Omaha, Neb. Former Kansas University guard Conner Frankamp, who will be eligible to play at transfer destination Wichita State next season, has been spotted in downtown Omaha with his parents this weekend. He’s not practicing this weekend with the Shockers or sitting on the bench during games.
His presence has led some to wonder whether Frankamp will provide information to the Shockers about the plays his former teammates run entering today’s KU-WSU game.
“I don’t know. Hopefully not ... if he remembers them all,” KU junior forward Jamari Traylor said.
Images from the KU men's basketball team during interviews Saturday, March 21, 2015 at the CenturyLink Center, Omaha, Neb.
Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall says he hasn’t consulted with the former Jayhawk player for what a media inquisitor called “behind-the-curtain intelligence.”
“He may have talked to our assistants,” Marshall said. “I don’t know that. I haven’t seen Conner since we’ve been in Omaha, nor have I spoken to him. So I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I don’t know that he’s talked to my assistant coaches, maybe he has, maybe he hasn’t. It’s been awhile since he’s worn their uniform. It’s a good question. I just don’t know the answer to it.”
Manning reflects on matchup: KU junior guard Evan Manning played games against Wichita high schools during his years as point guard at Lawrence’s Free State High.
“We went to McPherson every year,” Manning said. “We played Perry (Ellis, Wichita Heights) a couple times, Conner Frankamp (Wichita North). We played against Evan Wessel (WSU player, Heights) and I played with him (Wessel) in AAU ball. It will be fun to play against them (Shockers).”
Manning said he wasn’t extra fired up just because the Round of 32 opponent is an in-state school.
“I didn’t know much about the rivalry back in the day,” Manning said. “It’s kind of weird. We’ve never played them since I’ve been alive. It’s never been a big rivalry. It’s big for the state, really interesting for the state. It’s going to be a fun game. It’s a game to go to the next round. We know how big it is. Whether Wichita State or another opponent, we know it’s a big game.”
Rivalry to be renewed?: WSU junior guard Ron Baker of Scott City was asked Saturday about the idea of playing KU and K-State on a more regular basis in the future.
“Every Kansas school would like that, I think,” Baker said. “Obviously we’re not the BCS school, and I can see how KU and K-State wouldn’t want to have a home-and-home. It’s just kind of how the RPI and BPI and all that stuff works.
“I think it would be good for the state if we had like a Sunflower Showdown. Even if we’re not playing each other, maybe the three schools played different opponents in the same location. That way Kansas can kind of bond and watch those three games in a day. Something simple like that would be neat.”
WSU senior Wessel on his former Wichita Heights teammate, Ellis: “He could always be the best player on the floor when he’s out there. But he still was unselfish. He’s a great teammate and a lot of fun to play with.
“It’s going to be a great opportunity” WSU starter Wessel added of going against Ellis. “Great teammates back in high school, and it will be fun to play against him here tomorrow.”
Kelly Oubre Jr. was asked if he watched WSU’s Round of 64 win over Indiana: “I think I took a nap during that game,” he said. “I woke up and saw they won. That’s the matchup we have and the matchup everyone is looking forward to. We watched a lot of games last night (at hotel). There were a lot of close ones, but it wasn’t a lot of madness going on. It’s great to see a lot of great basketball going on around the country.”
Backup point guard Devonté Graham on his first NCAA Tournament: “You’ve just got to go out and compete. You’ve got to put it all out there and leave it all on the court because you never know, it might be your last game. You can’t take any possessions off, and you have to have fun.”
Of today’s game he said: “We have to focus on the defensive end, and the offense will take care of itself.”
And of guard Fred VanVleet, Graham said: “He’s an aggressive player. He looks to attack and score. Every time he has the ball in his hands, he makes plays for others, and he’s a really good point guard for them. He’s just really aggressive at all times on the court. You just got to stay with him and pay attention to him at all times.”
KU coach Bill Self on Wichita State: “It’s one thing to have a great team. It’s a totally another thing to have a great program, and they’ve got a great program. They’re going to be in the game every year, and I think that’s obviously a compliment to Gregg (Marshall, coach) and his staff, but also a compliment to how hard his players work. There is obviously a culture there that will remain intact for years to come.
“They had the great run where they went to the Final Four, they followed up by going 35-1. They followed that up by going 29-4. That stuff doesn’t happen all the time, but if you have a run of good players, you maybe can find lightning in a bottle once or twice, but they’re going to find it year in and year out. Those two returning (Van Vleet, Baker) will make them a top-10, top preseason team next year. I think America should take notice, and obviously has, of the job that’s been done there.”
Self on the importance of the game: “I’m not going to lie. I think there are certain games that are big, and I think this is one of those games that’s bigger. I’m not going to sell it that way to our players, but they know that it’s a big game. They know it’s bragging rights in the state. I think we have that same sense when we play K-State, and certainly when you haven’t played a team in a long time and there has been talk about playing a team, I think it certainly adds to the anticipation without question.
“I can’t help but feel it a little bit, thinking it’s obviously a big game to fans. It’s obviously a big game to people at Wichita because we have a lot of fans in Wichita, and of course, bragging rights and water-cooler talk and all those things. Even though that doesn’t matter, it’s something that I know it does exist.”
Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman on embattled Texas coach Rick Barnes possibly getting fired: “There’s no reason it (UT program) should wither away like this when competent replacements like Shaka Smart or Tony Bennett or Gregg Marshall are waiting in the wings. Heck, (AD Steve) Patterson, shoot for the moon and go after Bill Self or Sean Miller. ... The hope here is Barnes will willingly step down and take his $1.75 million severance package into retirement. He could go kicking and screaming like Mack Brown before him, or he could stay in Austin and be celebrated during his golden years as the coach who re-energized and stabilized the program, who brought T.J. Ford and Kevin Durant to Austin, who kept Texas nationally relevant. But there’s been too much backsliding the last seven years.”
Svi update: KU freshman Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, who has played sparingly as a 17-year-old freshman, said Saturday he planned to return to KU next season. It has been speculated he might return overseas to play for a club team.
Of the NCAA Tournament he said: “Trying to win a national championship with my teammates is a lot of fun.”
He said he’ll continue to be ready when called upon.
“I am shooting pretty well. I need to keep shooting same way every time and hit the open shot,” he said.