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Monday Morning Wheaties - UConn & NCAA Tournament volleyball

5 min read

The Kansas football team was off this week, watching championship weekend with the rest of us while also learning that they’ll be headed to Phoenix later this month for the Guaranteed Rate Bowl against UNLV in the desert.

That doesn’t mean the Monday Morning Wheaties ran out.

Lance Leipold’s team will have one more chance to get in on a bowl or bite before the end of the year, but from here on out this will be a heavy-basketball space, with a few other KU sports factoring in throughout the winter, as well.

You’ve seen the tomahawks on the back of the Florida State helmets, the buckeye tree leaves on the Ohio State helmets and the paw prints on the back of the Clemson helmets.

Each Monday, we take one last look back at the week that was and hand out different amounts of the iconic breakfast cereal to the Jayhawks’ top performers.

So, be sure to come get your Monday morning Wheaties and feel free to hit up the comments section — subscribers only for now — with any players you feel we might’ve missed.

KJ Adams versus Connecticut at Allen Fieldhouse. [Chance Parker photo]

Picture on the box

• Junior forward KJ Adams – Adams’ numbers against the Huskies weren’t the kind that will wow you and make you call your friends. But they did come in his best game of the year, under emotional circumstances and when the Jayhawks’ needed them the most. One day before attending his mother’s funeral back in Austin, Texas, Adams went off for 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting, adding a 6-of-9 clip at the free throw line and 5 rebounds in the Jayhawks’ win over UConn at Allen Fieldhouse. He made a couple of huge plays late, hit two clutch free throws with the game on the line and was the emotional and energetic leader of the team all night long. Such a cool moment – one that he, his family and thousands of Kansas basketball fans will remember for a long time.

Reagan Cooper (clapping) celebrates a point versus Penn State. [Chance Parker photo]

A full bowl

• Senior outside hitter Reagan Cooper – The Kansas volleyball team dropped a five-set heartbreaker to fifth-seeded Penn State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday night. It was a match, against a perennial power, that could’ve gone either way and came down to PSU making one more play than the Jayhawks did. Cooper, who had a sensational season in her lone year as a Jayhawk, tied the single-match school record with 29 kills in the match and proved to be as tough for Penn State to handle as the Nittany Lions were for Kansas. Cooper was a force at the net for the Jayhawks all season, but she really shined down the stretch, showing her ability to both function and operate as a go-to offensive player.

• Senior guard Kevin McCullar Jr. – The KU guard was good against UConn, leading Kansas with 21 points, including 3 of 4 shooting from 3-point range. So many of those 3s were of the most clutch variety, as McCullar joined Adams in making the biggest plays at the end of the game to seal the win for the home team. McCullar continues pacing toward an All-American-type season that appears to be headed toward being classified as a worthy follow-up to what Jalen Wilson and Ochai Agbaji did before him. Beyond being an elite scorer, McCullar has been terrific defensively and continued to fill up the stat sheet in other areas, as well. That all-around impact is so critical to his value, and it’s been cool to see that improving his scoring has not come at the expense of his production and importance in other areas.

Camryn Turner (22) skies to set the ball against Penn State. [Chance Parker photo]

Nighttime snack

• Junior setter Camryn Turner – Turner is in just about every way the heartbeat of the Kansas volleyball team both throughout the season and in Friday’s finale. She’s so good running the offense, so vicious when she attacks, so crafty when she creates for others and so joyful in everything she does. Oh, and her numbers were pretty darn good, too. It wasn’t just her final stats, which included 54 assists, 6 digs and 4 timely kills. It was also her timing. Turner made so many of her biggest plays in clutch moments and to close out sets, giving Kansas a chance to keep fighting until the very end.

• Senior center Hunter Dickinson – The big fella’s numbers were pretty average compared to what he’s put up at other times this season. But his 15 points and 9 boards were more than enough to give Dickinson the edge in the head-to-head showdown of two of the nation’s best big men, with UConn’s Donovan Clingan on the other side. Dickinson also flexed his muscles a little more than usual defensively, finishing with 4 blocks, and teamed up with Adams to bring all kinds of energy to a monster game in an amazing atmosphere.

Drink the milk

• KU freshmen Johnny Furphy and Elmarko Jackson – Give these two cats credit for playing much older than their years and playing a bunch of key minutes on a night when the Jayhawks didn’t use their bench much and needed everything they gave them. Furphy hit a couple of big 3s. Jackson played with good maturity and poise — except for on one pass — and, together, they combined for 12 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 5 turnovers in 46 total minutes. In a game decided by just 4 points, those were pretty big numbers, turnovers and all.

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