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Assessing Nebraska’s future, student-athlete eligibility, piñatas and more…

Nebraska running back Roy Helu (10) puts a move on Kansas defensive tackle Caleb Blakesley (94) and Kansas linebacker James Holt (12) during the first quarter Saturday, Nov. 8, 2008 at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.

Nebraska running back Roy Helu (10) puts a move on Kansas defensive tackle Caleb Blakesley (94) and Kansas linebacker James Holt (12) during the first quarter Saturday, Nov. 8, 2008 at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln. by Nick Krug

Last week was nuts, and the week before that I was on vacation, but we’re back with some “Ask Us Anything” fun this week and there’s no shortage of topics to get to.

So let’s jump right in.

As always, we really appreciate all of the questions. It’s been great having this feature back on our site. If we didn’t get to your question this week, we’ll try to get it answered next week.

So be sure to keep the questions coming. We can never have too many and you can submit them in a bunch of different ways.

• via email to mtait@ljworld.com

• on Twitter with the hashtag #AskKUSports or in response to one of our calls for questions or “Ask Us Anything” tweets

• in the comments section below this blog

• on our KUSports Facebook page

None by Tim Cunningham

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m always going to leadoff with a percentage wheel when possible.

And who’d have thought we’d be talking about Nebraska coming back to the Big 12 10 years after we spent all that time talking about the Huskers leaving?

Before we get into it too much, here are a couple of things to consider. While Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby and anyone else associated with the Big 12, Nebraska or the Big Ten may be saying there’s nothing here right now, it’s worth pointing out that there are enough people who cover the Huskers who are writing and talking about this.

Does that make it inevitable or even likely? Not necessarily. But it does mean it’s worth considering.

Think back for a minute to the realignment days. How often did you hear an AD or university president say one thing only to see that school do something different in the days or weeks that followed?

Reminder: It happened. A lot. But things are much more stable today, so that recent statement from NU chancellor Ronnie Green and president Ted Carter that declared Nebraska to be “a fully committed member of the Big Ten Conference,” is pretty solid.

That said, I think it’s far too early to be talking about Nebraska rejoining its Big 12 brothers. But I do think the Big 12 would expand to 12 schools if the right schools became available. And Nebraska most certainly would qualify as the right school.

Money plays a bigger role in all of this than fit, though. And staying in the Big Ten is far, far more lucrative for Big Red than leaving to rejoin the Big 12.

First, Nebraska would be giving up its television rights money for a while longer per the Big Ten contract. Second, Nebraska wouldn’t be a fully vested member of the Big 12’s financial rights agreement until Year 4 after rejoining.

Finally, the Big Ten still distributes far more money to its members annually than the Big 12. In 2018, USA Today reported that the Big Ten paid out $54 million to 12 of its 14 members. Only Rutgers and Maryland, which were still relatively new, received less.

That same year, the 10 Big 12 schools made just over $37 million apiece from its television contracts.

So while there might be a whole bunch of reasons for Nebraska to start feeling nostalgic about life in the Big 12, there are millions of reasons for the Huskers to stay put and make the Big Ten work.

Having said all of that, here’s my official percentage wheel on the matter...

1 – Nebraska stays in the Big Ten – 78%

2 – Big Ten, Big 12, who cares? The super conferences are coming – 18%

3 – Roll out the welcome mat, Nebraska to the Big 12 within five years – 4%

None by Dave Robinson

None by Victor Ramirez

This has been a huge topic throughout this crazy college football story and it appears to be of great importance to the NCAA, conference commissioners and athletic directors, as well.

Long story short: Everything I’ve heard and read points to athletes who opt out or who have their seasons canceled or cut short getting an additional year of eligibility down the road.

That is absolutely the right move and falls in line with what the NCAA did with spring sports athletes when the spring season was shutdown at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Aug. 5, the NCAA’s Board of Directors released a directive that stated that each college or university must honor the scholarship of any athletes who opt out. It also stated that all athletes and their families must know what their eligibility status will be before beginning the fall season.

And this weekend, The Athletic’s Max Olson reported that West Virginia AD Shane Lyons, who also serves as the chair of the Division I Football Oversight Committee, will push hard for all student-athletes to retain their 2020-21 year of eligibility regardless of whether they compete in a fall or spring sport this season.

According to Olson’s report, “The NCAA Division I Council has recommended that the Division I Board of Directors grant student-athletes impacted by COVID-19 an additional season of competition if they participate in 50 percent or less of the maximum number of competitions allowed in their sport. Lyons, a member of the D-I Council, believes that is not enough relief.”

Clearly, the wheels are in motion for student-athletes to be protected regardless of how things play out during the next nine months.

Let’s go to an email question from Rich Bailey for our third question this week... “Just curious why Les Miles has not (to my knowledge) made any public statements or appearances in the last several weeks? And football season is just around the corner—if there is a season? Is there some kind of a health issue or something else going on? You may not be able to comment on this question but thought I would give it a try.”

Let me start by saying I was one of the lucky ones. I was able to get a phone interview with Miles back in early April after all of this craziness first surfaced.

He was great and we touched on a number of different storylines and topics.

Since then, outside of a couple of written statements sent out in press releases, we haven’t heard from Miles. And given all that has happened and changed and been hanging in the balance, that’s been a little disappointing.

There wasn’t much to say or talk about in May and June, but that surely changed when the team began practicing and preparing for the season in late July.

The responses to our requests for interviews have been somewhat understandable. After all, the facts and data regarding college football and the 2020 season have changed so fast and so often this summer that it would’ve been tough for Miles to say anything definitive. But it would’ve been nice to check in and hear him say something — at least at some point — about all of the craziness that has taken place while trying to stage a football season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

As you might expect, Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley and Texas’ Tom Herman have both talked plenty during the past few months. After all, their programs are the flagship football schools of the conference and people want to hear what those head coaches have to say, no matter what their names are or how long they’ve been on the job.

That hasn’t always been true with the KU head coach, but I certainly thought it would be when Miles was hired.

As one of a handful active head coaches with a national championship ring, Miles is still a big name in college football and people from coast to coast would surely pay attention to what he had to say about some of this stuff — regardless of what it was or how deep he decided to go.

In addition to Riley and Herman, coaches at K-State, Texas Tech, West Virginia, Iowa State and even Baylor had at least some kind of contact with local media during the past few months.

Only Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy has been quiet this offseason as long as Miles, and Gundy found himself in hot water with a few of his comments and wardrobe choices early this spring, making his soundbite sabbatical less than a surprise.

We haven’t complained too loudly about any of this given the unique nature of this offseason and how difficult it must be to get information or actual analysis of your team when you’re not around them and can’t work with them on a regular basis.

But I’m hoping the season opener being less than a month away and a little more stability settling in — at least in some ways — will bring about an opportunity to get some info and insight from Miles sooner rather than later.

Sometime this week would be nice.

None by Jack Sparrow

Totally fair question and the answer partially coincides with the answer to the last one.

To date, we have not had the opportunity to interview any players on KU’s roster this spring or summer. But many players are much more active on social media than their coaches and several have stated there that they want to play.

Beyond that, I have heard of some pretty powerful team meetings this summer that demonstrate just how badly these guys want to play and how committed they are to trying to take all the right steps to make the season a possibility.

Are there players on the roster who are nervous about playing or have reservations about moving forward? I don’t know of any specifically, but I’d be shocked if there weren’t at least a few.

But the stories, the social media and the practice videos that the KU Football Twitter account has regular put out all point to a group that wants to suit up on Sept. 12 when Coastal Carolina comes to town.

None by Brian Phenix

There’s always one joker in the bunch. I just happened to go to high school with this one, and I always catch up with him and his son — Nico Phenix, who has made a few guest appearances on my Pregame Minute — at every KU basketball game that’s even remotely close to the West Coast.

In the past five years alone I’ve seen him at Stanford, Arizona State and in Vegas and I’m sure he was headed to the Wooden Legacy tournament this November.

Having said all that, there is no designated Homecoming game on KU football’s updated schedule this season. And with the Memorial Stadium fan capacity likely limited to somewhere in the 20-30% range (KU is supposed to present its plan to Douglas County health officials on Wednesday), it’s almost certain that there will not be a big fuss about Homecoming in 2020.

If they were going to pick one, I’d make it the Sept. 12 opener.

I read an interesting Tweet from a high school coach over the weekend that touched on this. It said schools should aim to make their openers their senior nights this season because there are no guarantees that the seasons will be played to completion and the seniors should be honored at the first possible opportunity.

None by Frank Saunders

This one made me laugh because, at first, I had completely forgotten about the Chanticleers thrashing a Jayhawk pinata in the visiting locker room at Memorial Stadium last fall after knocking off Kansas, 12-7.

Then it came back to me and I thought you might actually be serious.

In case you are — or in case anyone else is — I did a quick search and found out that for $79.50 plus tax, www.pinatas.com will make a custom pinata of anything you want.

“...don’t be shy,” the website reads. “Let us make anything into a pinata for you. Logos, new products, buildings, cartoon characters, anything means ANYTHING! You dream it; we make a pinata of it.”

I would assume that would include a teal-and-black-clad Chanticleer, which, of course, is a proud, fierce rooster known to dominate the barnyard.

In case you forgot the scene from last year’s Coastal Carolina win, here’s the video.

None by Zane Cruz

Reply 2 comments from Matt Tait Dane Pratt

Successful KU football coaches, Bill Self’s future and a general look at where KU’s scholarship numbers sit

Former Colorado and Washington football coach Rick Neuheisel, left, and former KU coach Glen Mason, who went 47-54-1 from 1988-1996.

Former Colorado and Washington football coach Rick Neuheisel, left, and former KU coach Glen Mason, who went 47-54-1 from 1988-1996.

Another Monday brings another round of our “Ask Us Anything” blog.

And even though I’m actually on vacation this week, I used part of the travel time to knock out this week’s blog so that we wouldn’t create too much of a backlog with the questions you guys have submitted.

As always, we really appreciate all of the questions you guys have provided. Many of them have been thought-provoking while others have provided a nice break from the serious world of covering sports in a pandemic.

This week, we’ve got a mixture of both, so be sure to keep the questions coming. We can never have too many and you can submit them in a bunch of different ways.

• via email to mtait@ljworld.com

• on Twitter with the hashtag #AskKUSports or in response to one of our calls for questions or “Ask Us Anything” tweets

• in the comments section below this blog

• on our KUSports Facebook page

Before we get to our first question this week, let me call to your attention the fact that Benton Smith is back in the mix for us here at KUsports.com and we could not be more excited to have him back from furlough.

