Friday, February 12, 2010

Elijah Johnson remains patient

Realistic KU guard fine with bench role

Kansas defenders Thomas Robinson, left, and Elijah Johnson pressure Nebraska forward Christian Standhardinger during the first half Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2009 at the Devaney Center in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Kansas defenders Thomas Robinson, left, and Elijah Johnson pressure Nebraska forward Christian Standhardinger during the first half Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2009 at the Devaney Center in Lincoln, Nebraska.


KU guard Johnson enjoying freshman year, despite lack of playing time

KU freshman guard Elijah Johnson isn't playing much, but is learning plenty from playing behind veteran Sherron Collins.

Kansas University freshman guard Elijah Johnson, who has played just 11 minutes overall during the Big 12 season, said it has been easy to stay positive during this period of inactivity.

“There’s no reason to be negative about it. I’m not a super-hero. I can’t come in right away and just win a national championship. I have to learn first,” said Johnson, a 6-foot-2 Las Vegas native who hasn’t entered the last four games.

“I think I learn more on the bench than I would have on the floor, just watching Sherron (Collins) and Tyshawn (Taylor) do different things that work in tight situations. I see it through coach (Bill) Self’s eyes. I see the bigger picture. It’s not a rush. You’ve got to learn first, then I can give him what he wants,” Johnson added.

Self said he has not forgotten about Johnson.

“Elijah could be the Cole of 2008, bide his time, bide his time — Thomas (Robinson) could be also — and then when they get an opportunity make the most out of it,” Self said.

He was speaking of then-seldom-used freshman Cole Aldrich’s huge contribution in the 2008 national semifinals against North Carolina.

“I think about that a lot, too,” Johnson said. “Cole was All-American, and he didn’t come in and take over the team right away. He took his bullwhippings every day in practice like I take now. I feel it’s making me stronger. I feel that’s the best talent in the country. If I’m going through that every day, next year will not be a walk in the park, but close.”

Self noted that Johnson, a player he called the “odd man out (of the rotation) this year,” nevertheless will “score a lot of points here.”

Johnson, who hopes that’s the case, said he believes he made the smart call to play and not red-shirt.

“You never know, my number could be called still. The season is not over. Anything can happen. You’ve got to be prepared for all situations,” Johnson said.

He was asked if he ever thinks about the fact he might be playing 30 minutes a game at some other school.

“No. I wouldn’t learn as much as I learn here,” he said. “I wouldn’t play against Sherron Collins every day at practice either."

Self’s future discussed

Kansas University coach Bill Self, 47, who has 399 career victories entering Saturday’s 7 p.m. home game against Iowa State, was asked Thursday if he’d coach until his mid 70s.

“I will not coach until I’m 75. That can be the big byline tomorrow,” he said, laughing. “Coaching into your mid-to-late 60s ... I think that will not be as common an occurrence going forward as it has been in large part because of all the tension and other things that go along with the job.”

Self said he’s mighty happy at KU.

“There’s no other job for me out there. From my vantage point right now I cannot imagine there being a better place to coach in large part because of the commitment everybody has made here,” he said. “It’s better here now than it’s ever been and it doesn’t have anything to do with me. It has to do to with the commitment our administration and our donors have made to make this the best it can be.

“The (his) office is great, but the new facilities, academic center and revamped apartments (for players) ... we might not have the best facilities here in every area but as a combination I can’t imagine anybody having any better.”

Free throw views

Brady Morningstar’s botched free-throw attempt at Texas had almost 2.5 million YouTube views as of Thursday night.

“I’m glad I can be a lot of entertainment for people. Maybe I should try to do movies or something,” Morningstar joked. “It’s a sports blooper. I’m sure I’ll be on (blooper shows) and that for the next 10 years getting laughed at. Oh well, I’ll laugh too.”

Self said the clip of Morningstar losing control of the ball, then firing up a jump shot from the line, will be talked about a long time.

“I’m sure that will make the end-of-season video and all that stuff. Brady is the one guy who can handle it because he can laugh at himself, and that’s definitely worth laughing at,” Self said.

Fatherly advice

Self said his dad, Bill, Sr., gave him great advice when Self was deciding whether to leave Illinois for KU in April of 2003. ESPN’s Dick Vitale had cautioned Self it might be difficult to replace a legend in Roy Williams.

“He (dad) told me, ‘So you’re not going to take the job because you’re scared? If you don’t take it, that’s fine, but don’t not take it because you don’t think you’re good enough. Don’t not take it because somebody else won there. That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard in my life. If you just want to be comfortable, stay, but if you want to stretch your limits, don’t let anybody else’s success keep you from doing that.’ It was good advice.”

