Big 12 basketball media day: Bill Self, Tyshawn Taylor, Thomas Robinson praise Jeff Withey


2:30 p.m. update

One last note from today: KU is ranked 13th in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll that was just released.

With that, we're going to wrap up our coverage from Big 12 media days at Sprint Center.

Be sure to check back later to for additional coverage, including videos from the event and also a wrap of the day from Journal-World KU basketball guru Gary Bedore.

1:35 p.m. update

Just wrapped up interviews with players. Here are a few more things of note:

Gary Bedore, who was at the KU table for the duration, said Self, Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson all talked glowingly about Jeff Withey.

"You'll see a new Jeff Withey," Robinson said.

Robinson also said Withey had been working hard after practice to improve his game.

Gary also said that Self indicated that KU would try to sign about five players in recruiting this year.

Here's KU coach Bill Self's direct quote about Missouri from earlier, courtesy of ASAP Sports:

"I think our league is probably stronger today than it ever has been because you have key players in our league that seem to be on the same page more than they ever have been.

"So it's not like Missouri's putting our league in jeopardy. I don't feel that at all. But it is something that I think we'd all agree to maintain what's been going on for 100 years, I think, is something that's pretty special."

Tyshawn Taylor talked about what it was like to play with Thomas Robinson:

"It's exciting, man. He's a high-energy guy who likes to run. That fits me perfectly, because I like to run. I threw, like, five lobs to him at practice yesterday, so I think we're going to see a lot of that this year."

12:16 p.m. update

I stood next to KU coach Bill Self's table for about 10 minutes. Here are some of the highlights from what he had to say:

Self said six guys have separated themselves in practices as ahead of the others: Tyshawn Taylor, Thomas Robinson, Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford, Jeff Withey and Conner Teahan. Self said Teahan had done a great job, and if KU played today, he'd be the first guy off the bench.

Self likes freshman guard Naadir Tharpe's potential to lead. He takes charge and is a vocal guy.

Self on Missouri: "If they leave, they leave. Big deal." He came back quickly with, "We don't want them to (leave the conference)," and, "I want to make it clear: I want Missouri to stay."

He also made mention of Texas making a bold statement when it declared it wouldn't play Texas A&M in non-conference.

When it came to scheduling, though, Self was adamant.

"What we do will not be based on what other people want us to do," he said.

• Self said he thought the fact that Sprint Center was in the state of Missouri was overrated when it came to discussions for it being a potential host for the Big 12 Tournament if Missouri leaves.

"I think it's Kansas City," Self said, emphasizing the "Kansas."

Self said which state the building is shouldn't matter. He also emphasized that KC was a good location for schools like Kansas State and Iowa State, who had been known to bring big crowds.

• Self said he heard from others that Thomas Robinson "out-tried" others during camps over the summer.

In the past, Self said there were times he hoped his big guys drew some fouls just so he could play all of his big men. Obviously, with KU's depth issues, he won't hope for that this season. Still, Self said at Tulsa one year his starting four-man was 6-foot-4, and his backup was 6-4 also. So being successful with a smaller lineup can be done.

Self was impressed with how much Paul Pierce talked to the guys about working hard when he came back for Legends of the Phog. He believed that had an impact on his players.

11:03 a.m. update

Quickly, here is KU coach Bill Self's audio from his time at the main table. The Missouri comments are at the very end.

10:52 a.m. update

There will be a bit of a lull here in the blog, as one-on-ones begin at 11 a.m. with coaches and noon with players. It's best to make the most of the time with that access, but hopefully I'll get back for an update or two anyway.

In the meantime, even though I know this is a KU basketball blog, The Gridiron is definitely worth checking out this week. If nothing else, fast forward to the middle for inspirational speeches from boxer Victor Ortiz and linebacker Steven Johnson. Serious goosebump material.

10:38 a.m. update

While at the main table, Missouri coach Frank Haith commented on what he knew about the KU-MU rivalry.

"I know it's a big rivalry. No doubt about it. I spent some time in the state of Texas at Texas A&M and at Texas. Seeing that game being played, and the interest in that game and the enthusiasm in that game, I'm excited about that opportunity. ...

"Being a part of a rivalry is exciting, and I've been at places where we've had that opportunity, but I hear there's no game like this game."

