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All in the Wrist

All in the Wrist: Jayhawks never stopped believing

There were a handful of times early in the second half of the national championship game Monday night when Mario Chalmers' sloppy play helped Kansas squander its five-point halftime lead.There were even more times throughout the second half when it seemed Sherron Collins was single-handedly throwing the basketball game away.Therein lies the story of Bill Self's Kansas Jayhawks - the 2008 National Champion Jayhawks.Much has been written about the Jayhawks' toughness defensively, and defensive toughness had plenty to do with Kansas' 75-68 overtime victory over Memphis. But there's another ingredient to it that was an equally big factor Monday night. The other half of the Jayhawks' toughness blend has been their refusal to give up on one another. They don't doubt; they adjust.That's why Chalmers remained in the game after a few gaffes. That's why Self, KU's fifth-year coach, didn't hesitate to leave Collins in the game after a series of his mistakes contributed to a large deficit late in regulation.The same guys who made mistakes turned in the biggest plays as KU erased a nine-point deficit in the final 2:12 of regulation with clutch plays, defensive wizardry and a whole lot of luck Memphis clanked four of five free throws during the final minute and a half.It's a feat that required suspending reality to believe.But Self never doubted his guys would redeem themselves or die trying. That's why he wasn't surprised to see Collins pull off an acrobatic steal while falling out of bounds and then bury a three-pointer seconds later that whittled the deficit to five points. That's also why he wasn't shocked to see Chalmers bury a guarded, fadeaway three-pointer with 2.1 seconds left to cap the rally and force overtime. It was the same play KU ran at the end of losses to Texas and Oklahoma State, and the third time was the charm.You could compare it to Rocky, only that's not fair to Kansas. Rocky, after all, was scripted (Perhaps a [Goonies][1] reference would be more appropriate?). This was straight up improv.The knock that critics put on Kansas entering the tournament was that it didn't know who its go-to player was. North Carolina had Tyler Hansbrough, Memphis had the electric Chris Douglas-Roberts and Derrick Rose. Kansas, the critics said, had too much balance - like that was supposed to be a bad thing.Only analyst Jay Bilas seemed to get it. That supposed weakness turned out to be Kansas' greatest strength. The Jayhawks contained their opponents' supposed go-to guys and countered with an eight-man arsenal of scorers and defensive stoppers that guarded like gnats, hustled like thieves and made plays like Jordan in crunch time.The Jayhawks were too tough to quit; too determined to doubt; too committed to the concept of "team" to let each other down.They never stopped believing, and that made cutting down the nets that much sweeter. [1]: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtgO8uc1K54

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Self’s vision almost complete at Kansas

