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Tale of the Tait

NFL Draft Chatter regarding a few former Jayhawks

We've reached April, known in NFL circles as draft month, and it's time to do some quick inventory on the former Jayhawks hoping to get their chance to catch on with an NFL team for the 2015 season and possibly beyond.

As you know, Ben Heeney and JaCorey Shepherd are the former Jayhawks most likely to get drafted in the April 30-May 2 draft, which will take place in Chicago, but there are more than a few other guys from last year's team who figure to get their shot.

Let's start with Heeney and Shepherd and go down the list. As you may have seen, both guys continue to show up on various mock drafts that attempt to predict how this year's draft will play out. The most recent deep mock draft I've seen, a five-round mock draft done by Eddie Brown of the San Diego Union-Tribune, had both Heeney and Shepherd hearing their names called in this year’s draft. Brown has Heeney going as a fourth-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals at pick No. 123 overall. He has Shepherd slotted one round later, as the fifth-round pick of the Denver Broncos at pick No. 164. As you know, Denver already has former Jayhawks Chris Harris and Aqib Talib in its secondary (along with Steven Johnson at linebacker), but the Broncos snagged Harris as an undrafted free agent and went after Talib during free agency two years ago. Maybe it's time they actually drafted a Jayhawk. Time will tell.

Speaking of Shepherd, it's worth noting that the former KU wide receiver turned cornerback who was invited to the NFL Combine but could not participate because of a hamstring injury ran his 4.65-second 40-yard dash time at KU's pro day in late March with a torn hamstring. Several scouts on hand that day came solely to see what Shepherd could do, and even though his 4.65 time was slower than the 4.4 range he had hoped, the fact that he ran that decent of a time with a severe injury showed the scouts plenty.

According to his Kansas City-based trainer, Dexter McDonald's Pro Day, which included some of day's best numbers and times across the board, may have been enough to get teams seriously interested in drafting him. Joseph Potts, a former KU football player and owner of Top Speed Sports Performance, said McDonald's agent recently told him that a few teams have mentioned the possibility of taking McDonald in rounds 3-5 and added that both Oakland and Arizona were planning to fly McDonald out to their headquarters to meet with him and show him around. McDonald, who was fabulous in 2013 and merely solid in 2014, definitely has the athleticism, size, ball skills and toughness to get a shot. Whether that comes via the draft or not remains to be seen.

Former KU defensive tackle Keon Stowers is another guy hearing good things from a few NFL clubs. Stowers, who tore his right pectoral muscle during the bench press portion of KU's pro day after appearing to be well on his way to 25 or 30 reps, is stuck rehabbing now and won't be able to go full speed for at least a few more weeks. Still, several scouts told Stowers that they liked what they had seen on film and that he should expect a phone call following the draft.

I haven't heard too much about KU's trio of wide receivers — Nigel King, Nick Harwell and Tony Pierson — but it seems like a safe bet that at least two of the three will get invited to a camp if they're not drafted. Because of his size, great hands and solid pro day numbers, King figures to be the guy with the best shot in this bunch. But Harwell was productive throughout his career and is a dependable route runner with good hands, so it seems like he should at least get a shot, as well. Pierson, though blazing fast, is probably a bit of a long shot given his size, lack of a true position and injury history.

Tight end Jimmay Mundine is another guy who could be flying under the radar a little bit. I've heard that several teams are intrigued by his physical make up and versatility. He could be used as a second tight end or even flipped to fullback or H back in the right offenses. Mundine really helped himself at pro day, with numbers and times that were better than most expected.

Other than those guys, Victor Simmons, Cassius Sendish, Michael Reynolds, Tedarian Johnson and Trevor Pardula (a combine invitee) also are hoping to catch the right eye during the next few weeks and earn an invitation to show what they can do.

Pro Day recap with individual numbers

Reply 1 comment from Pete  Hatcher

What caught my eye at Day 5 of KU football’s 2015 Spring practices

The KU defensive backs and linebackers work on pass break-ups against live offense during Day 5 of the 2015 spring practices on Thursday.

The KU defensive backs and linebackers work on pass break-ups against live offense during Day 5 of the 2015 spring practices on Thursday. by Matt Tait

Thursday's KU football practice included the first full-on scrimmage of the spring, which, according to the feedback gathered from social media, went pretty well.

We were only able to stay for the first 20 minutes of practice, so we did not get to see how the 11-on-11 action looked when things were run full speed and the hitting was live. That's probably just as well. It's far too early — and there are way too many players missing, either because of injury or because they have not enrolled yet — to make too many definitive calls on what this team looks like or how it plays.

That said, there were plenty of things that caught my eye prior to our departure and the beginning of the scrimmage.

Here's a quick recap:

• Like the defense with the red pants the other day, the offense suited up for practice in gray pants on Thursday. Who knows why? And it's clearly not that big of a deal. Could be as simple as if you've got 'em, you may as well use 'em. But I'll definitely ask to see if there's any more to it.

• Strength coach Je'Ney Jackson hit the field with a bull horn during the early portion of practice. Word is, he was tired of trying to yell over the music. Can't blame him, either. Even with the bull horn, it was hard to hear him. But you can be sure that the players have no difficulty knowing exactly what he wants and expects, booming voice or not.

• Thursday's practice took place entirely in Memorial Stadium, most likely because they were going to scrimmage and did not want to waste time moving from one field to the other. Most days, KU starts on the practice fields and then moves into the stadium for the final 30-45 minutes, when they run seven-on-seven drills and live 11-man offense. It's during this part of practice when they keep track of how many plays they run in how many minutes. Earlier this week, OC Rob Likens said he did not keep track the same way head coach David Beaty does, so the only numbers we have to go on are still those 94 plays in 44 minutes and 92 plays in 42 minutes that we heard after the first two days of spring. By comparison in terms of tempo and urgency, it looks as if they've done about that same number during the days since. Likens said he would start to keep track more when fall camp rolls around but right now his entire focus is on fundamentals and installation.

• The KU defense was flying around like wild men during Thursday's practice. It may have just been a coincidence and it may have just been for that drill, but the way KU's DBs and Linebackers were practicing on Thursday leads me to believe that group has plans to be ultra-aggressive this fall. Several guys in both units recorded multiple pass break-ups and even when a receiver caught a ball, he was smacked immediately. This makes sense given the fact that the coaching staff, so far, has identified the D-Line as the strength of this KU defense. The faster the guys up front can get to the quarterback and force the ball out, the more aggressive the guys behind them can be without fear of getting burned or having to cover too long. Should be interesting to see how that holds up, but it's quite clear that both Kenny Perry and Clint Bowen want this group to play physical, aggressive football.

