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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Keegan

Center Aldrich steady

Kansas center Cole Aldrich gets up to reject a shot by Memphis guard Elliot Williams during the first half, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

Kansas center Cole Aldrich gets up to reject a shot by Memphis guard Elliot Williams during the first half, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

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2009 KU-Memphis

Jayhawks barely edge Tigers

Kansas wasn't playing up to its potential Tuesday as the Jayhawks barely escaped with a two-point victory against the Tigers of Memphis. Cole Aldrich played a solid first half.

— Xavier Henry missed shots, froze the offense by keeping the ball too long and at times was sloppy. Sherron Collins limped off the court midway through the second half and stayed sidelined for a long stretch. Tyshawn Taylor amassed seven turnovers and didn’t make a field goal. Tyrel Reed didn’t hit a shot, either, and had difficulty feeding the post.

Those things happen in college basketball, and they happen more often in November than any other month. About the only thing consistent about the first month of a college basketball season is that inconsistency is rampant.

The farther from the hoop a basketball player works, the greater chance there is for inconsistency. And then there is Cole Aldrich, Kansas University’s junior center from Bloomington, Minn.

Smart, tough and consistent, Aldrich totaled 18 points, 11 rebounds and five blocked shots and was named the Basketball Hall of Fame Showcase MVP after leading Kansas to a 57-55 victory against Memphis.

The spark Collins gave the nation’s No. 1-ranked team when he returned to the lineup carried the Jayhawks to the finish line, but without Aldrich making Memphis players think twice about shooting, Collins doesn’t have a chance to put the finishing touches on the near-upset.

Aldrich led the Jayhawks in scoring despite a Memphis defense that made it difficult for him to get the ball and typical early-season tentativeness in the area of feeding the post.

“We made a concerted effort (to feed the post) from the bench, but then nobody ever threw it to me so I could throw it in there to him,” seventh-year Kansas coach Bill Self said.

He wasn’t smiling during breaks in the action when he was letting players know they were deficient in feeding their All-America center blessed with great hands, a soft touch and clever footwork developed under the watch of assistant coach Danny Manning.

“Being 7 feet doesn’t hurt,” rookie Memphis coach Josh Pastner said when asked what makes Aldrich so tough. “Secondly, he’s 7-of-10 from the field. I saw him in high school a bunch. I knew he was going to be good, and they do such a good job with their bigs. I don’t know if that’s coach Self or coach (Danny) Manning, but they do such a good job with bigs.”

Aldrich will have much bigger nights once Henry meshes well with the most talented teammates he’s ever had and keeps the ball moving, knowledge that can only come through experience playing with equals after spending his entire life as easily the best player on his team.

“We don’t understand yet how we’re going to score,” Self said. “It’s amazing how much one person taken out of your lineup changes how the ball moves. We miss Brady (Morningstar) from that standpoint.”

Self called this game “a good teaching tape.” Henry’s a good pupil. He’ll understand what the coaches want and give it to them soon enough.

Asked to name one thing Kansas could do better offensively, Self laughed and said, “One? Did you watch the same crap I did out there?”

Defensively, Kansas had many factors going for it, including one very big one.

“I love blocking shots,” Aldrich said.

Comments

Shawn Mansfield 5 years ago

Best line of the whole article:

Asked to name one thing Kansas could do better offensively, Self laughed and said, “One? Did you watch the same crap I did out there?”

It was a difficult game to watch with all of the turnovers. My guess the early season and Memphis's speed caused most of them. Definitely nuggets of greatness, and know HCBS will use this as ammo in the days and weeks ahead. Cole Aldrich was on, and that's probably why I watched the game to the end (despite the lateness of the hour in the Eastern time zone).

FlaHawk 5 years ago

KUis going to have problems this year with speedier teams. Collins and Taylor are too slow and could not keep their men from driving the lane. Expect to see more zone to shut down the 4 and 5 positions this year. KUis very dependent on Cole and Sheron being clutch and this has to change rapidly!

jcsmith 5 years ago

They could keep Taylor on the bench for all I care. Hope CJ gets healthy soon enough and is given the chance to start over Taylor. It may just be me, but I see some thugish ways in Taylor. Not a big fan of his so far this year. What did he have, like, 7 turnovers, 5 assists and ZERO buckets? Unacceptable.

