Posts Tagged ‘Jayhawks’

Chiefs, Royals, Jayhawks and More

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

So much happening in local sports. Just a few thoughts for a Sunday morning.

Kansas City ChiefsKansas City Chiefs
That was quite a pounding the Bills put on the Chiefs last week. Is there anybody left on the Chiefs bandwagon? Not many. There’s plenty of room. Am surprised at just how quickly Chiefs fans turned on Todd Haley, Scott Pioli, Clark Hunt and Matt Cassel. These four took quite a beating this week on the radio and the message boards.

If you include the preseason and the playoffs, the Chiefs have now lost seven straight, and have been dominated in many of these games. They’ve lost young stars for the season due to injury (Eric Berry and Tony Moeaki). And the offense has been ineffective since Charlie Weis bolted for Florida.

Is there reason to hope? Can the Chiefs bounce back from this?

Todd Haley has warned us that the Chiefs are not good enough yet to win when they make mistakes. He said this all year last year, to the point where the media was tired of hearing it, and the fans no longer listened. He came out this week, and like a good leader, took complete responsibility for the loss. And again explained that the Chiefs are not good enough to win when they make mistakes. They made a lot of mistakes against the Bills.

What we’ve seen from the Chiefs the last couple of years is that they don’t give up. Last year after getting pounded by the Chargers in San Diego 31-0, the Chiefs came back and dominated the Rams in St. Louis 27-13.

I seem to be in the minority, but I like Todd Haley. I don’t believe, like many, that his ego gets in the way of his coaching. I think the Chiefs will right the ship and play better over the coming weeks. I had the Chiefs going 2-2 over their first four games. This is still possible. They just need to grab one on the road against either the Lions or the Chargers to get back on track. And even if they start the season 1-3, they’re still only one game back from where I thought they’d be. The season isn’t over yet. We’ve only played one game.

One more quick comment about the Chiefs. One of my criticisms about Herm Edwards as a head coach was that his teams never seemed prepared during the first few games of the regular season. Todd Haley took a different path this year in preparing the Chiefs. It may have been the wrong choice as his team does not look prepared for the regular season. Only time will tell, but this was a unique off-season. And even if Haley made a mistake with his plan, the Chiefs should be caught back up within another week or two.

If the team falls apart and finishes with only four or five wins, then I’ll admit I was wrong about Haley.

Kansas JayhawksKansas Jayhawks
That was quite a beating the Jayhawks took from Georgia Tech yesterday. The offense has shown some flashes. They’ve got some good young talent in the backfield. The defense is horrendous. I’m rooting for Turner Gill to succeed because I love my Jayhawks, and he seems like a fine man. But I’ve said from day one that he was not my choice to lead KU. I haven’t changed my mind.

It will be interesting to see how long new athletic director Sheahon Zenger sticks with Gill. Typically schools will give a new head coach at least three years to make his mark on a program. I’m afraid that Gill has already left his mark on KU.

Kansas City RoyalsKansas City Royals
Typically by mid-July I’m done with the Royals and am ready for football. Not because I’m not still a fan, but you can only watch so many losses. But this year the Royals have continued to hold my attention. This is an exciting young team currently on a seven game winning streak.

The outfield is among the best in baseball. They hit (all four have 40 or more doubles) and play great defense (more outfield assists than any other team in baseball). And they’re young. They’re all 27 years old. Which on this team makes them grizzled veterans compared to the infield.

The infield is exciting as well. First baseman Eric Hosmer looks like he’ll be a star. Catcher Salvador Perez has shown that his defensive prowess and game managing skills are well beyond his years. He’s only 21, and may be the best young catcher in baseball. And his bat has been much better than advertised. Alcides Escobar is among the best defensive short stops in the game, and his bat is improving. Mike Moustakas does not look very smooth at third base, but seems to be making all the plays you would expect him to make. And his bat is waking up. He will be able to hit in the big leagues. At second base we have Johnny Giavotella. He’s just the type of kid you want to cheer for. He’s got a decent glove, and looks like he’ll have a good approach at the plate.

