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Kansas the coaches’ unanimous choice to win the Big 12

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Kansas has won eight straight Big 12 regular season titles, and even with the loss of Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor Big 12 coaches expect the Jayhawks to extend the streak to nine.

The Big 12 released its preseason coaches’ poll on Thursday, and Kansas was the unanimous choice to win the conference.

Since coaches aren’t allowed to vote for their own teams the Jayhawks picked up nine first-place votes, with Bill Self’s vote going to the Baylor Bears.

Scott Drew’s club, coming off of it’s second Elite Eight appearance in three years, finished second in the voting with Oklahoma State being the choice to finish third.

1. Kansas – 81 points (nine first-place votes)
2. Baylor – 63 (one first-place vote)
3. Oklahoma State – 60
4. Texas – 58
5. Kansas State – 54
6. West Virginia – 45
7. Oklahoma – 34
8. Iowa State – 28
9. Texas Tech – 18
10. TCU – 9

Being picked by the coaches to win the Big 12 tends to work out for teams when looking at the history of the preseason coaches poll, as only four times in the history of the conference has the preseason pick failed to finish third or higher.

Oklahoma State finished 5th in 1998-99, with Kansas finishing in a tie for fifth the following season and Missouri doing so in 2003-04.

The worst performance by the Big 12 coaches’ choice? That would be last year’s Texas A&M squad, which was hit hard by the injury bug and finished ninth.

Given the close nature of this season’s poll after Kansas (2nd through 6th are separated by 18 points), it should be interesting to see how the race shakes out.

Obviously what happens with Texas point guard Myck Kabongo would have a major impact on that if he’s forced to miss games, and teams such as West Virginia (6th) and Oklahoma (7th) may prove to be underrated by the coaches.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Kansas head coach Bill Self to receive John R. Wooden ‘Legends of Coaching’ award

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On the heels of leading Kansas to 32 wins and an appearance in the national title game, Kansas head coach Bill Self received multiple national coach of the year awards and a contract extension through the 2021-22 season.

On Wednesday it was announced that Self would receive another honor, as he was named the John R. Wooden Award’s “Legends of Coaching” recipient for 2013.

Self will formally receive the honor at the Los Angeles Athletic Club on the weekend of April 11-13, 2013.

“This is a great honor and humbling, but non-deserving; plus it’s a legends which makes me sound even older than what I am,” Self said in a statement released by the school. “I had a chance to meet Coach Wooden and get to know him fairly well back in the year 2000 because of an award we received.

“Cindy and I were able to spend a weekend with him and his family. That was a cool experience. To be thought of in this regard with some of the coaches that have won this in the past is pretty humbling.”

According to the Wooden Award the honoree is selected based on a number of factors, “character, success on the court, graduation rates of student-athletes in their basketball program, coaching philosophy, and identification with the goals of the John R. Wooden Award.”

Self has led the Jayhawks to eight straight Big 12 regular season titles and Kansas has reached at least the Sweet 16 in six of his nine years at the helm.

Away from the court, Self devotes substantial time to his “Assists Foundation,” which directs funds to help children in a variety of ways, including scholarships and grants to school-based, private and public agencies. In the classroom, Kansas has achieved an Academic Progress Rate (APR) score of a perfect 1,000 in each of the last six years under Self. In the Bill Self era, Kansas has had 25 Academic All-Big 12 selections, which is best in the conference, and 26 of 27 four-year players at KU have earned their degrees.

With Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor gone Self will rely on veterans Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford and Jeff Withey along with a host of talented newcomers in 2012-13.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

When will Bill Self start getting more pub as an all-time great?

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How long will it be until Bill Self is thrust into the conversation as not only one of the best coaches in the country, but one of the best coaches of all-time?

That’s a question that deserves serious consideration now that Self has been given a new contract from Kansas that could be worth as much as $53.32 million over the next decade. The major payday comes late in the deal — he’s got a $6 million incentive to stay until March of 2022 — which means that it is a pretty safe bet that Self will end his coaching career as a Jayhawk.