He’ll hold things down this week while I’m recharging my batteries and then we’ll both get after it next week.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

This week’s first question comes via email, from Roger Duell, who asks: “It seems whenever a KU head football coach experiences even moderate success they happily move on to bigger and better things. Has there really been a coach move on from KU and have more than one or two good years elsewhere?

This question jumped out at me because you don’t often see the words success and Kansas football in the same sentence.

It’s been a while since KU had a head coach who experienced moderate success at Kansas and the last one to do it did not move on to bigger and better things, he was asked to move on and did.

Mark Mangino did enjoy a couple of assistant coaching stints after leaving KU following the 2009 season, but neither lasted long and Mangino now seems to be enjoyed the retired life.

None of the head coaches in the post-Mangino era did well enough in Lawrence to earn a second opportunity at the major college football level. And, believe it or not, Turner Gill, who went 47-35 at Liberty and has since retired from coaching, had by far the most successful post-KU stint of KU’s recent football coaches.

In addition to winning 47 games in seven seasons at Liberty after leaving KU, Gill led the Flames to four first-place finishes in conference play and a trip to the second round of the FCS playoffs in 2014.

Gill, Charlie Weis and David Beaty were all fired. And interim head coach Clint Bowen returned to the assistant coaching ranks under Beaty while working one year for Les Miles before moving on to run the defense at North Texas this offseason.

Other than Gill, Bowen is probably the coach who has had the most success since sitting in the KU head coaching chair. And I wouldn’t rule out the idea of him still becoming a head coach someday. That will all depend on how successful he is at North Texas during the next few seasons.

Having said all of that, the short answer to your question is that you have to go back to Glen Mason to find the success you’re talking about.

After leaving KU in 1997, Mason went on to coach 10 seasons at Minnesota. He led the Gophers to 64 victories and seven bowl appearances during that time.

In nine seasons at Kansas, Mason led KU to a record of 47-54-1 and also won the two bowl games he took the Jayhawks to.

All of those names, which represent a huge chunk of the modern KU football era — dating back to 1988 — are merely a reminder of why it’s so important for Les Miles to find his footing and provide some consistency at Kansas in the years ahead.

Whether that happens or not remains to be seen. But given the fact that he turns 67 in November, I can’t imagine Miles being the answer to this question if asked a few years down the road.

We’ll stick with email for this week’s second question, which comes from Gunnar Kykland, who asked a two-parter: Do you think Coach Self will complete this school year? Do you think this is his last year at KU?

To answer your questions quickly, I do and I don’t.

Now, let’s get into that a little more.

We still have no idea how long it’s going to take the Independent Accountability Resolutions Process to review, hear and rule on KU’s infractions case.

The smart money is on things still being unresolved well into 2021, which obviously increases the chances of Self both coaching the Jayhawks and completing the season in 2020-21.

But even if a ruling does come before then (again, highly doubtful), I still think Self will complete the season and be at Kansas for several more years.

That’s not to say KU is going to come through this thing without some kind of punishment. Given the number of Level I violations levied against the program and the severity of the charges, you have to think that some of it will stick.

But I think it’s also likely that some of it won’t and the punishment will wind up somewhere in between the NCAA dropping the hammer and KU getting off scot-free.

Even if Self is personally held accountable for some of the violations — remember, there is a head coach responsibility charge in play — I think it’s more likely that would lead to a suspension of some kind (10 or 20 games, perhaps) and not something that would force Self or the program to part ways.

Self has said throughout the past couple of years that he has no plans to run from this thing and that he wants to dig in and help restore Kansas to where he believes the program belongs on the national scale, regardless of what penalties are handed down.

I don’t think you can overlook his motivation there. And I believe him 100% when he says he wants to coach at KU for a long time still and that this whole ordeal has motivated and refocused him to deliver at an even higher level than he already has.

Time will tell how it all plays out, of course. But no matter what the results are, I think Self will be on the sideline throughout 2020-21 and well into the future.

Another email question, this one from Santiago Escobar, asks how the scholarship numbers are looking for Kansas football and whether I’m pumped about Whataburger coming to the area?

Thanks for the question, Santiago. I’m going to be completely honest with both of my answers.

First, I like Whataburger, but I’m not going to make any special trips over to have it. I’m more of an In-N-Out fan and am also perfectly happy with Five Guys or Culvers (underrated) or any of the half a dozen outstanding local spots where you can get a great burger right here in Lawrence.

Now, Torchy’s Tacos on the other hand? I will make a special trip over for that and suggest you do the same if you’ve never had it.

All right. Now on to your real question.

I haven’t had time to dive too deeply into the scholarship situation, but I know it’s improving. Big time.

They’re not all the way out of the hole that Weis and Beaty created yet, but Miles is absolutely attacking it the right way, by filling classes with almost entirely high school prospects and using patience, along with player development, as one of his biggest weapons in the rebuild.

I know we don’t know exactly how the 2020 season is going to play out yet — or even if it is — but if there’s a silver lining in this whole mess, I think it’s with regard to KU’s scholarship numbers.

Although the games will still be competitive and people will still be driven and feel pressure to win as many games as possible, I just can’t see how anyone can judge any program, positively or negatively, for anything that happens during a global pandemic.

If the Big 12 goes to a conference-only schedule or KU can’t play a full schedule for some reason, I still think the practice time and whatever games are played can go a long way toward helping to develop the young talent that’s here.

And then, when they return next year, it’ll almost be like starting from ahead.

I know that does not exactly answer your scholarship question. And I promise we’ll take a closer look at that soon.

But I know it’s getting better and it’s largely because Miles has had the patience and discipline to sign a bunch of high school guys and wait for them to develop.

By the start of Miles’ fourth season, I think you should start to see both of those things pay off, with Kansas nearly all the way back — if not entirely — to its level of 85 scholarship players and with these young guys Miles has signed in Year 1 and Year 2 moving into roles as upperclassmen.

He’s still not going to get the 4- and 5-star guys he got at LSU, but he has a plan, he’s filling needs and he’s recruiting to a specific system, with a vision for a few years down the road in mind.

Those are all great things for the future of the program.

Reply

Addressing the scary reality of playing sports in a pandemic, David McCormack’s defense and more

Kansas forward David McCormack (33) alerts his teammates on defense during the first half on Monday, Feb. 17, 2020 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward David McCormack (33) alerts his teammates on defense during the first half on Monday, Feb. 17, 2020 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Live team sports have officially returned, with Major League Baseball and the WNBA returning to action in full force over the weekend.

Wasn’t it glorious?

I’m not a huge baseball guy, but I found myself constantly checking scores and looking for updates and highlights throughout the past several days. And while many of the games and clips looked weird because of the empty venues they were played in, they were still great all the same.

After all, they mattered. They were real. And they were a welcomed distraction from what’s going on in the rest of the world, even if only for a moment or two.

Now that they’re back, and with the NBA set to return this week, I think it’s human nature to have that little voice in the backs of our heads that keeps asking the simple question of how long do we get to have them?

That sets up this week’s first “Ask Us Anything” question and it’s a doozy.

As always, we really appreciate all of the questions. It’s been great having this feature back on our site. If we didn’t get to your question this week, we’ll try to get it answered next week.

So be sure to keep the questions coming. We can never have too many and you can submit them in a bunch of different ways.

• via email to mtait@ljworld.com

• on Twitter with the hashtag #AskKUSports or in response to one of our calls for questions or “Ask Us Anything” tweets

• in the comments section below this blog

• on our KUSports Facebook page

With that said, let’s jump back into the return of team sports and our first question, which looks at what happens if things go off the rails and leads to something worse than several Marlins baseball players testing positive.

None by Mic

I’m not sure there’s a more important question that can be asked in sports right now.

And, as scary as it is to type this, I think we have to assume Mic’s scenario is going to happen.

I get it. It might not be an athlete — although Atlanta Braves star Freddie Freeman certainly would tell you that’s possible. But it sure feels like it could be someone.

And if it happens, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see the dominoes fall the way they did in March after Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert tested positive and then sports as we knew them were shut down for months during the next couple of weeks.

That’s not to say that what Major League Baseball decides or does will have a direct effect on college football or college basketball. But when you’re talking life and death, I can’t imagine it not having some impact.

I think the powers that be at all levels — commissioners and presidents, coaches and GMs, parents and athletes — have to have some kind of plan in their minds right now for how to move forward if the unthinkable does happen.

Because operating on the fly and out of emotion might not be the best way to go if you’re suddenly faced with such a serious situation.

I’d compare the contingency plan approach to the short list that all athletic directors have for college basketball and college football coaches. Jeff Long doesn’t want to have to replace Bill Self. Mitch Barnhart doesn’t want to have to replace John Calipari. And Greg Byrne doesn’t want to have to replace Nick Saban.

But they all have to be ready to do so in case it suddenly crosses their desk.

Same thing goes with the return of sports.

I think the pro leagues and college athletics are in different spots on this one.

Professional athletes are under contract, paid to do a job and grown men with agents and families and experience guiding them.

College athletes are different. They’re college students whose parents still expect to see them come home for winter break and still help pay for tuition, car repairs and clothes.

To me, the difference there makes it much more likely that a catastrophe such as the one Mic mentioned above happening in college sports would immediately lead to shutting the whole thing down at all levels and across the country.

I’m not saying the pros would power through if someone in their ranks paid the ultimate price, but I think it’s more likely that they would — or could — consider it.

Let’s hope no one ever has to answer this question for real, one way or another.

• Our second question this week comes from Dirk Medema, who inquired in a comment after a recent “Ask Us Anything” blog about David McCormack’s defensive prowess in 2020-21.

“Guessing that Marcus Garrett will lead the perimeter into another great D year, but the biggest question to me is, can McCormack come close to replicating Dok’s D on the perimeter? Dok proved that you don’t need to score from beyond the arc if you can efficiently score down low, but you absolutely have to be able to defend out there. It was the difference between being a good and great D last year.”

This is such a great question and right on the money. The thing that took KU’s defense from solid to spectacular last year was the improvement Udoka Azubuike on the perimeter, his ability to move his feet and the work he put in to have the conditioning to play big minutes.

Without that, KU’s defense would have still been solid because of Marcus Garrett, Devon Dotson and Ochai Agbaji, but it likely would’ve been vulnerable to more breakdowns and might not have so thoroughly suffocated opposing offenses night after night.

But you basically said all of that. And me rehashing it was me taking the long way to an answer here, because I truly don’t know.

I think McCormack has it in him and the added maturity and experience certainly won’t hurt. But he’s got a long way to go still before he moves like Azubuike did and, even if he gets to that point, he’s not quite as long or imposing as the former KU center in the first place.

McCormack’s a good athlete. And he’s comfortable on the perimeter. But there’s a difference between being comfortable out there and being flat-out nasty.

