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Sunday, December 6, 2009

No. 1 KU to clash with ailing Bruins

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor extends to the bucket as he is fouled by Alcorn State guard Keith Searcy during the first half, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor extends to the bucket as he is fouled by Alcorn State guard Keith Searcy during the first half, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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KU vs. UCLA

  • Sunday, December 6, 2009, 4:30 p.m.
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— Opponents haven’t been gathering at center court to give UCLA’s Bruins a group hug this young college basketball season.

“Nobody feels sorry for us. People are giving us their best shot, even with our record,” UCLA fifth-year senior Michael Roll said.

He realizes foes and their fans love nothing more than to kick one of the top programs of all-time when it is perceived to be down.

While it’s way too early in the 2009-10 season to say for sure the Bruins — who have reached three Final Fours in Roll’s four seasons — are down and out, they are undeniably off to an abysmal, non-UCLA-like 2-4 start entering today’s 4:30 p.m. matchup against Kansas (6-0).

UCLA, which has a whopping nine players injured at one time since the start of practice on Oct. 14, went an embarrassing 0-3 at the recent 76 Classic in the Bruins’ backyard in Anaheim, Calif.

UCLA was blown out by Portland, 74-47, then fell to Butler, 69-67, and Long Beach State, 79-68, in consecutive nights. Prior to that, the Bruins had lost to Cal State Fullerton, 68-65, in their season opener at Pauley Pavilion, and defeated Cal State Bakersfield, 75-64, and Pepperdine, 71-52.

“I can’t say I saw this coming,” said Aliso Viejo, Calif., native Roll, who leads the Bruins in scoring at 13.2 ppg, just ahead of sophomore guard Malcolm Lee’s 12.3 mark.

“We are very young and do not have much game experience. Our record is not anything we can speak highly of. It gives us more motivation, makes us work a little bit harder,” Roll added.

The Bruins, who have had a full week to prepare for top-ranked KU, received a jolt on Tuesday when 6-6 sophomore forward Drew Gordon announced plans to transfer.

“As far as our team it’s over with,” Roll said of the transfer being a distraction. “Drew said he’s gone. We can’t worry about that. We have the No. 1 team coming in.”

The good news is that, except for 6-8 Reeves Nelson (hyperextended right knee) and freshman forward Tyler Honeycutt (stress reaction right tibia), the injuries have abated. Those two players are not 100 percent, but should be able to play today.

Other members of this season’s walking wounded: Roll (right ankle); Lee (concussion); sophomore center J’mison Morgan (swollen left knee); sophomore guard Jerime Anderson (left groin); senior forward James Keefe (left shoulder); freshman forward Brendan Lane (left ankle); freshman forward Mike Moser (lower back).

Meanwhile, senior forward Nikola Dragovic has missed two games because of suspension. He also is back and available for duty.

“They’ve been hit pretty hard. They’ve been so beat up,” KU coach Bill Self said of the Bruins, who are off to their worst start since going 2-5 to open Steve Lavin’s final season in 2002-03. “Ben (Howland, UCLA coach) has had to practice 3-on-3 because he’s only had six guys some days. It’s hard to get good when you can’t be on the practice floor and get the reps. They are still UCLA. They are good, and they’ll recover.”

Roll said the injuries definitely have been tough to overcome.

“We couldn’t do as much running. It limited some guys. Practices were short, but intense,” Roll said, adding, “it is really ironic. It feels like every single person got injured or missed practice at least once.”

“There’s a lot of bad to it, but we can find good from it, too. A lot of people wouldn’t have gotten as much time if people weren’t hurt. Hopefully it can help in the long run.”

Roll is convinced the Bruins can still make a run for the Pac-10 championship. Heck, the season is just six games in for a young squad which has used four first-year starters.

“We definitely could,” Roll said. “We are going to learn from these early games. It’s our whole focus. Play tough teams, like the No. 1 team in the country now, and we’ll be that much better for the Pac-10 games.”

