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Friday, November 27, 2009

Natural scorer: Xavier Henry used to carrying points load

Kansas forward Xavier Henry elevates for a bucket against Memphis guard Doneal Mack during the Jayhawks’ victory on Nov. 17 in St. Louis. Henry is averaging 17.3 points per game.

Kansas forward Xavier Henry elevates for a bucket against Memphis guard Doneal Mack during the Jayhawks’ victory on Nov. 17 in St. Louis. Henry is averaging 17.3 points per game.

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Jayhawks earn their Thanksgiving feasts

The KU men's basketball team ran through a routine practice Thursday morning then enjoyed Thanksgiving.

Xavier Henry, who averaged 28.3 points a game as a senior and 26.7 as a junior at Putnam City (Okla.) High School, leads Kansas University in scoring through the first four games of his college basketball career.

“That’s what I’ve been known to do since I was in middle school. That’s how I like to play. That’s what I like to do. I like to score,” said the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Henry, who takes a 17.3 mark into today’s 7 p.m. home contest against Tennessee Tech.

“I like to score in a lot of ways. Scoring is not too hard for me,” Henry added.

He scored on the inside — in slam-dunking three lob passes from Sherron Collins — and also produced from the outside — in hitting two of three three-pointers — en route to 19 points in Wednesday’s 89-59 rout of Oakland University.

Overall, Henry has hit 23 of 42 shots (54.8 percent), including 10 of 18 threes (55.6). He’s also cashed 13 of 14 free throws, while exhibiting a soft lefthanded touch.

“In high school they just counted on me to score, so they would just get me the ball and I’d just go score,” Henry said. “Now that I’ve got Sherron (Collins) and Cole (Aldrich) and the (Morris) twins, I’ve got a whole bunch of players on my team. Now I can be off the ball and just work through everybody else.

“It’s fun. It’s different than how I used to play. We practice that every day so it comes more natural every day.”

Henry has been thriving on a team that has four double-digit scorers. Sherron Collins has averaged 14.0 ppg, Marcus Morris 12.5 and Cole Aldrich 10.0. Past history indicates Aldrich and Tyshawn Taylor (5.0) will boost their averages after busting out of early-season slumps.

“It makes us a better team that everybody is a superstar and everybody can play their roles just as good as I can play my role,” Henry said. “It’s easier to win.”

The ever-polite Henry — who responds to reporters’ questions with “yes sir and no sir” and “yes ma'am and no ma'am” — is trying his best to pass the credit around. The McDonald’s All-American has shown no signs of ego in the first of what many assume is a one-and-done college career.

“I let coach teach me. I listen to coach. He knows how I like to play and works with me to fit in with the team,” Henry said of seventh-year KU coach Bill Self.

“I feel I’m getting more comfortable every day and learn stuff quicker and quicker. Coach is really helping me a lot.”

Self, for instance, is responsible for the three crowd-pleasing dunks Henry flushed off perfect lobs from Collins.

“Coach just knew how they guarded and how they didn’t pay attention to back screens and didn’t help a lot because they were scared of Sherron and Cole doing something,” Henry said. “They were focused on them, so we knew the back-door cuts would be good. Sherron makes great passes and Cole sets great screens so if you add those together, that’s what happens.”

Henry’s offensive accomplishments haven’t surprised Self.

“His numbers are a little bit ... not inflated, but he had the one big game where he had 27,” Self said of Henry’s 8-of-12 shooting night against Hofstra. “He has a chance to lead us in scoring any night. He won’t, because we have Sherron and Cole and whoever else. He’ll have a chance to do that and I’m sure there will be multiple nights he does do that.”

Even better news is Henry, who has led KU in scoring in two of four games (tying with Marcus Morris Wednesday) is not forgetting about defense.

“Coach has been helping me with that and it’s been coming along,” Henry said, indicating he actually enjoys playing defense after a prep career in which he put little effort into ‘D.’

