Quick grades for five aspects of the Kansas basketball team’s 74-71 win over Villanova on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.
KU got off to a promising start and an 8-1 lead with a couple of early 3-pointers — one from Devon Dotson and another from Lagerald Vick, who was back in the starting lineup.
Turnovers began to bog down the flow for KU, though, soon after, as the Jayhawks turned the ball over on six of their first 18 possessions.
Mainly due to the soundness of Villanova’s defense, the top-ranked Jayhawks never looked particularly dominant on offense and finished with only nine assists, compared to their 14 turnovers.
KU shooting percentages: 50% field goals; 33.3% 3-pointers; 76.7% free throws.
Some breakdowns early allowed Villanova to get out in front, 13-8, at the 14:33 mark, with Villanova frontcourt players Erick Pascahll (17 points, four rebounds) and Saddiq Bey (seven points, five rebounds) going to work.
KU’s defense picked up soon after, though.
Villanova shot just 38.5 percent from the floor in the first half and only hit 5 of 13 from 3-point range. The Jayhawks held the Wildcats to 31 first-half points but only took a two-point lead into halftime.
In the second half, Villanova made just 3 of 15 3-pointers.
Villanova shooting percentages: 40.7% field goals; 28.6% 3-pointers.
Dedric Lawson didn’t suffer from the same type of rough start that plagued him a week ago against New Mexico State. Playing inside the fieldhouse against a top-25 team, Lawson looked far more comfortable and put up 14 points on 5-for-7 shooting by halftime.
With KU playing its four-guard lineup almost exclusively, Lawson logged 38 minutes and co-starred with Vick to push KU past its Big East foe. Lawson produced a double-double, with 28 points and 12 rebounds.
As usual, the only issue with Lawson was his interior defense, where he too often gives way to assertive takes.
Vick knocked in a couple of 3-pointers in the first half, giving KU some backcourt support for Lawson. But Dotson ran into some issues with fouls, as did Grimes, who struggled to find his footing.
In such a rhythm offensively that even contested, long 2-point jumpers were dropping for him, Vick took off in the second half, giving the Jayhawks the perfect perimeter complement to Lawson.
Almost none of Vick’s and Lawson’s teammates had it going, and it didn’t cost the No. 1 team nearly as much as that kind of imbalance should have, mainly because Vick was so good.
Plus, Vick came through with as important of a defensive rebound as there was in the game after he threw away an inbounds pass in the final minute.
Vick put up 29 points and seven rebounds. Dotson had 11 points and one assist, and Grimes played only 14 minutes, providing a single point. Dotson’s acrobatic drive and finish in crunch time put KU up 63-58.
Marcus Garrett’s defense makes him irreplaceable, as he finished with four steals — even if he provided little in terms of offense, with one point and three assists.
None of KU’s guards could wrangle crafty senior Phil Booth, who finished with 29 points and two assists.
KJ Lawson dished to a rolling Mitch Lightfoot for a layup in the later stages of the first half, when KU had three backups on the floor at once and needed some scoring.
With Grimes picking up three first-half fouls and Dotson two, Kansas had to rely more than usual on its bench early. Charlie Moore struggled, turning the ball over three times and fouling twice in his first 14 minutes off the bench, which included neither an assist or a point from the sophomore point guard.
KJ Lawson was active if not effective and Lightfoot helped out defensively, at one point forcing Paschall to travel. In the second half, with the game tight, Lightfoot made a solid block inside on Bey.
With Moore scoring two points and Lightfoot adding two, KU outscored Villanova’s bench 4-0.
Kansas City, Mo. — Quick grades for five aspects of the Kansas basketball team’s 63-60 win over New Mexico State on Saturday night at Sprint Center.
The starting lineup didn’t miss Lagerald Vick in the opening minutes versus the Aggies. Charlie Moore came out attacking, as did Quentin Grimes, helping KU jump out to a 12-2 lead.
But that flow didn’t continue for long. With Dedric Lawson missing some bunnies inside and KU turning the ball over on six of its first 20 possessions, New Mexico State eventually took a 22-21 lead with fewer than 6:00 left in the first half.
By intermission, Kansas was shooting 34.4 percent from the floor and turned the ball over eight times on 31 possessions.
The offense remained choppy in the second half, keeping the outcome in doubt into crunch time.
KU shot 43 percent overall and 7-for-21 on 3-pointers.
It was hard to find a ton of fault with KU’s defense in the first half. Sure, there were breakdowns here and there, like getting beat backdoor or showing a lack of help defense. But KU did hold the Aggies to 28 first-half points and 3-for-12 3-point shooting.