Howland is being patient and innovative as he molds the 2009-10 Bruin squad. He has considering turning to a zone at times instead of his typical man-to-man defense.

“When you're playing young players, they are going to make mistakes,” Howland told the Orange County Register. “We’ve got to definitely play better in the backcourt to be successful,” added Howland, who uses Roll as well as sophs Anderson and Lee. "We've got to defend better, shoot better and make good decisions.”

That figures to be tough to do versus KU.

“They have Sherron (Collins) at point guard and big Cole (Aldrich) in the middle,” Roll said. “They definitely have some talented wings. They are deep. They’re the No. 1 team. They’re good.”

Comments

minnhawk84 4 years, 7 months ago

I smell a trap coming at Pauley. They'll be up for us; we need to be up for them.

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Jack Wilson 4 years, 7 months ago

No trap today. We'll overwhelm them in the 2nd half.

The only things that will hold us back all year is our ballhandling and Tyshawn Taylor, somewhat one in the same. Watching Carolina and KY yesterday, it is painfully obvious that our two guard spot is our major weakness, compared to those two at least. And he was exposed, as was Reed, vs. Memphis' speed. Elijah is the answer .. he should play 24 minutes and Taylor 12. If we lose a game early because of his inexperience, which I doubt because we have survived Taylor's freshman like play, so be it. We'll be better in March for it.

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Scott Smetana 4 years, 7 months ago

Great points highelite... i like your idea of Elijah over taylor. Also don't forget Brady... he kept proving us all wrong last year (until the MSU game).

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slowplay 4 years, 7 months ago

Elijah is not the answer. Taylor is still the better option, especially as we head into the meat of the schedule.

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hawksince51 4 years, 7 months ago

Agree we will be a better team once someone beats out Taylor for the majority of minutes. But, right now I agree with coach's decision to start Taylor.

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FairgroveJayhawk 4 years, 7 months ago

I don't believe KU will overlook the game. It is UCLA. If it were Colorado, it would be different. Speaking of Colorado, they and Iowa State have been the only two casualties in the PAC10/BIG 12 hardwood series so far. We should expect no less from Colorado.

I agree the two is the weakest link on this years team. But it is a team that continues to develop. Hopefully Taylor will gain consistency and play better. Also agree Brady will help, not because of his athleticism but because of his consistency. All other positions have superstar capacity, if consistency, decision making and ball handling are the issues with the two, Brady will fill in and knock down a few threes in the process if the consistency issue is not taken care of.

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Robert Brock 4 years, 7 months ago

Morningstar returns December 19th and will take a lot of Taylor's minutes.

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Jack Wilson 4 years, 7 months ago

slowplay: Explain how Taylor is the best answer and Elijah is not? Curious about that.

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Ben Kane 4 years, 7 months ago

TT will be fine. I think he is in the same kind of slump that RussRob went through. No worries.

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4jhawks4ku 4 years, 7 months ago

Johnson definitely the better of the two but needs about ten more games to settle him in. Taylor will be fine, Im sure Coach is working on his carelessness and immaturity. Just learn to close your eyes or go get popcorn when he's handling the ball.

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Eliott Reeder 4 years, 7 months ago

I disagree with the majority of you guys. I think Tyshawn will get better than his performance to start the season. He has been the victim of his own hype. After the Under-19 Worlds the draft site guys were calling him a first-rounder and this and that and he got too cocky. Bill Self will break him down and then build him back up. Which is what he does best. Self had to do this with Rush, with Mario, and others. And though Elijah Johnson has Taylor beat in the pure speed and natural athleticism department, I haven't seen any evidence of superior ball-handling skills. Though Elijah turns it over about once per game less than Tyshawn on average (EJ: 3.5/1.7 vs. TT: 3.7/2.5) this is not the complete picture. Taylor is playing ten more minutes per game, not to mention more pressure-packed minutes. The only decent evidence of these guys playing against quality guards with speed is the Memphis game, where Tyshawn had 5 assists against 7 TOs in 33 minutes, but Elijah fared no better with 1 assist and 3 TOs in just seven minutes. Basically, the jury is still out, but I don't think anyone should be so quick to toss Taylor under the bus. He is a very important piece to our puzzle. Brady will add some needed control and stability when he gets back, and Elijah will provide speed and flash off the bench, but Tyshawn will be our starting two-guard in the national championship game. That is how I see it at least.