“Scoring is like second-nature to me, so defense is a recurring process and I’m going to have to get used to it.”

Thinking defense, Henry raced back on the other end after Wednesday’s slams.

“Right after, I know I have to get back on defense because they're known to run a lot,” he said of Oakland’s players. “I already knew they were sprinting down court so I had to get back.”

Henry — he has seven assists against six turnovers with four steals in four games —realizes he’s far from a finished product.

“Remembering all the plays,” Henry said, asked what’s been most challenging. “I’m pretty good at picking them up, I just have to remember them. Also adjusting defensively. I have to find different ways to block out guys,” added Henry, who has averaged 4.8 boards.

Henry indicated his plan is to “take it as it goes” and cherish each and every game, especially ones in Allen Fieldhouse.

“Just being out there, watching the video before the game,” he said of his favorite parts of being a Jayhawk. “The fans get real loud. I love it here. I’m having a great time.”

Comments

FlaHawk 10 years, 6 months ago

X is a nice addition to the team, which is /was week on the wing. He definately can score, but his defense is nothing to talk about (yet). GIve HCBS another 20 games and he will hold begin to pull his weight on defense too!

GO HAWKS!

dylans 10 years, 6 months ago

By the end of the season Xavier Henry will be a good defender. If X were to stay 2 years he would be a great defender. If he were to stay 3 years he would be an elite defender! But we're just lucky to have him period.

thmdmph 10 years, 6 months ago

It's obvious that opponents are concerned more about Cole's scoring threat as he's constantly getting +double teamed. Additionally, coaches are asking their players to attack Cole trying to get him into foul troubles. Cole by far is the biggest scoring and defensive threat considering his size and proven talent. Although he hasn't shown it this year, his scoring is high percentage in the paint. I think if I was the opponent, the one thing I'd be worried about the most relative to KU is if they develop an efficient offense where they consistent and reliably send the ball THROUGH Cole each and every possession.

However, it's probably a headache for any teams to come up with a defensive game against KU considering they are huge scoring threats everywhere with Cole, Collins, X, TT hopefully soon, and "the Twins". If I was preparing a game against KU, I'd be worried about the giant scoring threats from the redshirts Little and Releford too.

100 10 years, 6 months ago

Drgnslayer,

Excellent comment yesterday regarding Sherron's place in history.

Taken a step further if we go 40-0, Sherron will have definitely changed some historical notions of KU hoops -- I don't think UCLA's all time team has a chance anymore, not that they ever really did:

  1. Wilt Chamberlain
  2. Danny Manning
  3. Paul Pierce
  4. Jo Jo White
  5. Sherron Collins

There is no team in the history of college basketball that has the flat out talent we've had. Danny & Wilt by themselves could beat UCLA's best team. Now you throw a passing/ shooting/ flying bowling ball at them?

It's a walk off game 4 grand slame in a best of 7 that ends in a parade of 100,000 in quaint midwestern town, the Free State capital of the World that stands for all that's right in the Universe...

Basketball...

"Assists Win Championships"

40-0.

100 10 years, 6 months ago

By the way to boot with Wilt & Chamberlain you have two of the best shooters to ever play the NBA game. Jo Jo was MVP of the NBA finals twice & Paul has been NBA finals MVP once already, with more left in his tank...

I like my chances with Sherron getting the ball to these Legends of the game...

"Teamwork Wins Championships"

40-0.

jayhawker_97 10 years, 6 months ago

Xavier is da man! we need to have more like '08 champ team where everybody knew their roles. as a result? lots of lob passes and alley oops.. screening, back door.. now with the addition of superb powerful moves from the twins & the treys, KU is ready to kick anybody's butts.. "everybody is superstar" is undeniable! well, except the Defensive end that still has some holes.. rock chalk!

Dirk Medema 10 years, 6 months ago

100 - Would you like to clarify/correct your statement: "By the way to boot with Wilt & Chamberlain you have two of the best shooters to ever play the NBA game."

