Kansas University’s sophomore combo guard learned ? with three names to spare ? that he had survived cuts following the three-day trials in Colorado Springs and would be representing his country July 2-12 in Auckland, New Zealand.
“I thought I had a pretty good chance. I played pretty well at times, but I was not sure what they were looking for,” Taylor said in a phone interview Thursday night. “We had two-a-days, and they were tough. I wasn’t ready for this. I was not in that good of shape, honestly.
“The altitude did not help a bit. I’m getting my wind back. It’s been fun. It’s been good.”
...“There weren’t many drills that we did. We mostly just got together and scrimmaged,” said Taylor, who indicated he’s been most impressed with Duke’s Curry.
“I think I stood out a bit because I did a good job of playing defense and I worked hard. I also did a good job of making shots and that didn’t hurt at all. I was a team player, and often times when guys get around things like this, they start trying to impress people and they try to do too much.”
Taylor said making the team was his biggest accomplishment to date in basketball.
“I’d like to say winning it all in high school was it, but I think this really is my biggest achievement,” said Taylor, whose St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.) team went undefeated his senior season. “I’m really excited about this. I’ve only been out of the country once, when we went to Canada last year (for three exhibition games).”
Taylor said the key to mining gold would be defense.
“That’s what coach Dixon (Jamie, Pitt) has stressed,” Taylor said. “Now we have to start practicing (until June 25 in Colorado) and become a team, not just 12 individual players. I think we have a long way to go, but we are going to be fine.
“The coaches talked to us about the 2008 Olympic team with LeBron (James) and Kobe (Bryant) and how they played as a team and the successes they had because of it.” LJW
"They'll have to get the job done as a team," said Jim Boeheim, chair of the junior national team committee. "They may not have a star-caliber player, but they have a lot of very good players. At this stage the U19 team looks like they will work very well together. All of the U19 trials participants played very hard throughout the trials. There has been no lack of effort, and that's a good sign."
The point guard spot is also thin, coach Jamie Dixson said, although he is optimistic about the shooting from the wings and the post.
"I'm concerned that we don't really have experienced point guards," Dixon said. "But I think we've got some wings that can make some plays." TCJ*
DraftExpress: How have the last couple of days gone?
Tyshawn Taylor: I feel pretty good about things. I’ve been a little winded with the altitude and not being in season I haven’t been working out a lot lately. I worked out about a week and a half at school before I came here, but not a lot before that. So I’m just trying to get my wind back, the altitude threw me off a little bit, but I think I’ve played pretty well.
DX: What do you think your role is on this team? Have they talked to about that at all? TT: They haven’t really talked to us about that at all, but I just need to do whatever it takes for us to win. Whether that means I have to rebound or play defense, if they need me to score, I can do that too; whatever it takes for us to win. We all have one goal in mind, getting that gold medal, so I think everyone is willing to do what it takes.
DX: What about leadership? Is that something you would like to assert here? TT: A little bit, and the coaches have been telling us that we need to bring a little more energy and be more vocal, so I try to do that. It’s hard to do that when I’m bending over my knees tired, but as time goes on I think I’ll become a better leader on this team.
DX: We were told that 19 players declined an invite to this, what do you think the reasons for that are? TT: Maybe just other obligations, I’m not really sure. I talked to Kemba Walker (UConn) and he told me he was going to the Lebron James Camp, so I think other guys have basketball stuff to do. The guys that are here, I think they’re taking advantage of it; I’m happy to be here.
DX: How much of a commitment was this for you? Was it hard to decide between Lebron Camp and representing Team USA? TT: It really wasn’t that hard for me to decide, I felt like this is what I wanted to do, to get the chance to travel to New Zealand would be a great honor. My [Kansas] teammate Sherron Collins came here after his freshman season and didn’t make the team, so I felt like if I could make this team it would be a statement and a confidence boost for myself. I’m playing against other guys who are the same age as me who are just as talented and go to great schools, so I think it would be a great honor for me and would give me a little confidence going into my season. More
Draft Express took a shine to Taylor, moving him up to #17 in their 2010 mock draft.
A is for Cole Aldrich, whose decision to return to Kansas put the rock back in the "Rock Chalk Jayhawk" and gives KU fans a legit reason to dream of their second national title in three seasons.
J is for Damion James. The Kansas coronation may face an in-house pothole. When James elected to return to Texas, the deep and talented Longhorns served notice that neither the Big 12 nor the national title has been decided.
K is for Kansas. The Jayhawks earn the distinction as the lone team mentioned in this alphabet soup because they also earn the distinction as the preseason No. 1.
X is for Xavier Henry, aka the one that got away. Henry was targeted for Memphis, which means he should currently be wearing Kentucky colors. Instead, the freshman bucked the trend when he chose not to follow Calipari to UK and instead headed to KU, alma mater to his mom and pop. As if the Jayhawks weren't loaded enough. ESPN: What to watch for in '09-10, from A to Z
The guests, all standing, filled the well-adorned performing arts center with the haunting sounds of the University of Kansas alma mater song. A rousing chant of "Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk" was next, followed by a cheer better suited for nearby Allen Fieldhouse.
Not exactly the sounds you'd expect to hear at a memorial service, but a perfect punctuation for the celebration of Bob Frederick's life.
Kansas coaches and players joined hundreds of people in paying tribute to Frederick on Wednesday, recounting the former athletic director's verve for life and passion for making the lives of those around him better.
...The Lied Center was packed, filled with laughter and tears as friends, colleagues and a former student joined Frederick's four sons in remembering the man who meant so much to so many people.
