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Gordon Monson: What does BYU’s win over Kansas mean?

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Gordon Monson: What does BYU’s win over Kansas mean?


Cougar basketball at last can grow to be something more than good, The Tribune columnist writes.

(Charlie Riedel | AP) BYU center Aly Khalifa (50) shoots during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Kansas Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Lawrence, Kan. BYU won 76-68.

One of BYU’s issues made worse during its years in the West Coast Conference, but present so often for so long, has been a low ceiling, a tendency for basketball to be good, almost always good, but rarely good enough to make any sort of notable dent against top-tier competition.

Upsets were pulled off now and again, but even in those good years a pall of doomed inevitability hung over Cougar hoops, a bit of reality causing anyone in and around the program, at least in moments of honesty, to know deep down that nothing grand would come of bits and pieces of success during stretches of long seasons.

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A few exceptions stand out.

Jimmer Fredette’s senior year in 2011, when BYU had a stellar team that made it to the Sweet 16, but was bumped off an even more promising track by whomever in the Honor Code Office decided big man Brandon Davies was too big of a sinner to be allowed to play in the final few games that year.

Mark Pope’s team in 2020, the one that knocked off second-ranked Gonzaga in one of the most memorable games ever in the Marriott Center, was a soaring scoring group, with three seniors who could light up a gym, individually or together, on any given night — Yoeli Childs, TJ Haws, and Jake Toolson. The Cougars had other guys on that team, too, and it would have made a strong run in the NCAA Tournament had it not been defeated by a formidable foe that shut down all of college basketball and a whole lot of the country and the world — COVID.

Then there was the Danny Ainge-led team back in 1981, the one that made it to the Elite Eight.

There were a couple of others in the mix, and if you want to lean all the way back to the NIT championship teams, back when that tournament actually meant something significant, you can. In between, though, there were a whole lot of good-for-who-it’s-for teams that quite understandably couldn’t be better than they were. They failed to capture the imagination.

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(Charlie Riedel | AP) BYU guards Jaxson Robinson, right, and Richie Saunders (15) hug after their NCAA college basketball game against Kansas Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Lawrence, Kan. BYU won 76-68.

Whoa. Hold on. That’s changing now.

The Cougars’ win on Tuesday night over Kansas at Phog Allen, a historical pinnacle in a place few visitors climb and conquer, registered in a huge way, sending out a signal that basketball at BYU, not just in a particular quirky moment, but for real is extending its reach.

Already, BYU had surprised this season, its inaugural run through college basketball’s best conference. As I wrote in a recent column, the Cougars had been expected to bump and skid over their first year in the Big 12. At that writing, they were 7-6 in the league, not an exceptional mark, but far superior to what anyone thought they could achieve so soon.

They subsequently dropped a roadie at K-State, and that loss disappointed those who had come around to the surprise Pope’s outfit was conjuring. But when the Cougars fired back for a win in one of college basketball’s most storied arenas, a place where the Jayhawks had a 19-game win streak, a place where they lose about as often as the Utah Legislature passes progressive laws, a place where Bill Self’s teams had established a probability of winning at 95 percent, it demonstrated that a team capable of doing that is also doing what few BYU teams have done in the past — lifting the ceiling and raising the roof.

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Dallin Hall took over that game, going for 13 second-half points, hitting clutch difference-making shots. But he had help from others.

Pope called the win “special.”

Self called the loss “pitiful.”

But he added that, “BYU was better than us tonight.”

As mentioned, being better than Kansas on any night is one thing, being that at Allen Fieldhouse is another.

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What does it mean?

(Charlie Riedel | AP) BYU guard Dallin Hall (30) shoots over Kansas center Hunter Dickinson (1) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Lawrence, Kan. BYU won 76-68.

Overall, the Cougars are 20-8, 8-7 in the Big 12, so it doesn’t mean BYU has a great team. What it means is that the opportunity to play in that league has handed it the chance to rise up not just on difficult occasions, but to be what it appears to be, to be battle-tested, to be real. What it means is that there’s nothing faux about an 8-7 record in the Big 12, that a mark like that not only prepares BYU for at least a shot at something more, it blows past a shiny record in a lesser conference, one that eventually will be revealed as something south of what it seems.

That’s a healthy thing for any aspiring basketball program. BYU’s recruiting limitations are and always will be a challenge, but not an impossible one to get around. Watch as Pope finds surprising talent in surprising places — he already has — luring that talent in by way of the opportunity spoken of, afforded by way of playing You-Know-Where.

Under these circumstances, for the first time in a long, long time, maybe for the first time ever, BYU, even when it gets tripped up here and there, can build to consistently be what it’s rarely been in the past. Not just good, but real good.

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No, no, really.



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Kansas governor vetoes ban on gender-affirming care for minors

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Kansas governor vetoes ban on gender-affirming care for minors


Kansas Governor Laura Kelly (D) vetoed SB 233 on Friday, a Senate bill aimed at prohibiting gender-affirming care for transgender youth, including surgery, hormone treatments, and puberty blockers. Additionally, it proposed revoking the licenses of doctors providing such care and restricting state funds for gender-affirming treatments.

