Monday, April 6, 2015

Ted Owens likes Badgers

Former KU coach recalls Wisconsin series

Former Kansas head coach Ted Owens chats it up with former player Tommie Smith on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. Owens' 1974 Final Four team was honored during the first half of Saturday's game.

Former Kansas head coach Ted Owens chats it up with former player Tommie Smith on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. Owens' 1974 Final Four team was honored during the first half of Saturday's game.


Kansas University’s basketball team has played Duke two of the past four seasons, splitting a pair of games while trailing the all-time series, 7-3.

Games against Wisconsin, the Blue Devils’ opponent in tonight’s NCAA championship game (8 p.m., Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis) have not been nearly as frequent.

The Jayhawks, 3-1 all-time against the Badgers, drubbed UW, 76-60, in the last meeting on Dec. 8, 1969, in Allen Fieldhouse.

That completed a home-and-home series. KU fell to Wisconsin, 72-67, on Dec. 3, 1968, in Madison, Wisconsin.

Former KU coach Ted Owens — who, by the way, picks Wisconsin to win tonight’s game — remembers the KU-UW series vividly, especially the game in Madison.

“I’ll never forget the ovation Jo Jo (White, KU guard) received from the Wisconsin fans when they introduced him before the game,” Owens said Sunday from his home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “It was an incredible ovation, a huge ovation.”

White had just returned from the 1968 Olympic Games, where he, Spencer Haywood and Charlie Scott led the U.S. to a 65-50 gold-medal basketball victory over Yugoslavia on Oct. 23, 1968, just six weeks before KU’s game in Madison.

“Jo Jo had become a national hero with his Olympic teammates,” Owens said, recalling that the U.S. entered the ’68 Games as underdogs. “That U.S. team gained great support from fans in part because so many guys would not go to the Olympics as a protest (over social issues of the time).”

Owens believes the rare home-and-home with Wisconsin was set up because of Owens’ relationship with former Badger coach John Erickson.

“When I first became assistant at Kansas (1961), coach (Dick) Harp each summer wanted me to go somewhere to improve my education in the game,” Owens said. “One year he suggested I go to Wisconsin and meet John Erickson. I did and really liked him. We developed a longtime friendship, which we still have today. I don’t know for sure, but I’d think that maybe was how we ended up scheduling them (Badgers).”

Owens thinks Wisconsin tonight can avenge its 10-point loss to Duke in December in Madison.

“I like the maturity of their team,” Owens said of Wisconsin (36-3). “I think (Duke freshman center Jahlil) Okafor can give them trouble down low, but I think (UW senior center Frank) Kaminsky can give Duke a lot of problems having to guard him outside, too.

“Duke (34-4) really looked good; they looked powerful against Michigan State (81-61 Saturday in semifinal). Emotionally, I kind of lean toward Wisconsin. I like the fact a lot of their guys are seniors with a lot of maturity. I’m going to predict they win. I also think it’s going to be a great game.”

Owens, head coach at KU for 19 seasons, did not buy the argument that Wisconsin might find it difficult to be emotionally ready for two huge games in a row. UW, which has four contributing seniors, ruined Kentucky’s undefeated season, 71-64, in Saturday’s national semifinals.

“Bo Ryan is a pretty level-headed coach. He’ll get them down to earth. I don’t know if he’ll have to get ’em back to earth. I think they’re an awfully mature bunch,” Owens said.

“That’s the beauty of teams that stay together. They might have lesser talent, but the experience of playing together ... that’s why you see the George Mason’s and teams like that, senior-laden teams, advance. In this day and age of one-and-done, I think it’s terrific when you see that happen,” Owens added.

This, that: Everybody talks about Kentucky’s one-and-dones. Duke may have three as well. As points out, freshmen Okafor (17.5 ppg), Justise Winslow (12.5) and Tyus Jones (11.6) are three of the team’s top four scorers. Fox says if one includes key reserve Grayson Allen, freshmen contribute 56 percent of Duke’s scoring, 38 percent of rebounding and 62 percent of assists. Duke has also had one-and-dones in Kyrie Irving, Austin Rivers and Jabari Parker in recent years. ... Several KU recruiting targets will play for the U.S. men’s junior national team in the Nike Hoop Summit at 2 p.m., Central time, Saturday at the Moda Center in Portland. They are: Jaylen Brown, Brandon Ingram, Malik Newman and Stephen Zimmerman. L.J. Goolsby, coach of the KC Run GMC program in Kansas City, is assistant coach for the U.S. team. KU recruiting targets Cheick Diallo and Thon Maker will play for the international team. The game will be shown live on ESPN2.


