Sunday, February 28, 2016

Can KU replicate Austin ‘recipe’?

Kansas guard Brannen Greene (14) puts up a three from the corner over Texas guard Isaiah Taylor (1) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

Kansas guard Brannen Greene (14) puts up a three from the corner over Texas guard Isaiah Taylor (1) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.


— Kansas University’s basketball team played perhaps the most efficient road game of the 13-year Bill Self era last season at Texas’ Frank Erwin Center, committing three turnovers in a 75-62 victory over Rick Barnes’ last Longhorn team.

“They only had three turnovers? That’s crazy. They did a great job of taking care of the ball. That’s a great recipe for winning,” gasped UT junior point guard Isaiah Taylor, who has dished 145 assists against 54 turnovers entering today’s 8 p.m. Big Monday contest between KU (25-4, 13-3) and Texas (19-10, 10-6).

“I don’t know how many turnovers we had. I bet we had more than three,” Taylor added with a smile, speaking to the Journal-World at Big 12 Media Day.

The Longhorns had nine turnovers — not bad at all, still lacking in comparison to KU, which tied a school record for fewest miscues in a game.

KU had three turnovers against Iowa State back in 1966.

“We ran. We were opportunistic. We played smart. Shot selection was good, and we paid attention to scouting report for the most part,” Self stated.

Chances are KU’s coach would welcome a repeat of not only last year’s game in Austin, but the first KU-UT game of the Shaka Smart era tonight. That’s the Jan. 23 outing in Allen Fieldhouse in which KU suffered just nine turnovers (UT had eight) in a 76-67 victory.

Taylor, a 6-foot-3, 185-pounder from South Hayward, Calif., who averages 15.5 ppg, had 13 points, five assists, six rebounds and just one turnover in that contest.

“We talk about teams that are athletic. They may have the best athlete in college basketball in (Kerwin) Roach. He may be as good an athlete as there is in college basketball for his size,” Self said of the 6-4 freshman from Houston. “Taylor is a jet. I think Felix (Javan, 5-11, sr.) has had a great year, too.

“They are athletic, and they are aggressive, and they have a rim protector (6-11 senior Prince Ibeh). No question that they have got great pieces.”

And an energetic, 38-year-old coach in former VCU coach Smart, who looks as if he definitely has the Longhorns in position for a bid to the NCAA Tournament, where the Longhorns competed in 16 of Barnes’ 17 seasons in Austin.

“I’m not there every day. I would say from my standpoint, vantage point watching, they enjoy playing for him,” Self said of the UT players. “I think they play very, very hard. I think the one thing that they have done a ton of that’s a little different than Rick is switch defenses. They will switch all the time doing things differently. They’ll down ball screens and next time out they are trapping off ball screens. They do a good job of keeping you off-balance and certainly pressure more. They are pressuring more now in the full court.

“But you know, to me, putting your handprint on it is more from a personality standpoint and a recruiting standpoint. And from what everybody tells me, he (Smart) is well liked in the state, and the staff works hard, and it’s definitely a very positive feel, from what I hear.”

Taylor gives a thumbs-up to the work of Smart and his staff.

“I think of him as a players coach, someone who can relate to the players, someone who knows what we are going through and not just on the court but in life as well,” Taylor said.

“Coach Smart has been a great dude in and out of practice, added a lot of enthusiasm, positive energy and confidence to the team. He is a person who wants us to work hard on every possession, give 110 percent every possession. He’s been that big brother the team has been missing, somebody we can go to on and off the court.”

Taylor will have a decision to make after this season whether he wants to continue on at Texas or enter the NBA Draft. He explained his decision to return for a junior season to the J-W.

“Being around my teammates, enjoying college, knowing we had (six) seniors, and it’s their last year,” Taylor said of Felix, Ibeh, Demarcus Holland, Cameron Ridley, Connor Lammert and Danny Newsome. “When our schedule came out, we were going to the Bahamas (where UT beat Washington and lost to Texas A&M; and Michigan), getting that exposure. It was hard to pass up. The NBA is not going anywhere. Just being with these dudes is a moment I wanted to have.”

