Thursday, January 14, 2010

Gary Bedore’s Kansas basketball notebook

Kansas forward Marcus Morris, left, celebrates with teammates Elijah Johnson, Tyrel Reed and Markieff Morris following a dunk in the second half against Nebraska, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010 at the Devaney Center in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Kansas forward Marcus Morris, left, celebrates with teammates Elijah Johnson, Tyrel Reed and Markieff Morris following a dunk in the second half against Nebraska, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010 at the Devaney Center in Lincoln, Nebraska.


Audio clips

2010 KU-Nebraska basketball

Reader poll

How many road losses do you think the Jayhawks will have in Big 12 play?

  • 0 7% 198 votes
  • 1 20% 560 votes
  • 2 42% 1183 votes
  • 3 23% 642 votes
  • 4 4% 122 votes
  • 5 or more 2% 58 votes
  • Undecided 0% 21 votes

2784 total votes.


KU vs. Nebraska

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KU takes on Nebraska Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010 in Lincoln.

Taylor talking-to

As promised, Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self met with sophomore guard Tyshawn Taylor after Tuesday’s practice to discuss Taylor’s assertion to reporters that, at times, he’s unsure of his role on KU’s basketball team.

“Coach was a little upset,” Taylor said after scoring 11 points, with three rebounds, three turnovers and two assists in the Jayhawks’ 84-72 victory over Nebraska on Wednesday in Devaney Center.

“He was a little bit frustrated, just how it came out. It’s not what I meant to say. It came out a little wrong. We talked about it, and everything is cool.”

Here’s what Taylor said he meant to say:

“Being a point guard on this team, I think my role is going to change every now and then,” Taylor said. “Some nights it’s going to have to be guard their best player. Some nights X (Xavier Henry) is going to be hot, and I’m going to have to find him. Sherron (Collins) is going to be hot. I’m going to have to find him. My role is going to vary. I just think it came out wrong how I said it.”

Taylor admits he likes to talk in rapid-fire fashion.

“I think I was just going that day,” he said with a smile.

Self joked about the matter after Wednesday’s game.

“The guys really knew their roles tonight. I think they did a good job of that,” Self cracked.

Robinson starts

Thomas Robinson earned his first start in place of Marcus Morris.

“I may start Thomas again because I’ve not been happy with the twins’ energy or effort since Christmas,” Self said. “Tonight their effort was fabulous.”

Robinson was pulled early “after losing his man a couple times,” Self said.

Robinson finished with one turnover in eight minutes.

Morris said that teammate/buddy Brady Morningstar talked to him about the twins needing to be more aggressive. Also, Marcus said the team had a productive meeting at the hotel Tuesday night.

Stats, facts

Tyrel Reed scored 11 points, one off a season-high. His trey with 10:51 left, gave KU a 60-56 lead. His three late in the first half busted a 38-38 tie. ... Morningstar, who had a big block, also kept alive an offensive board that ended up in Morris’ hands. Morris hit a shot to give KU a 10-point lead with 5:59 left. ... KU hit 13 threes, tying the school mark for third-most threes in a conference game and most since sinking 14 versus Texas Tech on March 3, 2008.


KEITHMILES05 10 years ago

Sounds like the guys are really working to be on the same page. I'm really,really curious what Xavier has to say. :)

Matt Bowers 10 years ago

I too felt that X was off last night and has been for a while. Maybe it will take a team with so much talent a little bit longer to find their groove. I still think that the Twins are key to the teams success. They are able to take the pressure off the other positions when they play well. Once that pressure is off, it opens up a lot of opportunities. Good game last night, good introduction to conference play.

Rock Chalk

AsadZ 10 years ago

I respect comments from Jaybate and I believe in one of his posts he mentioned something like that TWINS combined have to give 20 points for KU to win. That was right on the money.

bradh 10 years ago

It seems to me that we're settling for 3s a lot, instead of pushing it inside. It's an old adage for a reason, "Live by the three, die by the three." When we shoot the three well, as we did last night at NU, we win. When we don't shoot it well, as we did at Tennessee, we lose. We're good enough that we should be able to pound it down low and win regardless. I wasn't paying that close of attention, but I only remember Cole getting the ball twice when he had a foot in the paint. I think we shot 60% from the three point line and only won by 12.

Haven't heard that much about Brady's game and I thought he won the game for us. Kept the ball alive a couple of times that I thought NU was getting the ball, a block, ...

jaydee909 10 years ago

Gary, I believe it was Reed that had the big block that you are referring to, if I am not mistaken.

Tim Orel 10 years ago

jaydeee909 - I think Brady got a block on a three point shot from the wing late in the game. I may be confusing him with someone else, but I think he did get one that might have been a big bucket if he missed.

Ron Prichard 10 years ago

Brady was the one with the block on the three later in the game. Pretty much came out of nowhere and made Raftery gush. Of course, just about any good to semi-good play made Raftery gush. "Wow...this kid can really fill it up!" Um...that was his first basket, but okay...