10 a.m. update

KSU coach Frank Martin elaborated more on his team's media guide cover (discussed at the bottom of this blog).

He said the photos were shot in the spring, and the original concept came from the Kansas State sports information directors.

"Credit to people at K-State," Martin said. "They come up with some great ideas."

Through emails and phone calls and Twitter, Martin has heard nothing but positive response about the media guide cover.

He said his players were killing him about it, though.

9:51 a.m. update

Kansas State coach Frank Martin made a quick joke while waiting for the Big 12 to fix a microphone problem while he was at the lead table.

"Did this happen when Bill Self was up here?" he deadpanned.

9:43 a.m. update

Bad camera work by me, but this attempt at a panorama still should give you a bit of an idea of what the coaches are looking at when they're answering questions at Sprint Center today.

9:26 a.m. update

The Big 12 media guide shows that 12 of Texas Tech's 16 players are newcomers.

Also, here are the class breakdowns for the Red Raiders' players:

• 11 freshmen
• 2 sophomores
• 2 juniors
• 1 senior

I don't think I've ever seen a more inexperienced roster at the Div. I level

9 p.m. update

Texas coach Rick Barnes was asked about playing Kansas twice this season.

Here's what he said:

"What makes rivalries is a consistently competitive situation played well at a very high level. I think the Kansas-Texas game has been. We've even talked about in the past, and kidded about maybe even playing a non-league game, because we think that Texas-Kansas playing twice ... I know our fans are excited about it. We've always enjoyed coming to play up here, because it's one of the great places to play. You want to win obviously, and we were fortunate to do that last year.

"I think it has been — and I think it will get even better — with being one of the best rivalries in college basketball."

8:38 a.m. update

The KU-Missouri rivalry isn't the only rivalry that looks like it will be coming to an end soon.

In the last two days, the Baylor basketball coaches haven't seemed to have much interest in scheduling Texas A&M in the future.

"We don't see anything on the horizon, at least," Baylor coach Scott Drew said Thursday.

Baylor women's coach Kim Mulkey gave a much more entertaining answer on Wednesday at Big 12 women's media day.

"Who wants to be in a relationship that's over and has no value for you?" Mulkey said. "And that stuck with me. So basically (the Texas A&M president) is talking about a divorce. And I think I know a little bit about a divorce.

"And my feeling is this: If a man wants to divorce me and says our relationship has no value to him, and then he asks me if he can sleep with me, the answer is: No!"

8:15 a.m. update

Here are the Cliff's Notes from KU coach Bill Self at the podium here at Big 12 media days.

Self says he is excited about his team. He says his team is a very thin team that is very talented. The Jayhawks will have less margin for error this year because of their depth. The league will be terrific, with perhaps as much parity as there ever has been.

One thing about reduced numbers is it forces guys into roles. No question, Tyshawn Taylor will be the leader of the team, and Thomas Robinson will be the emotional leader. Taylor has paid his dues, and he's learned how to lead better.

Robinson has to have improvement similar to what Cole Aldrich had between his freshman and sophomore year. Robinson needs to be an All-American for KU. He needs to be a player that's one of the top 10 to 15 players in the country. Self thinks he has the ability, but he still is very inexperienced. He's never been the focal point of the opposing defense. It will be a different role for him, but Self thinks he's talented enough and cares enough to be one of the best players around.

Robinson has improved his shooting stroke. Self hasn't come up with a rule for him on which shots he can take. For example, with Russell Robinson, the coaches knew he'd take two bad shots per game, so they expected that. But Thomas Robinson won't make his living on the perimeter.

Thomas Robinson didn't have a good offseason. He had a fabulous one. He performed well at camps across the country.

Jeff Withey is a talented guy, and he hasn't had a chance to play a lot. In recent memory, KU has had some talented fourth big guys, like Aldrich and Thomas Robinson. Withey is trying hard and has gotten stronger, though he can still get stronger yet. Self likes him. He's not a prototypical big guy. He's a finesse big guy. If he plays enough minutes, he'll block a lot of shots.

• Self doesn't know if expectations should change that much with KU's two lost freshmen lost because of academics. KU has a talented team. Expectations can be tempered a little bit, but Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford and Withey are good players that haven't had a chance to show it yet. Self thinks his guys expect to be pretty good.