Brett McCabe 7 years, 4 months ago

I have wondered if the UK loss has made any of the recruits take pause. The twist on the old joke goes something like this, "How many McDonald's All Americans does it take to beat Zero McDonald's All Americans?"

Though Kentucky has been wildly successful since Calipari took over, what's clear is that there is no obvious and easy path to the actual trophy. Perhaps some of these kids will look at this and think that, maybe they can take another route? Wishful thinking, I suppose, especially if Duke wins tonight and, in essence, out-Kentucky's Kentucky.

Keith Gellar 7 years, 4 months ago

UK's loss just brings up the same old narrative- good coaching/experienced players can beat talent with sub-par coaching. i think its safe to say our loss to WSU can be attributed to the same reason.

Joe Ross 7 years, 4 months ago

Good question, Brett. I dont think that not winning it all is enough to change the perception of Kentucky as a pipeline to the NBA.

Youre right about there being no easy path to a National Championship, though. I have a sneaking suspicion that Gary Bedore's mention of the OADs at Duke will resurrect a debate that by now I wish to be a bystander to, and yet it is refreshing to see veteran teams compete favorably against OAD-laden teams. Im actually rooting for Wisconsin. To be at that level without OADs, we'll have to show greater consistency of performance throughout the game (would have saved us against WSU), greater efficiency (which was the level ND was at), greater control/ability to dictate a game (which Kentucky was the best at until they were defeated by Wisconsin), and the ability to "play freely" (which is doing all of the above while at the same time generating a flow to the offense without deliberate or conscious effort---think Kansas vs. UNC in 2008).

Our returning roster is set. "They are who we thought they were!" They've gotta improve several levels before we will be competitive outside of our own conference.

Ill be watching that game on Saturday.

Cody Riedy 7 years, 4 months ago

Many will see the narrative of veterans vs OAD talent in this game, but before people make too big a deal out of it, there's a huge caveat that should be noted here, i.e. that veteran talent consists of at least two 1st round NBA caliber players. This gets to the real problem: people say don't recruit OADs, recruit the guys that will be really good, but only after sticking around a few years, however, the guys in the latter category are just as likely to disappoint and might even be harder to project. We've recruited several of the latter category of players (the high ranked, NBA potential guys, just behind the OAD recruits) in the last couple years - e.g. Greene, Selden, Frankamp. Frankamp quit because he saw he'd never beat out the guys in front of him (who were basically unranked recruits), Greene appears to still not have figured out the mental/work commitment he needs, and Selden seems to have hit a plateau that's lower than expected. There's still time for Selden and Greene, after all, they were only sophomores. But then again, Kaminsky and Dekker led Wisconsin to a final 4 last year as a sophomore and junior. Anyone feeling confident Selden and Greene can do that next year as juniors? As you note, we'll have to improve in many ways as a unit and as individual players next year if we are to see KU make a deep run as the veteran squad in next years field.

Joe Ross 7 years, 4 months ago

Your post is brilliant, Cody! Unfortunately, those who argue against OADs can not be persuaded even if you hammer away with the best wisdom. Though you hold the truth on your tongue, speaking it here will largely be frustrating. I have echoed what you've said elsewhere: your multi-year players have to be REALLY good if you want to have a chance at the National title. People often make the case of multi-year players by noting the case of the 2012 national title-game team. But they fail in their effect for 2 reasons: the first being that they actually lost to a OAD-laden team, and the second is exactly as you say: the talent of our multi-year players that year was off the charts. Unfortunately, people are unable to distinguish a difference between multiyear players. Theyre all cut from the same piece of cloth, or at least youd be hard-pressed to find any arguments that have been made that even attempt to show otherwise. Two final points. One, I HATE the OAD age-limit mandate. It should be two years. Secondly, a veteran team can actually do the job against teams laden with freshmen phenoms as Wisconsin proved against Kentucky. But this is by far the exception rather than the rule, as 38 other teams can attest to. I would hope that we could all yield to reason to see clearly how these players can impact their teams and affect the landscape of college ball, but that hope is a dim light growing dimmer by successive articles.

Joe Ross 7 years, 4 months ago

Oh, I meant to mention my only point of disagreement. Frankamp on his best day would never sniff the NBA. Too short. Too much of a defensive liability (can you imagine him trying to defend Chris Paul or Kyrie Irving). And his 3-point shooting in college has never been impressive.

Robert Brock 7 years, 4 months ago

Selden and Greene are very incomplete players. Keep recruiting!