Brady last night was great. Reed shot well and played solid at both ends of the floor, but Brady made good things happen when he was on the floor. He didn't need someone to get the ball to him in position to hit a shot. He made his opportunities. That is the difference between Brady and Reed. I think they are both solid, calming influences for the younger players, and the offense seems to flow better when they are in the game. But Brady was everywhere last night. He had a great game.

86finalfour 10 years ago

It's early but I see a redux of 2007 team. I think it takes a while for these young players to learn Self's defensive system and it remains to be seen if these guys can execute it by March. We must remember that most of these talents never played D in high school. Self reminds me of Larry Brown in that once the team 'buys into their system,' they become champions.

GridironHawk 10 years ago

Reed and Morningstar both had big blocks. Reeds came on an open layup (probably a goal-tend but a great effort play) and Morningstar's was on the three in the corner (though the game was already double digits).

jaydee909 10 years ago

My mistake on Morningstar's block on the three point attempt. I was thinking that Reed had a block on a shot close to the goal that was impressive.

hawk316 10 years ago

For those who always seem so enamored by pure athleticism, they should take notice again of the performances last night of both Brady and Tyrel. Once more these two have demonstrated clearly why they're such important pieces of the puzzle. Good basketball is not always measured by how high a player can jump or how fast he can run.

I'm hoping that X reconsiders his desire to be one and done. Obviously loaded with talent and the aforementioned athleticism and blessed with such a sweet stroke, X could still improve his game significantly by staying two years.

jaybate 10 years ago

KEITHMILES05 & kustrong,

I thought X looked the best he has all season last night from a team perspective. Waaaaay better than the night he dropped his season high.

Frankly, X had a perfectly Brady-like line score, which is exactly what the team needs from him as baseline. His scoring brilliance on a down the middle team is a net loss, if he can't also do the 3 position glue stuff Brady did last season, this is what so many have misunderstood from the beginning. X no doubt understood it, but understanding and doing are two different things. What Brady can do takes a ton of skill and athleticism. A lot of people just don't understand that part of the game.

X has to become as good as Brady at glue, for the down the middle dynamic (the style of play that capitalizes most on Sherron and Cole's strengths) to continue to work, so that KU can then truly gain a net benefit from X's awesome scoring ability.

Even the two TOs X had were rather Brady like. X actually had a floor game and his defensive intensity actually began to approach a D1 player. He can't defend remotely as well as Brady yet, but with Brady teaching him (and modelling for him) all season long how to do glue (few can learn to glue on their own--Brady learned from RR and BRush for certain), X will be up to speed by mid February.

Think about it. X was actually jumping for rebounds and challenging opponents on defense generally at the right moments. X even denied a little on off ball defense, something he has not done much all year. He spent most of the game getting to the spot his man was trying to get to in real time, rather than two steps behind; this is substantial improvement. He got burned a few times on ball, because of trying to play a little more snugly, but Self can live with that for awhile, while X gets the hang of it. The fouls? If X isn't getting at least 3 fouls a game for the next 5 games, he's not continuing to learn to tighten his defense. Self clearly told X to lay off and not to foul the first semester, because Brady was out. Now with Brady back, X can start learning to play defense.

jaybate 10 years ago

The problem has been X getting burned whether or not he was challenging. The major cause has been his incredibly slow reaction time at recovery on defense. Watch Tyshawn Taylor to understand what defensive recovery is all about. Self loves Tyshawn because Tyshawn can recover from his mistakes so fast that Ty can afford to play much tighter and recover from his tight positioning and overplaying gambles. X, much to his credit, recovered a few times in near real time. This is the first time the entire season I have seen him do it even a few times.

Xavier is like most pure scorers. He finds it very difficult to play a lot of defense and perform offensively at a high level. Credit Xavier for trying to overcome this, as all great scorers must, if they wish to become great basketball players. It is a huge hurdle that takes most of them a couple years of backbreaking work and training to achieve. Xavier is doing his darnedest now to accomplish at least minimum competancy before March. If he can, he has almost guarrantied KU a trip to the Final Four. If he can, he almost guarranties himself a smooth transition to the pros, rather than a fitful one.

Self has made the right moves with Xavier. Self spent the first semester getting him and his teammates confident that X can score at this level. They believe it now. Since Brady's return, Self has clearly asked him to focus in on learning to defend AND score. It was inevitable that his scoring would fall off while he was learning to defend. He's never in his life expended the kind of effort that he has to to play Self Defense.

Xavier had a good game in many ways and showed lots of incremental development. He looked like a D1 player for the first time the entire season. His goofs were coming from learning new things and from exhaustion related to that effort. That's exactly what we want for the next month from him--Xavier Morningstar. Once he masters that role, to defend, glue and score 10-12 consistently, look out. The guy can drop 30 on any one any time Self says, "Go get'em."

caddie733 10 years ago

Reed showed tremendous effort on his "block," however, it was goal-tending.

