final season where member schools will be allowed to recruit foreign players. Last year, the NCAA policy board approved the proposal to disallow member schools from recruiting foreign players for their teams, the new rule taking effect beginning next season. The UAAP also allows foreigners to suit up for its member teams and has yet to entertain any move to stop it. Under the rule, foreign players must be enrolled in an NCAA school by this academic year to be eligible, with the school having the option to field its recruit after two years of residency. “So without really looking at the details, let’s give or take five years,” Jose Rizal University mancom representative and athletic director Paul Supan said. San Beda started the recruitment trend in 2006 when the Mendiola-based school tapped Nigerian slotman Sam Ekwe, who helped the Lions bag three straight men’s basketball titles from 2006. Numerous imports have come and gone since then. The arrival of foreign players, mostly from Africa, has drawn mixed opinions — some see the benefits in the improved level of competition, but others consider it a threat to local athletes. “I think one of the advantages of having foreign players is the level of competition tumaas kasi Filipino players will be pushed,” mancom chair Dax Castellano of College of St. Benilde said. “When Ekwe came in, parang lahat ng players pag si Ekwe nakakaharap, parang in awe, may intimidating factor kaagad eh. However, now, kung kailan dumami ang imports, parang ordinaryo na lang. Nawala na yung awe na feeling,” Supan said. There are six foreign players in the league roster this season: Ola Adeogun of San Beda, Aziz Mbomiko of Lyceum, Cedric Happi Noube and Jean Jacques Hiole Manga of Emilio Aguinaldo College, and Femi Babayemi and Nosa Omorogbe of University of Perpetual Help.

Read more at: http://www.spin.ph/sports/basketball/special-reports/foreign-players-a-vanishing-breed-in-ncaa-as-new-rule-set-to-take-effect-v02 Follow Us: @spinph on Twitter | spin.philippines on Facebook

Walter Bridges 5 years, 8 months ago

Never heard this..any good recommendations (sites) for learning more about this?

Benz Junque 5 years, 8 months ago

So they just have to be here for two years, which is what Maker has done. This seems like a lot of effort over nothing. NCAA is just lazy/cheap in not wanting to try to research those athletes eligibility cases.

Walter Bridges 5 years, 8 months ago

Joe, according to that article, they were talking about the UAAP ( University Athletic Association of the Philippines) no longer allowing teams to recruit foreigners in order to give more opportunities to Filipino athletes.

http://www.rappler.com/sports/university/uaap/58037-recruitment-foreign-players-uaap-stop-next-year

You have it backwards, its not about foreign players coming into the US but about foreign players coming into the Philippines.

"In previous seasons, the UAAP allowed each basketball club to have two foreigners in its line-up, with the condition that only one could play while the other rests on the bench. Furthermore, abroad recruits are required to undergo two years of residency prior to suiting up for their respective universities."

“We are moving into stopping recruitment of foreign players,” he mentioned, before adding that “eventually, there will be no foreign players in the UAAP.”

Joe Ross 5 years, 8 months ago

The link I provided above makes it clear that it's an NCAA rule with regard to foreign players...and not just of the Philippines.

Benz Junque 5 years, 8 months ago

You realize that we have this thing called the internet where we can fact check things right? In 2011 the national junior college association passed a rule that limits the max number of non-US players to 1/4th of the teams allotment of scholarships.

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/college/2011-05-12-junior-college-foreign-limits_N.htm

I do not see ANYTHING anywhere that states that the ncaa has passed any such rule. If you have anything a little more official besides some random article from the Philippines please share. Most NCAA rule changes typically make the US news reports and get logged somewhere on the internet.

Rodney Crain 5 years, 8 months ago

Really wish the so called experts would leave us out of discussions like this. It's like mock drafts, preseason rankings, and preseason freshman lottery hype. Don't really care about the noise, just any distractions that teams, especially young ones have before a game. A 2 game lead with 9 to play does not mean anything other than we have a lot of work still to do. Is it a great position you bet, does it mean much, no.

Shoo-in, come on, the only team that appears to be a shoo-in is KY. Anyone else has question marks, even at this point of the season.

We do not do well when we read our press clippings and think we have won something already or deserve something before we have actually earned it.

OK State, and class is all our team needs to be thinking about.

Aaron Paisley 5 years, 8 months ago

Shoo-in was a click bait phrase used in the title of this article to get people to read it. The actual discussion on ESPN was each of the 8 analysts picked 12 teams they wouldn't be surprised to see in the Final Four this year. KU is definitely one of the 12 best teams in the country this year so it shouldn't be a shock to see KU in that discussion

Jerry Walker 5 years, 8 months ago

I agree, Aaron...the upshot of the article is not surprising. But I can see where a vainglorious amateur psychologist would struggle with the article.

The good publicity is great for the KU program and I've thoroughly enjoyed watching this latest version of Jayhawk basketball evolve. Congrats to a hard working bunch of young men.

Tom Jones 5 years, 8 months ago

Agreed, Jerry. Sometimes the simplest things are not that simple for the masses to comprehend.

HCBS has them focused on OSU, you can bet on it.

