Thursday, March 17, 2016

KU freshmen overjoyed by first taste of NCAA Tournament

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) gets up to reject a shot during the second half, Thursday, March 17, 2016 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa.

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) gets up to reject a shot during the second half, Thursday, March 17, 2016 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa.


— Three Kansas University freshmen got their first taste of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday at Wells Fargo Arena.

And even though their team rolled to a 105-79 victory, the experience was not without its share of restlessness for the first-timers.

“It was a very exciting,” said forward Carlton Bragg, who tallied four points, three rebound and three steals in nine minutes. “When I first came in, I had a lot of nerves and I fouled early. I just had to get the nerves out. After that, I think I played really good.”

Most members of Bill Self’s top-seeded Jayhawks (31-4) did as well. But while that might have been expected for players like Perry Ellis, Wayne Selden or even Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, freshmen Cheick Diallo and Lagerald Vick did not get their chance to shine until much later in the game. When they did, however, they made the most of it.

Diallo scored nine points and grabbed four rebounds in seven minutes and Vick tallied seven points in 10 minutes.

Given the nature of the match-up — a No. 16 seed still has never beaten a No. 1 — Vick said he thought his number would be called at some point Thursday. But that did nothing to diminish the experience.

“Man, that feeling is amazing, really,” he said of playing in the Big Dance. “The atmosphere is kind of different but not too much.”

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self on KU's depth and moving on in NCAA tourney

After his top-seeded Jayhawks blew out Austin Peay, 105-79, Kansas coach Bill Self discusses his team's depth and what KU accomplished in its first-round victory in Des Moines, Iowa.

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As for Diallo, the atmosphere of actually playing in the event he first started watching back in 2012, “when Kentucky won national title,” was much different than he expected.

“I was so scared the first time I saw NCAA Tournament game on TV,” Diallo said. “I was like, ‘Wow. That game was hard.’ But by the time I played today, I was like, ‘That’s an easy game.’ That’s how I was feeling. Today I was so excited.”

Asked in the locker room after Thursday’s victory if the experience had sunk in yet, Diallo was honest.

“I believe a little bit,” he said with a huge grin. “But even now I’m like, ‘Wow. I got nine points in NCAA Tournament.’ I was so happy.”

This crew’s second crack at the most popular tournament in all of sports comes Saturday, when No. 1 Kansas takes on ninth-seeded UConn in the second round.

— See what people were saying about KU's first-round victory during's live coverage

More news and notes from KU’s victory over Austin Peay

By the Numbers: Kansas 105, Austin Peay 79

By the Numbers: Kansas 105, Austin Peay 79


Craig Alexander 6 years, 5 months ago

I'm not done with this year by a long shot but today with Vick, Diallo, Bragg, and Svi made me think next year would be fun too if they all are back.

Shannon Gustafson 6 years, 5 months ago

The crazy thing is that's not even next year's starters...we may only lose one starter from this year's team (Perry) and return everyone else. So Bragg will replace Perry and Diallo and Azubuike will challenge Lucas at the 5 and the rest of the positions might be locked up with this year's starters. Of course worse case there is a chance we could lose 2-4 guys (2 starters) to the NBA and transfers (though I don't personally think that will happen unless someone other than Perry goes off every game of this tourney and makes their stock as high as it will ever be).

Marius Rowlanski 6 years, 5 months ago

I don't think Vick would be willing to sit another year. Too much talent to play less than 20 mpg.

Self may need to find a way for these guys to get more PT or we lose another AW3 type of talent.

Craig Alexander 6 years, 5 months ago

As quick an active as Vick can be, I'm fairly certain his defense will surpass Greene's quickly and he will see the floor. Greene might be odd man out next year.

Jay Scott 6 years, 5 months ago

Vick seems like a bright kid. He won't get big minutes next year if any two of Svi, Selden and a high profile freshman are on the team. With just one of the three, he'll likely see 10-15 mins and be happy to make the most of that.