Think about it: he’s already got a top five job, if not the best job, in all of college basketball. And he’s been wildly successful there. He’s been in Lawrence for nine seasons. The past eight, he’s won at least a share of the Big 12 regular season title in addition to five Big 12 tournament titles. He won the 2008 national title, finished as the national runner-up in 2012 and had made three trips to the Elite 8 with Kansas to go along with the Elite 8’s he took both Tulsa and Illinois to.

He churns out NBA talent as consistently as any coach in the country, having 14 players picked in the NBA Draft during his tenure with the Jayhawks. He’s not slowing down, either, as Self is bringing in yet another crop of talented freshmen this season — five-star recruit Perry Ellis and four-star prospects Anrio Adams and Andrew White as well as debuting last year’s star recruit Ben McLemore — and already has two top 50 prospects committed for 2013.

Self hasn’t exactly built the Kansas program from scratch, the way that Jim Calhoun did UConn or Lute Olson did Arizona. The Jayhawks have as much history as any program in the country. There’s a reason he has one of the best jobs imaginable.

But Self has taken one of the most storied programs in the country and made them into a dynasty, the kind of power that’s never before been seen in Lawrence. Kansas has never won eight straight regular season titles before. They’ve never won five conference tournaments in a six year span before. And there’s no indication that the momentum Self’s built up will be slowing down anytime soon. His Kansas team is a favorite to win the league again this year.

Perhaps the most important point to make is that Self is coming off perhaps the best coaching job of his career. Last season, Kansas was considered by most to be a top 15 or a top 20 team. They were led by Thomas Robinson, who was talented but coming off of a year where both his grandparents and his mother had passed away, and the enigmatic Tyshawn Taylor, who was about as consistent as Carrie Mathison’s mood to that point in his career. The rest of the roster was made up with career back-ups and ineligible freshmen.

And Self still took them to the outright Big 12 title and the national title game. He’s still getting better as a coach.

In an era where players leave early for the NBA Draft and transfer if playing time isn’t immediately available, Self has been able to turn the Jayhawks into a Big 12 dynasty, keeping four and five-star recruits happy even if they have to spend a year or two riding the pine.

Kansas inked him for another decade. If he stays anywhere near the pace he’s kept up — let’s say, for example, he wins eight more regular season titles, six more Big 12 tournament titles and another national title in three more Final Four trips — where does he stack up historically?

Is he the greatest coach in Kansas history?

Is he a top five coach of all-time?

Will Kansas be playing on Bill Self Court in Phog Allen Fieldhouse in 2030?

It’s not crazy to think the answer to all three of those questions will be ‘yes’.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Twenty-five must-see non-conference games in 2012-13

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Throughout the month of October, CollegeBasketballTalk will be rolling out our previews for the 2012-2013 season. Check back at 9 a.m. and just after lunch every day, Monday-Friday, for a new preview item.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To look at the rest of The Lists we’ve published, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

The season is rapidly approaching, with less than two weeks to go before practices officially begin across the nation. So, what are some of the non-conference games that you should keep an eye on this season? Twenty-five such games are listed below including a couple surprises (tried to list a team no more than twice), but the game at the top of the list should surprise no one.

1. Kentucky at Louisville (December 29)
This game topping the list shouldn’t be a surprise, as the Wildcats and Cardinals are two of the teams expected to contend for a national title. Kentucky won both meetings last year, something that the Louisville players will be reminded of quite often. Youth vs. experience and two of the best coaches in the game makes for must-see entertainment at the KFC Yum! Center.

2. North Carolina at Indiana (November 27)
Given the heavy personnel losses that North Carolina suffered the team that shows up in Bloomington probably won’t look like the “finished” product come March. But a game like this can be an excellent learning tool for Roy Williams’ team as they’ll take on the team many have labeled as the favorite to win the national title. North Carolina traditionally ranks among the best teams in the country, but do they have the horses to win at Indiana?

3. Duke vs. Kentucky (November 13)
Another one of the “youth vs. experience” battles for Kentucky, but as we’ve seen during the John Calipari era the Wildcats win them more often than not. But Duke in Atlanta should be an intriguing match-up, especially when considering Kentucky’s Kyle Wiltjer, Nerlens Noel and Alex Poythress taking on Duke’s Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly and Amile Jefferson.

