Thursday, November 13, 2014

Jayhawks set to open against UC Santa Barbara

Kansas head coach Bill Self takes a knee to talk with some of the freshman during the second half on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014.

Kansas head coach Bill Self takes a knee to talk with some of the freshman during the second half on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014.


Build-up for Tuesday’s Kansas University-Kentucky game can definitely wait a day or so.

The Jayhawks open the 2014-15 basketball season at home against UC Santa Barbara — and the country’s top rebounder in Alan Williams — at 7 tonight and that’s a huge happening in itself, coach Bill Self says.

“The first game of the season I think everybody is jacked,” Self said, noting the Gauchos return four starters off last year’s 21-9 team. Top returnee is 6-8, 265-pound senior center Williams, who averaged 21.3 points and 11.5 boards in earning Big West Player of the Year honors.

“I think our guys will be real excited to play and they shouldn’t look ahead because Santa Barbara can come in here and have success and put themselves in a position to win — or win. They are good enough to (win) and are well-coached enough (by 17th-year mentor Bob Williams).

“Come Saturday they (Jayhawks will) be juiced for Tuesday, so that’ll be a different type of deal. I don’t see how your first game can be a trap game because our guys should be juiced to play. The bottom line is they definitely will have our respect.”

Freshman guard Devonté Graham said the team’s focus is on the present.

“This is what we’ve been working for all summer, all preseason. We’ll be definitely fired up,” Graham stated. “We can’t jump ahead to us thinking about Kentucky. That’s how teams end up losing, not being focused. After Friday’s game ... that’s when we’ll change our attention to Tuesday’s game.”

The mere sight of Williams during warmups should put the Jayhawks in an ultra-competitive frame of mind. He had 20 points and 19 rebounds in the Gauchos’ 70-54, exhibition victory over Point Loma.

“He’s a terrific player, great rebounder, big body,” KU junior forward Perry Ellis said.

“He creates so much attention he opens things up for other players,” Self added.

Zalmico Harmon, a 6-0 senior point guard, was second in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio last year (4.6-to-1.0.). He earned honorable mention all Big West honors last season with 6-4 junior Michael Bryson, who averaged 11.5 points and 4.3 rebounds.

Greene nets the start: Self said sophomore Brannen Greene would start along with Ellis, Frank Mason III , Wayne Selden Jr., and Jamari Traylor.

Greene has had the best quote of the season so far about turning it up “when the popcorn’s poppin” during actual games.

“It’s amazing to me what some of our guys come up with. I would still like to see him turn it up once anyway, period,” Self cracked. “But he was turned up a little bit the other day. He got three offensive rebounds, and I’d say that’s a great way to go after the ball. But his responsibility is getting back every time we shoot it. He actually got three balls that he shouldn’t have gotten if he had done what he was supposed to do, but that’s Brannen for you. That’s kind of how we operate from time to time.”

Pressure: Don’t be surprised if KU continues to use some full-court pressure defense.

“I look to us doing more and more of that even as the season goes on and becoming much better at it,” Self said. “I would like to be able to extend at least pressure. I didn’t say press, but pressure and still be sound in the frontcourt.”

“We do that every day in practice,” Graham said. “We feel we have the quickness and skillset to pressure 90 feet from the basket and cause turnovers and get easy buckets.”

Self on forward Cliff Alexander: “I think you saw how Cliff runs in the exhibition games like a deer and he runs like a plow horse in practice. So there’s obviously a big difference in him turning it up all the time. That’s what I’m talking about, always keeping a body on somebody, and going after the ball with two hands. Cliff will do that. That’s who he is, but he doesn’t do that consistently yet.”

Self on guard Kelly Oubre Jr.: ”He’s got to get confidence and he can get confidence through repetition, and you’ve got to be able to play instead of think. Sometimes these guys are so screwed up because we’ve got them thinking instead of playing, but all young kids go through that.”

Frankamp update: Former KU guard Conner Frankamp, who attended Wichita State’s exhibition game last weekend, is slated to visit Colorado as a possible transfer destination, the Denver Post reports.

Student seats: Self was asked whether he finds it “weird not having the students sit behind the bench anymore.” The students’ 120 seats in Section U adjacent to the KU bench next to the northwest tunnel have gone to Williams Fund members in response to the Student Senate’s lowering of the athletics fee students pay each year from $50 to $12 per student.

“I would say probably not for me but I haven’t even thought about it because to me the students were never behind the bench because where my seat is on the bench there’s no students there. So I guess if you go to the end of the bench there’s an area there where the students were. I guess it’s a little bit different but I haven’t noticed that at all. I know why the decisions were made to do certain things and everything. There’s still plenty of good seats for the students to get though.” Self added the students “have been great.”

Undefeated Cats: SMU coach Larry Brown has fueled the expectations for Kentucky’s basketball team — the one with nine McDonald’s All-Americans on the roster.