I’m not sure KU ever has, nor ever will again, seen a player Azubuike’s size play with such activity on the perimeter. He used his feet, his hands and everything he had in the tank to get the job done and turned out to be spectacular.

I think McCormack can get there. And he has proven that putting in the work to reshape his body is not too much for him.

But shedding some of that baby fat like he did in the past is much different than leaning up the way Azubuike did between his junior and senior seasons.

One of the biggest reasons Azubuike did it was because he knew he had to — it was his final chance to show his skills to NBA scouts who might shape his future.

McCormack still has two years remaining and hasn’t been criticized nearly as much as Azubuike was during his first three seasons at KU. So will McCormack be as hungry as Azubuike was to prove himself?

None by Frank Saunders

It remains to be seen exactly what the 2020 KU football schedule will look like and whether it will be played to completion or played at all.

But, as of today, that’s the plan, with the newly announced home game against Southern Illinois added for Aug. 29 in place of the Sept. 5 game versus New Hampshire that is no longer happening.

Because KU still has so many question marks and has had very little time to get to answering them, it’s hard to call any game on the schedule an automatic win.

But the Jayhawks have to win the opener. A loss to Southern Illinois, which finished 7-5 last season at the FCS level, would be a brutal blow to Les Miles’ chances of turning things around.

So let’s assume the Jayhawks win that game, whether by a single score like in last year’s opener against a Missouri Valley opponent (24-17 over Indiana State) or by 40.

After that, there are no gimmes. Coastal Carolina beat KU in Lawrence last season. Boston College features Power 5 talent at enough positions to win at least half the time and the rest of the schedule is Big 12 foes.

One thing worth point out is the fact that KU’s Sept. 12 game at Baylor now will come on the back end of two weeks worth of preparation.

KU replacing UNH with SIU leaves that Sept. 5 date open and the Jayhawks play at Baylor on Sept. 12.

The Bears, meanwhile, have a new head coach and will play an SEC foe (Ole Miss) six days before hosting the Jayhawks.

They’ll probably still be double-digit favorites, but at least the schedule, as constructed today, lines up in KU’s favor.

With all of that said, I’ll sum it up by answering your question a little more directly — I don’t think we’re looking at a winless season for Miles and company, but it’s definitely hard to envision it including more than 1 or 2 victories.

None by Bradley

Seeing Perry Ellis around the program throughout the 2019-20 season was an absolute pleasure. And you can’t convince me for one second that his presence didn’t have a positive impact on the 2019-20 roster.

The man always appears to be in a good mood and genuinely seemed to appreciate the opportunity to be around his alma mater while rehabbing his injured right knee.

But Ellis is still young (26) and has a chance to make a lot of money playing basketball so there’s no reason to think too hard about him being around permanently just yet.

So that’s exactly what Ellis is doing.

Cleared to return to full basketball activity earlier this summer, Ellis in early July signed a contract with the Ehime Orange Vikings in Japan.

The Orange Vikings play in the Japan-B2 League and Ellis is expected to head overseas in late August.

Before injuring his knee last summer while playing with Self Made in the TBT in Wichita, Ellis last played during the 2018-19 season in Turkey and Germany.

He also has played in the NBA’s G League and in Australia since leaving Kansas following his stellar four-year career from 2012-16.

Ellis currently ranks ninth on KU’s all-time scoring list, with 1,798 points, and 12th all-time in rebounds with 834.

Reply 3 comments from Njjayhawk RXDOC Runningbeakers84 Dirk Medema

Going young at QB, a role for De Sousa and a percentage wheel for KU’s NCAA case

Kansas offensive coordinator Brent Dearmon watches a replay on the video board during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas offensive coordinator Brent Dearmon watches a replay on the video board during the third quarter on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

As of today, KU and the Big 12 Conference still are doing everything they can to figure out a way to play football this fall.

And until they tell us they aren’t, we’ve got to keep covering things as if they are.

After all, even though we now know it will not be against New Hampshire, it’s possible — not necessarily probable but certainly still possible — that KU’s season opener is just 47 days away.

That’s what makes this week’s first “Ask Us Anything” question both timely and interesting.

The seven-week window until a potential opener also answers the question in my mind.

But let’s dive in anyway.

As always, we really appreciate all of the questions, and, remember, if we didn’t get to your question this week, we’ll try to get it answered next week.

Keep the questions coming, too. We can never have too many and you can submit them in a bunch of different ways.

• via email to mtait@ljworld.com

• on Twitter with the hashtag #AskKUSports or in response to one of our calls for questions or “Ask Us Anything” tweets

• in the comments section below this blog

• on our KUSports Facebook page

None by Steve Reigle

I’d love to know the number of programs that annually face this question with the QB position.

It might not be dozens, but it has to be a handful, and it’s always an interesting question. That becomes especially true at KU, which is still searching for a long-term answer at quarterback to help lead the offense, and the program, into the future.

Normally, I’m all for it. Let’s face it, whether you’re talking about all they lost from last season or the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic severely hurting KU’s chances to recover from that, the Jayhawks aren’t in line for a bunch of wins this season.

So why not go with the young gun at quarterback and get a couple of questions answered in the meantime?

The first and most important question is can he play?

There’s a lot to like about Daniels on film and, in talking with him, he seems like a terrific kid with a great head on his shoulders who understands how to lead and also how to lead as an underclassman.

Knowing it and doing it, however, are two different things. And with summer workouts cut short and Daniels not even arriving on campus until mid-June, it’s unclear whether there will be enough time before Game 1 — if there’s a Game 1 — for Daniels to show his coaches what he can do and build the kind of chemistry with the KU offense to become the guy.

That’s not to say it could not happen at some point. After all, if there is a full season, your suggestion could be the right move for the final six or seven weeks, which would still be enough time for a freshman QB to get a feel for the adjustment from high school to college. That, in theory, would give him a head start on Year 2 and could benefit the KU offense, too.

Sure it would burn his redshirt, but you'd find out how he looks in extended action, he'd get several games worth of experience and, if he's your guy, you'd still have him plugged in as a potential three-year starter.

I like the move — almost always. I think it would be a much harder sell if the Jayhawks were expected to compete for bowl eligibility this year. But with KU picked a distant 10th in the preseason Big 12 poll, it appears that most everybody out there believes wins will be tough to come by for Kansas again in 2020.

So if you can’t win a bunch of games, what’s the next best thing you can get out of a season? Experience for your young guys.

It would be great to see Daniels get that, but I’m having a hard time predicting it based simply on the strange offseason and the fact that guys like Miles Kendrick and Thomas MacVittie already have some college experience under their belts.

Still, if it were up to me, I think I'd throw him out there Week 1 and let the 2020 season be all about learning and developing for the future.

• Our second question came from via email, from Jeff Crees, who asked: The most exciting game in all of college basketball in 19-20 was by far KU vs Dayton in the Maui Invitational. There was a good chance there may have been a Part 2 matchup had the pandemic not happened. What will be KU’s most exciting matchup in 20-21?

Like the 2020 college football season, the 2020-21 college hoops season is also in question.

The thing that basketball has going for it is the later start date, but there already has been quite a lot of talk about moving it to a January start or having the 2020-21 college hoops season feature conference games only.

That makes it a little tougher to answer this question, which is too bad because I absolutely love it.

I’m not sure anyone would have got this one right if you asked it before last season. Most probably would've picked the potential KU-Michigan State matchup in Maui that never wound up happening. But there’s little doubt that the KU-Dayton game was the best of the year in my mind.

Part of that might have to do with it being played in Maui, but it was also just an incredibly competitive and high-level game. Only KU at Baylor later in the season comes close to matching it in my mind, but I’ll still take the Player of the Year against the sport’s best team any day.

Having said all of that, I’ll have to give you two answers here. One for a full season and one for a conference-only season.

I think KU-Creighton and KU-Missouri will both be a lot of fun. And KU-Kentucky to kickoff the season is always a blast.

That Creighton matchup has the potential to live up to the KU-Dayton standard, although the Blue Jays aren’t likely to have the player of the year on their roster this season.

But instead of picking any of those I’ll go with one of those could-happen games for my answer here — KU vs. Virginia in November in the Wooden Legacy in Anaheim, Calif.

If it happens, you’re talking about some exciting stuff. Bill Self vs. Tony Bennett. The defending national champs from 2019 vs. the 2020 NCAA title favorite entering the postseason. And talent up and down both rosters.

I’m guessing the two will be put on opposite sides of the four-team bracket if that event is played. So they both would either have to win or lose to meet up on Day 2 of the event. But if it happens, that will be a whole lot of fun.

If the nonconference schedule is scrapped and we’re limited to conference games only, I don’t know how you pick against KU-Baylor in Allen Fieldhouse.

For one, it would likely be a battle of two top-five or top-10 teams. Beyond that, the Bears beat KU in AFH last season and there’s not a KU fan in Lawrence who has forgotten that. Beyond that, it’s elite guards against elite guards and should be an entertaining brand of ball with a lot of athleticism, energy and explosiveness on display from start to finish.

So there you have it. KU’s schedule is as tough as always and is full of potential classics. But I’ll take KU-Virginia in a full-season format and KU-Baylor if the season is limited to conference games only.

• This week’s third question, from Parker Titus, also came via email and has two parts: This is mostly a recruiting question but, which recruits are most likely to commit to KU, in your opinion/research, in both the 2021 and the 2022 class. Aside from Zach Clemence, I know KU is in the running for Kendall Brown, Hunter Sallis, JD Davidson, Matthew Cleveland, Michael Foster, Jonathan Lawson, etc. in 2021. Then, where do you see Silvio De Sousa fitting into this upcoming year's team?

Part I: Since we kind of covered the first part in an earlier “Ask Us Anything,” I’ll rehash that briefly and then get to the question about Silvio.

KU appears to be the frontrunner to land Kendall Brown and there are a lot of reasons to think the match makes sense. Brown’s versatility and ability to play multiple styles make him an appealing prospect and his size and skills make him a pro prospect.

He’d be a terrific pick up for the Jayhawks and, as of now, Rivals.com’s Eric Bossi has Kansas as the leader in Brown’s recruitment. So I’d toss Brown in the “most likely to commit to KU” category you created.

Four-star shooting guard Matthew Cleveland is announcing his choice on Tuesday, but most pundits appear to believe he’s headed to Florida State.

After that, it gets a little tougher, but I do think the 2021 class will include a point guard. Right now, Hunter Sallis and JD Davidson are at the top of that list, but landing either of them will be a challenge. KU appears to be all-in on both, but there are some other quality schools on both lists that will make landing them tough.

With Mitch Lightfoot, Marcus Garrett and Silvio De Sousa all being seniors, KU figures to have at least three spots to fill in the 2021 class. If they can fill those three with Clemence, Brown and a high-level point guard, that’ll be a great class and they won’t need much more than that.

