Mac Stevenson
Kansas played impressively on the road in their final pre-Big 12 game last Friday, beating Stanford soundly (75-54). KU played stellar basketball in the first half and hung on the second half, despite poor outside shooting.
The Jayhawks showed significant progress on defense and had just 10 turnovers in a game they dominated. Coach Bill Self’s teams always make their most noteworthy improvement between semesters.
It appears that Self has received an early Christmas present: Recruit Silvio De Sousa (6-9, 245) is academically eligible to join the Jayhawks. After receiving the news, Self said, “Silvio has completed the required coursework that will enable him to graduate and report to KU. We are now working through the NCAA’s amateurism process and hope to have him certified as soon as possible for game competition. He is eligible to practice immediately and will report to campus on the 26th.”
If forward Billy Preston also gains his eligibility, everything will be changed for KU; the Jayhawks will be among the top five teams in the nation.
Two players have made remarkable improvement during the semester break: Dok Azubuike (7-0, 280) is coming fast. And he’s obviously capable of being attentive and absorbing critical coaching. Azubuike weighed over 300 pounds when he enrolled at KU and he’s now down to a svelte 280; that’s not easy to do. And he’s improving at both ends of the court with every outing.
Svi Mykhailiuk (6-8, 195) is a senior and it’s unlikely that he would make dramatic improvement at this stage of his career. But he has. Instead on standing on the outside and hoping for three-point shots, Mykhailiuk has been driving to the basket aggressively and successfully. It’s been some transformation.
KU opens Big 12 play at Texas on December 29. Every conference game on the road will be a challenge and the Longhorns will be no exception.
Kansas State’s basketball team closed their pre-Big 12 schedule with a 10-2 record and a gritty comeback victory (68-65) on the road against Washington State. The Wildcats will get a between-semesters break before opening Big 12 play at Iowa State on December 29.
Coach Bruce Weber said, “We went through this in the Tulsa game. We got defensive and tight. I just kept saying, ‘Guys, you have to win games different ways. You have to grind it out.’ Sometimes it’s got to be ugly and you’ve got to find a way, and that’s what we did.”
K-State has been playing stellar basketball with one significant exception: their three-point shooting has been either sensational or horrible. Against WSU, the Wildcats were very effective for most of the first half, but then their shooting declined. But thanks to late baskets by Dean Wade and Barry Brown, K-State fought from behind late in the fourth quarter and won the ballgame.
Power forward Makol Mawien (6-9, 215) is beginning to take charge of his position; he scored 15 points to go with 9 rebounds against WSU. And guard Amaad Wainright (6-4, 200) continues to improve coming off the bench.
K-State played well against WSU except for their streaks of inept shooting; in some of their games, the Wildcats’ three-point shooting has been exceptional. If they can improve their consistency in this one vital area, K-State will be competitive with every team in the Big 12.
Football coach Bill Snyder is expected to announce his decision shortly after the Cactus Bowl as to whether or not he will coach Kansas State in 2018. AD Gene Taylor doesn’t have any idea which way Snyder is leaning. Taylor recently said, “I honestly couldn’t tell you. I go back and forth . . . I really do. I couldn’t give you a sense one way or the other what he’s thinking.”
It would be interesting to know what role K-State President Richard Myers is playing in all this. Taylor is a rookie AD and hasn’t been around K-State long enough to understand the history behind the situation.
In any event, it’s become rather tiresome for Kansas State fans and the sooner the coaching position can be resolved, the better for all concerned.
KU’s new chancellor, Douglas Girod, decided to take the easy way out and leave the Jayhawks’ football program as is. It won’t work. In fact, Kansas football will just sink lower, if that’s possible.
Coach David Beaty’s recruiting has been substandard right from the beginning and this 2018 class will be no different. In a desperation move, Beaty signed one transfer and eight JUCO players and just five high school recruits on the December 20 letter-of-intent day.
President Girod’s decision just prolonged the misery and will make it even worse; he fits the image of almost all of his predecessors. Academics and athletics don’t mix.