• Speaking of this drill, there were quite a few wide receiver drops during the time we were out there. Now that's not the end of the world and it was just one or two drills, but it just gives you an indication of how far that group has to go and how wide open that competition for playing time truly is. At this point, it looks as if the guys who can make plays on a consistent basis — regardless of age, size or experience — will be the guys who get on the field the fastest.

Reply 5 comments from Baldjedi Bob Bailey Omari Miller Ashwin Rao

With Shaka Smart headed to Texas, let’s rank the men’s hoops coaches in the Big 12

While the addition of new Texas basketball coach Shaka Smart to the Big 12 certainly figures to have a major impact on the balance of power in the conference, it still will take the new kid on the block several years to unseat KU coach Bill Self as the best in the league.

That much is almost impossible to argue, save for a few Iowa State fans who probably really like their guy and even a few Baylor people who believe Scott Drew does not get enough credit.

Outside of that, though, it's Self and everyone else. I mean, look no further than the 11 consecutive Big 12 regular season titles for all the support you need. Oh, and Self's record outside of the conference, in the tournament and on the recruiting trail is pretty decent, as well.

Having said that, adding Smart to the Big 12 is an incredibly exciting prospect that got me thinking about just how good the coaches in this league were. I hopped on Twitter a couple of nights ago to explain how impressive I thought the top-tier trio of Self, Fred Hoiberg and Smart was and, while several of my fabulous followers whole-heartedly agreed, others quickly came to the defense of the guys I did not mention. What about this guy? What about that guy?

What about a blog explaining exactly how I think the men's basketball coaching rankings unfold in the Big 12.

I asked a couple other guys in the office to give me their lists as well and will include those at the end. For now, though, here's how I think the Big 12's hoops bosses stack up.

In case you can't tell, I'm incredibly excited about seeing Smart join the conference and I don't think I'm alone.

1. BILL SELF, KANSAS – For the reasons outlined above and so many others, the guy easily sits at the top of the coaching food chain in what has proven to be a heck of a regular season conference. His accomplishments speak for themselves, but one thing that really hammers home his place at the top of this list is the fact that Self won Big 12 title No. 11 this year, guided an incredibly young team to 27 victories against the nation's toughest schedule, entered the Big Dance as a 2 seed — the sixth year in a row KU had been either a 1 or a 2 — and yet the season was wildly regarded throughout Jayhawk nation and in other parts of the world as an extreme disappointment. That's incredible. That's some Godfather stuff, right there.

Kansas Head Coach Bill Self.

Kansas Head Coach Bill Self. by thad-allender

2. FRED HOIBERG, IOWA STATE – You can't argue with what Hoiberg has done at his alma mater. He's a fantastic X's and O's coach, recruits the right players for his system and is a master at finding talented transfers to plug into his roster in order to assure that there will be no drop off from year to year. His head-to-head record against Self is pretty impressive during the past few years and you kind of get the feeling that Hoiberg's only getting better.

Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg watches late in the second half on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg watches late in the second half on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. by Nick Krug

3. SHAKA SMART, TEXAS – I think this guy will be a beast at Texas. He'll get players. His players will love him. And he'll bring a tenacious style of play and provide the program with a serious and much-needed dose of excitement and enthusiasm that, basically overnight, could turn UT back into a place that will be incredibly tough to play and a potential sleeping giant on the national scene. It may not happen immediately, but don't be surprised if it does. How cool is it that Shaka's coming to Allen Fieldhouse every year for the foreseeable future.

Virginia Commonwealth head coach Shaka Smart gets the attention of his defense during the first half on Friday, March 25, 2011 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

Virginia Commonwealth head coach Shaka Smart gets the attention of his defense during the first half on Friday, March 25, 2011 at the Alamodome in San Antonio. by Nick Krug

4. LON KRUGER, OKLAHOMA – All he's done everywhere he's been is win. From K-State to Florida, to Illinois, UNLV and now OU, you don't rack up 561 victories over 29 seasons without knowing what you're doing and doing it well. And you don't get jobs at all of those places without being the kind of guy who gets kids to play the right way and also takes care of all of those other elements of what it means to be a student-athlete unless you can flat-out coach. Kruger's teams typically are tough, gritty teams that run good offense and always find a way to win ballgames. Kruger-coached teams have won fewer than 20 games just one time in the last nine years. And that was his first season at OU, where he has increased his win total during each of his four seasons.

Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger protests a call in the first half against Kansas on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at Lloyd Noble Center.

Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger protests a call in the first half against Kansas on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at Lloyd Noble Center. by Nick Krug

5. BOB HUGGINS, WEST VIRGINIA – A master at taking the players he has and fitting them into a system that can win, Huggins, despite his wild and crazy persona, is so often overlooked in today's game. This guy is still one of the best in the business and the reason is simple — he demands perfection from his players and settles for nothing less. That doesn't mean he always gets it, but more times than not he gets the kind of effort that can lead to some seriously good basketball.

West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins rubs his mouth during a Jayhawk run on Saturday, March 2, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins rubs his mouth during a Jayhawk run on Saturday, March 2, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

6. SCOTT DREW, BAYLOR – KU fans like to clown Drew, but I think it's tough to argue that the guy's pretty good at what he does. Of late, this season notwithstanding, Drew's Baylor teams, of all the squads in the conference, have most consistently played deep into the NCAA Tournament. Two Elite Eights and one Sweet 16 in five seasons has a pretty nice ring to it. And I don't think anyone will argue his ability to get talented players to Waco.

Baylor coach Scott Drew watches the Bears fall behind the Jayhawk’s in KU's 62-52 win over Baylor in the semi-final of the Big 12 Tournament Friday at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO.

Baylor coach Scott Drew watches the Bears fall behind the Jayhawk’s in KU's 62-52 win over Baylor in the semi-final of the Big 12 Tournament Friday at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO. by Richard Gwin

7. TRENT JOHNSON, TCU – This guy should probably be higher. He's a fantastic coach who started at TCU with a light deck and has scratched and clawed and grinded his way into fielding competitive teams. The jump the Frogs made from 2013-14 to 2014-15 was as impressive as any team in the conference. Part of that was Johnson working his butt off on the recruiting trail and the other part of it was the way he runs his program, practices, in-game coaching and off-the-court responsibilities. A demanding coach with winning records at Nevada, Stanford and LSU, Johnson is well on his way to following suit in Fort Worth.