“If you take their first and second teams and split them up, they’d probably have the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the nation,” former KU coach Brown told USA Today. “John (Calipari) should go 45-0 with that talent.”


Suzi Marshall 7 years, 10 months ago

I have tons of apprehension with this "veteran" lineup. Collectively, Mason/Selden/Greene/Ellis/Traylor did not show much grit last year. They all have improved a lot but UCSB is a good team so we'll find out how much has changed. Our depth should wear them down. Now that the popcorn is popping, we'll see if the new comers, Mickelson included, are ready to step up.

I doubt Self will play Williams one-on-one. It will be interesting to see where the double team will come from with an extend defense. We have a lot of fouls to put on Williams, who might shoot 15-20 FTs.

Eliott Reeder 7 years, 10 months ago

I'll agree that Perry has been a little soft-seeming, though a lot of that I'd attribute to his quiet demeanor. Mason has shown grit and toughness from day one, didn't he come in from a military academy? Selden played through a bum knee most of last year: grit. Greene may be a bit of a knucklehead sometimes, but he's been pretty damn gritty. Remember the steal and putback under the basket at K-State last year? And Jamari... the kid was homeless and lived in a car in high school. I don't know how you get much grittier than that.

Walter Bridges 7 years, 10 months ago

Trayor does not belong in that many 3 star players get the minutes that he normally does. The kid was second in FG% and played well w/Black on the court.

Brianna Zaleski 7 years, 10 months ago

Suzi, You you don't have any faith in our players? Shocking!
Sit back and enjoy the ride will ya? This team is already light years ahead of last years team because of its ability to create turnovers. True Bill Self basketball: great defense leading to easy offense. You're becoming one of the most pessimistic posters we have. Just sit back and let the game take its natural course. We have a collection of some of the best college basketball players in the nation, led by the best coach in the country. Good things will result.

Brianna Zaleski 7 years, 10 months ago


I'm not sure if you're messing w me or not, but wanted to let you know that I think I got you confused w someone else last month when I took issue w you. I criticized you for being cynical and purposefully abrasive to posters. Since my post, I've found your posts to be quite the opposite. Leading me to believe I was wrong somewhere. So sorry, officially, and keep up the good work!

Rodney Crain 7 years, 10 months ago

I can be blunt, realistic and abrasive when someone attacks me unjustly. I have no issues with that. I think Suzi supports the team openly myself, I kid her about having homer glasses on even. I thought you were kidding with her too. Sorry if I misread your post.

Mike Riches 7 years, 10 months ago

Brianna, I like your attitude a lot, and I'm with you. But I do hope our players are thinking more like Suzi tonight, at least to the point where they take UCSB seriously. We need them to take care of business in game 1! Rock Chalk! It's gameday!!

Adam Collins 7 years, 10 months ago

I, unfortunately, have a Kentucky friend and despite all of my goading about how they were supposed to go 40-0 last year, I think they have a more legitimate shot this year. 40 games is nearly impossible, there's always one game out there that will trip you up.

Regardless, KU should give UK a run for their money on Tuesday and tonight should give us a good barometer of where our team is so far.

Rob Bedford III 7 years, 10 months ago

This early in the season I think Kentucky wins this game easily 90-72.

Rob Bedford III 7 years, 10 months ago

Hopefully the length of the guards can keep some of the passes away from Kentucky's big men. Lucas is too slow and Traylor is not tall enough to deal with their size. Cliff should be able to hold his own but I think he will get in foul trouble.

Bryce Landon 7 years, 10 months ago

By the time KU gets done laying the hurt on UCSB, the Gauchos will have to call themselves "The Ouch-o's". HEY-OH!

Tom Longhofer 7 years, 10 months ago

If looking ahead to Kentucky and losing to Santa Barbara would improve our chances to beat Kentucky, I'd be tempted to look ahead and take the loss.

Robert Brock 7 years, 10 months ago

Looks like the starting lineup is Coach Self's reward for putting forth effort in practice. I am pleased that Greene is showing that he can do more than jack up shots.

How long will HCBC stay with these starters on the court? Not long. We need to get some PT for Graham, our only point guard. And Cliff needs to bend the rims to his satisfaction.

Andrew Horigan 7 years, 10 months ago

That's funny, I could have sworn we had a starting point guard by the name of Frank Mason...

Robert Brock 7 years, 10 months ago

He's not a point guard. Even Self calls him a "scoring point" - meaning, he doesn't distribute dimes; he just lowers his head and dribbles into trouble.

Rodney Crain 7 years, 10 months ago

We have two very strong PG's on our team, Mason and Graham. They can play the point by themselves or together. Selden can contribute at that position too. Rest of the team looks good we should have a better season than last year on both sides of the ball.

