Saturday, March 19, 2016

Notebook: Jayhawks not dwelling on early exits


Kansas University’s basketball team has not made it out of the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament in each of the last two seasons.

Obviously, the Jayhawks hope for better results this year, specifically today in a 6:45 p.m., South Regional contest against UConn in Wells Fargo Arena. Winner advances to the Sweet 16 on Thursday in Louisville. Loser’s season is over.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self on UConn's strengths, KU's progress

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self answers questions from reporters as his top-seeded Jayhawks prepare to face Connecticut with a spot in the Sweet 16 on the line. Self gets into the Huskies' strengths, KU's progress and much more.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Ellis and Graham on avoiding another 2nd-round letdown

Kansas basketball players Perry Ellis and Devonté Graham meet with media members the day before the Jayhawks' second-round meeting with Connecticut in the NCAA Tournament. The Jayhawks discuss avoiding another second-round letdown and other topics.

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“We know this is the game we’ve been sent home on the last couple years,” KU junior forward Landen Lucas said. “We’ll be extra focused for it, make sure we don’t take anything for granted and play hard every possession. It’s a fun game coming up against a great program historically. We’re looking forward to it. We’ll be fine.”

KU coach Bill Self said losses to Wichita State and Stanford the past two years aren’t prime motivating factors.

“We’re not going to run from it,” Self said. “We have lost in the second round the last two years. But certainly I’m not going to use that as motivation, dwelling on the negative. I do think that when you get to the second round, everybody is capable of beating everybody without question. But the last two years, we haven’t been whole going into the tournament, obviously, and when you’re losing starters and things like that, after you played a certain way all year long, a lot of times you’re not the same team that you were the vast majority of the season.

“And I really think that was the case with us,” he added. “Not an excuse, but it’s the reality of it. This year, I mean, knock on wood, we’ve been healthier. We’re more whole. Roles are defined. When you got a guy hurt (Perry Ellis last year) going into the tournament, roles are changed. So I think the guys are more confident the way we’ve been doing it this year in large part because we haven’t had to change midstream.”

Greene update: KU junior Brannen Greene has been suffering from back spasms.

“It’s all right. It’s doing better,” he said of his back. “I was getting (spasms) yesterday. I’ve still got ’em today, not as bad. My hip is fine. It feels great,” added the player who had offseason hip surgery. “I haven’t had trouble with my hip pretty much all year.”

They considered UConn: Greene and Wayne Selden Jr. were recruited by UConn during their high school years.

“I was honestly pretty sold on UConn until I decided to take a visit to Kansas,” Greene said. “When I took a visit to Kansas and factored in the fact coach (Jim) Calhoun was going to leave (retire), I was pretty much dead-set on Kansas. I fell in love with the university.”

Selden said: “They were recruiting me when I was 15, 16. I took an unofficial (visit) a couple times. You could tell those big basketball tradition schools, how (impressive) it is.”

Friends: Selden is a good buddy of UConn freshman Jalen Adams. Both are from Roxbury, Mass.

“We grew up together, have known each other since I was 8, 9 years old,” Selden said. “We played football together, basketball together. My grandmother is his mother’s godmother. We’re really close. He’s like a little brother. We talked after he hit the shot (a 65-footer against Cincinnati to force a fourth overtime in UConn conference tournament win). We’ll talk after the game.”

NBA rule could be controversial: Self spoke on the new rule that allows underclassmen to declare for the draft after the season to see if they are worthy of being invited to the NBA combine. New college rules allow players to attend the combine and one workout with an NBA team in an attempt to learn their draft status.

The combine is not until May.

Summer school normally starts the last week of May, meaning KU could have the futures of several players in limbo until right before summer school.

“I was actually part of the talks with the NBA with that, and it’s not perfect,” Self said. “We were told it was a really good first step, to getting to an end result that would be one in which everybody, NBA and college would be more pleased.

“I’m going to hold my opinion until after this year, because we may be a team that’s affected by that as much as anybody in the country. We have a lot of good players, but we don’t have the high lottery picks. The lottery picks are going to go anyway, 19 out of 20 or nine out of 10. It’s the ones that are mid-second round or maybe projected not to get drafted. We put our name in and then how do we approach it after we put our name in?