TCU head coach Trent Johnson encourages his players during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against West Virginia, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Morgantown, W.Va. West Virginia defeated TCU 86-85 in overtime.

TCU head coach Trent Johnson encourages his players during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against West Virginia, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Morgantown, W.Va. West Virginia defeated TCU 86-85 in overtime. by AP Photo/Raymond Thompson

8. TRAVIS FORD, OKLAHOMA STATE – It's not just our site that has its doubts about Ford, just last week news broke out of Stillwater that said the school was looking into whether moving forward with Ford as the leader of the basketball program was the right move. Ouch. Ford's had some great moments at OSU, and he, too, has been able to attract some serious talent to a not-so-attractive place. But his ability to get that talent playing on the same page consistently and with the kind of effort needed to be a top-half program night in and night out has left a little to be desired. That said, he still has a darn good basketball mind and the fact that he's listed eighth here is just another sign of how good of a basketball conference the Big 12 is.

Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford pleads for a call from an official during the first half on Monday, Feb. 21, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford pleads for a call from an official during the first half on Monday, Feb. 21, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

9. BRUCE WEBER, K-STATE – Give him some talent and he'll coach it to great things. Ask him to build something of substance that will stand the test of time and you might find yourself wishing you hadn't. That's been the book on Weber at both Illinois and K-State and it's hard to call it anything other than fair. He did a great job with Self's players at Illinois and with Frank Martin's guys at K-State, but as soon as those wells ran dry, things got a little testy and people started to question Weber. He heads into his fourth season desperately needing to reverse the trend of watching his win total dip each season. If he doesn't, it could be on to head coach No. 4 in the past 10 seasons for the Wildcats.

Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber looks to grab his players attention during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber looks to grab his players attention during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

10. TUBBY SMITH, TEXAS TECH — Unfortunately for Smith, we're talking about Big 12 coaches as they stand today. Otherwise, with his track record, he clearly would be higher on this list for his achievements at Minnesota, Kentucky, Georgia and Tulsa. But now is now and Smith definitely does not seem like the same coach he once was. Don't get me wrong, the Red Raiders should be thrilled to have him and you never know, with all of that past success, when he'll be able to get things rolling again. But the Red Raiders roster I saw this season was among the worst I've seen since the Big 12 was formed and it doesn't exactly look as if that's going to change drastically any time soon.

First-year Texas Tech head coach Tubby Smith pleads with a game official during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

First-year Texas Tech head coach Tubby Smith pleads with a game official during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

With that, I give you a quick look at the way Benton Smith and Tom Keegan rank the Big 12's men's basketball coaches.

— BENTON SMITH —

  1. Bill Self, KU
  2. Shaka Smart, UT
  3. Fred Hoiberg, ISU
  4. Bob Huggins, WVU
  5. Lon Kruger, OU
  6. Scott Drew, BU
  7. Trent Johnson, TCU
  8. Tubby Smith, TTU
  9. Travis Ford, OSU
  10. Bruce Weber, KSU

— TOM KEEGAN —

  1. Bill Self, KU
  2. Bob Huggins, WVU
  3. Fred Hoiberg, ISU
  4. Shaka Smart, UT
  5. Lon Kruger, OU
  6. Trent Johnson, TCU
  7. Tubby Smith, TTU
  8. Scott Drew, BU
  9. Travis Ford, OSU
  10. Bruce Weber, KSU
Reply 65 comments from Tom Jones Plasticjhawk A. J.  Daggett Michael Lorraine Baldjedi Joe Ross Erich Hartmann Mike Riches Adam Evans Adam Gerval and 19 others

What caught my eye at Day 4 of KU football’s 2015 Spring practices

The KU defense dons red pants for Day 4 of spring practices on Tuesday.

The KU defense dons red pants for Day 4 of spring practices on Tuesday. by Matt Tait

Although the first things that truly caught my eye at Tuesday's KU football practice — No. 4 of the spring season — were the red pants worn by the defense (first time I can recall seeing that in the past six years), the presence of a former KU quarterback stole the show while the Jayhawks stretched and warmed up.

Mark Williams, who engineered that solid 10-2 season in 1995 and helped KU finish ranked ninth in the final AP poll, was in attendance to watch his alma mater run through drills, albeit in an entirely new environment than anything he remembered seeing during his playing days.

Williams, 42, recently relocated back to Lawrence by transferring within his job and said he was thrilled to be back.

As far as him showing up for practice, Williams said KU had done a great job of reaching out to him during the past few years and added that he often found something from Kansas waiting for him in his mailbox.

Williams seemed thrilled to be back on the field and even looked like he could still play if given the chance.

Here's the rest of what caught my eye at Tuesday's practice, the first of the spring in which we were asked to leave early as had been normal in the past.

• Quick look at the updated offensive line: The first stringers on Tuesday, left to right, were Jordan Shelley-Smith, Bryan Peters, Keyon Haughton, Junior Visinia and Larry Mazyck. The second group included: Devon Williams, Joe Bloomfield, Jacob Bragg, D'Andre Banks and Jayson Rhodes. Again, don't read too much into any of this, but it's always worth keeping an eye on. As for guys who stood out. Shelley-Smith looks to be getting more comfortable every day and I thought Peters moved well, especially on some of the guard pulls and running plays where he had to cover some distance.

• As Beaty mentioned on Day 1, Corey Avery has been very limited this spring because of a shoulder injury and that has opened the door for some other guys to get some solid reps. Juco transfer Ke'aun Kinner lined up with the ones on Tuesday and Taylor Cox ran with the twos. Kinner has been getting first-team reps throughout the spring and it looks like his speed could help the KU offense replace Tony Pierson. At quarterback, Montell Cozart ran with the first offense (at least for the portion of practice we saw), followed by Michael Cummings. That battle, as you surely know by now, will be ongoing and will not be limited to just those two guys.

• Speaking of quarterbacks, I haven't been able to see too much of the offense yet, but what I have seen has included a lot of movement by the quarterbacks. Both Cummings nad Cozart have been asked to keep the ball and run, roll out and throw and move the pocket. Even with that, the ball has come out quick and KU really seems to be emphasizing quick passes to easy targets and taking care of blocks down the field to get those guys positive yardage.