North Carolina coach Roy Williams, who got his start at Kansas thanks to Frederick, sat in one of the first few rows, not far from former Jayhawks player Wayne Simien. Current men's basketball coach Bill Self and football coach Mark Mangino also were there, along with former KU athletic director Gene Budig, who hired Frederick. Former Jayhawks football coach Glen Mason and former Kansas City Chiefs general manager Carl Peterson also attended.
"The thing that he did epitomize at all times was class," Self said. "Everybody thought he was as professional and as classy a gentleman as there is. I had somebody, who has been at the university for many, many, many years and is very well respected at the university, tell me this is the biggest loss our university has had." AP
Former Kansas State athletic director Max Urick remembered Frederick’s suits. They always fit him just right. His tie was always tied so brilliantly it looked almost floral. His size 17 black loafers would glisten in the sun. No scuff marks.
Frederick would walk into athletic directors meetings in the Big Eight and Big 12 conferences looking so sharp Urick was embarrassed to sit next to him. Instead, he just watched. Urick, like so many of the others Frederick had worked with as a coach, teacher and AD, wanted to be like Bob.
“He never knew it, but I was one of those he was mentoring,” Urick said. “I couldn’t be obvious about that. Good grief, I was the athletic director at the other school.”
Katie Martincich was a student of Frederick’s and a KU volleyball player. She remembered the three-piece suits “Dr. Bob” would wear to class. She remembered the deliberate way he told stories. She remembered how he’d interject them into his lectures.
“I secretly thought, ‘This man is adorable, and I wish he was my grandpa,’” she said.
The irony was, Frederick always seemed too young for that. He was on a bike, as he so often was, when he suffered the injuries that killed him at 69 ? “A cowboy who died with his boots on,” said former KU vice chancellor David Ambler. Frederick took meticulous care of his body. He lived on a diet heavy in salmon and was known to show up at those AD’s gatherings with grapes in his briefcase, so as to avoid the catered junk food. The three people who have already received Frederick’s donated organs are thankful for that.
During his 14-year tenure as KU’s athletic director, Frederick was not without his critics. He hired Terry Allen to coach the football team, which did not turn out well. He hired Roy Williams to coach the basketball team, which did turn out well, although many were skeptical at the time. He dropped men’s tennis and swimming, which made people angry. No AD escapes the fury of a sports fan.
“‘If e-mails were bullets,’” the Rev. Peter Luckey remembers Frederick saying, “‘I’d be dead by now.’”
Frederick believed some costs of winning were too great. In 2001, with those costs seemingly rising, he resigned.
“I really think he’s the finest gentleman I’ve ever known, the most ethical, moral person,” Williams was quoted as saying. “He cared deeply about winning, but he cared more about what was best for the student-athlete and the coaches.”
Ambler took it further.
“His departure from it speaks volumes as to what is wrong with inter-collegiate athletics,” Ambler said. Some people remembered how Frederick had treated them, despite who they were not. Ray Bechard, the longtime KU volleyball coach, felt like he was as important as Larry Brown to Frederick.
“Everyone got Dr. Bob’s best shot,” Bechard said.
That made an impact on Frederick’s son, Brad, who, like his father, was a walkon basketball player who went into coaching.
“I always wanted to be like my dad,” he said, swallowing tears, “and make him proud.” TCJ*
Since news of Frederick’s death reached the public Friday, people have been trying to make sense of it, to come to grips with a life stolen just like that.
To get through it, the family has held two images close to its collective heart: Shortly after he died, his wife, Margey, called some friends who were waiting for word at his home on Clinton Lake. Minutes later, a red bird none of them had seen before perched near them (Bob always made sure to have at least a splash of red in his ties). Then, a perfect double rainbow appeared in the sky.
“I wanted to believe that was my dad telling everyone, ‘It’s going to be OK,’ ” Mark Frederick said. KC Star*
Last week, Billy Thomas scored 33 points for the alumni. He had a prior commitment Wednesday, leaving it up to Jackson, Keith Langford (20 points), Christian Moody (16) and floor general Miles (10) to steer the veterans to victory.
Miles, who played pro ball in Greece last season, hit a clutch, wide-open three to conclude the action.
He deflected the credit.
“Keith Langford drew the attention. Darnell Jackson set a flair screen. It was just good veteran basketball,” Miles said.
...The current Jayhawks were led by sophomore Marcus Morris, who hit seven of 10 shots and scored 20 points. Travis Releford and Cole Aldrich had nine and eight points, respectively.
“He is so athletic. That boy is going to be dangerous,” Jackson said of the 6-foot-8 Morris, who hit two threes in four tries.
Morris admits his confidence is booming.
“I’ve put in a lot of work. I try to lift two times a day, and I’m getting in the gym at least twice a day working on my three-pointer and foul shot,” Morris said. “I’m also working on getting to the basket.”
Collins has noticed the improvement.
“It’s every day, not just camp games,” Collins said. “I tip my cap to him. He’s working hard, and his brother (Markieff, four points) is working hard, doing everything they are supposed to do.” LJW
Kansas University freshman Jeff Withey and junior Tyrel Reed did not play in the scrimmage. Withey, a 7-foot transfer from the University of Arizona, is out two to four weeks with a sprained right thumb.
“I messed it up in a pickup game this week,” said Withey, who has a light protective cast on the thumb.
Reed has a bruised quad and is day-to-day.
Meanwhile, Mario Little played in the scrimmage. He has been cleared for full contact workouts following offseason surgery to repair a stress fracture in his lower-left leg.
Freshman guard Elijah Johnson, who has been plagued by a sore knee, scored two points. “He’s tired, sore,” KU guard Sherron Collins said. “He’s young but has a lot in his game you can’t teach. He’s real athletic but a little banged up now. He didn’t get a chance to play much.”
