KU’s next men’s basketball coach should be …

Posted on Jul 8, 2014 in News and Sports

No screaming, crying or fainting necessary: It’s a what-if scenario, part of a series by Sports Illustrated on potential college basketball coaching replacements.

As much as they’d prefer to deny ever having had the conversations, fans have always mulled potential coaching replacements, and lately the list has been dominated by former KU players Danny Manning (now at Wake Forest after a successful stint in his first head coaching job at Tulsa), Tad Boyle (doing great things at Colorado—including beating KU last year in Boulder), Jacque Vaughn (Orlando Magic of the NBA) and Mark Turgeon (now at Maryland after good runs at Wichita State and Texas A&M). All four make SI’s list, as do Gregg Marshall of Wichita State (although his public irritation with the Shockers not landing a spot on KU’s non-conference schedule would seem to hurt his chances to get the job here) and Arizona’s Sean Miller.

What makes this list particularly intriguing, however, are the two coaches Sports Illustrated considers most likely to assume command at Allen Field House should Self unexpectedly depart: Ohio State’s Thad Matta and Virginia’s Tony Bennett.

The Jayhawks enjoyed a thrilling home-and-home series with the Buckeyes in December 2011 and December 2012 (KU won both games), and KU beat Ohio State in the 2012 NCAA semifinals in New Orleans—all of which gave KU fans (and athletics administrators) plenty of time to watch Matta in action and admire both his coaching and recruiting abilities, as well as his competitive yet classy demeanor. When it comes to representing a school and a program, few do it better than Matta, who until this past season finished first or second in the Big 10 for five consecutive years and advanced to two Final Fours.

Bennett wasn’t widely known until this past season, when he coached the Cavaliers to 30 wins, regular-season and conference championships in the rugged ACC, and a Sweet 16 berth in the NCAA Tournament. Sports Illustrated describes Bennett, who came to Virginia after good success at Washington State, as “personable” and “a hot commodity.”

And now … deep breaths, everybody. With superstar recruits set to join returning stars such as Perry Ellis, Wayne Selden Jr., Frank Mason and Jamari Traylor, Bill Self’s 12th season at KU could be his most exciting in years.

—Chris Lazzarino

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KU students land on the cover of Sports Illustrated

Posted on Mar 29, 2013 in News and Sports

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Several KU students recently had the opportunity of a lifetime–the chance to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

The students were pictured with KU basketball star Ben McLemore on the magazine’s regional cover for its NCAA Tournament preview edition that was released last week. The students—many of them Athletic Department employees, student athletes or spirit squad members—were assembled the day of the shoot in Allen Fieldhouse. A couple of the students on the cover (circled below) are familiar faces in the KU Alumni Association office: Erica Witty, the 2013 Homecoming Steering Committee director, and Andy Kriegh, a former KU Alumni Association intern and S.A.L.B. member. Both are working this Spring in the Allen Fieldhouse Ticket Office.

We asked them about the experience of being in a S.I. cover shoot with Ben McLemore under the direction of S.I. Photographer Al Tielemans.

img_news_sistudents“It was a fun experience— one I am definitely glad I got to a part of,” Erica said. “Everyone there was having a good time, and the people from Sports Illustrated said we were one of the livelier groups they have photographed.   They thought it was funny how when we took the pictures we would all yell like we were at a real game— someone said it was because we were in the Fieldhouse, it’s a tradition to yell!”

Andy added, “The directions were a bit silly, ‘jump up and yell like you just watched McLemore dunk! Actually making noise brings more energy to the picture.’ So there we are, all fifty or so of us ‘woo-ing!’ for a half-hour in the middle of the afternoon in an empty AFH.”

Andy noted that McLemore’s role was brief, arriving after the students had been organized and arranged by height, but that he was pretty cool about the whole thing. “I think we were all a bit awestruck,” Andy admitted.

Both felt good about the final cover, which KU fans will agree was the best among the four regional covers that also featured Gonzaga, Indiana and Syracuse. Erica agreed.

“I like the one they picked, it really shows what our student section looks like!   It is definitely something that I will remember!”

Andy, however, just missed getting in the shot. “I got covered up perfectly by the “t” in “Illustrated,” but I understand. I don’t think the cover could have handled all of the star power if they had McLemore AND me on it— haha! It was still a blast and just another unique experience that I have gotten to enjoy while going to KU.”

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