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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Self will ‘take the win,’ but that’s all

Kansas head coach Bill Self glances at the scoreboard during a timeout late in the second half at Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Kansas head coach Bill Self glances at the scoreboard during a timeout late in the second half at Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas.

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As badly as Kansas University’s basketball team played down the stretch against TCU, the bottom line is the Jayhawks survived Wednesday and remain in sole possession of first place in the Big 12 Conference.

“I’ll take the win,” coach Bill Self said after Wednesday’s 64-61 road victory upped KU’s league record to 6-1 — a full game ahead of 5-2 Iowa State and West Virginia heading into a two-game homestand.

KU will meet (5-3) Kansas State at 1 p.m., Saturday and Iowa State at 8 p.m., Monday, both in Allen Fieldhouse.

Indeed, if KU is able to secure an 11th straight conference crown in March, nobody will remember the Jayhawks saw an 11-point lead (with 3:35 left) dip to three in the waning seconds in Fort Worth, Texas.

“I am not happy. Nobody on our staff is happy. The players shouldn’t be happy,” Self said. “We’re relieved we won, but how we closed the game ... even as bad as we played, if you close the game right, you win by 10 and leave feeling better. That’s a terrible way to close the game.”

Self said the Jayhawks had no energy Wednesday, just as they had none in a 77-52 loss at Temple in nonconference play.

“This was a game, at least earlier in the season when it happened in Philadelphia, we couldn’t recover,” Self said. “We’re fortunate we got a lead early (13 points in first half). I guess we were just fortunate we were able to hang on.”

Sophomore Brannen Greene said the coach’s postgame message was direct.

“We’ve got to do better. We can’t play like that,” Greene said. “If we want to get better ... like we thought we were building from Texas (Saturday’s 75-62 win in Austin). We still are, but if we want to keep building we can’t have performances like this. We all agree. We’ve got to do better.”

The key against Kansas State?

“Play like we did at Texas, with unbelievable energy, be the aggressor,” Greene said. “That’s what we didn’t do (against TCU, which is 1-6 in league play).”

Nino doubtful: Kansas State’s Nino Williams, who hurt his left knee Tuesday in a loss to West Virginia, has been listed as doubtful for Saturday’s game against KU.

“The good news is there is no structure damage where he would need surgery and be out for the year,” KSU coach Bruce Weber said of the 6-5, 220-pound senior who is KSU’s second-leading scorer (11.7) and leading rebounder (4.9).

“The negative is that it is a strain or sprain with irritation where we have to go on him and his pain tolerance. He is a tough guy. He has lived with pain since I have been here. Ironically, it is not the same knee as the one he has had procedures on, he just landed wrong on a lay-up on a steal where he lost his footing and irritated it. If he cannot play, he must be hurting. He did three treatments today with mostly running in the pool and shooting some free throws. Miracles happen and (athletic trainer) Luke (Sauber) has a magical touch and we will see if he can get him out-and-about. Obviously, we want him Saturday but we also have to look at the 10 games after that,” Weber added.

Morris twins in investigation?: Former KU forwards Marcus and Markieff Morris of the Phoenix Suns are part of a possible assault investigation being handled by Phoenix police, Phoenix CBS 5 News reports. Police confirmed to the station they are investigating an alleged assault that occurred around 7:30 p.m. Saturday outside a gym near 15th Avenue and Colter in central Phoenix.

They would not release the names of those involved. Sources told CBS 5 News the Morris brothers are being looked at as suspects in the crime. The Suns had no comment.

Challenge: The Big 12/SEC Challenge will be moving to January, beginning with the 2015-16 season, the leagues announced Thursday.

All games in next season’s Challenge will be played on Jan. 30, well after the start of conference play.

“We are excited to move this event to January to provide the Big 12 a unique showcase and help ESPN give the Big 12/SEC Challenge the attention it deserves,” said Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby.