All this article proves is that KU has made some great strides since the beginning of the year.

Rodney Crain 5 years, 8 months ago

Vainglorious lol Jerry, thats all you got? Was that your word for the day and you felt you needed to use it in a sentence. It actually describes you.

Oh this is funny. Wow talk about a swing and a miss.

Thank you I needed a laugh this morning.

Benz Junque 5 years, 8 months ago

Aren't you the guy that goes on and on and on about attacking other posters on here?

Rodney Crain 5 years, 8 months ago

Only when I am attacked first, which happens quite a bit Benz. So yes when you or others attack me with labels first, yes you will get a reply that is disrespectful.

Why does Jerry just disagree with me, why the reach with the top shelf label for me? Can you tell me that?

Look disagree, show me why, tell me what you think, but why do you have to do it disrespectfully? When I reply back, the same way, disrespectfully, people get all fired up about it. What about the first shot? It is forgotten. I don't care but I am going to defend myself.

Benz Junque 5 years, 8 months ago

Ah, the old "but he did it first". I teach my 11 year old that it's never OK to do something you aren't OK with even if someone did it to you first. Walk The Walk.

Rodney Crain 5 years, 8 months ago

You teach this, YOU? now that is funny Benz. Don't do what I do my little one, do what I say you should do...

That is hilarious.

Rodney Crain 5 years, 8 months ago

I read and understood they were talking about 5 schools that likely will make it to (Dirk I think you mean the 3rd) weekend, or Sat-Mon due to being on everyone's ballot. My point was it is an exercise of dart throwing and I hope it does not distract our team. Ok State is a tough place to play for us as it is.

It means nothing. There are so many things that can happen between now and then, it is close to pointless.

Walter Bridges 5 years, 8 months ago

You're right. If anything, they undermine team and fan expectations. Now, if KU doesn't make it to the final 4, it will look as if we've somehow failed to reach our potential.

Len Shaffer 5 years, 8 months ago

I basically agree with you, Walter, with one caveat: if KU doesn't make the Final 4, it ALWAYS looks as if we've failed to reach our potential.

Is there ever a year when fans DON'T expect us to at least get to the Final Four?

Mark Lindrud 5 years, 8 months ago

Only the ones that don't end with a number.

Tom Jones 5 years, 8 months ago

Exactly, Len. We're Kansas. We haven't been lower than a four seed in 15 years.

We expect the to be Final Four caliber every year, and an article doesn't "make it look like we've somehow failed to reach our potential".

Love the Overreaction Theater, though. Not sure who's funnier...Walt with this take or Rodney with his "We do not do well when we read our press clippings and think we have won something already or deserve something before we have actually earned it." BAHAHAHAHHAAAHAAA

Rodney Crain 5 years, 8 months ago

You are funnier Tom. "We're Kansas" what a joke. Typical arrogant over confident junk that has plagued our program for the last 15 years.

You are the one overacting you fool.

What a child.

Tom Jones 5 years, 8 months ago

Another excellent post, brother!

Clearly, what we fans think has a direct correlation to how the basketball team plays! KU has clearly been "plagued" by its arrogant fanbase, causing their basketball teams to not win title after title!

Nailed it.

Benz Junque 5 years, 8 months ago

I never EXPECT KU to be in the Final Four. I always expect them to be in contention for the Final Four. Less than 50% of #1 seeds make the Final Four on average so to expect it, even in a year where you're a #1 seed is less accurate than a coin flip.

Tom Jones 5 years, 8 months ago

Indeed, Benz.

I expect them to contend for the Final Four every year (and they're always seeded to), but there's only been a handful of years when I "expected" them to be there.

1986, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2008.

Most other years (1992, 1995, 1996, 2003, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2013 come to mind), even when we had one seeds we were too flawed for me to EXPECT to win four games.

Dirk Medema 5 years, 8 months ago

Aaron is absolutely correct. A more appropriate title would be something like "KU 1 of 5 most likely teams to make it to the second weekend".

Benz Junque 5 years, 8 months ago

"KU deemed 1 of 5 least surprising teams to make Final Four"

Aaron Paisley 5 years, 8 months ago

A good title would've, "Experts Wouldn't be Surprised if KU Makes Final Four"

Adam Collins 5 years, 8 months ago

Does any one else find it concerning that Maker is already making contingency plans for college if his grades don't jive with the NCAA? He would be an amazing get especially if Cliff stays (I see Oubre making the jump now that he has come on in the 2nd half of the season).

Jonathan Allison 5 years, 8 months ago

I don't think that it's about grades.

The guy has attended 3 high schools in 3 years. He sounds like a likely candidate for the "partial qualifier" tag that was put on Braeden Anderson, Jamari Traylor, and Ben McLemore.

My guess is he'll play in Europe next year, and it may be a last minute decision similar to Emmanual Mudiay

Mike Crosbie 5 years, 8 months ago

Your vision must suck...How can you see Oubre making the jump, when he doesn't? Both Oubre and Cliff said before AND after signing that neither one of them will be jumping after one year. You say he's "come on" ...we must be watching different games... I see a freshman who is getting more comfortable learning his role on the team and realized he still has a lot to learn and grow before he's good enough to be a first round pick...the attitude of being too good and jumping too early by fans and players is contributing to the decline of the game, which is why the NBA is talking about raising the minimum age!

