- ‘Tis the Season: London florist creates $4.6 million Christmas wreath
- No tailgating allowed at Super Bowl XLVIII
- Pentagon to transport African troops to Central African Republic
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend’s shopping jumps to his death
- Ukraine leader to talk with protesters; Washington urges caution
- Pope Francis: A nun saved my life
- Israeli P.M. Netanyahu backs out of Mandela funeral
- Elian Gonzalez makes first trip outside Cuba since custody battle
- U.S., British intelligence agents enter online sci-fi world to spy on gamers
- Sarah Palin to host the outdoors show ‘Amazing America’
Kansas brings good players in waves
LAWRENCE, KAN. (AP) - A couple of bruising brothers named Marcus and Markieff are not all that sets Kansas apart.
When it comes to bench strength, the Jayhawks wield an embarrassment of riches.
It’s a part of the program that has become familiar to fans and foes in the Big 12. Only now are NCAA tournament followers beginning to appreciate how coach Bill Self can hurl waves of players at Jayhawk opponents.
It’s not as though Kansas is the only team in the round of 16 with standout talent on the bench. Ohio State, North Carolina and Duke all have deep pools of talent. Connecticut, too, especially in the front court with Jamal Coombs-McDaniels, Niels Giffey and Charles Okwandu.
But how many teams are holding in reserve the national junior college player of the year? And the No. 1 overall recruit of 2010? And a talented 6-9 sophomore who brings double-double potential all by himself?
Kansas is. And just about every night, they watch from the bench, waiting for their time to come in.
Making sure everybody gets along and goes along is Self, the 48-year-old head coach who’s won seven straight Big 12 regular-season titles by orchestrating all this young talent and stoking all these young egos.
So far this year, it’s worked for 34 wins, tied for fourth all-time in school history, and NCAA tournament victories over Boston University and Illinois. On Friday night, it will be up to No. 12 seed Richmond to deal with the top-seeded Jayhawks and their array of talented operatives.
“I think we’re one of the deepest teams in the country,” said Marcus Morris, the 6-9 junior who had 17 points and 12 rebounds in Sunday’s 73-59 victory over Illinois. “That makes it hard for other people to beat us.”
Mario Little, a 6-6 swing man, has been just about automatic off the bench. The national juco player of the year at Chipola (Fla.) Community College in 2008, he was expected to be a starting forward but was unable to dislodge the Morris twins. And now sophomore Thomas Robinson has become the first big man off the bench.
Little nonetheless exploded for 17 points and five rebounds while playing only 16 minutes against Missouri late in the season. And he hit the game-winning free throw with seven-tenths of a second left in a 77-76 victory over UCLA.
The 6-9 Robinson, who turned 20 last week, has shown maturity far beyond his years. He lost his grandmother, grandfather and mother in a matter of weeks, leaving Jayla, his 7-year-old sister, as pretty much his entire family.
The way he’s handled the pain is to fill his thoughts as much as possible with basketball, and he continues to show more and more promise. In a victory over Texas in the Big 12 tournament finale, he was only one rebound shy of a double-double, more than holding his own with Tristan Thompson, Texas’ big freshman.
“Thomas is doing great,” Self said. “I’m so proud of him. He amazes me. He’s just about our most improved player this season.”
Also coming off the bench is Josh Selby, the 6-3 guard from Baltimore who was the most highly sought prep star Self ever signed, rated No. 1 in the country by Rivals.com.
By Tom Fitton
New photos confirm the attack's coordination and its cover-up
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend's shopping jumps to his death
- Israeli P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu backs out of Nelson Mandela funeral
- Obama lied about Syrian chemical attack, 'cherry-picked' intelligence: report
- CURL: Obama tells a whopper on IRS scandal
- Lawmakers see 'false narrative' of Obama as a terrorist fighter
- MSNBC host: Obamacare a 'wealthy white men' racist word
- Satanists petition for statue at Oklahoma Statehouse
- Inside China: Nuclear submarines capable of widespread attack on U.S.
- MILLER: Brady Campaign says Colorado recalls due to NRA, not grassroots opposition to gun control
- Ted Cruz sees legal landmines ahead for Obamacare
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
The Constitution: Every issue, every time. No exceptions, no excuses. And how to get from here to there.
Crystal Wright is a black conservative woman living in Washington, D.C.
All of the world’s problems, solved on your back porch
Why can’t humans just be free to be humans?
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow