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Friday, December 30, 2011

Tait

Reserves contribute early, often for Kansas

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self

Kansas coach Bill Self talks to reporters following the Jayhawks' 89-34 victory over Howard on Dec. 29, 2011.

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KU vs. Howard

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Kansas defeated Howard, 89-34, on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas University’s basketball coaching staff might not throw the game film into a time capsule, but for this team Thursday’s 89-34 victory against Howard University might wind up being noteworthy.

For starters, it was exactly the kind of game for which KU coach Bill Self had been waiting.

The Jayhawks still had mental lapses, turned the ball over a few too many times (13) and benefited more from Howard’s 22 percent shooting than their own stiff defense. But the bench played. A lot. And it marked the first time since KU’s 100-54 runaway victory against Towson in the season opener that Self had such a luxury.

When you’re facing the likes of Kentucky, Duke, Georgetown, UCLA and Ohio State, you tend to go with the guys you trust. During the stretches you’re not playing well against teams like Davidson, South Florida or Long Beach State, it’s hard to trust anybody.

After Thursday, Self may be a little closer to loosening the leash on some of his second-tier guys.

“I thought they did fine,” Self said of primary bench players Naadir Tharpe, Kevin Young and Justin Wesley. “That’s a good game for them to get a lot of minutes.”

Go figure. With Hollywood actress Olivia Wilde sitting two rows behind the KU bench, the guys who spent the most time there during normal games were on the floor nearly half the night.

Young played 18 minutes and finished with seven points, six rebounds, three steals and one standing ovation. At times, it looked as if he thought Howard’s uniforms had the words “Ohio State” written on the front of them.

The 6-foot-8 junior’s highlight play of the night came with about 16 minutes remaining in the second half and KU leading, 50-16. After missing a wide open 12-footer, Young chased down his own rebound, zipped a pass to Elijah Johnson and raced back into rebounding position. He wasn’t done. After hanging in the air near the rim and taking two swipes at a ball that took forever to come down, Young tracked down Johnson’s three-point miss along the baseline and was fouled after gaining possession. As the teams headed to the benches for the media timeout, the Allen Fieldhouse crowd rose to its feet and roared for Young’s effort.

“I think it’s shows a lot about Kevin, that he’s still battling like that in that type of game,” said KU senior Conner Teahan, who teamed with Tyshawn Taylor to lead KU with 13 points apiece. “We have to keep doing the same, just keep fighting no matter what the score is, and just keep taking it to ’em. Obviously, the crowd loves that. Those are big plays that don’t necessarily show up on the stat sheet.”

Young wasn’t the only member of KU’s unproven bench who impressed. Tharpe recorded five assists and a steal in 17 minutes, and Wesley snagged six points and five rebounds in 14 minutes. All three guys still made mistakes, but those mistakes didn’t lead to a spot next to Self.

“Our schedule has been so hard that we haven’t had a chance to let guys play through mistakes off the bench,” Self said. “I thought Naadir made some really nice passes. Kevin did some good things. Justin didn’t play as much in the teeth of the game, but I thought they all did some good things.”

There was a reason for that. And Young, who appears to be learning a little more each time out, summed it up.

“I feel like we showed a lot more than we had been showing,” he said. “And I think it’s because we came out aggressive. We just stayed after them, and we had a lot of energy.”

Self has said this is a team that has to bring great effort every night to play up to its potential. In a surprisingly electric environment — considering the time of year — and against an opponent they had knocked out in the first five minutes, the Jayhawks showed they get that.

“I think for the most part they understand,” Self said. “For the most part.”

Now, it’s about sustaining it. With Big 12 Conference play set to kick off Wednesday, when KU plays host to Kansas State, only those performing at a high level are going to get big minutes. If Young, Tharpe and Wesley want to be in that conversation, what they showed Thursday against Howard needs to be just the beginning.

“We start league play with our in-state rival, and it’ll be jumping, and the intensity will be ratcheted up a lot,” Self said. “I don’t know if our new guys totally understand that yet.”

The veterans do.

“First off, you still have to learn from these types of games,” an unimpressed Teahan said after Thursday’s victory. “We definitely want to take care of business Saturday (3 p.m., vs. North Dakota) and keep momentum going into Wednesday.”

Comments

jaybate 7 years, 4 months ago

"When you’re facing the likes of Kentucky, Duke, Georgetown, UCLA and Ohio State, you tend to go with the guys you trust. During the stretches you’re not playing well against teams like Davidson, South Florida or Long Beach State, it’s hard to trust anybody."

Just a great graph and Tait is showing what he can do with his own substitute inches with Tom gone.

Brad Avery 7 years, 4 months ago

Young's effort off the missed shots should make it into the pregame, introduction highlights shown on the video screen at AFH. It was impressive and fun to watch him work that hard.