“Our teams have shown a commitment to scheduling tough non-conference opponents and should be commended for setting a new standard by placing a key non-league matchup in the middle of the conference season.”

Foul woes: Perry Ellis, who scored KU’s first five points vs. TCU, sat the final 18:44 of the first half after picking up his second foul.

“Probably not always,” Self said, asked if his policy would be to sit the junior forward for the remainder of the half in all games after the second whistle. “The thing about it is we actually got the lead with him on the bench. I think at the Under Four timeout we were up nine or 10. There was no reason to put him in. We didn’t close the half out right (leading by six). But that was the reason. Up 10 at the Under Four time out, I didn’t see any reason to put him back in.”

Weber on KU: “The big thing is that Kelly (Oubre) and Cliff (Alexander) have figured it out and have gotten some experience. He (Bill Self) made both of them earn it and now it gives them two more weapons that can do a lot of things. Kelly is just so active, we saw him when we recruited him, and he is playing a lot more active and confident.

“Frank Mason might be the key to the team and even though everyone forgets about Perry Ellis, he is a rock-solid guy like Nino (Williams) or Thomas (Gipson) that they depend on. I think Frank’s improvement came by chance since they had no one else he has had to play though mistakes. He plays confident, makes plays, and is shooting the ball better.”

Comments

Trace Stark 4 years, 9 months ago

"I think Frank's improvement came by chance." Jeez Weber... how about thru coaching and working on his game? What a jerk.

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 9 months ago

Would Mason be as good as he is right now if Naadir Tharpe hadn't blown his opportunity last year and was still on the team? Weber has a valid point that Tharpe's issues forced Mason into the starting role and to force Self to play Mason.

Benz Junque 4 years, 9 months ago

His opportunity for improvement came due to the circumstance, not by chance. "By chance" means he basically lucked into it and that hard work and experience had nothing to do with it.

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 9 months ago

Semantics, Mason was thrust into the starting job because of circumstances he had absolutely nothing to do with Tharpe being kicked off the team.

Mason's work ethic is what made him a good player, but luck is what gave Mason the job.

Brian Wilson 4 years, 9 months ago

True. But Mason did have a little luck after a very talented CF left, and from rumors, provided too much whining and gnashing of teeth and so off to WSU where players aren't so deep.

IMO, Tharpe should have been benched back in January and Mason and CF should have been allowed to start and develop. Mason would be even better now. Mason outworked CF over the summer, adding Graham and Svi, CF is outta here! Who knows, if not, CF may have stayed and never got a DUI.

On a side note. I am not a big fan, but also not onboard with forcing out Juniors. If we had benched him in January, Tharpe may have cooled and worked harder to come back to prove himself and he might still be in the mix this year. Tharpe deserved his scholarship for his education. I can't think of any major school that would give a 2 year scholarship to a Senor PG that is one and done after being dumped. I may be wrong but I think he would have to sit a year before getting another chance to play.

For other discussion, and yet to be seen, Tharpe out, no Turner, and then Svi and Graham's recruitment instead of a Center, may have hurt the 2015-16 squad. But KU overcomes!!

Adam Collins 4 years, 9 months ago

I agree he has somewhat of a valid point, but it was very poorly worded. Maybe, "I think Frank's improvement became apparent when he was given a chance to play more minutes" would have been a better way to say it. At least Weber didn't make any comments about a funeral this time.

Michael Sillman 4 years, 9 months ago

I'm thinking that Self may want to update his half time pep talk or start a different group in the second half this weekend.

The Jayhawks have come out of the locker room rather sluggish lately after the break.

Len Shaffer 4 years, 9 months ago

KSU's leading rebounder is averaging 4.9 a game? How pathetic is that?

On another note, I love that they're moving the Big 12/SEC Challenge to January. KU always improves so much during the conference season, so it will be great to see what they do in a tough non-conference game in the middle of the conference season.