• As is common, Tuesday's practice began with a heavy dose of special teams work. Even though that's not that unusual, the way these guys work is. The whole thing is incredibly well organized and seems to have more of a game-prep, walk-through feel to it than a meaningless drill in a spring practice. Everywhere at every moment, these coaches are urging their guys to find a way to get better even in the smallest area.

Reply 15 comments from James Baker Bill Roos Matt Tait Table_rock_jayhawk Tom Keegan Jonathan Briles Robert  Brock Dave Roberts

Texas basketball’s job opening creates exciting time for Big 12, Kansas

Texas head coach Rick Barnes watches from the bench with his team with little time remaining on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Texas head coach Rick Barnes watches from the bench with his team with little time remaining on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Saturday afternoon news broke that the Texas Longhorns were prepared to move on from men's basketball coach Rick Barnes after 17 seasons.

Regardless of whether it goes down as a firing, a resignation or a force-out, the mere fact that Barnes is moving on and the UT job is open ushers in a wildly exciting time for the Big 12 Conference.

That job, because of a talented returning roster, UT's relatively solid history of success and the resources and money available to turn that program into a force, will attract some of the best candidates in college basketball.

We're not just talking about guys who are looking to make a nice little jump. We're talking about guys who would be candidates at some of the country's best basketball schools if those jobs were open.

Kansas. North Carolina. Duke. Michigan State. Shaka Smart. Gregg Marshall. Ben Jacobson. Archie Miller. And more.

But forget about the candidate pool, which guys have a real shot and what direction the Longhorns want to go. That, right now, is anybody's guess and all those of us observing from afar have to go off of is the recent hiring of Charlie Strong as UT's football coach. Given that the hoops job is a completely different animal, I'm not sure that helps lead us to any quality predictions.

What we can predict, though, is how much the hire — whoever it ends up being — will impact the Big 12 and Kansas.

Let's say, for a second, that Marshall is the guy. Just like that, KU coach Bill Self will go from not knowing when he'll get another crack at Marshall, whose Wichita State team ended Self and KU's season a week ago in Omaha, to two guaranteed match-ups with the guy year in and year out.

That's an awesome scenario to envision. And could immediately breathe life back into the KU-Texas battles and make it the marquee rivalry in the conference.

If it's not Marshall and the Longhorns go with a guy like Smart, you're looking at a scary situation in which a sleeping giant could be awoken.

Smart is so beloved by his players, would be able to recruit top-tier talent to Austin and, beyond that, would bring a nasty style of play to the conference that could give teams fits.

If it's me making the hire, I'm going after Smart and not taking no for an answer.

But regardless of who the Texas administration goes after, they'll have enough high-quality candidates to make it nearly impossible to mess this one up.

All that remains to be seen is how big of a splash the new UT hoops coach will make on the rest of the Big 12.

Reports have said they'd like to make the hire quickly, perhaps by the end of the coming week. Can't wait to see who it is.

Reply 43 comments from Plasticjhawk Joe Ross Texashawk10_2 Glen Jay Scott Scott Quiring Kyle Rohde Bryan Mohr Michael Lorraine Jeff Fugitt and 9 others

What caught my eye at Day 3 of KU football’s 2015 Spring practices

KU coach David Beaty addresses his football team prior to the start of Saturday's spring practice.

KU coach David Beaty addresses his football team prior to the start of Saturday's spring practice. by Matt Tait

Here's the deal about Saturday's 10 a.m. KU football practice which wound up lasting three hours and featured a — it neither looked like an early-morning practice nor one that took place on the third day of spring ball.

The energy was way up, even by David Beaty's standards, the intensity was through the roof and the effort, emotion and urgency were all as good as I've seen so far this spring.

Credit a lot of that to the fact that today's practice was the first for the Jayhawks in full pads, but credit the rest of it to the coaching staff for demanding it and the players for delivering.

After the stretching portion of practice, the Jayhawks ran over to huddle up for their pre-practice instructions. Not good enough. Beaty made them go back to their spots and do it again, with assistant coaches yelling all around, “Urgency, urgency, urgency.” “I better see some energy out here today.” “Let's go get it.”

Pretty soon, this will merely be the standard for this KU team. But until everyone is used to it, it will still seem pretty impressive.

Here's a quick look at the rest of what caught my eye at Saturday's practice:

• Offensive coordinator Rob Likens is a master communicator. He speaks clearly, makes it known exactly what he's looking for at all times and has the patience to explain it thoroughly — even going as far as to show it himself if he has to — when guys don't quite get something. This was evident throughout the day, but particularly during a drill designed to teach slant keys and concepts to the wide receivers. With each rep, Likens barked out orders: “Better toe stick. Eyes back. Look the ball in.” That last request was another theme of the day for Likens, who actually took his sunglasses off while yelling at a running back at one point so they didn't fall off of his face when he screamed, “Look the ball all the way in to your tuck.” He kept yelling it. But it didn't take the Jayhawks long to understand the importance of following those orders and carrying them out.

• KU coach David Beaty stepped in to play a little quarterback during a drill for the cornerbacks. Not surprisingly, Beaty had a little zip on his ball and even overthrew it a few times. Probably too jacked up. This concept of coaches jumping into drills is commonplace all over the field. Likens served as a defensive end and Klint Kubiak worked as a cornerback during an option drill. Calvin Thibodeaux and Kevin Kane jumped in and did up-downs with the defense after the offense got the better of a short-yardage drill in which the offensive line helped KU's running backs score four times out of seven against the D-Line in a heated competition at the mid-point of practice that featured the offensive players not participating crowding the 50 yard line and the defensive players not involved crowded the 45 yard line. It made for a hostile scene and tempers and emotions ran hot. As Beaty said the other day, there's a competition aspect in just about everything the Jayhawks do out there.

David Beaty, playing quarterback instead of head coach, looks to throw during a drill for KU's cornerbacks at Saturday's practice.

David Beaty, playing quarterback instead of head coach, looks to throw during a drill for KU's cornerbacks at Saturday's practice. by Matt Tait

• I thought It was pretty cool how much the coaches emphasized communication. A lot of these players have been role players during the past few seasons and have not had to be vocal leaders. But the coaches are trying to change that. At one point, at almost the exact same time, I heard Likens yell from one field, “You're too quiet, guys,” while co-defensive coordinator Kenny Perry yelled from the other field, “I didn't hear a thing,” to his cornerbacks. Again, soon that will be something the coaches don't have to remind these guys of. But, for now, they're not taking anything for granted.