4. Louisville at Memphis (December 15)
The old foes get together in one final non-conference battle before the Tigers join the Big East in 2013, and Josh Pastner’s got a team that is talented enough to win some NCAA tournament games. Adonis Thomas is back to full strength after missing a sizable portion of last season with a broken foot, and the arrival of Shaq Goodwin will help the Tigers inside. Louisville is deep and experienced, but the game will ultimately come down to how much point guards Joe Jackson (Memphis) and Peyton Siva (Louisville) have improved.

5. NC State at Michigan (November 27)
This is probably a bit high on the list but Michigan should be one of Indiana’s biggest challengers in the Big Ten. Guard Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. both return and John Beilein also has his best incoming freshman class since arriving in Ann Arbor. But the same can be said for the Wolfpack, who have an outstanding freshman class with three McDonald’s All-Americans joining an experienced rotation.

6. Michigan State vs. Kansas (November 13)
The other game in the Champions Classic doubleheader matches two teams that were highly successful last season but have to replace some important contributors. The Spartans have to adjust to life without Draymond Green, meaning more responsibility for veterans such as Adreian Payne, Derrick Nix and Keith Appling. Kansas moves on with Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor in the NBA, and they’ll ask for more from Elijah Johnson, Jeff Withey and Travis Releford. Both have highly-touted newcomers as well, and the questions for both teams should make for a fun battle.

7. Ohio State at Duke (November 28)
Part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, this game will offer a nice look into the progression of Duke point guard Quinn Cook. He’ll have the ball in his hands quite a bit this season, but Ohio State has arguably the nation’s best on-ball defender in junior Aaron Craft. The Buckeyes lose Jared Sullinger and William Buford but DeShaun Thomas returns and LaQuinton Ross should be ready to go after minimal playing time once he was ruled eligible last season.

8. UNLV at North Carolina (December 29)
UNLV won last year’s meeting in impressive fashion in Las Vegas; can they do the same in Chapel Hill? A talented cast of newcomers joins a corps of veterans led by senior guard Anthony Marshall, and Dave Rice’s team is more than capable of making serious noise in March. North Carolina has a healthy Leslie McDonald and Dexter Strickland, and James Michael McAdoo is a player many expect to break out in 2012-13.

9. San Diego State vs. UCLA (December 1 in Anaheim)
While many are focusing on the talent that’s arrived in Westwood don’t underestimate San Diego State when it comes to who the best team in southern California is. Reigning Mountain West POY Jamaal Franklin returns as do Chase Tapley, James Rahon and Xavier Thames, and newcomers such as freshman Winston Shepard will be heard from as well. UCLA will counter with their four-member freshman class and front court returnees who need to step up if they’re to contend in the Pac-12.

10. Florida at Arizona (December 15)
Despite having to go with Nick Johnson at the point the Wildcats held their own in Gainesville in last season’s meeting. With Mark Lyons on board don’t look for Sean Miller to have to make such a move in the rematch. Florida boasts an experienced front court led by Patric Young and Erik Murphy, which will be a good test for Arizona’s young but talented front court.

11. Kansas at Ohio State (December 22)
These two met in Lawrence last season (sans an injured Jared Sullinger) with the Jayhawks picking up the victory. Is Naadir Tharpe ready to take over at the point for Kansas, or will it be someone else that runs the show? Whoever that man may be, they’ll have to deal with the defense of Aaron Craft. And three players who either had to sit out all of (KU’s Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor) or saw limited duty (OSU’s LaQuinton Ross) last season will be on display.

12. Syracuse vs. San Diego State (November 9)
This one’s actually being played on the USS Midway just outside of San Diego, so while the Aztecs are much closer to the venue this won’t be like playing in front of “The Show” from an atmosphere standpoint. How prepared is sophomore Michael Carter-Williams to take over at the point? We’re going to find out as he’ll take on SDSU’s experienced back court led by Mountain West POY Jamaal Franklin.

13. Saint Joseph’s at Creighton (December 1)
Hopefully college basketball fans don’t overlook this battle because both the Hawks and Bluejays are capable of making noise this season. The individual match-up of Creighton’s Doug McDermott and Saint Joseph’s C.J. Aiken shouldn’t disappoint (although it’s possible that Aiken will see more of Gregory Echenique than McDermott), and both teams have very good players on the perimeter as well.

