Saturday, December 31, 2011

Uncle gives Elijah Johnson ‘extra boost’ against North Dakota

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson adjusts for a shot as he is fouled by North Dakota forward Mitch Wilmer during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 31, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson adjusts for a shot as he is fouled by North Dakota forward Mitch Wilmer during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 31, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self

Kansas coach Bill Self talks to reporters following the Jayhawks' 84-58 victory over North Dakota on Dec. 31, 2011.

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Highlights: KU vs. North Dakota


KU vs. North Dakota

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Kansas head men's basketball coach Bill Self addressed the media after defeating North Dakota, 84-58, on Saturday, Dec. 31, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

If he keeps playing like this, Kansas guard Elijah Johnson might consider bringing a family member to all of his home games.

With his uncle, Prince Couisnard, in attendance Saturday, the 6-foot-4 junior Johnson posted 11 points, seven assists and just one turnover in the Jayhawks’ 84-58 victory over North Dakota.

“Whenever my uncle’s around, it does something different to me,” Johnson said. “It’s like having my dad there (and) just gives me that extra boost to look in the crowd and see somebody that I recognize.”

The two have a closer uncle-nephew relationship than most, as Couisnard handled most aspects of Johnson’s recruiting in high school. Couisnard had been through the process before. His sons P.J. (Wichita State) and Jay (UMKC) were Div. I basketball players.

“I love him, and he’s just a great person to be around with all his encouraging,” Couisnard said. “He loves to make everybody better around him.”

Against Ohio State on Dec. 10, Johnson scored 15 points on 5-for-7 three-point shooting with his dad, Marcus, watching him.

Couisnard, who lives in Houston, actually didn’t tell Johnson he was coming until Wednesday. After driving 10 hours from Houston to watch his daughter, Tiffani, play basketball for the University of Tulsa, Couisnard made the three-hour trek to Lawrence.

“You can’t say enough about the coaching staff here,” Couisnard said. “Coach (Bill) Self is just tremendous with developing him.”

The area where Johnson struggled most Saturday was his three-point shooting. He made just two of 10 three-pointers, while KU as a team hit just six of 27 (22 percent).

Johnson, who has made 31 percent of his threes this year, isn’t worried about his mini shooting slump.

“I try not to focus on it,” Johnson said. “I’ve been thinking about it too much, and that’s the problem. I know I can shoot the ball.”

Self said Johnson could help KU’s offense even more by being more aggressive. The coach pointed to the fact that KU guard Tyshawn Taylor has 87 free throws this year, while Johnson has just 11.

Self said Johnson was limiting himself to two options when he received the ball: shooting or passing. The coach would like to see him drive it when he’s not shooting it.

“He can get his shoulders past people,” Self said. “... He’s just kind of being a ball-mover, and he’s too good to be just that.”

Johnson believes he still can improve defensively as well.

“I can do more,” Johnson said. “I feel like I can get a couple more steals a game. I can definitely steal four or five rebounds a game.”

At the end of nonconference play, Johnson is third on the team in scoring with 10.2 points per game and second in assists with 2.9 per contest.

“It’s confusing, honestly, because some days I feel like we’ve made so much progress,” Johnson said. “I feel like we’re looking like the team from my freshman year, just the way we play in practice and get up and down the floor. Some days, I feel like we take steps back.

“But I feel like we’re getting to that point now where we’re just taking steps forward.”


jayhawker_97 7 years, 7 months ago

EJ knows it better than anyone. i'm not worried about the shooting slump, he can always contribute in many other ways.

Michael Bratisax 7 years, 7 months ago his shot is looking more fluid. Hopefully they will start falling,

rockchalkchalkin23 7 years, 7 months ago


Driving the ball is better for everyone and everything all around. In the process of getting assists from driving, for example ND, you will get defenses more concerned with you beating them off the dribble. They already know you can shoot, and pass. Eventually, as you take advantage of driving, you become a guessing game as to which way you will break down the defense each and every time you control the ball.

Love the energy you bring to the team. Keep up the hardwork.