• Speaking of Perry and yelling, during one drill, he jumped on his veteran cornerbacks for letting a walk-on who had been in the program for just three days jump to the front of the line ahead of them to start a drill. It's not that Perry didn't want the young guy to get the reps, he just wanted to see the veterans want to be the guys who led things off. They did the rest of the practice.

• Junior defensive end Anthony Olobia continues to look sharp and quick out there, but on Saturday he showed some toughness, too. After landing awkwardly following a rep in a D-Line drill, Olobia came up limping and defensive coordinator Clint Bowen immediately sent Damani Mosby in to take his spot. Rather than running off, however, Olobia waved Mosby back to the sideline, turned around to yell to Bowen that he was OK and stayed in and finished the drill. It's a small detail but a clear sign that these guys want to play for these coaches.

• Cornerback Ronnie Davis makes his share of mistakes, but he's got great feet. That might be one of the reasons the coaches ride him so much. With feet like his — which former cornerbacks coach Dave Campo always marveled at, as well — Davis is a guy who should be playing as long as he can execute his assignments, make plays and remain efficient.

• Speaking of cornerbacks, newcomer Brandon Stewart looks like he's got some solid skills but he's smaller than I expected. Listed at 6-foot, 171 pounds, Stewart might just look a little on the light side because he's being asked to replace veterans JaCorey Shepherd and Dexter McDonald. There's still plenty of time for Stewart to get bigger and he already looks good in terms of physical play and coverage skills.

• The first-string offensive line looked the same — Larry Mazyck at right tackle, Junior Visinia at right guard, Jacob Bragg and center, Bryan Peters at left guard and Jordan Shelley-Smith at left tackle. Nothing new there. But the second string O-Line shaped up like this, right to left: Jayson Rhodes, D'Andre Banks, Keyon Haughton, Joe Bloomfield and Devon Williams. Still all kinds of time for movement up there — especially when you consider a couple guys (Joe Gibson and Will Smith) are coming back from injuries — but that's how things look right now.

• Former Jayhawk great Darrell Stuckey was on hand for Saturday's practice with his son. They hung in there for two-thirds of the practice and did equal amounts of watching, playing catch and dancing. Stuckey looks great. Several former Jayhawks from last year's team were out there again today, too.

Defensive linemen Daniel Wise (96) and Ben Goodman (93) get some extra work in following Saturday's practice.

Defensive linemen Daniel Wise (96) and Ben Goodman (93) get some extra work in following Saturday's practice. by Matt Tait

Reply 4 comments from Bville Hawk Jonathan Briles Marc Frey Baldjedi

What caught my eye at Day 2 of KU football’s 2015 Spring practices

D-Line coach Calvin Thibodeaux runs his guys through a drill at Thursday's practice.

D-Line coach Calvin Thibodeaux runs his guys through a drill at Thursday's practice. by Matt Tait

Day 2 of KU Football's spring practices brought more of the same elements that we saw on Day 1 on Tuesday — lots of energy, impressive tempo and fiery coaches getting after guys in both good moments and bad.

By far, though, the most memorable aspect of the day came during one-on-one drills between receivers and defensive backs, when co-defensive coordinator Kenny Perry, who was hanging out in the middle of the field where a referee normally be, intercepted a pass and began to return it up the field after the catch.

Perry initially bobbled the ball but hauled it in and then turned it up field without hesitation. It was a big moment for the former TCU assistant, who had been all over his DBs to “make a play.” After seeing him do it, they had very little excuse for not making similar plays happen themselves.

Later in the day, after practice moved over to the stadium for 7-on-7 and full team offensive drills, Ronnie Davis and Tevin Shaw each followed in Perry's footsteps by picking up an interception during live action.

Here's a quick look at the rest of what caught my eye from Thursday's practice...

• Other than special teams drills and full team activities, Perry spent his time working with the cornerbacks and defensive coordinator Clint Bowen, who has coached just about every position during his days with the Jayhawks, spent his time working with the safeties. This set up was what most people expected and I think it takes advantage of each guy's area of expertise. Both guys are fired up throughout practice and don't give their guys even a moment to breathe. The expectation is perfection and if a guy missteps or isn't doing something right, he's going to hear about it.

Co-defensive coordinator Kenny Perry works with KU's cornerbacks during a recent practice.

Co-defensive coordinator Kenny Perry works with KU's cornerbacks during a recent practice. by Matt Tait

• One of the more enjoyable things to watch during the first couple of days has been wide receivers coach Klint Kubiak's hands-on approach to coaching. Kubiak, 27, is young enough to get out there and run with his guys and he's not afraid to show them how to stick a route, how to break press coverage or how to get off the line and down the field during punt coverage drills. Huge asset for the program. You can just tell that this guy is well on his way to being a hell of a coach and I'm definitely looking more to seeing more in the coming weeks, months and years.

• Speaking of guys who are on their way to becoming great coaches, I think D-Line coach Calvin Thibodeaux is another one. He's full of energy, doesn't take or make any excuses and gets his guys to flat-out work. One of his favorite tools to inspire that great work ethic seems to be sarcasm. I heard, on more than one occasion, Thibodeaux laughing to himself and telling his guys, “Don't be last in line now, son.”

• With several former Jayhawks still in town following pro day, getting ready for the upcoming NFL Draft and free agent opportunities, a few of them showed up to practice again on Thursday. Nick Harwell, Nigel King, Tony Pierson and Charles Brooks all watched at least an hour of practice and I thought it was funny (and made sense) how King and Harwell spent nearly all of their time watching the wide receivers, sort of like the old veterans watching to make sure the torch had been passed properly. There are a bunch of bodies out there at WR for Kansas, but it's still too early to see how talented the group is. Most of them are young dudes still learning the game. Having said that, senior Tre' Parmalee definitely has stood out so far as a guy who has been there and done that. Rodriguez Coleman appears to be the most naturally talented guy in the group. And a walk-on, red-shirt freshman Ryan Schadler, who came to KU after running track at Wichita State, also impressed me with his pure speed. The guy is lightning quick and runs every drill full speed. Still plenty to watch at that position in the coming weeks.

• I didn't really notice this too much because when they're running team offense and seven-on-seven, we're pretty far away, but it caught my ear when Beaty said after practice that the biggest area the Jayhawks improved from Day 1 to Day 2 was in committing fewer penalties, particularly the five-yard false start and offsides penalties. It's just one day, but you'd definitely rather see that kind of rapid improvement than watching it take a week or two to get fixed.