Editor's Note: You win some, you lose some. Not long after this blog was posted, Kendall Brown orally committed to Baylor. Not only does that take KU out of the running for a talented prospect, but it also puts that prospect on the future roster of one of KU's biggest rivals of late. This is huge news in Big 12 basketball.

Part II: If you haven’t seen any of De Sousa’s social media videos of his workouts from the past few months, do yourself a favor and go find those.

The senior-to-be from Angola is moving better than I ever remember him moving and appears to have developed a nice jump shot, as well.

Now, it’s important to remember that these are workout videos and pick-up games, so it’s not exactly the same as game night at Allen Fieldhouse. For example, as nice as the jumper looks, it’s still a pretty slow release and I can’t imagine very many situations where he’ll have that much time to get a shot off. But it’s clear that De Sousa has been putting in a ton of work to improve his game.

That can only help his status in the Jayhawks’ rotation. But where he fits remains a bit of a mystery.

He’s definitely ahead of freshman big man Gethro Muscadin and definitely behind Lightfoot and junior David McCormack. But Self told me earlier this summer that he’s still going to want to play two bigs from time to time and that could be where De Sousa fits in best, as he’d be able to play with either McCormack or Lightfoot much easier than any of KU’s two bigs last year because the other two can play on the perimeter while leaving De Sousa down low to do the dirty work.

Given the guard depth on this roster, I still don’t think we’ll see that a ton of the time so it’ll be important for De Sousa to stay patient and focus all of his efforts and energy on maximizing the minutes he does get rather than worrying about how much he plays.

I think there’s a spot for him in the rotation. But I can’t see him averaging more than 10-12 minutes a game and believe he’ll be a rock solid insurance policy should foul trouble or injury become a problem in KU’s front court.

The bottom line is this: The guy has been through a lot during his KU career and he’s got one season left. It’s time for him to let it fly and play with the kind of fire and hunger that many expected to see after his strong freshman debut.

None by want things to return to normal....wear a mask!

Because the IARP path is still brand new and has yet to be completed by any school — Memphis and NC State will get to the finish line first — this is a tough question to answer.

While those other cases could serve as a good barometer for judging the timeline of KU’s case — for example, KU has been right about two months behind NC State throughout the process thus far — that’s not a guaranteed way to predict the timeline.

Each case is different and the IARP panel could need less time with NC State’s case or desire to do more of its own investigating in the Kansas case, both of which could change the timeline for both schools.

Having said all of that, I can’t see this thing being wrapped up before January. There was almost zero chance of that happening anyway and then COVID hit and we’re not quite sure how that is impacting things.

Because the IARP path is still new and features a bunch of unknowns, we don't yet know what the ruling will look like or how quickly any penalties would or could be assessed.

Remember when all of this started, it became pretty clear that KU's infractions case would not impact the 2020-21 season because of the timelines laid out by the notice of allegations. KU had 90 days to respond. The NCAA had 60 days to respond after that. And simple math told you that it would be March or later before any of that was in the past.

There is no known timeline with the IARP ruling nor do we know whether or not the penalties handed down — if there are any — would be effective immediately or would be delayed until the start of a new season.

There's just still so much that is unknown, not only by those of us covering it, but also by the lawyers and school officials involved in the process. It truly is brand new territory for everyone involved.

So instead of giving you exact dates or even a single month that the rulings might come out, I’ll hit you with a few ranges for my percentage wheel for this one.

1 – Ruling comes between January and March – 47%

2 – Ruling comes between April and June – 36%

3 – Ruling comes between July and September – 14%

4 – Ruling comes after start of the 2021-22 season – 3%

Reply 1 comment from Njjayhawk Dane Pratt

Reflecting back on some memorable misses in Kansas basketball history

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson blocks a shot by Missouri guard Phil Pressey to take the game into overtime, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012, at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson blocks a shot by Missouri guard Phil Pressey to take the game into overtime, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012, at Allen Fieldhouse.

We’re back for some more Monday morning “Ask Us Anything” action, and this week’s entry features mostly email inquiries.

Thanks to everyone who sent in questions, and, remember, if we didn’t get to your question this week, we’ll try to get it answered next week.

Keep the questions coming, too. We can never have too many and you can submit them in a bunch of different ways.

• via email to mtait@ljworld.com

• on Twitter with the hashtag #AskKUSports or in response to one of our calls for questions or “Ask Us Anything” tweets

• in the comments section below this blog

• on our KUSports Facebook page

Let’s jump right in with a fun question from Daniel Sondreal, who asked, via email, for the top five misses I remember covering on the KU beat.

I love this question because it’s different.

Full disclosure: Dan’s a buddy of mine and we play basketball a couple of times a week with a great group – or at least we did before COVID-19 forced us to push pause on our pick-up games.

Beyond that, though, Dan’s one of the biggest hoops junkies I know. He loves the game, at all levels, and has a great appreciation for the game’s history, legendary players and top traditions.

In fact, Dan even gave his question a catchy title, calling it the Wilbur “Shooter” Flatch Award, named for the character in “Hoosiers” played by Dennis Hopper.

I spent a few days thinking about this question because it seemed like there would be so many potential answers. In the end, I decided to go with a mix of KU misses and key misses that KU benefited from.

Here’s the list, in chronological order.

• Wayne Simien’s missed turnaround against Bucknell in the 2005 NCAA Tournament

I was actually in Las Vegas for this game and didn’t really watch that closely. I was still on the high school beat back then, and, if you’ve never done the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament in Vegas, put it on your list and then you’ll see why I wasn’t fixated on any one game in particular.

That said, I was watching and you could tell the whole way that it was going to be one of those stuck-in-the-mud games for the Jayhawks. Nothing seemed easy, the ball bounced wrong all day and the pressure mounted as Bucknell closed in on the upset.

Still, even as bad as things went, third-seeded KU had a shot at survival late in the game when Simien got a better look than he should’ve from the free throw line in the final seconds.

Every time I watch it, I think it’s going in. The pass was perfect, Simien’s footwork freed him and his release was perfect. It just wasn’t meant to be that night.

If you’re so inclined, fast-forward to the 3:50 mark in this video for a look back at the miss.

• Christian Moody missed free throws at Missouri in 2006

Moody’s career, from walk-on to key role, was so incredible and it’s such a bummer for him that this moment was part of it. But it was a big part.

With KU and Missouri locked up at 77 in a regular season game in Columbia, Mo., Moody stepped to the free throw line with 0.4 seconds to play for two free throw attempts. Make either and KU almost assuredly wins the game.

Instead, Moody missed both off the back iron and Missouri won in overtime.

Although he was never known as a great free throw shooter, (51.7% for his KU career) Moody was a senior and, therefore, was well aware of what the KU-MU rivalry was all about. That fact only made the misses sting more.

The first three minutes of this video will take you through the events surrounding to those two Moody misses

• Davidson guard Jason Richards’ missed 3-pointer in the Elite Eight in 2008

No Kansas fan will ever forget this moment. No Davidson fan will either.

In an absolute slugfest to go to the Final Four, Kansas survived a scare from Steph Curry and Davidson when Richards’ last-second, deep 3 missed the rim and sent the Jayhawks to the next round during their run to the 2008 national title.

The biggest thing that stands out about this miss is the defense that Mario Chalmers, Brandon Rush and Sherron Collins played on Curry to force it.

There was just no way KU was going to let Curry beat them in that moment and all three guys delivered crucial defensive efforts in those final few seconds to make sure the shot came from someone else’s hand.

Here’s a view of arguably the biggest miss in Kansas basketball history from someone in the stands that night.

• Phil Pressey’s missed/blocked layup at Allen Fieldhouse at the end of regulation in the final game of the KU-MU rivalry in 2012.

Everyone knows the story of this one. Down by nearly 20 points in the second half, KU came all the way back to force overtime and win one of the most electric and incredible games in the history of Allen Fieldhouse.

And it’s unlikely that anyone will ever forget the final few seconds of regulation when Thomas Robinson blocked a driving layup by Pressey to force OT.

Missouri fans still say Pressey was fouled. KU fans say no way. History agrees with the Jayhawks.

Here’s a video of the sequence that picks right up with Pressey driving to the rim.

• Wayne Selden missed 3-pointer vs. Villanova in the Elite Eight in 2016

This probably doesn’t make very many lists, but it’s on mine because it was a big miss and because I had an incredible view of it, sitting mere feet from where Selden let it fly along the sideline.

From my vantage point, I thought he nailed it. But it missed, like five other Selden 3-point attempts on an 0-for-6 night, and Villanova went on to win 64-59, earning a trip to the Final Four.

Trailing by 2 with 1:13, Selden caught the pass in the corner along the sideline on a perfect ball reversal. Despite his off night, he went right up with it and never hesitated.

Had the shot gone in, Kansas would have gone up by a point and the pressure would’ve shifted to Nova. Instead, the Wildcats answered with a pair of free throws to go up four with 33 seconds left, keeping the pressure and sense of urgency on the KU side.

I couldn’t find a specific video of the miss, but you can find it in the full game video here. The possession starts at the 1:06:55 mark.

None by NakiaGibbs SWAGHOUSE

Timely question considering KU just landed a commitment from two-sport standout Keon Coleman a little more than a week ago.

Coleman, if you’re not familiar, is a four-star wide receiver in the Class of 2021 from Opelousas, La., who will be on scholarship with the football program and a walk-on for Bill Self’s basketball team.

The idea of Jayhawks playing both basketball and football is not at all unheard of. In fact, one of them from the recent past was even a quarterback. Former KU hooper Mario Kinsey played stints at point guard for Roy Williams and QB for Terry Allen. But that was short-lived for a number of reasons and the idea of being arguably the top player for Self and the quarterback for Miles in the same season is tough to imagine.

It’s funny, but the last time I interviewed Gibbs about Garrett for a story about his nephew winning the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year honor this spring, Gibbs brought up football.

“We’re a football town,” he said of Garrett’s native Dallas.

And even though Garrett was a talented quarterback in his early childhood — some of his family members even thought football would wind up being his best sport — that ship has sailed by now.

Garrett still loves football and knows and understands the game, but even if he could physically and mentally make the move, there’s zero chance Self would sign off on the idea.

Gibbs knows that, and I think he was just having fun with his question.

But he is right about one thing – KU still does not have a clear starter at quarterback for the 2020 season. The bigger issue, however, remains finding out if KU’s even going to have a 2020 season in the first place.

One thing at a time, for both Garrett and Kansas football.

None by Bradley

Hey, thanks for the reminder and the quick trip down memory lane. I had a really good time doing that last year and haven’t heard if we’re planning to do it this year again or not.