Tom Jones 5 years, 8 months ago

Kids often come to school claiming they're not jumping after one year and then they still do, Mike.

Kelly's in the top 20 of any mock draft you want to pull up, really, and top 10 in the most respected/accurate ones. Even if he's still "only" top ten by year's end, he's a good be to go, and he should. If his game improves any more, he could rise even more.

NBA drafts on potential, my friend. Is he ready to get drafted and start on an NBA team? Not even close.

Does that mean he still wouldn't get drafted in the top ten? No, it doesn't.

Walter Bridges 5 years, 8 months ago

I think there is a chance that KO might make the jump. If his game continues to improve at the current rate and we make a deep run into the NCAA, I can see him leaving.

Mark Lindrud 5 years, 8 months ago

I believe Oubre has developed quite nicely in the last few weeks and yes I can see him going to pro if his game continues to develop. Actually Oubre and Cliff said they don't see themselves as OAD's, but that doesn't mean a lot. We didn't expect to lose Joel Embiid or McClemore at the beginning of their seasons, but they left after playing one season. I am aware Ben was red-shirted because of academics, but he still left after playing one season. I would love to see the rule change to playing college 2 years so these debates lessen and we can see players truly develop and be better prepared for the NBA.

Jonathan Allison 5 years, 8 months ago

it's an honor that all of the talking head east coast bias crowd want to jinx us in the NCAA tourney.

By the way, it's interesting that the entire ACC was on more than 50% of the ballots.

Micky Baker 5 years, 8 months ago

I really don't have a problem with the article itself. It was on ESPN already and a lot of insiders at ESPN read that article there about it. The title of the article is misleading, but it also says something about how improved the team is from November and December and there is still a lot of room to improve for Kansas who probably has the most room to improve out of the five that got votes from everyone on the 8 man panel.

Things got a little shaky over at Kansas State with two players banned including Foster, their leading scorer. Unfortunate for the program it had to happen, and unfortunate for the league.

West Virginia did not look at Oklahoma. Baylor is on fire right now. Iowa State has big time pressure on them right now. They have to play Oklahoma twice, Baylor again who is red-hot right now, West Virginia, and Texas in Austin. Texas will likely start playing with a sense of urgency after a rough couple of weeks. They are out of the Big 12 race most likely, but they are going to need a couple of big wins in the conference to get back to earning a 3 or 4 seed. Right now, they'd be a 7 seed in my opinion. That should be a big motivating factor for them.

West Virginia also has a lot of pressure on them. They have to play us twice, Texas, Baylor twice, Iowa State, Oklahoma State(the type of team they don't well against on the road).

Oklahoma State doesn't need any outside motivation against us. Nash, Cobbins, and Forte want to beat Kansas unlike anyone else. That is their golden ticket to the big dance as it will be for a depleted K-State and everyone else in the league except for TCU or Texas Tech who I think are the only two teams in the league that don't have a chance to get a bid save for the post season conference tourney championship.

We certainly have a tough schedule as well, and we've played the strongest schedule in the country so I think we are more prepared for this home stretch than anyone else in the league. Self has done a brilliant job bringing these young guys to where they are right now.

I don't think any team in the Big 12 would be any more motivated by this article and I don't think our guys are going to lose focus because of this article. The guys are showing that they are coachable and they are learning how to turn the switch on and keep it on.

Benz Junque 5 years, 8 months ago

Baylor is on fire? They crushed a nose diving Texas team at home and then beat TCU, also at home. The only road game they have won since Dec 4 is in OT @TCU.

Micky Baker 5 years, 8 months ago

I really don't have a problem with the article itself. It was on ESPN already and a lot of insiders at ESPN read that article there about it. The title of the article is misleading, but it also says something about how improved the team is from November and December and there is still a lot of room to improve for Kansas who probably has the most room to improve out of the five that got votes from everyone on the 8 man panel.

Things got a little shaky over at Kansas State with two players banned including Foster, their leading scorer. Unfortunate for the program it had to happen, and unfortunate for the league.

West Virginia did not look at Oklahoma. Baylor is on fire right now. Iowa State has big time pressure on them right now. They have to play Oklahoma twice, Baylor again who is red-hot right now, West Virginia, and Texas in Austin. Texas will likely start playing with a sense of urgency after a rough couple of weeks. They are out of the Big 12 race most likely, but they are going to need a couple of big wins in the conference to get back to earning a 3 or 4 seed. Right now, they'd be a 7 seed in my opinion. That should be a big motivating factor for them.

West Virginia also has a lot of pressure on them. They have to play us twice, Texas, Baylor twice, Iowa State, Oklahoma State(the type of team they don't well against on the road).

Oklahoma State doesn't need any outside motivation against us. Nash, Cobbins, and Forte want to beat Kansas unlike anyone else. That is their golden ticket to the big dance as it will be for a depleted K-State and everyone else in the league except for TCU or Texas Tech who I think are the only two teams in the league that don't have a chance to get a bid save for the post season conference tourney championship.