The problem remains starting pitching. Most of the Royals premium talent is a year or more away from the big leagues. And the Royals will not be able to fix their staff in free agency. They may try to bolster the rotation in a trade, but that will prove difficult. Realistically, fixing the rotation will probably have to come from improvement from within. Bruce Chen has been their most effective starter the last two years. The Royals need to get him resigned. We’ve seen flashes from Danny Duffy, Felipe Paulino and Luke Hochevar. I’m hopeful they’ll give Aaron Crow a crack at the rotation. And Everett Teaford is making a case for his shot as well. Will this be enough? I hope so.

The End of the Big 12?
When we found out that Nebraska and Colorado were leaving the Big 12, it looked like the end. At the time I would have predicted that we were moving towards four 16-team super conferences. But then the Big 12 (at least the remaining ten) hung together and worked out a lucrative TV deal to keep the league together. But now things are falling apart again. Can the powers-that-be keep the Big 12 together again? I don’t know. I do know that if KU, K-State and MU end up in different conferences, college sports in the Midwest will never be the same again. And that will truly be unfortunate.

KU’s Loss to NDSU is a Game Changer

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Kansas JayhawksLuckily I was out of town this last weekend enjoying some family time in Branson. I’m glad we didn’t go to the game.

How Many Wins?
Originally I had guessed KU would win four, maybe five games this year. Possibly even six if everything had gone well, though that was probably never realistic with a new staff and the losses of Reesing, Meier and Sharp. But with the loss to NDSU, what are realistic expectations now? Hard to guess what to expect at this point. With head coach Turner Gill already pulling the trigger on a quarterback change, it’s difficult to have much faith in his leadership and decision making. What if Webb struggles this week? Will he flip again?

The most winnable game remaining on the schedule is at home against New Mexico State. After that? I can’t imagine that the Jayhawks will be favored in any of their games unless the team proves that NDSU was no more than a blip.

NDSU Coach Rips KU
Did you see the quotes from NDSU head coach Craig Bohl? Yowza. Read this in the LJWorld! Pretty rare to find a coach rip an opponent like this.

Gill on the Hot Seat?
My first thought when I heard that athletic director Lew Perkins was gone was this: Will Turner Gill be the head coach beyond this season? It certainly would be uncommon for a school to fire a head coach after only one year, and KU would be on the hook for a lot of money to Gill. But athletic directors like to hire their own guys, and KU will soon have a new athletic director. And if KU remains this bad this year, what AD wants to be stuck with him?

Sports Roundup — April 29, 2010

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Lots of little things going on with our local teams. So let’s dig in.

High School Star Terrance JonesJones to Announce College on Friday
The Jayhawks appear to be in the middle of the Terrence Jones sweepstakes. Jones, the 13th ranked high school basketball player by Rivals.com, plans to announce his college choice on Friday. Jones is friends with KU’s other recent recruit Josh Selby, Rival.com’s 4th rated high school player. Selby was openly recruiting Jones a couple weeks ago at the Jordon Brand Classic. Jones made his official recruiting trip to Lawrence this last weekend. A commitment from Jones would give the Jayhawks a top five recruiting class, and likely launch them back into the preseason top ten.

Henderson to Visit Chiefs, Then Not So Much
John Henderson, the huge defensive tackle who was recently released by the Jacksonville Jaguars, announced on 610 Sports the other day that he was planning a visit to the Chiefs this week. The news was picked up by other media outlets, only later to be proclaimed inaccurate. It appears that Henderson is not headed to KC at this point in time. Makes you wonder how these things happen, though we’ll never know for sure.

Kansas City ChiefsChiefs Draft
Now having had a week to reflect on what the Chiefs accomplished in the draft, I think it’s clear they drafted some needs that were not the same needs the experts expected. But needs nonetheless.

