Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Coming into his own: Maturing Tyshawn Taylor making most of his potential

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor looks to pass against the Memphis defense during the second half of the Jimmy V Classic Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor looks to pass against the Memphis defense during the second half of the Jimmy V Classic Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010 at Madison Square Garden in New York.


Not many college basketball players bring such speed and quickness to the court. He’s on the long side for a point guard, a nice complement to that quickness on the defensive end. He’ll draw a huge ovation from the grateful Allen Fieldhouse crowd Saturday morning against USC because he deserves one.

Before you say, “Oh no, not again,” wait.

If you think this is yet another story about Josh Selby and you don’t feel like reading yet another story about Josh Selby, don’t go anywhere. I’m talking about Tyshawn Taylor, the junior point guard who has led Kansas to a 9-0 start and a No. 3 national ranking.

In years past, many Taylor stories centered on his immaturity, inconsistency and instability. When superlatives were used in front of his name, they usually preceded the word “potential.”

Now the word “maximizing” precedes the word “potential.”

Taylor’s not a perfect basketball player, not that there is such a thing. Yet, in one season he has made the leap from a sophomore who too often played like a freshman to a junior who more often plays like a senior.

His natural basketball skills never have kept pace with his athleticism, but he has figured out how to get close to the most out of those skills. The outside shots that come off his hand don’t rotate in that pretty way those stroked by a pure shooter do, but Taylor has done a better job of refraining from letting long ones fly. He has taken just one a game and has a .444 accuracy rate on them so far. His overall shooting percentage is .574, his assists-to-turnover ratio 2.11.

Taylor’s averaging three turnovers a game, which is too many considering the level of competition in many of the games so far, but he knows it and is working at doing a better job of paying attention.

His dribbling skills can be a little on the loose side, and he’s not a naturally gifted passer, but he generally has done a nice job of making the right pass at the right time, which is to say the easy pass.

The most noticeable maturation in his game comes on drives to the hoop that used to be oh-so wild. Now, when he drives and shoots a runner, the words of Phog Allen, the father of modern basketball coaching, come to mind when he goes up for the shot: “Pause for poise.” He doesn’t look like he’s in a hurry all the time anymore.

Averaging 10.9 points and 6.3 assists per game, Taylor also has 1.8 steals per game, but the job he has done preventing dribble penetration means even more to the team.

When he plays well, he looks as if he’s doing a better job of focusing. When he doesn’t play as well, he still looks unfocused.

“A lot better,” Taylor said of his concentration defensively this season. “I’m more tuned-in, and I know what to look for. I know the scouting report.”

He even sounds different when he talks about his responsibilities to the team.

“As a defender, especially when teams are cutting and setting screens, you have to be able to be with your man but help and know what guy you can back up off, what guy you gotta close out because he’s a shooter,” he said. “There’s a lot of stuff going on. It’s hard to be in tune, five guys to be on the same page for 35 seconds. It is hard. That’s what makes some teams good, because guys can do it. We’re still trying to get where we’re on that same page for 35 seconds and not break down.”

Taylor used the Arizona game as an example of how to play to the scouting report.

“I was digging a lot off of (Lamont) Jones because I knew (Derrick) Williams was trying to face up and drive middle,” Taylor said. “So I helped a lot off of Jones because I knew he wasn’t going to be a guy who stepped up and shot, but when No. 20 (Jordin Mayes) came in, I couldn’t help as much because he’s a shooter.”

He sounded like he’s into the attention to detail that separates great teams from good ones. He sounded proud. He should sound proud. Taylor has come a long way, and here’s the best part: He knows he still has a long way to go.


Dan Cook 7 years, 6 months ago

Tyshawn makes this team a heck of lot better. That's the only measurement that really needs to be met. With Tyshawn and Josh on the floor at the same time, we will never be hurting against any backcourt in the league, if not the nation. It's about to be even more fun to watch the Hawks turn up the pressure. If our bigs can make progress on the defensive end, this has a chance to be another Bill Self team that can beat you on both ends of the floor.

Now if we could just get Withey capable of giving us 8-10 minutes of long armed defense in the paint, that would really help us with potential foul trouble and certain matchups. If they beat one of our guys but then have to deal with Withey at the rim, that's the piece that could make us truly special on defense. Step up, Jeff.

Matt Bowers 7 years, 6 months ago

Juju, I think Withey looks lost on the court. His lack of ability probably has a lot to do with his injuries and the fact that he sees barely any playing time. Looking at the schedule, there should be plenty of opportunities to work him into the rotation.