My guess is no, given the way the pandemic has hit so many people so hard in so many different ways.

But I’ll keep it in the back of my mind and, if not this year, maybe we can put it together again for future years.

I love golf and I play as much as I can, but most of my time is spent playing in Lawrence. Getting out and getting to see all of the amazing courses within driving distance of my house was a blast. And I know I didn’t even get to half of them.

One of the coolest things about that whole promotion — “Tee Off with Tait” we called it — was the fact that I played each of those signature holes so incredibly well. I was nervous about how I would do on a new course, cold out of the car and what that would look like if I started blogging about the snowman I got on No. Whatever at Whichever course.

But I think those nerves helped force me to lock in on every shot and swing and I can only recall one or two bad moments in the whole thing.

Lot’s of fun. Just like these “Ask Us Anything” blogs. So keep the questions coming and thanks for reading.

Stay safe, happy and healthy, everybody.

Reply 8 comments from Plasticjhawk Nick Kramer Koolkeithfreeze Titus Canby

The return of the Percentage Wheel, a look at KU’s 2020-21 strengths and weaknesses and a little recruiting

Kansas head coach Les Miles watches practice before an NCAA college football game against Indiana State Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, in Lawrence, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Kansas head coach Les Miles watches practice before an NCAA college football game against Indiana State Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, in Lawrence, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) by Associated Press

There's no time like the present to get back to our "Ask Us Anything" blog, which will feature questions from readers about KU hoops, KU football and anything else on your minds.

We got a bunch of good questions this week and look forward to more in the weeks ahead. So if we didn't get to yours today, look for it next week and keep the questions coming in the meantime.

We'll plan to post a new version of the blog each Monday at least until sports returns, which will hopefully be sooner rather than later.

That leads us perfectly into our first question. Thanks again for the help with the content and if you have questions for future "Ask Us Anything" blogs, you can post them in the comments below, on Twitter with the hashtag #AskKUSports or email them to me at mtait@ljworld.com.

Let's get to it!

None by John Murphy

Those of you who have been with us for a while might remember a little something I used to call the “percentage wheel” during the chaotic days of conference realignment.

Yes, I’m just now fully getting over the realignment madness. And, yes, I’m also bringing the percentage wheel back to help answer this question.

First, a quick disclaimer: Because information, planning and even hope for sports during the COVID-19 pandemic has changed so much and so quickly during recent weeks, it’s hard to get a real feel for what might happen. So my prediction here is based off of a number of factors — conversations with people in sports across the country, the latest I’ve read from scientists and health experts and even a dash of a gut feeling tossed in for good measure.

With that said, I think a spring football season is looking more and more likely by the day.

Last week’s news that KU was temporarily pushing the pause button on its voluntary football workouts, though not catastrophic, was a blow that those in the college football will be back this fall camp did not need.

And it’s not just happening at KU. It’s happening in even greater numbers in other cities, with Clemson being the most notable. But down the road in Manhattan, Kansas State shut down its workouts before KU even reached that point. And others continue to follow suit as positive tests inevitably continue to pop up.

I’ve thought for a long time that the powers that be in the college football world would do whatever they had to do to ensure that football is played this fall. And I still think there’s a strong chance that’s true.

But if you’re asking about the likelihood of football — at any level, really — being played in the fall, my optimism for that is far lower than it was 10 days ago.

Without further ado, here’s my percentage wheel for college football’s return. As always, it’s subject to change, perhaps even later today.

1 – 2020 season delayed to a spring start – 48%

2 – 2020 season starts on time – 34%

3 – 2020 season delayed but still starts in the fall – 15%

4 – 2020 season canceled altogether – 3%

I know that fourth option is awful to look at, but, as KU AD Jeff Long has said throughout the past couple of months, the virus is control here and, because of that, no one truly knows exactly how it’s all going to play out.

I saw last week where Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott noted that college football in 2020 might not be a one-size-fits-all scenario, and I think that’s important to remember, as well.

Some schools and conferences might be able to play and others might not. So I don’t know exactly how that fact fits into your question — or my answer — but it’s also worth remembering when thinking about the college football season as a whole.

I still think there’s hope that KU and college football can find a way to play starting in September, but that hope is starting to dwindle a little bit each day.

None by John Murphy

We don’t yet know how many players will be in the 2021 recruiting class, so that makes this question a little tougher to answer.

With Mitch Lightfoot, Marcus Garrett and Silvio De Sousa all being seniors, it seems safe to predict that it will at least have three players in it and it’s possible that it could have one or two more depending on some early-entry potential on the rest of the KU roster.

One of those spots is already spoken for by 2021 forward Zach Clemence who committed to Kansas this spring. And, truth be told, Clemence would not be a terrible prediction here.

The 6-10, stretch 4 who committed to KU in May recently moved up a couple spots to No. 29 in the Rivals.com 2021 rankings and I wouldn’t be shocked if he finishes a couple of spots higher still.

Having said that, I think the best answer here is one of Clemence’s teammates at Sunrise Christian Academy — small forward Kendall Brown.

Brown is far from a lock to join the Jayhawks, but they’re in on him and his game and skill set fit the program to a tee.

The versatile 6-foot-7, 200-pound wing who continues to improve and rise in the recruiting world is currently ranked No. 12 in the Rivals 150.

Others to watch as you wait for this question to be answered include point guards Hunter Sallis (currently ranked No. 11) and JD Davison (No. 15), along with Atlanta power forward Daimion Collinson, who is ranked No. 20 and just recently trimmed his list to a final 10 that includes KU, and shooting guard Matthew Cleveland, who is down to a final five that includes KU.

All are players worth tracking, but I’ll put my money on Brown.

None by Walt Bettis

It’s been an interesting first couple of years for Jeff Long and I’m not surprised that this question came up.

But I think it’s important to point out that the easy answer to your question is, yes, he is competent.

Long has a ton of experience and has been through nearly everything a college athletics administrator could possible go through on one level or another throughout his career.

His style is not for everybody and I know there are fans out there who don’t love his on-camera personality and zany stunts like diving into a swimming pool with his suit on and things of that nature. But that’s him. And, in my opinion, being true to yourself is a pretty key part of leadership, whether you're talking college athletics or anywhere else.

I thought Sheahon Zenger was dealt an insanely tough hand during his first two years on the job, when he took over and almost immediately was thrust into the conference realignment craziness while also having to fire and hire a football coach at the same time.

But Long has had a similar go of things. Realignment has been replaced by the COVID-19 pandemic — who could possibly have been prepared for that? — and he, too, found himself in the position of firing and hiring a football coach while also navigating the choppy waters of KU’s NCAA infractions case.

Any one of those things would be a lot for any AD to handle and Long has had to deal with all of them at pretty much the same time.

Has he played it all perfectly? Nope. But I don’t get the sense that the missteps have come because he was incompetent.

We’ll know more in the months and years ahead. And a big part of summing up Long’s time at Kansas — however long that winds up being — will be how he leads KU through the pandemic madness, both from a health and safety standpoint and the inevitable hit to KU’s athletics budget.

I know you didn’t ask me to grade his first two years, but if you had I’d probably have to say incomplete at this point. So many things that were issues when he took over or popped up after he started remain unresolved and we need to see how those things wind up before making any definitive conclusions about his ability as an AD.

None by Michael Troutman

I’ll quickly give you a couple of each to answer this question and then we’ll spend the next several months following the progress and breaking things down from there.

Strengths — Depth, versatility and size.

KU’s depth on the perimeter is absolutely insane this season. In fact, even with the likelihood of KU coach Bill Self starting four guards, it’s still hard to not feel like you’re leaving someone out.

Marcus Garrett and Ochai Agbaji are locks to start in my opinion. After that, you’ve got at least four guys with a strong case at the final two perimeter spots — Christian Braun, Dajuan Harris, Bryce Thompson and Tyon Grant-Foster. And we’re not even mentioning Jalen Wilson or Tristan Enaruna here, two players who would probably start for a lot of other teams.

That leads me to next strength — versatility.

With all of those weapons at his disposal, Self has the luxury of mixing and matching talents and styles to fit whatever way he wants to play on any given day.

He can play small and fast. He can play with his best athletes. He can play with Garrett or Grant-Foster at the 4 and go with Harris, Garrett and Bryce Thompson as three legit ball handlers on the floor at the same time. The possibilities are almost endless.

That becomes particularly true when factoring in what he can do with the front court. David McCormack is poised for a big jump. And he can play by himself as the 5 man or at the 4 with Silvio De Sousa in the lineup, as well. Same thing with Lightfoot at the 4.

And then there’s freshman big man Gethro Muscadin, who could either become a prime redshirt candidate or a player who finds a spot in the rotation based off of his motor and bounciness.

So much depth, so much versatility and so much size. It’ll be a much different team than the one we saw in 2019-20, but, in time, it has a chance of being nearly just as good.

The weaknesses are tougher to spot with so many new faces, but here’s what they look like today, at least on paper.

The Jayhawks have done well to improve their shooting by adding Thompson and freshman guard Latrell Jossell, but I’m still not sure this is going to be an dynamic 3-point shooting team.

Agbaji, Braun and Thompson can all shoot it and Grant-Foster has it in him, as well. I actually think Garrett is primed for his best 3-point shooting season, but I know how you guys feel about that topic so we’ll hold off on that for now.

With that said, there is no Devonte’ Graham, Svi Mykhailiuk, Malik Newman or Isaiah Moss on the 2020-21 roster.

But that’s where the depth comes in handy. While this roster might not have a player who can approach 40% shooting from behind the arc for the season, it has enough options and guys willing to take those shots to get what they need on any particular night.

Low post scoring might be another weakness, although we’re grading that on a bit of a curve coming off of the Udoka Azubuike era.

McCormack can hang down low but is just as comfortable away from the basket and I’ve actually heard that Lightfoot improved his low-post scoring a great deal during his redshirt season.

The wild card here is De Sousa, but it’s hard to imagine even a combination of those three — plus Muscadin — becoming anywhere close to as dominant and dangerous as Azubuike was when he was healthy.

That’s not necessarily bad news for the Jayhawks, it’ll just make things a little different. And, again, that’s where that versatility and the ability to play different styles and mix and match pieces will prove beneficial for Self and his coaching staff.

Reply 3 comments from Dane Pratt Len Shaffer Dirk Medema

On KU football recruiting strategies, Dedric Lawson’s old man game and more

Newly-hired Kansas football coach Les Miles tastes a piece of Kansas grass as offered by Baby Jay as he is introduced to the Allen Fieldhouse crowd during halftime of the Jayhawks’ game against Stanford.