Bill Self's brand of basketball was met with some serious opposition during his early days at Kansas.Actually, for the better part of three years many KU fans disagreed about what Self was doing. They didn't run enough. They weren't as much fun to watch when they weren't scoring 80 points every night. They friggin' lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament two years in a row, for crying out loud.It's tough to overhaul a dynasty when it's already near the top of the mountain, but that's what Self did. It was like ripping Beyonce apart from Destiny's Child. The product was beautiful, and it sold lots of tickets, but sometimes change can make a good thing great.It was a rocky transition back in 2004, 2005 and 2006, but even then Self was building the Jayhawks for Saturday's 84-66 slaughter of overall No. 1 seed North Carolina in the Final Four at the Alamodome in San Antonio.Those simply were baby steps toward building a team of quick, gritty, in-your-grill bruisers who were tough enough to win a championship.Self always wanted to play up-tempo and score 80 or 90 points every night, but not at the expense of winning. Scoring at a sprint is fun, but losing stinks no matter what pace you play.That's a cold, hard fact that Kansas fans know all too well. They've seen the Jayhawks come close so many times, only to fall short. They saw four Final Four trips end without a championship during Roy Williams' 15-year tenure, and they saw some of Williams' greatest teams - and maybe even America's - not even advance to the tournament's final weekend.When Kansas suffered yet another season-ending loss, it played out like a CD on repeat. The Jayhawks never were quick enough to guard the perimeter, and some hot-shot long-range bomber was hitting his targets at about an 80 percent clip. Panic mode would set in, the Jayhawks would retaliate with a bunch of three's - and miss. Season over.That's the beauty of Bill Self's brand of basketball. Kansas likes to score a lot, but it doesn't have to in order to win games.With Bill Self's brand of basketball, Kansas plays as good of defense as any team in America. The Jayhawks are quick enough and mentally tough enough to guard the perimeter - a defensive revolution that began by bringing in Russell Robinson, with his confident smirk and New York streetball swagger - and they're big enough and strong enough to slow down opposing big men.That's why Kansas fans are celebrating on the eve of the national championship game. Kansas won its semifinal game in the 80s - only it was KU that scored in the 80s. The nation's most feared offense - that of Williams' North Carolina Tar Heels - mustered a season-low 66 points on 35.8 percent shooting against a KU defense that swarmed the Tar Heels like bees on honey.Kansas held an astounding 40-12 lead with 6:48 left in the first half. Kansas held the Tar Heels without a field goal for a nine-minute span during the first half.Self put it this way: "I thought to start the game, instead of having 10 hands out there, it felt like we had 14 or 16. I mean, our guys were all after every ball."The Jayhawks forced 18 turnovers (Mario Chalmers and Robinson had three steals apiece). KU then weathered a furious Carolina rally and still outscored the Tar Heels by a point in the second half.The Jayhawks stared Tyler Hansbrough in his wide, blank eyes and didn't blink. Few teams possess the toughness that Hansbrough has individually, but Hansbrough and his Tar Heel teammates hadn't the Jayhawks aren't an ordinary team. This isn't ordinary Kansas, either. This is new-school KU.Few teams have the audacity to try to run with North Carolina. Kansas didn't flinch at the challenge. The Jayhawks were good enough defensively to beat Carolina at its own game.After the game Saturday, Kansas' players were asked if they planned to change anything - perhaps slow things down on Monday against Memphis. The question seemed laughable considering the performance the Jayhawks had just given against UNC.No, the players said. Why should they change anything? Obviously what they're doing is working.That said, if the pace changes, the Jayhawks should be just fine. It's happened before, and they've won just the same.Either way, beating Memphis will be one heck of a challenge. Few teams are as good as Memphis.But this is Kansas we're talking about. This is Bill Self's Kansas, and there are few teams in America tougher than the Jayhawks.

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Don’t focus on just one storyline

College basketball fans have been transfixed on Saturday's Kansas-North Carolina matchup in the Final Four for a week now.The focus of only about five percent of the coverage hasn't been on things like Sasha Kaun's impact play late in the season or Brandon Rush's clutch performances.About 10 percent of the focus has been on Tyler Hansbrough and his National Player of the Year honors.The other 85 percent has been on North Carolina coach Roy Williams facing his former Kansas team. From the folks at ESPN, to national columnists and [lame bloggers,][1] we've been captivated by this story.It's tough to kick an addiction, but we should try.Although so many people want this to be the story, it shouldn't be. Don't buy [this][2] trite shirt. Buy [this one][3].If Roy Williams sinks a three-pointer, then I'll stand corrected on this. But I don't think that's going to happen. So let's separate the man from the matchup. Let's focus on the game: Kansas vs. North Carolina.Sure, we'll talk a bit about Roy Williams, but let's focus on the other storylines, too. They merit equal attention.Don't overlook Kaun and the way the Kansas senior has finally embraced his role off the bench, and in doing so has been an impact player during the last month. If not for Kaun, Kansas wouldn't be playing on Saturday.It took Rush nearly three years to fully buy into KU coach Bill Self's demand that Rush be more aggressive on offense. With "same old Brandon," KU likely would not have won the Big 12 Tournament and earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament - thus setting up the eventual clash with North Carolina. And don't forget the way Rush ran himself ragged while guarding Stephen Curry during the second half of the regional final.Don't overlook the way Sherron Collins continues to be a spark plug for the Jayhawks despite rarely being more than 80 percent healthy.And give Bill Self credit for bringing Kansas a tougher breed of basketball that still can play the same up-tempo offense KU fans have always loved. Self demanded that some things change when he came to Lawrence, and there were plenty of potholes along the way. But the Jayhawks lost the "soft" label that routinely had been thrown on them. They proved they could win a slow, slug-fest against teams afraid to run. They proved they could win a wind sprint.Most important, Self rebuilt the Jayhawks in his image and then proved that Kansas still is basketball royalty.Here's the point: Let's make the Final Four chatter about giving credit where credit's due rather than regurgitating the same drivel about disliking some guy who only had 418 wins and four Final Four appearances in his 15 years coaching KU.So while you're pre-partying at 9 a.m. or while you're slamming beers at a bar on Mass. St. during the game, try to move beyond Roy Williams. I know it'll be tough, but try. If you haven't forgiven him, try. And if you never held ill-will, good for you. Roy Williams will be the talk, but do what you can to change the conversation. There are a lot of other great storylines that shouldn't be forgotten. [1]: http://www2.kusports.com/blogs/all_wrist/2008/mar/30/033008wrist/ [2]: http://www.joe-college.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=428 [3]: http://www.joe-college.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=427