Priest Fontaine 4 years, 9 months ago

Can't say I'm not happy with our record and first place status in the Big 12, but...Why is this team so hard to motivate? Every team will have their ups and downs but I've never seen Bill struggle so much in getting his guys consistently ready for battle. Besides Fearless Frank and Jamari the Tank, who's been consistently tough? Sometimes Oubre. Sometimes Selden. Sometimes Cliff. Greene's been clutch with big time shots and free throws down the stretch, but shys away from contact, is soft on the boards and not very good on defense. Body language and hustle could also use some work. Perry needs a weekend out with The Morris Twins to shed some of that innocence. He's shown flashes of what he's capable of but I think he forgets what he can do. Or maybe he's too nice to his opponent. He doesn't want to hurt them physically or hurt them emotionally. When Perry fouls someone he usually does it in a way that's just enough of physical contact to be called a foul but not enough to make the opponent miss the shot. I really hope he turns to the dark side and starts going to war. If he fouls out, he's also caused some serious bruises because of it. Not just given up a bunch of 3 point plays for the other team. If Landen added some inches to his vertical it would work wonders! Hunter: hit the weights like a mad man and surprise everyone next year! Tyler Self: keep doing what you're doing!

Lance Cheney 4 years, 9 months ago

"Perry needs a weekend out with The Morris Twins to shed some of that innocence."

Hopefully Perry can avoid the assault charges after said weekend.

Armen Kurdian 4 years, 9 months ago

I would have said the same thing about last year's team...they seemed lackluster and arrogant at times. Everyone is having their issues, UT at 3-4, ISU losing at TT, Baylor disappointing, so we're not alone there. I think we're going to slaughter K-State by at least 20. ISU I bet will take us to OT.

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 9 months ago

Once it clicked for Oubre he's been the second best player. Since he was battling the flu for the TCU game, I'm not going say anything negative about his lack of performance against TCU. When healthy and feeling good, his motor has never been an issue, even in the Temple game.

Devonte Graham is also someone who hasn't had any issues with effort this year either. KU's best back court line up is one that has Mason, Graham, and Oubre on the court at the same time.

Cliff needs to be in attack mode like he was against Texas every game. If he develops Mason's or Oubre's motor, he would be a monster around the rim. Brannen Greene is getting better on defense, still not a good defender but he's clearly putting the effort in and why his minutes are going up.

Perry is what he is and if he hasn't developed a mean streak in 2.5 years, it isn't going to happen. Landen needs the weight room because he has no definition right now and why he can't hold position. Hunter does not need to add weight. He needs flexibility so he can move better because his lack of quickness and athleticism is what's keeping him off the floor.

Micky Baker 4 years, 9 months ago

It was a disappointing performance on Wednesday night for sure. We played a lot of guys that don't get that much PT and some of them showed some signs of improving, particularly with Lucas' defense and Mickelson's aggressiveness in the half court. We're going to need those guys to give quality minutes in March, particularly in the post-season tourneys.

We're playing K-State on Saturday. Phog Allen Fieldhouse is going to be jumpin'. Then ISU comes in to play at the Phog. We win these two, and give ourselves a 2 game lead over ISU. We then go on the road for a couple, but the last few weeks of the regular season isn't going to be easy playing West Virginia twice and at Oklahoma with a bunch of good teams mixed in between those really good teams. Can't let the guard down at all, as evidenced at TCU. If it had been any team that could hit free throws we would have lost that game. Teams are still going to be gunning for Kansas, but getting a two game cushion after Monday is a big deal.

Page Butler 4 years, 9 months ago

You mentioned the reserves getting playing time and it reminded me of my impression of Mickelson. He had a one handed dunk and it looked to me as if he could barely reach the goal. When we have guys that are 2 inches shorter playing above the rim like Alexander and Traylor then it makes complete sense to me why Hunter is spending so much time on the bench. I was glad to see the reserves playing a more important role than their usual mop up duty, but I hope we don't see them tomorrow as much.