Timmay97 5 years ago

Was Tyshawn Taylor even in the game yesterday? Something has to be done with this kid. Expectations were high on him after his summer success. He hasn't shown anything the first two games of the year. We NEED him to be better.

Cole, Sherron and X are going to be fine. Xavier's shot wasn't going down last night, but that's to be expected. After all, he shot well in Lawrence a few nights ago.

I think it's underestimated how much we are missing Brady Morningstar. Not only was a he a good defender, but he made the shots that Reed is not currently making. Reed was clutch for us last year, but he's got to help put points on the board. He needs to take more shots, work harder to get open.

This is the best thing in the world to happen to KU. It's a wake up call. EVERYONE is going to give the Jayhawks (#1 team in the nation) their "A" game. We need to make sure the offense flows better. Guaranteed that Self fixes this real quick.

Joel Hood 5 years ago

Timmay97,

Great point - every team will give KU their "A" game. Memphis didn't exactly give us their best last night - just look at the stats. We should have been up by 12 at half. Memphis missed a lot of shots that our D had little to with. But, just keeping games close by half will energize every team we play this year - regardless of the stats.

The good news is that Memphis kept it close because or our stupid, unforced turnovers - that can be corrected very easily. Improvements to the offensive flow & rhythm will take more time.

KUFan90 5 years ago

jcsmith - "thugish ways"? WTF does that mean? Yes he needs to settle down and cut the turnovers, but he'll be fine. Can we drop the "Taylor is a thug" crap? What does that have to do with turnovers?

Remember that if he didn't make that sweet steal and feed Collins for that last basket at the halftime buzzer we might not win this game. Those were 2 very important points.

Jason Jantz 5 years ago

"Expect to see more zone to shut down the 4 and 5 positions this year"

FlaHawk, if you are talking about us going to a zone, this is unlikely. Self hates to zone almost as much as Roy does/did. I would imagine after the dominant performance Cole put on and the effective show by McMorris, we will see a steady diet of 3-2, 2-3, and 1-2-2 zone all year long.

FSUJHAWK 5 years ago

Few observations:

1) Our permiter defense is horrible. 2) Collins needs to be healthy for our long term success. 3) The Freshmen are talented but they are playing like Freshmen at this point. 4) Cole's endurance against fast teams is questionable. 5) We miss Brady more than we thought we would. 6) Our offense, particularly our ball movement and entry play, needs some work. 7) We didn't look like the #1 team in the nation. 8) It's early in the season so no fretting is necessary. 9) The team will be fully loaded and gelling come February. 10) We have HCBS, master teacher and motivator. 11) Did I mention it's early in the season and we have the best college coach in the nation?

RCJHGKU!!!

jcsmith 5 years ago

KUFan90

We can "IF" all day long and speculate the outcome, but all we would be doing is wasting air.

I say 'thugish ways' with regards to his attitude and demeanor. His "Pimp Limp" he has when he struts down the floor after a mistake or an in your face possession. Why the f*** cant he just race back to the other end of the court like every other player and get set for the oncoming possession? He has to 'strut his stuff' for some reason. Like, "I KOO, I DA POOP. I just turned the ball over......... BUT I STILL DA POOP."

Surely i'm not the only one that notices/thinks he does this.

Alan Mills 5 years ago

We shot just under 50%, including 12-17 by Collins and Aldrich. We had 4 players in double figures. We shot over 75% from the free throw line. We played at a true neutral site. Memphis shot about 30%, under 70% from the line, and only one player in double figures. We outrebounded Memphis by 11. KU had only one player in foul trouble. Memphis had 4, including one DQ. 120 of our total 200 minutes were played by freshmen and sophomores.

With all of that, everyone (players, coaches, posters, even Vitale) seems to agree that KU played poorly, well below expectations. Wow, that's a fantastic game for most any team around the nation, especially in mid-November!

Breathe.

Steve Brown 5 years ago

Memphis is a great early test. They will be heard from in March Madness. Nice if they beat coach Cal in sweet sixteen a game made for TV ratings.