Rock Chalk

KULA 7 years, 6 months ago

As I've said all along. Hope all last year's Tyshawn haters read this article.

Edward Daub 7 years, 6 months ago

The Taylor haters have moved on. They are now Gill haters.

hawk316 7 years, 6 months ago

And I wonder where they will gravitate after Gill begins to enjoy success at KU?

Matt Bowers 7 years, 6 months ago

I think most people were critical of TT because it didn't appear that he valued being a Jayhawk last season. Call me crazy, but the Jayhawk community tends to get down on any player that causes distractions or gets into trouble. The issues that plagued him last season also impacted his performance on the court, which he has dealt with.

TT, I'm glad that you are leading the team this season and look forward to seeing you progress even more. It is my opinion that you are handling the team well and as Keegs wrote, it is part of the reason the Jayhawks are third in the country. Keep up the good...especially on defense.

Rock Chalk

Nick Thompson 7 years, 6 months ago

I didn't think it was another article about Josh Selby because it is called "Coming into his own: Maturing Tyshawn Taylor making the most of his potential." Otherwise, great that Tyshawn's play has been worthy of the press he has gotten this year as opposed to years past.

Rock Chalk!

Tim Bingaman 7 years, 6 months ago

Taking a Creative Writing class on the side, Keegan?

Marcia Parsons 7 years, 6 months ago

Give the guy a break. Unless journalism has changed a lot in the last couple years, the writer has nothing to do with the headline.

LAJayhawk 7 years, 6 months ago

Yep, you're right, the editor is responsible for the entire layout of the paper... oh, wait....

This is a solid article, though, Keegan. Well done.

REHawk 7 years, 6 months ago

Ditto, stockhawk. If the heading had read Coming Into His Own, and stopped there, Keegan's opening would have read more sensibly. Maybe Jesse could be placed in charge of writing the basketball headings? A timely article in praise of TT. Naturally, press attention has focused on Josh this past week or two. Tyshawn has given so much to the program since late last season. He is a major contributor to this team's quick readjustment and climb back to national prominence after the departures of Sherron, Cole and Xavier. Bill Self's patient confidence in his game is paying off bigtime for the Jayhawks.

REHawk 7 years, 6 months ago

Speaking of Bill Self and his patient development of players, I find it reassuring to view the caliber of recruits that Self and his assistants have brought to the program. There are some classy young men wearing Jayhawk uniforms. In this day and age, I suppose we must always keep our fingers crossed that we don't face another situation a la Giles or Giddens. Baylor has certainly taken an ugly hit with the LaceDarius Dunn situation. Yesterday Mike Anderson suspended his Tiger starting point guard Dixon indefinitely for undisclosed team violations.
The current Jayhawks are not without their own occasional past slip-ups; but things seem to be on an even keel this season. Kudos to the focus of this 2010-11 group, players and staff.

Chris Shaw 7 years, 6 months ago

What have you done REHawk? Way to go! I'm just messing with you. This post is definitely a crown jewel for the eerily ironic timing considering Mario Little's arrest officially being reported minutes ago. Way to jinx the whole thing, REHawk! :) Just kidding!

Jack Wilson 7 years, 6 months ago

REHawk was the 19 year old guy .. he must have known.

jayhawkjed 7 years, 6 months ago

What a comment, a la Giles and Giddens, ha! A la Brady's dui, fights with the football team, bb guns on campus, now a battery and criminal damage/trespass. I want whatever you smoke in the morning.

kwahyajjj 7 years, 6 months ago

"The outside shots that come off his hand don’t rotate in that pretty way those stroked by a pure shooter do"

...and we all know that a basket with proper rotation is worth more points.

Clarence Haynes 7 years, 6 months ago

Yeah, but he can hit a three when we need one!

kwahyajjj 7 years, 6 months ago

Yes, but is it with the proper rotation?

LAJayhawk 7 years, 6 months ago

When it goes in more often, it is worth more points.

A ball with correct rotation has better control and will often get the "shooters bounce" when contacting the rim.

kwahyajjj 7 years, 6 months ago

Looks like I might have to spell this one out.

It has nothing to do with TT's shot rotation. I really don't care about it. Neither should anyone. I don't want it to contact the rim at all. It had to do with the journalist who brought it up. It's called being sarcastic.

It's a stupid thing to judge someone on. That is all.

milehighhawk 7 years, 6 months ago

Nice article, Keegs.

