November Schedule In Focus

Meet your 2008-2009 Kansas Jayhawks. suggests you buy a program and peruse a media guide online and get to know KU head coach Bill Self's seven newcomers.

Self’s crop of newbies will get their feet wet against teams like UMKC, Coppin State, and Florida Gulf Coast. But tests against Syracuse or Florida, and Washington loom. It will be a month that allows KU fans to get to know their new team and prep for an even more challenging December slate of games.

November 16 – UMKC – 7:30pm

Much like Bill Self’s Jayhawks, UMKC head coach Matt Brown lost a lot from last season’s squad. The Kangaroos return just two starters from a team that went 11-21 last season, but Brown does welcome eight new faces to his roster. So like KU, the ‘Roos have a bunch of newcomers who will be adjusting to the college game.

Brown was a part of the John Beilein tree so expect to see plenty of cutting and big men on the perimeter and a fair amount of 1-3-1 zone.

“We have to attack the different defenses, whether it be a 1-3-1 or whatever type of zone they play. And they’ll play man as well,” continued Self. “Then obviously we have to get to the three-point shooters, and not give up layups because they run so many back cuts.”

6-7 sophomore James Humphrey and 6-6 sophomore Spencer Johnson are “veterans” in just their sophomore seasons. As a freshman the athletic Humphrey played in 30 games over four points and nearly five rebounds per game. Johnson is rumored to be the most improved player on the Kangaroo roster this season.

Senior Dane Brumigan does it all for Brown at 6-4. Brumigan was second team all-Summitt League selection last season as he led the Kangaroos in scoring at 17.1 ppg, and added 4.8 rpg. Brumigan is not afraid to mix it up and is also a staunch defender. Brumigan posted a 40-point game last season, has three-point range, and is deadly from the free throw line (86.0 percent).

6-0 sophomore Reggie Hamilton led the team in assists last season and was ranked as one of the conferences top newcomers. Hamilton’s first college game just happened to be against KU where he led the Roos in scoring with 16 against the Jayhawks.

Brown’s newcomers don’t bring size but they do bring versatility. Latreze Mushatt is 6-5 and has a body ready for the rigors of college basketball at a high level. Trey McKinney-Jones can play any of the three guard spots and specializes in slashing and creating off the dribble. 6-4 Dustin Dibble is in range when he enters the arena and averaged over 21 points as a high school senior in Michigan.

November 18 – Florida Gulf Coast – 8:00pm

Another game part of the home double-dip for KU in the CBE Classic as the Jayhawks take on Florida Gulf Coast. FGCU is in just its second season at the Division I level. The Eagles are also working with a roster filled with new faces after losing four starters and 11 of 13 players from last year’s squad.

Shooting guard Delvin Franklin is the team’s only returning starter and as a junior Franklin averaged just over nine points. The Houston, Texas native started 19 games last season and played in all 30 games for head coach Dave Balza. Franklin was one of the Atlantic Sun’s best three-point shooters

Reggie Chambers is an ultraquick freshman who looks to take over the point guard spot. Ben Vega is a transfer with some experience coming from Gulf Coast Community College. The 5-10 Vega was all-league in the Panhandle league, one of the best JUCO leagues in the country. Reed Baker is a transfer from Michigan who is capable of playing both guard positions. Baker played in 28 games last season for John Beilein in Ann Arbor.

Casey Wohlleb is gone and was one of the school’s all-time leading scorers leaving the small forward position up for grabs. Derrick O’Neil is a 6-5 transfer from Florida Community College in Jacksonville. The California native was also first-team all-conference in the Panhandle league and nearly averaged a double-double (12.9 ppg, 8.0 rpg). Ed Rolax redshirted last season for the Eagles and can also play the power forward spot.

Two superior athletes lead the charge at the power forward slot – Kyle Marks and Anthony Banks. Marks is a redshirt who transferred from Nebraska and was the all-time leader in blocks at Dwyer High School in West Palm Beach, FL. During his two seasons in a Cornhuskers uniform, Marks shot over 50 percent from the floor. Banks is also a Florida native who averaged a double-double during his senior season (16.2 ppg, 12.2 rpg).

At the center position 6-9 Christian Wolf brings skill in the post after averaging over 20 points and 10 rebounds a game in high school playing for his father in Kohler, Wisconsin. 6-9 George Erkvania is from Tbilisi, Georgia Republic and also comes to FGCU via the JUCO route.

November 24 – Washington – (Sprint Center) - 9:00pm

After a couple of successful seasons under Lorenzo Romar the Washington Huskies suffered a sub-500 season in a packed Pac-10. If the Huskies are to improve it will need to start at the defensive end of the floor.

Romar returns three starters and has an experienced nucleus that includes talented senior Jon Brockman. There are also five freshmen ready to contribute and turn around a 16-17 record of a year ago.

5-8 Isaiah Thomas signed with the Huskies back in 2006 but spent the last two seasons at prep school in South Kent (CT). He’s super quick and likely to take over the point guard duties for Romar. If things go well for Thomas as the point, senior shooting guard Justin Dentmon would slide over to the two spot more often. Dentmon’s 27 threes from a year ago leads the team’s returning players.

6-6 swingman Quincy Pondexter is still looking for that breakout season in purple. Pondexter is packed with athleticism but has struggled on the defensive end since Day 1. Pondexter averaged just under ten points last season and just under five rebounds per game. On the other hand the 6-7 Brockman is looking to leave campus as one of the Huskies most accomplished post players of all-time. Brockman is relentless inside and beast to contend with on the boards. If he has a weakness it’s on the free throw line where he shot less than 59 percent on the season. He led the Pac-10 in rebounding the last two seasons and is the league’s active leading scorer. Brockman is an automatic double-double when he walks on the court.