At times we looked like a top 25-30 team not a top five. Lots of stuff to work on.

Glad Tyson's mom moved to lawrence, he needs some reprogamming from family love. He at times looks lost or pre/occupied. Is he thinking too much or not enough?. Glad HCBS will fix it.

Every game I appreciate the twins more and more. fewer mistakes from last year's efforts.

RCJHKU

Rock_Chalk_25 5 years ago

Were almost exactly where we were last year, but I'm not too worried about it. I expect the first half of the season to be the Sherron and Cole show, and hopefully by conference play we'll resemble the 08' team more than the 09' one. Remember when we got Xavier? The only question that anyone had is can Xavier gel with the team (if he can=NC) or will he be looking exclusively for his stats so he can be a OAD? Even though he took some ill-advised shots I think Self has a handle on him. But has anyone seen a more smooth miss than Xavier's? Didn't think so. He is urging him to be assertive just like Brandon and I can live with that, because later in the year when Pitmann is playing Cole tough, and Texas' deep backcourt is harrassing Sherron, I think X will step up and show everyone his potential.

Also, I think you guys are a little to hard on Tyshawn. No, he's not an NBA prospect at all this year IMO, but he did get screwed a little last night. He's probably the team's most talented and willing passer, and I do believe by the end of the year he will have a similar impact that RussRob did in our NC year. On a few plays he tried forcing it inside, which is somewhat explainable by HCBS stressing the importance of pounding it inside. This can be corrected easily in practice and with more time he will get a better feel for where his posts will be and where they want the ball.

On a last note, is anyone questioning why Markieff isn't seeing the minutes that Marcus is? I know Marcus is more gifted offensively, but it seems that everytime Kieff is in he grabs a board, blocks a shot, or puts back a miss with a jam. Robinson must be doing some work in practice to be stealing Kieff's minutes....

DXJhawk 5 years ago

Cole was shortchanged on at least one block - the one in the first half where the ball got stuck between the rim and backboard. It was a clean block be he got whistled for a foul. Us KU fans at the game let the refs know it too.

okjhok 5 years ago

Hey Cole, where's that tooth? Somebody get him some Fix-o-dent

jaybate 5 years ago

} Xavier has to learn to pass first and look second. He is glue. Stick to the mission and drain treys on the open looks. Do your aerobatics on steals. Or else Self has to completely retool the team around X.

} Either Tyshawn, or Xavier, or Marcus has to learn to feed the post, or Brady is our 3, or 2 this year.

} Tell me Tyshawn had H1N1 last night...please!

} Self is in a bit of a bind. He's playing through the perimeter to get X some experience, but X is having about the same effect on team chemistry that Mario Little had last season.

jaybate 5 years ago

} Cole has grown a lot bigger and stronger, and everything about him and his personality has gotten more dominant. At some point, he is going to have to have the same head butting match with X that he had with Sherron last year. Great small players like Sherron and X, because of their extreme gifts and commensurate confidences, are always the last to submit to a truly dominant big man. And Cole is a truly dominant big man. He is certainly not yet a great big man, but this guy is the bull of this pasture for sure. And this is saying something, because Sherron is the "Sarge," he is all man, he is even tougher than Cole. But when Cole steps on the court, the court tilts in his direction. This is not only about being 7 feet tall. Many many 7 footers fail to make the court tip. This is not only about him being able to block shots, though that is part of it. Cole wakes up with a big personality, a personality the size of Lake Superior. And it is growing. He is trying to using it judiciously and that is good. But his personality is huge. He has charisma. It is trapped inside a goofy streak, but when he gets serious about the game, he becomes an enormous force the likes of which I have not seen at KU since Manning, or Chamberlain. No, he does not have the great athletic gifts of those two. But he has all the knacks for the game, and he has increasing body control, and he can jump much better than persons realize.

