Andrew Wiggins

Kansas lost, but Jayhawk fans should be happy after the Colorado game

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Dear Kansas fans: Do not start freaking out just yet.

I know what happened on Saturday. I saw Colorado’s Askia Booker hit that buzzer-beating, euro-stepping three to beat the No. 6 Jayhawks, 75-72. I saw the bench mob him at half court and Jimmy Dykes ask him questions on ESPN in the postgame that made little-to-no sense. I watched it all happen.

And I’m still telling you that Saturday was a good thing for your team.

Because Andrew Wiggins finally started to look like the Andrew Wiggins that we’ve been telling you all about.

The bottom-line for this Kansas team is that they won’t be any better than normal without Wiggins playing like a go-to guy. He needs to command defensive attention and demand the ball on the offensive end of the floor. He needs to be a freight train with busted brakes running downhill in transition. He needs to attack the glass and be a night mare on the defensive end of the floor.

Remember, as good as the likes of Joel Embiid, Wayne Selden and Perry Ellis are, before Wiggins made the decision to play his collegiate ball in Lawrence, this group was a borderline top 25 team. They were thought to be right there with Baylor as a distant second in the Big 12 race, trailing Oklahoma State. They were a talented group that had just a little bit too much youth and not quite enough point guard play.

The reason they jumped into everyone’s top five or top ten was Wiggins.

And the reason that they haven’t played like a top five or a top ten team to date is … well, Wiggins.

It’s not that he has played poorly. In fact, he’s been pretty good, averaging 14.3 points, 5.6 boards and shooting 49.3% from the floor entering Saturday. But pretty good isn’t enough for Kansas, especially when Wiggins defers far too often in critical moments. Thus far this season, the guys that Kansas has gone to in those big moments have been Frank Mason and Naadir Tharpe, with a sprinkling of Perry Ellis in there as well. And with all due respect to those three, that’s not a group that will strike fear in the hearts of national title contenders.

On Saturday, it was Wiggins taking over in the second half. He finished with 17 of his 22 points after the break, attacking the rim in transition, remaining active on the offensive glass and helping to slow down Colorado’s offense in the second half at the top of the Jayhawk’s 1-2-2 zone. It was his best game at the collegiate level, and the first time that he looked like he was starting to figure out just how unstoppable he can be.

Colorado noticed as well. Down 72-70 with 11 seconds left, Bill Self even designed a sidelines out-of-bounds play built entirely around using Wiggins as a decoy to get Ellis a driving look at the rim.

Here’s the scarier part: Wiggins didn’t even play his best basketball. He made some dumb passes and he committed some silly fouls. He’s still got room to improve.

He’ll get there, but it’s a learning process.

So while this loss will hurt for a while — it should, losing like that stinks — at the end of the day, Kansas just lost to a top four team in the Pac-12 on the road at the buzzer. Colorado’s a good team.

Kansas is, too.

And they’re only going to get better if Saturday was truly Wiggins getting ready to take that next step.

Because if Wiggins doesn’t, Kansas will not live up to expectations.

VIDEO: University of New Orleans aids area flood victims

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After over 20 inches of rain fell over three days and over 60,000 homes were damaged in southeastern Louisiana, New Orleans coach Mark Slessinger called his acquaintance, John Derenbecker, in the area to check in. Derenbecker and his family were fine, Slessinger learned, but many in the area were not.

I told (Derenbecker) to figure out who needed the help the most,” Slessinger told the New Orleans Times-Picayune, “that I had my whole crew who could come help out on Saturday and Sunday.”

That led Slessinger and his team to the home of an elderly couple, Elbert and Ione Norred, whose house was ravaged by over four feet of flood water. The Privateers helped slog out debris, cut away wet insulation and whatever else needed removing from the soaked home.

“I appreciate everything you have done,” Ione Elbert told the Privateers. “Nobody knows how long it would have taken us to have done this.”

The Red Cross estimates that the relief effort for the flooding could cost upwards of $30 million in the region. To make a donation to the organization call 1-800-RED CROSS.