The biggest issues in the first half usually led to NMSU scoring inside, where the underdog put up 18 points and KU had only 12.
The Aggies kept getting the shots they wanted in the second half, and extended their lead to 51-44.
NMSU connected on 46 percent of its shots and went 7-for-26 on 3-pointers. And the Aggies won points in the paint, 36-32.
KU’s defense played well enough in the final minutes for the nation’s No. 2 team to leave with a win.
The offense needs to run through Lawson, especially with Udoka Azubuike out with an ankle sprain. But that strategy wasn’t working in the first half. Sometimes teammates threw bad entry passes. Other times Lawson just mishandled the ball on catches or during takes to the rim.
And when Lawson struggles, it doesn’t seem this team yet has someone who will automatically step up and pick up the slack. So the whole offense went ragged as the junior forward tried to work his way through first-half struggles.
Lawson also often ended up out of position trying to defend NMSU big Ivan Aurrecoechea (14 points).
NMSU, on many occasions, outworked KU on the glass, and the final rebound totals read: Aggies 37, Jayhawks 36.
The junior forward’s biggest impact came on the offensive glass, where Lawson grabbed five rebounds.
He finally found some semblance of a rhythm late, scoring back-to-back baskets inside (one on a put-back) to tie the game at 53. His second-chance basket later pushed KU ahead 57-55. The next trip down the floor, Lawson made his first 3 of the night for a 60-57 lead.
HIs drive to the paint to draw contact and get to the foul line with less than a minute to play, gave him two free throws and KU a 62-59 lead.
On a mercurial evening for KU’s best player, Lawson finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Devon Dotson often looks like the team’s most dynamic player with the ball in his hands. But the freshman point guard continues to learn when he can make the most of that ability.
When Dotson (eight points) is driving into the paint, good things tend to happen. And he delivered one of his steal-and-fastbreak layup sequences early in the second half.
But it was sophomore Marcus Garrett who was the team’s most complete guard much of the night. Garrett (10 points,, two assists) even knocked in multiple 3-pointers (2-for-4). His defensive awareness and mostly solid decisions on offense weren’t enough for KU to roll. But they were needed on an often stagnant night.
Freshman Quentin Grimes (five points) looked good early, driving in for a basket inside and hitting a 3-pointer, but failed to provide much offense after that.
Moore, who started in Vick’s place, had a similar drought in terms of making an impact. The typical backup finished with five points on 2-for-7 shooting.
Baskets were scarce for KU at Sprint Center and the team needed Vick to deliver some sort of offensive spark. The senior guard was ineffective most of the night, and finished with five points on 2-for-8 shooting.
Mitch Lightfoot got one of the loudest rises out of the crowd near the 12:00 mark of the second half by running the floor on a Vick steal and getting rewarded with a pass for a two-handed jam that cut NMSU’s lead to 46-42.
Lightfoot, who drew a pair of second-half charges, played with energy and it showed in his stat line: seven points, six rebounds in 18 minutes.
Freshman big David McCormack wasn’t much of a factor, playing only four minutes.
NMSU out-scored KU’s bench 19-15.
Your best post player goes down. Time for another to step up, right?
Not for this Kansas basketball team.
The absence of center Udoka Azubuike, no matter how long the 7-footer’s right ankle sprain keeps him out of the lineup, doesn’t necessarily mean more minutes for the frontcourt reserves who have been backing him up.
Head coach Bill Self loved the talents of Azubuike and Dedric Lawson too much to not go big and play them together. But now that his starting center is out, Self’s ready to adapt by reviving the four-guard look that worked so well for the Jayhawks the past couple of seasons.
While Lawson, a 6-foot-9 redshirt junior, isn’t the type of low-post player Azubuike is, Self isn’t going to ask his versatile forward, who leads the No. 2 Jayhawks in scoring (19 points per game), rebounds (10.7) and assists (3.1) to try to be someone he’s not. And Self has no intention of forcing junior Mitch Lightfoot or freshman David McCormack into the lineup as a pseudo-Dok just because that’s the style KU played during its 7-0 start.
The offense will start running through Lawson even more now, as guards Devon Dotson, Quentin Grimes, Lagerald Vick and Marcus Garrett play around him. If Lawson (32.7 minutes a game) needs a breather, then Self will turn to either Lightfoot (6.6 minutes) or McCormack (4.5 minutes) a little more than he has previously.