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.


waywardJay 11 years ago

Years to come ELijah will be happy he stayed. This is the best place to learn and grow as a basketball player and fan.

Dirk Medema 11 years ago

Papa Self is one wise ol' guy. Thank you.

Elijah sounds like he is well on his way also.

Ryan Richey 11 years ago

1) Elijah's attitude sounds great. His time will come.

2) I hope Coach Self's dad doesn't suggest to "stretch your limits" and try the NBA. :-) I hope we have coach for another 15-20 years on the sidelines at The Phog.

RockCaCO3 11 years ago

"I’m not a super-hero. I can’t come in right away and just win a national championship. I have to learn first,”

I love this kid.

stravinsky 11 years ago

Elijah and Bill's comments just give me warm fuzzies all around. We are going to see a lot of great things from these kids...

Matt Bowers 11 years ago

Elijah your time will come. You have too much talent not to get into a few more games this season. Like the attitude and am looking forward to seeing your progress.

I just realized that Dickie V followed Roy to the ACC. That might have been the greatest move ever! Figures that Dickie would make a comment like that to HCBS, what d-bag.

HCBS show them all up and go get number 400 tomorrow. Can't wait to watch.

Rock Chalk

jaybate 11 years ago

When Self says Johnson is going to score a lot of points for KU that just iced if for me that Elijah is being groomed and not warehoused.

The Prophet foretells life after Sherron.

Rock chalk.

yates33333 11 years ago

I think Withey has a better chance of being another Cole Aldrich. His size and coordination are more like Cole's was/is than either Robinson or Johnson.

If Morningstar had made the jump shot after the flub he'd be assured of this being replayed ten years from now.

docileboy 11 years ago

You know Brady could blame the officials for his blopper, if they would have made the right call Cole would have been shooting instead of him. The funniest part of the whole deal was when Bob Knight said "now there is one for the ages". It kind of ticked me off when he first said it, but the more I thought about it the more amused I became.

I think both Elijah and Brady both have great attitudes and are able to take things in stride.

3GJayhawk 11 years ago

@yates Johnson's size wasn't being compared to Coles. His contribution as far as an increased role at some point this season was the comparison.

Steve Brown 11 years ago

His day will come.

20/20 hindsight yet sort of wish the red shirt had been used to maximise the time remainging of the trio..Little Releford and EJ.

Cole, Sherron, X depart and that would devastate most teams yet we will be loaded and weapons from all corners and what I call "sneaky scary" team to play home or away. Wow, sneaky ambush for teams next year...but wait, first a trip to INDY.

Steve Brown 11 years ago

off point:

TT headband. Texas game day ESPN classics showed past KUvTX games and I had forgotten Miles wore a headband. Started wondering if TT misses his and needs it for his security blanket to get his head back on straight & reduce 'where's he going' type plays. Just a thought, maybe let the kid have his band back. He did have it a long time, let's try it.

Joe Baker 11 years ago

Outstanding attitude! It will payoff and this kid will be SPECIAL!!

Rock Chalk EJ!

bradynsdad 11 years ago

so many good things in this article to comment on. i would love to see self for twenty more years. i think he has no ambition to go anywhere. elijah the prophet! i think he will be the second coming of sherron. it sounds like he has the game of sherron with the wisdom of brady. long live the self legacy.

Ron Prichard 11 years ago

Great article! I love EJ's attitude.

Gotta give a big thank you to Self, Sr. I would imagine that continued wisdom like that from his dad is a big reason Self, Jr. is as successful as he is now.

Ben Kane 11 years ago

my only concern for next year is the cole factor. his presence is so demanding on other teams that he opens up space for marcus and marcus has excelled at taking advantage of that. question will be can withey generate something similar.

quigley 11 years ago

Remember how Ke-Freeze blew up in the tournament his freshman year? The season is a loooong way from over.

DCHawk63 11 years ago


I think you are right on about Withey having a Cole like game. I have been so impressed with Withey's athleticism for a big man; he has a great chance of coming in and just taking over a game.

Tony Bandle 11 years ago

What we all must realize, Josh Selby's mom loves KU and especially Bill Self. She also loves the fact that there are so many parents in town with their sons. [Mr. Aldrich, the Morningstars, the Twins, etc.]

If Josh comes to KU, He splits time with EJ and Orlando redshirts. Then, after Josh leaves, Orlando learns and splits time from EJ and and CJ and so on and so on. The point guard position is so critical to HCBS's overall scheme that a high production athlete is a must.

Current Buzz- Knight to UK, Lamb to Florida, Selby to KU

David Leathers 11 years ago

ESPN’s Dick Vitale had cautioned Self it might be difficult to replace a legend in Roy Williams.