1. Safety was one area of need that everybody agreed the Chiefs needed to fill, and they did so with Eric Berry. Opinions differ on whether or not you should ever draft a safety this high. But if Berry becomes a ten year starter for the Chiefs, I don’t think anybody will be complaining. Personally, I think this was a pretty safe pick. At worst he’ll be an improvement over what we’ve had. And at best he’ll be a star.

2. The Chiefs had no legitimate candidates for kickoff and punt returns. You can’t risk your starting running back, Jamaal Charles, in the return game. Now they have two legitimate return threats with Dexter McCluster and Javier Arenas. Todd Haley referred to their need for a returner as a “must” and not a “need”. Second hole in roster filled.

3. Haley said they had McCluster rated as one of the top running backs AND one of the top wide receivers in the draft. Reports out of Philadelphia were that the Eagles were planning to draft McCluster high in the second round. The Chiefs had no clear option for a slot receiver, and badly needed to infuse some speed into their receiving corp. Accomplished.The Chiefs will find creative ways to get McCluster on the field. I expect him to play a lot.

4. Pioli talked about the number of plays that the defense lines up in the nickel, and that league wide the average is around 55%. Last year our nickel corners were awful. Arenas will project to play in the nickel, and has a good skill set to cover in the slot. Another hole filled.

And in general, Pioli and Haley both talked about the the Chiefs lack of team speed. These three guys improve our speed considerably. So the top three picks filled what the Chiefs believed to be their four biggest holes in their roster.

Kansas City RoyalsRoyals
The Royals are tough to watch right now. They’ve stumbled out of the shoot with an 8-13 record, and now will be playing the Rays in a four game series. The Rays are one of the hottest teams in baseball with a record of 16-5.

What’s amazing is that the Royals have played well offensively, their defense is improved, and other than Gil Meche, the starting pitching has been consistently good. But their bullpen is the WORST in the league. The Royals have already amassed eight blown saves from their bullpen, and only one of those was from the closer, Joakim Soria. If the Royals pitch a bit better out of the pen, and blow only half of those games, they’re now 12-9, and KC is feeling good about themselves. Instead, we all cringe every time a reliever enters the game.

How do you fix this? I’m not sure it’s fixable right now. Hopefully a couple guys will come around and pitch better. But if this continues, the Royals will need to decide if they want to call up some of their younger players in the minors who may not be ready for the big leagues. At least then you’d be developing your younger pitchers instead of watching this group of veterans undermine everything else this team is doing right.

Jayhawks Land Sophomore from Plano

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Future Jayhawk Zach PetersWow. The Jayhawks are recruiting them young. Zach Peters, a 6-9, 235 pound high school sophomore from Plano, Texas, has verbally committed to Kansas. Peters is widely considered one of the “crown jewels” of the class of 2012.

“First off, I love Kansas basketball. It’s one of my favorite teams to watch. I’ve always grown up watching the Jayhawks,” noted Peters, whose grandmother is from Hoyt and great-grandfather is a KU grad. He still has several relatives living in the Topeka area.

“Most of all, coach (Bill) Self and (Danny) Manning are two of the best coaches in college basketball. I feel I can trust them and feel I can benefit Kansas the most, and they’ll help me benefit Kansas the most. I feel comfortable in Lawrence, and it’s the best place for me.”

Read more about Peters: LJWorld | KC Star

Selby Expected To Pick KU Today

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

Kansas Recruit Josh SelbyAll signs point to Lawrence for Rival’s #4 player Josh Selby. According to a tweet from ESPN analyst Jay Williams, “Just heard from a little bird that chances are really good for Showtime Josh Selby to be in Lawrence, Kansas next year.”

Not as good of news for KU about Doron Lamb, who is expected to announce tonight that he’ll sign with Kentucky. Both Selby and Lamb plan to announce their decisions tonight at the Jordon Brand Classic.

That still leaves KU with a scholarship to give next year.

KU Spring Basketball Recruiting — 2010

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Today begins the spring signing period for college basketball, and the University of Kansas still has two scholarships available with the departure of Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry. KU is on the short list for three specific recruits that we should all be watching.