But even when KU is faced with defending a team that plays two bigs together, Self doesn’t think that will force him to match it. Garrett, a 6-5 sophomore guard, proved earlier this week in KU’s 72-47 victory over Wofford he can more than hold his own as the 4-man, the role occupied in recent four-guard lineups by Svi Mykhailiuk and Josh Jackson.
“We defended them so much better with Marcus on their big guy,” Self said of one factor that convinced KU’s coaching staff to start Garrett instead of another big in Azubuike’s spot. “I have confidence in Marcus defending the 4-man. Now we may need to trap the post or do some things like that. But I think that’s good for us.”
Ask a guard about the in-season modification to the Jayhawks’ style and he’ll think about what it will do for the offense.
“That gives us a bunch of freedom,” Grimes said of Garrett joining the starting lineup. “Really whoever gets (the ball on a defensive stop), all five can essentially bring it. So I think it’s definitely going to help us out for sure.”
Grimes envisions not only he and Vick catching more lobs but also he and Garrett throwing more of them.
“I think it’ll be really fun,” Grimes said.
Self, though, isn’t moving to a four-guard lineup because he’s concerned about anyone’s enjoyment or entertainment. He’s backing away from a two-big approach because Garrett’s defensive versatility makes it an easy decision.
“He’s got good size, he’s got long arms,” Self began, when asked how Garrett is able to guard both perimeter and post players. “But he is very, very smart. As far as IQ and understanding the game on the defensive side, he’s right up there with the best that we’ve ever had. And he’s tough. And he’s strong. And he pays attention to scouting reports. So he knows when to show, when not to show, when to front. … He just does a better job, I’d say, than the majority of college players out there early in his career, because he does have a great feel defensively.”
And, believe it or not, Self and his staff have long thought this year’s KU team has a chance to become “really good” defensively. Self said Thursday that may even end up becoming this group’s identity.
For much of the first six games, that didn’t look to be the case. But Self saw during Tuesday’s win over Wofford glimpses of speed and length and activity from his guards that he and his assistants first witnessed during both the summer and fall.
He’s not ready to call KU a good defensive team yet. Self remembers how his team “stunk” on that end of the floor against Stanford just five days ago. But he has observed both improvement and potential.
If that’s the vision, it may be difficult for either Lightfoot or McCormack to play huge minutes, even if they play well. KJ Lawson and Charlie Moore can step into the four-guard lineup around Dedric Lawson as needed. And Lightfoot and McCormack can sub in and still find ways to impact the game.
“We’re similar but still different,” the 6-10 McCormack said of what he and the 6-8 Lightfoot bring. “We’re both high intensity, both hustle players, both rebounders. There’s some aspects that Mitch does that I don’t. Like Mitch might step out and he’ll shoot a 3-pointer every now and then — something I may not do,” McCormack added. “Me, I’m more back to the basket. He may want to face up. So there are some differences, but there are some similarities at the same time.”
McCormack has the build and McDonald’s All-American pedigree to potentially perform his way into more playing time. And Lightfoot remains a strong help-side rim protector, as well as the best Jayhawk at taking charges.
But if neither ends up seeing a huge uptick in minutes while Azubuike is out, you won’t see either of them sulking. They’re two high character teammates, too, who will do all they can to contribute in a four-guard lineup that isn’t built to feature them.
Quick grades for five aspects of the Kansas basketball team’s 72-47 win over Wofford on Tuesday at Allen Fieldhouse.
KU opened with another choppy first half offensively, and only led 29-26 at the break after shooting 13-for-29, with Lagerald Vick coming off the bench because he was late to shootaround.
KU turned the ball over seven times before intermission and only shot 1-for-10 from 3-point range as Vick failed to get one off in 12 minutes. His replacement in the starting lineup, sophomore guard Marcus Garrett, made KU’s only shot from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes.
Wofford muddied KU’s offense up early with its gritty defensive effort, often making the No. 2-ranked Jayhawks exert extra effort to find quality looks.
The Terriers finally reached a point where they couldn’t sustain their defensive success around the midway point of the second half, however, as the Jayhawks began to pull away, with Devon Dotson, Dedric Lawson and Quentin Grimes carrying the offense.
KU’s ridiculous 27-0 run helped the home team finish 49.2 percent from the field — even though KU never got going from downtown (3-for-23 on 3-pointers).
KU struggled much of the first 30 minutes or so to finish stops with defensive boards. The Terriers secured 19 offensive rebounds and scored 12 second-chance points in defeat.
Wofford shot 10-for-29 in the first half and went just 2-for-9 on 3-pointers.
The Jayhawks’ defense began to carry them in the second half, though, as they made a ridiculous run that put Wofford away.