Where would he have been drafted?

“Early second round, some had me late first, depending on the workouts,” he said. “I think I would have moved to the first round like many people have. Depending on what NBA people said didn’t affect my decision at all. When coach Smart came on staff, he reached out to me. He reached out to my family. It showed a level of trust there already. I respected him not to jump.”

KU coach Self said former VCU coach Smart, “has done a great job. They are playing with confidence. They guard. They are tough. We’re going to have to play better than we have this past week. Hopefully we’ll get our batteries recharged and be able to do that.”

Going for it all: By winning today on Texas’ Senior Night or at home Saturday against Iowa State on KU’s own Senior Day, KU can clinch the outright Big 12 regular-season title. Another way to win it outright — KU of course clinched at least a tie on Saturday — would be for West Virginia (11-5) to lose to either Texas Tech on Wednesday in Morgantown, W.Va., or Baylor on Saturday in Waco, Texas.

“It’s a carrot for Monday, also a carrot for Saturday if it stretches to Saturday,” Self said. “Everybody is selfish in their own right. But why would we want anybody else to recruit to being a Big 12 champion? I don’t know any coach out there going into the season, wouldn’t say, ‘If we could get a piece of it, it’d be great.’ We’d say the same thing. But after you are guaranteed a piece of it, you want to be the only one who does it. That’s the competition that drives that. I think now that we have a piece of it I’d hope we’d play more relaxed moving forward knowing we’ve got a piece of it.”

This, that: No. 25 Texas drew a sellout of 16,540 for Saturday’s 76-63 win over No. 3 Oklahoma. The win was made possible by a late 22-0 run. Texas has defeated four Top 10 teams this season. ... KU is expected to move to No. 1 in both the AP and USA Today polls today. ... KU leads the all-time series 26-8, including a 7-6 mark in Erwin Center. KU has won four straight, nine of 10 and 12 of 14 vs. Texas. ... Self is 16-8 vs. Texas, including 16-6 as KU coach. Smart is 1-1 vs. KU, 0-1 as Texas coach. KU beat Texas, 76-67, on Jan. 23 in Allen. Perry Ellis had 26 points and Wayne Selden Jr. 19 in that game. Devonté Graham had 14 points and six assists. Landen Lucas had 10 boards and Frank Mason III 13 points.

Jackson update: Josh Jackson, a 6-8 senior forward from Prolific Prep in Napa, Calif., who is ranked No. 1 in the recruiting Class of 2016 by, is officially down to three schools. Jackson, who is originally from the Detroit area, told on Friday that his finalists are KU, Michigan State and Arizona. He said he will decide sometime in March.


Joe Joseph 6 years, 2 months ago

I don't know if "relaxed" works for this team. I think a sense of urgency is what's helped this team elevate to its status as the near-consensus best team in the country.

Guess we will find out this evening.

The good news is Texas is coming off an emotionally draining win over OU, while Bill was able to steal some minutes for and rest a few key guys in a rather blasé effort against Texas-Tech.

David McGee 6 years, 2 months ago

Posted this in another thread but it should be here

Ibeh can't make free throws. Whenever Self needs some points and momentum change just send Tyler or Evan in to foul him five straight times ala Deandre Jordan.

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 2 months ago

It's always an honor to be ranked Number 1 but the timing could not be worse. With UT coming off a great OU win, 4 wins over top 10 teams and now they get a shot against #1 Kansas...on their home court...for Senior Night with 6 big time Seniors plus likely departing Taylor. This game gives me the feeling of riding with Custer into the Little Big Horn.

I'm a bit surprised Jackson expects to make a decision on a school in March. I was hoping Kansas was his pick, pending departures. He's going to need to work his behind off if he expects to take PT from a returning Selden/Mykailiuk/Greene/Graham. However, it becomes an intriguing potential for Self to play 4 around DialloBragg which he referenced after Holberg came to Lawrence to visit his daughter.