Replace? How about re-new the legend. Bill is everything Roy was and better. Better winning percentage, better role model, better teacher. The only thing Roy might have on HCBS could be recruiting... which if Roy is in front, HCBS is right behind him in that category. Another NC this year by the Hawks, and Roy won't even have that to brag about.

I'm glad Dickie V gave our boy Self the challenge. Who knows? Maybe without that negative encouragement Self ends up coaching Texas or Kentucky. Imagine Sherron in a Kentucky uniform... OK, now STOP... One ugly sight, right?

David Leathers 11 years ago

Markieff+Marcus+(2010-2011) = The Twin Powers (as in power forward, and twin towers doesn't work because they are too short. Withey and Cole could be the twin towers.

David Leathers 11 years ago

Oakville - Who is Orlando? If you are talking about the Woolridge kid from Arizona, his name is Royce. His brother's name is ROLANDO... and he plays for UTenn.

eastTXjayhawk 11 years ago

Self is a better recruiter than Williams, Roy always seemed to have those "off years"....we may lose the occassional recruit to Roy now, but it's not because he's a better recruiter than Bill...some kids just can't get beyond the UNC mystique.

off subject, global warming has hit East TX...over 6" of snow...

Dale Kroening 11 years ago

Id be surprised if Royce redshirts. He's 6'3, and is bigger than say Brady or Tyrell and could actually play the 3 in Self's offense. I think a lot will depend on how he plays defense. Hes a good shooter, but a great scorer. Hopefully that translates well when he gets to college. Either way we will be really good next year. I will say this though, if X comes back, It would probably be better for Royce to rs, but I think X is gone even though he isnt ready.

BeakofLight 11 years ago worries chuck...although we've only seen limited glimpses of the twins on the floor together this season, one could plausibly argue that the team is more cohesive when they do, esp on the offensive end...they seem to operate in perfect unison...

...honestly, in a perfect world, i would have liked to see them get about ten more mins per game on the floor together this year; however, you cant very well sit an All-American on the pine for extended stretches...

...oh what a truly spoiled fan-base we are...and i love every minute of it...

...we will undoubtedly miss cole's presence defensively, nonetheless, the high-low-twin-combo will make the offense run with much more efficiency...not to mention the 20+ boards they will snatch any given night...

RockChalk26 11 years ago

Elijah is my favorite player on the team and this article set him even further above the rest. He has such a upside to his game. The dude has scary moves and is the quickest I have seen with a ball in a long time. It will be fun watching him break ankles next year.

Rock Chalk!

Alec White 11 years ago

I agree lighthawk, I think Tyshawn should be able to wear a headband. If CJ Henry can rock the d-bag chin curtain, Tyshawn should be able to brandish the band.

dynamitehawk 11 years ago

That so many great coaches warned Self on this job, tells us how great of a coach he really is.

Yes, this "global warming" this really is starting to get my hopes up for the next Nobel Peace Prize. Some sucka got punched in the gut last year when I didn't win.

hawk316 11 years ago

Wow! What a terrific attitude EJ has! I love it! And he will get his time. In his news conference, Coach Self explained that both EJ and Robinson were recruited for future, not immediate impact. This should help those posters who continue to question why Elijah doesn't receive more playing time. Both of these players are obviously extremely athletic and talented, and just the thought of what they will contribute to KU basketball in the future should excite fans. But, in the very wise words of King Solomon, "there is a time for everything." (Eccles. 3:1) Fret not. Their time will come. We need only be patient...just like Elijah.

John Randall 11 years ago

""That so many great coaches warned Self on this job, tells us how great of a coach he really is.""

If DV reads that "great coach", blurb, he'll think it refers to himself.

What sane person wouldn't have been scared to death of the combination KU + BS?
Answer: any Jayhawk hoops fan.


terpoortenl 11 years ago

Dickie sucks and Papa Self Knows What's Best!!

Kye Clark 11 years ago

cap10d - I don't see anyway around Royce redshirting next year. He's a 6'3" 2-guard, and consider our roster situation next year. Our guard positions are loaded. Tyshawn, Tyrel, Brady, & EJ. You could possibly throw Releford into the mix to steal some minutes at the 2 if needs be, and IF X comes back then CJ is back too (I personally don't think X will return, but who knows). So even if we don't land Knight, Selby, or Lamb (all of whom are considered better prospects than Royce), he'd have a tough time finding minutes. Best case scenario for Royce to see minutes is if X leaves and CJ goes with him and we don't bring in another recruit. He's still the 5th man in the rotation. And you're kidding yourself if you think he can play the 3. First of all, he's too small. IDK what his current weight is, but he's listed on rivals as being 175 lbs, which is actually smaller than Brady & Tyrel and they're just as tall. Brady played out of position there last year and was too small, but we didn't have any other options. Next year, options at the 3 will be plentiful, with Mario Little and Travis Releford likely to be the mainstays, Marcus perhaps sliding down to take some minutes at what will be his natural position in the NBA, and if we were desperate you'd put Brady there before Royce. Just saying, I don't see a scenario where he sees any playing time and it would definitely be in his best interest to take the redshirt