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phi4life940 4 years, 7 months ago

Well said KoolKeith!

I just have to say thing: John Wall is the most selfish player in college basketball. I don't care how talented he is. Did anyone watch the UK v. UNC game??? Wow....he scores so many points because he takes A MILLION shots! I'm so happy we are unselfish with the ball and spread the board. That's why KU is so great this year and that's why UCLA needs to be playing on point to have a chance.

ROCK CHALK!

P.S. - If anyone has a good connection to KU Law... let me know! I was waitlisted! UGH!

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milehighhawk 4 years, 7 months ago

Soobawls - I was about to comment that your first post contained multiple typos because it sounded like you were actually rooting for KU.

Thank God you rediscovered your old, tired ways with the second post and found a way to bring in TT's "character issues."

You can now go back to being the discussion board's answer to Mayer: someone we all begrudgingly put up with until they just go away.

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dnvrhawk 4 years, 7 months ago

Injuries happen, but with the number of players they have out, you have to wonder if they need to improve their conditioning program. It make you appreciate the work Hudy puts into the program and the dedication of the players in the off season.

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melrank 4 years, 7 months ago

Anyone who doesn't think that John Wall isn't an unbelievable talent - and perhaps the best player in college this year - doesn't know didley about basketball.

Regarding TO's - he handles the ball non-stop and they are playing 2,000 MPH - it's a small deficiency on the resume.

That being said, as mentioned above, he might not be a great fit for our team, but his talent is off the chart.

PS - And I'm the biggest KU homer in the world.

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melrank 4 years, 7 months ago

Before the grammar police show up - sorry about the double negative - I meant to say, "Anyone who thinks that John Wall isn't an unbelievable talent . . ."

It's tough posting and watching NFL at the same time :)

Anyone know whether there is an internet stream of the game today for non FSN viewers?

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tstanlick1909 4 years, 7 months ago

I love my Jayhawks equally, but it is hard to say that EJ is a better option than TT right now. Tyshawn has showed us before how good he is, and can truly be. EJ has potential to be just as good, but he does look like a freshman out there. Hopefully TT stays and those two can run the combo guard spot next year with Selby/Knight

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jhawks2012 4 years, 7 months ago

Tyshawn should definitely start and play more then EJ this will be the first true road game for ej and you never no how he will respond. Tyshawn has been there and done that, he scored 26 at OU showing the road is not to tough for him... Keep playing Tyshawn , but when Brady comes back he may be starting over Tyshanw if Tys play doesnt improve. Self has said it Brady makes the team flow way better. I also believe if Tyshawn was moved to the bench he would really step up and start playing wel.. but keep Tyshawn in the lineup atleast till the 19th then we'll start talking.

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CRob2006 4 years, 7 months ago

melfrank - I completely agree with you re: John Wall. The reason Kentucky blew UNC out in the first half was because of Wall. Not only can the guy score, but he has great vision and creates for others. The guy is extremely explosive, and I wouldn't classify him as a gunner.

The second half of that game showed that Kentucky does not flow nearly as well without Wall at full strength. I believe he was cramping, and it definitely showed.

Regardless, it would be great to play them in the tourney.