jaybate 5 years ago

Cole Aldrich has a shot of becoming KU's Bill Russell. I don't know if he has Big Russ' high seriousness, though. I don't know if he throws up before each game and is on from the minute the buzzer sounds. But when he is determined and going full tilt, he is warping space around him the way Big Russ and Wilt and Jabbar and Walton used to do. He has less athletic talent than those guys did, but he has some really powerful kind of charisma and force of peronality when he turns them on. Often, one is almost embarrassed for him, because before he turns on he can be gangly and goofy. But when the arc occurs, he is a terror on defense quite like Big Russ and Bill Walton. Aldrich is only now intermittently showing how good he can be. If he can learn to start games and play consistently switched on, the way Big Russ and Walton did, he could join their ranks over the next couple of years. But playing at that level of intensity is almost super human. I've never really seen anyone develop it. They've been born with it. But there is something about Cole Aldrich that makes me think he may become the first big man to develop the super intensity of the great centers. I really never thought he could bring this kind of force of personality to his game. But it was there last night. It was unmistakeable at times. He was a man among boys for several minutes out there. He had the insight the great centers have. He was not just playing the game. He was watching it too. He was both in the game and lording over it. He has not yet learned what he can do with this capability. He is still thinking and intervening intermittently. But I could see last night against Memphis that he was at last looking around at his teammates and shaking his head at their inability to understand just how he could completely change the game if they would get him the ball. He was looking down his nose at their little man attempts to impact the game. This is how the great big men are. The difference between Cole and them, presently, is that he is still underestimating how easily he can take over a game and how often and when he needs to do it. Big Russ and Walton solved this problem by taking it over from the tip off. At some point this season, Cole is going to have to arrive at the same decision. And Self, though he is the grand master of 70 point take what they give us, is going to have to let him. Sherron seems to understand this intuitively. Sherron just seems to be letting baby X play with the noise maker awhile, before he pulls hims aside and gives him the Cole Train lecture: "We can ride this man like a tank through hedgerows, or you and I can play shake and bake. I suggest you get some get some tanker's goggles. I've already got mine from last year. You can go all Kobe Bryant next year in the L." Listen to the Sarge, X, the Sarge knows.

Eric Schneider 5 years ago

I'll give X a pass for this one game, because of all the recruiting drama and asking out of his letter. What's more disconcerting to me is the play of Tyshawn. I expect Elijah to act like a freshman. But Taylor was supposed to be more poised and consistent after leading Team USA in scoring and assists.

And was everybody watching the same game I was? Our perimeter defense was fine. Memphis shot a ton of fade away three pointers. The only clean looks came against the Morris twins. And that's going to happen on occasion if they have to chase guards.

omng392 5 years ago

Two observations, first Tyshawn looked awful out there. Not sure why, but he's had a tough go this first month. For a guy who had a really good freshman year and then a wonderful summer. Its tough to say. Second, it seemed like everytime Aldrich was just starting to get his motor running, he got pulled from the game. Not sure if that was because of personel or what....

Jonathan Allison 5 years ago

I have to agree with Jaybate about Cole Aldrich. He was playing on a different level much of the game last night. The intensity that Tyler Hansbrough had at UNC, I think that Cole can match that this year. I think that he wants to, and is trying to. And if he does, he's going to make a lot of good basketball players look like little boys out there. Hansbrough played with intensity because that was all that he had. Cole can couple that intensity with an imposing body (thanks to genetics and Andrea Hudy), good skill moves on the post (thanks to Danny Manning), and a supporting cast every bit as good as Ty Lawson, Danny Green, Wayne Ellington, et al.

This should be a special year for Cole Aldrich.

oldalum 5 years ago

Okjhawk: Cole has been missing that tooth ever since he got elbowed in the mouth at K-State. He has a false tooth he wears, but never during a game. It wouldn't be so noticeable if he would keep his mouthpiece in his mouth instead of chewing on it.

hdhntr 5 years ago

Cole is a monster, could easily be playeroftheyear in cb. whole o and d needs to run thru him, the henry sisters could be very bad for this team if x doesn't get that fact. quit hogging the ball and get the dang ball to cole, he is just a grt finisher and no one in 12 can handle him.

concern is this, what happens if he gets injured. you could lose sherron and that would be hard, lose x and team might actually be better but no cole and no NC.

if BS can get this thru his overtalented bunches hds, great things will happen for this team.

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