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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Jayhawks wary of latest road trip to TCU

TCU head coach Trent Johnson encourages his players during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against West Virginia, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Morgantown, W.Va. West Virginia defeated TCU 86-85 in overtime.

TCU head coach Trent Johnson encourages his players during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against West Virginia, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Morgantown, W.Va. West Virginia defeated TCU 86-85 in overtime.

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— To some, it seems like only yesterday TCU’s unranked, sub-.500 basketball team defeated No. 5-rated Kansas University, 62-55, on the Horned Frogs’ campus.

“It’s amazing to me how many people still talk about that. It happened a long, long time ago,” third-year TCU coach Trent Johnson said in advance of today’s Big 12 battle between (14-5, 1-5) TCU and the (16-3, 5-1) No. 9-ranked Jayhawks. Tip is 8 p.m., at 4,759-seat Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center, temporary home of the Frogs while Daniel-Meyer Coliseum undergoes renovations.

“That stuff is good for fans, you guys (media) to speculate on. We’re worried about playing as hard and as well as we can to compete with this group we have,” Johnson added.

That 2012-13 TCU team finished with two league victories. The Frogs won the regular-season finale versus Oklahoma. Johnson’s teams have a 3-39 record in Big 12 play with this year’s initial victory coming against Texas Tech.

“I don’t know if I’ll mention it as much as they’ll be reminded in some form or fashion. I’m sure it’ll be brought up,” KU coach Bill Self said of his players hearing of the mega-upset vs. TCU. “It was two years ago. I’ve tried to forget about it. I am reminded and have not forgotten it. They whipped us good. We were a Sweet 16 team. Every game was a one- or two-possession game (in Big 12 that year) except TCU. They drilled us from start to finish. We have to be ready to play physically, hopefully go in there and be in attack mode and ready to play because they are very capable.”

One reason the TCU game was so memorable is the Jayhawks scored just 13 points the first half.

Also it was the night Self was quite critical and colorful in post-game remarks, indicating, “it’s the worst team Kansas has ever put on the floor since Dr. Naismith was here. I think he had some bad teams when he lost to Topeka YMCA in his first couple years.”

“We do have a couple guys, Perry (Ellis), Jamari (Traylor), Christian (Garrett), Evan (Manning) and Tyler (Self) were on the team, but not too many. That was a totally different team,” Self stated.

The 2014-15 Horned Frogs were receiving votes for the Top 25 at the conclusion of the nonconference season. The Frogs went 14-0 with wins over Washington State, Bradley, Mississippi State and Mississippi as well as Tarleton State, Prairie View A&M;, New Orleans, Mississippi Valley State, Radford, Furman, McNeese State, UTSA, Grambling State and Tennessee State.

In the Big 12 ... the Frogs are 0-2 versus West Virginia — a 78-67 loss at home and Saturday’s 86-85 overtime loss in Morgantown. TCU lost to Kansas State, 58-53, in Manhattan, Baylor at home, 66-59, in overtime and Texas at home, 66-48. TCU tamed Texas Tech, 63-42, in Lubbock.

“TCU statistically has as good a defensive team as we have in our league,” Self said. The Frogs allow 57.3 points a game off 35.1 percent shooting (fourth best mark in NCAA) and average 71.2 ppg off 46.4 percent marksmanship.

“They are playing well. This isn’t the same TCU team we played the last couple years. This is a good team. They could have easily won (at West Virginia). They’ve been in almost every game. All it does is continue to tell you how good the league is,” Self said.

Senior guard Kyan Anderson, who had 25 points in TCU’s 95-65 loss to KU last February in Allen Fieldhouse, averages a team-leading 13.7 ppg, which ranks seventh in the Big 12. He leads the league in free-throw percentage (89.2), is fifth in assists (3.9) and seventh in steals (1.4). Senior guard Trey Zeigler is next in scoring at 8.7 ppg. Sophomore forward Kenrich Williams averages a team-leading 6.6 rebounds per game, which ranks sixth in the Big 12. He contributes 8.4 ppg and has 20 blocks. Sophomore forward Chris Washburn and soph center Karviar Shepherd average 6.8 and 6.2 ppg.

