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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Keegan

Johnson provides suspense

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson slams home an alley-oop over Fort Hays State guard Greg Schmidt on a pass from teammate Tyshawn Taylor during the second half of Tuesday's exhibition at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson slams home an alley-oop over Fort Hays State guard Greg Schmidt on a pass from teammate Tyshawn Taylor during the second half of Tuesday's exhibition at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Reader poll

Which newcomer was most impressive in KU's 107-68 victory over Fort Hays State?

  • Xavier Henry 38% 967 votes
  • Thomas Robinson 16% 421 votes
  • Elijah Johnson 37% 932 votes
  • Undecided 7% 181 votes

2501 total votes.

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2009 KU-Fort Hays State basketball

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KU vs. Fort Hays State

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KU men's basketball got ready for the 2009-10 season with an exhibition matchup against Fort Hays State Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Reader poll

Which KU non-freshmen do you think should red-shirt?

  • Travis Releford 35% 1437 votes
  • Mario Little 8% 367 votes
  • Both Little and Releford 47% 1957 votes
  • Neither of them 5% 237 votes
  • Other 2% 88 votes

4086 total votes.

Given the presence of softies on a nonconference schedule that features Allen Fieldhouse visitors Central Arkansas, Tennessee Tech and Alcorn State, the crowd will need something other than suspense to stave off daydreaming.

Enter Elijah Johnson, Kansas University’s 6-foot-2 freshman from Las Vegas. Pity the poor folks who sit courtside when Johnson is in the game. You want to get an up-close-and-personal view of him playing basketball, grab a seat in the rafters and watch him kiss the sky.

When he dunks, spectators turn to their programs to make sure they read his height right. Is he really just 6-2? He is. Not only that, he had knee surgery in the summer. He jumps the way his godfather, Houston Astros relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins, throws a baseball. Hard.

Johnson’s first bucket in Tuesday night’s 107-68 exhibition victory against wickedly overmatched Div. II foe Fort Hays State came on a run-out. He slammed it with his right hand. In the second half, Tyshawn Taylor set him up with a perfect lob that he turned into another crowd-pleasing dunk.

“It felt great,” Johnson said of the first slam. “It was unexplainable. Especially to have a breakout like that. I’ll never forget it. It was just adrenaline pumping 100 percent. The crowd going crazy, playing in front of that many people for the first time, it was great.”

That explains the smile on his face the entire time he was on the floor. Clearly, he loves to play the game. More important, he knows how to play. He’s more than a freakish athlete. Sure, he was a little out of control at times. So is nearly every other super-quick freshman. Remember all of Tyshawn Taylor’s early-season charges a year ago? Taylor’s finishing with far better body control now, and Johnson will follow the same path.

Part of Johnson’s wild streak could be attributed to pregame nerves.

“I was going crazy at first,” he said. “I couldn’t warm up right. ... Marcus Morris told me to think about something funny. I couldn’t. But he said something funny, and that was it. I was calm.”

At times when KU coach Bill Self looked at his deeper-than-Socrates roster, he thought about what to do with Johnson.

“We were thinking strongly about red-shirting Elijah,” Self said. “I’m not feeling that. I think he can impact our team.”

Self praised Johnson’s ability to make passes on the fast break that lead to easy buckets and pointed out his need to take better care of the basketball. In 20 minutes, Johnson scored nine points and had two assists and four turnovers. What would he change about the night?

“Nothing,” Johnson said. “Not even my mistakes. I appreciated everything I did out there. When I charged. When I threw the ball out of bounds. Everything. Now I learned something from the night. If I did nothing wrong, I wouldn’t have anything to gain from tonight.”

He’s talented, eager to learn, plays against Taylor and Sherron Collins every day in practice and will learn how to play defense from Self. You won’t find a safer wager than to bet on this young man from Vegas having a bright future.

Comments

actorman 4 years, 11 months ago

Love the attitude. Sounds like Self-less ball at its best.

yates33333 4 years, 11 months ago

Playing Ft. Hays and Pittsburg is a gross waste of time. Inter-squad games are much tougher and better practice at KU.