...Soph Travis Releford hit four shots in four tries, including a three, and had nine points. ... Freshman forward Thomas Robinson did not score with two steals and three boards. Former KU forward Christian Moody reports he’ll be attending KU medical school this fall. “I’ve got four more camp games to play in,” he joked, realizing med school is a multi-year program. Former University of Illinois guard Sergio McClain hit a three playing for the alumni. LJW Notebook
The NBA and NHL playoffs are over, football is still a couple of months away and I'd rather not have to pretend to enjoy baseball. So let's talk some college hoops. With so many quality underclassmen returning and so many stud freshmen arriving, we're looking at one heck of a season.
It's still a long way away, but here's my early take on the top teams for 2009-10, along with a host of others that could easily contend for a trip to the Final Four in Indy …
1. Kansas: This team stood toe-to-toe with eventual national runner-up Michigan State in the Sweet 16 -- and brings everybody back. Plus prize recruit Xavier Henry. Combine that with Kentucky guard Jodie Meeks' decision to stay in the draft, and KU isn't just the favorite; it's a big favorite -- almost as big as North Carolina last year. Sherron Collins can be coach Bill Self's Ty Lawson, and Cole Aldrich can be his Tyler Hansbrough. Pat Forde
Kansas University sophomore guard Travis Releford, who missed last week’s Bill Self campers game because of a painful skin irritation, says he’s healed and ready to play in today’s Camp Game Part Two.
...Though nobody ever knows for sure who will play before the 3 p.m. game, alumni Keith Langford, Aaron Miles and Darnell Jackson have said they will participate. Thomas last Wednesday said he planned to play again this week.
...Self said Tuesday he was in favor of changing the rule that forces high school players to attend college a year prior to turning pro.
“In my personal opinion, I think kids should be allowed to go out of high school or (if they enroll in college) stay in college for three years. I think it will move to two (years), and I think that would be good because if someone wanted to make a mockery of our education system, they could with the one-and-done player,” Self said.
“They (the one-and-dones) could take six hours in the fall and not go to school in the spring, and the next thing you know they are still eligible to play the full year.” LJW
During the teleconference Self also pointed out how Aldrich could develop as a player by improving his lower body strength.
“He’s got to be stronger, lower body, and have a stronger base about him,” Self said. “I do think, visiting with a lot of people that have watched him and have been impressed with his progress, that’s one area that he can make himself a better player, is through lower body strength.” UDK
Even though the season doesn’t tip off for another five months, the Big 12 Conference is already making its case as the best basketball league in the country. On paper, at least.
After all, highly regarded recruiting classes have been signed, and, somewhat surprisingly nowadays, no coaching changes made this off-season.
Kansas, the likely preseason No. 1 team in the country, returns its top two players, guard Sherron Collins and center Cole Aldrich, and adds a top-notch recruiting class led by shooting guard Xavier Henry. Texas, a likely preseason top-five team, has guard/forward Damion James coming back, along with a highly touted recruiting class led by guard Avery Bradley and forward Jordan Hamilton. It doesn’t stop there.
Oklahoma, even without star forward Blake Griffin, is still strong with former North Crowley guard Willie Warren leading the way and two freshmen that should make an immediate impact in center Keith Gallon and guard Tommy Mason-Griffin. Texas A&M, which lost top scorer Josh Carter and forward Chinemelu Elonu to the NBA Draft, still returns eight of its top 10 scorers, including guard Donald Sloan and forward Bryan Davis.
And, look out for Oklahoma State, Baylor and Kansas State, which have good recruiting classes coming in.
"I don’t think there’s any question that our league is better than it’s ever been," Texas’ Rick Barnes, the longest-tenured coach in the conference, said in a league teleconference Tuesday. "We’ve fared pretty well over the last 10 or 12 years, and our league has been as good as any in the country. I think the way our coaches work at it and the players we attract, it’ll be a great league this year." FW Star-Telegram
From a conference that pushed three teams into the Sweet 16, one to the regional finals and had an NIT finalist, seven of the 10 members of the first and second all-league teams return.
So do all five players on the all-freshman team.
But the mix of veterans and newcomers is what has coaches revved. Recruiting classes for six Big 12 programs were judged to be among the nation’s 25 best by ESPN Scouts, Inc.
“There’s no doubt that when you’re playing in this conference, you’re going to be playing against the best night in and night out,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said.
The best team, at least the one most discussed as preseason No. 1, is Kansas. The starting five and top nine scorers return and will be joined by a Xavier Henry-led recruiting class widely regarded among the nation’s top five.
“We have a chance to have a great team,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.Texas, which loses only guard A.J. Abrams among its starters, also has a recruiting class ranked near the top and will find itself on many preseason top five lists. KC Star*
Kansas already has been touted as a national title contender.
What boosted the 2008 national champions into the role was the return of Aldrich and Collins plus the late signing of 6-6 Xavier Henry away from Memphis, filling the one hole ? wing shooter ? that sometimes slowed the Jayhawks last season.
KU coach Bill Self said his team isn't ready for the full bull's-eye yet.
“We're going to get some knots put on our heads, in some form or fashion,'' he said. “Hopefully, it's not a lot of losses.
“We do have a chance to have a great team. But there is not as much margin for error as when we basically had seven pros playing a couple of years ago.''
Texas, under dean of Big 12 coaches Rick Barnes, is slowly attracting more national attention.
The Longhorns have two premium point guards arriving to go with the return of James and the improving play of 6-11, 300-pound Dexter Pittman.
“Texas is like that horse that won the Kentucky Derby,'' Nebraska coach Doc Sadler said of the early long shot. “People better not forget about those guys. Rick's got a chance to be one of the top four or five teams in the country.'' Omaha World-Herald
“I almost forgot what it was like. It’s been a while,’’ Iowa State’s Greg McDermott said Tuesday on a summer conference call of Big 12 basketball coaches. “We’re excited to have seven players back who played for us a year ago. ... I feel like we’ve finally got our program to a place we should have had it a year ago if it wouldn’t have been for some defections.’’
