Posted on: December 7, 2010 11:02 am
Edited on: December 7, 2010 2:25 pm
NEW YORK -- Kansas is a 12-point favorite over Memphis in the first game of Tuesday night's doubleheader at Madison Square Garden. So the Jayhawks should win. But they could lose. Either way, know this: The result will have little to do with KU's longterm possibilities.
That's the strange thing about this Jimmy V Classic.
The No. 4 Jayhawks are the highest-ranked participant in this four-school event despite the fact that their most talented player is yet to play this season, and he won't be on display here, either. Two games remain in the nine-game suspension the NCAA levied against Josh Selby for his acceptance of improper benefits. So the version of the Jayhawks the nation watches against Memphis will be uniquely gifted -- Tyshawn Taylor and the Morris Twins provide a nice inside-outside core -- but not nearly as talented as they'll be when Selby becomes eligible Dec. 18.
"He's going to be good for us," said Kansas guard Tyrel Reed.
But how good?
Will Selby soar quickly like Jared Sullinger or struggle early like Harrison Barnes?
My prediction: Reality will be somewhere in the middle.
The tough part for Selby will be joining a season already in progress and trying to enhance a team that's pretty good without him, and he'll be competing for minutes in a backcourt full of experienced guards. None of them can match Selby's physical tools, obviously. But Bill Self is comfortable with his veterans, and he won't just force Selby into a major role. If it happens, great. But if Selby struggles to grasp the concepts in place for this team, then it's possible -- I'm not suggesting it's likely, just possible -- that he could be more of a limited reserve for a few weeks.
"Josh is gonna help us, but he's got to be able to fit in and make us a better team," Self told me last week. "He's as talented a kid as we have. But the most talented kids don't always make the best teams. You've got to have guys who understand how we play. ... We play a style that I think will fit Josh well when he [becomes eligible]. But he's got to be able to do some things for us to warrant freedom and a lot of minutes."
In other words, Self is advising the nation to be patient.
And for good reason.
He's watched Barnes struggle at North Carolina for the disappointing-to-date Tar Heels, and the hype that surrounded the AP First Team All-American's arrival to campus has only intensified the criticism. That said, there's a couple of reasons to think Selby's path will be different. The first is because even if Selby struggles it's unlikely Kansas will because the Jayhawks don't need Selby to be great for them to be good like the Tar Heels need Barnes to be great for them to be good. Kansas will be good, regardless. So Selby starting slow won't cause the Jayhawks to fall out of the Top 25, point being that his rough patches won't be magnified the way Barnes' rough patches have been. The second reason? Whereas Barnes seems passive on most possessions (that's part of his problem, I think), Selby is relentless offensively -- a dribble-driving beast always on the attack, someone who's main purpose in life is to get to the rim. He'll crunch one on an overmatched defender within three games, guaranteed. So while I can't say for sure that Selby won't struggle to adjust, what I can tell you is that any problems he might encounter won't be rooted in passiveness.
"He's a gamer," Self said. "I think Josh will play better in the games just because he likes to compete … but it's going to take time. The expectations on him are going to be higher than they are on Harrison and the other guys because he hasn't played yet, and there's just been a buildup. I think he can handle it, without question. But to be real honest, every freshman I've coached has gone through stuff. … Mario [Chalmers]. Sherron [Collins]. Julian [Wright]. Shady [Darrell Arthur]. Makes no difference. There are some games they played less than 10 minutes [as a freshman].
"I'm not saying that'll happen with Josh," Self concluded. "I'm just saying it depends on how quickly he picks things up."
Posted on: August 5, 2010 2:07 pm
McDonald's All-American Josh Selby hasn't yet been cleared to play at Kansas because of questions the NCAA has about the legitimacy of his amateur status, multiple sources have told CBSSports.com.
Selby was rated by Rivals.com as the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2010. He's one of three consensus top 15 recruits now known to be at risk of not being certified to compete as a freshman because of academic or amateurism concerns. Also in that group is Selby's cousin, Will Barton, a freshman at Memphis who was ruled ineligible by the NCAA on Wednesday because of issues about his academic background, sources told CBSSports.com. The third player is Enes Kanter, a freshman at Kentucky whose past involvement with a professional team in his native Turkey continues to be scrutinized.