• Speaking of improvement, a guy who looked much better on Day 2 than Day 1 was tight end Kent Taylor. Taylor looked a step slow on Tuesday and dropped a few balls. On Thursday, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound junior looked to be moving much better and caught everything thrown his way. I think the guy has a chance to be a big-time weapon for this offense.

• Practice wrapped with a few different ball security drills. It was probably about 10-15 minutes and guys rotated through different stations that emphasized taking care of the football. Before spring drills began, Beaty said this would be a big emphasis for the team so it would be a safe bet to predict that every practice will end this way.

• The Jayhawks are off on Friday and will return to the practice fields for Practice No. 3 on Saturday morning. That practice will be the first in pads and, as you might expect, Beaty said he and the coaching staff were looking forward to seeing what some of these guys can do in full pads.

Reply 7 comments from Dave Roberts Damian Glaze Matt Tait Kingfisher Texashawk10_2 Catsandwich Lcjayhawk

What caught my eye at Day 1 of KU football’s 2015 Spring practice

The Jayhawks work on bursting through during spring practice on Tuesday, March 24, 2015.

The Jayhawks work on bursting through during spring practice on Tuesday, March 24, 2015. by Nick Krug

Tuesday marked the third time I've seen a new coaching staff kick off spring practices with the KU football program and the one thing that stood out above all else was that there was very little about Tuesday that looked a spring practice at all.

The coaches and players operated with urgency, energy and intensity and reacted to mistakes with much more fire than an aw-shucks, oh-well attitude.

A big part of that likely came from the fact that everything is up for grabs on this team. The coaches and players are in the process of learning about one another and proving things to each other and each guy wearing a helmet is competing for a job he likely truly believes he can win.

That reality can only help the Jayhawks in their latest rebuilding process but also serves as a reminder that there's a long way to go.

With that in mind, here's a quick look at a few things that caught my eye from Day 1 of spring drills.

• Several former Jayhawks, many in town to go through Wednesday's pro timing day in from of NFL scouts, were on hand to watch the early portion of Tuesday's practice. The guys I saw included: Jake Heaps, JaCorey Shepherd, Keon Stowers, Nigel King, Nick Harwell, Trevor Pardula, Tedarian Johnson, Pat Lewandowski and one or two others. Pretty cool to see those guys show up to support their former teammates and the future of the program.

• KU coach David Beaty jumped right into the thick of all kinds of drills during Tuesday's practice and was all over the field. He seemed most fired up during the special teams drills — which he deems incredibly important — and even said after practice that it was tough for him to not be able to fully dive into the drills the way he could as a position coach.

• Beaty said not to read too much into which guys went out there with the first unit, but also said that those who were out there first were there for a reason. And I couldn't help but pay close attention to what things looked like at offensive line. The first group — at least for Tuesday — included: right tackle Larry Mazyck, right guard Junior Visinia, center Jacob Bragg, left guard Bryan Peters and left tackle Jordan Shelley-Smith. Versatile center/guard Joe Gibson is currently recovering from an injury and could be another guy who factors into the mix along the O-Line before it's all said and done.

Kansas offensive lineman Junior Visinia (75) and Jacob Bragg (55) take off as the ball is snapped to quarterback Michael Cummings during spring practice on Tuesday, March 24, 2015.

Kansas offensive lineman Junior Visinia (75) and Jacob Bragg (55) take off as the ball is snapped to quarterback Michael Cummings during spring practice on Tuesday, March 24, 2015. by Nick Krug

• Speaking of Jacob Bragg, the red-shirt freshman center looks pretty thick and put together. Several guys looked bigger than I remember (safety Fish Smithson was another who looked noticeably bigger), something that Beaty said was the product of the work strength coach Je'Ney Jackson and his staff had done with the physical make up of this team. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I thought juco transfer Ke'aun Kinner looked thinner than I expected, but also blazing fast. Josh Ehambe (a monster) and Bazie Bates IV (a newcomer who's clearly ready to play) also caught my eye in terms of physical size.

• Several coaches really emphasized the pace and tempo of practice throughout the day with subtle but pointed instructions that included, “Hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry,” (O-Line coach Zach Yenser), Don't walk, don't walk,” (Yenser) and “I like that tempo,” (Special teams coach Gary Hyman). They weren't the only ones to talk about tempo, but they were two of the loudest.

• Speaking of the coaches, I thought it was interesting that Hyman, Yenser and offensive coordinator Rob Likens all wore head sets during one particular offensive drill. Looking forward to finding out the reason behind that when we talk to one of them.

Kansas co-defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach Kenny Perry grits his teeth as he prepares to give some criticism during spring practice on Tuesday, March 24, 2015.

Kansas co-defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach Kenny Perry grits his teeth as he prepares to give some criticism during spring practice on Tuesday, March 24, 2015. by Nick Krug

• Cornerbacks coach/co-defensive coordinator Kenny Perry is fiery. I mean, real fiery. And it's pretty awesome to watch. He's not simply content with these guys trying hard. He expects them to pay attention, retain instruction and then execute what's asked. And if they don't, he rips into them. On one particular play, Perry got after cornerback Ronnie Davis after Davis jumped to break up a pass and let the ball hit the turf instead of intercepting it. “Make a play,” Perry screamed. “That's gotta be picked.” The emphasis on turnovers was in line with what Beaty said Monday would be an important part of the spring.

Kansas quarterbacks Michael Cummings and Montell Cozart listen as they receive direction from offensive coordinator Rob Likens during spring practice on Tuesday, March 24, 2015.

Kansas quarterbacks Michael Cummings and Montell Cozart listen as they receive direction from offensive coordinator Rob Likens during spring practice on Tuesday, March 24, 2015. by Nick Krug

• There's definitely no hurry on the part of the coaching staff to identify the starting quarterback. Michael Cummings was the first guy to go out there during most offensive drills, followed by Montell Cozart (who looked pretty good with the deep ball) and T.J. Millweard (whose intelligence Beaty marveled at). Those three, along with a few others and the newcomers who arrive in June, will all get a fair shot at winning the job, but I thought it was particularly cool to see how much Cummings and Cozart communicated during Tuesday's practice. Remember, these guys are (a) friends and teammates and (b) trying to learn a new offense at the same time. Good for them for using every resource available to them.

• KU will be off on Wednesday and get back after it on Thursday for practice No. 2 of the 15-practice spring. We'll be there and will bring you plenty more reaction, analysis and information nuggets.

