Kansas is turning back the clock, and not in a good way

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Typically, any discussion of the history of Kansas basketball is laced with superlatives. Recent events, however, have brought back all kinds of bad memories for the blue-blood program that usually lives in rarified air.

Wednesday’s loss to TCU was quite possibly the worst upset in KU’s history, but it was also notable as the first time KU had lost back-to-back games since 2006. Today’s 72-66 loss at Oklahoma takes them back to 2005, when they dropped consecutive games to Texas Tech, Iowa State and, yep, Oklahoma in February play.

Bill Self reached even farther back into the mists of time to describe his current team’s surprising streak of futility, saying that this team was the worst KU had put on the floor since James Naismith “lost to the YMCA.” Naismith did, in fact, lose to the Muscatine, Iowa YMCA in 1902 on his way to a 5-7 record, and Self’s hyperbole was clearly meant to sting his slumping team into action.

It didn’t work. The aura of invincibility the KU program has lorded over the Big 12 for nearly a decade has cracked, fractured, and fallen completely away during this bad stretch.

The Jayhawks are in free-fall, but still considered a guaranteed tourney team. Aside from the road win at Ohio State in December, and a close win at K-State, the Kansas schedule is rather light on marquee wins, however. Should the Wildcats win at Allen Fieldhouse on Big Monday, Kansas will not only give their closest geographical rival a leg up on the league title, they’ll put their NCAA tournament seeding in serious jeopardy.

The Kansas offense is struggling due to point play, rather obviously. The offense is stagnant, and there’s nobody else to look to behind senior Elijah Johnson (10 points, 4 assists, 3 turnovers today) and sophomore Naadir Tharpe (7 points, 2 assists, 1 turnover).

What Bill Self wouldn’t give right now for a steady, unspectacular ballhandler. A Russ Robinson, if you will. A Brady Morningstar. Instead, he’s left with a scattered Elijah Johnson and Naadir-in-the-headlights.

What happens if the Jayhawks lose four? Why, national title, obviously.

Where have you gone, Danny Manning?

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

Gonzaga’s Mark Few named AP Coach of the Year

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Gonzaga head coach Mark Few has added to his program’s banner season with an individual award, being named AP Coach of the Year on Thursday afternoon.

Few led the Bulldogs to their first Final Four. The Zags enter the national semifinal with a 36-1 record. Up until Feb. 25, they were flirting with a perfect season. A loss to BYU is currently the only blemish on their season.

Few also won his 500th career game during the course of the 2016-17 season. Since 2014, two coaches from outside the major conferences have earned his honor. Gregg Marshall was named AP Coach of the Year in 2014 after leading the Shockers to a perfect regular season.

This was a very competitive race this season. Sean Miller lost two players expected to be key pieces this season — and had Allonzo Trier miss 19 games — but guided Arizona to the Pac-12 Tournament championship. Jay Wright led Villanova to another Big East title despite two cornerstone pieces — Ryan Arcidiancono and Daniel Ochefu — gone from last season’s national championship team. For a while, Baylor’s Scott Drew seemed to be the favorite. The Bears didn’t receive a single vote in the preseason top-25 poll but went on to earn a No. 1 ranking.

Few’s season continues on Saturday against South Carolina.

Frank Mason is named AP Player of the Year

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Kansas point guard Frank Mason III was named the AP Player of the Year on Thursday afternoon.

The senior floor general for the Jayhawks headlined the AP All-American team, which included UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball, Villanova Swingman Josh Hart, Purdue big man Caleb Swanigan and North Carolina small forward Justin Jackson.

Mason averaged 20.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and shot 49 percent from behind the 3-point line during the 2016-17 season. He helped guide Kansas to its 13th consecutive Big 12 regular season title.

He becomes the fourth senior in a row to win the award, preceded by Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine, Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminksy and Creighton’s Doug McDermott.

He had previously been named player of the year by NBC Sports.

TJ Leaf declares for the 2017 NBA Draft

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UCLA freshman forward TJ Leaf announced he is declaring for the 2017 NBA Draft on Thursday afternoon.

The 6-foot-10 Leaf averaged 16.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.1 blocks per game. His shooting numbers were also impressive, connecting on 62 percent of his field goals, including 27-of-58 from beyond the 3-point arc.

This news comes six days after Lonzo Ball officially announced he had played his last game at UCLA. Neither move is shocking, with Ball in the running for the No. 1 overall pick and Leaf also pegged as a first round selection.

The Bruins will have quite a bit of turnover next season with guards Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton exhausting their eligibility. UCLA head coach Steve Alford has a six-man recruiting class set to come in to help replenish the roster. It’s led by versatile forward Kris Wilkes, point guard Jaylen Hands, and big men Cody Riley and Jalen Hill.

CBT Fancast: Catching up with famous Final Four fans: Adam Morrison, Marcus Paige, Neil Everett

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For today’s episode, I spoke with the famous fans of the programs in the Final Four, from the greatest player in Gonzaga history to the almost-star of last year’s Final Four to the most famous dual Gonzaga and Oregon fan in the world.

Sindarius Thornwell misses practice on Thursday

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Sindarius Thornwell has been the best player in the NCAA tournament to date, yet he was not in the building on Thursday when the South Carolina Gamecocks practiced and he was nowhere to be found during South Carolina’s media availability.

A school spokeswoman told reporters that Thornwell was back at the hotel, that he was sick and resting.

Thornwell is averaging 25.7 points in four games in the NCAA tournament. He’s been sensational. If he’s not at his best this weekend, that’s a massive blow for South Carolina’s chances of getting to a national title game, but South Carolina head coach Frank Martin doesn’t seem too concerned.

“I’ve got a bug myself. Luckily I don’t have to play,” Martin said. “He had a little body temperature last night when we landed. And he was a little better this morning. But I kind of told our trainer, just feed him fluids, do what doctors do and let him rest rather than stress him right now. He’s our most intelligent player. And I don’t mean to say that demeaning the other guys. He understands basketball at a high, high level, he doesn’t need to be on the practice court to understand what we’re doing.”