We certainly have a tough schedule as well, and we've played the strongest schedule in the country so I think we are more prepared for this home stretch than anyone else in the league. Self has done a brilliant job bringing these young guys to where they are right now.

I don't think any team in the Big 12 would be any more motivated by this article and I don't think our guys are going to lose focus because of this article. The guys are showing that they are coachable and they are learning how to turn the switch on and keep it on.

Benz Junque 5 years, 8 months ago

Kansas is a resume building win for every team on our schedule. ISU played with more intensity and focus against us than in any other game I have seen them play. Same with Oklahoma, Okie State, etc... KU will need to come out with the same focus and energy it had on the road @Texas to win each of their remaining road games this year. Come out flat and they are ripe for a loss against any team in the Big 12.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 8 months ago

Hey Bedore, hold down the excessive hyperbole. Kenpom ranks us as the Number 1 luckiest team, due to all our close wins. With two road games, including OSU, immediately before us things can change very quickly. In '12 we were cruising, lost 3 straight to end up being in a dog fight for a tie. Look at UT's current streak.

We should stay away from Marker and his "guardian" (agent Smith). This kid is out 100% for himself and cares nothing for college.

Cody Riedy 5 years, 8 months ago

What's wrong with being "out 100% for himself"? Isn't that the moral backbone of the American system: unfettered pursuit of immediate self-interest always and everywhere leads to the best outcomes for everybody? Thinking about making money for himself overseas rather than making money for somebody else in the U.S. - sounds like he's simply being lead by the great benevolent all-knowing invisible hand of the market.

Larry Renbarger 5 years, 8 months ago

If he's 100% for himself. If he plays college ball, He will have at least one year under a super coach which is more than he will get from europe. At 7 ft. he will play, a lot. We have more scouts at KU games than most europe games, especially if we play a schedual like this year, and be on TV world wide. With a year of proven skill or growth, he can probably end up in an American NBA team much faster for more money. Lastly, If no one at Kansas leaves, and we add a quality 7 footer, Who's going to beat us. So a chance to put final four or top dog on his resume is going to add several million $$ to his poke. Not to mention he'll get some education.

Larry Renbarger 5 years, 8 months ago

By the way, your "moral backbone' of America has nothing to do with team play, character building, maturation, or any of the light side of your backbone. I'm somewhat insulted you include me, and quite saddened that you have this as your path to your own personal growth.

Cody Riedy 5 years, 8 months ago

I was only being half serious: I was half not serious in that it is of course reasonable to worry about a 1 and done's commitment to the team; the serious part was just kind of poking fun at how in certain situations, "it's a business" and all that entails is a virtue and in other situations, like when a young man thinks about making money rather than fealty to old KU, it's a deplorable character flaw. Suzi herself didn't explicitly attack the kid's character, but there's often a judgmental tone in such comments. Also, I don't personally subscribe to this moral system.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 8 months ago

I've been thinking about this a little more.

IF a guy like Maker, as I preceve him to be, signs with Kansas, Self has a history to make situations like this end up as win-win. To be perfectly honest about the situation, all the elite level kids are about themselves. The job to pull them together as a team to add value to the University and grow the kids fall to Self.

Self and Cal are the masters with this balancing act. If a kid comes into KU all about himself and not willing to function in a team environment to help the team to become the best possible....Self will put him on the bench or off the team in a heartbeat.

Rodney Crain 5 years, 8 months ago

I agree 100% Suzi. This is pure hyperbole that feeds right into the RCJH crowd. Its like sugar to kid, you can almost hear them yelling - - "oh boy, oh boy we are great look, just look what they are saying about us oh boy we are great" Look at the posts, some that are made two or three times lol.

Maker is scary to me too, I think he should take his talents to Lexington... He and his guardian do not pass the smell test. I hope he goes overseas.

Benz Junque 5 years, 8 months ago

I hope he goes to Kentucky and gets deemed ineligible after the fact and wipes them off the record books.

Michael Lorraine 5 years, 8 months ago

Unless they find a way to overcome their inconsistent play they are one of the top teams no one should be surprised about an early exit.

Jay Scott 5 years, 8 months ago

The real "Shoo In"? A Gary Bedore column with a childishly deceptive headline...

Len Shaffer 5 years, 8 months ago

Jay, you act like Gary's responsible for the headline. He doesn't write the headlines, only the articles.

There's no reason to take a cheap shot at Gary.

Harlan Hobbs 5 years, 8 months ago

Nice posts, Joe Ross and Mickey Baker. Taking nothing away from the other posters, who are good too, but I always learn something from what you say.

Micky Baker 5 years, 8 months ago

I don't know how my post was posted twice. It might help the thread if one of them was deleted.

Micky Baker 5 years, 8 months ago

I don't know how my post was posted twice. It might help the thread if one of them was deleted.

Robert Brock 5 years, 8 months ago

The hype surrounding Thon Maker is absurd: Maker is far too thin and weak to play on the low block. He is a perimeter player. Skilled but scrawny.