“I think in theory it’s good because it gives the players and family more accurate information to make a decision based on what they’re hearing from NBA people as opposed to what they’re hearing from people that maybe aren’t connected to the NBA, whether it be agents or whoever, or third parties. I hope it is good for our game. This is a weird year to have that be the first year because everybody is saying the draft isn’t as strong this year.

“So there will be more kids that make an attempt to probably look into it and when you look — the key is it’s okay to look, but when you look, do you jeopardize your amateurism? And if kids are smart and families are smart enough to stay on campus and not jeopardize your amateurism, then I think it could be a good rule.

“But if you have all these kids that apply for the draft thinking they’re going to be one in the combine or one of the 60 that are going to be drafted or whatnot and they give up their chance to come back to school (it would not be good). I hope that people use the rule to their advantage as opposed to using the rule as an opportunity to let’s investigate more with really no solid game plan, in that it’s just an investigation, and by the investigation we’ll determine what we do. I’m just nervous kids are going to eliminate the opportunity to come back if they’re not smart (and sign with agents while waiting to see if they are invited to combine).”

Svi on uptick: Sophomore Svi Mykhailiuk scored 23 points Thursday against Austin Peay.

“We think he’s doing great. We think he loves it here. He tells us he does. All indications are that he’s very, very happy,” Self said. “I think frustration does set in when you don’t play as much as you want to or play as well as you know you can, when you get opportunities.

“He’s the youngest player on our team, and I think he’s the second-youngest player in the Big 12, and he’s a sophomore. So when you evaluate him, you should evaluate him as a freshman out there. He came when he was 16 years old, so you should evaluate him as a freshman, and if you’re able to do that, then you say, ‘Wow!’

“At times he can look a certain way and look great, but he’s been a little bit inconsistent. I think that’s pretty apparent, but I think a lot that’s just youth.”

Self added: “I think as much as anything, it’s a prime example of keep grinding. You keep grinding, you don’t know when your number will be called, and although his number is called every game, but that could have been a totally different feeling game if he hadn’t played like he played. So I think if there is a lesson to be learned, it’s stay positive, keep grinding and when the opportunity knocks you gotta be ready to take advantage of it.”

Self on freshman Carlton Bragg Jr.: “He’s confident right now, scoring the ball and I think he’s got a chance to be a really good player. You know, to me, he’s just strength away and a little bit of experience away from being one of the better big guys that we’ve had at Kansas.”

Self on UConn coach Kevin Ollie: “Well, obviously, he’s got great poise on the sideline or they wouldn’t experience the success that they’ve already experienced in his short tenure there. Seems like to me that his players really care about each other, and he has a good relationship with his players. I think that’s pretty evident. I think he does a great job of getting after them and drilling them and really pushing them.”


Michael Sillman 4 years ago

After today's events, perhaps the KU fans who have been critical of Self's tournament failures will start cutting him some slack.

Both Tom Izzo and Shaka Smart have been hailed as March Madness geniuses yet both of their teams went down I flames in the first round.

In reality winning in the tournament is nearly random. During any given game, the 18 to 22 year old kids on a college team might lay an egg. I would guess that if Michigan State played Middle Tennessee nine more times it would probably win all nine games,

Way too much significance is placed on being the "National Champion". Those 12 straight Big 12 championships signify a true level of excellence.

Suzi Marshall 4 years ago

I say this all the time. The NCAA Tournament has huge entertainment value as a gambler's paradise. It's a shame that so many great KU teams tend to be over looked because they could not win the end of year 'Russian Roulette" spin of the wheel.

KJ Quartermaine 4 years ago

Bottom line, you have to cash in the national championship chips when you have the opportunity to do so. Anything other school of thought is flawed logic, Suzie

Andy Godwin 4 years ago

Yes winning a conference championship is a great consolation prize when all but one team comes up short in the end. However, I don't recall people having many parades for winning league championships or coming in second at the national level. That is the mentality of our culture. The Royals and fans were not satisfied by being the runner up in 2014. However, there was a fairly large big parade to celebrate the 2015 season as was the case for the 2012 versus 2008 season for the Jayhawks. Most fans will be disappointed if the Jayhawks do not finish the season off like they began it in South Korea. We will only hear how the Jayhawks and the rest of the Big XII (supposedly the best conference in the nation) under performed yet again in the tournament that means the most. Only the teams that come in second remember they were close to the glory. We as a country celebrate and remember only the champions. I truly hope the Jayhawks continue to advance to, as Self says, "make it a special season".