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Let the soap opera begin

As a Kansas fan, Must-See-TV is about to take on a whole new meaning. Forget Forget Project Runway. Forget Top Chef. Rock of Love 2. If you want REAL reality. REAL drama, here's your joint: the State of Kansas vs. Roy Williams. ![][1] From ESPN to the local print, radio, and television media outlets, this story is going to be shoved down your throats all week long. Fox News will take a break from its fair and balanced fear mongering to tackle other things that divide America, like: Are you for Kansas or against Roy? (Good question!) Keith Olbermann will have to decide which side makes his best and worst persons in the world segments on his MSNBC program. The folks at CNN will be forced to interrupt their incessant Britney updates with this hard-hitting story from our nation's heartland. And, though we may well OVER IT by now, we'll eat up ever last word they say-because we're Final-Four-bound basketball hounds. While we spend most of the week sweating the outcome, we may even forget to loathe all the Roy talk. Some among us may well renew the 'ol Roy debate-Revered Alum or Reviled Judas? It's been five long years since [Roy left KU for his native North Carolina][2], wounding many in Jayhawk country as if he we'd been married to the guy and he'd just left us in the middle of the night after promising he'd stay. As many die-hard fans surely started looking forward to this meeting for a shot at sweet, sweet revenge. Two years into that dream, Roy won a national championship at UNC and KU exited the NCAA Tournament in the first round. So much for revenge. Since then, much of the venom toward Roy had cooled-until the brackets were revealed for this year's dance. It was immediately clear to most people that KU and its former coach were on a collision course. Suddenly the chatter was back-first in jinx-wary whispers, and louder and louder with each passing round. Now, after five years of waiting, it's just about time. Let the soap opera begin. [1]: http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/special/roy.jpg [2]: http://www.kusports.com/multimedia/audio/basketball/2002/breaking/1.mp3

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Six from the Big 12 are dancing, but how long will they last?

It's time to dance, and the Big 12 Conference had six members invited to the party.But when the NCAA Tournament tips off today, which Big 12 basketball teams did you have enough confidence in to pick in your bracket to win a game : or two games : or even six games?Certainly you've got No. 1 seed Kansas (31-3) and No. 2 seed Texas (28-6) winning in the first round, and you've likely got both of them advancing at least to the second weekend if not farther.But how about the other four?Oklahoma (22-11) earned a No. 6 seed, Texas A&M (24-10) is a No. 9 seed, and Kansas State (20-11) and Baylor (21-10) both are potential bracket-busters at No. 11.Have you picked any of them to win their first-round games?Have you picked any of them to go deeper in the tournament?All four at times have shown the potential to make some postseason noise, but are you honestly confident in any of them?Oklahoma won four straight games late in the season, including a thrashing of Texas A&M, but the Sooners collapsed in the second half of their Big 12 Tournament semifinal game against Texas - a 28-point loss. The Sooners also have numerous discouraging losses this season, including a blowout loss at Nebraska and another loss at Colorado. There also was that little setback to Stephen F. Austin - at home - on Dec. 8.Texas A&M is an easy pick for a win if it performs like it did in the Big 12 Tournament when it beat Iowa State and K-State before falling in a nail-biter to Kansas. But that version of the Aggies seemed like an anomaly to anybody who saw them score just 37 points against Oklahoma and get blown out by K-State and Texas Tech during the regular season.Baylor looked enticing when it won 16 of its first 19 games, including a triple-overtime thriller against Texas A&M, but the Bears limp into the tournament as losers of eight of their last 13 games. A double-overtime loss to Colorado in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament seemed like it may have been the dagger that kept the Bears out of The Dance. In many ways, they are one of the luckiest teams to be in the NCAA Tournament. That said, the Bears have tremendous guard play that makes them a scary team.Kansas State has one of the most intriguing first-round pairings in the tournament with its matchup with USC. The winner of that game could end up in the Elite Eight. K-State proved early in the season that it could hang with, and beat, just about anybody when it's at its best. But the Wildcats' home victory against Kansas may have been the worst thing to happen to them this season, because since then they've self-destructed. They're 5-7 since beating KU, and they've got some absolutely embarrassing losses during that span - a road loss to a shorthanded Missouri club and a road loss at Nebraska when freshman Bill Walker's immaturity landed him a seat on the bench for the final nine minutes. It's likely that Walker will show up today - USC freshman O.J. Mayo was one of his high school teammates, so he has motivation to perform - and Michael Beasley has put up some ridiculous numbers night in and night out. The problem is you never know which Wildcats team will show up.As for my bracket, I've got KU and Texas in the Final Four, Baylor is my Sweet 16 sleeper, and Oklahoma lives to see the second round. I see Texas A&M and K-State heading home early.Of course, history has shown that my bracket doesn't turn out right very often.My questions to you: How far do you think the Big 12 teams will go in the NCAA Tournament? And if you read this after they've played, what did you think of their performances?