Craig Brackins heads the list of experienced Cyclones after flirting with early entrance into the NBA.
Others around the league also were projected to be ready for the pros. Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins at Kansas ... Denis Clemente at Kansas State ... James Anderson at Oklahoma State ... Willie Warren at Oklahoma ... Damion James at Texas.
Those returnees make it hard to trim an All-Big 12 preseason team to five guys. Heck, everyone returns off the conference’s all-freshman team in an era when One-and-Done is almost part of the NBA’s marketing lexicon.
“The players that return probably made this league, unfortunately for coaches, the best in the country next year,’’ said Nebraska’s Doc Sadler. “All those guys are very, very good players who can make a difference in your league and someday will probably be playing in the NBA. All that does is add the depth that everybody in the league wants to have. But it’s going to be interesting this year.’’ TCJ*
“In my three years here, it’s been one of, and at times the best conference in the country,” said OU’s Jeff Capel. “If you look at what teams have accomplished, winning a national championship, four different teams getting to the Elite Eight. Then you look at what’s happened because of that. Two number two (NBA draft) picks with Michael Beasley and Kevin Durant. National players of the year three consecutive years. You look at the lottery picks that have come through this league. You look at the success our league has had in recruiting...
“People are starting to take notice of what our league has been able to accomplish and where we are going. I know I’m excited about it.”
The problem Capel, charged with a post-Griffin transition, and his peers face is maintaining consistent high levels of success in what Kansas State’s Frank Martin referred to as “a ridiculously difficult league to win in.” Tulsa World*
Kansas University coach Bill Self plans to attend today’s memorial service for former KU athletic director Bob Frederick, who died Friday at the age of 69. The service is 1 p.m. at the Lied Center. Doors open at noon.
“I’ve known him from back when I was a graduate assistant (at KU),” Self said on Tuesday’s Big 12 coaches summertime media conference call. “I knew him when he was the AD at Illinois State.
“The things that he did epitomized class. Everybody that I ever visited with about him thought that he was as professional and as classy a gentleman as there is. He was a great role model and someone that people look at and say, ‘He’s a guy I want to be more like,’ which I think is a fabulous compliment. I had somebody tell me ? somebody that has been at the university for many years ? that this is the biggest loss our university has had, just from the standpoint of how he’s been viewed, his community involvement, his reputation and the impact he’s had on different things.
“Through coaching, whether it be at Lawrence High School, through charity work in the community, the contribution he made through the athletic department and the educational system. He was a fabulous instructor that all students really thought a lot of.” LJW
Kansas University has received a $60,000 grant from the NCAA to promote women’s basketball next season.
KU is one of only 18 institutions or conferences to receive a grant as part of the NCAA Div. I Women’s Basketball Grant Program, which is in its second year. The 2009-10 NCAA grant program dedicated approximately $750,000 nationally to increase awareness, exposure and increase attendance of women’s basketball.
With its grant, Kansas Athletics will implement a program entitled “Schools for Success.” Through partnerships with community schools, Lawrence Memorial Hospital and Jason’s Deli, Kansas Athletics’ overall goal is to enhance attendance at and promote awareness of KU women’s basketball home games.
“Schools for Success” includes a seasonlong attendance challenge, as well as a “School Day,” in which Kansas Athletics invites local students to spend a day with the Jayhawks. The event includes educational programming provided by Kansas Athletics staff and student-athletes, Lawrence Memorial Hospital staff, a KU women’s basketball game, lunch courtesy of Jason’s Deli, and a T-shirt to commemorate the occasion. A similar event last season drew a crowd of 5,186 fans to Allen Fieldhouse to witness the Jayhawks’ 76-55 victory over Iowa, televised live on ESPN. LJW
Kansas University senior point guard Sherron Collins will not be attending USA Basketball's World University Games Team Trials, Collins said Monday at Bill Self's basketball camp in Horejsi Center.
“Because of family concerns, I don’t feel comfortable being away,” said Collins. He had accepted an invitation to the tryouts, which begin today in Colorado Springs, Colo., and run through June 25. Those who survive cuts will represent the U.S. at the Games July 2-12 in Belgrade, Serbia.
“I was really looking forward to going. But with my family situation taking place in Chicago, it would be hard for me to be out of the country at this time,” Collins added.
Collins ? who hails from Chicago ? did not wish to comment on the specifics of his family situation back home.
He will remain in Lawrence for both sessions of summer school and return to Chicago if needed to assist family members.
“I want to say Sherron was certainly looking forward to going,” Self said. “I definitely understand the situation. Being out of pocket for that period of time (in Serbia), I don’t know if he’d feel at ease because of some of the things going on in Chicago.
“He feels he can be of assistance if he stays back in the States. He could have been a huge asset to the team. Some things came up with his family. In his best interest, he remained close to them. I certainly understand, and USA Basketball understands,” added Self, who has been in contact with USA hoops officials.
...KU sophomore guard Tyshawn Taylor leaves today for the USA Under 19 National Team trials in Colorado Springs. Taylor will compete with 16 other players for 12 spots on the team to compete in the FIBA U19 World Championships July 2-12 in New Zealand.
After three days of practice, USA Basketball will announce finalists for the 12-member team. Training camp will begin Friday with the 12-member USA roster being announced prior to the team’s departure for New Zealand on June 25.
“There are a lot of great players who are going to be there. It’s an honor to be included,” Taylor said. “I’m excited to get to try out, but now I’ve got to make the team. I’ve got to work really hard to make the team.”