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 4 months ago

Elijah Johnson is a perfect example against only targeting non OAD players. He was a low 5 star player out of HS so most figure he's got an NBA future ahead of him. Elijah never developed, he could never beat out Brady Morningstar or Tyrel Reed, and KU's down slide started when EJ failed to become a leader as a senior and KU hasn't had a leader since.

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 4 months ago

I'm not real sure if the game's outcome alone will affect recruits. However, there are several rumors floating around that Cal has expressed interest to return to the NBA soon. That rumor or action could have an effect.

Don Burgundy 7 years, 4 months ago

Should be a fun game tonight. I now can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that UK is out of the tournament. That way I won't have to root for Duke, and I can now root for the Badgers.

Tom Jones 7 years, 4 months ago

I'm just glad Cal was exposed and that the myth about this UK team being one of the greatest ever was put to bed. One of the best defensive teams ever? Yes. One of the best teams ever? Nope. Their "legend" was inflated by playing in a very weak league. They were taken to OT by a couple of mediocre teams and they really should have been out of this tournament a round earlier.

Thanks, Bucky Badger, for ending this.

Keith Gellar 7 years, 4 months ago

9/10 times- UK would have beaten wisconsin. For Wisconsin to win, they had to play a great game and UK had to play a good game. Both happened Yesterday.

"Their "legend" was inflated by playing in a very weak league" - very true, but same can be said for us. We inflated our own stock by doubling down on toughness of b12 which clearly was fools gold. And with the way UK handled us, they would go undefeated in the B12 because its obvious the B12 teams can't show up when it matters the most. Our league is full of paper tigers..on paper, we are the most dominant league with dominant teams, but when the balls on the court, we are suddenly a league full of jokers.

Micky Baker 7 years, 4 months ago

9/10 times? Well, I don't think so. It's 1-1 in back to back Final Fours for both teams. Kaminsky was better than anyone on Kentucky. I hadn't watched Wisconsin much this year, but Kaminsky had that drop step move that took him from 8 feet from the basket to the hole. Not even UK's length was enough to contend with that. UK got very lucky they even had a lead with under 6 or 7 minutes left to play. UK didn't score a basket for nearly the final five minutes. Wisconsin was plain better than UK was down the stretch. UK's players were frustrated because they were playing against guys who were both stronger(literally) and quicker than they were.

Keith Gellar 7 years, 4 months ago

agreed, but as all the analysts pointed out and was pretty clear, had kentucky gone to Towns more, they would have won. Winsconsin didn't have much of an answer for Towns. The critical stretch where kentucky got up by 4 and then had 3 empty possessions- they didn't go to towns. had they done so, i think the outcome would have been quite different. Plus Wisconsin has been shooting lights out from 3- they can't continue that. the laws of averages will come into play soon. they've just hit their stride at the best possible time.

Cody Riedy 7 years, 4 months ago

Kentucky shot a higher percentage from the field than Wisconsin did. Towns, plus the Harrison twins took nearly 60% of Kentucky's shots and Towns was 7/11 and the twins were a combined 10/21. Kentucky actually shot a higher percentage from 3pt range too, but they took fewer attempts (Wisconsin made 7 to Kentucky's 3 threes; that's not exactly blowing things up from 3 range). So, yes, they could have gone to Towns more, but its not like they weren't getting production from the other guys shooting and it's not like Wisconsin was shooting them out of the building on the other end. Wisconsin played Towns without fouling, so going to him wasn't creating extra shots (he was 2-3 from the FT line). Wisconsin outplayed them and they only lost by a last second shot last year, so I'm not sure how you can claim that Kentucky is a superior team that would win 90% of the time.

One other note about Towns: he's only taken double digit shot attempts 9 times this season out of 39 games, with 13 being the most he's ever taken in a game, which he did once, he's also scored more than his 16 points against Wisconsin, only six times this year and only twice has he scored over 20. Of course, UK hasn't been in many dogfights this year in which they might have leaned heavily on one guy, but statistically speaking, Towns performance was about as good as he's been all year, except that he played more minutes then he had all season to produce it. I'm not saying Towns can't do more, but Kentucky's game wasn't out of character is my point, meaning that I don't agree that it took Wisconsin playing great and Kentucky playing poorly. Wisconsin flat out beat Kentucky.

Tom Jones 7 years, 4 months ago

Oh, Keith, come on, man. 9 out of ten times? That's a silly thing to say.