According to sources, the NCAA is looking into, among other things, a relationship between Selby and Robert Frazier, the business manager for NBA star Carmelo Anthony. More commonly known in basketball circles as "Bay," Frazier is, like Selby and Anthony, a Baltimore native. He acknowledged to the <em>New York Times</em> in April that he served as an "advisor" to Selby and his mother, Maeshon Witherspoon, throughout the recruiting process. Sources said the NCAA has spent months investigating the details of that relationship in an attempt to determine whether Selby's amateur status has been compromised.
Kansas coach Bill Self did not return a message from CBSSports.com seeking comment.
KU officials declined comment.
They cited school policy.
Posted on: January 21, 2009 10:52 am
Edited on: January 21, 2009 10:55 am
Here's Wednesday's Dear Gary ...
Dear Gary: Bill Self all but said screw the NCAA when he spoke with John Wall at a basketball tournament (last week). All I'm going to say is this: Let Billy Gillispie do anything close to that and the media would take a step in his backside and walk around in it for a while. What's up with that? And are you going to write anything about what Bill Self did?
First, I'm the guy who has consistently defended Gillispie, particularly about his practice of taking young recruits. So when you talk about the media being all over Gillispie, you're talking about somebody else, because though he has operated in some gray areas (you pretty much have to in this sport, by the way) I never thought there was anything wrong with recruiting young kids, and I disagreed with the NABC when it came down on Gillispie for doing it.
As for Self, let's deal with what we know before we deal with what I think.
What we know is that Self is claiming he went to the back of the gym to see the coaches (not Wall), that he didn't initiate the conversation with Wall, and that he told Wall basically what the Missouri newspaper reported he told Wall, which is "Johnny, great win, man. You really played well. I’m not supposed to be talking to you, and you know that, but I just wanted to tell you that was a great win." Nobody is reporting that anything more than that happened -- a greeting and a termination of the brief conversation by Self -- and that could take Self off the hook because the NCAA rulebook states that there is no violation as long as the coach doesn’t engage in more than a greeting and "takes appropriate steps to immediately terminate the encounter." Self telling Wall that he can't talk to him could easily be seen as Self taking "appropriate steps" to terminate the encounter. But the other question is whether the NCAA will find that Self intentionally "positioned himself" in a location where contact could occur with Wall, because the NCAA rulebook also states that if a coach "positions himself in a location where contact is possible" it is considered "contact."
In other words, it's complex.
But in the end, this will either amount to nothing or very little to the NCAA.
That's my guess.
Now let me tell you what I think: I think Self is a smart guy, one of the best recruiters in the country, and that he had to know that by going to congratulate Wall's coach that he just might "bump" into Wall, and that as long as he was brief and made it clear to Wall that he couldn't be anything other than brief it would all be OK, according to the NCAA rulebook, because there's nothing wrong with bumping into a recruit. In fact, that's what it's called in basketball circles -- a "bump." And that's the goal of every coach during every July recruiting period, to "bump" into as many prospects as possible. I've seen coaches stand near doorways of gyms, in parking lots near cars that belonged to recruits, and even drop into a local McDonald's and sit in a booth next to a recruit, because the NCAA can't stop a coach from going to a McDonald's, can it? One of my favorite stories -- and I won't use the coaches' names, because the story was told to me off-the-record -- involves a coach and an assistant following a van carrying an AAU team from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. The coaches pulled up beside the van, got in front of the van, got behind the van, honked their horn at the van, stopped at every gas station that the van stopped at, and the thought was that the NCAA couldn't do anything because the NCAA can't prevent coaches from traveling on the interstate, honking their horns or stopping at a gas station.
These are all forms of "bumps."
And what Self did with Wall is what basketball people call a "bump."
