After his stellar Kansas basketball career ended in the Elite Eight, with a loss to Oregon in Kansas City, Mo., senior point guard Frank Mason III said the top-seeded Jayhawks didn’t give up after trailing by 18 in the second half, but couldn’t complete a comeback to get to the Final Four.
At times, Mason admitted, KU’s players felt a bit unlucky with Oregon’s shots falling and Kansas making only 35 percent of its attempts from the field and five of 25 3-pointers. Still, the veteran said the Jayhawks mostly had themselves to blame for those percentages.
“I think we had a few good looks,” Mason said, “but some of them was rushed shots and we didn’t give the defense a chance to break down and get a better look.”
Kansas City, Mo. — After two quick fouls in the first half kept him on the bench early in what became an Elite Eight loss to Oregon Saturday night, Kansas star freshman Josh Jackson addressed in the locker room his thoughts on the whistles.
“I feel like my first foul, yeah, I fouled him,” Jackson said. “My second foul? No. I don’t feel like I fouled him at all. Maybe he did travel. I didn’t look at his feet. It’s just an opinion. Refs, they’re all just people out there. They make mistakes, too.”
Jackson, who only played 10 minutes in the first half, said his early foul issues “screwed up” his rhythm and made it difficult for him once he returned to the floor.
The likely top-three pick in this June’s NBA Draft also opted not to discuss his immediate plans.
Kansas City, Mo. — After rolling through the first three rounds of the NCAA Tournament, Kansas finally had an off night offensively in the Elite Eight versus Oregon.
After the Ducks moved on to the Final Four Saturday night at Sprint Center, KU coach Bill Self said his Jayhawks played tight at times and often settled for what he considered less-than-desirable shots, instead of finding opportunities within the rhythm of the offense.
“I thought we took a lot of marginal shots,” Self said after Kansas lost, 74-60. “Step-back threes. Corner threes that led to numbers for them. It’s one thing if you’re a terrific offensive rebounding team to shoot the ball as impatiently as we did. But we didn’t do much on the offensive glass.”
Kansas City, Mo. — The Jayhawks have been enjoying themselves on the floor thus far in the NCAA Tournament, blowing teams out on the way to an Elite Eight meeting with Oregon at Sprint Center.
But fun-loving sophomore Carlton Bragg Jr., said KU’s game preparation away from the court is serious business this time of year.
“Sometimes it can be fun, but coming into March, no. Nothing is fun,” Bragg said. “We try to make the game fun, try to let it go and all of that but we just have one focus, and that’s winning.”
Kansas City, Mo. — Growing up with a father who played center at Oregon, Kansas senior big man Landen Lucas has seen a lot of Ducks games in his time.
The Portland, Ore., native said it will be strange to battle against a program he has long admired with a spot in the Final Four on the line Saturday night at Sprint Center.
“I mean, just seeing the Oregon colors and the O and everything that was such a big part of my childhood and growing up,” Lucas said, “and now to be going out there with so much on the line — my college career on the line, a Final Four on the line — against that team, it’s exciting for me and I’m sure that it’ll be exciting.”
Kansas City, Mo. — Leading up to a Sweet 16 meeting with Big Ten champion Purdue, much was made of the Boilermakers’ bulk and height in the frontcourt and how Kansas would be able to handle it.
After the Jayhawks destroyed Purdue, in part by out-scoring their opponent 34-22 in the paint, KU freshman guard Josh Jackson, who also spent some time covering the Boilermakers’ bigs, said his team found satisfaction in its interior play.
“We came out with a game plan. We knew exactly what we had to do to stop them down there and we did a good job of executing tonight,” Jackson said. “We did a good job of keeping their bigs away from the basket and we did a good job of just not giving up free points. I would rather have Landen (Lucas) or Dwight (Coleby) foul a guy down there, rather than just giving up free points.”
Kansas City, Mo. — After blowing away his teammates, the Sprint Center crowd and the NCAA Tournament-loving public with his open-court finish against Purdue Thursday night, Kansas sophomore guard Lagerald Vick described how he pulled off a 360-degree slam dunk that highlighted the Jayhawks’ 98-66 thumping of the Boilermakers.
Vick essentially called his slam hours in advance, telling teammate Carlton Bragg Jr. in the locker room beforehand he wanted to try it.
“It was kind of a before-the-game thing,” Vick said. “I talked to my teammate about it. And I just happened to be in the right spot at the right time, timed it up well. And I had the open court, so I had to get the crowd involved.”
Kansas City, Mo. — It’s not always the star players who make the difference in winning or losing during the NCAA Tournament.
Standout Kansas freshman Josh Jackson says the Jayhawks could use someone stepping up as an X-factor against Purdue in the Sweet 16, and he has someone in mind.
“Carlton is one of those X-factor guys that we look at,” Jackson said of Bragg, a sophomore backup forward. “We all feel like any time that Carlton has a good game, we’re gonna win the game — no matter what. I feel like he’s gonna have a pretty good game (against Purdue). He’s feeling a lot more confident.”
Kansas City, Mo. — As the Kansas basketball team prepares for a Sweet 16 meeting with Purdue at Sprint Center, junior Dwight Coleby said all of the Jayhawks’ post players have to constantly be aware of talented Purdue big man Caleb Swanigan.
“He’s a big guy that can score in the post and step out and hit the three, trailer threes,” Coleby said. “You’ve just got to be aware of all the things that he can do. He’s a great passer.”
Swanigan has proven to be effective at finding open 3-point shooters when opponents double-team him.
“We just have to adjust as the game goes on, on what we can do,” Coleby said.
Kansas City, Mo. — The Midwest’s No. 1 seed, Kansas, already has won 30 games and advanced to the Sweet 16, but senior point guard Frank Mason III says there are areas where the Jayhawks still can improve, as they prepare to face Purdue in a regional semifinal Thursday at Sprint Center.
“I think we can rebound better, we can shoot free throws better,” Mason began, “we can pay attention a little bit better to scouting report and personnel, and I think we can be a lot better on the defensive end, too.”
One area where KU has thrived most of the season is 3-point shooting. Kansas enters the NCAA Tournament’s second weekend having made 40.6 percent from beyond the arc, led by Mason’s 47.6-percent accuracy.
“It’s meant a lot, because we’ve been playing with four guards all year,” Mason said. “It just shows you that we can drive the ball downhill and create for each other, and we’ve been consistently knocking down threes, and I think it’s just good for our team.”