“Anderson still keys everything for them,” Self said of TCU’s ninth-leading scorer of all time. “He makes them go. You have to make plays to score against them. They don’t give you easy points. They are averaging about 30 free-throw attempts a game (31.5 in six conference games; TCU has made 112 of 189 for 59.3 percent; opponents 124 of 180 for 68.9). We’re going to have to play a good basketball game.”

KU is coming off Saturday’s 75-62 victory at Texas in which the Jayhawks committed just three turnovers.

“I think coach was very pleased with our effort and way we competed,” sophomore Frank Mason III said. “Obviously that was a good road win for us. It’s a quality team. They have good height, great history behind them and a good program. It’s definitely good we’re moving in the right place.

“I think we’ll come out with the same energy, the same mindset, same defensive mindset,” Mason added. “We’re just looking forward to the next challenge.”

Self is hoping the team can put together back-to-back solid efforts on the road.

“One turnover in the last 35 minutes (at UT) is more impressive to me than none in the second half,” Self said. “It’s amazing the poise they (Jayhawks) showed, but were still in attack mode. We did a good job of attacking, yet being patient. We did a good job taking advantage of numbers. It looked to me they were really understanding how the game was meant to be played. We’ve had teams do that before and then we lay an egg the next game. I don’t know if there’s much carryover in things like that.

“It’s a winning formula. If you take care of the ball and steal some extra possessions, guard and rebound, you have a chance to win. That’s what happened the other day.”

Praise could turn to scorn quickly: Self has praised his team a lot for its performance at Texas. “The biggest thing in my mind is they’ve done a good thing, but they can’t negate the good thing by thinking about the good thing. They’ve got to be moving forward, thinking next play and certainly respect the next play because we are obviously playing a team that can beat you,” he said of TCU.

Self on the Horned Frogs’ temporary home: “I believe I have been there, years ago,” he said. “They’ve got a couple places in the Dallas area that are great community-type facilities. It’s a good venue. The number of people ... it seats about 5 (thousand). I’m sure it’ll be a full house. It’ll be a great atmosphere. Sometimes smaller venues that are full are the best atmosphere anyway. I’m sure it’ll be fine.”

Academics: KU’s basketball team had a 2.93 grade-point average during the fall semester, it was announced Tuesday. KU student-athletes combined GPA held at 2.94, the same mark posted by the Jayhawks in spring 2014. Football had a 2.48 GPA. For all the team GPAs go to the Web address http://kuathletics.com/news/2015/1/26/GEN_0126155318.aspx

This, that: KU is 7-1 versus TCU. The series dates to 1952 when the Jayhawks won, 68-64, in the NCAA Midwest Regional at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Missouri. ... Bill Self is 11-4 all-time against TCU, including 5-1 while at KU. Trent Johnson is 2-3 against KU, 1-3 while at TCU. Johnson’s Stanford team defeated KU, 64-58, on Dec. 6, 2003 in Anaheim, California, in the Wooden Classic. That was Self’s first season at KU. ... Charles Hill Jr., who sat out the first five conference games, scored 13 points in 17 minutes Saturday vs. the Mountaineers. ... In four of TCU’s five losses, the Frogs have either led or trailed by single-digits in the last five minutes. ... Cliff Alexander tweeted this on Jan. 22: “College basketball is more exciting than NBA.”

Comments

Adam Collins 3 years, 11 months ago

That's right Cliff...College basketball IS more exciting than the NBA. Might as well stick around to enjoy the excitement a few more years, right....?

Michael Lorraine 3 years, 11 months ago

And college football is more exciting than the NFL.