Brandon Knight
Considered the #1 high school point guard by Rivals.com in the country, Brandon Knight has yet to commit. Knight is 6’3″ and 185 pounds. His short list of schools includes: Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky and Syracuse. He’s expected to pick Kentucky today at his 3pm news conference. You can watch it on ESPNU.

Kansas Recruit Josh SelbyJosh Selby
Right below Knight in the rankings is Selby, the #2 high school point guard in the country. Selby is 6’2″ and 186 pounds. His short list of schools includes: Arizona, Connecticut, Kansas and Kentucky. Many expect him to choose KU later this week during the Jordan Brand Classic.

Doron Lamb
Considered by Rivals to be the #3 high school shooting guard, Lamb is 6’4″ and 175 pounds. His short list of schools includes: Connecticut, Kansas, Kentucky and West Virginia.

It’s clear that KU is expecting to land Selby or Lamb, if not both. But these high school kids can change their allegiance in a hurry as we witnessed last year between Xavier Henry and Lance Stephenson. Top high school recruits are seldom predictable.

Go KU!

Lawrence Hit By Snow, Jayhawks Hit By Panthers

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

Kansas JayhawksNot a great way to start the spring. Lawrence gets hit by six inches of snow. And the Jayhawks get hit by the Panthers of Northern Iowa. Making the Final Four is tough. It never surprises me for a team to lose in the Sweet 16 or Elite 8. But losing in the second round yesterday was a bit of a shock. I’m still proud of the Jayhawks. It’s been a great year.

The Good
The Jayhawks won the Big 12 regular season championship, and the Big 12 tournament championship. They compiled a sterling record of 33-3. They Jayhawks swept K-State and Missouri, and were ranked as the number one team in the country most of the season. None of this was a fluke. This was an awfully good team.

The Bad
These are college kids, so I won’t spend a lot of time beating them up over how the season ended. The frustrating thing to watch this season has been their inconsistency. They start slow, especially against weaker opponents. They never developed that killer instinct that you come to expect from great teams. And on Saturday, it came back to bite them. A pesky team from Northern Iowa with nothing to lose played carefree basketball and never looked back. If they played ten times, the Jayhawks would win eight or nine of them. But that’s what makes the NCAA basketball tournament such a great event.

The Future
Sherron Collins has played his last game as a Jayhawk. It’s been enjoyable watching Collins develop into the undisputed leader of the Jayhawks. I’m not sure I’ve seen a player step up and embrace the mantle of leader like Collins. But Collins fought his own demons this year with inconsistency. And typically if Collins was off, so was the team.

Jayhawk fans will be waiting with baited breath to hear the decisions of Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry. Let me put this one to rest — unless something unforeseen happens (like an injury during the off-season) Aldrich and Henry will enter the NBA draft. Both are projected to be lottery picks.

So where does that leave Jayhawk basketball next year? KU will lose it’s star power without Collins, Aldrich and Henry. But the team may find some more consistency underneath it all.

The Bigs: Bill Self prefers a three man rotation for his big men, and was able to achieve that most of the year with Aldrich and the twins. Cole has done a great job of staying out of foul trouble most of his career. The Morris twins have not. The Jayhawks will likely have to play a four man rotation next year with Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey combining to replace Aldrich.

Small Forward: Xavier Henry showed flashes of brilliance this year. He has one of the sweetest strokes I’ve watched at KU. But he would seemingly disappear for large portions of a game. Mario Little may not have the upside of Henry, but don’t be surprised if he isn’t more consistent than Henry, and better slashing to the basket. My prediction is that Little is really going to surprise the Jayhawk faithful next year. Travis Releford is likely inline to backup Little at the three.