It's a common practice in recruiting circles, just enough in the gray area to put the NCAA in a bad spot, and that's why I suspect the NCAA will have a hard time doing anything to Self because Wall initiated the contact and Self ended it after 32 words. So again, this will either be nothing or a minor violation at worst, and then somebody will spend next week trying to "bump" into Wall, and the cycle will continue forever and always.
Posted on: January 12, 2009 2:58 pm
Here's Monday's Dear Gary ...
Dear Gary: Why would you not even mention the Kansas-Michigan State game in your Friday Look Ahead? I bet your employer was really happy about that. But it's not surprising because you hate Kansas ... Bill Self will prove you wrong again, just like always. Go Jayhawks!
And now I'll ask one question: Why would I hate Kansas?
Bill Self and his staff are among the easiest staffs to get along with. They're always accessible, always great, and I think you'd have a hard time finding anybody in my business who hates Kansas or that staff for the reasons I mentioned. But it is funny, the way fans fire off emails like this, and it comes from every region of the country, from virtually every fan base.
For instance, I got one from a Pac-10 fan last night who accused me of "East Coast" bias (even though I live in the South). I was sitting with Luke Winn of Sports lllustrated at the North Carolina-Wake Forest game, so I showed it to him, and we laughed about it, and he said he gets the same type of stuff daily. It goes with the job. But as we were sitting there waiting for tip-off, we started talking about whether there was really anybody or any program that we actually hate, and, swear to God, neither of us could name a single school that would fall under that category. We just don't think in those terms, as hard as that might be to believe. So though we all have coaches we get along with better than others, SIDs who are more helpful than others, and players who are more accessible than others, the idea that we have it in for any particular coach or program is just absurd.
My hate is used on other things -- like hotel rooms far from the elevator and rental cars with no outlet for an iPod.
Those things drive me nuts.
Specific basketball programs, not so much.
Posted on: October 21, 2008 2:43 pm
Edited on: October 21, 2008 3:10 pm
The first comment posted under the Top 25 (and one) column featured the following subject line:
The post was about my omission of Kansas from the preseason Top 25 (and one), a decision that has garnered the most feedback, both positive and negative. Readers seem to either strongly believe the Jayhawks should be ranked because they are the "defending national champions" or that they should not be ranked because they lost all five starters and six of their top seven scorers.
I obviously agree with the latter.
But either way, that's the debate -- whether Kansas should be ranked or unranked. I spent the afternoon listening to both sides and then decided to solicit another opinion Monday night, which is when I went to the leading expert on all things Kansas basketball.
His name is Bill Self.
I asked him whether I should've ranked his Jayhawks.
"I'd say probably not," Self answered, and suddenly I didn't feel so idiotic. "I'll know more a month from now, and I think by the end of the year we could be. But if it's based on where we start, no way."
(Note to Kansas fans: I'll accept your apologies via email or the comments section below.)
In all seriousness, let me say this: There is a case to be made for Kansas being ranked, but it has nothing to do with the Jayhawks being the "defending national champions." Understand, these Jayhawks are the defending national champions in name only. So please stop with the but-they-are-the-defending-national
(It's worth noting that though most ranked Florida last preseason, I did not. Why? Because I'm brilliant, that's why.)
Bottom line, it's hard not to slip when you lose five or more key players.
So it's reasonable to expect the Jayhawks to slip.
But to those dead-set on arguing that the Jayhawks won't slip as far as Florida slipped (i.e., to the NIT), I would suggest you dump the they-are-the-defending-national-cha
"We have an anchor (in Aldrich) and we have a point (in Collins), and that's more than a lot of people who lost what we lost have," Self said. "With Sherron and Cole, I feel totally comfortable with those guys, and I think the talent-level around them is good. But (how good we'll be will) depend on whether or not we can get them to guard because right now it's pitiful."
Perhaps that's why the first thing out of Self's mouth Monday night was that he had "just finished another sh-tty" practice -- though he correctly added that was probably the case for 90 percent of the coaches in America. Either way, I'm well aware Kansas is capable of proving me wrong, which is why I listed the Jayhawks as one of the "10 teams that could make me pay for not ranking them." But for now, there are more questions than answers in Lawrence, and that's why I believe it's reasonable to leave Kansas unranked in the preseason.