Newly-hired Kansas football coach Les Miles tastes a piece of Kansas grass as offered by Baby Jay as he is introduced to the Allen Fieldhouse crowd during halftime of the Jayhawks’ game against Stanford. by Nick Krug

Maybe it’s all these random pieces of grass I’ve been eating, but it seems like the past few days have been the busiest since Les Miles took over the Kansas football program.

OK, that’s not true.

I haven’t tried the Les Miles Diet and gnawed on vegetation from a nearby patch of sod.

But the part about the KU football offices remaining immersed in activity and the phones of coaches buzzing and ringing constantly is true.

With Miles simultaneously completing his coaching staff, and working with his assistants to sign as many targeted recruits as they could this week, whatever holiday breaks KU’s staffers are able to enjoy soon will be well deserved.

With that as a jumping off point, let’s hit today’s round of questions.

None by Marty in Larryvile

I’ll admit I was surprised by the amount of junior college prospects that were targeted and signed for KU’s 2019 class. To make sure everyone is up to speed, here’s the rundown of the six signees — right now there are 11 players total on board in what is expected to end up a class of 15 or so — from the junior college ranks.

• 3-star Mesa C.C. (Ariz.) QB Thomas MacVittie (6-5, 225)

• 3-star Iowa Central C.C. WR Ezra Naylor (6-4, 210)

• 3-star Golden West Coll. (Calif) CB Justin Ford (6-1, 180)

• 3-star Iowa Western C.C. DE Malcolm Lee (6-5, 270)

• 2-star Coahoma C.C. (Miss.) DL Caleb Sampson (6-4, 285)

• 2-star Iowa Central C.C. WR Andrew Parchment (6-2, 185)

The questions about relying too much on the juco ranks are fair, because, as alluded to, this 6 to 5 ratio of jucos to preps looks pretty similar to the 11 to 8 ratio from David Beaty’s 2018 signing class.

I think what makes this different is the situation.

Beaty was entering his fourth season at KU after Year 3 didn’t go as planned. He and his staff, though they didn’t say so publicly, knew another year of losing football would cost them their jobs. And ultimately they were right.

They tried to load up on players who were more likely to contribute immediately because they knew that would give the 2018 team a better chance of winning five or six games.

On the other hand, Miles and his staff kind of had to scramble to find talent. The first assistant hired, Chevis Jackson, still isn’t three weeks into his tenure here. Same goes for offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey. Defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot hasn’t even been here two weeks.

And today was the first day of college football’s early signing period, when so many recruits now get their decisions out of the way.

This was a tough spot to walk into for Miles and his staff. You wouldn’t have to go too far out of your way to describe finding talent to sign as kind of an emergency, either, given the circumstances.

None by Jeff Rank

I don’t blame anyone for wanting to toss out a cup of Kool-Aid that on first sniff seems too similar to one that poisoned him or her before.

But, as just mentioned, I do think KU’s options were a bit limited. When other coaching staffs have the ability to meet and interact with high school prospects (and their families and coaches) over the course of a few years instead of a few weeks, that’s a distinct advantage.

Plus, I think part of the good news with this group of jucos is that talent evaluators seem to like them. QB Thomas MacVittie in particular.

Remember: he signed with Pitt out of high school. It didn’t work out there, but he didn’t mind going the juco route and proving himself. MacVittie ended up becoming one of the most highly regarded juco QBs available.

I think it’s also important to remember that these juco players will, for the most part, be coached by different KU assistants than some of their unsuccessful predecessors were through the years. Let’s not rule out this staff’s ability to maximize the potential out of some of these two- and three-year players before they’re even given a chance to coach them up.

And, yes, KU is banking on at least one or two of these guys proving to be “overlooked gems,” and help KU’s chances of being competitive in 2019 and 2020.


None by Chris Kennedy

Maybe I will end up completely wrong on this, but I do think Miles and his coaches kind of had to do what they had to do in terms of the number of junior college players they signed.

I think when they fill out the class in February, we’ll see more incoming freshmen in the mix. And I think in 2020 and beyond you should see KU going almost exclusively with preps, the way most successful programs attack the recruiting trails.

Only time will tell. But I’d say if you’re a KU football fan, try to be patient with the 2019 class and trust that Miles has the right coaches in place to do things differently in the years ahead.

None by TheRealCmoney11

Perry Ellis is old enough to be Dedric Lawson’s father, I’m pretty sure.

But I get why you’d ask this.

Even though Lawson, unlike Ellis during his days with the Jayhawks, actually looks like a college-aged basketball player instead of a 40-year-old scoring machine, there’s plenty of old man in his game.

Lawson will be the first to tell you there’s not a lot of athleticism involved in what he does. He’s just sound and smart and has a great feel for the game. He’s fine banking in a layup over a defender instead of dunking on him so severely his opponent is doomed for social media meme fodder.

I enjoyed watching Ellis’ smooth offensive game when he was at KU, and Lawson is equally entertaining to observe. And, let’s be honest, Ellis could actually explode off the floor from time to time. So maybe Ellis actually is younger than Lawson? The Memphis native certainly doesn’t jump as high as most 21-year-old, 6-foot-9 aspiring All-Americans.

OK, you’ve stumped me. It’s impossible to say who’s older. 


From Dirk Medema, via the comments section: Could the lack of comment on Coach Hull's status be tied to the status of the other coaches? If he comments on Coach Hull but doesn't comment on others then it could be creating a perception he doesn't want. Obviously we want to know, but we don't need to know for the coaches to do their jobs effectively. It is just a matter of convenience for us. While we have heard that Hull has been out recruiting, I don't recall hearing that it was in contrast to the others not recruiting. While not a good sign for the others, it is encouraging for keeping Coach Hull.

Obviously this question came through before this week’s news that Tony Hull will be back as KU’s running backs coach.

But the question from Dirk here hits a lot of important points.

To me it has been pretty clear for weeks now that Hull would be back. But I couldn’t report that because I didn’t have enough sources saying so.

And I do think a lot of the delay had to do with determining how the rest of Miles’ staff would be filled out. They didn’t want to announce, ‘Hey, Hull is back,’ and at the same time not be able to provide any sort of update on Bowen’s status.

Regarding other coaches not recruiting, that actually was the case. Hull was doing things on the recruiting front that most of David Beaty’s former assistants weren’t while things got sorted out. Again, I heard this from a reliable source. But I couldn’t get enough details from other sources to reach a point where it was something I could report. There’s some responsibilities involved in journalism that you just can’t take lightly.

From Phil Leister, via the comments section: Is Quentin going to be the latest in a long line of highly-regarded Bill Self recruits - Oubre, Alexander, Diallo to name a few - who comes in full of promise and disappoints relative to the hype? Is it something about Bill's system that lends itself to this? Bill called Q as complete of a guard as he's ever had, which we have not seen in any way, shape, or form.

This has been a strange freshman season for Quentin Grimes up to this point, so Phil’s question makes a lot of sense.

I think what separates Grimes from those former KU players referenced is that he’s not nearly as raw offensively.

True, Grimes is both making mistakes on offense and misfiring on his shots — 38.2% from the floor, 33.3% on 3-pointers and even 55.6% at the foul line.

But I think it’s too soon to write him off. His attitude appears to be perfect through his struggles. And the fact that he can defend means Self won’t give up on him.

If you watched Grimes at all while he played for Self on Team USA this past summer at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship, you saw some of that complete guard play Self has referenced.

I think there are so many new parts on this KU team that it has added to Grimes’ adjustment period. But I see him figuring things out in the weeks ahead. Good athlete. Plays hard. Head’s in the right place. All he needs is for some shots to fall and he could take off.

Reply 12 comments from Stephen Dobelbower Son Mac Michael Maris Hawkfan9675 Joe Ross Karen Mansfield-Stewart Benton Smith Jim Stauffer

Marcus Garrett’s jump shot, Bill Self as a motivator and coach of the year candidate and more…

Kansas head coach Bill Self and Villanova head coach Jay Wright greet each other before tipoff, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas head coach Bill Self and Villanova head coach Jay Wright greet each other before tipoff, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

One quick things to address before we jump into another round of “Ask Us Anything” questions.

That KU-Villanova game. I’m not sure if it was because of the early tip or because I’ve been fighting off a cold, but it took a little while for that one to fully sink in.

Right there in front of us, in arguably the greatest venue in all of sports, were two of the best programs and coaches in college basketball, slugging it out, toe to toe, for 40 minutes.

Both teams had their good moments and both teams had a few bad. But man did they both compete. I found it wildly entertaining to watch Villanova coach Jay Wright and KU coach Bill Self give it their all, as well. We’re used to seeing this from Self, of course. He is one of the most energetic and demonstrative coaches on the sideline in the game.

But Wright was right there with him, and given the fact that it was Wright’s team that was playing in the hostile environment and having a tougher time, it was interesting to see how hard that guy worked during the game and how much he had to sweat to get his guys to (a) hear him, (b) execute what he wanted them to do and (c) stay on the refs.

Nothing groundbreaking there, but it was interesting to watch, up close, because things have gone so well for Villanova during the past five or so years and, at least in this one (and probably others), Wright showed that, as charmed as the Wildcats have been, he’s really had to work to make it all happen.

Same has been true, of course, for Self throughout his unprecedented success at Kansas and that record stretch of 14 consecutive Big 12 titles.

What a game. What a classic matchup. What a wonderful thing for college basketball.

And to think we get to do it all over again next year — albeit in a different venue — in Philadelphia.

All right. Let’s dive into today’s questions. As always, keep your “Ask Us Anything” questions coming here, on Twitter with the hashtag #AskKUsports or via email at sportsdesk@ljworld.com

None by Clarence S Haynes

I like this question because it goes beyond the simple whining about Garrett not being a good shooter.

And it’s an interesting thought.

To be fair, though, Garrett has tried to be more than a 3-point shooter and is fully aware that long-range shots are not his specialty. That said, the fact that he still pulls the trigger shows that Garrett, himself, is confident in his shot — at least enough to take it — and it also shows that teams defending Garrett know what they’re doing.

One of the most underrated parts of Garrett’s game, in my opinion, is his ability to get to the basket. It might not always look the prettiest — often it does — but it is effective. He’s got good handles, is quick and strong, and has a good knack for getting the ball up to the rim when he gets in close, which almost always leads to a foul and often can lead to an and-one situation.

So, yeah, Garrett should shoot more twos. And I think he tries to do that. But we’re not talking about 10-foot jumpers here. Most defenses are not going to give you that shot. And there are enough moments when Garrett has the open 3-pointer that the best move is for him to just pull it instead of dribbling in five or six feet and then pulling up. Doing that gives the defense time to react and recover and gives away the open shot in the first place.

At this point, — and I think this is where Self and the Jayhawks are at with Garrett right now, too — Garrett’s offensive production should be viewed as gravy. He’s so good defensively, so steady on both ends and so smart all over the floor, that sometimes you just have to accept the sub-par offensive game in order to allow for those other strengths to be on the floor.

