Kansas senior makes history as Jayhawks win


Kansas senior makes history as Jayhawks win

From Comcast SportsNetLAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) -- Nobody else was doing much scoring for No. 10 Kansas on Monday night. Nobody else was rebounding or playing much defense, either.Jeff Withey stepped up and did all three.And etched his name in the school's record books, too.The senior center had 16 points, 12 rebounds and a school-record 12 blocks for only the second official triple-double in Kansas history, and the Jayhawks held off a furious comeback by San Jose State for a 70-57 victory."He was the only guy who played worth a flip," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "He did a good job covering up for a lot of mistakes, because we made a ton of them tonight."Withey scored 10 points during a 20-2 run early in the second half, and achieved the Jayhawks' first triple-double since Cole Aldrich in an NCAA tournament game against Dayton in 2010 when the 7-footer blocked Xavier Jones' shot with 7:43 left in the game."I've been wanting that for a while now, and it's only me and Cole that have it, so it's pretty special to me," Withey said. "They kept on driving in and, you know, I just kept on blocking it. It's what I do."Kansas (5-1) certainly needed every last one of them after taking a 60-36 lead with just over 11 minutes left, and then watching the Spartans (2-3) go on an 18-2 run of their own.The Jayhawks finally put it away when Elijah Johnson hit a floater with just over a minute left for a 66-57 lead, and when Withey's rejection of J.D. Brown turned into a run-out that Ben McLemore finished off with a windmill dunk with about 30 seconds remaining."We didn't back down," San Jose State coach George Nessman said. "We kept bucking up and sticking our chest out there, and that was important for us."James Kinney stuck his chest out the farthest, scoring 19 of his 30 points in the second half for the Spartans. At one point, the senior guard scored nine in a span of about 90 seconds as San Jose State was mounting its big second-half charge."I wasn't going to give up. I'm not going to get embarrassed out here," Kinney said. "Once everyone saw I was going to keep fighting, they just tagged along."McLemore finished with 13 points despite missing all seven of his 3-point tries, and Travis Releford also had 13 points for the Jayhawks. Kevin Young added eight rebounds.Playing its first game since romping to victory in the CBE Classic last week, the Jayhawks looked fresh and smooth in building a double-digit lead late in the first half.San Jose State answered with nine straight points spanning halftime to get back into it.That's when Kansas went on its big run.It began with a 3-pointer by Johnson, and the momentum really started to build when Young followed up Withey's miss with an easy basket down low.Withey scored six of the Jayhawks' next eight points as the lead slowly grew, and the crowd at Allen Fieldhouse began to realize that he was making history. He surpassed the 10-rebound mark midway through the second half before getting his 10th block to mark the triple-double."Most of the time -- I'm guilty of it, too -- we get caught standing around watching Jeff, like a fan or something, and that's when we need to snap back to it," Johnson said. "Jeff saved us a lot of times. There were times I caught myself looking instead of playing."Unofficially, it was Withey's second time reaching the milestone.The senior had 18 points, 12 rebounds and 10 blocks against Pittsburg State in an exhibition game last season, when All-America forward Thomas Robinson missed the game due to injury.It also comes with an asterisk in the Kansas record books.The school didn't keep records for blocked shots during the 1950s, when Wilt Chamberlain was plying his trade on the hardwood. He undoubtedly had his share of triple-doubles while playing for the Jayhawks -- but officially, only Aldrich and Withey have done it."On the sideline, I kept thinking some of the shots were going in, and then bang, they were going the other way," Nessman said. "We try to tell our guys to jump into shot-blockers, but he's so good at staying down, it's hard to get him off his feet."Kinney did the best job of getting shots up, over and around him.In doing so, he nearly stole Withey's thunder.The spunky guard hit consecutive jumpers to end the Jayhawks' big second-half run, and then added a fall-away 3-pointer with just over 10 minutes remaining to close the gap.He added another 3-pointer with 6:44 left to trim the Spartans' deficit to 60-51, and then hit his fourth 3 as the shot clock was winding down to make it 64-57 with 2:39 to go.That's when Kansas finally put the game away."I just don't think we have any fold in us. That's not who we are. We have a great group of kids," Nessman said. "We came here to play for a full 40 minutes."

Bradley supporting Olynyk as he returns from shoulder surgery


Bradley supporting Olynyk as he returns from shoulder surgery

WALTHAM, Mass. – Avery Bradley had just returned to the Boston Celtics lineup after having had surgery on both shoulders, eager to put his injury-riddled days in the past.