Kelly stated that she vetoed the bill because “[t]he last place that I would want to be as a politician is between a parent and a child who needed medical care of any kind. And, yet, that is exactly what this legislation does.” Kelly went on to state that:

This divisive legislation targets a small group of Kansans by placing government mandates on them and dictating to parents how to best raise and care for their children. I do not believe that is a conservative value, and it’s certainly not a Kansas value.

Speaker for the Kansas House of Representatives Daniel Hawkins (R) condemned Kelly’s veto, stating:

As we watch other states, nations, and organizations reverse course on these experimental procedures on children, Laura Kelly will most surely find herself on the wrong side of history with her reckless veto of this common-sense protection for Kansas minors. House Republicans stand ready to override her veto to protect vulnerable Kansas kids.

The governor’s veto comes as gender-affirming care for minors has become a contentious political debate on the state level. States such as Ohio, West Virginia, Louisiana, Alabama, Montana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Kentucky have considered or passed varying bans on all or most gender-affirming care for minors.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has condemned legislative bans on gender-affirming care, endorsing a gender-affirmative care model (GACM) including “the integration of medical, mental health, and social services, including specific resources and supports for parents and families.”





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It’s Your Business: Kansas Hospital Association has new hire; FHLBank promotes officer

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It’s Your Business: Kansas Hospital Association has new hire; FHLBank promotes officer


Hires

The Kansas Hospital Association announced it hired Summer Fangman as an administrative professional. Fangman is a recent graduate from Washburn University with a degree in psychology. Before joining KHA, Fangman worked as a shift supervisor for Glory Days Pizza. Prior to that, she worked at Ascension Living Via Christi Village as an activities assistant. Fangman brings excellent customer service skills to this position. Fangman enjoys entertaining her friends and family using locally grown foods when possible. She lives in Topeka.

Promotions

Lance Liby has been selected as the new chief business officer for FHLBank Topeka, a wholesale bank that serves as a source of credit for member financial institutions in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma. “Lance’s work as former chief credit officer provided numerous opportunities to engage with our members. His strong commitment is essential to our collective success and ability to serve members and communities across our district through our member-owned cooperative,” said Jeff Kuzbel, president and CEO of FHLBank Topeka. Liby will lead many of the member-facing areas. He joined FHLBank Topeka in May 2013 as director of credit analytics and served as chief credit officer since 2017. Prior to joining FHLBank, he was vice president at Mortgage Liquidity Solutions and a consultant with the Rochdale Group. He has a bachelor of science in business administration from Kansas State University and master’s of business administration from the University of Missouri, Kansas City. “As chief credit officer, I had the pleasure of getting to spend time collaborating with members on pledging collateral to FHLBank to help facilitate their liquidity and funding needs,” said Liby. “In this new role, I’m excited to spend more of my day thinking about how we might continue to improve our various products and services to ensure we are meeting the liquidity and funding needs of our members, so that they can continue to build stronger communities.”

Topeka-area hirings, promotions, retirements and other announcements can be emailed to iyb@cjonline.com.



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Kansas Jayhawks Football show off potential in Spring Showcase

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Kansas Jayhawks Football show off potential in Spring Showcase


The Kansas Jayhawks are wrapping up spring practices, but not before giving the fans a show on Friday night at Rock Chalk Park in Lawrence. With many of last year’s offensive stars limited, the freshman and backups stepped up in a big way to give the Jayhawks plenty to be happy about heading into the summer months.

But both sides of the ball had their time to shine. There were multiple stops by the defense during the scrimmage portion of the event, including interceptions on back-to-back drives to highlight the end of the first half.

Jalon Daniels was active during the skills portion, throwing the ball around and seemingly picking up with the spectacular throws as if he was never injured last season. But his best throw of the night was a strike to Quentin Skinner during the scrimmage that sparked flashbacks from the last two seasons.

Lance Leipold and his staff had their work cut out for them, trying to adjust to life without Andy Kotelnicki at the helm of the offense. But the switch to Jeff Grimes’ system didn’t look like a switch at all, as many of the same concepts and motion were on display all night long.

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It was the first time that fans got to see freshman quarterback Isaiah Marshall, who had plenty of highlights. His arm strength was on full display, and the few times that he got out to run, his speed and cutting ability was reminiscent of a freshman Jalon Daniels.

The biggest questions coming into the night surrounded the defense, where the Jayhawks lost quite a few key contributors to graduation or the NFL Draft. Jalen Dye stepped up from the safety position, snagging one of the interceptions and getting multiple big stops. As the scrimmage went on, multiple players made an impact on the defensive line, including red-shirt freshman Grady Seyfert and the four-star defensive end Dakyus Brinkley.

Overall, there is still plenty to work on for this team. But given the rapid improvement that we have seen in Fall Camp in each of the previous seasons under Leipold, it’s safe to say this team is on track for another successful season.



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