Bill Self (AP Photo_

Research project offers unique view of Kansas’ 2013 Sweet 16 season

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One of the most memorable images of the 2013 NCAA tournament was Michigan guard Trey Burke’s game-tying three against Kansas in the Sweet 16, sending that game into overtime and keeping the Wolverines alive in the process. Michigan would win that game, going all the way to the national title game where they fell short against Louisville.

As for Kansas, the defeat was a tough finish to a season that featured 31 wins, a share of the Big 12 regular season title and the Big 12 tournament title. The biggest issue in the eyes of many was the same as that of the 2014 team that lost to Stanford in the Round of 32: inconsistency at the point guard position (note: not having Joel Embiid didn’t help this year’s team either).

Researchers at the University of Kansas used the 2012-13 team in their study of the impact stress has on athletic performance, observing the cortisol (which impacts stress) and testosterone levels of the players in 27 of the 30 weeks of the season. And according to their research, one of the dips in testosterone levels for the players (and the raising of cortisol levels) occurred during the most important portion of the college basketball season.

The men’s team also saw its levels plummet right before the NCAA Tournament, a potential sign that stress was keeping the Jayhawks from playing at their best.

Interestingly, just two weeks after KU’s loss to Michigan, the team’s levels had bounced back up to baseline.

“It just shows that we’re working with high-level athletes to the point where they can be stressed pretty hard and bounce right back from it,” Andre said. “I’m not sure that athletes of a lesser caliber could be stressed to that level and then recover as quickly.”

What does this study mean with relation to the way in which programs train their athletes? According to the Topeka Capital-Journal, the hope is that the study can give coaches an idea as to how to work their players with an eye towards having them at their best at the right time.

With the current technology in KU’s weight room, [KU strength coach Andrea] Hudy has instant data on each of her athletes’ lifts. With hormone levels, though, findings aren’t available until after the fact because of the time needed for testing, meaning an NBA combine that tests players’ hormone levels alongside their vertical jump probably remains in the distant future.

“It’s a process right now,” Hudy said. “But did I learn from it? Absolutely. Did the guys learn from it? Yes. Did coach learn from it? Yes.”

As noted above, using the date from such studies can be difficult due to the changes that occur within a team from one year to the next. But with so many looking for that edge that can make the difference between a good year and a great one, it may only be a matter of time before another program does a similar study.

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?