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Knight and ESPN: Is this a good idea?

Oh, the irony.Bobby Knight is coming to the dark side.I couldn't help but chuckle upon reading on ESPN.com this afternoon that Knight, the winningest coach in NCAA Division I history and long-time media adversary, has agreed to be a studio analyst for ESPN during Championship Week and the NCAA Tournament.The idea of such a successful coach offering insight during the most exciting time of basketball season makes perfect sense. But this particular coach?(Caution, vulgarity follows in just about all of the following clips)[This particular coach?][1][This particular coach?][2][This particular coach?][3][This particular coach?][4][This particular coach?][5][This particular coach?][6][This particular coach?]7.For a man who seemed to despise the media so much, it is a bit surprising that Knight is willing to give the other side a try. And for a man with such passion a for profanity, it seems like ESPN is taking a big risk by adding him to its panel.Few coaches ever have seemed so annoyed with reporters' questions on a regular basis as Knight. To his credit, he seems to appreciate the impact media coverage of college basketball has helped the sport grow - ESPN in particular."I think ESPN has been real good for college basketball and I look forward to working with some of their people who I have known a long time," Knight was quoted as saying in the report.Few people in athletics at any level have had as vibrant and volatile of personalities as Knight, and it will be interesting to see how he behaves himself in the broadcaster's chair.Will he sound off on a fellow analyst and create the biggest uproar in TV since Janet Jackson exposed her breast during the Super Bowl halftime show? Or will he provide an eloquent blend of comedy and insight while delivering an attention-grabbing broadcast?Only time will tell, but I look forward to watching. [1]: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvRO2G... [2]: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1ihZ5... [3]: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50Lsvw... [4]: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0od7spyth_I [5]: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Ukj6Qi5W_k [6]: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q30BZhJJuuk&feature=related [7]: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yw7KijRfU-c

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Immaturity is Wildcats’ weakness

The Kansas State basketball team proved it could win a prime time game against a top-tier team when it beat Kansas, 84-75, on Jan. 30.The Wildcats looked like the best team in the Big 12 Conference that night while the Jayhawks looked underprepared and unmotivated.Since then, we've seen that same K-State team show exactly why it won't make much noise upon arrival in the NCAA Tournament.The Wildcats are too immature.We saw that first-hand on Wednesday night when they began their second stint atop the Big 12 Conference standings by barely getting off the team bus in an 84-75 loss at Texas Tech.Tech was obviously motivated to get head coach Pat Knight his first victory, but K-State looked sloppy and lazy for almost the entire game.Adding to the Wildcats' embarrassment were two technical fouls - one on superstar Michael Beasley for running over a Tech player after the whistle (depending on your perspective, it could be called an accident), and the other on senior starter Blake Young after he and a Tech player got tangled up on a screen. A frustrated Young faked throwing a punch in retaliation. There's senior leadership.K-State also tumbled when it tried to defend its first Big 12 lead. Fresh off of beating Kansas, the Wildcats went to Columbia and blew a double-digit lead to a shorthanded Missouri squad before ultimately losing, 77-74.The Wildcats are too immature to handle success, and they don't have anybody with experience to lead them.Experience and leadership wouldn't be such a problem if senior David Hoskins hadn't missed the season with an injury. He was the only Wildcat to start all 35 games last season, and he earned third-team All-Big 12 honors. He was strong and aggressive, and his presence helped Bob Huggins' squad go 23-12. The two-year starter could've had a major on-the-court influence with this year's youth-laden squad.With Hoskins out, the upper-classman options are Clent Stewart and Young. Neither are go-to guys or particularly good shooters. Beasley has accepted the primary leadership role, and he has handled it impressively for a freshman - but he's still just a freshman.In a lot of ways, the K-State team compares to the KU squad of 2005-2006 that lost to Bradley in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. With walk-on upperclassmen and a sophomore class that barely played the year before, the freshman- and sophomore-dominated Jayhawks lacked the veteran leadership necessary to win on the big stage. Beasley is obviously a more talented freshman than any of Kansas' freshmen were at that time, but he too lacks the upperclassman support to make a serious run in the NCAA's.Even Carmelo Anthony had a supporting cast.Fellow freshmen Gerry McNamara and Billy Edelin, sophomores Hakim Warrick and Craig Forth and senior Kueth Duany all were steady contributors to the 2003 championship team.Beasley only can do so much.K-State will earn a high seed in the NCAA Tournament and might even nab a share of a Big 12 championship, but come tournament time, inexperience and immaturity will be the Wildcats' crutches. Meanwhile, the league's traditional powers - Kansas and Texas - will be the teams that shine.

