Thursday, February 25, 2016


Tom Keegan: Slightly early league honors

Kansas head coach Bill Self comes in to slap hands and hug Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) following the Jayhawks' 109-106 triple overtime win over the Sooners.

Kansas head coach Bill Self comes in to slap hands and hug Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) following the Jayhawks' 109-106 triple overtime win over the Sooners.


Tough to argue with Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self’s opinion that Perry Ellis, Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield and Iowa State’s Georges Niang are the only three locks for All-Big 12 first-team honors.

It’s much tougher to buy Bruce Weber’s opinion that if Kansas wins the Big 12 title — not much of an if at this point — then Ellis deserves conference player of the year, even though Hield is Weber’s pick for national player of the year.

It was gracious of Weber to show that sort of love for Ellis in particular and KU in general, but Hield clearly deserves the top individual honor.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self: KU still has plenty of work to do in pursuit of Big 12 title

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self meets with media members at his weekly press conference, where the topic of KU's 12th consecutive Big 12 title dominated conversation. The Jayhawks are a win away from sealing up at least a share of the regular-season crown. Self says KU has plenty of work ...

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I vote for the Associated Press All-Big 12 team and this is the time of year that I make my selections in pencil and then wait to see if results from the remaining three games force changes.

At this point, my selections:

Coach of the Year: Tubby Smith, Texas Tech. Remember when I predicted several weeks ago that with three games remaining Tech and Iowa State would be tied with 8-7 records? You don’t remember? Neither do I. The Red Raiders carry a five-game winning streak into Allen Fieldhouse for a Saturday morning clash. Nobody could have predicted that. Self and Tubby, the two Big 12 coaches who have won national championships, are the two leading candidates for the honor.

First team: Hield, Ellis, Niang, Frank Mason, Monte Morris (Iowa State).

After watching Mason score 19 points and turn it over just once in 37 minutes in a 66-60 comeback victory at Baylor, Self identified Mason as the team’s MVP. Self is very comfortable talking about where he thinks the junior point guard is falling short, a sure sign of how well the coach thinks he’s playing. Coaches always push for more when they know players can handle it.

“There were several possessions when we had bad possessions against Baylor that I don’t think he took charge of the possession,” Self said of Mason. “You know, we had three shot-clock violations, and two of them may have been on him, just because he didn’t — wasn’t aggressive and he passed it to somebody else to go make a play when he should be the one putting his head down and trying to make a play at all times.”

Lest he be construed as an ingrate, Self added, “But he’s awful good and certainly he’s great at getting in there, and he was terrific the other night against Baylor, but I do think that he can even be in attack mode a lot more.”

Iowa State has been a disappointment, but that’s not on Morris, a terrific point guard who belongs on the first team.


Jerry Walker 6 years, 2 months ago

Talk about just "mailing one in"...this fills the bill.

John Randall 6 years, 2 months ago

You must realize that repeatedly posting this promotional ad violates at least 3 points in the Terms of Use agreement you accepted ...

Jeff Coffman 6 years, 2 months ago

After reading this, I'm not sure if Tom is saying he shouldn't have a vote, because he just doesn't care and sends in whatever anybody else is saying or if we should ask him not to vote, because he doesn't understand how championships should play into the voting process.

Either way, I guess you are right Tom, you shouldn't have a vote and the right thing to do is to pass it on to someone who actually will vote with a valuable opinion.

Dale Rogers 6 years, 2 months ago

Personally, I don't think championships should have much role in the vote. The vote is for the top players, not the top teams. If Buddy Hield played for the 5th place team, a team which without him would have been 10th, would that mean he was less deserving of player of the year? Not in my book.

Jeff Coffman 6 years, 2 months ago

My criticism is in Tom mailing it in and not caring. However, based on your perspective, Ben Simmons is the best player, but lost to Hield and the team is better with Simmons than without him, and the team won't make the NCAA (maybe the NIT), but he should be the winner, because he is the best. I must say that Perry Ellis beat Hield twice this year, and without Perry this year, I'm not sure where we would be (I doubt we would have beat Kansas State). I think being the best on the best team has to be evaluated in the overall evaluation.

