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Sunday, March 5, 2017

Jayhawks ready to shift into postseason mode

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) pressures Oklahoma State guard Phil Forte III (13) into calling a timeout late in the second half, Saturday, March 4, 2017 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) pressures Oklahoma State guard Phil Forte III (13) into calling a timeout late in the second half, Saturday, March 4, 2017 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

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With the regular season and a 13th consecutive Big 12 Conference title now behind them, the Kansas men’s basketball team is ready to shift gears into full postseason mode.

First thing’s first, though.

“Right now, we’re just focused on resting and getting prepared for March Madness and all the craziness that’s coming along with it,” said KU junior Devonte’ Graham after the Jayhawks’ 90-85 victory Saturday in Stillwater, Okla. “We’ve gotta refocus real quick and get ready for the tournament.”

Tournaments, to be exact.

No. 1 Kansas (28-3 overall, 16-2 Big 12) will open play in the Big 12 tournament as the No. 1 seed at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday. The Jayhawks will face the winner of Wednesday night’s 8-9 game between TCU and Oklahoma.

Kansas swept both teams during the regular season, but not without challenges. TCU battled KU to a six-point loss in the Big 12 opener for both teams in late December and OU led Kansas by nine at halftime in Norman, Okla., and by 12 in Lawrence with eight minutes to play in the second half. Those moments, and a handful of others, helped Kansas create an identity rooted in toughness and a never-say-die mindset.

“We’ve just been in every situation possible throughout the year,” Graham said. “No panic in us, really. We just try to maintain our composure.”

Asked how it felt to win the conference by four games, senior forward Landen Lucas said it was “big.”

“I mean, that’s one of the steps, one of our goals, and we accomplished it and now we’re moving on to the next one,” he said.

The next one comes this week in Kansas City, Mo., an appetizer to the full-on madness that lies ahead. Asked after Saturday’s victory in Stillwater if he could feel it coming in the sold-out arena and frenzied atmosphere, Graham simply smiled and said, “Oh, man. Yeah. You can definitely tell that it’s here.”

Self agreed and said the large number of close games and intense battles between Big 12 teams throughout the past couple of months would be the perfect tip-off to it all.

“It's going to be wild,” Self said of the Big 12 tournament. “People will probably look at us as the favorite because we won the league, but, hey, it will be as wild as can be. And so much of it is about match-ups and who you can match-up with on no rest and all that stuff. It will be wild. It will be fun.”


Jayhawks earn all-Big 12 honors from league coaches

Comments

Tracy Atherton 5 years, 10 months ago

Wouldn't mind loosing in the 2nd round of the Big 12 tournament to minimize opportunities for injuries and allow rest for what really counts.

Henry Joseph Hofmeister 5 years, 10 months ago

Why not just go ahead and win both tournaments though?

Mike Schell 5 years, 10 months ago

I agree, I think the Hawks want to win the big 12 tournament to gain momentum in the Sprint Center! Knowing that if they take care of business in the 1st weekend they will be right back in the Sprint Center for a chance to go to the final four

John Strayer 5 years, 10 months ago

Having been a competitor many, many moons ago, I never understood this thinking. Kind of go's along with the flipping on and off the "switch". Just bring it every day...try to win every game.

we're talking about 18-22 year old kids here...not 30 year old men. Plus with all the damn 2 min commercial breaks in these tournament games the players will have plenty of time to rest...plus all the breaks in play for free throws.

Andrew Newberry 5 years, 10 months ago

My rebuttal to that is that some of our closest games have been the result of one or two guys (mainly Frank) not having fresh legs. He ALWAYS seems to overcome that but I do think as the season wears on these guys do need more recovery time. I think Tracy's point is that if losing a bigXII tourney game (that wont affect our NCAA seed) means 40-80 fewer minutes (yes I know no one but Frank comes close to 40 minutes a game) of game time right before we start the final stretch then all-in-all it's probably not a bad thing. I for one think all the teams with locked in at large bids should tank these games just to get another conference team in the mix.

Len Shaffer 5 years, 10 months ago

Good points, Andrew. And I would add that fewer games in the Big XII tournament equals less of a chance of someone getting hurt.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 10 months ago

I'm hoping the players don't feel that way. We are currently on an 8 game winning streak.

Why would you want to lose momentum going into the NCAA?

Mike Kendall 5 years, 10 months ago

I would rather face TCU than OU. There's something about the Sooners--maybe it's the good coaching of Coach Kruger. Either way, if we play well, we should win the game, whoever it is against.

Chad Smith 5 years, 10 months ago

If we were exhausted from all the close games this year, its too bad cuz thats not changing. This upcoming big 12 tourney will be all nailbiters. Honestly probably the best conference tournament to watch this year.

Robert Brock 5 years, 10 months ago

End the conference tournaments. Waste of energy. And money.

Mike Greer 5 years, 10 months ago

And money. The very reason they won't end, the tournament is a money maker, it's ticket sales and more important TV revenue. If the number one and two seeds threw the games, that wouldn't be good for revenue. I'm sure the league wouldn't be happy with that.

You've got to be in it to win it, and that's what I hope the Jayhawks do, Rock Chalk, go KU!!

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 10 months ago

Didn't you predict Kansas to lose at Oklahoma State by 12 points?

This comment isn't any better.

Barry Weiss 5 years, 10 months ago

these kids don't want to rest, they just want to go, go, go. I like the way Coach has played them. Turn those junk yard dogs loose! This is a magical year!

Mike Greer 5 years, 10 months ago

The way the season started, the overtime loss to Indiana, the buzzer beater against Duke, Landen playing hurt early, Carlton just not on his game, then Dok's season ending injury, my expectations were low. I thought we might still win a share of the conference title, but that was about it. We end up winning the conference title by 4 games, four, that's just beyond expectations! The team is coming together, players are comfortable in their roles, Frank has only gotten tougher, if that's possible. Josh has become an all around player, he still hasn't had that BIG break out game, but every game is just rock solid for the most part. Devonté has been everything he's been needed to be and been mr. clutch when it mattered. And Landen is playing like his old self, rarely spectacular, but always solid, you know what you're going to get. Svi's has his moments, just not recently, but Vick and Bragg are playing well and that's a big help. Coach had Lucas and Bragg on the court at the same time for a while, that's a good sign. Expectations for this team has really gone up over the conference season. Go Hawks!

Harlan Hobbs 5 years, 10 months ago

Touche, Marius. Mr. Brock once described himself as a "homer" for KU, but rarely do his posts reflect that.

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