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Jayhawks won’t be one-hit wonder

Remember how you felt when the Kansas football team became bowl eligible after game six this season?How about your reaction to KU's first defense of a top-10 ranking this year when it mauled Nebraska, 76-39?How about when the Jayhawks improved to 11-0 for the first time in history?Remember your excitement as the final seconds trickled off the clock late Thursday night on Kansas' 24-21 victory over No. 3 Virginia Tech (No. 5 AP and coaches' polls)?Get used to it.The Kansas football program completed its six-year turnaround Thursday. It has gone from being the most reliable rent-payer for the Big 12 North cellar to rolling with the nation's elite.And the Jayhawks aren't going anywhere.Thanks to the Orange Bowl victory, 12-1 record, potential top-five finish in the final poll and at least 15 starters returning, the Jayhawks likely will open the 2008 campaign ranked in the top 10. They should back up that ranking with lots of victories, too.Critics who blasted KU for not playing a tougher non-conference schedule the same season they didn't have to face league foes Oklahoma (No. 4 BCS, No. 3 AP and coaches' polls), Texas (No. 19 BCS, No. 17 AP and coaches' polls) and Texas Tech will have no room to cry foul next season. In addition to the league foes, top-25 team South Florida (No. 21 BCS, No. 23 AP, No. 25 coaches' poll) will provide a stiff road test. Plus, Missouri (No. 6 BCS, No. 7 in AP and coaches' polls) will still be on the slate.Even with a more difficult schedule, there is no reason to expect a drop-off. Perhaps 12 wins will happen again; maybe it'll be more like eight or nine. Either way, Kansas will be a force again in 2008. There should be no doubts about that.KU proved it wasn't a fluke this season by beating Virginia Tech - a team that was making its 15th straight bowl trip. That victory gave Mark Mangino a long-awaited signature victory, and it's a win that should change the psychological face of Kansas football permanently.By finally attaining that signature victory after near-misses against OU and Texas in recent years, the mindset of Kansas players and fans should change (if it hasn't already). It shouldn't be assumed that losses are guaranteed simply because Oklahoma and Texas are on the schedule. If the Jayhawks can beat Virginia Tech, then there's no reason they can't beat those teams too.Of course, KU has treaded in this territory before. Thursday marked KU's first victory over a top-10 opponent since claiming a 40-24 victory at then-No. 4 Colorado on Oct. 7, 1995. The then-No. 24 Jayhawks improved to 5-0 with that win before ultimately finishing with a 10-2 record and No. 9 ranking in the AP poll.A few factors (among them, the untimely pulling of quarterback Mark Williams' redshirt and coach Glen Mason scaring off recruits by accepting the Georgia job and then backing out on it) derailed KU's chances of using that season as a springboard to national elite status, however. Similar factors are nonexistent this time around. Plus, the current Jayhawks have more depth and all-around talent.This is a Kansas that knows it can play with and beat top-five opponents on any given day as long as the Jayhawks show up for four quarters. The Jayhawks proved that they belong, and they're built to last.This season wasn't a fluke, but rather it was the beginning of Kansas' time as a football power.