Jim Williamson 4 years, 9 months ago

Hunter Mickelson is, ummm, a project. Not everyone on your team can be (or should be) Thomas Robinson. You have to have guys who are willing to pay their dues and get beaten up six days a week in practice and still be satisfied with playing five minutes a game. Everyone has a role.

Lance Cheney 4 years, 9 months ago

But when you're 6'10" or however tall Mickelson is and playing D1 ball, regardless of the school, you should at least be able to throw down a TWO-handed dunk with some force. Or even just a two-handed dunk.

Micky Baker 4 years, 9 months ago

Appearances are one thing. I'm pretty sure than he can get up there. It's probably because he's a bit tentative, and who can blame him. It wouldn't be the first time for a transfer to be like that. There was one that we had recently that transferred to KU from AZ. He turned out pretty well, but not his first year being eligible to play and not with the type of recruits we have landed right out of high school recently. He did block some shots that, in the end, prove to be crucial. You don't just win or lose a game at the end. There are plays made throughout the game that contribute to the outcome.

Lucas gave some valuable minutes off the bench as well. When we get into the conference tourney and playing for what will likely be a decision for the committee between and 1 and 2 seed in the respective tourney, these guys are going to have to play because of 3 games in 3 days. The minutes these guys played weren't clean up minutes either. They mattered in the outcome of the game. Mickelson is going to be a key guy for us either late in this season, but no later than next season unless Lucas's switch turns on all of a sudden.

I think sometimes we've become focused too much on raw athleticism, but with that alone the guys are going to make mistakes. The only exception to this is if there is depth of raw talent that is 8 or 9 players deep that puts pressure on a team. Even with that, that usually plays out on the defense of the team with that much raw athleticism, not on the offensive end. Mickelson has a small role now, but it's going to be bigger and I'm glad that he got a chance to play meaningful minutes against a much improved TCU squad now rather than later when we go up against the West Virginia pressure or OU's pressure in Norman. It's like golf. You can't get better if you don't actually play the game. The drills and all that are good for developing habits and improving certain skill sets, but they do not give any game speed experience.

Mark Lindrud 4 years, 9 months ago

I am on the other side of the fence that we figure out who is in our rotation and play those guys regularly. We stick with 8-9 guys so that they can get used to playing together. When we put in Mickelson in one game and Svi for another it messes with the team's fluidity. When we get a big lead and are dominating then you put them in. Mickelson looks soft and Svi looks lost at times. The last two games we looked really good and we played 8 guys, which is not a coincidence, just saying.

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 9 months ago

Self has his rotation. Mason, Selden, Oubre, Ellis, Traylor, Graham, Greene, and Alexander. Foul trouble against TCU necessitated going deeper into the bench than normal.

Mark Lindrud 4 years, 9 months ago

We only needed to put in Lucas, not both Mickelson and Svi. We especially did not need to put in Mickelson and Lucas together because that was a disaster. We have enough wing players to provide depth and none of them were in foul trouble. Once again, Svi will be good down the road I hope, but putting him in on occasions messes with the rotation. We did not need to go that deep into the bench.

Walter Bridges 4 years, 9 months ago

I agree about the rotation Aaron but I think fouls weren't the only reason players were given extra bench time.

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 9 months ago

Cliff's motor definitely wasn't full throttle, but Perry and Jamari were in foul trouble so I'll say Landen played because of fouls and Hunter played because of Cliff.

Page Butler 4 years, 9 months ago

I think part of the reason it was so hard to get up emotionally for this game is because of the venue it was played in. From my understanding it seated fewer than 5000 and there were still empty seats. As a fan it was hard for me to get excited for this game as well. I don't blame the guys because I think it is human nature. I do think it was a very uninteresting game and unlike most of the games I don't plan on watching it a second time.

Lance Cheney 4 years, 9 months ago

I would think it would hurt the home team more, especially as the underdog, because they don't have the crowd behind them as much, almost like a neutral-site game.