...KU junior center Cole Aldrich declined an invitation to try out for the World Games team.
“I thought the summer would be a great opportunity for myself to be here (KU) and progress as a player, get better and stronger,” Aldrich said. “It was the main thing I wanted to do in the summer ? be in the weight room. It definitely took me a while to decide what I’d do.”
Aldrich also wanted to take several summer school classes. He’ll be one semester from graduating after his junior year, which figures to be his final year at KU. LJW
Keith Langford still hopes to someday play in the NBA.
“If it comes along, that’s great,” said the 25-year-old former Kansas University combo guard, who for right now, is content ? make that downright giddy ? to be competing overseas.
...“Everything hasn’t officially come out, but a report leaked. I am going to end up being in Moscow bumping heads with Sasha next season,” Langford said Monday at Bill Self’s basketball camp, jokingly referring to former KU player Sasha Kaun, who plays for CSKA Moscow.
...“I made a conscious decision I was going to focus on my career and make as much money as I can and play as long as I can,” Langford said.
“I’m 25 years old. While I can, I’m going to use my best years actually playing basketball and not cheering for somebody (on the bench) during my prime. If Russia pays the amount of money I’m going to be paid and I can be an integral part of the team, I can’t ask for any more.”
Langford said he’ll continue to follow the fortunes of KU’s current team next season, as he did this past one.
“It means watching the games at 3, 4, 5 in the morning, but it’s worth it. I follow everything about KU,” the Fort Worth, Texas, native said, noting the only good thing about his squad’s early playoff exit was the fact he’d be able to make it back for the second session of Self’s camp.
...Jeff Withey, who was listed 6-foot-10 on last year’s roster, set the record straight on his height at Self’s camp.
“I’m 7-foot even, about that much taller than Cole (Aldrich),” Arizona transfer Withey said spreading his fingers apart an inch. Aldrich is listed at 6-11.
As far as his weight, San Diego native Withey is “about 230. I weighed 210 when I got here (last winter). The goal is 240, 245,” he reported.
“We have a great trainer in coach (Andrea) Hudy. She works us hard and I eat well. I wake up about 8, eat breakfast, go to class, have another meal after class, go to another class, eat. I eat about five or six good meals a day and drink protein shakes, too. I stay away from fast foods. They tell me to eat whatever, just eat,” he added. LJW
“It’s a pretty stressful time right now,” Withey said, “because I know I have to put on a lot more weight before I’m able to play.”
...“I’m OK if he gets a little chubby,” said Andrea Hudy, KU assistant athletics director for sport performance. “He’s going to lose it once the season starts, then he’ll lean up and he’ll be in shape by the time the Big 12 season comes around, which is what we want.”
For Withey, there is little confusion about what the bosses want.
“The coaches are, in a way, obsessed with it,” Withey said.
...Self got to see Withey practice during the second half of last season, but he’ll need to see more this fall to be sure Withey can break his four-man big man rotation.
“I saw inconsistencies,” Self said. “I saw a player that you can see has a lot of ability. He’s skilled, he’s got some range, he can really block and alter shots. Then I also saw a guy who physically needs to get stronger, a guy whose motor doesn’t run as fast as it should all the time, a guy who would take some possessions off. From our perspective, the year he sat was a good year for him.”
Still, despite the deficiencies Withey showed, Self is factoring him into his plans for 2009-10. Self imagines a dependable Withey could allow Marcus Morris to play small forward. Self even threw out the idea of playing incoming freshman Xavier Henry at shooting guard with Morris at the No. 3 slot.
“Jeff is a guy that gives us a lot of versatility,” Self said, “because he allows our most versatile player, Marcus, to play multiple positions.”
...Hudy said Withey’s time is managed in more detail than any other player.
“He wants to have a future in basketball, so he’s all right with it,” Hudy said. “We’re trying to teach him how to put on weight and maintain it.”
A minor complication is the fact that Withey is still growing.
“At the end of the season, I felt like I was growing a little bit more,” Withey said. “I was eating a ton and wasn’t gaining weight. The doorways seemed a little bit smaller. I might have an inch or two left in me. I have no idea.” KC Star*
Roy Williams can add author to his list of accomplishments.
The North Carolina coach of the defending national basketball champions will have an autobiography released in November. Algonquin Books says "Hard Work: My Life On and Off the Court'' - will feature a forward from novelist John Grisham. It was written with former Sports Illustrated writer Tim Crothers.
Part of the book's proceeds will go to the Carolina Covenant, which helps low-income students obtain scholarships to the university.
Williams was a longtime assistant to Dean Smith at North Carolina before spending 15 years as head coach at Kansas. He returned to his alma mater in 2003 and has won a pair of national titles in the past five seasons. AP
Current Kansas women's basketball assistant coach and WNBA fan-favorite Tamika Raymond, who played in the league for seven seasons, most recently for the Connecticut Sun, was named the recipient of the 2008 Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award today in recognition of her outstanding community work in Connecticut. The award recognizes the player who best exemplifies the characteristics of a leader in the community and reflects Staley's leadership, spirit, charitable efforts, and love for the game.
"It is an honor to have Tamika Raymond associated with the WNBA. Not only has she proven herself to be a leader on the court and in the locker room, but she has also brought that same dedication and passion to her fans and the community," said WNBA President Donna Orender. "Through her actions, she has touched the lives of thousands of young fans in Connecticut and across the nation, and we congratulate her for all her efforts and good work."