hawk_of_ages 11 years ago

I love all these armchair climatologists: "If it's snowing in my town this week, that means climate change doesn't exist! Ha, ha, take that, Al Gore!"

There are a lot of smart basketball comments on this thread -- we should probably just stick to something we actually know about.

Vincent Patterson 11 years ago

“Elijah could be the Cole of 2008, bide his time, bide his time — Thomas (Robinson) could be also — and then when they get an opportunity make the most out of it,” Self said.

Okay, but if he isn't getting burn right now, will he have the ability to come in and play well under the pressures of the NCAA tourney? True, Cole was able to do it in 08, but doing what Cole did as a big man has gotta be different than expecting a guard to come in and do the same. He has to handle the ball, not turn it over, potentially guard one of the quickest guys on the court and hold his own, make jumpers (not bunnies). I just feel the responsibilities and expectations would be far greater than what Cole had to do (which Cole did well obviously). I have just had to convince myself that EJ is done getting quality burn this season so I can get over it, because apparently he has accepted it. Love the attitude, but I have a feeling we'll be saying "Why didn't Bill play EJ more?" at the end of this season if we come up short because I truly believe he could have made a huge difference had he continued making the same type of progress he had been making before Bill benched him. Freakish athletes who know the game need to be on the floor,period! Now I just wished he would have redshirted, because from a game-time perspective, this year was wasted. He could have still gained all that experience he was talking about playing against Sherron and Co. in practice! Oh well, hang in there EJ! Courtside seats to any KU game is better than anybody posting on this thread will have. Keep enjoying the ride broham, your time will come.

Michael Bratisax 11 years ago

Elijah Johnson is one of my favorite players on this team. I think he has the skills to be out there now but is willing to sacrifice so that Coach Self can bring his rotation down to 8 players. He will be a star at KU.

Michael Leiker 11 years ago

EJ is Russ Rob w/mad skills...looking forward to watching him grow up.

hawk_of_ages 11 years ago

Obviously, it wasn't Self's original plan to leave EJ on the bench. Arguing that we should have redshirted him is just 20/20 hindsight.

I don't recall having ever seen a top recruit come in as a freshman and just immediately take a redshirt. That would have been very unusual.

The kid seems to have a great attitude; can't wait for him to play a big role in the years to come.

stravinsky 11 years ago

If EJ is as good as we think he might be, won't matter that he didn't redshirt. The draft could be calling his name before he's done with eligibility.

Chris Nieto 11 years ago

Ok it's time to get it right. Royce is the guard that's going to be on the squad next year. Orlando is his dad and he played in NBA for the Bulls(first to do between the legs dunk). Renaldo is his half-brother and he plays for Tennessee

Annette Lee 11 years ago

All of this (speculation) becomes mute if X returns! C J would be getting more minutes but he's hurt. C J just looks a lot like S C taller but similar build . just saying..

Jack Wilson 11 years ago

Oh, what could have been for EJ in 2010. But good to see some confirmation that the transfer concerns are gone.

Helen Gross 11 years ago

Here's food for thought! Maybe Cole will come back. He said that he wants to get his degree. And we can always hope!

Mike Kendall 11 years ago

EJ--nice attitude!!!!! He will learn this year and contribute next year. It's just like Russ Robb. Can you imagine Russ Robb transferring to another school before we won the NC? Fact is, we would not have won the NC without Russ Robb! EJ will learn from Sherron (best teacher in the house)!

Adam Evans 11 years ago

Honestly, I think Tyshawn could learn a few things from Elijah. He could learn patience, tact, leadership...I think Elijah is going to be one of the best guards we've ever had. I can't wait till he gets solid PT.

kerbyd 11 years ago

I believe they got the date wrong on the picture that headed the article. Shouldn't it have been 2010?

cobweb 11 years ago

Roy who? Self is a better recruiter, hands down, than Drama Queen Williams.

Edward Daub 11 years ago

Invite 3 Dog Night to AFH to sing Eli's Coming!

Aligned 11 years ago

Man, this dude just exudes a good vibe. Keep it up Elijah, it’s infectious.

What a good time to be a Jayhawk!

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