Iurri Mykhailiuk, a college history professor from Ukraine, stood in the northwest tunnel of Allen Fieldhouse on Tuesday night watching his son, Svi, sign autographs almost a full hour after hitting the game-winning layup in Kansas’ 90-88 victory over Kansas State.
“Svi, Svi, Svi,” Iurri Mykhailiuk said with a smile, while informing a Kansas City Star reporter he knew just a few words of English.
“It was very good. The players believed in (him taking) the last shot,” Iurri added.
Svi Mykhailiuk was mobbed by his KU teammates after his scoop shot dropped just ahead of the final horn. He successfully completed a dash down the middle of the lane, though replays made it pretty obvious — and the general consensus is — that he traveled on the play.
“He has been a hero before. He had the same moments in the European championship,” said Maksym Mikhelson, who coached Ukraine’s FIBA Under-20 world championship team last summer in Finland. The 6-foot-8 Mykhailiuk averaged 14.9 points and 5.6 rebounds for his home country in the tourney. Ukraine placed eighth among 16 teams.
“I had a feeling he would take the last shot. It was a very good game, great emotion,” added Mikhelson, who made the trip to the U.S. with Svi’s dad to watch Friday’s KU-TCU game in Fort Worth, Texas, as well as the KU-K-State thriller.
Mikhelson also traveled to Lawrence two summers ago to work with Mykhailiuk when Svi’s Jayhawk teammates represented the United States at the World University Games in South Korea.
Asked if KU’s junior guard will play in the NBA, Mikhelson said: “It remains to be seen. I think he must work a lot.”
Iurri Mykhailiuk and Mikhelson were to return to Ukraine on Wednesday.
“Unbelievable,” Mikhelson said of Tuesday’s game.
As far as the controversy surrounding Svi Mykhailiuk’s game-winning layup: a Big 12 Conference spokesperson told The Star in an email Wednesday that the league would have no comment at this time.
Cunliffe’s decision coming soon
Former Arizona State shooting guard Sam Cunliffe told The Star he had a great time on his recruiting visit to Kansas, which lasted Monday night through Wednesday morning.
Cunliffe, a 6-foot-6 Seattle native, who also has visited Georgetown, said he will visit Seattle University on Thursday and announce his college choice “within the next three days.”
“I really, really liked it. I enjoyed it the whole time. I liked how I got to spend time with coach (Bill) Self a lot,” Cunliffe said. “I felt like they really want me and need me. It has left a really good impression on me. It had a family environment and I liked the way they treated my parents.”
Cunliffe averaged 9.5 points and 4.8 rebounds a game while starting 10 games in his freshman year at Arizona State. He will have 2 1/2 years of collegiate eligibility remaining at his transfer destination. He will be able to practice immediately and be eligible to play in games at the conclusion of 2017-18 first semester classes in December.
Cunliffe averaged 21.6 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists his senior season at Washington state champion Rainier Beach High and was chosen Seattle Times high school player of the year.
KU’s defense lacking, coach says
Self is not pleased with a KU defense that allowed 88 points on 50.8 percent shooting Tuesday. K-State hit 7 of 21 threes.
“We didn’t do anything to keep them out of rhythm. They really didn’t score off their actions, they scored off their players. We actually defended their actions decently, but their players just scored on our guys,” Self said.
“When you get two steals (to K-State’s 10) playing at home, that tells you just how inactive we are. So there are a lot of things we have to improve on. We certainly haven’t performed in our first two games in league play and we weren’t great in Vegas (71-53 win over UNLV on Dec. 22), so that’s five bad halves in a row. But hopefully we can turn it around and realize what we’re not doing and decide we want to get better as a group collectively.”
Self likes K-State’s team
Self on K-State, which will take a 12-2 record, including 1-1 in Big 12 play, into Saturday’s home game against Oklahoma.
“They’ve got a good team. They should have been 13-0 coming into this game. They really beat Maryland. Maryland made a couple of plays late that were kind of screwy plays,” Self said of the Wildcats’ 69-68 loss to Maryland on Nov. 26 in New York.
“They didn’t surprise me at all. They always play hard from our vantage point. We only see them twice (in regular season). In those particular games we always get a team that plays hard.”
Of Dean Wade, a 6-10 sophomore from St. John, Kan., who tied a career high with 20 points, Self said: “I thought he played well. I thought their whole team played well. Most players make their biggest jump between their freshman and sophomore seasons. He’s obviously made a big jump. He’s a good player.”