Life is about properly managed expectations. Vick will be a contributor in his junior and senior seasons.

Neb Skcirdneh 6 years, 5 months ago

AW3 was too slow to be a guard and went to nebraska to play a true stretch 4 position. he was never going to be quick enough to play for ku at the 3 or big enough to play the 4. talented? yes but he left because he wasn't talented enough to play at ku in our 3 guard/ 2 forward system.

Marius Rowlanski 6 years, 5 months ago

Agree with Jay and Craig. Vick may need to manage expectations depending on who comes back and Greene really hasn't had one of those years yet where everything seems to come together. I could easily see Greene lose minutes, transfer or even redshirt (far less likely than the other two possibilities).

Neb... Not sure how much attention you've paid to AW3 but he averaged over 17 points per game and near 43% from the three playing mostly at the 2 position. He also grew to now 6'7". He did have to sit a year which might/probably have contributed to his success and he still has another year to play. His game has easily surpassed Greene's imo and would be a valuable player on our team this year.

To be fair Neb, I've lived and have family in the Colonial Heights, Petersburg and South Richmond area so I am probably a little biased. I wish Frankamp had decided to transfer before Andrew White made his decision but I think it probably would not have mattered.

Anyways, thanks for the input.

Joe Ross 6 years, 5 months ago

Craig, hopefully Cliff is not your brother. I get someone might actually bring an investigation.

Craig Alexander 6 years, 5 months ago

Definitely not a relative! No need to worry.

Jacob Zutterman 6 years, 5 months ago

Frank and Graham aren't going anywhere either.

Joe Ross 6 years, 5 months ago

My suspicion in that Selden, Diallo, and Mykhailuk will all return. It would certainly be wise for Diallo, who needs to learn a lot. Selden could improve his stock (and therefore his paycheck) by returning and having a monster year. Havent looked at any mock drafts but I doubt hed crack the first round this year. Learn from Buddy Hield what returning can do. Svi has really surprised me, of late. In a good way. Definitely more valuable to the team than Brannen Greene though I have always thought of Greene as a more accurate shooter. While Svi is challenging that perception in my mind, it's what he gives on the defensive end of the floor and the fact that he attacks the basket that are setting him apart from Greene lately, and I hate saying that cause Im a Greene fan to the hilt. Svi's just doing it. There's one good reason for Svi to come back, though. He needs to establish some consistency where maybe he has the pressure of being a starter and having to perform like that. When you feel the weight of having to be the guy and there is no drop off, you know youre ready to make the jump.

Im not just saying it as a fan. Its truly in all of their best interest to return.

Shannon Gustafson 6 years, 5 months ago

I agree, I really don't see anyone but the Seniors leaving. I think there is as good of a chance of a transfer as there is someone else leaving for the $$$ and I'd only put the odds of a transfer at about 30%. Selden doesn't even need to improve his skill set next year for his draft stock to skyrocket, he just has to get more consistent. He showed us in the WUG's, and during stretches of games this season that he has the ability to shoot lights out and carry the team. He just only does it every 3 games or so right now.

Diallo would be foolish to leave now and I just can't imagine he would do it considering how much he says he asks coach how to get better and such. To me that means he trusts Self and will listen to him when he tells him he's not ready for the NBA.

John Randall 6 years, 5 months ago

Over all it seems to be a weak draft this year. If Jayhawks go as deep as the seeding and rankings say, this may be the optimal year for several to declare for the draft as their stock may peak even though there is room to develop.

I'm not worried about a solid starting lineup if two (or three or four) make an early jump, but we'd feel the impact on depth from the bench.

Shannon Gustafson 6 years, 5 months ago

Considering the talent that we've got riding the pine (not even the top 8 guys that play, the ones that don't even get 6-7 minutes a game), I don't think we'd even have much of a depth issue. We'd just replace the guys who never play now (but are talented) with Freshman who wouldn't play next year.