He ain't no Joel Embiid.

Chris Shaw 5 years, 8 months ago

Micky, WVU had the easiest schedule the first half of the big 12 slate so talk about pressure the final 9 games for them. Completely agree!

I think OU and WVU are gonna give KU fits at their places. I think KU could lose 1 or both of them. I really think it will depend on how KU plays down in Stillwater, a place that always gives KU a hard time.

Man, some of you are hard on Bedore. The article is what it is. All he is doing is reporting on what 8 analysts from ESPN were discussing in regards to the upcoming Final 4.

Who cares what the title says. On slow days leading up to a Saturday game there is only gonna be 1 maybe 2 stories on the basketball team. Who cares what the title says...I would bet a pretty good chunk of change you are gonna read the story anyway. Man, cut the guy some slack.

Micky Baker 5 years, 8 months ago

I don't have a problem with the title, but it is misleading. I don't have a problem with the article either. The problem with articles with titles like this is that a lot of times people don't read the article itself before they post. It's just what happens.

Jay Scott 5 years, 8 months ago

Can you list which of the 8 analysts that specifically stated that Kansas is a "shoo in" for the Final 4?

Chris Shaw 5 years, 8 months ago

Maker should be out 100 percent for himself? Should he not? He needs to choose the best situation for himself. Maybe that's Europe? Big props to him if he can pull off Europe and then the NBA. That's a tough transition for any 17,18, 19 year old.

Jim Pendleton 5 years, 8 months ago

Shoo in? That's a good one. Like '97 when we were a shoo in (oops).

These so called experts who predict winners in any sport, don't really don't know as much as they would like you to believe. Many picked Texas to win the league this year. How's that 8th place team looking now? That being said, everyone will pick UK to win the tourney, which won't be going out on a limb either.

If the Hawks keep winning, they will be a dangerous team in March. We've also seen them go thru stretches in many games where you just shake your head. This team could be anything from out in the second game like last year to being a Final Four team. Obviously we would all like to see the latter! Rock Chalk!!

greg robinson 5 years, 8 months ago

If there is such a thing as a "trap game" then this is a trap article. I haven't seen this in the discussions which may just be my laziness to read the longer ones but I think a huge development in the last 3 games is Lucas's work in the post.

Rodney Crain 5 years, 8 months ago

Maybe it is Tom, but you are commenting as much as anyone else. So does that mean you are calling yourself an overacting drama queen?

Tom Jones 5 years, 8 months ago

Commenting does not equal overreacting.

Another excellent post, bud!

Joe Ross 5 years, 8 months ago

NOTE: I apologize for posting the following blog to this forum. I was encouraged by a staff member to do so, owing to the fact that a couple of years ago fan blogs were removed from the front page and their visibility is now very poor. Kusports does not necessarily endorse the views expressed. Some of the content is relevant to material written in the article, so I've chosen this one among others to share the blog in.

Joe Ross 5 years, 8 months ago

Posted by Joe Ross January 30, 2015 at 1:08 a.m.

THE STRANGEST IDEA IN RECRUITING YOU'VE EVER HEARD. AND MAYBE THE BEST.

A young boy growing up in the city of Yaounde, about 50 miles off of the western coast of Africa and less than 150 miles from the equator, had dreams of growing up to become a professional athlete. Though his athletic abilities were evident from an early age he was inclined against the most popular sport in his country: soccer. Rather, his heart was set on volleyball. Not taking for granted his natural propensity for the sport he worked hard to hone his skills. He walked to the gymnasium in his hometown and began spiking volleyballs over the net for hours every day. This commitment endured for a period of five to six years. Yet in that gym basketball goals lined the walls, silently standing watch over the work ethic of the young man below who would indeed realize his dream of becoming a famous athlete. Only not in volleyball.

Call it "Basketball Without Borders". A hypothetical program initiated by The University of Kansas with the goal of bringing basketball to popularity in regions of the world with much less experience with it. Yes, these places do exist and they are mostly located on the continent of Africa, where countless numbers of individuals that are particularly well-suited to the sport have little if any experience with it. One of the reasons why basketball is not as popular as other team sports in Africa is that basketball was not widely played in Britain, France, and Portugal (the major colonial powers in Africa). You may know, perhaps, that team sports like soccer and cricket were introduced to and encouraged in African countries by the European colonial powers. As basketball grows in popularity in African schools and as basketball clubs are formed in the same way that soccer clubs were formed in African cities 50 to 60 years ago you can be sure that many talented basketball players will develop. What better University to undertake the mission of encouraging the wide-spread popularity of James Naismith's creation than the one most closely associated with the inventor of the game himself? Basketball is one of the fastest growing sports in Africa, although it has a long way to go before it becomes as popular as soccer. It will not be surprising in the near future to find many more fine athletes from Africa playing basketball in the U.S. at the college and professional levels. What could expedite the growth of basketball in Africa is a presence that, like the colonial powers did long ago, encourages the development of young players.