DCJayhawk0208 4 years, 11 months ago

I'll be interested to see what EJ looks like next year after a year of battling Sherron and Taylor every day in practice. It's so very early, but could his level of play improve the way a year of battling Shady, Kaun and DJ improved Cole's?

Joel Hood 4 years, 11 months ago

yates - what???????? Athletically sure, but playing a different team, even a DII school, gives KU different looks. They don't get bored - it is a grind to always play against the same guys. They now practice under the spotlight. They practice FTs under pressure. Of course its a glorified practice against lesser talent, but it allows them to practice under more realistic game situations. You can't do that in an emply practice facility. The exhibition games are very important in the evaluation process. Plus, these games against our state MIAA schools are a great for Kansas and great pub for KU.

Joe Baker 4 years, 11 months ago

Enter Elijah Johnson, Kansas University’s 6-foot-2 freshman from Las Vegas. Pity the poor folks who sit courtside when Johnson is in the game. You want to get an up-close-and-personal view of him playing basketball, grab a seat in the rafters and watch him kiss the sky.

Perfect! I couldn't have said it better. This kid lives in the air.

Rock Chalk Elijah, Rock the Chalk!!

I've got a feeling we'll see a lot of prophecies fulfilled by Elijah.

JHWK 4 years, 11 months ago

You're so right, jayhawkerjoel. Plus, it shows great sportsmanship to the other schools in Kansas. Publicity for the DII schools, and an opportunity to work on execution against an opponent who does not necessarily know what is coming. All good stuff, then go and step it up a couple notches and bury Memphis. EJ was fun to watch last night. When HCBS had the 3 frosh in with Marcus and TT, that was some ridiculous speed - and they executed on both ends.

JHWK 4 years, 11 months ago

By the way, did anyone notice just how TERRIBLE Dave Armstrong and that other guy were on the TV broadcast?? Doesn't KU deserve real announcers? They did such a poor job paying attention to the game, they could have been anywhere.

What do we have to do to get announcers who are up to par with this program?

KUbsee69 4 years, 11 months ago

JHWK:

"That other guy"??? He's a former KU BBall Player & '95 grad ... Greg Gurley!!!

Or were you just kidding?

dylans 4 years, 11 months ago

Greg should be muted for the duration of the game.

Joel Hood 4 years, 11 months ago

KUbsee69,

Gurley has been the color guy on the local rebroadcast on Lawrence's Sunflower Cable at 10:30 pm. Looks like he will be doing some JTV games. Yeah, he's a KU guy, but his voice is awful. If only he could learn to speak through his mouth and not his nose.

Dave Armstrong is actually a better analyst than broadcaster. He is extraordinarily knowledgeable when interviewed on sports talk radio. He makes me cringe when he does play by play. WOW!

JHWK 4 years, 11 months ago

I was just kidding. Ex-Jayhawk or not, he was terrible.

741hawk 4 years, 11 months ago

Always remember . . . Elijah Johnson was booed at a high school All-Star Game in LEXINGTON, KY when he wore a KU shirt during introductions! We can always use young men who appreciate KU Basketball . . . even before they get here.

Best wishes for success, young man. And Rock Chalk.

KUbsee69 4 years, 11 months ago

jayhawkerjoel:

I wasn't defending Gurley's broadcast ability. I was just surprised that someone referred to him as "that other guy".

Now, it looks like he (JHWK) was just kidding, after all.

Joe Baker 4 years, 11 months ago

LOL- I thought it was me! I'm glad somebody else notice that too.

Armstrong normally does a good job and they provided a lot of "filler" to fill the air. Like when they quizzed each other on the former KU players in the NBA. It was kinda comical at times. They did ok for the most part.

Gurley's ok! lol

Eliott Reeder 4 years, 11 months ago

Yo Keegan! You're a half-decent scribe when you wanna be. Good piece.