Wofford shot 19.4 percent from the floor in the second half and finished 5-for-26 on 3-pointers in the loss.
KU’s junior 7-footer, Udoka Azubuike hurt his ankle while contesting a shot with a little less that 12 minutes left in the first half.
David McCormack came in for Azubuike, who did not return, with KU up 13-12 and scored. four straight points
The crowd started to come alive in the second half when Dedric Lawson (20 points, eight rebounds) became a ball-handling big. First Lawson wen coast-to-coast off a defensive rebound for a layup, putting him in double figures with 10 points.
Then Lawson handled off a steal, throwing ahead to Garrett, who stayed in attack mode to drive and dish to Dotson for a successful 3-pointer in the right corner that pushed KU’s lead to 38-32.
Freshman point guard Dotson continued to be the engine the KU offense needed.
Dotson’s steal and lob to Quentin Grimes on the fastbreak with less than 9:00 to go in the second half gave KU a 53-41 advantage, which felt like way more than 12 points the way the game was going at that juncture.
Grimes’ transition basket seemed to get him going, too, and he finished with 14 points on 6-for-10 shooting.
Dotson provided 16 points, three assists and three boards.
Even without scoring, K.J. Lawson made an immediate impact off the bench in the first half.
The sophomore Lawson brother was responsible for three of KU’s first four assists and his steal near the midway point of the first half led to a fast-break layup for Dotson.
McCormack, too, came in ready to provide energy if nothing else in a brief five minutes of action. At times he was too sped up for his own good. But the freshman big man from Oak Hill Academy scored four quick points when he entered for Azubuike.
Vick wasn’t much of a sixth man, providing no points and three rebounds in 22 minutes.
Charlie Moore shot 2-for-8, and no assists and scored four points.
Quick grades for five aspects of the Kansas basketball team’s 90-84 overtime win over Stanford on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.
KU spent much of the first half failing to find a flow on offense.
Twenty minutes into the game that showed in the assist column, where the Jayhawks had only tallied one by intermission.
Only 16 minutes were left in the second half when KU recorded its second assist, a pass out from Udoka Azubuike to Lagerald Vick for a 3-pointer.
The Jayhawks took a turn from the better down the stretch with the help of Vick, Devon Dotson and Dedric Lawson, though.
KU hit 50 percent from the field and knocked down 7 of 16 3-pointers. But the Jayhawks still tallied only 12 assists, compared to 11 turnovers.
Stanford missed a lot of 3-pointers early, but it wasn’t necessarily because of KU’s defense. The Cardinal couldn’t get many open looks to drop as the visitors went 1-for-8 in the first eight minutes.
By halftime Stanford had connected on 5 of 15 from behind the arc and led 35-29.
KU’s issues on the glass often cost the home team. In the final minute Daejon Davis secured an offensive rebound with Stanford up 73-72. That allowed the Cardinal to work the game clock down to 13.3 seconds before Davis (19 points) drove in to draw a foul and make two free throws.
Stanford shot 44.4 percent from the floor, was 12-for-34 on 3-pointers and finished with 36 rebounds to KU’s 37.
KU come out intent on getting their biggest of big men, Azubuike involved on offense. He scored the team’s first basket by shoving home an alley-oop pass from Vick and gave KU an early 6-5 lead on a layup inside.
However, making the junior center a focal point wasn’t perfect. Although he was able to draw fouls inside versus Stanford defenders, the 7-footer’s well-documents free throw woes were on display in the game’s opening minutes, as Azubuike missed all three of his attempts at the foul line before subbing out for the first time, about five minutes into the nonconference matchup.
Lawson first asserted himself shortly after Azubuike subbed out, by gathering an offensive rebound inside and scoring through contact for an and-one.
Before long, Lawson had put up double-digit scoring numbers, looking smoother than ever while doing so. One board shy of a double-double by halftime, Lawson put up 13 points and nine rebounds and carried KU offensively before the break.
Conversely, Azubuike, as has been the trend of late, picked up a foul on offense while posting up once he re-entered in the first half, so he went right back to the bench. He played eight minutes in the half, producing four points and three rebounds.
Incredibly, Azubuike recovered to produce 18 points and nine rebounds with a much more effective second half.
Lawson easily got his double-double, finishing with 24 points and 15 rebounds. The versatile big also made sure KU got some easy points at the foul line, where he went 10-for-11.
No other KU bigs were a factor.
With the 3-point shot not even qualifying as a weapon for the Jayhawks for the first 24 minutes of the game, KU’s guards did little to help the offense get going against Stanford in the first half.