I'm guessing you were thinking something else.

100 10 years, 6 months ago

Sorry Dagger108,

I was speaking of Jo Jo & Paul being two of the best outside shooters to ever play the game. I wouldn't take anyone in the history of the NBA to shoot my outside shots over Paul & Jo Jo... just lights out shooters....

My wording is a little strange, but I meant to say "to go along with", not "with Wilt & Danny"....

At any rate, our all time team is devastating...

I can't even put together an All Star NBA team much better than this one... mostly because Danny was so underrated... truly he was a point guard who unfortunately was injured...

I would take Danny & Wilt over Magic and Karreem any day of the week...

"Passing Wins Championships"

40-0.

Steve Brown 10 years, 6 months ago

100 I love your posts. Hope this is what heaven is a round robin weekly all time best of school double elimination tournament. I'll carry Wilt's bags for him.

You name a team for the ages. Wilt was to BB what Tiger is to golf. They redesigned Agusta for TW and for you youngsters did you know they redrew court lane lines and changed dunking rules because of Wilt. I know we can't play 'what if' yet here goes, if we had the shot clock and he played as a freshman and had not left for his senior year to the globetrotters, his records would be unequaled in the history of the game any where by anyone. with the shot clock even a 60 second one, we'd have three titles from 57 era. He was that dominate. Teams just held the ball the whole game.

100: who is your all time UCLA team: Lew Alcinder, Gail Goodrich, Lucius Allen, Keith Wilkes, Sidney Wicks, Walt Hazard, Henry Bibby. If you select any 5 of these you still have Bill Walton, Reggie Miller & Magic Johnson coming off the bench. Take off your crimson & blue glasses we couldn't do it in 4 out of 7 games, it may take us 5. ;^)

SoCalAlum 10 years, 6 months ago

Benson of Oakland University has a chance to become the best center named Benson since Kent Benson.

LAJayhawk 10 years, 6 months ago

lighthawk,

"If you select any 5 of these you still have Bill Walton, Reggie Miller & Magic Johnson coming off the bench."

Magic Johnson played at Michigan State.

thmdmph 10 years, 6 months ago

We all know X is a pure scoring machine with a very smooth lefty. He can score in the paint with his body & athleticism and he can absolutely light it up beyond the arch and mid-ranges. In high school, he AVERAGED upper 20's. He can handle the ball and drive to the basket. He has the full package with lots of potential. He's also a very quick learner from what it sounds.

However, my point is that "right now" I don't think coaches are that focused on X as much as Cole. You can see that in how they played Cole vs X so far (except vs Memphis where they are much more familiar and wanted to prove at point with the Henry's).

Furthermore, this early in the season, with a team like KU with proven Cole and Collins, a coach is out of his mind to make X the emphasis of defense. X hasn't burn any KU's opponents at the stake yet, but Cole and Sherron has many times and coaches remember that.

I do agree that further down the road, when coaches see that X, on a consistent basis is shooting in the +50% and starts to make clutch shots with game deciding/changing contributions, then, they will sh*t their paints when they here X.

However, right now, X getting the benefits of having Cole and Collins on the team. Cole is currently taking the blunt of the defensive pressure. With the confidence the team/Collins has with X, he's benefiting from Collins' generosity as he's unloading the shot taking pressures he shouldered last year onto X, which I think is great.

thmdmph 10 years, 6 months ago

brandy_is_guilty. I'm assuming that what coaches do with their defenses reflect who they think is/are the greatest scoring threat. However, who really know which coach does what.

Steve Brown 10 years, 6 months ago

LA I knew that guess I meant Marques Johnson don't know what I was thinking at that dementia moment..

kupark 10 years, 6 months ago

61 points with close to five minutes left to a 3-3 team?? KU doesn't look like a typical Bill Self coached defensive team. What gives??

Steve Brown 10 years, 6 months ago

kupark: what gives? reprogamming, shut down to reboot.

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