We've got a major log jam now at nearly every position so thinning the herd a bit wouldn't hurt as much as it normally would.

Ben Kane 6 years, 5 months ago

I think Seldon going pro is 50/50 right now. Svi might go pro in Europe where he can get a lot more playing time before going to NBA.

Then there is Greene, what will happen here? I just can't see him sticking around in Lawrence another year but there is no way he will transfer at this point. So like Svi, I'm betting he takes his chances in Europe following the season.

That could leave us with Devonte, Frank and Landon as the only returning starters and no Svi/Greene coming off the bench. While this is scary, having an experienced back court while Bragg and Diallo get up to speed could be a fun year.

Marius Rowlanski 6 years, 5 months ago

Did you not see Vick play last night. He is probably better than Greene already.

Ben Kane 6 years, 5 months ago

Vick plays a different position than Greene.

Neb Skcirdneh 6 years, 5 months ago

i'm pretty sure you are wrong. vick plays the 2/3 wing position just like selden, greene, svi, graham, mason, etc...

in self's base offense or shell you have 2 interchangeable guards and a pg. With the two combo guards and a wing the base stays the same and whomever doesn't bring the ball up assumes the off-ball guard role. there are sets that take advantage of certain players abilities of course but Vick plays the same off-ball position as the other guys do when he comes in.

Marius Rowlanski 6 years, 5 months ago

Greene has played both the 2 and 3 position but I agree he is basically used as a wing. I think Vick could easily play both positions with better success. He already has shown the ability to create his own space when needed. If Greene could ever develop a step back jumper, he would have a career in the NBA. He has one of the smoothest ball release that I've seen.

I agree that as things stand now though Greene is used mostly at the 3 spot and Vick at the 2. I was thinking really about next season.

Craig Alexander 6 years, 5 months ago

Keep in mind though that these decisions won't be made in a vacuum. If Selden leaves after this year then we will either get a nice recruit or both Greene and Svi could stay because there would be plenty of minutes for them. Each of these guys want to develop and get playing time. If one leaves, then I think the others stay. I say Svi stays and gets developed at a place he is getting more comfortable with. As Svi continues to improve, Greene will need to turn it up if he wants to get any minutes.

Neb Skcirdneh 6 years, 5 months ago

I've heard that Selden is gone barring a bad tournament. Diallo is certainly gone and Svi is enjoying being a student and will probably stay.

Joe Ross 6 years, 5 months ago

Cite a source re: Selden? And I think the conclusion re: Diallo is premature. Yes, he was recruited as a OAD-type talent, but he comes with much less experience than a typical OAD. As is the case with Selden, Diallo stands to get a better contract in his first year if he returns (like the Harrison twins at Kentucky, and they even had the advantage of more experience in the game of basketball vs. Diallo).

Mike Greer 6 years, 5 months ago

Joe, I think you are so right about Diallo, he could gain so much more experience and coaching at KU than in the D-League, and right now that's where he'd be headed if he entered the draft. He has showed he has talent, but he hasn't shown much in the way of basketball IQ, he's still a bit out there on his own some times. I think the AP game was easy for him to excel on raw talent alone. We'll see as KU progresses through the tournament, how Diallo handles tougher competition.

Marius Rowlanski 6 years, 5 months ago

It seems to be said more often as of late. Don't enter the NBA for your first contract but for your second one...

Thad Daugherty 6 years, 5 months ago

I will get roasted for this but. I kinda hope Wayne decides to leave so the that Svi might stay and take his minutes. I was hoping Greene would be the man but he's getting the injury bug and we may never see him reach his full potential. I hate to see anyone leave because I feel like they committed to us and we should find a way to make it work. But when you are as deep as we are it is hard to get everyone their minutes.

Marius Rowlanski 6 years, 5 months ago

I don't totally disagree but not for Greene. Svi and Vick can become superstars next year IF they get the PT.

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