In basketball, the KU-Missouri rivalry is underrated because it's in the middle of the country, but at worst it's one of the best five to 10 rivalries in the nation. There's mutual respect between the two programs. Self would hate to lose the rivalry. Self feels good about the Big 12. He believes it's stronger today than it ever has been. Missouri is not putting the league in jeopardy. He thinks putting 100 years of tradition to the side isn't a smart move. It's hard to develop new rivals. Rivalries are important. KU has had some great games with Texas, and that rivalry is going to get better because the teams play each other twice. But Texas still circles Texas A&M, and KU still circles Missouri and Kansas State. KU will develop greater rivalries going forward because it will be playing teams twice.

7:56 a.m. update

A lot of times, teams come into the year trying to play the "We get no respect" card.

It's going to be tough for KU to make that argument after looking at their rankings in the preseason polls.

To be fair, most of these polls came out before the announcement that freshmen Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor would sit out this season.

Still, here's how KU ranks in each of the following polls:

Sporting News — 14th
Blue Ribbon — 11th
Lindy's — Unranked (Andy Katz) — 18th — 14th
Athlon Sports — 13th — 15th
Dick Vitale — 17th

Seems a bit high for a team with depth issues heading into the season like KU.

7:10 a.m. update

Welcome to the Newell Post (early morning version), as we're getting ready to set up at Big 12 men's basketball media days at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

KU coach Bill Self is first at the podium this morning at 8 a.m., so the blog will pick up quickly. We'll have Cliff's Notes of what he says, plus updates from other coaches throughout the day.

Here's the schedule of coaches, for those wondering:

8 a.m. — KU coach Bill Self
8:15 a.m. — Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger
8:30 p.m. — Baylor coach Scott Drew
8:45 p.m. — Texas coach Rick Barnes
9 a.m. — Texas A&M Associate Head Coach Glynn Cyprien
9:30 a.m. — Texas Tech Coach Billy Gillispie
9:45 a.m. — Kansas State coach Frank Martin
10 a.m. — Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford
10:15 a.m. — Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg
10:30 a.m. — Missouri coach Frank Haith
11 a.m. — One-on-one interviews with coaches
Noon — One-on-one interviews with players

Let's get started with some discussion on a topic that has gotten a lot of attention lately: Kansas State's media guide cover.

Here's a screenshot of it, taken from the Kansas State athletics website.

Personally, I like the cover, and I commend Martin for agreeing to do something different (and memorable).

So I've made my vote in this informal, fun, not-too-important poll: What is your opinion of the Frank Martin "faces" media cover? I'm interested to hear what KU fans think about it after seeing the results from a poll done on

Keep checking back throughout the day for more Big 12 media day updates.


Jonathan Allison 6 years, 8 months ago

I disagree with the the dedication and excitement faces.

I think that there should be three faces that look exactly the same as the intensity face and then the passion face.

He looks too grandfatherly in the excitement corner anyway. It looks like he's teaching his 4 year old grandson how to be the next big mob boss in the family organized crime ring.

And dedication shouldn't look so confused. Even though we all know that he's only dedicated to KSU because he knows that in the post-Huggins little apple the NCAA isn't too worried about looking for any major recruiting violations.

Gary Wirsig 6 years, 8 months ago

Agree. Titles should be Intensity, Quirkiness, A rare moment of gentle fun, and Passion.

omng392 6 years, 8 months ago

His passion face should be the dedication and excitement faces... That would be classic..

Micah Mandy Haase 6 years, 8 months ago

I'm going to post this here, seeing its the newest article up. I live in Norman, Oklahoma and I am a huge Jayhawk fan. Other than the obvious national coverage the Jayhawks will play on TV. What is the best way to watch more of the games? I plan on going to every game that comes to Norman. By the way I get alot of crap about wearing all my jayhawk stuff here! I know we have a Jayhawk Network but is it only online?

colreader 6 years, 8 months ago

Here's some ways: Drive to Oklahoma City Baker's St Pub and Grill --- KU Watch Parties Subscribe to ATT All Access via ---$10/mo --- video is fair, sometimes broadcast is audio only; upside is you can hear the press conferences Check the KU Radio Network listing on -- maybe you can receive Wichita AM or FM station? Try to get the games online at Check with your cable company. If you print out our game schedule from, you will see that all the games except 9 are on espn/FSN/cbs and you can probably get those. Of the 9 others, 5 are JTV and 4 are Big 12 Network. Ask cable company if they carry Big 12 ntwk. Get Directv and buy the $107 Full Court package of college basketball games. Most, but not all, of the 9 games I mentioned will be on Full Court. Rock Chalk!