14. Missouri at UCLA (December 28)
This is the Tigers’ final road game before the begin SEC play, and Frank Haith’s club is more than capable of making a splash in their new league. Point guard Phil Pressey is one of the country’s best and a rotation that adds some talented transfers (Keion Bell and Alex Oriakhi being two) should have good chemistry thanks to a summer trip to Europe. They’ll be tested by the Bruins, who have some talented newcomers of their own to rely on.

15. Michigan State at Miami (November 28)
How good can Miami be? Along with Maryland the Hurricanes have the talent needed to make a jump in the ACC standings. Shane Larkin and Durand Scott can be a handful for opposing teams, and the chance to take on Michigan State at home is something that Jim Larranaga’s program needs to take advantage of (statement game).

16. Tennessee at Georgetown (November 30)
The Volunteers’ struggles before Jarnell Stokes arrived on campus did a number on their NCAA tournament hopes last year, but having he and Jeronne Maymon together for an entire season will make them a contender in the SEC. The Hoyas on the other hand lost a lot from last year’s squad but a talented freshman class and the development of Otto Porter should net them another NCAA tournament appearance.

17. Stanford at NC State (December 18)
Two teams that hope to contend for (if not win) their respective conferences meet in Raleigh a week before Christmas. Mark Gottfried’s Wolfpack reached the Sweet 16 last season and some believe this group is capable of winning the program’s first ACC regular season title since 1989. Stanford on the other hand is looking to build on a Postseason NIT title, and the chance to see talented players such as Chasson Randle (Stanford) and C.J. Leslie (NC State) is one fans shouldn’t pass up.

18. Baylor at Gonzaga (December 28)
If there’s one thing people should give credit to Scott Drew for it’s the willingness to take on high-caliber opponents in hostile environments. Last year the Bears went to Provo where they held off BYU, and they’ll be looking to do the same against Gonzaga at “The Kennel”. Baylor has a talented rotation led by guards Pierre Jackson and Brady Heslip, and Gonzaga will counter with a deep group anchored by guard Kevin Pangos and forward Elias Harris.

19. New Mexico at Cincinnati (December 27)
While neither the Lobos nor the Bearcats are considered to be favorites in their respective conferences, both are talented enough to make a run at the Mountain West and Big East titles. Guard play should be good in this one as New Mexico brings Kendall Williams and Tony Snell to the Queen City, where Cashmere Wright and Sean Kilpatrick await.

20. Butler vs. Indiana (December 15)
Part of a doubleheader at Conseco Fieldhouse (Notre Dame/Purdue being the other tilt), a lot will be learned about the Bulldogs on the perimeter. Arkansas transfer Rotnei Clarke moves to the point, and the question is whether or not he can find the proper balance between getting guys their shots and taking a few of his own. Butler’s going to need Clarke to take on both tasks this season, and the duel between he and Jordan Hulls should be fun to watch.

21. Minnesota vs. Duke (November 22)
Trevor Mbakwe is back from the torn ACL that ended his season in 2011-12, and had the now 6th-year senior been healthy there’s a good chance that Tubby Smith’s team would have made the NCAA tournament. He and Rodney Williams lead a Golden Gopher squad that should finish in the top half of the Big Ten (at least), and this quarterfinal game against Duke in the Battle 4 Atlantis is one they can win.

22. BYU vs. Florida State (November 16)
The is one of two games in the Coaches vs. Cancer event at the Barclays Center (don’t miss Notre Dame/Saint Joseph’s either), and if BYU wants to avoid an NCAA seed similar to last year (14-seed) they can use this win on their resume. FSU may have lost Bernard James but Michael Snaer and Ian Miller return, making them a threat in the ACC.

23. North Texas at Saint Louis (December 5)
Tony Benford certainly isn’t ducking challengers in his first season in Denton, as the Mean Green begin their season at Creighton. Does Saint Louis, who is expected to contend in the Atlantic 10, have enough inside to contain All-America candidate Tony Mitchell? Can the Mean Green keep SLU’s guards, led by Kwamain Mitchell, under wraps?