Joe Ross 4 years ago

The Big 12 generally performs terribly in the March Tournament. We just went 3-4 in the FIRST WEEKEND. As a conference which was rated very highly, we lost to the likes of Northern Iowa, Yale, Butler, and Stephen F. Austin. Traditional powerhouses all. Yale made the tournament for the first time in like 50 years or something. First tournament win EVER. "Maybe" this means that compared to teams across the country, the Big 12 is not as good. Now if this is the case, the luster of your 12 consecutive conference wins--while impressive--is nevertheless nowhere near as significant as success in March.

Furthermore, you dont judge the entirety of one coach's performance in all of his tournament appearances by what OTHER coaches do in a SINGLE YEAR. To compare apples and apples, you have to look at entirety of their tournament performance as well. When you do that you will observe a couple of things. All coaches have flame outs and years where they achieve less than expected. But you will also note that despite this, there are a handful of coaches you earn impressive tournament records. And those impressive resumes are more impressive than anything accomplished in the conference. NOt only is the pool of teams greater by number, but to beat teams out of conference you dont have the advantage of being familiar with those teams. On top of this, the BEST TEAMS lie outside of conference statistically speaking.

Success at the national level is by FAR more impressive than success in the conference. Its not even close.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years ago

You're being to kind, The BIG 12 is pathetic this time of the year. Seven teams in and a total of 2 teams left. Isn't this the third year were all the pundits declared the BIG 12 the best conference in basketball? There should be an asterisk which states the best conference until the NCAA starts.

The PAC 12 and the BIG 10 hasn't fared much better this year with Michigan State being the largest upset (versus the odds) in NCAA history. They were tied with Kansas (9 – 2) with the best odds of winning everything.

Looking at the history of the BIG 12, only one team has managed to win a single title. I can find no reasonable explanation. We have some of the best coaches, best players on some of the top teams that end up going nowhere.

I saw above that we should give Self some slack because of his early departures but I completely disagree. The two things are completely separate. Kansas is Kansas and the overall performance of the BIG 12 has nothing to do with how Kansas performs.

I don't know if anyone else listen to Bilas explained that "parity" is not the explanation. Going back 25 years or more and you will find that in general the same teams that were near the top then are still near the top today, but this seems to be the explanation given by all the other pundits who don't do any real statistical analysis. After listening to Bilas, I found his position to be sound but after yesterday, who the hell really knows?

Why has a team like UConn won as many titles in the last two decades than the history of the BIG 6 - BIG 12?

I admit to being befuddled, flummoxed, perplexed,discombobulated, flabbergasted and confused. Logic simply doesn't offer a reasonable explanation.

With that said, fingers crossed, wearing KU gear from head to toe, I think Kansas MARCHes onward.

Daniel Kennamore 4 years ago

Not that I disagree with your overall point, but the Big 12 has 3 teams left: Kansas, Oklahoma and Iowa State.

Kyle Rohde 4 years ago

Good points, but there are at least 3 Big 12 teams left - KU, OU and ISU.

I agree that KU needs to win national titles - it's the thing that holds us back from being considered the greatest college basketball program ever. UConn has won more titles in the past 16 years than KU has in the past 60. UCLA has 11, Kentucky 8, Duke 5, Indiana 5, UNC 5, UConn 4 and KU tied with Louisville with 3 (I'm not counting Helms Foundation titles).

That said, let's beat UConn and keep marching towards #4!

Marius Rowlanski 4 years ago

Shaka Smart has been at VCU for' 6 Years, 2 NCAA tournaments (7-6), 1 Final Four, 0 Championships If that qualifies as a March Madness genius then I'm certainly missing the point. And as much as I admire Tom Izzo, he has ONE NCAA title in 19 years of coaching. This is the fifth time that he has lost in the opening round. He does have 7 Final Fours and by most standards, is considered a great coach but not a March Madness Genius. Sorry.. but the reality doesn't meet the hyperbole.

As great as it was to win the conference championship and conference tournament, it's the NCAA title that's used as the measuring stick. I'm not saying it's fair or not fair but that is the truth of the matter.

I also don't understand why Michigan State and Texas going out early has ANYTHING to do with HCBS. Coach K, Coach Williams, Coach Cal and of course Coach Self need to stand on their own accomplishments. Just because Coach Izzo went out early or any of the other upsets, the only thing that matters is going forward. Trying to equate past performances/cutting slack/conference titles is not the way the best programs measure themselves.