Eric Dawson 7 years, 4 months ago

Good stuff, Matt, and much appreciated but Matty, Matty --

We need more frequent Conference Realignment and FB info, even if it's "All Quiet on the Jayhawk Front".

Coaches Recruiting BEast Court Cases in RI and WV Odds WV will be in the B12 come this summer? If they aren't, odds mOO is going to be in legal trouble with the B12 for damaging the TV contract? etc.

You got us hooked, man, and now you're not supplying product?!? Not cool, man, not cool! We gotta have somethin' to at least keep the edge off, man!

Thanks!

Michael Bratisax 7 years, 4 months ago

Same rank my dad retired at after 33 years in the Army.. Thanks for your service.

Chris Shaw 7 years, 4 months ago

Yes Matt.......I agree with LTCUSARet (I hope I never have to type that name again-that must suck logging in each time?).

I still can't believe the Big 12 is just letting Louisville dangle out there. I just don't see an issue into getting to 11 schools. I know the Big 12 may not like it's choices for #12, but get Louisville and work on that. Getting 1 is much easier than getting 2 IMO.

It just aggrevates me when I see the latest article about the Pac 12 and B1G becoming scheduling partners in the future to further add "Branding" and "Strength" to their conferences. It's annoying!

Matt Tait 7 years, 4 months ago

Fellas.... Not sure if you missed this from yesterday, but in case you did, here it is.

http://www2.kusports.com/news/2011/dec/28/qb-dayne-crist-eager-reunite-charlie-weis/?football

Working on more now. It's coming, slowly but surely. You gotta understand nobody's talking. Not Weis, not the assistants, not the players. Even the guys who aren't here yet have been told not to do interviews from here on out... I'm all over it and will keep finding a way to bring you football coverage, but I just wanted you to know that it's not as simple as a quick phone call.

Have a great day and a Happy New Year!

Eric Dawson 7 years, 4 months ago

Matt -- saw it, thanks! Do understand -- and appreciate on several levels -- the "Cone of Silence" around the Athletic Dept these days. But you got us hooked, man, we need our daily fix now! You gotta have something for us or we go into withdrawal! :-)

Thanks again!

Curtis Stutz 7 years, 4 months ago

Lt Colonel USA Retired, that's an easy one to remember, though ltcusaret would be slightly better if it was ltc "USAF" ret ;) but nobody's perfect

Eric Dawson 7 years, 4 months ago

Funny on two accounts -- first, I grew up an AF brat, second, "nobody's perfect" is what I tell my KState grad friends!

Eric Dawson 7 years, 4 months ago

Oh, and for it to be service specific etiquette correct, phogphan2000, it would have to be LtColUSAFRet which is a little more to enter, but hey, I have workarounds..

Bville Hawk 7 years, 4 months ago

Football news withdrawal. Needing a fix, going to check out hawkzone.com and kansascity.com, will share if I find some good stuff.

Curtis Stutz 7 years, 4 months ago

+1 He's not the most talented player on the team, but he's obviously worked hard to learn Self's system and works hard on the court, great to have him in a Jayhawk uni

REHawk 7 years, 4 months ago

A couple of days back, I awarded KY the trophy for best bounce, to date. On the boards, it's a no-brainer to judge T-Rob's energy; TT and EJ bring it in spurts. Young seems to have it every minute he is on the court. Of course, his minutes are parceled around lotsa rest time and courtside scheming, but when he takes the floor his motor races non-stop.

REHawk 7 years, 4 months ago

What a gem Jeff Withey has become this season! His slender body is transforming into real manpower, and he has become proficient in darting out in Aldrich fashion with help defense. Not to mention his leading the squad in freethrow accuracy.

tical523 7 years, 4 months ago

Awesome. I hope Jeff reads this, perfect thought to ponder as he has just been so much bigger than opponents. I have noticed a little more edge to him so hopefully he is realizing his potential and what is needed to get there. Also if he can hit that turn around hook consistently. . .watch out!!! The will to win.

Jack Wilson 7 years, 4 months ago

REHawk: Easy there. Withey is better than expected, sure, but should not really be in the same breath as Aldrich. Withey is struggling big time getting post position, and seems to lack the tenacity, skill, or instincts to be an effective rebounder. Watched the recording of the Howard game and he really struggled getting set on the block on offense. It's been that way all year. Hope we see improvement there. I do like how he finishes. Great free throw shooting. I think he's got more in the tank than he's show so far.

Kristen Downing 7 years, 4 months ago

Hate to be a bummer, but remember who they played. Not too big on TRob's defense. What happened to his blocking ability and why are his arms not up while playing defense?

Marcia Parsons 7 years, 4 months ago

I've been worrying about that, too. What has happened to his aggression? He backs down from players under the hoop. All I can figure is that he has become too worried about fouling, or is trying to save energy so he can play the whole game. Whatever it is, it's hurting his game.

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