UK-Kansas notes: programs linked by demanding fans

jtipton@herald-leader.comApril 1, 2012 

NEW ORLEANS — Besides more victories than any other program, Kentucky and Kansas share another trait: hard-to-please fans.

Three-point shooter Conner Teahan acknowledged how his recent shooting slump (4-for-23 from beyond the arc in the last seven games) dismayed fans.

"When the shots aren't going in, I feel like I'm not doing much," he said Sunday. "I can understand their frustration."

When asked about the form that frustration takes, Teahan said, "Most people are nice to my face. I'm not sure what they're saying at other times."

Kansas fans also grumbled about center Jeff Withey, Teahan said.

"At times, people questioned his want-to," Teahan said.

Playing sparingly behind standout veterans, Withey averaged only 1.9 points and 1.6 points in his first two seasons.

"People didn't understand about a 7-footer," Teahan said. "Why aren't you doing this and that? I give Jeff a lot of credit. He kept a positive mind-set."

Cal pal?

Kansas Coach Bill Self suggested that he and UK Coach John Calipari have a proper, professional relationship. The two compete regularly in recruiting and will match wits in the national championship game for the second time in five years.

"I don't think we've ever had a conversation," Self said, "but I don't think we've avoided it either."

Working at a Michael Jordan Fantasy Camp gave the two a chance to answer camper questions about the 2008 NCAA Tournament title game, Self said.

"We don't hang out," Self said. "We haven't gone to dinner or anything like that."

Then Self jokingly added, "That's because he's so tight, he'd make me pay."

'Not Superman'

Anthony Davis and Thomas Robinson will become the 12th set of consensus All-Americans to meet in the championship game. That hasn't happened since 1999, when Elton Brand and Duke lost to Richard Hamilton and Connecticut.

The Brand-Hamilton game was the only time two consensus All-Americans competed in the title game since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

When asked what more he and Withey must do to be successful against Davis, Robinson said, "Nothing. I mean, Anthony Davis is a great player. But he's not Superman.

"We just have to be Kansas. Do what we do best. Keep being aggressive."

'Up and down'

Mercurial seemed the best word to describe Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor.

"I wouldn't say I've had an up-and-down relationship with the fans," he said. "They may have had an up-and-down relationship with me. I've always loved our fans, and I've always felt they are the best in the country.

"But I can understand, as a fan, why you would be frustrated sometimes watching me. I can totally understand that. I watch basketball, too, and when Kobe misses a shot, I get frustrated, too. I want to throw a ball at the TV. I just don't take it as far as emailing him or posting on his Facebook."

Taylor, a senior from Hoboken, N.J., said he can handle criticism.

"It's cool," he said. "Coming from (my background), it's all fun and games. I live with it, I enjoy it, I embrace it. And criticism is just motivation. I have fun with it. I don't take it too hard. I don't go crying in my room when people say I suck. I laugh at it. I show it to my teammates. Then it's over with it. I won't think about it the next day. It's water down my back.

"And it definitely has changed in the past two or three months."

Brown knows

Longtime NBA and college coach Larry Brown has been hanging around the Kansas program for about a month.

Kansas players said Brown lends his expertise.

"He throws his little lines out there," Taylor said. "He's just an observer."

Teammate Conner Teahan suggested Brown is more than an idle spectator.

"He helps the staff because he's so knowledgeable," he said. "He's come up to me and tried to give me confidence (as a shooter)."

Brown provided UK similar help during a weeklong visit last season. That caused NCAA eyebrows to raise because, strictly by the letter of the rules, involvement by an outside coach could be construed as an unfair advantage.

"I'll talk to Bill or I'll talk to an assistant if I have something on my mind that I think is appropriate," Brown told the Kansas City Star. "But ... that's up to him. But I want to be there. He throws things by me all the time."

Brown, now semiretired, described his involvement as more of a kindness shown by Self.

"I don't know if he needs me but, everywhere I go, I have so many guys that played for me or coached with me that are coaches, and it's amazing how they make me feel like I'm important and part of it, whether I am or not," he said.

Brown, whose coaching résumé includes the 1988 national championship for Kansas, left New Orleans on Sunday rather than stay and root against either John Calipari or Self, who are both protégés.

When asked to pick a winner, he said, "Well, I think they're the best teams. And (UK) might be one of the best teams I've ever seen. Anthony Davis is as good a young player as I've ever seen. I've never seen anybody better at that age.

"But again, I'd never count out Kansas. They've got a toughness about them. They had a belief in themselves that's unique. They might have the best — they do have the best backcourt in college basketball, by far."

Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Twitter: @JerryTipton. Blog:

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