Rodney Crain 7 years, 10 months ago

If KY is ready to play we could lose by 20. They have 12 players as tall or taller than us, experience, and 9 All Americans. They will be a load. Our only hope is we play well and they are not ready to play as a team. There should be no doubt, just like climate change is real, that they are going to be a very tough team to beat. Duke, WI, maybe AZ can play with them, but the only way they lose this season is if they beat themselves. They are that good.

Mick Allen 7 years, 10 months ago

Graham is our only point guard? Mason has been doing a good job masquerading as one. I know HCBS has said that Graham is more like a true point than Mason, who is more a short scoring guard or a 2. Mason's game has matured from last year and he has taken care of the ball and distributed it well( 10 assists and 1 turnover), albeit against Washburn and Emporia State. Graham seems to have the point guard mentality as far as controlling tempo and being a pass first point. But to say he is our only point guard does a disservice to Mason. Graham can take his time learning the game at this level, as the point guard position is in capable hands. We will see during the season whether Graham can take minutes from Mason when they are not on the court together.

Scott Smetana 7 years, 10 months ago

a few thoughts....

I'd be glad to see our second 5 take on Kensucky's second 5: Graham, Oubre, Svi, Lucas/Mick, Alexander. I'd put this team in the top 10 of the country.

I've always been curious to see a student seating section map at Allen vs. the other top 10 programs in the country. Bummer to read they got demoted again. Places like Cameron kick our #@$.

Anyone know how to watch the game tonight? I'm out of state. Thanks!

Chad Harris 7 years, 10 months ago

@Scott has the game. If you live in Kansas, they have a tendency to black-out the games. If you don't, you'll be able to watch the game; I know for a fact it's airing on there tonight. I live in Philadelphia and catch every game, every year. If that doesn't work I know a few other sites.

Scott Smetana 7 years, 10 months ago

Thanks Chad. I have DIsh which use to not work with ESPN3, but does now. Is ESPN3 the same thing as ESPN360? Thanks!

Len Shaffer 7 years, 10 months ago

Another way to watch is to purchase the ESPN Fullcourt College Basketball package. I purchase it every year and there are usually 10 or so KU games that I'm able to watch that way.

Chad Harris 7 years, 10 months ago

It's is the same. The 360 you catch it online.

Mick Allen 7 years, 10 months ago

Mr. Brock if assists are dimes, this guard who" doesn't distribute" and" just lowers his head and dribbles into trouble" has 10 assists and 1 turnover. Why so negative about Mason? He gets into the lane off the dribble. The bigs need to find space for him to get them the ball when their defender goes to help on Mason. Last year he did occasionally force things, but his understanding of his role has improved greatly since his freshman year. Your lack of patience and understanding of point guard play is frustrating.

Margaret Schadler 7 years, 10 months ago

Might be best in the long run for our guys to beat UCSB and push Kentucky some. I'd just as soon UK had the great big egos with our guys realizing how much they have to learn. I'm looking for Jamari and Wayne to show up big this year with Ellis being the best player that no one notices

Chad Harris 7 years, 10 months ago

Mr. Brock you're wrong about Mason. In order to create shots for other people you have to be able to dribble to the hoop to penetrate then kick the ball out. Frank does that better than anyone. And he is tough. Can he score? Yes. Does he create shots for other? Yes. Graham is just a different PG--he is a pass first. Mason is very much just like Tyshawn Taylor. People thought he wasn't that good of a point guard, but he was the reason why Tyreel Reed and Brady Morningstar was lighting it up from 3's. He drove to the hole a lot and kicked the ball out.

Brian Skelly 7 years, 10 months ago

 The reality is that if Graham and Mason develop well this season and become the players hope they can be,  good things can happen for this team.     If they dont,  we won't.    I've argued the past couple of teams have been hampered by that.    Forcing E.J. to play point -- when he isnt,  and relying on Tharpe -- a good, but not great PG isnt a recipe for success against the other top teams.    It works during the season because our talent overall is great.    Less so when your splitting hairs amongst the big boys.    It is this simple.

Mick Allen 7 years, 10 months ago

Thank you Chad. I whole heartedly agree with your comments.

Warren Smith 7 years, 10 months ago

Too bad the majority of the KC area won't be able to see the game...

Chad Sandwell 7 years, 10 months ago

Anyone got a link to tonight's game....Would like to see it from South Dakota....I know good luck, right!

Jason Musick 7 years, 10 months ago

Time Warner Blows...When will you be able a to watch a KU BB Game on TV???? I was impressed with Kentucky during the over seas trip they took this summer. They are good.

They kicked the crap out of the European Pro Basketball teams they played against by 40 points or more each game.

It will be fun tonight for the people who can watch the game. Go Jayhawks !!!!!!

Very concerned about the Starting lineup. I hope that they can tweak the Line up, before the Kentucky game.

Brianna Zaleski 7 years, 10 months ago

Any idea what channel the game is on in Wichita tonight? I have COX and the guide says WSU is on chan 2022

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