If you don't believe Kansas is a top program then go ahead and knock yourself out with justifications.

Bryce Landon 4 years ago

Betting line has Kansas as an 8-point favorite. I don't care how many points Kansas wins by as long as they win.

Oh, and for the record, if Kansas loses tonight, you will not have to endure an entire offseason of me tagging every comment with calls for Self's job in giant font and all caps. A 31-4 record to this point, along with an undisputed Big 12 title and a Big 12 Tournament title, have proven to me that Self is still the best man for the Kansas job.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years ago

If we lose again in the first weekend with a team that is healthy, no issues of eligibility, 14 straight wins and still seem to be peaking then I might very well take up your mantra...

Probably not though... But it's a long bitter time before next season starts.

And Bryce..several times I have made comments that from face value would appear to have been directed to you. In all sincerity, they were not. Most were poor attempts at sarcasm. Let's wrap up this title - the hell with the rest of the BIG 12.

Tony Bandle 4 years ago

Bryce, I'm going to be perfectly honest with you, if we lose in the second round again with no viable excuses, I might just encourage Bill to go back home again, since the midget got fired and coach his alma mater.

No rancor or anger and filled with gratitude for his amazing stay at KU, but another round two loss, especially with the Number One overall ranked team at full strength might indicate it's time for a change for both Bill and KU.

All you Jayhawks, please feel free to blast me back to the stone age....I'd probably do it too, but it's just a gut feeling.

Mike Crosbie 4 years ago

My response is to Bryce not the Ahold above me

Marius Rowlanski 4 years ago

Must not have been that great of a response...

Sean Swindler 4 years ago

UConn Losses Syracuse 79-76 Gonzaga 73-70 Maryland 76-66 Temple 55-53 Tulsa 60-51 (probably got Tulsa in the tournament) Temple 63-58 Cinci 65-60 Houston 75-68 SMU 80-54 *also came w/in 2pts of losing to Tulsa a second time

Marius Rowlanski 4 years ago

Didn't the higher seed win in every example you listed above Sean? Not really sure as your post isn't that easy to decipher. Granted, some pretty close games but in my experience with games in the NCAA, they are often far closer than expected or turn out to be blowouts.

Michael Lorraine 4 years ago

I’ve always thought the tournament is a poor excuse for a playoff and that it would be better if fewer teams participated and the format was changed from single elimination to double elimination. IMO there are too many undeserving teams invited to the dance who are either just glad to be there or would just like to get that one signature win that will give them their 15 minutes of fame after being ignored all season. But it is the unpredictability and upsets that make it so appealing so that will never happen. However I do think the gap between the mid-majors and p5 conferences is not as great as it once was and those teams don’t play with a sense of entitlement that KU is at times guilty of. No fan of Greg Marshall but play angry should be our motto. All that being said there must be something about the style of play in the Big 12 that is not translating well in the tournament. I’ll be dammed if I know what it is.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years ago

Nothing personal Michael but thank God that will never happen. The single elimination is one of the things that make this tournament special. It's no big deal to see Michigan lose to Middle Tennessee State if they get another chance to win it all.

There are 351 Division I basketball schools and for most, winning their conference tournament is the only way they can make it to the NCAA. Would you be in favor of eliminating the conference tournament and just going with the regular season winner as long as they meet certain criteria?

And finally, who decides which teams deserve to be in the tournament? The selection committee isn't known for their fair minded objectivity so it would most likely take the development of another NCAA legislative body to pick who's in and who's out. Going from 32 to 64 takes only one more game. With 64 teams, it's pretty difficult to say that some more deserving team didn't make the tournament. Reducing the total number just opens up a brand-new can of problems even without a double elimination format.

Kent Richardson 4 years ago

Nor completely sold on Self's brush off of Svi's inconsistency being his youth. 2 to 5 minute stretches and it took about 30 games to show more may offer another explanation. Who knows but we can speculate that he could be above Wayne's level as well. The conference was what it was and KU got better when one player was given almost all the reps at the 5. Would Hunter be at Landon's level with another 20 minutes a game? These nuggets will be forgotten if we show up for the next five games or be revisited if we get punked. The overall college game has suffered this year, (OAD's?), and we are good enough to win it all because of that if nothing else. The streak is such an unlikely event that it becomes more important than may be good for us in March but we now have a chance that may never be seen again in a power 5 conference.

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