(Although...honestly? I wouldn't mind another Selby article or twelve).

Jack Wilson 7 years, 6 months ago

First .. just a comment/observation .. I always appreciate how folks characterize someone who might pass along some criticism as a "hater." That term originated in hip-hop music, and was directed toward those that were perceived as disliking one simply out of jealousy or envy. Now, some throw the term around as if it means something. But mainly it's used to try to discredit someone who criticizes someone without focusing on the argument itself. It allows the one using the term to actually avoid making a rationale argument by calling someone a name instead. The term implies that the argument is irrational, and just based on hate, not logic, facts, etc.

Second, and KULA will likely recall this .. my position on Taylor last season, and my criticism of Taylor last season, was mainly because he was not playing with the same approach as this season. That is, last season, (my opinion) Taylor seemed to be selfish on the court, he did not let the game come to him, he tried to force shots for himself (the famous drives to the short corner resulting in turnovers or wild shots), he seemed not to look for the pass first, he didn't seem confident pushing the ball up the court, did not create shots for others on the break, and rarely finished at the rim. Not to mentioned the other boneheaded turnovers. His famous early season quote after he was the high scorer in a game .. "I finally got mine." But I guess criticism of Taylor made one a "hater."

At that time, I guess I would have been a "hater" .. or whatever. There were many with the same opinion. And the fact is, Taylor's transformation this season is all about him figuring it out, having the commitment to change, and avoiding the things that were obvious negatives. And those obvious negatives were things noticed by, pointed out by, and at times, harped upon, by many on this message board. That's not a "hater." One one hand, those that criticized Taylor were right on point. This season is the vindication of the criticism because his approach on the court is so strikingly different. Great job TT.

On the other hand, some of us, including me, were wrong on TT. I didn't feel he would ever reach this point, I felt that way because his struggles seemed to be based on selfish play .. again, my opinion. I was dead wrong, and I underestimated our coaching staff and TT's willingness to become the player he is today. Again, great job TT.

And it is yet another example of why every top recruit should consider KU.

92Jhawk 7 years, 6 months ago

Couldn't agree more with your opening comment. If someone who verbalized frustration with Taylor last year was a "hater" (someone who hates Taylor) then Coach Self couldn't stand him. Taylor took many a brow-beating last year but it was because Coach knows his potential (3 year starter) and knew he could play better.

David Hewitt 7 years, 6 months ago

Very well said. And kudos for admitting your were wrong - I'm sure we are all glad that you were!

KULA 7 years, 6 months ago

HEM--I didn't label anyone specifically as a hater. But there were posters on this board openly calling for Tyshawn to transfer last year. I'll stand by the word "haters" because of some of the vitriol spewed against him last year, without accusing anyone (or you) specifically of it.

I defended him against the, "dislikers," shall we say, haha, because I thought I saw potential in him to be a really good player. I attributed his struggles last year to the typical maturation process of a 19 yr old, especially one in such a bright spotlight. Add to that a large change in his role on the team, proscribed by the coach (from 3rd scoring option to [the word I hate also] glue guy) which he (Tyshawn) expressed confusion about. And, yes, some problems Tyshawn brought on himself, and it's not surprising to see a young man struggle. Guess I have a soft heart and tend to look for he best. I tend to give a young man in that position the benefit of the doubt.

And I don't consider you or me to be "Brady haters," either, although I think you're spot on in your eval of him that he should only be logging 12-15 m/g. I had hoped to see Mario get more time at the three, but who knows what will happen now. I sure hope things work out ok for him and whoever else was involved.

Also, I think you were right, only a bit premature, about EJ. He looks more comfortable out there with every game. I'm really liking what I'm seeing.

LAJayhawk 7 years, 6 months ago

"But mainly it's used to try to discredit someone who criticizes someone without focusing on the argument itself."

I would agree with that. However, there is a significant difference between those who criticized Taylor's performance and logically discussed it and those who simply threw out angry vitriol with no rationality toward a 19 year old kid. To the latter there is no counter argument to make. You cannot argue against someone who just utilizes name calling, short of the "sticks and stones" defense. That person is simply throwing out hate; thus, the term fits.

Now, if you, personally, were referred to as a "hater" by sharing your criticisms, then I completely agree with you. That is wrong and immature. But there are those on this site to which that term does befit.

Nevertheless, your criticism was accurate then, and Taylor has improved upon those inadequacies. Exactly what every KU fan should have hoped for.

