Selections from KU coach Bill Self's press conference following the Jayhawks' 81-68 victory over Memphis on Dec. 7, 2010.
New York Kansas University point guard Tyshawn Taylor bumped fists with head coach Bill Self as he headed through the center tunnel of famed Madison Square Garden toward the locker room following Tuesday’s 81-68 Jimmy V. Classic victory over Memphis.
Shortly after, Taylor — a Hoboken, N.J., native who scored 13 points and dished four assists against four turnovers in 34 minutes — exchanged texts with soon-to-be-eligible freshman guard Josh Selby, who was not allowed to make the trip in accordance with NCAA rules.
After showering, hometown hero Taylor met with media members in a crowded hallway for 20 minutes, finally returning to the arena stands where he visited with his high school coach, Bob Hurley, Sr., and a plethora of extended family members.
“It went great,” Taylor said of his happy homecoming to the Big Apple. “Madison Square Garden is a great arena, great place. I’ve got so much family in the stands right now. It was an awesome experience.”
The 6-foot-3 junior scored KU’s final four points of the first half, making sure the Jayhawks carried a narrow 37-35 lead into the break in spite of 12 first-half turnovers.
“It was a big game for Ty,” KU coach Self said after the No. 4-ranked Jayhawks improved to 8-0 and sent No. 13 Memphis to its first loss against seven victories.
“I think he started out real nervous, but made some big plays late in the first half when we had nothing going on. He’s a good player, but he’s careless. We know that. We live with that.
“Our whole team was ridiculously careless tonight. It was the first time we faced any pressure,” Self added after his squad’s 22-turnover performance.
Of course, Taylor wasn’t the only Jayhawk guilty of turnovers. Marcus Morris, who had five turnovers against five assists to go with his 14 points and eight rebounds, at one point went behind the back, only to lose the basketball.
“We’ve got a fun team, but we’re wild,” said Self, who will gain a ball-handler in Selby in Game 10, a Dec. 18 home game versus USC.
“Josh is wild, too,” Self added with a smile, “so he’s going to fit in great.”
He did add that Selby will be the second guy on the team who can “break down pressure.”
The first is Taylor, of whom Self spoke in glowing terms after Tuesday’s game in Taylor’s backyard.
“He’s our most valuable player to date,” Self said, “because he’s our primary handler. Without him breaking pressure down or being athletic on the perimeter, this team would be very deficient.”
Taylor grinned when told of Self’s team MVP comment.
“That’s definitely good, especially when it’s coming from the man, from the boss,” Taylor said. “It’s definitely good to hear. I’m going to continue to try to be solid for my team.”
With Selby’s debut coming sooner rather than later, the Jayhawks have been flooded with Selby questions of late, especially Tuesday with a large national media contingent on hand.
What did Selby say to Taylor in his text?
“He said, ‘Good game,’’’ Taylor said. “I talk to him a lot. I felt bad he couldn’t be here with us tonight. He had family in the game (cousins Will and Antonio Barton).
“I think it just adds to the craziness,” Taylor added of Selby’s return. “He’s a young player who hasn’t gotten to play yet. I do think he’ll help us a tremendous bunch.”
Noted Self: “I think our USC home game will be as anticipated a home game as we’ve had maybe in years in Allen.”
Both Self and his players alike hope they cure the turnover bug in big games.
“I think that’s exactly what we are,” Taylor said, agreeing with Self’s “wild team” assessment. “Just the dumb stuff that we do. We just make careless turnovers and mental lapses on defense. We’re supposed to know our scouting report. We do some dumb stuff, man, but I think coach likes us, because we play hard for the most part, and I think we’re a pretty good team.”
Noted Markieff Morris (16 points, seven rebounds): “We’ve got a fast point guard, and he just likes to go. When you get Ty in the open floor, there’s not a lot of people that can stop him. We sometimes get wild because we try to play with him, and then other times, he can slow us down and control us. But I think he does a good job of controlling the team once we get wild.”
The Jayhawks, who led, 52-46, with 12:32 left, went on a 6-0 run (Travis Releford four points, Thomas Robinson two) to go up by 12. The run continued to 22-13, and KU led, 74-59, at 3:31.
Elijah Johnson (seven points, three assists) had a vicious dunk off an alley-oop pass from Marcus Morris in that surge. Markieff Morris also slammed off a lob from his brother and rammed another vicious dunk off a pass from Taylor, saluting to the fans during the entertaining run.
“Memphis will be terrific,” Self said of the Tigers, who were led by Will Barton, who had 16 points, and Chris Crawford, who had 15. “It was nice to come to New York. We don’t get a chance to come back often. It’s a great place. The Garden has a different feel. Our guys definitely had a difference bounce to them before the game, which is cool.”
One guy had a bit more bounce than the others: Hoboken’s Taylor.
KU will meet Colorado State at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Sprint Center.