KUballer 4 years, 11 months ago

The alley from Taylor was on SportsCenter Top 10.

jaybate 4 years, 11 months ago

The Good, the Bad and the Sublime:

} Brilliant Phrase: "...grab a seat in the rafters and watch him kiss the sky."--Keegs

} Terrible Phrase: "At times when KU coach Bill Self looked at his deeper-than-Socrates roster..."--Keegs

} Sublime Thinking: "Now I learned something from the night. If I did nothing wrong, I wouldn’t have anything to gain from tonight.”--The Prophet Elijah

} Summary: Keegs flashes post season form once, but is still working out the kinks in this warm-up game story. Elijah issues a quote worthy of Michael Jordan. If The Prophet can maintain this philosophy, and reduce his TOs, we have a future star.

tkramer 4 years, 11 months ago

"yates33333 (anonymous) says... Playing Ft. Hays and Pittsburg is a gross waste of time. Inter-squad games are much tougher and better practice at KU."

I kinda get what your saying, but then again, look at Syracuse last night. No game is a gimme game. If we are very lucky this year, many teams will struggle to hang with this squad.

kugrad93 4 years, 11 months ago

How interesting can announcers make a 39-point exhibition blowout? It was a bad, meaningless game. If you don't like the announcers, mute your TV and turn on the radio.

domino 4 years, 11 months ago

I like these exhibition games against the in state schools for a number of reasons.

  1. Playing someone other than the guys you practice with every day gives you something different.

  2. Playing in front of a crowded fieldhouse takes it to a different level.

  3. Playing a "real" game as opposed to scrimaging also takes it to a different level.

  4. I think it is really cool that these smaller schools get to come to Allen Fieldhouse and play basketball against the Jayhawks. It is an experience they might never get again and will never forget.

  5. The other schools get paid considerable amounts of money for these games. How great is it that the money is kept instate to help out some other basketball programs instead of the Jayhawks playing some bunch of ballplayers from Russia or Romania or wherever they get them from every year!

It would be a different story if this was something done during the season, but for a couple exhibition games, I like what how & why they do it the way they are doing it! Looking forward to a great year!!

Rockchalk_Mom 4 years, 11 months ago

The local NBC affiliate in Wichita, www.ksn.com did a lengthy interview with Bill Self. We all know that KU likes to play schools from Kansas to keep the money, $20,000, in Kansas. But Self also said something I hadn't thought about. When asked why KU won't play Wichita State, Self said he wouldn't rule it out now that Wichita has the Intrust Center but that KU likes to play as many games at AFH because it is money needed to run KU's program. It also gives the young players a chance to get use to the building and playing before the home crowd.

Dale Kroening 4 years, 11 months ago

741hawk (anonymous) says... Always remember . . . Elijah Johnson was booed at a high school All-Star Game in lexington, ky when he wore a KU shirt during introductions! We can always use young men who appreciate KU Basketball . . . even before they get here. Best wishes for success, young man. And Rock Chalk.

Maybe Im wrong, but wasnt that Royce Wooldridge ? I recall the reading here a while back the same thing happening to him, just dont remember where it was at. Either way I was very impressed with EJ as well as X last night.

Lance Hobson 4 years, 11 months ago

I don't think Socrates is that deep. He's more overrated than a Notre Dame football prospect.

Joel Hood 4 years, 11 months ago

Careful Strikewso, jabate will likely give you a dressing down if you continue to express anymore intellectual opinion that goes beyond sports. Just sayin... : )

Beak 4 years, 11 months ago

Back off Gurley. He's the man. Use to like catching home replays with Gurley doing the analysis. He's so biased its awesome. Plus, I'd much rather have a Jayhawk doing the JTV stuff than some other guy.

jayhawker97 4 years, 11 months ago

very humble beginning, but Elijah will roar as the season goes along. his dunks speak louder than his low spoken language. hands down to you and show us more of your craziness in the court, Mr. Johnson..!! go Jayhawks!

championhawks 4 years, 11 months ago

Not sure if something similar happened to Woolridge or not, but it was definitely Johnson who got booed at an all-star game

Firebirdguy31 4 years, 11 months ago

The freshman looked awesome last night. I just wish that TRob could have been out there longer. He is going to be a beast. He reminds me a lot of Wayne Simien, same height too.

jaybate 4 years, 11 months ago

Strikewso,

Copy you on your Socratique. :-)

kerbyd 4 years, 11 months ago

The cuse wasn't the only team to get beat. FIU got beat by an NAIA team!

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