92Jhawk 7 years, 6 months ago

I never tire of reading Selby articles but it's nice to read about all KU players. I have to admit, I was one of those fans who shouted at his television last season when Taylor played poorly (which was far to often in my opinion). I always knew the potential was lurking just below the surface and I'm happy to see him start to reach some of it. I attribute a lot of his play last year to hype, he may have been trying to live up to some of the ridiculous pre-season draft boards, he seemed to press to often (just personal opinion, take it for what it is) seemed he was trying to be something he wasn't. This year, he's playing to his strengths which is more than enough.

Good article and GOOD for you T. Taylor! I'll be one of those fans giving you a loud ovation before the game on Saturday...(as always)

Ron Franklin 7 years, 6 months ago

Definitely worth the watch. If this link

"Rock Chalk Christmas" on youtube.

KU_FanSince75 7 years, 6 months ago

@ That is simply awesome! Thanks for sharing.

REHawk 7 years, 6 months ago

Perhaps I spoke too soon about the "even keel" and smooth focus of this year's squad. I just noticed an article about Little having been charged with criminal activity. NUTS!

Tony Bandle 7 years, 6 months ago

That will be the last JUCO kid HCBS ever brings in!!

I guess we should wait on the details on Mario, but it doesn't sound good at all. Being arrested and posting bond for criminal activity at 3:00 am will get you the exit door from Allen Fieldhouse.

Ann Oneill 7 years, 6 months ago

Yep. I doubt if Self will go the "Waco-way" ala Lacedarius Dunn, and just give Little a 3 game suspension....Sad news all around.

Andrew Moore 7 years, 6 months ago

Tyshawn has been this team's go to guy so far. When we needed a play, he was driving to the basket and making something happen. In the past few games, its been a runner off the glass.

He has the controlled quickness that he didn't have in the last couple years. I'm excited to see the dynamic between Taylor and Selby. I think it will be something to behold by Big 12 play.

Ron Franklin 7 years, 6 months ago

At 22 you are a man.

There is no sense in this teenage behavior.

I would think if Mario were mature, he would have learned from Brady & Tyshawn.

That being said, we all deserve a second chance.

Mario proved his loyalty by red-shirting last year, let's prove ours by not shutting him out of the Jayhawk Family right away.

Selbyville 7 years, 6 months ago

Yea, 22 or 23. After that, there's really no more excuses. I just turned 20 on Tuesday and I look forward to my last couple years of foolish young behavior

Marcia Parsons 7 years, 6 months ago

Selby has mentioned several times how much help TT has been to him. It can only help they they already have a solid foundation of working together. Who would have thought a year ago that TT would grow up enough to take pride in knowing he makes other players on the court better, and not just himself.

Tony Bandle 7 years, 6 months ago

Lebowski and I would..Lebowski is the perfect poster and I believe everything he posts..I guess that makes me a second hand perfect poster:)

gchawk 7 years, 6 months ago

Good article Keegan. This is one article I hope TT reads, he has amazing skills, hope he continues to improve. Such a gifted athlete.

kcglowboy 7 years, 6 months ago

Well, regardless of the fact that you buried the lead (deep), it was a nice column (once you finally got to the point), and highly deserved praise for a highly improved player.

KU_FanSince75 7 years, 6 months ago

It has been said many times and many ways. . . . (above, that is)----

Tyshawn has been through a lot of stuff last season. It is a welcomed relief to see him experience success this season. Agreed---still have a long way to go. However, Josh Selby will hopefully complement TT when they are both in there at the same time. Good luck Saturday, guys!

baldwinjhawk 7 years, 6 months ago

To all the top 1 guards in the country. KU needs a point guard,,, BAD. Tyshawn is a slashing 2 just like selby will be...We really need a point that is smart and can protect the ball ,make free throws and play lockdown D. If you fill these requirments we have the perfect job for you. A chance to lead a super talented team to the national championship next season. Please see HCBS,,,

KU_FanSince75 7 years, 6 months ago

"KU_Dropout (is better than an MU grad)"

Nice--- Jaybate could come up some good ones, right?

Here are a quick three of mine:

1) KU_Dropout (is better than having a fur ball stuck in your throat)

2) KU_Dropout (is better than stealing stereo equipment at Wal-Mart)

3) KU_Dropout (is better than having to watch Kentucky basketball when you live in Lexington, KY)

Oakville---aren't you proud of me? I made a list!

Commenting has been disabled for this item.