Throughout the year, Tamika worked with the Thames River Family Programs (TRFP), a transitional home for women and their children. She made several visits to the center to take part in various "core classes" designed to help them set goals and create action plans to improve their lives. She served as a motivational speaker to the women and spent time reading, painting, and playing basketball with the children. She also purchased game tickets and dinner and provided transportation for the women, their families, and the TRFP's staff to attend a Connecticut Sun game at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
"Tamika's work in her community speaks volumes as she is affecting lives in a way that will change generations within a family and community," said Dawn Staley. "We need more Tamikas in this world to secure the success of our youth. I am so proud to somehow be connected to her." KU AD
I find it totally intimidating when women's basketball players wear heels, especially spiked heels, like Tamika Williams-Raymond had on Sunday at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
The woman is already tall enough; there was no need to emphasize it during a press conference in which she encountered a series of diminutive sportswriters.
And anyway, she shouldn't have been wearing them. She recently had surgery.
"A couple menisus tears and a five percent ACL tear," Tamika said. "Old age, I guess."
But she did look good.
It was good to see her again, perhaps for the last time in awhile. Her WNBA career is definitely over now. When she announced in the offseason that she was taking the year off, the door may have been left slightly ajar. No more. It's locked, double-bolted and chained.
"It's been a huge transition," she said. "It's been tough for me. But the one thing I've enjoyed the most about it has been spending time with the six new players we have at Kansas [where she is an assistant coach] this season, three of whom are freshmen post players. They keep me busy.
"But during May, WNBA training camp time, was the time when my body has always been used to getting into gear for the season. Not this year."
Tamika was in Connecticut to receive the WNBA's Dawn Staley Award, presented to a player who has committed herself best to her community. The league will give her $10,000 to donate to her favorite charity and Tamika said she is sending it to a YWCA in her hometown, Dayton, Ohio, to help young girls who may need it - now or at some point in their lives.
But in talking to Tamika, it was clear she is aware of how life sometimes plays practical jokes on you.
When Jamelle Elliott left UConn to become head coach at Cincinnati, everyone in America knew that Geno Auriemma would likely need to hire an African-American assistant to join Shea Ralph and Chris Dailey.
And the first name that popped up on everyone's list was obviously Tamika's, who has worked as an assistant at Ohio State and Kansas and was one of the great players in UConn history, a member of the fabled Fab Five with Sue Bird, Asjha Jones, Swin Cash and Keirsten Walters.
But it didn't work out for a number of reasons.
First off, Tamika likes it at Kansas, where she soon will be joined by her husband, Ben, who has been working at a job away from her for most of their 2-year marriage.
And frankly, Marisa Moseley, hired away from Minnesota to replace Elliott, had just as much support from UConn's alumni during the search process and made an immediate and strong impression on Auriemma during her interview.
Perhaps at another time the stars would have been better aligned for Tamika to return, as Ralph did before last season.
"How many assistant coaches are presented with the possibility of going into a situation where, if you play your cards right, you could potentially win a national championship," Tamika said. "On top of that, you get the chance to work with Coach [Geno Auriemma] and be in a comfortable situation [at UConn]. It would have been a home away from home for me; knowing what he's like, what kind of players he likes, being able to be a role model for his kids. It would have been a perfect situation for me. "And believe me, [Kansas] knew [an offer] might be coming. Lew Perkins [the former UConn athletic director now AD at Kansas] was even laughing about it before it happened. He said. "You know Geno is going to come after you.' And Coach [Bonnie Henrickson] knew, as well." Hartford Courant
Centerplate announced today that it has reached an agreement to provide food and beverage concessions services at the University of Kansas athletics complex, which includes Kansas football's 50,000-seat Memorial Stadium and Allen Fieldhouse, home of the defending Big 12 Conference champion and 2008 National Champion Men's Basketball Team.
..."We are delighted to be working with such a strong organization as the University of Kansas," said Des Hague, President and CEO of Centerplate. "Centerplate is perfectly suited to enhance the fan experience at collegiate athletic events and this new partnership is evidence of our commitment to expand our presence in the university market. We are proud to be a part of the Jayhawks' incredible program, and to serve the alumni and fans of the university's student-athletes."
As part of its services, Centerplate will upgrade concession stands and service carts, and introduce new menu concepts alongside traditional Jayhawk fans' favorites. The new menus will celebrate the university's athletic icons, with concepts including the Rock Chalk Grill and Phog's Fieldhouse Favorites--named after the distinctive Rock Chalk chant andKansas legendary "Phog" Allen Fieldhouse.
"Centerplate brings a winning track record from its operations in both collegiate and professional sports venues," said Sean Lester, associate athletics director at the University of Kansas. "In 2008, Centerplate performed a strategic analysis of our offerings and designed food service enhancements to accompany our multi-million renovation of Allen Fieldhouse. We were very impressed by their work and we look forward to their fresh approach to elevating the Kansas Athletics' fan experience." press release
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Elijah Johnson doesn’t expect any good-natured ribbing or hazing from Kansas University’s basketball veterans in coming days.
“Nah, that’s not how the players are here. They try to make you feel as comfortable as they can,” said Johnson, Kansas University’s 6-foot-2 freshman guard from Las Vegas’ Cheyenne High who graduated Thursday and arrived to a warm welcome in Lawrence on Saturday afternoon.
...He grinned when asked to reveal his vertical leap in inches.
“I don’t know. The last time I checked it was 39, and that was my freshman year of high school,” he said. “Actually, that’s something I want to find out real soon. I’m thinking it’s 43, 44 or something.”
He’s hoping to put down some slams that impress his hero, KU senior guard Sherron Collins.
“He’s been here the longest. I’ve been wanting to play with him since his freshman year,” the longtime KU fan said. “We’ve got some trademarks. He did some crazy dunks at the end of some all-star games, and I have, too. He’s a big-dog senior that already has a lot of NBA teams looking at him. I will look at Sherron and learn how to get as much out of this experience as I can.”