Reply 2 comments from Dale Rogers Lcjayhawk

A dozen Jayhawks I’m eager to watch during spring football

Today marks the opening day of the first spring football season under new KU football coach David Beaty.

And although there's still more than five months ahead for this program to get ready for the 2015 season, a good chunk of the work will begin starting today as the new KU coaches and players begin installing fresh offensive and defensive schemes and putting in the basis of what the program under Beaty will be all about.

There's plenty of time ahead to learn, examine and analyze all of that, but, for now, let's take a quick look at a dozen players I'm most looking forward to seeing this spring.

A lot of them are newcomers — big surprise – but a few of them are names you know and I'm just as eager to see what those guys have done to position themselves for more playing time or bigger roles.

Although spring football does not officially begin until the first practice at 4:20 p.m. today, this we know already — don't expect much in the way of a depth chart at the start of the spring and maybe not even by the end of it.

The coaching staff is not interested in tossing out names of guys they know little about or ramping up expectations for specific players. They're more interested in waiting to see which players develop, which players best fit the new offense and defense and which guys separate themselves by outworking others on a daily basis.

Just because several players did not make this list does not mean I'm not fired up to see what they look like. There are plenty of guys, both proven and unproven, who should be fun to keep an eye on this spring. This group though is likely to be the 12 guys my eyes wander to first when we're out there at practice later today.

Enough build up. Here's the list.

1. Safety Bazie Bates IV — The guy with one of the coolest names on the team is going to play. It's just a matter of how much and where. Athletic dude with good size and speed should stand out quickly as Jayhawks attempt to revamp a secondary that lost four starters from last season.

2. Cornerback Brandon Stewart — One of the most highly sought after players in the incoming class, Stewart has a golden opportunity to step into the starting cornerback vacancy left by the departure of JaCorey Shepherd and Dexter McDonald. The question is how long will it take him to prove himself?

3. Wide Receiver Chase Harrell — I truly cannot wait to see this kid. Good-sized receiver who's supposed to have good hands and ball skills, Harrell, who graduated high school early so he could go through spring ball, has a chance to emerge as an immediate contributor at an unproven position.

4. Defensive Lineman D.J. Williams — Defensive coordinator Clint Bowen mentioned Williams' name late in the 2014 season as one of the guys who red-shirted who he was looking forward to having on the field in 2015. That's good enough for me. KU lost a lot up front on defense so Williams' development will be crucial.

5. Quarterback Montell Cozart — Michael Cummings may very well start out as the favorite to win the quarterback job and incoming freshmen Carter Stanley and Ryan Willis might have something to say about the battle when they arrive in the summer. But there's just something that still intrigues me about Cozart. We already know he's got the athleticism and a little bit of experience. The reason I'm looking forward to seeing him is because I want to see if he took the necessary steps toward becoming a true QB and not just an athlete trying to play the position. How Cozart fits into this new offense ranks as one of the most intriguing questions surrounding this team.

6. Offensive Lineman Jordan Shelley-Smith — The last time I saw Shelley-Smith he was well on his way to transforming from a tight end to an offensive linemen. I'm guessing that transformation has reached the point where he'll almost be unrecognizable, which would be a good thing for Kansas because the Jayhawks likely will need the athletic yet equally physical Shelley-Smith to be ready to play right — maybe even left — tackle this fall.

7. Running Back Taylor Cox — This one's more of a sentimental pick. The guy has been through two seasons worth of injuries but is still out there grinding away hoping for one last chance to help his team. That's a cool story in itself, but add to that the fact that Cox is a fantastic young man and you're looking at a guy you can't help but pull for.

8. Tight End Kent Taylor — Freak athlete who could go a long way toward helping fill the void left by the departure of nearly all of KU's impact pass catchers from 2014. Gone are Nigel King, Nick Harwell, Jimmay Mundine and Tony Pierson. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound junior who transferred to KU from Florida and sat out the 2014 season could be an option to fill in at whichever one of those positions needs him the most.

9. Offensive Lineman De'Andre Banks — I've heard nothing but good things about this guy's power, size and versatility. Who knows if he'll be ready to play right away or not, but if he is, O-Line coach Zach Yenser and offensive coordinator Rob Likens surely will view the fact that he can play multiple positions as a huge luxury and a big break.

10. Defensive End Anthony Olobia — Former junior college stud came in with some serious hype last season but arrived late and then got injured. Did the year off provide even more motivation for the No. 2 ranked juco player at his position in the Class of 2014?

11. Offensive Lineman Jacob Bragg — Another guy who Bowen mentioned as a potential breakout player who red-shirted in 2014, the highly-touted center, if he's ready, could provide a huge lift in helping KU's offensive line take shape sooner rather than later.

12. Defensive End Damani Mosby — Like Olobia, Mosby was one of those guys the Jayhawks expected to bolster their pass rush in 2014. However, his late arrival from junior college forced him to red-shirt. With the Jayhawks seeking to replace the terrific season turned in by departed senior Michael Reynolds in 2014, Mosby figures to get a crack at a big role provided he has put in the work during the past seven months.

Reply 13 comments from Jacob Zutterman Michael Lorraine Texashawk10_2 Matt Tait Baldjedi Kingfisher Oklahomajayhawk Ashwin Rao Doug Roberts

The Day After: Waived by the Wheat Shockers

Kansas forward Perry Ellis is fouled on a dunk attempt  in the Jayhawks' 78-65 loss to Wichita State Sunday, March 22, 2015 at the CenturyLink Center, Omaha, Neb.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis is fouled on a dunk attempt in the Jayhawks' 78-65 loss to Wichita State Sunday, March 22, 2015 at the CenturyLink Center, Omaha, Neb. by Mike Yoder

If you really think about it, Sunday's 78-65 loss to Wichita State was probably about as fitting of an end for this Kansas team as anything.

The problems that plagued the Jayhawks all year were the same ones that showed up against the Shockers — no mental edge, a lack of a leader, struggles scoring on offense and stopping the drive on defense.

I picked Kansas to win because the Jayhawks looked so sharp on Friday — and also because Wichita State labored a little to beat Indiana — but, if you've been following along here all year, the unceremonious ending to an up-and-down season was probably one you saw coming.

Wichita State's veterans outplayed the Jayhawks in just about every way and even the KU players said after the game in the locker room that they thought the Shockers wanted it more. That's a tough pill for any team to swallow and was the most obvious reason why the Jayhawks' season ended in the Round of 32 for the second year in a row.