The Guards: Nobody was more inconsistent this year than Tyshawn Taylor. It will be interesting to see what Self does with him next year. Down the stretch it was Tyrel Reed who played well and was on the floor at crunch time over Taylor and Brady Morningstar. Reed is one of my favorite Jayhawks. Plays hard. Plays smart. And knocks down the three. Elijah Johnson will be a sophomore, and figures to get a long look at the point. And then there’s C.J. Henry who continued to battle through injuries this year. Will he be back? I hope so, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he left Lawrence and never returned. I’d really like to see him get a shot at some quality minutes. He handles the ball well, he seems to have a really nice outside shot, and he can create his own shot.

The Starting Five: I think the Morris twins and Little are locks at starting spots next year. It’s harder to predict what’s up with the guards. Personally I’d like the see C.J. Henry and Reed get shots at starting. But it won’t surprise me if Self ends up with Taylor and Morningstar.

The Rotation: Self prefers an eight man rotation. Nine if he’s forced into it. Like it or not, he may end up with a ten man rotation next year. But with less star power to worry about, Self can go with the hot hand.

Is Sherron Collins the Best Point Guard in KU History?

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Kansas Jayhawk Sherron CollinsI’ve been watching KU basketball since 1986. I’ve watched a lot of great basketball, and a lot of great players come through Lawrence. The thought crossed my mind this weekend: Is Sherron Collins the best point guard to ever play at Kansas? Collins has everything you’d want in a point guard. He can shoot. He can drive. He can handle the ball. He can dish out assists. He can defend. And he’s clearly the Jayhawk’s leader on and off the court.

Going back to ’86, KU has had some fine point guards. But none were as complete a player as Collins. Aaron Miles, Russell Robinson and Jacque Vaughn had great assist numbers, but weren’t much of a threat to score. Adonis Jordan was a nice all around player, but I don’t remember him as the type of player who could create his own shot like Collins. We’ve had some point guards like Kevin Pritchard, Kirk Hinrich and Mario Chalmers who probably were more typical shooting guards but played the point at Kansas.

If there’s a valid critique in Collins’ game, it’s that he sometimes tries to do too much. He’s often had to put the team on his back and carry them to a victory. And since he’s asked more than most point guards to create his own shots, his turnover to assist ratio is probably not as good as you’d like it to be from your point guard.

So Sherron passes the first hurdle for me. He’s the best point guard to have played for the Jayhawks since 1986. But KU has a long tradition of basketball. So I started poking around through the history of Kansas hoops, and there are two names that rise to the top for point guards: Jo Jo White and Darnell Valentine.

Kansas Jayhawk Jo Jo WhiteJo Jo White played for Kansas from 1965-69. He averaged 15.3 points per game, and made 42% of his shots. White was a two-time All-American and a three-time All-Big Eight member. He also was named KU’s MVP for three straight seasons, and led KU in scoring in 1968.

Valentine played for Kansas from 1978-81. He averaged 15.4 points per game, and made 47.6% of his shots. Valentine left KU as the school’s leader in career steals and free throws. He was the first player to be named a four-time all-Big Eight selection, and also was a member of the 1980 Olympic team.

When I asked around from people who have followed the Hawks longer than myself, the general consensus was that Jo Jo White was the best, but that Sherron is  pushing for that top spot. Another national championship for Collins likely elevates him as the best point guard to ever play at Kansas.

News and Notes

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

Have been out of town. Just a few sports notes to touch on to start our Sunday.

Kansas City ChiefsChiefs Blacked Out
It’s been 19 years since a Chiefs game has been blacked out. Unable to watch the game on TV today, I’m sure I’ll have the radio on and listen to the Chiefs broadcast with Mitch and Len. For years I would watch on TV but listen to the radio broadcast. Mitch and Len do a great job. But the signal no longer matches up, and it’s distracting to hear a play on the radio and see it happen about 10 seconds later.

Anyway, on to the blackout. I think there’s been a misconception out there by fans about TV blackouts. We’ve seen a number of games the last few years where attendance has been down. You can tell by looking at the stands that there’s no way the game was sold out. There’s been an assumption that the TV stations must be picking up the spare tickets to make sure that the games can be televised. And maybe they’ve picked up a few. But this never made sense to me economically.