The Jayhawks missed all six of their 3-point attempts in the first half. They finally got one to drop at the 16:00 mark of the second half, when Vick drained one to get a subdued fieldhouse crowd out of its collective seats. That made KU 1 of 8 on 3-pointers and cut Stanford’s lead to 43-34.
KU would have been buried by the well-coached, tough-minded Cardinal if it hadn’t been for the second half emergence of Vick and freshman point guard Devon Dotson.
Vick’s 7-for-11 3-point shooting gave KU the spark it needed and a couple of his most timely long-range bombs came off Dotson drives to the paint, when the freshman created the space Vick needed for a high-percentage look.
Vick’s clutch 3-pointer forced overtime in a game Stanford had a chance to steal in hostile Allen Fieldhouse. His 3 to open OT gave KU a lead. In full-on takeover mode, Vick followed that with a baseline jam that doubled as a dagger before nailing yet another 3-pointer to make it 83-75.
Vick finished with 27 points and five rebounds, while Dotson had 10points and four assists.
Freshman guard Quentin Grimes played 16 minutes and shot 1-for-6, scoring only two points.
Back healthy after missing KU’s win over Tennessee with concussion-like symptoms, sophomore guard Marcus Garrett returned to the lineup and his defense was the best attribute the bench provided.
Garrett finished with four steals and turned one of them into a fast-break dunk for himself. He also broke a 62-all tie with a drive and jam with less than five minutes to play.
Charlie Moore drove into the paint and handed the falloff to Lawson for a layup to give KU an easy basket in crunch time.
With 59.9 seconds on the clock, and KU down 73-71, Moore drove into the paint, drawing a foul and getting to the free throw line. The sophomore point guard missed the first and made the second.
Stanford out-scored KU 14-9 in bench points.
When Jeff Long spoke publicly for the first time about his decision to find a new head football coach for the University of Kansas, the athletic director could only provide some general goals he had in mind for the hire.
“We are going to find a proven leader, a tenacious recruiter and a developer of young men on and off the field,” Long assured a downtrodden fan base. “As I have routinely said, we will break the cycle. My expectation is that the football program should be a bowl-bound program on a regular basis. I believe with the players currently in our program and the recruits who will commit in the coming months, we will be close to annual bowl berths and longterm competitiveness in the Big 12.”
Just whom Long ultimately will hire and whether that coach achieves all of the aforementioned criteria for success remains to be seen.
As his search continues, though, we now have a better sense of what type of expectations KU football followers have for the program’s 39th head coach.
This past week, more than 1,500 readers who visited KUsports.com and self-identified as KU football fans were selected at random to answer survey questions about the coaching search.
Here are the six inquiries posed, and the answers provided.
No. 1: KU is seeking a new football coach. Following is a list of coaches frequently mentioned as candidates for the job. Which coach do you most prefer?
A week into KU’s coaching search, 51.1% of fans would be more partial to Long hiring former LSU and Oklahoma State coach Les Miles, the man most often tied with the opening thus far.
North Carolina State coach Dave Doeren, a former KU assistant (2002-05) who grew up outside of Kansas City, was the only other potential candidate with significant fan backing, at 25.1%.
No. 2: Setting aside your personal preferences, which of the following coaches do you think has the highest probability of becoming the next KU coach?
An even greater percentage of fans (59.1%) thought Miles will end up being the coach Long actually hires.
And the runner up wasn’t even close. North Texas head coach Seth Littrell garnered 11.4% of the votes.
No. 3: Some of the coaches listed as candidates for the KU job run the triple-option offense. What's your reaction to the possibility of KU running the triple option offense?
If KU were to take the zig while everyone else is zagging approach and bring in a head coach, such as Army’s Jeff Monken or Tulane’s Willie Fritz, with a background in the run-heavy triple option attack, it seems most fans would be all right with that — as long as it proved effective.
Although only 13% of those surveyed specifically wanted that drastic stylistic switch, almost half of the respondents (48.8%) said a triple-option scheme wouldn’t bother them if it worked for the Jayhawks and produced victories.
However, 17.1% of fans think the triple option won’t work in the Big 12.
No. 4: Given the KU football program's recent struggles, what is a realistic record to expect of a new coaching staff in 2019?
Unless this year’s Jayhawks find a way to upset either Oklahoma or Texas in the next two weeks, the program will finish the season with three or fewer wins for the ninth consecutive season.
However, with a regime change imminent, most KU football fans anticipate 2019 being the first year with four or more wins since Mark Mangino left.