REHawk 7 years, 7 months ago

Drive it, EJ, esp. on nights when your 3 isn't falling! Punish 'em at the stripe.

Philip Nguyen 7 years, 7 months ago

I agree, good things seems to happen when EJ drives to the basket.

jaybate 7 years, 7 months ago

"Deconstructing K-State"

8 man rotation playing at least 22mpg

The Perimeter Thumbnail:

McGruder a long strong junior defensive guard at 6-4 and 205 with weak trey.

Spradling a 6-2 180 pound soph guard with 45% trey.

Rodriguez a 5-11 180 soph guard backup with speed and no trey

Irving a strong 6-1 200 pound defensive guard with no trey

The Perimeter Analysis:

Crazy Frank has 4 solid defenders but only one trey man Cut off Spradling's air and the perimeter offense dies. KU's guards perimeter guys can take turns dogging him, while the others sag and help with the wide loads in the paint.

The Bigs Thumbnail:

Samuels a 6-7 230 Sr forward grabbing 7 rpg in only 25mpg.

Gipson a 6-7 275 Fr wide load forward grabbing 7 rpg in only 23 mpg

Henriquez 6-11 250 jr post averaging 6 rpg in 19 mpg.

Southwell 6-6 210 soph 3/4 type with a trey and 4 rpg in 22mpg.

The Bigs Analysis:

Crazy Frank wins by turning games into rebounding contests. His four man committee is averaging 13 and 11 rpgs over 40 minutes. His guards, especially McGruder, at 5 rpg, get on the glass too.

No one but Southwell can step out and take the trey; this four man rotation is all about smash mouth.

Samuels and Southwell give them a lean mobile look with more mobility than Withey can handle. Conner, Justin and KY will all get a crack at these guys.

Gibson and Henriquez can turn it into wide load, trench warfare with way more weight than Withey, Justin and KY can probably handle. These two are probably why Self played the starters without Withey and with Conner so much. As improbable as it sounds, Conner is apt to see time at the 4 against the wide loads.

Self has probably already decided that if Frank comes with Gipson and Henriquez, then part of the time Self is going to make at least one of these wide loads chase Conner outside. How Conner can possibly guard either wide load on the other end, will be interesting. KU may play some zone for the first time.

Mixing and matching these four bigs give Crazy Frank flexibility to counter most Match-Ups and these are the real strength of his team; the reason KSU has worn down and overpowered most teams it has played.

jaybate 7 years, 7 months ago

Henriquez is the efficient, experienced pile driving scorer, but seems the lesser defender. Samuels the experienced jumping jack and defender who can get hot occasionally with floaters.

Everyone plays XTReme Muscle.

But here is the thing: none but Henriquez are efficient scorers. And with Gipson and/or Henriquez in the game, their fat asses are vulnerable to transition...if KU can get any rebounds.

Strategy and Tactics:

We are going to be playing a stronger, deeper front line that doesn't score very efficiently, but is well equipped to counter Thomas with weight and muscle.

We are going to be playing a stronger, deeper perimeter with only one trey shooter in the bunch.

Now do you see why Self is sounding the warning klaxon?

On the other hand, we have the better basketball players, if they can avoid getting muscled out of their games.

KU is going to have an MUA with Thomas, though the struggle with weight and numbers is going to slim that advantage and fatigue him.

Withey, if he can stay on the floor and anywhere near the basket, could turn a not very efficient front line into a terribly inefficient front line. But Withey, though well rested, may not be able to stay on the floor that much. If he is able to guard the wide loads, Crazy Frank will bring his more mobile bigs and Withey probably cannot chase them. if Withey can stay with the mobile bigs, Crazy Frank is going to come with the wide loads. Withey is in for the test of his young career vs. KSU, not because they are so good, but because he is going to see some many different match-ups that don't favor him.

jaybate 7 years, 7 months ago

But KSU has the same problem KU had last season with playing lots of bodies. When the competition is really good, and you have to stick with your best players, your best players are not used to playing 35-40 minutes.