I think there is no debate right now between X and Wall. Wall is better. X is nothing more than a spot up shooter right now that plays below average D, and can't feed the post. I think Brady is much better for this team right now. That is not to say that X won't get better, but right now, he isn't a one and done type of player.

For this team to make some real noise, a few things need to happen:

  1. Cole needs to get his offense going
  2. X needs to be more assertive
  3. Tyshawn needs to play within himself
  4. Self needs to allow the bench to develop - right now, everyone still looks lost without Sherron

People may not like my comments because they seem negative, however, I'm just a fan that would like to see this team reach their full potential. They aren't even close, but there is time.

The main difference between this team and the championship team right now is defense. I can't really remember the last time this team had a fast break opportunity off of a turnover.

Ron Prichard 10 years ago

I have to disagree with you Jaybate. X looks timid. He has had a couple bad games and now he is definitely questioning himself. He looked better last night than he did at Tennessee, but he is playing with absolutely no confidence.

Someone made a comment that is right on. Every now and then, X decides to shoot well before he ever gets the ball. Guarded, open, doesn't matter. When he was guarded tight last night, he either passed or put up an off balance shot. There was no attempt at making a confident, strong drive to the basket and scoring or getting fouled.

The same is true on defense. I don't disagree that he is improving, but he it playing without confidence and it shows. I would guess that for the first time in his life, he is having some doubts about his ability to do some things. I think he will get through it and improve along the way, but right now, he is playing scared.

I'm not down on X, and I think Self needs to let him play through this, but Self also needs to challenge him the way he has challenged the twins and TT this year. Maybe a little more with kid gloves so he doesn't destroy his psyche, but challenge him become better than he is.

jaybate 10 years ago


I respect your POV.

But what you describe is consistent with mine, too. He is dazed and confused right now. Because he's coming out of his chrysalis of talent at last and experiencing the real world of D1 plus all that Self is asking of him.

Time will tell.

About X looking like he's decided to shoot before hand...

Whatever else Xavier Henry may be, he is a natural scorer. He is very nearly a scoring savant. Scoring comes to him the way breathing does to you and me. He could be 6'1" and he would be the same way. Might not get as many match-up advantages, but the guy would score. It is the way his mind is wired.

Natural scorers see scoring opps where others don't and before others do. They often get called ball hogs for it, but it is just how they are wired. Xavier is not a ball hog. He just sees scoring opps like you and I see dirt on white carpet. They stand out to him and he's been rewarded for seeing them for years now. It is what he does.

Yes, he has to fit into the team scheme. All great talents do.

But his shooting just is not his problem.

He took 8 shots; that's the right number to optimize Sherron and Cole, as Self and Brady understood last year. He just couldn't hit much, because he lost his legs from trying to play D and glass vac.

But here again, I am getting back to our gentleman's disagreement. :-)

Rock chalk!

jhawk38 10 years ago

Maybe "X" might also benefit from not starting a game? Maybe it's just me, but he appears to be a little too "laidback" recently when he's in the game. Maybe the Morris brothers are starting to wear off on him a little?

And, I know they keep referring to these young guys as "kids", but for young men who obviously envision themselves in the NBA very soon, I would think they should be starting to grasp the importance of self motivation. (No pun intended) From a purely attitude standpoint, I doubt any of these "kids" are ready for the pros! Or will be any time soon.

Mike Kendall 10 years ago

X needs to stay at least one more year. Some Freshmen are not ready. X is one of those Freshmen. John Wall is probably "the exception of the rule." During the UPS Halftime Report (Indiana @ Michigan), Fran F. said some of these Freshmen are not ready for the NBA. Fran said X is a good player but did not include him, as far as, players that need to stay an extra year. All the above posts that you make on X are fairly accurate, in my opinion. Self will make him better this year--CS will make him a great player, if he can convince X to stay one more year! Just like Julian Wright, right?

actorman 10 years ago

Interesting analysis about X, jaybate. I had just been attributing his slump to usual freshman issues, but you crystallized things a little better and I feel more confident about where he is at this point. One minor quibble, though: "guarrantied???" "guarranties???" I certainly would have expected better spelling from the great jaybate.

Hawk316, you make a good point about people not looking enough at intangibles, but I think it's a little unfair to Brady and Tyrel. Wasn't it pretty much acknowledged that Tyrel was the fastest player on the team last year? And even though his block could easily have been called a goaltend, it certainly displayed some pretty good athleticism. I think Brady and Tyrel are both pretty darn good athletes as well as steadying influences.

hawk316 10 years ago

actorman, good point. Both Brady and Tyrel are gifted athletes, no question. But I guess I'm speaking of degrees. Their athleticism doesn't jump out at you quite like an Elijah Johnson or Thomas Robinson, for example. But, as you know, Brady and Tyrel, are able to compensate by bringing other strengths to the table, and sometimes these are more subtle in nature.

Ron_Kellogg 10 years ago

The one positive of X's slump is we no longer have to hear about John Wall and X being "1 and 1a" on the list of best freshmen in the nation.

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