A 4-8 season was the most popular projected record choice, receiving 43% of the votes. Some fans are looking for even better — 13% expect a 5-7 campaign and 4.8% think at least 6 wins and bowl eligibility is a realistic goal.
No. 5: KU Athletic Director Jeff Long said he expects KU football to be bowl-bound on a regular basis. When should the new coach be expected to return KU to a bowl game?
Even so, it looks like most of the KU football fan base isn’t about to demand instant success for the Jayhawks’ next head coach.
Only 3.9% of fans surveyed expect the new coach to lead Kansas to the postseason in his first year on the job.
In fact, the 2021 season received the most votes (43%) for the year the yet-to-be-hired coach should deliver a bowl bid. Another 39.1% of fans would like to see the Jayhawks in the postseason by 2020.
No. 6: Kansas has the lowest paid head coach in the Big 12 at $1.7 million per year. What annual salary range do you expect KU to pay its next football coach?
Whomever Long lands, KU fans expect the first-year AD will have enough financial support from donors in place to pay the football coach significantly more than the $1.7 million base salary David Beaty’s contract called for this year.
Among the respondents, 42.6% think KU should pay the football coach in a range that could be double Beaty’s salary, somewhere between $3 million and $3.9 million annually.
Another 30.9% called for a less expensive number, between $2 million and $2.9 million.
— Now’s your chance. Pick KU football’s next head coach at our bracket: 2018 KU Football Coaching Search Bracket
A week after University of Kansas Athletic director Jeff Long officially began looking for David Beaty’s replacement, another potential competitor has entered the coaching search fray.
News broke Sunday morning that Louisville’s administration decided to fire football coach Bobby Petrino, effective immediately.
So any coach looking to move on from his current job or upgrade to a Power Five conference now has three programs to ponder.
Even before Long decided to fire Beaty, the football job at Maryland opened up, following a tumultuous year for former head coach D.J. Durkin. Now that Louisville is actively looking to make a hiring splash, too, it’s possible Long’s pool of candidates could overlap with those of athletic directors in both the Big Ten and ACC.
Louisville’s struggles this season — the Cardinals (2-8 overall, 0-7 ACC) have only defeated Indiana State and Western Kentucky — led to Petrino’s demise. However, the program overall has remained quite successful this past decade, even as it transitioned from the Big East to the American to the ACC.
This will mark the Cardinals’ first losing season since 2009, ending U of L’s streak of eight consecutive bowl appearances under, first, Charlie Strong and, then, Petrino.
In fact, the only significant lull for Louisville football in the past 20 years came and went relatively quickly, with three losing seasons under Steve Kragthorpe from 2007-09. Louisville has played in 17 bowl games since 1998, including the Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Citrus Bowl.
So if you were a football coach fielding interest from Louisville Athletic Director Vince Tyra and KU’s Long, which program would look more attractive?
The Jayhawks (3-7, 1-6 Big 12) might be slightly better this season than the Cardinals, but KU football hasn’t won more than three games in a season since a former administration forced out head coach Mark Mangino following the 2009 season.
Then, there’s Maryland. Despite the public perception hit that the program took the past several months with reports of bullying and abuse under Durkin’s watch, it remains a viable landing spot for respected coaches. Maryland (5-5, 3-4 Big Ten) may reach a bowl this season. It would be the Terrapins’ fifth postseason appearance since the start of the 2010 season, a stretch during which the program is 47-63.
KU is now 18-88 in the post-Mangino era. Louisville, in that same span, is 73-41.
Long is running a confidential search, so it’s tough to decipher who is really on his short list and who isn’t. Still, it’s possible these job openings — and any that follow at other Power Five schools before he makes his hire — could limit Long’s options.
The other aspect of Petrino’s firing that’s at least worth mentioning, even if it doesn’t end up substantive, is that Long used to work with the now-available coach. When Long was at Arkansas, he hired Petrino, and the football coach led the Razorbacks to a 34-17 record from 2008-11, as Arkansas played in the Liberty Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Cotton Bowl.
Long had to fire Petrino in 2012, though, after the coach’s motorcycle accident eventually revealed Petrino had hired his mistress to work for the program.
Although Petrino, 57, owns a 119-56 career coaching record between his two stints at Louisville (2003-06 and 2014-18), a one-year run at Western Kentucky and four years with Arkansas, it’s extremely improbable Long would consider a reunion at KU.
When Long announced Petrino’s firing in 2012, he said, "In short, Coach Petrino engaged in a pattern of misleading and manipulative behavior designed to deceive me and members of the athletic staff, both before and after the motorcycle accident."