6-8 Artem Wallace will help bolster the interior, while 6-9 sophomore Matthew Bryan-Amaning provides necessary help on the glass. 6-7 Tyreese Breshers brings a shot-blocking presence and is Romar’s top-ranked freshman.

6-6 Scott Suggs is ready willing and able to play all three guard positions if necessary and will be an asset on defense. 6-4 freshman Elston Turner was a highly-rated shooting guard that could be the team’s top perimeter shooter.

November 25 – Florida OR Syracuse – (Sprint Center) – 6:45p or 9:15p

Overview: (Florida)
Kansas could take on the Gators or the Orange in this game depending on the results.

If the Jayhawks face the Gators it will be a matchup of two teams who account for the last three national titles and have combined for nearly 500 wins this decade.

There were plenty of close calls for the Gators last season but most of them failed to go Billy Donovan’s way as his young team ended up in the NIT instead of defending its national title.

Donovan’s squad embraces the team concept and does its damage by committee. Last season six players averaged in double-figures during conference play and most expect the same this season.

After starting anew last season the Gators are still young but most of their top guns will benefit from a year of experience. Chandler Parsons, Nick Calathes, and Alex Tyus were a terrific trio their freshmen year and will be that much better after enduring a freshmen campaign where they were counted on heavily. 6-8 junior Dan Werner and senior guard Walter Hodge will fill out the starting lineup.

Calathes does it all for Donovan and led the team in scoring, assists, steals, and three-pointers. Werner was much-improved a season ago and will look to add more shooting touch to his game. Parsons is under-sized but a talented big man at 6-9, while Hodge is the lone national championship holdover.

With the recent departure of Jai Lucas, 5-8 freshman Erving Walker will have a chance to contribure. Walker hails from Christ the King and averaged 16 points and 11 assists for the New York City high school. The quick guard possesses speed, skill, and can fill it up from the perimeter.

Up front 6-10 freshman Eloy Vargas is a big guy who can step out and shoot it. Big, strong Kenny Kadji originally hails from Cameroon but averaged 28 points and 12 rebounds for IMG Academy in Pendleton, Florida last season.

Overview: (Syracuse)
Jim Boeheim’s Orange was decimated by injuries last season and failed to make the NCAA tournament for the second straight year despite going 21-9 and 9-9 in the Big East Conference. It was a challenging year in upstate New York but the experience allowed young players on Boeheim’s roster to gain valuable experience. At one point Boeheim has six scholarship players and a walk-on active last season. Youth and lack of depth were a huge issue in the 2007-2008 campaign.

Donte Greene is gone after just one season in a Syracuse uniform but Leo Rautins and Eric Devendorf return. Devendorf is coming off a torn ACL and was averaging 17 points a game when he went down for Boeheim last season. The ‘Cuse missed his three-point ability and the skill needed to put it on the deck and finish at the rim. Devendorf also had a knack for late-game heroics and certainly was missed down the stretch of close games. How important was Rautins to Syracuse’s success? When he scored ten or more points Syracuse went 12-0 in those games. Rautins, like Devendorf, is coming off an ACL injury and played for Canada’s Senior National team over the summer. Rautins should earn plenty of playing time and be stronger than ever.

Johnny Flynn logged a ton of minutes last season and was really the key player for the Orange. Flynn garnered co-Big East Rookie of the Year honors and averaged almost 16 points and over five assists a game.

Small forward Paul Harris stands at just 6-5 but is one of the league’s most ferocious rebounders. Harris started every game for Syracuse last season and scored in double-digits the last 15 games for the Orange. Also on the inside 6-8 Kristof Ongenaet hails from Belgium and came on late in the season. Ongenaet is challenged a bit on the offensive end but provides toughness. 6-9 center Arinze Onuaku displayed a solid low post game last season and averaged nearly 13 points while leading the Big East in field goal percentage.

As far as newcomers go few are as smooth as Peekskill’s Mookie Jones. Jones can really stroke it from the perimeter and is a winner, plus he has great length.

November 28 – Coppin State – 7:00pm

Coppin State captured the late season magic last season winning four games in four days in order to capture the MEAC title and an NCAA Tournament berth. Fang Mitchell’s team became the first to make the dance with 20 losses. The Eagles lost in the play-in game and will again need a miracle this season to reach the tournament.

Mitchell lost four starters and eight lettermen from last year’s squad but he does return the heart of his team in senior guard Tywain McKee. The first team All-MEAC selection led the league in three-point percentage and free-throw percentage.

While McKee’s role with the team is a given the point guard slot appears wide open. 5-11 senior Vincent Goldberry and senior guard Chuka Iloegbu both played sparingly last season but will get a chance.

Mitchell was able to add four freshmen to his roster who are expected to make contributions immediately. The freshmen are all guards -- 6-4 Michael Harper, 6-3 Jordan Lee, 5-10 guard Justin McKoy and 6-2 Lenny Young.

Harper is an explosive and athletic scorer, Lee and McKoy both hail from the Baltimore area and all three will help Mitchell with his guard-oriented attack.

Most of the players on the interior played last season but none averaged more than four points per game.  6-7 senior Brian Chesnut started nine games while 6-8 sophomore center Ceslovas Kucinskas played in 29 games but averaged just over two points last season. 6-6 senior forward Eddie Hayden played in 32 games last season and is the most likely to increase his playing time and production.  

The November tilt provides a couple of possible challenges for Kansas but it’s hard to believe that KU won’t breeze through this tilt with zero or one loss. Top Stories