colreader 6 years, 8 months ago

And I forgot one more--- Read and participate in Jesse Newell's real time blog during the games, on this site!

omng392 6 years, 8 months ago

I live in Omaha Nebraska and have Cox cable. I buy the college game plan, just so I can watch KU. That might be a little bit of over kill but its allows me to see every game except the exhibition games. If you order now (I don't work for Cox, promise) its only like a 100 bucks...

texashawk10 6 years, 8 months ago

p> is the best way to watch online if your ISP has access to it. They will be showing all but 3 games this season (Pitt St., Fort Hays St., and USC). If you don't have access to ESPN3 another option not mention yet is which I've used on several occasions to watch various games of any sport on TV wherever I was at the time.

milehighhawk 6 years, 8 months ago

p> is another free site that generally has a lot of live sports.

JJ West Er House 6 years, 8 months ago

This is what the KSU cover SHOULD look like.

I can't take credit for this, as it was posted in the message boards

Kc Ticketguy 6 years, 8 months ago

I was already working on photoshoping one of these until i saw your link.

hbjayhawk 6 years, 8 months ago

According to Franks wife, bottom right is his O face.

KuKain 6 years, 8 months ago

Damn near spit out my coffee. Too funny.

hbjayhawk 6 years, 8 months ago

According to Franks wife, bottom right is his O face.

Adam Collins 6 years, 8 months ago

Somewhat unrelated, but I thought I would share a video link with a Jayhawk fan at a recent Occupy Wallstreet protest in Denver, CO. Hilarious!

middleoftheroader 6 years, 8 months ago

Kim, there is no way THIS man would ever ask you that question.

Ian Brown 6 years, 8 months ago

I think the cover is both silly and cool. I, too, commend him for agreeing to do it. You should add a third option for "both" in the poll. I know most KU fans hate Frank Martin, or at the very least dislike him, but I've always thought he is fascinating. Alright, I admit it, I kinda like the guy. There is certainly never a dull moment while watching him coach. Also, he always seems to give KU plenty of respect, even when many Jayhawk fans don't. For example, and this is not an exact quote, but earlier this month he stated how he KNOWS KU is going to be good, and that if he's learned anything over the years, it is that Coach Self is as good as anybody in the country at preparing his team and will have the team ready to go when the season starts. That's higher praise than many of the so-called Jayhawk fans on this site with their doomsday scenarios.

Ian Brown 6 years, 8 months ago

Oh yeah.. I thought I would re-post this comment I made after yesterdays Pap-a-Trey article had been updated. For those of you who missed it, we were informed that CBS Sports ranked Tyshawn Taylor the 19th best point guard in college basketball... Yes. Nineteenth! Below is my original post:

For real... Tyshawn is just the 19th best point guard in the country? That is absurd. As KULA said, I already believe he's Top 5 material, and hopefully the rest of the country will see it by seasons end. I don't even want to look at such a bulls@!t list, but I'm willing to bet there are at least 1 or 2 (probably more) freshman ranked ahead of him. I challenge anyone to name 10 point guards better than Tyshawn, let alone 18!. Oh well... Oh well.. Let's see how he plays with a gigantic chip on his shoulder. Come on, Tyshawn. Show all these ignorant media nimrods what you're made of this year.

ku_foaf 6 years, 8 months ago

Sometimes a year with less expectations is more fun, for both the players and the fans. Those can be the years where everything comes together and the team plays like it has nothing to lose!

Not saying that is what past teams have done, but I always Larry Brown and (me paraphrasing) "playing not to lose is not playing to win." I think a good team with little pressure can turn into a great team that feels no pressure.

Ian Brown 6 years, 8 months ago

"I think a good team with little pressure can turn into a great team that feels no pressure."

Very well put, ku_foaf. I like that.