UNO’s baseball team also got in on the aid effort, heading to Baton Rouge over the weekend.

“We are proud to see our student-athletes, coaches and staff serve our fellow Louisianians in their time of need,” UNO Director of Athletics Derek Morel said in a statement. “The men and women of our program understand the importance of serving others and using our resources to help those in less-fortunate situations. We will continue to play for neighbors.”

Rutgers land 7-foot grad transfer from UNC Wilmington

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Brandon Ingram #14 of the Duke Blue Devils drives to the basket as he is defended by C.J. Gettys #23 of the North Carolina-Wilmington Seahawks in the second half of their game during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Rutgers landed a commitment from seven-footer C.J. Gettys on Monday night.

Gettys is a graduate transfer from UNC-Wilmington, where he averaged 5.3 points, 5.1 boards and 1.4 blocks for a team that reached the NCAA tournament. Gettys is a slow-footed back-to-the-basket player, however, and that didn’t exactly fit with the way that UNCW head coach Kevin Keatts likes to play; think Shaka Smart’s VCU teams.

So Gettys opted for Rutgers, picking the Scarlet Knights over Dayton, Purdue and Chattanooga.

He is the fifth member of new head coach Steve Pikiell’s first recruiting class.

VIDEO: Seventh Woods dunks on UNC student

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Some poor UNC student decided that he was going to try and block Seventh Woods, a freshman point guard for the Tar Heels, on a dunk attempt.

What ended up happening was that he got windmilled on.

To quote Samuel L. Jackson, as portrayed the great philosopher Dave Chappelle, “You ain’t never seen my movies?” Woods was doing this as a freshman … in HIGH SCHOOL.

Former National Player of the Year Michael Brooks dies at 58

Brooks for All-American Brochure
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A Philadelphia basketball legend and a former National Player of the Year passed away on Monday night.

Michael Brooks, a 6-foot-7 forward who was named the NABC National Player of the Year in 1980, died in Switzerland on Monday night due to a massive stroke, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

He was just 58 years old.

Brooks finished his career with 2,628 points and 1,372 rebounds. He never averaged less than 20 points in his four seasons in college. (Think about that for a second.) He was the No. 9 pick in the 1980 NBA Draft and averaged double-figures for four years before season-ending knee injuries sent him to Europe to play. Brooks was also named the captain of the 1980 Olympic team that missed out on the Moscow games due to the USA’s boycott.

Brooks, according to the Inquirer, had aplastic anemia, which required him to receive a bone marrow transplant last week. His body rejected the marrow, which resulted in the strokes that ended his life.

UCLA cruises in opener on Australian tour

UCLA head coach Steve Alford, second from right, watches action against Cal Poly with his assistant coaches in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Baker)
AP Photo/Michael Baker
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UCLA, who will be the most interesting team in all of college basketball this season, played their first game of an Australian tour on Tuesday morning, and they won in pretty impressive fashion.

The Bruins had triple digits on the board early in the fourth quarter, eventually beating a club in Sydney by the score of 123-76. For comparison’s sake, Washington and potential No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz beat the same team 101-80 a couple of weeks ago, so the win and the margin of victory is somewhat impressive.

Also worth noting: None of UCLA’s freshmen started. Steve Alford rolled with Aaron Holiday, Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton on the perimeter — Holiday and Hamilton combined for 27 points, 18 assists and 11 boards while Alford had 17 points on just 10 shots — with G.G. Golomon and Thomas Welsh up front.

But the noteworthy performances here were from the McDonald’s All-Americans that Steve Alford brought into the program. In his first game in the blue and gold, Lonzo Ball, a potential top ten pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, was just OK. He finished with nine points and four assists while shooting 3-for-9 from the floor. Leaf, however, was terrific, as he led the team with 21 points to go along with nine boards and three assists.

The first exhibition game is hardly a great way to predict how a season is going to play out, but given the pressure and expectations currently surrounding the program, everything the Bruins do this season is going to be scrutinized.

This isn’t a bad way to start.