Bill Self

New Year’s Resolutions: Kansas Jayhawks

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Over the course of the holiday week, we at College Basketball Talk will be detailing what we believe will be the New Year’s Resolutions of some of the nation’s most talented, most disappointing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams. What can we say, we’re in a giving mood.

Who else made Resolutions? Click here to find out.

WHAT DOES KANSAS PROMISE TO DO MORE OF?: Find a consistent answer at point guard.

  • Why it will happen: The Jayhawks will need one of their two point guards — junior Naadir Tharpe or freshman Frank Mason — to step up and be more consistent if Kansas hopes to reach Arlington at the end of the season. Head coach Bill Self has to be pleased with the way his starter, Tharpe, has played in the last two games for Kansas since poor performances against Florida and Colorado and the Jayhawks’ incredibly difficult non-conference schedule should have them more prepared than most heading into the conference portion of the season.
  • Why it won’t happen: Tharpe (40 percent) and Mason (39 percent) are both shooting the ball poorly and are prone to lapses in judgement against pressure. It also doesn’t help that the Jayhawks are inconsistent as a team shooting the three (32 percent) and this allows opposing defenses to sag a bit and force Tharpe and Mason to make plays off the dribble. And how will Tharpe and Mason handle elite point guards after so-so showings against Florida’s backcourt and Colorado’s Spencer Dinwiddie? Facing an elite guard like Marcus Smart will be an interesting indicator of how Kansas’ point guards are handling Big 12 play.

WHAT DOES KANSAS SWEAR THEY WILL DO LESS OF?: Turn the ball over.

  • Why it will happen: Kansas turns the ball over around 13 times a game; none of the AP’s current top eight teams averages more than 12 turnovers per game, with many of them hovering around 10. Kansas is giving up a lot of possessions, but as their young rotation gets minutes together and their leadership at guard stabilizes, that number should go down. Naadir Tharpe looked far more in control during the Georgetown game and freshmen like Wayne Selden, Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid should understand the pressures of big-time college basketball after non-conference play is done. Plus, have you seen the difficulty of the Kansas non-conference schedule? They haven’t faced any low-to-mid major programs since late November and those turnover numbers could be slightly higher because of this.
  • Why it won’t happen: The Jayhawks have seven different players turning the ball over at least once a game. That points to a major team-wide issue and could prove to be an Achilles’ Heel for them come March. Kansas is still inconsistent in their halfcourt offense and their entire roster has to do a better job of valuing the ball and taking good shots. Is this a lack of leadership on the floor? Are the young Jayhawks still learning to gel? Only time will tell, but with Kansas’ perimeter shooting being so inconsistent, they also can’t afford to give away as many possessions as they have early in the year.

USC athletic director Pat Haden to step down in June

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LOS ANGELES (AP) University of Southern California athletic director Pat Haden says he will retire on June 30.

USC President Max Nikias made the announcement Friday.

Haden has run the athletic department for 5 1/2 years, leading the Trojans through a multiyear stretch of NCAA sanctions against its vaunted football program. He created a large NCAA compliance program and improved graduation rates and grade point averages across the athletic department.

The former USC quarterback also received criticism for the football program’s relative underachievement and for his handling of coach Steve Sarkisian, who has sued the school over his termination last year.

Nikias says Haden’s department also raised over $400 million during his tenure.

Nikias says Haden will start a one-year job guiding the renovation of the Coliseum after he retires.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Ivy League’s best meet in New Haven

Columbia guard Maodo Lo, right, steals the ball from Northwestern forward Aaron Falzon, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in Evanston, Ill.  (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Columbia at Yale, 5:00 p.m.

The two best teams in the Ivy League, with matching 4-0 league records, meet for the first time this season. The Lions were close to suffering their first loss last weekend, but an Alex Rosenberg jumper as time expired gave the Lions the win at reigning champion Harvard. Rosenberg’s one of four players averaging at least 12.2 points per game for Kyle Smith’s team, with senior guard Maodo Lo leading the way at 15.8 per contest.

They’ll face a Yale rotation led offensively by point guard Makai Mason (15.7 ppg, 4.1 apg), and the front court tandem of Justin Sears and Brandon Sherrod has been outstanding. The winner get a leg up in the Ivy race, with the rematch scheduled for March 5 in New York City (regular season finale).

THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: Central Michigan at Akron, 8:00 p.m.

Two of the top teams in the Mid-American Conference meet at the JAR, as Akron looks to extend its win streak to six straight. The Zips’ balanced offensive attack has been led by forward Isaiah Johnson (12.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg), who currently leads the team in both scoring and rebounding. As for the visiting Chippewas, guards Braylon Rayson and Chris Fowler combine to average 32.7 points per game, with Fowler also responsible for a MAC-best 6.3 assists per contest. CMU’s had some struggles on the defensive glass in league play, ranking 11th in that category, but they’ve done a better job defensively than they did in non-conference play.

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES

  • MAAC leader Monmouth is back in action, as they host a Fairfield team led by one of the conference’s best players in senior forward Marcus Gilbert. The Hawks have a deep lineup led by junior guard Justin Robinson, who at this point in time is the likely frontrunner for MAAC Player of the Year honors.
  • Looking to catch Monmouth is Iona, which is a game behind the Hawks at 9-3. A.J. English and the Gaels visit Canisius in a matchup that should not lack for offense. Iona’s more inclined to run, but Canisius doesn’t lack scorers either with guard Malcolm McMillan leading four players averaging double figures.
  • Given the fact that they’re 1-3 in Ivy League play, Harvard’s essentially in the spoiler role unless some chaos breaks out at the top end of the standings. The Crimson can help in that regard with a win at Princeton, with the Tigers (2-1) a game behind Columbia and Yale in the loss column. Princeton’s been the better offensive team this season, thanks in large part to junior forward Henry Caruso who leads the team in both scoring and rebounding.