UK played well yesterday. Look at the stats. They got beat by a better "team". Not a more "talented" team, as UK probably has 7 or 8 future NBA players to Wisconsin's two, but a better team. And a MUCH better coach. Ryan put a clown suit on Cal. And actually, Cal gave him a head start by not going over any Wisconsin tape with his team. Just plain dumb.

Nice job bringing KU into the discussion, but no one thought this was a KU team that was destined for greatness, so it's kind of irrelevant.

Keith Gellar 7 years, 4 months ago

i guess it comes down to this- was it an upset or not? I know almost all the bball fans i have talked to consider UK's loss a major upset and i agree. And if its such a big upset, 9/10 times- it wouldn't happen. Same as with Mercer/Duke and KU/VCU, etc.

on the other hand, if you think this wasn't an upset and Wisconsin was just the better team, then you will obviously think Wisconsin would win more.

Tom Jones 7 years, 4 months ago

UK was the favorite going into the tournament, but their record was bloated by playing in a bad league. If it was an upset, it was a mild one. It seemed pretty clear before the tournament that Wisconsin, Arizona and Dook all had reasonably good shots at beating them if both teams played good games and another 7 or 8 could have if they played their best game and UK didn't.

85 Georgetown beats Villanova 9 out of 10 times. This is probably more like six out of ten. ;)

Louis Kelso 7 years, 4 months ago

They've only lost 3 games all season and won 36, doesn't sound like they've been underachieving this year at all.

Joe Ross 7 years, 4 months ago

Youre playing the extremes, Keith.

It may be an upset, but it wasnt Earth-shattering. Kentucky was only a slight favorite over Wisconsin when the game started. They would have been favored had they played UMKC as well. If either Wisconsin or UMKC had beaten Kentucky, it would have been an upset; but hopefully by now youre picking up some intuition that an upset by vaunted Wisconsin over Kentucky was not a huge stretch of the imagination.

Joe Ross 7 years, 4 months ago

No way Kentucky beats Wisconsin 9 out of 10 times. I might go 7 out of 10 at most, but I could be convinced of 50/50 with reasonable arguments. Wisconsin is the team best suited to play and beat Kentucky in all of college basketball.

Edward Daub 7 years, 4 months ago

On Wisconsin! Coach Bo "Knows Basketball" Ryan!

Spent 5 Years of my Youth in Madison! Starting 5?

"Then Came" Bronson Koenig

Josh "Jumpin Jack Flash" Gasser

Sam "Sheboygan Brat" Dekker

Nigel "Holy Toledo" Hayes

Frank "Kielbasa" Kaminsky

Rooting for the Badgers to upend Duke!

Brad Watson 7 years, 4 months ago

Love Coach Owens....I grew up going to his camp every summer...what a class man....Of course coach loves Wisconsin....they do it the right way....they develop their players....I was so happy to see Kentucky lose...because they don't do it the right way.....The OAD world is a cheaters world in my opinion...and I wish KU would stay out of that sewer....If I were the coach at Owens phone number would be on speed dial.and I would have a bench seat for him whenever he wanted it..what a great man and resource.

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 4 months ago

Likewise is my love for Coach Owens.

However, I take some exception to your OAD remarks. While I don't like the rule at all, the Hawks have been for the most part fortunate with our OADs. Guys like BMac, Wiggins and Oubre are class acts that have enriched oor program. We always going to have exceptions for both the OADs (Selby, Alexander) and the multi-year guys.

Brad Watson 7 years, 4 months ago

suzi....its a sewer.....fighting over recruits that are not even serious students.....there is more to it than winning games...its about developing young boys into men in all areas of life...let Kentucky have those guys...I will take senior leadership over them every time...find kids that are ok with sitting and learning for awhile until they are ready when they get their shot they will be prepared

Fred Davis 7 years, 4 months ago

Self has his work cut out for him this off-season....

Joe Ross 7 years, 4 months ago

I read this guy's blog and he has way too many holes in his ideas. Easily rebutted.

Jaston Archie 7 years, 4 months ago

I'm so glad that Kentucky was finally exposed for what they are: A team that always won because of their unreal depth. When the other team starts to feel it in the legs, they just send more fresh bodies to continue forward. I'm glad Wisconsin managed to push through the finish line. Moreover, I knew all year that Kentucky had some weaknesses that were hidden behind the tremendous talent of the team as a whole. For one, Devin Booker is not as good as he is hyped up to be - if I were him, I would go to the NBA immediately. As Wisconsin showed, his defense is horrible and he's soft. Same with Cauley Stein, he is a physical beast, but he's not mentally strong, and his offensive game has a very low ceiling. I think it's a little cowardly for these top players to play all on the same team, because it allows them to escape the pressure of having to lead a team night in and night out. This "package deal" trend all started with Lebron going to Miami with DWade and Bosh, and the reason why Lebron did that, is because he could not get the job done in Cleveland as THE guy. How about blazing a new trail, being unique? As long as many of you come to KU, the rest should just dare to be different! :)

Rob Bedford III 7 years, 4 months ago

Anthony Davis will school Embiid. JoJo is several years behind Davis and may never be as talented.