Joe Ross 5 years, 8 months ago

As a case study, consider the young aspiring volleyball player. At 15 years he had grown into a strong 6'9" frame. The basketball coach in that gym, impressed with both his height and coordination, decided to give him a DVD of the Hall of Fame African center Hakeem Olajuwon not knowing how the video would change the heart of the budding athlete. After studying it he decided he wanted to play basketball. As fate would have it former NBA star Luc Richard Mbah a Moute was also from Yaounde and, when discovering the young prospect, encouraged him to move to America. A year later, Joel Embiid was playing basketball in Florida. His natural gifts saw him climb the ladder from obscurity to prominence, and eventually caught the eye of Kansas head basketball coach Bill Self. The rest, as they say, is history.

Africa has produced very reliable and talented NBA superstars and in many respects these players have advantages over their American basketball counterparts. First they are gifted with greater average height. As the link which follows this paragraph points out, some tribes in the Sudan, which yielded next year's number one overall prospect Thon Maker, have an average height of 6'6"! http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/13/opinion/masai-ujiri-africa-basketball/ But they are not just tall. Indeed, as a group they are perhaps the most athletic individuals on the globe for their given height. And more than that, they are very highly disciplined which makes them coachable. As soccer remains a popular sport from East to West Africa, their footwork transfers very well as a skill on the basketball court. Luol Deng, Serge Ibaka, Hasheem Thabeet, Desagana Diop, Dikembe Mutumbo and three players mentioned above (Luc Mbah A Moute, Joel Embiid and Hakeem Olajuwon) all were indigenous to Africa. More await. Many more.

Joe Ross 5 years, 8 months ago

So how would Kansas' involvement impact the continent and what would be in it for The University? Let's take those one at a time. Suppose Kansas established, for example, five basketball schools/offices. (Now before you begin thinking this notion is too far-fetched, consider that the NBA already has a plan to grow basketball in Africa and opened its first office in Johannesburg in 2010. Others have followed.) The NBA is concentrating on South Africa, Kenya, Angola, Nigeria and Senegal, but Kansas could piggyback on some of those targets and open up other areas as well: 1. Nigeria/Cameroon, 2. The Sudan, 3. Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo, 4. Kenya/Tanzania/Malawi, and 5. South Africa/Zimbabwe/Mozambique. In areas with multiple countries listed, one office would serve the other countries in addition to the one in which it is situated. Suppose we staff those offices with two or three former players each, paying a salary of $100,000.00. If you have your calculator out that's 1.5 million per year. Staff would administer the programs that place basketball goals in schools, create concrete courts, and hold clinics on the rules of the game. They would also promote camps which teach skills and hold intramural games. Importantly, they would have to emphasize education, because if these players became really good while growing up in the system, the professional clubs in Africa, few though they be, could pick them off. As it stands now, many athletes enter United States universities after having played in club programs because most countries simply don’t have amateur high school athletics. These programs often combine developmental clubs with professional teams. Prospective student athletes must now provide much more extensive written proof that they have not received benefits beyond expense reimbursement from club teams. And those athletes who played on a team that included anyone else defined as a professional will face either sitting out games based on how often they played as a professional or being denied NCAA eligibility altogether. Of the 490 incoming athletes penalized for amateurism violations in 2009, 434 were foreign students.

Joe Ross 5 years, 8 months ago

Significantly, staff members could and would also be direct distributors of aid given local citizens, especially those who lack food, clean water, basic sanitation, and education, so that the "footprint" left by the University's offices is construed as positive by the hosting nations. In addition they could liason with other aid providers who distribute charitably to the continent, with Kansas offering perhaps 1.5 million a year in aid, making our commitment to the program somewhere on the order of 3 million annually (LESS than what we pay Coach Self, to put it into perspective). If you read Bylaw Article 13 in its entirety (http://lrbears.athleticsite.net/NCAA/BylawArticle13-Recruiting.pdf), one might despair that this kind of direct aid to potential players could not pass NCAA regulations, as well as an institution acting as an agent on behalf of a University. But one must understand that if these offices encourage students to matriculate into American high schools/AAU programs and NOT into colleges themselves, then the efforts of these offices lie outside of the perview of the NCAA. NCAA regulations apply to "prospective student athlethes" who, by definition, have begun their freshmen year of high school. Yes...prospective players would have to move to America, and this is difficult as it requires the financial means to do so. However, some creative (but entirely legal socially and with respect to existing NCAA regulations) means may be settled upon like having host families agree to house prospective players in America while they attend high school, and then have them enter the recruitment period as Americans. Alternatively, boosters could make direct financial contributions to the families of promising players in the programs so they could afford to send their players to high schools in the States. In any case, new regulations imposed by the NCAA is making it harder to recruit African players otherwise ( http://www.spin.ph/sports/basketball/special-reports/foreign-players-a-vanishing-breed-in-ncaa-as-new-rule-set-to-take-effect-v02) .