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 9 months ago

Think about how many times KU has struggled in Lubbock over the years. Playing in a half empty arena with no energy in it has always been an issue for KU. We are going to see KU struggle against TCU in Ft. Worth in midweek games because it's going to be a dead arena. Weekend games won't be an issue because the D/FW alums will be there.

Joe Joseph 4 years, 9 months ago

I know Perry has had his ups and downs this season, but I'd be offended if I were him by being compared to to any of K-State's big men.

K-State is horrible this year. It's an absolute fluke they're contending in the Big XII at the moment. I'll eat crow if KSU ends up a contender in the end, or even competes with Kansas on Saturday. But I'd be shocked if KU doesn't beat KSU by at least a dozen.

Jim Williamson 4 years, 9 months ago

I once heard Malibu Tom Asbury say something like, "Jacque Vaughn is KU's Anthony Beane." I almost busted a hip after falling out of my chair.

You have to play with what you've got, but Squeaky has to realize that he has one starter who would start at KU, and a guy who might be the first guy off the bench.

Michael Lorraine 4 years, 9 months ago

Was it Tom who also said, they have lots of players we’d like to have, we have no players they want.

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 9 months ago

KSU's start wasn't a fluke though. They started with the easy part of the schedule and are now playing some better teams and losing to the real contenders.

Allison Steen 4 years, 9 months ago

The one positive coming out of that game was seeing Landen get it together. I completely thought he'd miss every free throw he went up there to shoot. Hopefully he can build on that.

Mick Allen 4 years, 9 months ago

Aaron, your comment that HCBS was forced to play Mason because Nadir was not going to be around, gives Self no credit for recognizing the skills that make Mason the valuable asset that he is. Last year when Mason's minutes were limited behind Naadir, he was a freshman who was making the conversion from a scoring 2 guard to running the point. Many of his miscues last year were a result of his having a scorer's mentality in taking the ball too deep in the paint looking to score instead of looking to distribute. I believe that even if Naadir were here this year Frank would have won the starting job. You have to give Self some credit for knowing which player's skill set would most benefit the team. I certainly think Self's record confirms that.

Bryce Landon 4 years, 9 months ago

The Morris twins have always been troublemakers of sorts. Disappointed by their latest escapade, but not surprised.

Janet Olin 4 years, 9 months ago

I read several Phoenix news articles about this incident; no one really has a grasp of what happened--the 'news' reports so far are all speculation. The prevailing rumor is that Marcus beat up a guy from Philly who allegedly swindled or threatened his mother while Keef watched. Who knows what if any of this is true. We would be wise to wait until some real facts are released to jump to conclusions.

Walter Bridges 4 years, 9 months ago

Yeah but you have to admire their close relationship.

Harlan Hobbs 4 years, 9 months ago

One interesting note - - Marcus and Markieff just signed contract extensions with the Suns for a combined total of 40 to 50 million dollars. They can afford good lawyers, and with the facts being murky at best, I don't expect much to come of this. However, if they are guilty, they should be treated accordingly.

William Weissbeck 4 years, 9 months ago

Can somebody work on Brannen Greene's hands? He gets good inside position and touches many rebounds, but grabs very few of them.

RJ King 4 years, 9 months ago

I think it's more impressive that Kelly is out rebounding Perry from the 3 spot. I've seen a noticeable difference in Greene's body language over the past several games and hopefully the hands will follow.

Oubre grabs a board every 4 minutes, Brannen every 6.4, Svi 9, and Selden 10.5. (Wayne - follow your shot???)

Cliff tops the bigs with a board every 3.12 minutes, followed by Lucas 3.33, Mickelson 3.35, Ellis 4.25, and Traylor 5.26

Small guards - Mason 8.63 and Devonte 12.5

Doug Fogleman 4 years, 9 months ago

That game was the opposite of the TCU football game last fall. The best team played ugly, but won both games

Lance Cheney 4 years, 9 months ago

And the worse team should've won both games.

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