The entire debacle at least played a part in Arkansas moving on from Long as its AD in November of 2017. He would have zero motivation to reconcile that ugly divorce.
While speaking with reporters Sunday night to discuss his decision to fire football coach David Beaty, effective at this season’s conclusion, University of Kansas Athletic Director Jeff Long said he couldn’t point to one particular reason for the timing.
Any number of weekends following a KU football loss this fall, Long could have decided to move on from Beaty without drawing much criticism.
So why now?
It certainly wouldn’t be Long’s only motivation, but it’s in KU’s best interest to not allow another Power Five program get a lengthy head start on a coaching hire.
Last week, Maryland fired D.J. Durkin. The third-year Terrapins head coach had spent most of the past few months on administrative leave, coinciding with an investigation into the program’s culture, due to the death of one of Durkin’s players, offensive lineman Jordan McNair, who suffered heat illness during a workout.
So first-year Maryland athletic director Damon Evans, like Long, is in the market for a head coach who can inspire a mostly disgruntled fan base and produce victories.
True, the lists of possible candidates for KU and Maryland may not actually overlap that much. But if Long discovered even one coach that intrigues him as a replacement for Beaty might be on Maryland’s radar, he wouldn’t want to limit himself in his ability to pitch that candidate on coming to Lawrence.
Theoretically, the names of a proven winner such as former LSU head coach Les Miles and an up-and-comer such as Toledo head coach Jason Candle could be on the minds of any athletic director contemplating a regime change. So it’s pretty feasible to picture Long and Evans mulling over the merits of some of the same candidates.
And if you were a head coach looking for a new job, which is more appealing: Kansas or Maryland?
The Terrapins’ move from the ACC to the Big Ten before the 2014 season hasn’t gone perfectly. But Maryland has actually played in four bowl games while going 47-62 since the start of the 2010 season.
Kansas, of course, in that same timespan — known in this part of Big 12 country as the post-Mark Mangino era — has not experienced one season with more than three victories. Turner Gill, Charlie Weis, eight-game interim head coach Clint Bowen and Beaty have combined to give the Jayhawks an 18-87 record (.171 winning percentage) since KU fired Mangino.
Selling any coach on taking the KU job will likely prove difficult for Long. And when more Power Five jobs inevitably open up with the close of the regular season in sight, that means more competition for KU.
Long will spend almost all of his waking hours between now and finding KU football’s next head coach trying to make the perfect hire. He did himself and the program’s long-suffering fan base a favor by going all in on that endeavor with three weeks left in the latest unsuccessful KU football season.
Officially, freshman Kansas football players — even redshirt freshmen in their second season with the program — aren’t allowed to be interviewed by the media.
So, unofficially (I guess?), here’s your first interview with KU freshman running back Pooka Williams.
ESPN’s Holly Rowe, in Lawrence to help KU student-athletes with some media training, posted a video of her back-and-forth with KU’s star freshman to Twitter on Tuesday night.
Sporting a black Chicago White Sox cap and a gray KU hooded sweatshirt, the Big 12’s leading rusher contentedly revealed a little about himself and his game to Rowe.
Anthony Williams Jr. by birth, he said his nickname “Pooka” came from his grandmother calling him that at a young age.
Already a game-changing talent for KU three games into his college career, Williams, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound four-star signee from Louisiana, leads the team with three touchdowns and 377 rushing yards. But he downplayed having a “special” start to his season.
“I’m just playing the course. My O-line’s giving me holes and that’s how it is,” Williams said, claiming he didn’t know where he gets his quickness from. “That’s a good question.”
Asked if he remembered when he first figured out he was fast, the former Hahnville High star replied while laughing, “I won a lot of races, so I wouldn’t really know.”
Still adapting to playing at the FBS level, Williams said “the crowd” is what he likes best about this stage.
“The coaches, too,” the running back quickly added. “I really found out all the steps about football. Not just playing football just to play football. I found all the steps out, the film room and all of that. In high school we didn’t do film and stuff like that.”
KU football hasn’t won more than three games in a season since 2009, but with Williams’ help, the Jayhawks are off to a 2-2 start in 2018.
“The new juice is we’ve got to really restore Kansas,” Williams said. “And that’s what we practice for every day. Just trying to get wins now. We’ve got the talent on the team.”
We’ll be sure to ask Pooka Williams more about his upbringing, transition to college football and spectacular start to his KU career when he’s made available for interviews in the spring.