Posted on: September 4, 2008 9:24 pm
Bill Self announced Thursday that two key recruits have been cleared to compete as freshmen.
One is Marcus Morris.
The other is Markieff Morris.
They are often referred to as the Morris Twins because, well, their last name is Morris and they are twins. So it makes sense, really. And now Kansas can move forward with a better idea of what kind of roster it will have this season.
"We certainly understand the uniqueness of these circumstances, so we appreciate the NCAA’s cooperation in reviewing the material involved in a timely manner," Self said in a released statement. "We felt all along that the twins had successfully completed their required courses, but we respect the fact that we had to go through this process. While it may have taken a bit longer than we had hoped, the important thing is that the process worked. We appreciate the cooperation of all parties involved; the main issue now is for them to begin their academic career at KU."
The twins are expected to be in class Friday.
Both are considered Top 50 prospects by Rivals.com.
Posted on: September 4, 2008 12:39 pm
Here's Thursday's Dear Gary ...
Dear Gary: Can you please tell me where you're getting that Bill Self would've left had Richardson hit that three in the Fianl 4? You make me never want to read one of your articles again. That is ludicrous!
First, Billy, let's fix your ludicrous email (in terms of facts and spelling).
It's Jason Richards, not Richardson.
And it was the Elite Eight, not the Final Four (or even the Fianl 4).
OK, now that we got that straight, let's address your issue -- that I'm being "ludicrous" by suggesting a Richards 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat Kansas would've led to Self replacing Sean Sutton at Oklahoma State.
Honest to God, I believe that's true.
Because had Davidson upset Kansas Self would've gone yet another season without a Final Four, this time when one was basically gift-wrapped for him. I mean, not making the Final Four last season would've meant he lost to a double-digit seed from a non-BCS league while a huge favorite, and Kansas fans would've gone insane. They were already questioning Self as a coach (trust me, they used to email me all the time), and I genuinely believe the outrage over a loss to Davidson would've pushed Self to his alma mater, where he would've received the richest contract in history, turned Oklahoma State into a power and made a personal vendetta against Kansas to show Jayhawk fans that their criticism ran off one of the best coaches in the sport.
When Richards missed that shot, everything obviously changed.
Now Self will probably retire from Kansas.
But I don't think it's a stretch to suggest that a Davidson win over Kansas would've caused Kansas fans to go crazy and by extension caused Self to seek refuge at Oklahoma State, and if you polled folks in the industry I think they'd agree. That's why I wrote it, because it's not nearly as "ludicrous" as you think.
Posted on: August 6, 2008 9:57 pm
Edited on: August 6, 2008 10:43 pm
LOS ANGELES -- How much did Mario's Miracle make Bill Self?
The answer is an extra $1.39 million per year, plus seven additional years of contract security.
"It turned out pretty well," Self said Wednesday, and I think I agree. The 45 year-old went from a man with a thee-year, $1.61 million contract (and a man who some Kansas fans believed would never get past the Elite Eight) to a man with a 10-year, $30 million contract that puts him not too far behind the nation's highest-paid coach, Florida's Billy Donovan, who makes $3.5 million per season.
Meantime, I think I've found the secret to ridiculous wealth:
Step 1: Recruit like crazy.
Step 2: Win a national title.
Step 3: Entertain interest from a rival school with an opening.
Step 4: Reject the rival school, proclaim your love for your current job and, yeah, keep recruiting like crazy.
Step 5: Count your Benjamins!
Seriously, the rises of Donovan and Self are pretty similar.
Both were (unfairly, I think) labeled "great recruiters/questionable coaches" up until the point they were literally cutting down national title nets. Donovan lost in the opening weekend of the NCAA tournament five straight years before winning the 2005-06 championship and Self had fallen in the first round in two of the three previous seasons before winning the 2007-08 title.
Some weren't happy with those results, and they voiced their opinions on radio shows and message boards.
But suddenly it all clicked and the reputations of Donovan and Self changed drastically.
Then their savings accounts changed drastically, too.