Joe Ross 5 years, 8 months ago

Is it cheating? Certainly no more so than, for example, building the Wildcat Coal Lodge to give Kentucky a recruiting advantage in offering top-level talent the finest in housing accomodations. In that case, they sidestep the giving of improper benefits to athletes by building a dormitory that houses the athletes in question--the basketball team--and a small number of other students so that it doesn't appear that the athletes got any special treatment, but of course they have and its all legal. More than that, one can make a convincing argument that great talent in the NCAAs serves to increase fan interest and enhances the game. Basketball should truly have no Borders! In any case, the NCAA will never have jurisdiction over what happens in foreign lands, what Universities do there in efforts to bring high school age talent to America, and which students American high schools accept. Then of their own accord, these students can make decisions about where they want to attend college.

Those sensitive to the historic exploitation of Africans should consider that many of its inhabitants view American Universities as a dream destination, and that degreed individuals who return to their homeland do so with a higher level of prestige and influence. In essence, recruiting basketball players to the U.S. is an entirely mutually beneficial proposition. Kansas has already been doing well in recruiting, but to the extent possible we should make every effort to bring the best talent to Lawrence, so long as we are abiding by the letter of the NCAA regulations. Clearly other Universities are.

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Jonathan Allison 5 years, 8 months ago

In the future, when the NCAA tourney expands to 192 teams and the Final Four expands to 12 teams, then Kansas could be considered a "shoo-in" for the Final Four.

Len Shaffer 5 years, 8 months ago

Of course given KU's track record as a favorite, they probably STILL wouldn't be a shoo-in.

Page Butler 5 years, 8 months ago

I thought maybe Joe Ross was the new Jaybate with such a long post. Much appreciated though. How nice to be asked to post by the staff. Perhaps a job with the Journal is in the future.

Suzi Marshall, I don't understand why you only have negative things to say in regards to our team. I noticed that you hadn't been posting as often and I suppose you have your reasons, but I suspect that it is because they have been winning. Are you always so negative to things you say you are a fan of? Maybe you should just sit back and enjoy the team instead of finding fault all the time.

Joe Ross 5 years, 8 months ago

Thank you Page. I expressed a bit of uneasiness posting the blog in the comments section for my fears of detracting from the article, but I should be clear that I was pushing for more public availiability, and the answer from the staff was to post in the comments section. In any case, I think it's an idea that needs to be seriously considered, and though it may seem like a pipe dream Ive had thoughts of speaking to people with contacts in the athletic department. Hope you enjoyed the blog!

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 8 months ago

What is so negative about my post?

Nothing negative about the need to focus on the away OSU game. Nothing negative about Kenpom having us ranked number 1 in his luck metric. I personally think that metric is misleading and in the case of the Hawks more reflects our upside potential. We can win it all this year.

Page Butler 5 years, 8 months ago

I have read many of your posts and your opinions are always slanted towards the sky is falling perspective. I'm not saying you don't have a right to have your opinion, but I do say that it is one of the more negative opinions on the board. You are welcome to call it realistic to say how easy the wheels could fall off the bus and for the most part at the end of the year you could say if KU doesn't win the title that you were right in your predictions. If you've had this outlook for many years you have been right every year except in 2008 when we won the title. I suppose that is a good track record.

I don't doubt that we need to improve and I see many things about this team that are works in progress. When Perry Ellis was being asked to bang around the inside I was questioning whether Bill Self was using him appropriately. I do believe he has changed the way he plays his now in the offence and that has helped him regain his confidence and his scoring is improving. So I don't say this is a perfect team but I try and relax and enjoy them and the season as it progresses.

At least we have basketball and we don't have to try and see the positives of the football program.

Page Butler 5 years, 8 months ago

And to answer your question about what is so negative about your post. If I were to tell you that you got where you are in life based on luck instead of hard work, would you consider that a positive comment or a negative comment? I will stand by my statement that generally your posts are negative and also that you have every right to be negative. I just wonder how your outlook is when you really don't like something if this is how you feel when you are a fan.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 8 months ago

The real question becomes how to properly name the referenced Kenpom's "luck" metric. For what it's worth, I have correctly picked Kansas to win the '88 and '08 championships. They will be my pick for this year as well.

Rodney Crain 5 years, 8 months ago

Negative? Come on Paige, we have been lucky this year. I know "real" fans do not want to hear that but we have. I don't care, I will take luck to win a game.

Why is it bad to say we need to stay focused on the game in front of us? We lose at OK State and all of this giddy stuff gets serious again. Lets just win the next game and put this fluff behind us.

Mark Lindrud 5 years, 8 months ago

There's nothing wrong with Suzi being objective about our team. This team is far from perfect and early in the season with getting crushed by Kentucky and Temple proved that. I have seen Suzi be very positive about this team, but objectivity is the key here also. We have talent on this team and players are starting to show progress, especially Greene and Oubre, but we are far from being a Final Four team. I am taking this one game at a time and hoping for the best. We need to keep improving so that we can become a Final Four contender and thankfully we have plenty more conference games to do so.

Dirk Medema 5 years, 8 months ago

Suzi - TY for being fairly objective and reasonable in your comments regarding the articles and teams. Definitely not one that I would consider among the most negative. IMO

Bob Bailey 5 years, 8 months ago

Joe Ross --

Have been looking for remnants of JayBate. He was articulate, a deep thinker, and tended to be right about a lot of things. Congrats on your article! If you should happen to be Congrats on that as well. If not, I'll keep looking for his remnants.