Dale Rogers 6 years, 2 months ago

Your assumption is that Simmons is better than Hield and I do not hold with that assumption. They've only met once this season, OU vs LSU, but Hield came out on top by a good margin. One game is too little to make a judgment but indications are Simmons is not the better of the two.

Mike Riches 6 years, 2 months ago

"...if Kansas wins the Big 12 title — not much of an if at this point..."

Ok people. I agree the chances are very good we win at least one of our three remaining games (I've maintained all season we would win the league again this year), but let's take care of business before releasing the confetti.

It's one thing for fans to talk this way, probably ok for journalists to talk this way...but I was a little uncomfortable hearing Self spend the first few minutes of his press conference yesterday comparing #12 to the other 11, though he did clarify at the end of his comments, "If we're fortunate enough to win". I just hope the players play with the right attitude.

A couple weeks ago after beating OU in Norman, then playing a less stellar game in beating OSU in Allen, Self commented that in the latter game, he thought his guys had too much "inner confidence". In other words, they didn't play with the same intensity in beating OSU that they had against OU, because they thought to themselves when they were down early to OSU, "We can beat these guys." Well, we did beat them. But that kind of "inner confidence" is exactly what creates early exits in mid-March. We definitely saw it in the Northern Iowa game and the VCU game, and perhaps even in the last couple years' tourney losses as well. Playing against teams that have nothing to lose and everything to gain, inner confidence can turn into panic as the game progresses, which leads to mistakes, miscues and a disappointing end to an entire season.

Our players need to play every game with the sense of urgency they felt in the Norman game. If they do, I think we win the league outright this year, and have a great chance of showing up in Houston to make some life-long memories!

Edward Daub 6 years, 2 months ago

Tom Keegan makes a good point about Tubby Smith and Bill Self. They are the only two "current" head coaches in the Big 12 that have won the NCAA Title!

I did some Research on "current , active" head coaches that have won "exactly" 1 NCAA Title. Winning it all , even once, provides a lifetime of credibility , in my opinion.

In historic sequence , the eight head coaches are Larry Brown , Steve Fisher , Tubby Smith , Tom Izzo , Jim Boeheim , Bill Self , John Calipari , and Kevin Ollie.

(Of course , Coach K has won 5 Titles and Roy and Pitino 2 Each.)

John Boyle 6 years, 2 months ago

You need to include Tom Izzo on your list of coaches who have won two titles (1979 and 2000)

Edward Daub 6 years, 2 months ago

I know Izzo won it in 2000 , but Jud Heathcote was MSU head coach in 1979, the year of Magic vs. Bird.

John Boyle 6 years, 2 months ago

There is no way an underachieving Iowa State team deserves two players on the All Big 12 1st team. If you want to put Morris on it, you need to bump Niang to second team. I agree that Smith has done a fantastic job at Tech but how many times has Self won Big 12 coach of the year. Not that much (Actually 4 times which is more than anyone else in the history of the Big 12 but he has won 11 straight championships). Everybody just assumes that he is going to win the league every year and it doesn't have anything to do with his coaching. Well I think with as stacked as the league is this year, if the Jayhawks do go ahead and clinch the league title, Self should win Coach of the Year.

Jay Scott 6 years, 2 months ago

ISU team shortcomings are a sign of the depth of their roster, not Niang or Morris.

Pete Maravich never played in the NCAA tourney. Not All American? Not all Conference?

Harlan Hobbs 6 years, 2 months ago

Can't argue with any of Tom's picks. I do agree that Buddy Hield has to be the Player of the Year. Now if you want to name it the Most Valuable Player, then Perry would be in the running. However, in that vein, you could make a case for Frank Mason too.

It kind of reminds me of the comparisons of Wilt to Bill Russell. Wilt was clearly the better individual player, perhaps the greatest of all time. However, when you consider the Celtic dynasty of that era, Bill Russell may have been the Most Valuable Player.

Eventually, though, it is mostly semantics as all of these players are/were outstanding.

As for the coaching award, it usually goes to the coach whose team is perceived to have most exceeded expectations. Since expectations are always high at KU, it is hard for Bill Self to win the award even though, in my book, he is clearly the best coach in the league and one of the best in the country.

Steve Corder 6 years, 2 months ago

Tom, care to revise your Coach of the Year selection? Tech never had much of a chance Saturday.

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