Pests on a basketball court don’t stand 6-foot-8. They’re 5-8. They don’t make it to the top of the national high school recruiting rankings. They make the team on the last cut in high school because they forced their way onto the roster with sheer hustle.
Frank Mason, Devonte Graham and Josh Jackson went out of their way Tuesday night in Allen Fieldhouse to try to set up teammates Udoka Azubuike and Carlton Bragg with beautiful passes, but the big men had trouble finishing. By Tom Keegan
Barring an upset, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self will earn his 600th victory in his 789th game, tonight vs. UMKC at Allen Fieldhouse, and will become the ninth-fastest in college basketball history to reach the milestone, per the NCCA Records Book. Consider the eight names who reached it more quickly and then ask yourself what they have in common with each other, but not with Self. By Tom Keegan
Josh Jackson brings a surplus of smarts, talent and desire to the equation, so there is no reason to believe that he will do anything but steadily improve during his one season in Lawrence. Add it all up and that means he is well on his way to becoming the best player Bill Self has coached at Kansas.
Kansas senior center Landen Lucas hasn’t been brought to recent media-availability sessions, which generally are reserved for players who aren’t battling slumps, so the “What’s wrong with Landen?” questions have fallen to others to answer.
The Kansas football program made legitimate progress at the end of the season. KU went 1-2 against its final foes, Iowa State, Texas and Kansas State, with an average score of Opponents 29, Kansas 22. A year ago, against the same three schools, the numbers were Opponents 47, Kansas 16. Much offseason work remains to keep the arrow pointing upward. By Tom Keegan
The man who built something truly amazing out of nothing reached a milestone Saturday afternoon with his 200th football victory at Kansas State. His players celebrated the moment by pouring water on him and then carrying him off the field. By Tom Keegan
Junior Devonte' Graham easily could have scored a ton of points Friday night in Allen Fieldhouse if that had been what he set out to do against an overmatched UNC-Asheville. But why would he do that when Kansas didn’t need that from him? By Tom Keegan
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m taking the opportunity to thank in-season KU athletes I enjoy interviewing the most.
Kansas senior Frank Mason III, listed at 5-feet-11, 190 pounds, entered the night averaging 22.3 points, and came out of it having led his team in scoring in four of five games. Georgia’s 5-10, 155-pound J.J. Frazier came in averaging 18.8 points. The showdown never materialized for a couple of reasons. By Tom Keegan
Kansas head coach David Beaty has his strengths, but also still shows growing pains. He tends to get so wrapped up in what he sees in practice that he puts too little emphasis on what the rest of us see in games. That’s a particularly dangerous habit to fall into when evaluating players’ ability to perform the two most difficult jobs in football, punt returner and quarterback, in that order.
The sooner Udoka Azubuike builds up his stamina and learns to play without piling up fouls so quickly, the sooner Kansas can become a team that does more than dominate teams from the perimeter. By Tom Keegan
As everyone knows by now, the Kansas coach has more Big 12 regular-season titles (12) than Allen Fieldhouse losses. No school has beaten him twice in his favorite building. Richmond, Iowa State, Nevada, Kansas State, Oral Roberts, Texas A & M, Texas, Oklahoma State and San Diego State each have gotten him once, but no school twice. By Tom Keegan
Kansas took control by outscoring Duke, 33-16, in the first 12 minutes after the break. During that stretch, Duke committed five turnovers and made 5 of 15 shots from the field.
The nerves quickly faded, never to return, and Rivals’ No. 1-ranked high school player from the Class of 2016 introduced himself to the nation late Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.