810WHB had some good information this week explaining the whole process about NFL blackouts. It’s obvious that the Hunt family has been purchasing the unsold tickets in order to televise the games. They haven’t done this for financial gain. They have undoubtedly spent much more on the tickets than they’ve gained from the games being televised (remember that TV revenues are shared throughout the league). They’ve done this so that the fans can watch the games. And to their credit, they’ve done this without saying a word.

So why did the Hunt family not do this one more time? Hard to know, and I’m sure they’ll never tell. They’ve probably spent significantly more this season purchasing tickets than any season in the past, and maybe they’ve decided enough is enough. Or maybe they’ve decided to use this as leverage to push season ticket sales next year. Those of us who stay home and watch the games can no longer be guaranteed to see all of the games. Or maybe a little of both.

Chiefs Runningback Jamaal CharlesTexas Sized Talent
A nice article this morning in the Star on running back Jamaal Charles. I like this kid, and had called earlier in the season for the Chiefs to use him more. If he can stay healthy, and solve his fumbling tendencies, he could become a star for the Chiefs. I like how Charles responded to being declared inactive against Oakland earlier this season. He went to coach Haley and said that he’d do whatever it takes to play.

This is in stark comparison to linebacker Derrick Johnson.

Johnson and Charles are probably two of the most gifted athletes on the roster. Both were stars in college for the University of Texas. Both were high draft picks (Johnson round one, and Charles round three). Johnson came in and started immediately, but has never lived up to his ability. Every year we heard how this would be the year that Johnson would breakout. But every year we were left with questions about Johnson’s ability to consistently make plays in the pros. This year he was benched by Haley, and plays primarily on passing downs. When asked earlier this season if DJ had spoken with Haley about the benching, Johnson replied that no, he had not talked with the coach about his limited playing time.

I remember being astonished at the time. If I had been demoted at my job, I would want to know why. I’ve always thought that Johnson lacked the passion to be a great linebacker. It appears he doesn’t even have the passion to fight for his job.

Impressed by Turner Gill
Another really nice article in the Star today — this one about new KU head coach Turner Gill. I’m becoming optimistic that maybe, just maybe, this was a great hire by Lew Perkins. Gill can certainly recruit. He appears to be a good leader. A good coach. And a good man. Gill appears the type of man who would be very happy at KU, and willing to stay for a long time.

Welcome Turner Gill to KU

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

Buffalo Head Coach Turner GillGood morning Turner Gill,

Reports are that you have accepted the job at KU, and will replace Mark Mangino as our next head coach. Congratulations on the new job. I would like to welcome you to Lawrence, Kansas.

It has been obvious from the beginning that you were high on KU’s list of potential candidates. Please don’t take offense that you were not high on my personal list. I was hoping for Jim Harbaugh. Was intrigued by Tommy Tuberville. And would have been excited by a number of candidates including Skip Holtz and Kevin Sumlin. Obviously Lew Perkins looked beyond your 20-30 record in Buffalo, and found more to like.

You have the reputation of a man with high integrity, and that you’re a player’s coach. I’m certainly not surprised that KU wanted a more player friendly coach after the problems that surfaced with Mangino’s program. (See my post here about following up a mean coach with a nice coach.) You have considerable experience in this part of the country with your time as both a player and a coach at Nebraska. And you’re from Texas, with strong recruiting ties to the south. Your resume seems very appropriate.

The job at Kansas comes with more pressure than it has in the past. KU fans have experienced some success in the last few years, and are hungry for more. The boosters have spent a lot of money in upgrading our facilities, transforming KU into a legitimate upper-tier program. And as your new boss Lew Perkins is not very popular in Lawrence, you hiring will face considerable scrutiny by the locals.

But most of us will accept you with open arms, and give you some time to achieve success in Lawrence. We wish you good luck. And look forward to the football that is to come.

Rock chalk Jayhawk!

Sincerely,

Lee