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Steve Brown 4 years, 7 months ago

when you are at your sunday brunch buffet and spy that favorite dish, do you load up or pass by savoring the prospect of it for the 2nd or 3rd pass.

sometimes I'm guilty of looking at the season just as a path to the end. how each game prepares us for 3/27/10 sweet sixteen game. which players are growing and coming along for the final goal, the last 4 games of the season. 2 saint louis 2 indy.

today I'm attempting to enjoy the game for itself. two storried programs.

this weekend, are you kidding me, saint john's v. dook, KY jelly v. ole' Roy. wowzha. Kansas v. UCLA

how do you eat an elephant, one bite at a time. batter up.

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Mike Kendall 4 years, 7 months ago

I did see the North Carolina game/Kentucky game. John Wall is good but what would be good is to see the Jayhawks play Kentucky in the National Championship game. I would love for the Jayhawks to beat coach John C for the second time in three seasons!

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Jangaroo 4 years, 7 months ago

John Wall will turn the ball over more than Sherron the entire season. However, he will average more assists than Sherron. Anyone who says that he's selfish hasn't watched him play. In fact he is one of the most unselfish one and done players i've seen. He already has two games with double figure assists. His career high is 14 assists vs. Sherron's 11.

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Ron Franklin 4 years, 7 months ago

anybody know if this game will be on espn 360, or another live broadcast stream?

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Joel Thomas 4 years, 7 months ago

Anyone know where I can watch this game outside of Lawrence? I'm in San Diego and FSN has chosen with Miami at BC?! It's too bad that UCLA has sunk this far. Michael Roll reminds me of a better Christian Moody, but still, not someone whom you want to be your best player.

Anyway, so do you know where I can catch the game? Thanks.

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Mike Kendall 4 years, 7 months ago

The KU/UCLA game is on FSN-Midwest but do not know how decisions are made in California. Last year, I was visiting family in the Dallas, Texas area and wanted to catch the Jayhawks game and couldn't find it anywhere. Come to find out the networks decided to go with a Texas Tech game. It sucks! I hate that when that happens.

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melrank 4 years, 7 months ago

It looks like it might be on this feed from justintv. Miami BC is on now, but headline says KU next.

www.justin.tv/cbb2k8

At least they're advertising it will be on.

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milehighhawk 4 years, 7 months ago

Denver's picking it up - WOO HOO!

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Mike Kendall 4 years, 7 months ago

Anybody know who will be broadcasting the Jayhawks game? Hopefully, it is someone I can stomach. Otherwise, I will have to turn the sound down and listen to Bob Davis and Chris Piper!

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JHWK 4 years, 7 months ago

All the talk about TT vs EJ skipped one key area: defense. TT is solid on the defensive end, and EJ is still learning. Both are shooting poorly, but as a team, our perimeter game must improve to win the tight ones.

This team needs to make a statement today on the national stage, after an unimpressive outing versus Memphis. Rock Chalk!

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Scott Smetana 4 years, 7 months ago

Fox Rocky Mountain.
Let's see what we can do! UCLA will no doubt bring a great defense. I can't wait to get on here after the game and spout off to Parks and Brock.

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RedRed 4 years, 7 months ago

KU is taking the Bruins to school. Turning them over ... and over in the first half.

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Mike Kendall 4 years, 7 months ago

Too close of a game right now! Hope this doesn't turn into a Memphis game.

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truefan 4 years, 7 months ago

I was a little frustrated with the game today until I found out that most of UCLA's injured players were back. Sure, they didn't have time to play together first, but Self had to game plan against a team that he had no game film to prepare with. That being said, I'm pretty happy with a gritty 12 point victory. Some freshmen got some big minutes and a lot of experience in a relatively tough environment (usually a tougher environment when they are having a better season). And the Twins (especially Markeiff) showed their improvement once again. Good game.

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bluegrasshoopster 4 years, 7 months ago

phi4life940 - You're talking about something that you have no idea about. John Wall shoots so much because he gets to the rim so easily. He only averages 2-3 jumpshots a game - the rest are layups and short jumpers from 10' and in.

You call him a me-first player and he averages almost 8 assists a game. Clueless...

Here is an article to help you out: http://www.allkyhoops.com

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