Posts Tagged Ben McLemore

McLemore talks

Posted on: May 18th, 2013 by jayhawktalk No Comments

When the Ben McLemore/Blackstock/Cobb story started to die down, I had a feeling Self and Co. might have told Ben to just stay quiet and let it pass. Probably the best course of action for everybody.

Then the combine rolled around this week, and it sounds like Ben went on the record about Cobb and Blackstock. Personally, I don’t care what really happened. From every indication, it sounds like Ben did not have any idea Cobb was receiving cash ($10k). It does sound like he potentially knew of the trips to LA and also about the birthday party.

That could be a problem.

Ben also revealed this week that he travelled to LA with Blackstock at some point as well (no timeline provided, but presumably after the season). He states that he paid for the trip himself. While I’m not questioning the veracity of Ben’s comments, I will say that “going public” only created more questions.

Ben probably felt obligated to defend himself, though. I get that. But he still probably should have kept quiet. It wouldn’t even have been that hard. If I were Ben’s PR team, I would have instructed him to say something like this:

“I’m just focused on the NBA and doing the best I can to put myself in a good position to be drafted. It’s my lifelong dream to play in the NBA, and I appreciate all the people along the way that have helped me get to this spot, including Coach Cobb and especially Bill Self.” 

Bam. Done. Boring story for reporters.

Cobb could theoretically speak to NCAA regulators, but if the rest of the parties kept their mouths shut, there wouldn’t be a whole lot the NCAA could do to corroborate the story about what Ben knew or didn’t know. These kinds of investigations usually die because nobody wants to go on the record with the NCAA. And, of course, the NCAA has no subpoena power and can’t force anyone to talk.

We now have two of the four main parties involved, Ben and Cobb, saying they are open to talk.

In Seth Davis’ story, an NCAA spokesperson told him, “We are absolutely interested in talking to people to gather as many facts as possible, especially from those who no longer are a part of the NCAA but want to get to the truth.”

At this point, I kind of hope Ben goes with a “No Comment” whenever asked about this situation — by reporters, by NBA folks, and most definitely by NCAA regulators. He’d probably do himself a favor, not to mention KU and Coach Self.

We’ll see. What do you think about Ben’s decision to talk? Hit me up in the comments section or on Twitter.



For KU, confidence is key

Posted on: March 3rd, 2013 by jayhawktalk No Comments

By Taylor Erickson

Exactly one month ago today I confessed my jealousy of Oklahoma State.  Markel Brown and Marcus Smart were flexing, taunting, and back flipping all over Allen Fieldhouse.  For that seven day stretch, beginning with Oklahoma State and ending with Oklahoma, with a TCU debacle sandwiched in between, we were broken mentally.

If our performance on the court the last few weeks hasn’t been convincing enough, there was only one image needed from Saturday’s game to signify we had fully regained our swagger.

Elijah Johnson elevated in a fashion that left any doubt as to the health of his knee, and threw down a “SportsCenter  Top 10″ type alley oop…  Foul…  And one…

And then it happened.


Yes, Elijah went TOO STRONG.  And he knew it.  After the game when asked about the flex, Elijah said it happened spontaneously when he realized the dunk was in fact, “Too Strong”.

Confidence can have an amazing impact on anyone, in any situation, but most especially in sports.  A confident Elijah Johnson gets to the rim at will, regularly knocks down 21 footers, and flexes after posterizing a Mountaineer.  The Elijah Johnson lacking confidence a month ago couldn’t execute the Bill Self “weave” without dribbling the ball off his foot.  I think I speak for everyone when I say I’ll gladly take the former.  The most telling sign of the change in Elijah’s attitude is the way in which he impacted the game.  It wasn’t by dropping 39, but instead by dishing out 10 assists and facilitating the offense through the best talent in the NCAA, Ben McLemore.

Ben McLemore, yeah the same guy who scored seven points at Iowa State on Monday night.  He was simply unbelievable on Saturday, and you could see it coming.  There was a difference about his game, an increased sense of agressiveness early.  It almost felt like after his story was told in the USA Today article earlier in the week, there was a weight lifted off his shoulders.  A feeling as if Ben was just out there playing ball, without a care in the world.  Monday night will be without a doubt Ben McLemore’s last game in Allen Fieldhouse, and it needs to be.  In his words, it’s time for a big house for his mom, where they can eat all day.

The interesting part to McLemore’s game is whether he can build on that performance away from the comforts of Allen Fieldhouse.  I think that he will.  I think Elijah’s confidence is going to radiate throughout the rest of this team, as it should, and it will benefit Ben as much as anyone.

Finally, during our three game skid when it felt like the sky in Lawrence was falling, the trump card KU nation had in our back pocket was Bill Self.  I said it, and I heard it from different people everywhere.  “It’s alright, we’ll be fine… we have the best coach in college basketball.”  I believed it, or at least I thought I did, but there was always that sliver of doubt.  Like what if this year is different, and we don’t live up to expectations?  We’ve been on an roll for nearly a decade, winning at a clip without a down year… that just isn’t supposed to happen.  What if this year is our hiccup?

My confession:  Sorry Bill, it won’t happen again.

Not only has Coach Self coaxed KU fans off the ledge, but he has our team peaking at the perfect time.  We’re five wins away from all but guaranteeing a number one seed in the NCAA tournament, and a date the first weekend of the tournament in Kansas City.

Confidence is the key, and this team appears to be flexing it’s muscle right at ideal moment.

Rock Chalk.


2012-2013 KU basketball preview and predictions

Posted on: November 12th, 2012 by jayhawktalk 1 Comment

Time for one of my favorite times of the year: way too early predictions! Yes, I’m one of those guys that likes to speak his mind on the team at the beginning of the season so that I can take credit (rare) for such brilliant foresight (or, you know, ignore that I wrote such a terrible prediction piece).