Crazy Frank faces the choice Self faced at times last season. Stick with his best despite them not being in good enough condition to go 35-40, or endure some slack off, to keep everyone fresh and hope to wear the opponent down late in the game?

Out on the perimeter, things look only slightly better, because Crazy Frank has to choose among who to stop. McGruder is his lock down man. Who McGruder guards, will mean KU will seek to exploit an edge through the other two perimeter guys. McGruder may be put on Tyshawn, but not likely, at first anyway. Tyshawn is just plain tough now. KSU will guard him and maybe be able to frustrate him, but likely as not TT will get his points and control his man as usual.

McGruder most likely will be put on EJ; this is a big match up for this game for a couple reasons. EJ is in a slump. EJ is still a slender player relative to KSU's McGruder. Self will be asking EJ to finally step up and take some pressure off Tyshawn and TRob, something he has not been able to do so far.

EJ needs to have a big day from trey, to counter Spradling's usual good shooting, regardless of who guards Spradling.

But EJ also needs to go to the iron. KU is going to require a back side threat on rotation to exploit KSU wide body bigs.

Everytime the ball gets to the wing on Travis, the KSU wide bodies are going to over shift to contend with TRob. At that moment, the ball is going to reverse and EJ has to rediscover his play ground roots and drive baseline on McGruder.

Frankly, what I would like to see is EJ to take over the point with McGruder on him, and for the ball to reverse to Tyshawn, and as in his old Freshman days, Tyshawn takes it baseline to the rim on Spradling backside after reversal.

KU should win this game, if it can handle the smash mouth, and keep probing patiently for its MUAs.

There are going to be transition opportunities.

There are going to be perimeter opportunities.

There are going to be opportunities for Thomas.

But it is going to be a lot like a prize fight. KU is going to have to feel out a slugger and learn how to find his weaknesses, while hoping it doesn't get floored early.

But I'm not sure anyone but Tyshawn is really ready for a methodical search for MUA while taking serious banging yet. This team may not be ready to beat KSU till the second game.

But dang, I like our team. I like how big they have come up against other top teams this season. I like how much better they have gotten, regardless of that silly head tripping Self gave them during the North Dakota game.

I think KU will come out like gang busters and I think KU will win this game...somehow!

jaybate 7 years, 7 months ago

Good point about EJ's size.

Maybe he's an example of someone who takes awhile to grow in a Hudy body.

Maybe he still sees himself mostly as a finesse player, when in fact he's got the chops now to play it anyway they want.

Self asks all these players to live on the razor's edge between Basketball IQ and athleticism.

Be more aggressive/turn it over less.

Less show boat/more bounce.

Don't foul/don't play soft.

Don't let it stick/get to the rim.

And so on.

Its what makes Self Ball so special, but it ain't easy to do.

If it were, more would be doing it.

But when it works, it is exquisite.

HawksWin 7 years, 7 months ago

Thanks Jaybate. Now, may I expect such analysis from you on every game prior to the game day? Happy New Year!

jaybate 7 years, 7 months ago

I'll try, but I'm old and so I usually defer to kushaw for the heavy lifting. :-)

HawksWin 7 years, 7 months ago

No, you are as old as you think! As a teen, my father tried to tell me "you think I'm old, but I'm 25 - in here", his finger pointing to his head! So no matter how old you are, I believe you are 25 in your thoughts! Bring it Jaybate - every game, I insist! I appreciate your insights. And, someone needs to teach some youngsters on how to blog with courtesy & respect. They hide behind their PCs and shoot their fingers off showing ignorance & arrogance that I have not witnessed anywhere. They were not taught well by their parents. What a shame.

jaybate 7 years, 7 months ago


Your pop was right, too.

Pablo Picasso wrote that he decided to stay 30 in his mind for his entire life and that that accounted for much of his longevity as an artist.

SchultzHawk11 7 years, 7 months ago

Im hoping he will bring his game versus KSU cause we will need him. Im getting tired of all the KSU fans all over ESPN talking cause they have had a solid team on and off for a couple years its getting real old and I am hoping that we can destroy them in the Phog and stop their trash talk for a game or two.

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