During his first game wearing a Kansas football uniform, backup quarterback Miles Kendrick only got onto the turf for six snaps.
The sophomore dual threat QB carried the ball twice, handed it off once and connected on two of his three throws during his cameo, which included a bit part on the Jayhawks’ final offensive play of overtime.
Now Kendrick’s goal is to absorb all he can, both positive and negative, from the small sample size of game footage at his disposal.
“I think I took a lot away from those reps,” Kendrick said. “There were different things that I see as far as the play calls. I could have changed my mind depending on what I saw, maybe change a route, an RPO or things like that. Nothing really major. We’re continuing to learn from every rep.”
On his first play from scrimmage, coming in for one series worth of relief for starter Peyton Bender with 9:14 left in the first half, Kendrick looked as if he may put the ball in the hands of running back Khalil Herbert before keeping it. Kendrick picked up 4 yards.
Next, on 2nd and 6, a little play-action allowed Kendrick to hit Evan Fairs for 8 yards and a first down.
Asked whether, instinctively, he would rather pass or take off and run on, Kendrick described himself as a “pass-first” QB.
“I just think I bring a different skill set to the table than Peyton. I mean, Peyton throws the ball incredibly well,” Kendrick said, “but I’m just a guy that brings a different dimension. Doesn’t mean I can’t pass the ball. I believe I’m a pass-first guy. Just another thing for the other team to prepare for.”
After Kendrick’s first throw at KU went for a 1st down, Herbert ran for 4 yards before the backup got back to testing his arm. On 2nd and 6 Herbert gave a little token fake handoff in the direction of Dom Williams before taking a deep shot down the left sideline to the Jayhawks’ top receiver, Steven Sims Jr.
On a pass that traveled roughly 40-plus yards in the air, from the right hash toward the left sideline, Sims couldn’t come down with a catch after leaping upward to get a hand on it.
KU also was flagged for an ineligible man downfield on the play, so it wouldn’t have stood if completed, but it still qualified for Kendrick as a chance to assess his skills.
“On that play they played press bail. Originally (we) wanted (Sims) to run kind of like a curl route,” Kendrick began. “But I saw the corner was pressed, so I gave him a go route and it was a 50-50 ball. If I were to replay it and try something else, maybe I would have just handed off the ball and see if our line could have gotten the four or five yards that we needed and my drive would have continued.”
A safety moving toward the line of scrimmage gave KU unfavorable numbers in the box, Kendrick said, so he tried to make a play through the air.
“Looking back at the tape, maybe a little bit underthrown, but like I said, 50-50 ball,” Kendrick said. “Those guys make plays and that’s their job. My job is just to give them a chance and hopefully they make me look good.”
Kendrick’s next throw would be his last of Week 1, as Kendrick shoveled the ball to Williams for a 4-yard gain, 2 yards shy of a 1st down.
The 5-foot-10, 200-pound QB left the field with more than 7 minutes to go until halftime. He didn’t return until overtime, on 3rd and 6 at Nicholls’ 21-yard line.
Given the time he spent on the sideline and the situation, was Kendrick surprised when head coach David Beaty inserted him late?
“I’m the type of person, I’m always going to stay ready and I’m always going to want to be in that position,” Kendrick said. “Game on the line, that’s what you play for. I was excited when my number was called. It wasn’t like I was caught off guard or anything. You’ve got to be ready for anything. College football’s exciting. We have a great opportunity this season.”
KU sent five potential receivers out on what proved to be its final offensive play of OT. It was designed for Kendrick to take off and run, ideally for a 1st down or longer. However, Nicholls’ Sully Laiche tackled Kendrick for a 3-yard loss after executing a twist at the line of scrimmage. KU had to settle for a 41-yard Gabriel Rui field goal and a brief 23-20 lead.
Asked by one reporter whether he would do anything differently, now that he has looked back at the unsuccessful play, Kendrick said perhaps he could have checked into a different call at the line of scrimmage.
“At the end of the day I get the call from the coach and they ask me real specifically what they want me to do, and I try to carry out that assignment as best as possible,” Kendrick said.
The QB who provides KU’s offense with some different running possibilities than Bender went 2 for 3 through the air for 12 yards and finished with two carries that netted 1 yard in the opener.
As the Jayhawks (0-1) prepare for Saturday’s road trip to Central Michigan (0-1), Kendrick hopes to take even more in-game snaps moving forward.
“I’m going to stay prepared as much as I can,” Kendrick said. “Peyton is one play away from coming off the field, so either way all quarterbacks in the quarterback room have to be ready to come on the field at any given notice.”