And make no mistake about, in just about every other aspect outside of offense, the Jayhawks need Garrett on the floor.

It will be really interesting when Azubuike comes back to see what happens to that starting lineup. If Grimes does not get going by the start of Big 12 play, I think you could see Garrett sliding into his starting spot. Who knows? Maybe that would relax Grimes a little and get him going, too.

None by Tim Gershon

You’re on to something here, although I don’t think manipulate is the right word for it.

Does Self use the media to get his message across to the team from time to time? I think so. Particularly when things are going well. Let’s say the team is winning but not playing the kind of defense Self wants to see. He’ll say it because he knows it’ll get written and he knows they’ll read it.

One thing worth pointing out there, however, is that Self’s not telling us anything he doesn’t tell those guys, over and over and over, to their faces.

But sometimes getting the message across in a different way can help it sink in. That’s why you hear Self call his teams soft on occasion or why he, more recently, explained that looking at this season as one where KU is undefeated and ranked No. 1 is not exactly the best way to do it and doesn’t tell the full story of this team.

Self is a master motivator and he knows what buttons to push and when to push them. What’s more, he knows that pushing this button with one player does not work as well as pushing that same button with another player. And he adjusts.

Speaking to the team through the media is something a lot of coaches do, but Self is among the best at doing it and knows exactly how to get across the messages he wants his players to hear. As I mentioned above, that doesn’t replace telling them in person but it does support it and add another dose to the lesson.

None by Frank Saunders

First off, what KU has done so far is nothing short of fantastic. They have a bunch of really good wins, they’ve played a tough schedule and they’ve found a way to come out on top even while not playing their best basketball for long stretches of time.

That can only help them when things get tough down the road or it’s do-or-die time in March.

But your question is an interesting one and one I had not yet considered.

It’s tough for Self to win coach of the year honors because of the insane expectations he has established for himself and the program. Oh, you won another Big 12 title despite losing five starters? Big deal. You’re Kansas. That’s what people expect.

I think that’s the kind of thinking a lot of people have when it comes to tabbing Self as a coach of the year candidate and that’s why you don’t hear about him in the mix all that often despite piling 30-win seasons on top of each other. There’s always some coach out there who elevated a program that people did not expect to be so good that will get a lot more attention. Fair or not, that’s just the way it is.

Self has earned his share of respect in the Big 12 coach of the year voting, but even there, overachieving coaches often walk away with the hardware.

So what does that mean for this year? Well, probably more of the same. As I mentioned, this start is insane and I thought KU would be in good shape if it got through nonconference play with two losses. But to think they’re three wins away from entering Big 12 play unbeaten is incredible. At this point, barring something catastrophic occurring, it looks like they’ll go into Big 12 play with a record of at least 11-1. And that sets Self and company up to have a pretty impressive record when the postseason rolls around.

Plenty of time to get to that, though.

The other part of your question is more relevant right now and that’s because Dedric Lawson has been so good, even while not necessarily looking that way. His numbers are insane — at or near the top of the Big 12 in so many categories, including points and rebounds — and, to me, he looks like he’s getting more comfortable with his role by the day.

If so, that’s only going to lead to more big games down the road and you could be looking at a guy who is capable of putting up some ridiculous games. We’re talking a 30 and 20 gee or two is not out of the realm of possibilities.

Unheralded coming into the season is probably a good way to describe it, but that’s on the national level. This coaching staff knew what it had and they’re dancing in their offices about the potential of this player and this team when things finally all come together and run a little smoother.

None by A Martens

I love this question because it shows you the excitement and optimism of the KU football fan right now.

But at the risk of throwing a wet blanket on that, I’m going to go with KU volleyball.

Here’s why:

Les Miles is a big name coach who has brought in a few solid assistants and appears to be headed in the right direction with adding some pieces in recruiting that can help immediately. But the football hole is still large and crawling out of it won’t be easy.

With volleyball, the climb is much less steep and will likely come down to staying healthy. Remember, this was a team this season that, even without All-Americans Ainise Havili and Kelsie Payne, was able to beat mighty Texas in a thrilling match at home. So the have the pieces required to remain a Top 25 program. What they need to do now is stay healthy.

They played most of the second half of the season without their top setter and also had to overcome the loss of Patricia Montero, who was finally healthy and poised to have a monster year.

Battling through one of those things is not easy, but having to endure both was simply too much and was the reason KU fell a notch this year. But the talent is in place and the hunger should be back and bigger than ever. So I’ll take KU volleyball as the team that returns to the rankings sooner than Kansas football.

None by Jonathan Hobbs

There’s going to be some kind of record established here for most-asked-about topic because ever time we ask for “Ask Us Anything” questions, at least 8-10 people immediately jump in looking for an update on De Sousa.

The NCAA’s not saying anything, KU’s not saying anything and, to my knowledge, nobody knows when either side will say anything any time soon.

Self has talked about being optimistic that they’ll hear something before winter break, but finals are over and Christmas is just eight days away. I’m not sure that’s going to happen.

To get right down to your question, though, it’s important to note that the NCAA has not said it is “stopping” sanctions, merely that it won’t levy any kind of punishments until the season is over.

Coaches like Gonzaga’s Mark Few have been outspoken in their disgust of that stance, but I’m not sure that will change anything and the NCAA certainly is not going to let anybody force it into doing anything — or acting any sooner — that is different from its own timeline.

So I guess the news could be viewed as a good thing for KU in that they won’t have to worry about any ruling or punishment — if any is coming — impacting this season.

But I’m not sure that has any impact on De Sousa. I still think there’s a chance he could play, but that feeling dwindles by the day. And if he does play, it’s now looking like mid-January will be about as early as it could happen.

I’ve said and written this before and still think it could happen this way. I don’t know that the NCAA’s delay here means that the process will be delayed. Remember, if they’re looking into things, it has already started. It’s not like they’ll be starting after Christmas. So it’s possible that they could reach a conclusion in early January and then come back and say, ‘You know what, the time he has served is good enough with us, he’s eligible moving forward,’ and that would be that.

They also could not saying anything all year and De Sousa could sit for the entire season.

All of that is really just a long-winded way of saying that nothing is new, all possibilities remain in play and we will update you as soon as we hear anything at all about De Sousa’s future.

Submit your questions for Ask Us Anything!

Reply 1 comment from Navyhawk

On KU football recruiting targets, Tony Hull and KU basketball lulls

FILE — Former Pittsburgh quarterback Thomas MacVittie (7) plays in the annual Spring NCAA football scrimmage, Saturday, April 15, 2017, in Pittsburgh. MacVittie, who played the 2018 season at Mesa Community College (Ariz.) announced on Dec. 11, 2018, his plans to sign with the University of Kansas. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

FILE — Former Pittsburgh quarterback Thomas MacVittie (7) plays in the annual Spring NCAA football scrimmage, Saturday, April 15, 2017, in Pittsburgh. MacVittie, who played the 2018 season at Mesa Community College (Ariz.) announced on Dec. 11, 2018, his plans to sign with the University of Kansas. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

The past several days have turned out to be quite busy for new KU football coach Les Miles on a couple of fronts.

Miles is adding to his staff on what seems like a daily basis, with defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot, offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey, receivers coach Emmett Jones, defensive line coach Kwahn Drake, offensive line coach Luke Meadows, and defensive backs coach Chevis Jackson in place.

What’s more, the Jayhawks are starting to see early results on the recruiting front since Miles took over.

It didn’t happen overnight. The groundwork was set from the day Miles took over. But now we see visible evidence of how it has paid off in terms of KU’s 2019 recruiting class.

With that, let’s dive into today’s questions.

None by Ted Adams

So, as Ted points out here, one way that Miles and his staffers have attacked the recruiting trails early is by identifying preferred walk-on (PWO) players around the Sunflower State and Kansas City metro area.

That’s a sign that they’re doing a good job with their overall strategy and not solely focusing on finding scholarship players. You need walk-ons to help the program at practices and if you identify the right ones, you might even get a quality game day player out of going that route. And I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re investing more time than usual on finding quality walk-ons now, given the 2019 signing class is expected to be small, at about 15 players or so.

But it’s not as if Miles or any of the people working for him are ignoring the need for impactful recruits. This week has proven to be a big one, with KU landing commitments from St. Thomas Aquinas defensive back Jayden Russell, 6-foot-5, 250-pound Andale athlete Mason Fairchild and Thomas MacVittie, who is a junior college quarterback whose college career began at Pittsburgh.

KU is also looking at a number of other prospects as next week’s early signing period approaches, including:

• Donte Starks, a four-star linebacker according to Rivals, from New Orleans who is verbally committed to LSU

• Valerian Agbaw, a three-star athlete from Powder Springs, Ga.

• Dontario Drummond, a three-star receiver at East Mississippi Community College

• Malcolm Lee, a three-star defensive end at Iowa Western C.C.

• Jerrod Means, a three-star receiver from Lovejoy, Ga.

• Ezra Naylor, a 6-4 receiver at Iowa Central C.C.

• Eugene Minter, a 6-4 receiver at Dodge City C.C. currently committed to Arkansas State

• Da’Jon Terry, a 6-3 defensive tackle from Meridian, Miss.

None by Frank Saunders

This is a great way to describe the KU basketball season up to this point.

Maybe it’s not as noticeable because he has such a laid back, good-natured personality, but I think Dedric Lawson might be the dog you’re looking for.

He’s easily this team’s best overall player and to me what has stood out about Lawson is his ability to come through late in close games — even if he hasn’t played up to his standards earlier in that same game.

Lawson delivered in overtime when Kansas beat Tennessee in New York. He completely took over in crunch time against New Mexico State, and KU would have lost if he hadn’t.

Those are just a couple of moments but I think Lawson is still getting comfortable with his role in his first season of playing at Kansas and being The Guy. I bet we’ll see plenty more dog in him in the months ahead.

Chris: Is there a 2nd legit 3 point shooter on the #KUbball roster?

I mean … Not really. Right?

Players and coaches will tell you Charlie Moore and Quentin Grimes can fill that role. But neither has proven that with any consistency yet.

Moore has been pretty dismal from 3-point range so far — 3-for-22. Maybe this is just a slump and he ends up being a reliable threat from outside.

But to me Grimes is the guy who should become KU’s second 3-point threat, behind Lagerald Vick (29-for-52). Even though we don’t think about the freshman guard as that type of marksman from behind the arc right now, he’s still not been that bad on 3-pointers (11-for-29).

Now, as you may recall, Grimes did go 6-for-10 in KU’s season-opening win over Michigan State, so he is just 5-for-19 in the seven games since. That can change and I think it will. Grimes is too talented for the rest of the season to play out without him taking off. He looks so smooth shooting from deep that an uptick in production seems inevitable to me.

