Bill Self

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


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.

VIDEOS: Rhode Island, Maryland exchange heated words in Cancun

Dan Hurley
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No. 2 Maryland finally found their rhythm on Wednesday night, blowing out a good Rhode Island team, 86-63, in the finals of the Cancun Challenge.

Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon combined for 34 points and eight assists on 13-for-14 shooting and Robert Carter added 15 points, nine boards, three assists and three blocks. Peak Maryland, which is what we saw tonight, is really dangerous.

But Peak Maryland wasn’t the story after the game, as tempers flared in the waning minutes.

It started when Maryland coach Mark Turgeon called a timeout with less than two minutes remaining. Jake Layman had just hit a three to put Maryland up by 24 points and Turgeon wanted to get his walk-ons in the game. Hurley said to the Maryland bench, “We’ll see you again, boy,” according to Inside Maryland Sports, which prompted this reaction from Turgeon:

After the game, the two teams had to be separated in layup lines. According to reports from IMS and from the Baltimore Sun, Hurley was cursing at Maryland players as he was shaking their hands after the game. According Doug Gottlieb, who called the game for CBS Sports Network, Trimble said that the Rhode Island team wanted to “fight us”:

Wayne Selden stars as Kansas wins the title in Maui

Wayne Selden Jr., Jeff Roberson
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The last time we wrote about Wayne Selden in this space, it was my colleague Scott Phillips who questioned, after a poor performance in the Champions Classic, whether or not Selden is capable of bring a primary scorer for a team with NCAA title aspirations.

At the time, it wasn’t an unfair question to ask.

Selden is a former top 15 recruit. He is a guy who was expected to go one-and-done that played poorly in the first big game of his third year on campus. But after three days it Maui, it appears that the old Wayne Selden is gone.

[MORE: Kansas got Cheick Diallo news today]

He capped an MVP performance in the Maui Invitational with 25 points and seven boards on 8-for-11 shooting as the No. 5 Kansas Jayhawks knocked off No. 19 Vanderbilt, 70-63, in the title game. Selden was terrific for the entire weekend, averaging 21.5 points in the two games against Division I competition and shooting 12-for-17 from beyond the arc in the three game tournament.

It was the best that we’ve seen Selden play during his Jayhawk career, and it came in a game the Jayhawks desperately needed it. Vanderbilt is a damn good team. They’re ranked 19th, which may actually be too low, and they seem to clearly be the biggest challenger to Kentucky in the SEC. They jumped out to a double-digit lead on Kansas in the first half as the Jayhawks seemed to be sleep-walking early in the game.

Enter Selden. He drilled three threes in the first half and scored 13 of the 26 Jayhawk points to keep them close. In other words, he played like a star on a night Kansas desperately needed someone to step up and play like a star. Remember: this is a dude that had enough talent and potential in high school to be considered a McDonald’s All-American and a potential lottery pick. The ability is there:

(That move is filthy.)

The question has always been whether or not he is capable of putting it all together, of being the guy that can be relied upon to make the big play in the big moment, to carry a team with title aspirations.

And to be fair, the jury is still out in that regard. Are we just going to ignore those four free throws he clanged down the stretch?

But seeing Selden have this kind of performance in a game like this against a team that is this good is unquestionably a positive for Kansas moving forward.