Some of us might have some reservation about being public -- maybe not us old guys , but others. Had hoped to write up remarks on FB Defense. It has fallen all the way to h____. Oh well, just observations, not strict training.

Joe Ross 5 years, 8 months ago

Thanks, Bob. Im glad you enjoyed the blog. For the sake of full disclosure, JB and I had our share of disagreements. While I credit his substance, I found that his comments often dominated discussions because of length. I dont wish to do that and this was my particular fear in posting the blog here because I, like he, find it hard to say anything in just a few words. But I can't fault his insight or ability to look at things a different way than most other people, so if by your comments you wish to convey something similar to me then I can only be appreciative.

Jonathan Allison 5 years, 8 months ago

remembering some of the history between JRoss and Jaybate, it has to feel a little bit like telling Bill Self that he reminds you of John Calipari.

Jonathan Allison 5 years, 8 months ago

Bob, I've heard that Jaybate is posting at one of the spinoff sites that launched after the Facebook verification policy. kubuckets.com I believe. I enjoyed the levity that he brought to the discussions and topics of college hoops.

Erich Hartmann 5 years, 8 months ago

Just FYI, jaybate and others post almost daily on kubuckets. Same unique perspectives, game after game. Agreeing or disagreeing on opinions or content of posts. That's what made the original kusports site so fun. I could care less about actual names, which, when we are talking ku hoops...matters exactly zero. And I've noticed that it is a TON more respectful on the other site, than it is currently at kusports. There simply are no ugly spats--and that's amongst a bunch of KU people using aliases.

I like to talk hoops on both sites. RCJH.

Jonathan Allison 5 years, 8 months ago

I would be involved at kubuckets.com but I generally only visit this site on my company laptop and we have expired software that doesn't allow me to view the other site.

Larry Renbarger 5 years, 8 months ago

Some thoughts:

Given: KU has improved from 6 players to 9-10 scoring players. Probably deeper than most teams. All players are capable of scoring, even the walk ons.

THey have won a gob of games by only a few points. Great. They won. They did not give up. They did not bragg. They did not project. They're just playing and better than most of the other top 25 teams they've played. What do you want, +30 and over 100 each game. One's all one needs and if it's come from behind. GREAT. These guys are learning to play in any environment, home or away, great teams and mediocre, and doing it better than most top 10 teams.

They lost their best and are still the best. Who thought we'd be here after losing Wig and E. I'm very surprised. I thought they would have have trouble making sweet 16. Now I think all is possible. Not probably, but with the right 4 nights.....

As for the Kentucky game. Coach admits they had the wrong game plan and a 6'+ guard driving against 3 7-footers and trying to score is DO DO. Drive and pass will be the way to win, expecially when our 3-pt game is one of the best and getting better. Cripes, Ellis is shooting 3s. We had a team of untried, egotistical, frivolous freshmen against a near pro team. Can't say that now. Kentucky has size, size, size. I know teams in the past where that has not been the winning element. Earlier I had Kentucky as a shoe in but now I believe there are 4 or 5 teams that can beat them. But it wont be easy. If Kansas continues gelling, they will be there.

No comment about Temple. They just played better and we were not ready, they were.

We'll probably lose a couple more, sick/injured players, setting players for being stupid like K states, jet lag, bad grades, mama lost her job, or just out played.. There's a million reasons we, and just about every other team, will lose a couple. Big deal. It's our team. It's our coach. It's KANSAS!

I think they are doing tons better than anyone thought we would. Go KU.

Bryce Landon 5 years, 8 months ago

KU was supposed to be a shoo-in to the Final Four last year w/ Wiggins and Embiid, and we all know how that ended... :/

Let's hope the players don't start believing the hype. They're at their best when they play w/ a chip on their shoulder.

Tom Jones 5 years, 8 months ago

Yes, it ended with KU not having college basketball's most dominant (and maybe most talented) player for the tournament.

That hurt our chances a little. ;)

Rodney Crain 5 years, 8 months ago

You are right on spot Bryce. Tom is missing your point completely, what a surprise....

Benz Junque 5 years, 8 months ago

There was not many at all who said going into the tourney minus Embiid that KU was a shoo-in, a favorite, expected or even had a decent chance to make the Final Four. And for good reason.

Tyson Ailshie 5 years, 8 months ago

In my experience watching college basketball, nothing is ever a shoo-in. I'm realistically optimistic. This team certainly has the potential to reach the final four. But I'm not foolish enough to ever expect that they will. I am simply enjoying the journey of this team. Have I been skeptical of their play at times? Yes. I've been as critical of them as anyone on this board. When they play below their potential, it's easy to do. But this team feels like a team of destiny. Never got that feeling from last years team. I think this could be a special year. Nothing will surprise me as I won't expect them to reach the final four. We all know everything has to go right for that to happen. I will just enjoy this journey through the ups and the downs. I watched HCBS press conference when he was first hired, and it just reminded me how grateful I am that Jayhawknation has such an incredible basketball coach. RCJH!

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