Quick takeaway

As you've heard KU coach Bill Self say time and time again, the Jayhawks had a good season but fell short of making it a season to remember by falling flat in the NCAA Tournament. Since making that memorable run to the 2012 NCAA title game, the Jayhawks are just 4-3 in the past three NCAA Tournaments and have had more rough moments in those seven games than positive ones. Everyone knows that the tournament is a crap shoot and can be cruel to even the most talented and accomplished teams, but the Jayhawks lack of experience, leadership and a couple of badly time breaks — Perry Ellis' injury, Cliff Alexander's ineligibility, etc. — proved to be too much for that kind of roster to overcome and KU, though able to recall fond memories of Big 12 title No. 11 in a row, begins its inevitable countdown to Late Night in October.

Three reasons to smile

1 – You can't help but love the way Devonte' Graham finished his initial season at Kansas. Like Conner Frankamp a season ago, Graham played two of his better games of the season in the NCAA Tournament and was the Jayhawks' best player on Sunday. He was one of the few guys who showed a sense of urgency and competitiveness and his stats matched. He finished with 17 points, 5 steals, 3 assists and 1 turnover.

Kansas guard Devonté Graham (4) is fouled after getting a steal on Wichita State center Tom Wamukota (21) in the Jayhawks' third-round NCAA Tournament game against Wichita State Sunday, March 22, 2015 at the CenturyLink Center, Omaha, Neb.

Kansas guard Devonté Graham (4) is fouled after getting a steal on Wichita State center Tom Wamukota (21) in the Jayhawks' third-round NCAA Tournament game against Wichita State Sunday, March 22, 2015 at the CenturyLink Center, Omaha, Neb. by Mike Yoder

2 – For the first 15 minutes of the game, the Jayhawks had the Shockers right where they wanted them. KU was clicking on offense, controlled the glass on the defensive end and did what this team had become known to do — made the opponent play bad. But KU's offense began to struggle and KU's chance to take control disappeared.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) positions himself for a rebound against  Wichita State center Tom Wamukota, left and Ron Baker, left, in the first-half of the Jayhawks' third-round NCAA Tournament game against Wichita State Sunday, March 22, 2015.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) positions himself for a rebound against Wichita State center Tom Wamukota, left and Ron Baker, left, in the first-half of the Jayhawks' third-round NCAA Tournament game against Wichita State Sunday, March 22, 2015. by Mike Yoder

3 – Give Perry Ellis credit for playing through both the knee injury that gave him trouble the past few weeks and a nasty shot to the face midway through the first half that drew blood and briefly sent Ellis to the locker room. Ellis wasn't his normal spectacular self and former teammate Evan Wessel canceled out most of Ellis' advantage in the match-up with a fantastic game, but no one can question Ellis' toughness after a game like that. Even on a day when he didn't look his best, the KU junior led the team in scoring and added eight boards and 10 trips to the free throw line.

Three reasons to sigh

1 – Like Andrew Wiggins against Stanford a season ago, KU sophomore Wayne Selden did next to nothing on the stat sheet in the final game of the season. No points. One rebound. One foul. Two turnovers. And one steal in 23 minutes. Tough way to end a tough season. It's going to be very interesting to see where Selden takes his game from here.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) runs into Wichita State guard Ron Baker (31) in the Jayhawks third-round 78-65 loss NCAA Tournament game against Wichita State Sunday, March 22, 2015 at the CenturyLink Center, Omaha, Neb.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) runs into Wichita State guard Ron Baker (31) in the Jayhawks third-round 78-65 loss NCAA Tournament game against Wichita State Sunday, March 22, 2015 at the CenturyLink Center, Omaha, Neb. by Richard Gwin

2 – Wichita State's 13-2 run to close the first half was clearly not the way KU had hoped to end the half, but it only put the Jayhawks behind by three points. Several Jayhawks said in the locker room after the game that they still believed they would win and were fine during the break. That certainly appeared to be the case when Frank Mason opened the second half with an easy layup that cut the WSU lead to one. From there, however, KU folded and folded quickly. As soon as the Shockers hit KU back and built a four, six and seven point lead, KU looked shell-shocked and never really got back into it. The same team that looked — and played — loose in an impressive opening-round victory all of a sudden tightened up again and that led to another early exit.

Kansas Assistant coach Jerrance Howard gives a rub to Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) after Mason fouled out in the Jayhawks' third-round NCAA Tournament game against Wichita State Sunday, March 22, 2015 at the CenturyLink Center, in Omaha, Neb.

Kansas Assistant coach Jerrance Howard gives a rub to Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) after Mason fouled out in the Jayhawks' third-round NCAA Tournament game against Wichita State Sunday, March 22, 2015 at the CenturyLink Center, in Omaha, Neb. by Richard Gwin

3 – I still don't understand why Hunter Mickelson didn't get more of a shot. Every time he played during the past couple of weeks, he delivered positive things. He's not a 20-plus minutes a game guy and he's not going to single-handedly win KU a game, but in a contest when the Shockers scored 49 second-half points and had no problem getting to the rim during that stint, it would've been interesting to see what Mickelson, an accomplished shot blocker, could have done to impact the game. That's especially true given KU's foul trouble.

One for the road

KU's season-ending loss to Wichita State:

• Dropped the Jayhawks to 27-9.

• Made Kansas 21-10 in second games played in the NCAA Tournament, including an 7-3 record in the round of 32 for head coach Bill Self.

• Snapped the Jayhawks’ win streak against the Shockers at five games, narrowing the advantage in the all-time series with Wichita State to 12-3.

• Made Kansas 97-43 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.

• Marked KU’s first NCAA Tournament loss in Omaha. Including games played in the 2008 and 2012 NCAA Tournaments, KU is now 5-1 in the city.

• Made Self 352-78 while at Kansas, 37-16 in the NCAA Tournament and 559-183 overall.

• Made KU 2,153-829 all-time.

Next up

For the second year in a row, the Jayhawks bow out of the tournament without advancing past the first weekend. KU finishes the season 27-9 and, as is the case just about every year no matter when the season ends, will head into the offseason wondering who will leave, who will be back and how Bill Self will reload.

By the Numbers: Wichita State knocks out Kansas

By the Numbers: Wichita State knocks out Kansas

Reply 43 comments from David Robinett Gregor Southard Benjamin Jones Cody Riedy Billy Smith Matt Tait Rockchalk1990 Arthur Ankeney Stupidmichael Daniel Poull and 24 others

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