None by Lisa Williams

If you haven’t been following KU athletic director Jeff Long on Twitter, you may not know that Horejsi Family Athletics Center, home of KU volleyball, recently was demolished.

And that’s because the Horejsi family paid $10 million to build a bigger, better venue for coach Ray Bechard’s program.

The new arena should seat roughly 1,000 more fans than did the recently leveled one, which had a 1,300-seat capacity.

Construction of Horejsi Family Volleyball Arena is expected to be completed before the Jayhawks begin their 2019 season.

None by Devin Graham

I’m not sure exactly why there hasn’t been an announcement yet regarding Tony Hull, the running backs coach and associate head coach for former KU football coach David Beaty.

When Miles took over he stated his plans to interview all of Beaty’s staff members and gauge whether he would like to retain certain coaches and personnel.

Those meetings have come and gone. And Hull, unlike other members of Beaty’s staff, has been actively recruiting since Miles took over. Hull made an in-home visit with Russell before the three-star defensive back committed to KU.

I’d be shocked if Hull isn’t a member of Miles’ first staff. Perhaps at this stage they’re still shaking out specific roles for everyone. Will Hull still be the running backs coach? Maybe. Perhaps he’ll be the recruiting coordinator. Or both.

Submit your questions for Ask Us Anything!

Reply 2 comments from Rockchalk1990 Dirk Medema

What’s up with Lagerald Vick, how long will Dotson stick around, the Chiefs in the Super Bowl and more…

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (24) puts up a three over New Mexico State guard Terrell Brown (3) during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018 at Sprint Center.

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (24) puts up a three over New Mexico State guard Terrell Brown (3) during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018 at Sprint Center. by Nick Krug

It’s been an interesting few games for the Kansas men’s basketball team that included three games where the Jayhawks were pushed hard by programs that many fans might not have expected to see that from.

Is this a sign of things to come, early growing pains or is it just a momentary blip during a long season?

We’ll probably better be able to answer that question in a couple of weeks, but, right now, the bottom line is that the Jayhawks are finding ways to win.

What’s more, they’re doing it without feeling overly thrilled about it. KU coach Bill Self talked for several minutes after Saturday’s win over New Mexico State about areas in which KU could improve and the players themselves, though happy to be winning, seem to realize clearly that they can — and, in the eyes of the coaches, should — be playing so much better in so many areas.

That’s a good thing and ranks high on the list of why this season is still full of so much potential for this young, new-look Kansas basketball team.

With that in mind, let’s get to today’s “Ask Us Anything,” which features a couple of high-quality KU hoops questions and a couple of other fun things, as well.

As always, keep the questions coming either in the comments below, by hitting us on Twitter at @KUsports and with the hashtag #AskKUsports or via email at sportsdesk@ljworld.com

Let’s get to it!

None by David Dunlap

This is such an important question for this team because Vick had been so good for the first five or six games of the season.

What happened? Great question. And, in many ways, the Jayhawks may have been playing with fire a little bit. No. 1, there’s no way Vick was going to keep shooting 60-plus percent from 3-point range. No. 2, based on what we’ve seen throughout his career, it was hard to imagine him staying so positive and full of joy for the long haul. That’s not a knock on Vick, just the reality from a player who had rarely shown that side of himself through his first three seasons at Kansas.

The belief held by some was that Vick was a different player and person now and that being a senior had unlocked something in him that was a heck of a lot of fun to watch. Maybe it had. But it’s hard to see a guy changing who he is entirely in such a short time.

Vick’s still an incredibly important part of this team and will still have some big games and important days ahead. Kansas will need him to if the Jayhawks want to win at highest level and Vick will need to deliver if he hopes to build his resume for a pro career.

Before Vick’s mini-slump here, I saw some odds for national player of the year and his name was nowhere to be found. It made sense on one hand because nobody was talking about him in that light before the season began, but was also curious on the other hand because he plays at Kansas and was as hot as any player in the country.

Evidently, the oddsmakers knew something the rest of us didn’t, because Vick has cooled off, fallen into a funk and now may be fighting to get out of it.

When Vick first came back, I thought he would be on a bit of a zero-tolerance policy, with KU coach Bill Self not willing to put up with any issues of any kind. But I think that changed given the fact that Vick was so good for so long and had a great attitude, put the team first, was a good leader and, of course, started the season off in terrific fashion.

So my guess there is that all of those moments when Self talked about Vick being “a 10” built up some good will and have the KU coach more willing to work with Vick through these rough patches.

They can’t last, of course. And Vick needs to get it straightened out, both for his sake and for the sake of this team. Kansas is so much tougher to beat when he’s playing with the confidence he showed earlier this season. But the slump, should he be able to pull himself out of it, might wind up being good for KU in the long run because it serves as a reminder to the rest that they can’t just sit around and wait for Vick to take over.

It’s going to be interesting to watch what happens from here, but a big game like Villanova in a friendly environment like Allen Fieldhouse just might be what Vick needs to break out of the funk. Of course, there are a few days of practice and such before game day arrives, so it could be a trying week.

None by Tim Gershon

I love this question and, if you’ve been following me on Twitter or in our KU Sports Ratings after games, you know how much I love the player, too.

Dotson has been sensational for the Jayhawks in the early going and only appears to be getting better. He’s so strong with the ball, so tough when he attacks the rim, so fearless in both areas and plays with real passion and a smile. How can you not like those things?

With that said, he’s still not the jump shooter he needs to be and that could be what keeps him around Kansas longer than the rest of his talent says he might.

Coming into the season, I thought he was a 2- or 3-year player, with the outside chance of leaving after one if he tore it up this season and led KU on a monster NCAA Tournament run. We’ll see if any of that still happens and this start certainly makes it a question worth asking.

But he’s a smart kid, with a good support system and will take full advantage of everything KU has to offer while not rushing into anything at the next level. The goal is not simply to make the NBA but to stick once you get there.

And I think two seasons at KU will give Dotson the best chance of doing that. Ask me this again in February or March though and the answer could be much different.

The guy’s talent is off the charts and he’s got an incredibly high ceiling, in college and beyond.

None by Pius D Waldman

We’ll skip the Udoka question for now given his injury and focus just on the weave.

Like everything Self does, it has a million options and is a strategic plan to incorporate base principles of offense into what the Jayhawks do on just about every possesion.

Those base principles include three key things:

A - Motion. Teams are so much easier to defend when they’re standing still and the weave forces motion from side to side and gets the defense moving, as well, which can put them in a vulnerable position when trying to switch, help, recover and keep up.

B – Spacing. Spreading the defense out like that opens up driving and attacking angles for KU’s perimeter players, who can turn the corner and attack out of the weave at almost any point and generally have the freedom to do so.

C – Options. If you watch the weave closely, you’ll see that even with all of that action up top and the goal being to turn the corner and attack, the Jayhawks do not give up any of their options. Even during the weave, shooters fan to the corners and spread the floor while becoming options to score. A post player generally stays on the block, where he can catch a lob or slip pass for an easy bucket off the drive. And, most often, someone from the weave — usually off of the third pass — is able to turn the corner and get to the rim.

It obviously looks like a pretty basic set but is kind of college basketball’s version of the old college football option run to perfection by teams like Nebraska. Everyone knew what was coming, but stopping it was such a tougher challenge because of (a) all of the wrinkles Nebraska could run based off of reads and (b) the Cornhuskers’ superior execution.

None by Michael luby

Nice! A little fun before we dive back into the more relevant stuff.

The instant answer for Part 1 here was “ELF” but I know that’s not a classic. Still, I freakin’ love that movie and laugh my face off from start to finish.

As for the classics, I love It’s A Wonderful Life and the Grinch Who Stole Christmas (cartoon version). But I’ll watch any of them, including Home Alone, Christmas Vacation, Rudolph and any version of A Christmas Story.

It’s such a great time of year. Happy Holidays to you and all of our loyal and entertaining KUsports.com readers. We appreciate you guys more than you could ever know and enjoy the day-to-day interactions we have with all of you.

Yes, all of you.

As for the Lawson part of the question, if his numbers keep coming like they have, he’ll definitely be in the conversation, particularly if KU keeps winning.

These awards are so numbers-driven that I don’t think Lawson will be penalized for the way he gets his stats. Right now he’s on pace for roughly 25 double-doubles this season. If he delivers that, his averages will be insane and he’ll be right there when the voting goes down.

There’s still a long way to go but he can still get so much better, too.

As for the Chiefs... Anyone who knows me or even has just been paying a little attention knows that I’m a Denver fan so this has been a hard season for me. Ha!

Mahomes and company are incredible to watch and that Rams-Chiefs game (not to mention yesterday’s wild win over Baltimore) was so enjoyable.

In the interest of full disclosure, four or five weeks ago I told a good buddy of mine, who’s an enormous Chiefs fan, that Baltimore would be the team that ends KC’s season. Yesterday made that prediction look pretty good but the Chiefs still got it done. For now.

I’m a big believer in the fact that defense wins Super Bowls and the fact that KC’s defense has been so shaky all season is what keeps me from having nightmares about a Kansas City Super Bowl win. It’s sort of like that Peyton Manning Broncos team that set all of those records in the regular season and then got rocked by Seattle in the Super Bowl.

But can the Chiefs get there? You bet. The AFC will be no easy ride, though, with Pittsburgh, Baltimore and, of course, New England all more than capable of winning any game anywhere. And don’t sleep on the Chargers either. Scary team flying very much under the radar.

The AFC and NFC are both wide open in my opinion and it’s going to be a fun postseason. Enjoy the ride, no matter what happens!

None by Alex Dishman 🤙

I haven’t caught up with Stanley’s family in a while but I plan to soon. The whole season starting and KU playing close games every week kind of got in the way of some of our recruiting coverage.

Happens every year.

With that said, I know Stanley very much enjoyed his visit to KU and I know both he and his father are big Bill Self fans. It’s easy for them to see how much Stanley could improve in Self’s hands at a program like Kansas.

Many say getting him off the West Coast will be tough, but I don’t know if that’s the biggest factor here. I think it’s all about opportunity and playing time. If Stanley believes he can come here and make an immediate impact, I think KU has a great shot at landing him.

And with Lagerald Vick on his way out, it’s easy to see how the young man could slide right in, regardless of what Dotson or Quentin Grimes end up doing after this season. Beyond that, who wouldn’t want to come play with Dotson if the KU freshman does return for a second season?

I think KU’s chances of landing Stanley are strong and I think he continues to be a player they prioritize more and more as his recruitment goes on. At this point, he’d be a huge get and easily would be one of the prized pieces of the 2019 class.

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