I wrote this piece on November 12, 2011 last year. In that piece, I predicted KU to be a #2 seed in North Carolina’s bracket. Nailed that one. Also predicted we win the league (shocker) and that we’d finally have some good luck in the tourney. In the interest of full disclosure, I also predicted Oklahoma State would be good and that we’d see a lot of Tharpe, so what the hell do I know.

I do think predictions will be much tougher this year. We had a pretty good idea what we had in last year’s group. We knew T-Rob was a beast. We knew Tyshawn had all the talent in the world if he could keep his head on straight. This year there are so many unknowns.

Can Withey function absent Thomas drawing all the defense’s attention? Can Elijah run the offense? How will the freshmen react to playing huge roles right away? There are a million questions.

That’s what makes the predictions for the season all the more fun. Here we go:

(1) Big 12 Champs. Listen, there are challengers once again. But there have been challengers each of the last 8 seasons. Baylor looks phenomenal on paper. K-State will actually be really good. Once again, I’m a fan of Oklahoma State’s team. Texas and West Virginia both look legitimate. But I’m not looking through crimson and blue glasses here. I will not bet against Bill Self. Make it nine straight.

(2) Freshmen will lead. I believe a freshman will lead the Jayhawks in scoring this year. I think it will likely be Perry Ellis early (non-conference) and Ben McLemore late (conference). Perry will be 2nd team Big 12 by the end of the year and Ben will be Newcomer of the Year. They’re two very different players though. Perry is so polished. Ben has the crazy high ceiling. They’re going to be a blast to watch.

(3) Withey. I think KU fans might be expecting a little too much from Jeff this year. I think he’ll have a great year, but he may not meet the expectations some appear to be setting for him. He is a preseason first team all Big 12 selection and probably deserves to be. He can average 12.5 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game and be the best player on this team. What he brings to the defensive end cannot be overlooked or replicated. He is a true rim protector and if he rebounds and plays efficiently on offense, he’ll be perfect for this team. And he will be defensive player of the year in the Big 12.

(4) Rotation. We know the starting 5, and I expect it to remain the same all season: Elijah Johnson, Ben McLemore, Travis Releford, Perry Ellis, and Jeff Withey. I believe Kevin Young will be the first man off the bench and will average the most minutes outside the starters. Naadir Tharpe will likely be the first guard off the bench. That makes 7 and generally Self doesn’t go beyond an 8 man rotation. Traylor will certainly get minutes, and I think that leaves Andrew White III and Rio Adams somewhat on the outside in terms of playing time. I think they’ll both play roles, though. Just not regular rotation guys.

(5) Non-Conference Schedule. KU has a 13 game non-conference schedule with marquee games against Michigan State, Ohio State, and Colorado. There are certainly some potential losses in that bunch, and we all saw through the exhibition season that this team will struggle at times. The good news is that this team will improve with every week of practice and should be primed for a great conference season run. I predict the Jayhawks will be 12-1 when Big 12 play opens against Iowa State.

(6) Big 12 Season. I predict we’ll have 4 losses in Big 12 play and will once again win the regular season championship. The Big 12 is strange this year in that there are quite a few teams that are “good” but I’m not sure there are any “great” teams. But here’s the deal. KU has 18 conference games, 9 at home and 9 on the road. At worst, KU wins 8 games at home, and will likely win all 9. That leaves 9 road conference games of which the Jayhawks will be favored in at least 7. I believe 4 losses sounds about right. And it should be enough to at least grab a share of the Big 12, if not win it outright.

(7) Postseason. For all the math people out there, I have thus far predicted 5 losses in 31 tries, which would give the Jayhawks a 26-5 record going into the Big 12 tourney. I believe that will be good enough for a #2 seed in the Midwest bracket. It ought to also be enough to give the Jayhawks a great chance to make a run in the tourney. This is an Elite 8 caliber team and anything above that will be absolutely house money. If McLemore ends up reaching anywhere close to his ceiling, it could be a very special year.



(8) Defense. They Jayhawks will have the best defense in the nation when Withey is on the court. It may not be all that close. The only weak link is Ellis, but with Withey on his other side, the paint will be covered against most teams. This particular team seems far more advanced on the defensive end early in the season than on the offensive end. They’re only going to improve from here. As I mentioned in my last post, we’ll struggle to score at times this year, but we’ll always be in the game because of defense.

(9) Offensive strategy. The key to Bill Self’s offense is ball movement. When the ball is swinging and the offensive is going inside-out, there will always be a wide open jump shot available. The difference between this team and last year’s team will be whether we settle for that jump shot or attempt to feed the post. We don’t have a replacement for Thomas Robinson. It will have to be a combination of multiple guys that will all need to step up. I said before that I believe Perry could lead us in scoring early and Ben could lead late. Elijah will also be a big factor in scoring. Beyond that, I believe Kevin Young, Withey, and Releford will all be around that 7-13 point range every game. I think the offensive breakdown will actually mirror the 2008 championship team relatively closely, where a different guy will lead in scoring each game.

(10) Overview. As far as expectations, I am somewhat lower on this team than I was last year’s team. I think we’ll struggle at the point guard position and will routinely rely on jump shots. I think we’ll go through periods in games where we just can’t score. The good news is our defense will always keep us in games and Self will have the guys on the same page after the Christmas break.  This is definitely an Elite 8 caliber team with a whole lot of upside. It could be a fun run in 2013.

Enjoy the ride and rock chalk!


B-Mac Sportscenter Dunk

Posted on: October 31st, 2012 by jayhawktalk No Comments

Worth its own post.