He’ll immediately begin bonding with Jayhawker Towers roommate Thomas Robinson, a fellow freshman who arrived last week and has been waiting patiently for Johnson to arrive.
“He was my roommate at the Reebok game out in D.C.,” Johnson said. “It felt good to know he’s my roommate here. We’ve got a little chemistry already. We pretty much know about each other.” LJW
A memorial service for former Kansas athletics director Bob Frederick will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Lied Center on the West Campus. Private interment will be at a later date. KC Star*
Harrick had much the same impact at URI as he did at UCLA. And then later at Georgia, as well. He proved to be an excellent coach, but one with questionable ethics. Both URI and Georgia, like UCLA, were put on NCAA probation for rules violations after Harrick left.
“He’s a classic Jekyll-and-Hyde figure,” Carothers responded when asked about Harrick, who led URI to the NCAA Elite Eight in 1998 and then to the school’s only Atlantic 10 title in 1999 before leaving for Georgia.
...But the success came at a price.
“On the other hand, he was a great embarrassment,” Carothers said. “The same character flaws he had at UCLA ended up here, and he passed them on to another generation, too [at Georgia].”
“No question he’s an excellent coach,” the president said, “but not necessarily a great man.”
In hindsight, Carothers views the experience with mixed emotions, but feels there were more positives than negatives.
“We were out there flying with the big boys,” Carothers said. “When we beat Kansas that year , the president of Kansas was a classmate of mine in graduate school. He came over before the game and I was joking with him, telling him to take it easy on us.
On ESPN.com, analyst Doug Gottlieb wrote: "From top to bottom, KU has the best roster and coach combination in the country. The only question facing Bill Self is whether or not there will be minutes to keep everyone happy."
Actually, Self can probably think of a few more questions. Here's one: Can the Jayhawks, who emerged from the pack to win the '09 Big 12 title during a so-called rebuilding year, handle being frontrunners? Are they ready for that proverbial bull's-eye?
"No, we're not," Self answered last week. "I don't know if that's all bad right now. We talk about being hungry and all those things... Hopefully having the bull's-eye on your back does create a toughness level you're going to be faced with in order to have a chance to win it." Tulsa World*
Harrison Barnes is about to start his own personal Duke-North Carolina game.
The Ames, Iowa, native got his first introduction to how the two schools feel about each other when he sat behind the Blue Devils bench during the annual rivalry matchup inside Cameron Indoor Stadium this past season. Considered the No. 1 recruit in the 2010 class, Barnes was making his second unofficial visit to the Duke campus.
Now, after he wraps up the NBA Players Association Top 100 Camp at Virginia's John Paul Jones Arena, he's going to Chapel Hill next week. Barnes has seen what the Blue Devils can offer; now he wants to hear the Tar Heels' pitch.
"They're both on my list, and obviously there wasn't enough time (last time) to go investigate them and go check them out," Barnes said Friday. "I haven't been there yet, so I'm anxious to go."
...Duke and Kansas are considered his two favorites. He wouldn't say if this was true, but understood the theory because he's visited those schools the most.
He battled a stomach virus during the four-day camp. Still, he averaged 12.7 points during the first three games, displaying an excellent mid-range game. The Duke-North Carolina game did leave an impression. Barnes described it as "one of those things you need to do before you die," and said he could feel the intensity, the building's heat and how badly each squad wanted to win.
Both squads will have to wait until after his visit to get a better understanding of which way he's leaning. An excellent student who plays the saxophone and the cello, Barnes knows both have a lot to offer.
"Those are both really good schools that I'll probably play against (if I don't go there), considering I want to win a national championship," Barnes said. "Both those teams are tournament teams, and it's quite an honor to be considered at their level." Link
So you’re Harrison Barnes. A 6-7 basketball player headed into your senior season and pegged by many as the top high school prospect in the country. Do you watch Game 2 of the NBA Finals? Nah.
Do you spend your summer playing nothing but basketball? Nope. You pick up golf, figuring a strong short game might come in handy in the business world someday.
Do you march to the beat of your own drummer? Definitely.
“It’s Harrison. That’s all I can say. It’s just Harrison,” says his mother, Shirley Barnes.
What Harrison is, according to those who know him best, is a driven and remarkably mature 17-year-old.
Barnes carries a grade-point average above 3.0 and is halfway through the best-selling book, The Millionaire Mind,” with a book about investing genius Warren Buffett next up on his summer reading list. Whatever school he attends ? his long list includes Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Stanford, UCLA, Kentucky, Texas Christian, Iowa State, Minnesota and Florida ? needs to have a business program as good as its basketball team.
“It’s important because I need a school with a lot of connections in economics, to set me up with internships and job opportunities after college,” Barnes said.
That might sound like lip service from a kid with a half-dozen Facebook fan pages set up in his honor. After all, Barnes’ first job after college is likely to be in the NBA.
Ames High School basketball coach Vance Downs insists that Barnes is sincere.
“He’s a very thoughtful, articulate young man and education is a priority,” Downs said. “We all say it, but how many kids live that way? He lives that way. Education is a high priority, his faith is very important to him and basketball is very important to him. But I think he has all his priorities set the way they should be.” AP
Harrison Barnes, also has stayed at his hometown school. He led Ames High in Iowa to a state championship last season.
Barnes said the state title helped his community grow closer. He has been happy to bring notoriety to his hometown.
"The thought of me leaving really didn't make sense," Barnes said. "I've been in Ames all my life. Ames has a very good education. And for me, I've just been there all my life. I don't see why I have to go somewhere else to get more exposure, because in my opinion, if you're good, they will find you." Barnes on why he did not choose the prep school route
A scathing audit of Kansas State University reveals a pattern of undisclosed payments, conflicts of interest, poor accounting and possible tax problems for the school, several of its former employees and its athletic department.