Allison Steen 3 years, 11 months ago

I would say almost averaging a 3.0 isn't too bad, considering they basically have a full time job to go along with it. You'd like it to be a little higher, but I don't think there's too much room for criticism, especially considering we have a lot of freshmen. Let's just say I wasn't too stellar my first semester of my freshman year, and majority aren't.

Robert Brown 3 years, 11 months ago

Almost a straight B average. That is not that bad.

Ron Prichard 3 years, 11 months ago

I couldn't disagree more. A B average for kids from varied backgrounds, practicing multiple hours a week, missing classes for games and road trips, actually sounds pretty impressive to me.

Walter Bridges 3 years, 11 months ago

A 2.00 would be average, a 2.93 is decent. I know my grad school grades beat my undergrad grades by a large margin.

"Even though the majority of them are communications, social welfare, and African-American Studies majors." Some would call this comment borderline racist although I don't think you meant it that way.

Does KU still go w/the A = 4.0, B = 3.0 or do they now use A+, A, A- point system?

Steve Corder 3 years, 11 months ago

A trap game.....Every year there are a few of them in the drive to a conference championship.

Bryce Landon 3 years, 11 months ago

I can't forget about that awful night in Ft. Worth either. It still makes me mad that the team could play so poorly against the conference bottom-feeder and, worse yet, Bill Self never took any of the blame for it. Instead of cracking on his team with Topeka YMCA jokes he should have admitted to not having his team ready to play.

We cannot lose this game. Not this year. If we want to stay in the Big 12 driver seat, we have to win this game. Win tonight and we remain in sole possession of first place. Lose and we fall into a three-way tie with Iowa State and West Virginia.

Walter Bridges 3 years, 11 months ago

KU should have won this game sleepwalking, it was almost like watching a team see just how bad they could be or maybe HCBS using the game as a learning tool to be ready for EVERY game

This team should have won even w/o having a coach, still, we did win another conference championship that year

Bryce Landon 3 years, 11 months ago

Johnson was not the coach of Stanford in 2003-04. Mike Montgomery was at Stanford at the time; Johnson was at Nevada. His Nevada team did defeat Kansas in the Wolfpack Invitational that season.

Brianna Zaleski 3 years, 11 months ago

Bryce,

Take it easy. It was a bad loss and yes, Bill did not have them ready to play. But I'd much rather him have a sense of humor about it and move on, then to be a surly sour puss and blame his players or the refs or something other. As long as that one loss doesn't become two (which in Self's case rarely happens), you have to let it go and move on. These are human beings we're talking about here.

Bryce Landon 3 years, 11 months ago

Ah, but that's the thing: That TCU loss in 2013 was the second of three straight losses (lost at home to OSU beforehand and lost at OU afterward). One loss DID become two, and then two losses became three.

Robert Brown 3 years, 11 months ago

And had that team was a blown 14 point lead in a Sweet 16 game away from possibly going back to Final 4. What happens in January is not always a precursor to what happens in March.

Joe Magnuson 3 years, 11 months ago

I realize that losing three in a row that year sucked...but if I recall correctly, we still won the Big 12 regular season AND tournament and got a #1 seed and were a stupid-crazy Michigan comeback away from an Elite 8 (at least) game. I think if you ask most teams in the nation if they'd settle for a three-game stretch of losses for a chance to be a #1 seed and still win you conference & tournament, they'd take it. No need to be bashing Coach about that game from a few years go.

Jack Wilson 3 years, 11 months ago

I have to agree with Bryce. Remember, the TCU loss followed the loss to OSU at home.

After the OSU loss, Self had his infamous meltdown where he threw EJ under the bus. The "we don't have a point guard." And "we were definitely a better team with (EJ) sitting next to us ... " It was really bad stuff. I listened live to it on the radio and was astonished by what I heard. The tone was even worse than the content. I had never, and have never, heard Self like that..