Robert Brock 6 years, 2 months ago

KU hasn't looked like a #1 team lately. If Ellis plays like he did against Texas Tech, the Jayhawks will get run over at Erwin like a slow armadillo.

Harlan Hobbs 6 years, 2 months ago

I refuse to let a potential loss at Austin to be a downer. No way the team can match the enthusiasm and energy level of the tie-clincher Saturday. Every emotional sign points in the Longhorns favor for tonight, so if KU does happen to win, it will be a tremendous testament to their desire and strength.

KU has looked like a #1 team as much as anyone else. The parity this year is the best it has been for a long time. Everybody has taken turns getting knocked off, so let's put the pessimism aside.

Janet Olin 6 years, 2 months ago

Don't forget this is TX senior night, as well as their motivation for not being swept this year in conference play by KU. Austin will be berserk. I hope the Jayhawks have enough energy/stamina to give their all and pull out a W, but if not, it will not be the end of the world. Go Hawks!

Chad Harris 6 years, 2 months ago

I get that we are all KU fans and we sometimes have our doubts. But I'm surprised by all of the doubts posted by fans. People are assuming Texas is going to win because what they beat Oklahoma, who cares, we beat them too....twice; and we beat Texas at home. We are playing our best basketball these past 9 games and have clinched a share of the Big 12, which WILL win it out right tonight.

I know Kansas hasn't done well in recent history being ranked #1 but this team is much different than the KU team that lost to ISU and WVU weeks ago. They're consistent, the bench is playing well, they're playing tough man to man defense. I wouldn't be surprise if Self brings out the zone defense. They will be ready to play. KU wins big tonight!!

I feel like if the fans stop talking about flaws that have affected this team in the past like, how theh always lose when they are ranked #1, maybe they won't lose, maybe if we didn't always talk about KU losing to a mid major, maybe they won't. Anyway, I'm don ranting ha. This years team is special and Perry wants a Championship, KU will get it!

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 2 months ago

Chad and Harlan, I'm not at all down on this team and LOVE our chances for the National Championship. I'm just doubtful about tonight's UT game in Austin, mainly due to the timing, i.e. Their Senior Day with them having tons of seniors combined with an away Big Monday after an emotional game at home Saturday.

Steve Zimmerman 6 years, 2 months ago

Chad did you place bets in Vegas? Well, you should've! Spot on with the win, but KU didn't need zone on this one ;) 20s from our bench is huge.

Kent Richardson 6 years, 2 months ago

Should a national championship contending #1 seed need a even playing field to get a win? Is Bill going to think this is a throw away game? I agree we haven't taken the final step up to elite status yet but this is the kind of game that may show us or not.

Yonatan Negash 6 years, 2 months ago

KU beats Texas tonight.

Really don't see us losing this game.

We'll mostly likely be a single digit number win but we will win

Andrew Holmes 6 years, 2 months ago

I think tonight's game will show a lot about where KU's head is at. It will be an extremely emotional game, being senior night. If KU can stay within 6 or 7 points at the under 16:00 timeout, I believe they'll be fine. Just weather that inital storm. However, if they are down double digits at the under 16:00 timeout, I believe that it'll be a long night.

KU playing sharp tonight will show me that they want to win in March and will do whatever it takes to do that. It's Selden's time to shine. If ever Selden needed to prove himself to the NBA scouts, now is the time to do it.

Chad Harris 6 years, 2 months ago

@Steve.....hahaha I wish I knew how to gamble to make that happen. Yes no zone. I guess Self is saving it for when we need it. I was worried about Taylor (Texas) ability to get in the paint and the defense closed every lane. I was quite impressed because that's the first Kansas plugged the middle like that.

The refs were awful and thankfully in our favor tonight. But we were not hand checking like Texas was. The Hawks were physical and showed why they're number one. Steve....Kansas will go to the final 4! And advance to the championship game. That I am sure of. This team doesn't want to lose, they have the dog in them. Here is to winning the Big 12 tournament. Now, if only I lived in Kansas....sigh.

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