24. Ohio at Massachusetts (December 19)
Ohio’s D.J. Cooper and UMass’ Chaz Williams are two of the best point guards in the country, and they’ll be on the same court in this one. Jim Christian takes over a deep team that reached the Sweet 16 last year, but Derek Kellogg can match the Bobcats man for man with his rotation. This game will have major implications for both teams as the conversations about RPI and SOS intensify later in the year.

25. Saint Mary’s vs. Drexel (November 22)
The favorite in the CAA meets the reigning WCC champion in the quarters of the Anaheim Classic and it’s worthy of being a final. But most importantly viewers should keep an eye on the match-up at point guard, with SMC’s Matthew Dellavedova taking on Drexel’s Frantz Massenat.

Five others: Colorado State at Colorado (December 5), Alabama at VCU (December 15), Wisconsin at Marquette (December 8), Florida vs. Kansas State (December 22 in Kansas City) and Marshall vs. West Virginia (December 5 in Charleston, WV).

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Bill Self on his way to Kansas coaching elite

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As reported earlier in the day, Kansas and head coach Bill Self agreed to a contract extension through the 2021-2012 season.

He’s definitely moving into Kansas elite by going from rich to richer, as the deal bumps up his salary almost half-a-mill to $3.856 million.

More importantly, Self is entering his 10th season at KU and this new deal could keep him in Lawrence for the next decade. In nine seasons, Self has won a national title, made a pair of appearances at the Final Four and been to five Elite Eights. Coaching Kansas for the foreseeable future, Self will likely end his tenure with the Jayhawks with a resume worthy enough for the arena to be named after him…if it wasn’t already taken by the legendary coach, Phog Allen.

Well, maybe he can settle for having the court named after him? Oh wait, that’s named after the game’s inventor, James Naismith.

Honoring Self at the end of his career is a “let’s cross that bridge, when we get there” sort of situation. Either way, this contract extension gives the current Jayhawks head coach the ability to establish an impressive legacy at KU.

Compare Self’s career with some of KU’s other coaching greats.

He has as many Final Fours as Larry Brown and Ted Owens, only one less than Phog Allen, and two less than Roy Williams (however Williams didn’t win a title with Kansas).

Self currently holds the highest winning percentage in the storied  history of Kansas basketball at .835, averaging just under 30 wins per season. The next closest is Williams at .805.

A dozen of Self’s former KU players have been drafted into the NBA, most recently Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor.

A knock on Self’s time in Lawrence would be a few early exits in the NCAA Tournament, most notably the second round loss to Northern Iowa in 2010.

However, that could be negated with Self’s performance last season. Self had a talented, yet inexperienced group of players and took them to within a win of the national title. Only four players entered the season with regular playtime from the previous year.

If Self stays for the duration of the new deal, he will go down as the second-longest tenured coach in the program’s history (tied with Owens) behind Allen, and maybe just as successful.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Report: Freshman guard Milton Doyle to leave Kansas program

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Less than a week after the end of Kansas’ trip to Europe, freshman guard Milton Doyle has decided to leave the KU program as first reported by Cavan Walsh of ChicagoHoops.com.

Doyle, originally a Florida International commit until the school fired Isiah Thomas, wasn’t cleared by the NCAA to play for the Jayhawks until July 21.

In an interview with the Lawrence Journal-World Sunday night, Doyle’s mother said that the reason for his departure had nothing to do with the school, team or coaches.

“It’s nothing bad about the school or the coaches or anything. Sometimes things happen for a reason,” said Lisa Green.

This news comes the night before the beginning of the fall semester at Kansas, but while losing a talented player like Doyle isn’t what a program wants the Jayhawks have other talented youngsters on the perimeter.

Rio Adams, Ben McLemore and Andrew White are freshmen capable of earning minutes off the ball this season, and sophomore point guard Naadir Tharpe will see more time with Tyshawn Taylor now a New Jersey Net.

In four games of action in Europe Doyle averaged 6.3 minutes and 2.3 points per game for the Jayhawks, who finished the trip with a 2-2 record.

Photo credit: Lawrence Journal-World

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.