That tenor continued after the TCU game with the also infamous "Topeka YMCA" comments and "the worst team to ever play at Kansas" stuff. Even though Self was more light hearted in these comments, just not Self's best moments. My opinion is now, and was then, that the TCU loss was the direct result of how the loss to OSU was mishandled.

KU then lost at OU following TCU, but played much better. EJ said after the OU game, “Right now we’re trying to figure that out,” Johnson said. "You can’t ask a man who just got knocked out to count to 10. You can’t think straight right away. There’s so much going on in your head. Right now we’re just focused on getting our focus back. That’s what we’re focused on, getting our focus back.”

The 2013 loss to TCU was simply a rough patch. A loss that never should have happened. An anomaly. Self's poor handling of the OSU loss, and then TCU, were anomalies too.

Self has never been one to overtly take personal responsibility very often. Most of the time when he does, it's cryptic -- like, "we need to coach it better." As opposed to, "I really should have had our guys foul Burke before he got that shot off. That was my fault." There's a big difference.

But that's different than lashing out like he did. I don't recall him singling out a player like he did after OSU, or insulting (perhaps too strong of a word) a team like he did after TCU. The EJ stuff was obviously worse. Anyway, I think he's earned a big free pass for that, in my opinion. It's not close to his normal character.

Anyway, after that OU game in 2013, here's what Self said about the league race after the OU loss: “We’ve been behind a game in the league race going into the last seven-eight games of the season before,” Self said. “We were never quite as good as our record, but we are better than what we have played here this past week. Does it surprise me we are in a dogfight? Not at all. This talk people had that the whole deal is who is going to finish second? I never had that feeling at all. We are going to have to play our best ball to have a chance to win it. Every game is lose-able on the road especially when you have Baylor, Oklahoma State and Iowa State left.”

He got the ship righted pretty quickly. And we know how that turned out.

Rodney Crain 3 years, 11 months ago

I disagree Bryce.

I am not sure where you are coming from. The loss was terrible @TCU for all the reasons you state, but we are not heading down there after a home loss? We have KSU at home after that, not sure that will be a loss or a tough game either.

Cetainly the chance for a 3 game losing streak would be after crushing 25+ point loses right?

Mick Allen 3 years, 11 months ago

Still tied for the conference championship in 2013, so I assume HCBS had the team "up" more often than not. Geez, ease up Bryce.

Chad Lee 3 years, 11 months ago

Bill! show your stuff! Trent should not out coach you again. He has some wides down low tho.. enter... Mari!

Russ McCaig 3 years, 11 months ago

has Herm Edwards would say, "If we are who we say we are", this shouldn't be much of a game....and THAT is what I want to see tonight....good ole fashioned azz whoopin'...

Waylon Cook 3 years, 11 months ago

Johnson beat Self at Nevada in 03 not Stanford.(Roy scheduled that for Padgett -or his father)

Also Nevada had one of nations longest win streak that year before they bowed out to Georgia Tech in Sweet Sixteen. Would have LOVED to have beat Johnson to go to Final Four Self's first season!

Harlan Hobbs 3 years, 11 months ago

Just remember. After the OSU and TCU losses, the Hawks turned it around and won another Big 12 championship. Maybe we should just put it on your tombstone "Yeah, but they lost at TCU", seeing as how some of you are so obsessed by it.

Walter Bridges 3 years, 11 months ago

How can we look so good at Texas and than so bad at TCU? I can't remember another KU team that plays with so much disparity.

It is far more than just inconsistency w/this team. That would be fixable, this is more to the heart of this team, Bilf Self included. Benching players for long periods of times while letting others stay in the game and self implode.

Does Ellis play with any inner drive? I know someone will quote his stats but his play lacks emotion. This is his third year and I don't think he would even get drafted if he tried to go pro. He seems uninspired.

I don't want to get too down after the high of the Texas game but though I cannot accurately describe the vibe I get from this team, I think there is something wrong or maybe missing. Maybe someone else can put their finger on what is wrong w/this team.

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