Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Tom Keegan: Kansas connections to other three schools add spice to Final Four

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) pulls a rebound from Villanova guard Mikal Bridges (25) during the second half, Saturday, March 26, 2016 at KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) pulls a rebound from Villanova guard Mikal Bridges (25) during the second half, Saturday, March 26, 2016 at KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky.


San Antonio — Selection Sunday boils with conspiracy theories each year, the masses convinced that the selection committee purposely pairs teams in order to enable rich storylines.

Not true.

It’s not difficult to find compelling connections between schools for nearly any game played in the tournament.

From most recent to most distant, consider a few Kansas connections to the other three schools participating in the Final Four.

Villanova 64, Kansas 59, March 27, 2016: Villanova went on to win the national title, eliminating Kansas in the Elite Eight, Oklahoma in the Final Four and North Carolina in the title game.

Five players from that game are still with the teams that will clash Saturday night in a national semifinal and all five are starters: Juniors Phil Booth, Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson for Villanova and seniors Devonte’ Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk of KU.

Graham made 5 of 9 3-pointers, scoring a game-high 17 points and logging seven rebounds. Svi was scoreless in seven minutes, missing his only shot, a 3-pointer.

Brunson played 22 minutes for Villanova, scored seven points and did not have an assist. Booth went scoreless in 12 minutes. Bridges had the biggest impact of the freshmen. He made several big plays down the stretch and totaled six points, three rebounds and five steals off the bench.

Michigan 87, Kansas 85, overtime, March 29, 2013: KU point guard Elijah Johnson, who went the entire game without an assist, made three turnovers in a four-possession stretch, which enabled the Wolverines to erase a 10-point lead in the final 2:18 of regulation.

Johnson had a chance to send the game into a second overtime when he blew past his man and could have taken it all the way to the hoop for the tying points. Instead, he veered away from the basket at the last instant and fired a pass to Naadir Tharpe way beyond the 3-point line. Tharpe’s running 3-point attempt, a very difficult shot, missed and Kansas lost by two points.

It was Johnson’s second-nuttiest decision, the first coming early in the game when he tagged an opponent below the belt for a flagrant foul that limited his first-half playing time to three minutes.

“That’s not how we play,” Self said afterward. “And that was not smart at all.”

It was a bizarre way to exit the tournament, given that Self’s teams usually play clutch, smart basketball.

Sheahon Zenger fires Porter Moser at Illinois State, March 5, 2007: Hired a few years before Zenger took the AD job at Illinois State, Moser inherited a program that had just suffered through a 5-21 season. He posted records of 10-19, 17-13, 9-19 and 15-16 and was fired by Zenger.

Tim Jankovich left Kansas to take the job and inherited a roster that was the 27th-most experienced in the nation and had a talented sophomore class recruited by Moser.

Jankovich posted records of 25-10, 24-10, 22-11, 12-19 and 21-14, before leaving to work for Larry Brown at SMU, where Jankovich now heads the program.

Asked by the Journal-World at the Midwest Regional if he was happy for Moser, Zenger said: “Absolutely. It’s an exciting time. It’s a great story.”


Bryce Landon 4 years, 4 months ago

So let me see if I have this straight - Zenger fired a coach at ISU who goes on to lead a rival program to a Final Four ten years later. Meanwhile, ISU continues to languish in irrelevance, even when Jankovich was coaching there. Then Zenger comes to Kansas and replaces his predecessor's awful football hire with two of his own awful hires.

Just when I thought Zenger couldn't look any worse, he proves me wrong again.

But the dude keeps cashing those fat paychecks, because he has million dollar boosters with ten-cent heads in his corner. And Bill Self has his back too, for some strange reason.

Good work if you can get it.

Chris Shaw 4 years, 4 months ago

Again, a little over the top with the drama. Porter Moser is a great story. I’m rooting for Loyola. My first roommate out of college in Chicago went to school at Loyola. Great School.

With that said, Moser had 3 out of 4 losing seasons at Illinois State and compiled a 51-67 record for the Redbirds. Never finished higher than 6th in conference. He’s been at Loyola for 7 seasons and has had 4 losing seasons.

Granted, changing conferences from Horizon to Missouri Valley is never easy in the middle of a coaching tenure, but you take away his 32-5 great season the Ramblers are having, he’s 117-115 career record at Loyola. You do the Math. Great Story, Good Coach, and good things happen to great people, but let’s not carried with the Zenger 21 degrees of separation blah blah blah session. SMH.

Jim Stauffer 4 years, 4 months ago

And you make comments slanted toward your conclusion whether accurate or not. Jank had a good run at ISU. You ought to try coaching at a school that is way down the list of attraction for basketball players. Not an easy task. It may well have worked out for Moser, but this guy still has things to prove as far as consistency is concerned. This is his first success. Zenger is a good man and some decisions will be right and still can look bad later on. If Beaty wins some games this year, we will be waiting for your apology to both him and Zenger.

Bryce Landon 4 years, 4 months ago

As for Elijah Johnson, I watched the game, and I know for a fact that EJ didn't punch the Michigan player in the balls. The scUM player faked it. Just like all the Skunk Weasel players faked getting fouled all game long with their flopping. The refs let scUM get away with mugging our guys all game long while calling us for merely brushing them with our fingernails, and that was just as big a factor in the fall-from-ahead loss as EJ going bonehead in the final minutes of regulation.

Chris Shaw 4 years, 4 months ago

Im pretty sure the U Of M player didn’t fake it. It was an absolute dumb play by EJ with intent. Let’s not bring your bias into it. Nobody was complaining much about the game when KU was up 10 with 2:30 to play. How Bill Self leaves a time-out in his back pocket and EJ somehow gets a 10 second violation with single 1 on 1 coverage, I will never know. Mindboggling end to a very well played game by KU.

Stephen Burtin 4 years, 4 months ago

I agree. I had a bad feeling that we were going to lose that game after that cheap shot. Sure enough, it comes down to EJ turning it over a bunch of times then passing on a wide-open layup that ends up costing us the game. Karma got us bad on that one, and we deserved to lose.

Jonathan Allison 4 years, 4 months ago

the cameras got this play from two angles by the way, but in this one you can see him put his fist in McGary's gonad area and then pull his fist back after the contact. I suppose that one could argue that it wasn't intentional, but to say that it didn't happen is a little odd.

Joe Joseph 4 years, 4 months ago

The real tragedy of that game was that it took place in the sweet 16. Michigan was ranked #1 for a stretch and never fell out of the TOP TEN the entire season. The committee totally hosed Kansas by putting Michigan as a #4 -- especially in its region.

I mean that may go down as one of the worst underseedings of all time.

Brad Avery 4 years, 4 months ago

Zenger knows how to fire a coach? Wow! That's a breaking story.

Don Burgundy 4 years, 4 months ago

Vick was also on the roster in 2016 but I don't think he played that game.

Brad Watson 4 years, 4 months ago

The Zenger -Moser connection ..I was unaware of......Wow....that's a factoid worth filing away.

Rob Byrd 4 years, 4 months ago

Wrong as usual! He clearly popped him in the balls

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