Then-Celtics assistant coach Tyronn Lue had suffered a similar shoulder injury a decade earlier in 2003, so he knew all too well what Bradley was going through.

“I remember Tyronn Lue took me to the side and said, ‘you’re going to struggle,’” Bradley recalled. “When he said it to me, I was like, ‘what is he talking about?’”

The words of Lue, now the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, were indeed prophetic. And now that current Celtics big man Kelly Olynyk is back to practicing after having surgery on his right shoulder, Bradley plans to be there for Olynyk the way Lue was there for him.

Bradley, who missed the first 30 games of the 2012-2013 season recovering from the injury, recalls struggling with his shot for the first couple of weeks.  

His first game back was Jan. 2, 2013. For the next two weeks, Bradley shot 40.6 percent from the field (28-for-69) and 28.6 percent (8-for-28) on 3s, both below his career averages in those respective categories.

Bradley is hopeful Olynyk doesn’t struggle as much as he did upon his return to the lineup from shoulder surgery.

But just in case, Olynyk knows he has a teammate who literally knows what he’s going through right now in trying to get back on the floor and play good basketball.

“It’s our job as his teammates to help keep him confident in himself,” Bradley said. “I told him, ‘you’re going to have your days when you come in and you might make shots. Then you’ll have your week where you don’t make a shot.’ You just have to stay confident.”

But Bradley admits it’s a lot easier said than done, especially when you’ve had success shooting the ball and now all of a sudden the shots that you normally make in your sleep keep you up at night wondering why they no longer going in.

“It just happens. The muscle memory, you have to get it back,” Bradley said. “It’s just reps; that’s what it took. It took like maybe a good month before my shot felt good again. It’ll probably be the same for Kelly; hopefully not. If it is, I’ll be there to make sure he’s positive and knowing it’s a process and he has to continue to get shots up.”

But there’s more to returning to the game when healthy.

While the body may be ready to go, the mind more often than not hasn’t totally cleansed itself of the injury.

“It’s still in the back of your mind, thinking it’s going to happen again,” Bradley said. “You may not want to drive it to the basket as much or box out the same way or be aggressive. But like I said, we have to give him that confidence and he has to do his work as well, staying in the weight room, making sure he’s strong. We’re here to help.”

And no one is offering the consistent assistance that Bradley has to his injured teammate.

“I’ve taken him to the side like five times already and I told him, ‘I’m here bro. Whatever you need,’” Bradley said. “I’m just happy that he’s back."

Spooner responds positively to healthy scratch


Spooner responds positively to healthy scratch

BOSTON -- It wasn’t perfect by any means, but Saturday night represented a step in a positive direction for Ryan Spooner.

The 24-year-old speedy forward was scratched for the home opener against New Jersey in classic message-sending fashion by Bruins coach Claude Julien, and deserved it based on a passive lack of production combined with some costly mistakes as well. So he stayed quiet, put in the work and then returned to the lineup Saturday vs. the Montreal Canadiens where he scored a power play goal in the 4-2 loss to the Habs at TD Garden.

“He was better,” agreed Claude Julien. “He was better tonight.”

Spooner could have had even more as he got a couple of great scoring chances in the first period vs. Montreal, but Carey Price was able to turn away a couple of free looks at the Montreal net. So the Bruins forward felt he possibly left points on the ice after it was all said and done, but also clearly played his best game of the young season after going from the press box back to the lineup.

“Yeah, I had like maybe four or five [chances] that I could have scored on,” said Spooner. “I’ve just got to bear down on those [scoring opportunities], and a lot [of them] in the first period. It’s good that I’m getting those looks, but I have to score on them.

“I’m just going to go out there and just try to play. I can’t really think about [fighting to hold a spot]. I’ve just got to go out there and try to play, I guess, the game I can and try to use the speed that I have.”

The Spooner power play strike was a nifty one with the shifty forward and David Backes connecting on a pass across the front of the net, and the young B’s forward showing the necessary assertiveness cutting to the net from his half-wall position.

Spooner had five shot attempts overall in the game, and was one of the few Bruins players really getting the chances they wanted against a pretty effective Montreal defensive group. Now it’s a matter of Spooner, along with linemates Backes and David Krejci, scoring during 5-on-5 play and giving the Bruins a little more offensive balance after riding Boston’s top line very hard during the regular season’s first couple of weeks.