The Big 12’s leading scorer and rebounder did not win 2018-19 conference player of the year honors.
That’s OK with Kansas coach Bill Self, considering junior transfer Dedric Lawson did claim unanimous first-team all-league mention and the league’s newcomer of the year award. Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver was chosen player of the year. The awards were voted on by the league’s coaches.
“I’m proud of Dedric being first team, and you know he was right there for player of the year,” Self, KU’s 16th-year coach, said Sunday in a release. “Jarrett (Culver) probably deserved it based on how their team finished and how he finished and I thought Barry (Brown, Kansas State) was right there as well. I thought either one would have been a good choice.”
KU’s other honorees were: Devon Dotson, third-team all-league and member of the all-freshman team and Marcus Garrett to the all-league defensive team.
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“I think Dedric being named first team and Devon (Dotson) third team are very deserving,” Self said. “The only thing I am disappointed with is I thought Devon should have been second team. The other thing that is disappointing is, without Udoka (Azubuike, injured) and Lagerald (Vick, indefinite leave of absence from team) eligible, you don’t have anybody that made honorable mention, which is probably a first for us in many, many years (since 2011-12).
“I thought it was good for those two (Dedric and Devon) and I thought Marcus (Garrett) making the all-defensive team was definitely deserving and I think he would have a chance for defensive player of the year if he hadn’t got injured (ankle injury caused him to miss five straight games).”
Of KU’s representation on the awards list, Self said: “Overall, it was solid. Nothing unexpected happened. If anything, this will be motivation for all the players either selected or not selected to go either validate their season-long performance in the upcoming tournaments or to prove people wrong. It just adds to the competitiveness of the tournaments.”
Home finale revisited
Kansas’ fans packed Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday afternoon for the Jayhawks’ final home game of the 2018-19 season.
The 16,300 occupants didn’t rock the 64-year-old building, Self said, which was perhaps inevitable considering KU on Tuesday had been eliminated from the Big 12 race.
Also, the KU-Baylor game had no effect on the upcoming Big 12 Tournament. Win or lose, the Jayhawks (23-8, 12-6) were locked into the No. 3 seed and a quarterfinal game against Texas to start approximately 8:30 p.m. Thursday at the Sprint Center.
“The building didn’t have a lot of energy,” Self said after KU’s 78-70 victory over Baylor, “and our guys — a couple of individuals maybe didn’t have the same energy they’ve been having just because of the situation (not winning league) and maybe fatigue.”
Realizing that the fans who made up KU’s 291st straight sellout crowd might be a big passive during KU’s regular-season finale, Self asked for extra energy during his pregame talk to the team.
“Our whole goal today, our whole deal was, ‘The most aggressive we’re going to play all year is today — both ends, attack mode, let it go,’’’ Self said. “Then we started the game out by letting our guy catch it wherever he wanted to. We’ve got to change some little things (entering postseason).”
Of finishing with a perfect 16-0 record at home, KU’s Dedric Lawson said: “It means a lot. We lost a couple games in my collegiate career at home (in his two seasons at Memphis) that we should’ve won, but just being here … Allen Fieldhouse is a great place to play.
“The fans, they call them the ‘Sixth Man’ and they definitely are because they help us out a lot and give us the energy that we need to go out there and win at home.”
KU freshman power forward David McCormack followed an 18-point outing against Oklahoma on Tuesday with 12 points versus Baylor. He had 10 points the first half in helping KU to a 32-29 lead.
“He’s gotten better all season long and plays really hard,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said of the 6-foot-10 McCormack. “When you watch film it’s easy to cheer for him. Coaches love guys who compete and play hard and he does.”
The week ahead
The Jayhawks now will start preparing for the postseason and Thursday’s game against Texas. KU is 1-1 versus the Longhorns this season.
“Sunday is going to be a day off for sure. We’ll go hard maybe one day next week, maybe Monday or Tuesday, but I don’t think we’ll go hard two days in a row and we’ll go light on Wednesday,” Self said. “I certainly would like to stay over there (in downtown Kansas City) through Saturday.”