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Goin’ to Miami

The bags are packed and the alarm clock is set to go off four hours from now.That 7 a.m. flight is gonna be a little rough, no doubt.But this might just be the best early morning flight ever. The destination is Miami. A few of my best buds will be flying with me, and we'll be meeting another half-dozen people from our group when we get there.And, of course, there will be thousands more Kansas fans just like us making the same pilgrimage to the Orange Bowl at Dolphin Stadium.The more I read up on Virginia Tech, and the more I recall from watching the Hokies play a handful of times on TV this season, the more anxious I become about this game. They bring so much speed on defense and special teams. It's a level Kansas hasn't faced this season, and Oklahoma is the only Big 12 Conference team that is similar in that regard.Then again, the more I think back over the course of the season, the more big plays - game-changing plays - I recall the Jayhawks making in all facets of the game. There was the defense's all-around dominance against Texas A&M. There was Marcus Henry's catch-and-run at Oklahoma State. There were Aqib Talib's acrobatics during the early games and Kerry Meier's clutch catches as a makeshift receiver. There was Marcus Herford's 88-yard kickoff return seconds before lightning delayed KU's rout of Baylor. And don't forget the 10 straight possessions with a touchdown and five forced turnovers against Nebraska. All of those examples offer reasons to feel confident about KU's chances.Then there's the fact that the Big 12 is representing quite nicely so far in its bowl games. The league is 4-2 so far (Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Missouri all won; Texas A&M and Colorado lost), and Oklahoma and Kansas still await their games. It's been a good postseason for the conference thus far. (And not that it has any impact on the KU-Va. Tech game, but who else noticed that Central Michigan - one of those lowly nonconference teams Kansas played this year - lost on a field goal in the closing seconds to Big 10 Conference school Purdue in the Motor City Bowl. That's the same Central Michigan team that Kansas beat by 45 points.)Then again, the first two BCS bowl games have had lopsided scores with the favorites winning by 31 and 32 points. Hopefully that doesn't foreshadow things to come.I suppose this just goes to show that nobody really knows what to expect on Thursday night. Virginia Tech is favored, and they should be since they're the No. 3-ranked team in the country. Kansas has just one loss, and it was by one possession to a Missouri squad that likely will finish ranked in the top five. It'll be speed vs. savvy; bowl veterans vs. the up-and-coming kids from Kansas; a blowout or a down-to-the-wire thriller.That's a lot to think about, but at least it'll give me something to do on the plane.

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Player development is key to Mangino’s success

Mark Mangino knew winning football games at Kansas University would be no easy task when he was hired to take over as the program's coach.Six years later, however, Mangino has the Jayhawks near the top of the college football world. They own a program-best 11-1 record, a top-10 national ranking and are headed to the Orange Bowl.On Tuesday, three Jayhawks were named Associated Press All-Americans. Junior cornerback Aqib Talib and junior left tackle Anthony Collins earned first-team honors and senior defensive tackle James McClinton was tapped for the second team.That, in a nutshell, explains what's different with KU football these days. You can talk about wins, a soft schedule, whatever. Ultimately, it comes down to having playmakers, and the Jayhawks have plenty of them. Certainly this year's team has the most playmakers since 1995, and maybe the most in program history.No Jayhawk had earned AP All-America first-team honors since 1983, and no KU squad ever had three All-Americans prior to this season.It's no secret that talent wins games. Just ask Ohio State, Florida, Florida State, Oklahoma, Texas, USC and any other traditional power.Kansas finally has a piece of that wealth.Of course, the three All-Americans aren't the only playmakers on this team. There's quarterback Todd Reesing, fullback Brandon McAnderson, tailback Jake Sharp, utility player Kerry Meier, the best wide receiver corps in school history : the list goes on and on. The difference today is you can look at just about every position on the roster and say, "That guy is reliable."Mangino has been praised for his coaching ability, his attention-to-detail preparation and for the way he has ingrained discipline into his team. Perhaps his best attributes have been recruiting and player development. He has turned quarterbacks into the best defensive player in the Big 12 (Nick Reid), the best kick returner in the league (Marcus Herford) and the best utility player in the league (Meier). He has snagged diamonds in the rough like Bill Whittemore who put in a lot of the grunt work to get the program headed in the right direction.Now Mangino has a roster with three All-Americans and numerous other playmakers, and he has the program in the top-10.The Jayhawks have come a long way in the past six years. It wasn't easy, but Mangino didn't expect it to be.

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