The audit, released by the Kansas Board of Regents on Friday, describes thousands of dollars paid to companies owned by current and former university employees. They include head football coach Bill Snyder; former athletic director Tim Weiser; and Bob Krause, a former vice president for institutional advancement and former athletic director.
Auditors found that some of those payments could result in additional tax liability for the university and may violate Internal Revenue Service regulations. But the report stops short of concluding that any payments or other irregularities were illegal, and notes that virtually all the money came from private donations, not taxpayers.
The new K-State president, Kirk Schulz, said he welcomed the regents’ decision to release the audit, which is dated April 27. The board discussed it in closed session Friday.
“There is nothing we can do about the past,” Schulz said in a news release. “However, steps have been taken to ensure these situations do not happen again.”
...The 34-page report details a $2.4 million shortfall in the university foundation’s scholarship fund in 2007. It also found questionable spending on fees, travel and fringe benefits, plus a $500,000 loan from the athletic department to Weiser in 2008 that he was not required to “justify or explain.”
Thirteen payments totaling $845,000 to Snyder, Weiser, Krause and others had no supporting documentation, auditors said.
The report was prepared as an “exit analysis” of former K-State president Jon Wefald, who left this year. Similar audits are under way for the University of Kansas and Pittsburg State University, whose presidents also recently departed.
Auditors made several recommendations to improve oversight of the athletic department at K-State and other entities affiliated with the university to improve “structure, formality and transparency.”
Wefald said Friday that he was most troubled by the lack of documents for the $845,000 in payments.
“I think we should do everything we can to uncover that,” he said.
Wefald added that he gave Krause too much authority, a decision he now regrets.
“He did do a lot of good,” Wefald said. “But Bob had too much to do. I probably delegated too much authority to him. I wouldn’t do that again.”
...“Breathtaking,” said regent Dan Lykins in response to the findings. “We are going to be looking at things differently now.”
While the audit was not limited to K-State athletics, much of its focus involved decisions made by Krause involving the athletic department in recent years.
The department, the audit found, maintains a bank account outside the purview of the university’s controller, primarily to pay the department’s travel costs.
But auditors found that roughly 5 percent of the payments made from the account ? about $100,000 each year since 2005 ? were not for travel, but for contract payments to companies linked to K-State officials, such as Snyder’s SSM Inc., Weiser’s The Weiser Way and Krause’s Horizon Ranch.
“It is not clear why contract payments would be made through the … account as they do not relate to travel,” the audit noted. “As with other payments to employees’ personal corporations, the supporting documentation was minimal.”
The payments, auditors said, could cause the university tax problems.
“Many universities do pay their coaches for appearances and endorsements through a contract with the coach’s personal corporation,” auditors wrote. “However, it is our understanding that the taxing authorities do not look favorably on those situations if it is the athletics department or the university who is arranging for/negotiating the appearances and the endorsements on behalf of the coach, such as is the situation at K-State.”
As of the end of last year, auditors said Snyder is owed $900,000 in deferred compensation from payments due after he quit as coach in 2005. He returned as head coach three months ago.
The audit also outlined Snyder’s fringe benefits package in his 2001 contract, which, among other things, included two courtesy vehicles, undergraduate education expenses for his daughters, and a guaranteed five-year contract extension as associate athletic director for his son after Snyder’s departure.
The report also said Snyder’s complete compensation package for his current service as coach remained unsettled three months after his most recent hiring. His announced annual salary is $1.85 million.
Other concerns cited in the audit:
?The Kansas State University Foundation, which provides funds for scholarships, had a $2.4 million deficit in 2007. The athletic department eventually replaced part of the shortfall.
“We questioned the athletics department’s responsibility for involvement in this transaction and were told that as the athletics department fell under the purview of Mr. Krause, Mr. Krause elected to solve the issue in this manner and that the athletics department clearly did not have any responsibility for the payments. Per President Wefald, this arrangement was negotiated with his knowledge and approval,” according to the audit.
?Wefald had access to a $385,000 discretionary fund from which a few transactions “did not appear to be an appropriate use … or was missing.” Among those payments: $1,191 to pay for Kerry Wefald, his daughter-in-law, to fly to New York as part of an arts program.
...“Various monthly payments made in 2005 and 2006 in the $700 to $800 range to RB Enterprises Inc. carries no explanation at all,” the auditors found.
?A conflict of interest existed involving Wefald, Krause and Krause’s wife, all of whom were investors in companies assisted by the National Institute for Strategic Technology Acquisition and Commercialization (NISTAC), a nonprofit organization based in Manhattan with ties to K-State.
Wefald and Krause invested in a company called NutriJoy, founded in 2000 to develop and market “nutritional technologies.” Krause invested $37,500 and Wefald $35,000 in 2002.
That investment, combined with their oversight responsibilities at K-State, “can call into question their decision-making in situations such as that involving NutriJoy,” auditors wrote.
In spring 2005, NutriJoy experienced cash-flow problems that were undermining its plans to partner with a large food or beverage company, according to the audit.
At an April 2005 meeting of NISTAC’s board, which Krause led at the time, it adopted a resolution that said any future capital raised was first to be used to repay investors, such as Krause. Auditors said minutes of the meeting did not reflect whether Krause and Kent Glasscock ? a former Kansas House speaker and NISTAC president who also was a NutriJoy investor ? recused themselves from the vote.
Auditors said they were denied access to a NutriJoy stockholders agreement.
In other financial transactions, auditors found that the Colbert Hills Golf Course in Manhattan ? which has connections to K-State ? was built on 315 acres purchased from the Vanier family, in-laws of Krause. KC Star*
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