Tom Jones 7 years, 4 months ago

He's definitely a few years behind, but his ceiling is just as high.

Different types of players, though.

Rob Bedford III 7 years, 4 months ago

Kentucky losing was great. But the loss will leave Calipari hungry to go perfect and win it all.

Gerry Butler 7 years, 4 months ago

point was brought out to me and is a very yalid point. wonder some of these big men recruits now see, ALL this talent at Kentucky and they still fail to win a championship with this platoon system makes them wonder do I really want to go to that play limited minutes and not win anything? see I posted this on other sites think about it and all the na-sayers can talk till your blue in the face you CAN'T win. lets look at this in harsh brutal cold faced Reality, Kentucky accomplished no more then KU for the season and makes you wonder that the players, that returned for them this year by passed the pro's to return for another year now rethinking about what they should have done. ok, so they did nothing, nothing more then ku, bottom line is Kentucky won a conference championship this year THATS IT. no more no less, they didn't win the national championship, they didn't go undefeated, and before you waste your breath and waste my time and say oh well they went to the final four, AND? I want you to tell me, what is the ultimate goal of a team in the season? is it to win the national championship? OR get to say oh well we went to the final four and further then you? is the goal to hang final 4 banners? or championship banners? the bottom line is Kentucky like everyone else but 1 finished their season with a loss. PERIOD. no other way to try and twist it around. all that talent, the media having the heads so far up Kentucky rear that awesome platoon system and they still didn't get it done. bottom line they ended up with a conference championship just like KU ROCK CHALK ALL DAY LONG

Keith Gellar 7 years, 4 months ago

idk if kentucky accomplished no more then KU. they made it to the FF. If they would have been knocked out in the E8 or earlier, i would agree, but FF's mean something. They are always showing on ESPN teams/coaches with most FFs so i do think it does matter or to rephrase it- when in the tourney, if KU can't at the least make a FF, might as well give up.

Now- talking about thing's that don't matter- lets bring up the Big 12 conf championship and the streak. You talk about brutal cold faced reality- the streak doesn't mean one bit to anyone outside of KU including the recruits. If a recruit comes to KU thinking his goal is to win the conf championship, then we need to pass asap! all we hear recruits talk about are ships...this big12 conf streak is for scrubs. just makes us feel better about ourselves and assert our dominance over KSU.

Tom Jones 7 years, 4 months ago

I bookmark remarks that I find to be particularly amusing.

Needless to say, I have several of Rodney's posts bookmarked. This one, in particular, makes me smile today:

"Keep dreaming big dreams, but no one can beat KY actually. Stay with me, I know its hard, but my point is that only KY can beat KY, they are not invincible they are human. You, as you can do, misread someones point completely. KY is just too good. College basketball has not seen a team like this in a long long time if ever."

Particularly like the "stay with me, I know it's hard" part, like he's spouting some actual wisdom to folks of lesser intelligence or something.

More to come! The internet never forgets! :)

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 4 months ago

Kentucky beat Wisconsin by 1 last year. This was not a huge upset. These two teams are very evenly matched and would probably split 10 games. Both teams are elite college level defenses and average to slightly above average offenses. If you put this Kentucky team in the Big 10 or ACC, they would have lost 2-3 games already this year.

Gerry Butler 7 years, 4 months ago

I still have to disagree. you don't hang banners for final fours if you do THATS a recruit cares if you make the final four? you still came up short. there is only 1 winner every on else ends the season with a loss. but its good this is America, we can agree to disagree. lol. as far as Kentucky getting all the bigs or most or at least the ones we are hearing the most about not sure what they will end up with. Not real sure about Diallo going there, Coach C uses the platoon system, Diallo has sad he wants 20 or more plus 20 wouldhave a hard time getting that with their platoon system, Zimmerman I still believe is Arizona or UNLV wanting to stay close to home I believe, the one I think they will end up getting is maker. just have a feeling he is there for them.. another reason not sure aboutDiallo at Kentucky, I feel that is more of a guy that wants to be THE MAN doesn't have to really share the lime light with a bunch of other bigs, be more the focus going to be interesting.

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