Nicholas Cederlind 6 years, 8 months ago

"I don't think I've ever seen a more inexperienced roster at the Div. I level"

I wouldn't go that far, Jesse. There have been plenty of teams w/no seniors in their starting 5, over the years. Our starting five brings the right experience, too.

Jesse Newell 6 years, 8 months ago

True. But 11 freshmen out of 16 players? Billy Gillispie won't keep his dark hair for long.

Marcia Parsons 6 years, 8 months ago

We didn't have many upperclassmen on the team when Mario, Brandon, etc. were freshmen and sophomores. Did we have any seniors at all except for walk-ons?

Tony Bandle 6 years, 8 months ago

1] Frankly [pardon the pun] the creepiest face is the smiling one...kind of like Norman Bates. 2] We are ranked from 11th to 18th on 7 polls and Lindy's doesn't even rank us at all!!?? WTF..who are these idiots. 3] Rick makes a nice point about the rivalries, although it helps if one team wins once in awhile...LOL. 4] I just wish one day HCBS will come to the mike and say...... " everybody else sucks and we are going to win!!" 5] hihawk..I can't tell if your posting is sarcastic or sincere. 6] hbjayhawk..that was so friggin' funny, it was worth posting twice!! 7] I'm not so sure about passing up a night in bed with an ex....just keep one I open and make sure there are no scissors around!! 8] Will TAM and Mizzou actually show up for this thing....if so, egg 'em!!

Eric Sorrentino 6 years, 8 months ago

Hey Jesse, splendid updates. This was an event I loved covering with you guys. Gotta love that early wake-up call to Sprint Center. That comment by Mulkey was hilarious, and the best quote from the updates I've seen so far. It's going to be a heck of a hoops season in the Big 12. Still don't see A&M sharing the league title like the coaches poll suggested. I like KU, Missouri and Baylor all considerably more. We'll see. Keep up the great work and updates.

Jesse Newell 6 years, 8 months ago

Thanks. And no, I'm not used to the alarm clock ringing so early.

capnwacky 6 years, 8 months ago

Pretty soon, there WILL be no game like it.

Scott Smetana 6 years, 8 months ago

Hey Haith, there is no rivalry. Your fans are a joke and have no class. Obnoxious, trashy, and fair-weathered. Yes, we enjoy beating you regularly, but will not miss you one bit once you leave the conference.

That said, where is the big SEC invite? Same place as the B1G invite?

nb4ku 6 years, 8 months ago

I agree, where is the invite?

They have an headline up on that starts with "How's this for influence, Missouri holds the key to membership in 3 conferences"

What a bunch of jack wagons.

Carter Patterson 6 years, 8 months ago

Jesse, the speech is from Don Davis not Steven Johnson.

Jesse Newell 6 years, 8 months ago

You didn't watch far enough. Keep going. It's right before the game.

Steve Brown 6 years, 8 months ago

Would Arkansas leave SEC, extremely not likely, yet nothing is sure except change, hope Chuckie is having a back door discussion, just in case Razorbacks want back in Texas conference. Could we get them, extreme long shot, yet better fit than WV, if just geography.

MU playing Kentucky in BBall every year, sounds good to me as one of them will lose.

Travis Warner 6 years, 8 months ago

Jesse, Is there a reason that the gridiron isn't available on youtube?

Michael Auchard 6 years, 8 months ago

"What makes rivalries is a consistently competitive situation played well at a very high level. I think the Kansas-Texas game has been." -- Rick Barnes

Overall Kansas vs. Texas record: KU 18-7.

Yeah, really competitive, Rick. We own you, son.

KGphoto 6 years, 8 months ago

KU needs to hire Don Davis. He's absolutely right about Gill and what it takes to build a new program with a new culture. I want to see him in there coaching somewhere with that knowledge, experience and passion for KU. He's well spoken and seems to have a knack for communicating the importance of an idea or goal. Fresh off a long NFL career, the things that made him successful are still clear and important to him. He would be a great addition somewhere on the staff.

Glad to see Olathe South representing with Joey Rhea and Don Davis.


And Steven Johnson. OMG! That was for real. Then he went out there and backed it up. Love the hit on Broyles. Broyles will never forget that hit, and Johnson just got up, walked into position for the next play and focused. No shouting or dancing or celebrating. He knew it would take a lot more of those hits to win that game and he was staying focused.

We're gonna miss 52 next year.

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