Sunday, March 13, 2011


Bill Self’s handling of Tyshawn Taylor genius



KU vs. Texas

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Kansas defeated Texas in the 2011 Big 12 tournament championship game Saturday, March 12, 2011 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

— Kansas University basketball coach/psychologist for young male adults Bill Self has had one of the quickest guards in America on his team the past three years, so quick, in fact, that it seems at times about the only one who can get in front of him to stop him from getting where he wants to go is Tyshawn Taylor himself.

Self had tried just about everything to get the easily distracted Taylor to keep his mind locked on self-improvement for the benefit of the team. Everything, that is, but ripping his starting job from him and telling the world with conviction that Elijah Johnson was his new point guard.

So he tried that one. So far, so brilliant.

That ploy would only work if Johnson played well enough to create a point-guard competition. Johnson obliged by exceeding everyone’s defensive expectations and bringing a calmness to the team at the other end.

All the while, Self knew where he wanted it all to end up, and just in time for the NCAA Tournament Kansas will enter as a No. 1 seed with a 32-2 record, he has the shakiest position on the team in better hands than at any point this year.

Taylor played a big game in helping Kansas to get past Colorado in the semifinals and played the game of his career in leading his team to an 85-73 payback of Texas to the delight of a capacity Sprint Center crowd Saturday in the Big 12 title game.

Making like Usain Bolt with a basketball bouncing at his side, Taylor zipped his way to 20 points, four rebounds, five assists and a steal in 37 minutes in his first starting assignment since before his late-season, two-game suspension for violating a team rule.

Taylor didn’t try to deny losing his starting job helped hone his focus.

“Oh, for sure,” Taylor said. “I’ve been starting for a while, since I was a freshman here. And I love starting. Who wouldn’t?”

Maybe Self over-reacted to whatever rule Taylor broke because he knew Kansas wasn’t going to get to the Final Four in Houston without consistent play from his point guard. We might never know, but even Taylor has his suspicions.

“I think coaches go to a psychology class or something to kind of mess with people’s minds to get them to think how they want them to think,” Taylor said.

The junior point guard with the lively personality and wandering focus can’t dispute that his time in street clothes led to Kansas peaking just in time for March Madness.

“I think that might have been the best thing that happened to me and this team,” Taylor said of the suspension. “I think it gave Elijah some confidence. Like I said, with him playing good, it makes us a better team. And myself as well.”

Basketball aside, I asked Taylor, how smart is his coach?

“I think he’s a genius, if you ask me,” Taylor said. “He knows what he wants and gets people to follow his lead, and being able to do that makes you a smart person.”

Taylor said that when Self went around the locker room before Saturday’s game, pointing at one player at a time and reminding each guy they had won without him, when he at some point in his career missed a game because of injury or suspension or part of a game because of an ejection, it worked.

“It definitely did something for me,” Taylor said. “I felt like I had to come out and show why I should be starting, why I should be playing. These last couple games, that’s exactly what I wanted to do.”

Taylor got the shaft when he wasn’t named to the five-man all-tournament team. Other than Marcus Morris, nobody had a better tourney than Taylor. Oh well, if that gives him a little chip going into the tournament, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

“Tyshawn can get comfortable,” Self said. “Comfortable’s bad. He needs to have that edge every day.”

Taylor, who scored 37 points in the final two games of the Big 12 tourney, has regained his starting spot, which means Johnson will come off the bench again.

“I got game experience out of the deal,” Johnson said. “I’m more comfortable on the court now. I don’t feel like I can get more comfortable on the floor now, that’s pretty much it.”

Self was asked if he knew all along he would go back to Taylor as his point guard.

“You know, I knew what was best for our team, and what’s best for our team is to have him in the game,” Self said. “But there’s a place for Elijah, too. There’s a place for both of our guys. And there are some times where if Tyshawn wasn’t playing well statistically, he can still impact the game in a lot of ways. And I think that’s something that he kind of got away from a little bit when things weren’t going well.”

In this season in which four players have missed games because of suspensions and three because of injuries, the rotation forever has been in flux. Now, in the nick of time, it appears set. Nobody’s suspended. Nobody’s too injured to play. And the most inconsistent key player just might have grown up at the perfect time. Time will answer that question.

“Coach just told me he thinks it was the best game I played in college, so I’ll take his word for it,” Taylor said. “We ain’t done, though. We’ve got another one to go yet.”


Larry Smith 9 years, 12 months ago

The end of this article is repeating, needs fixed.

100 9 years, 12 months ago

Well after a year of questionable fanhood we find out KSA_21_3503 is posting more like a KS fan than I had realized (see below). Not sure why we've been hit so hard by the KS fanbase so hard this year (actually it's only been three trolls). Most KS fans are respectable. Go find a rival KSA_21_3503. Missouri & Texas are more than enough for us. In short we've never had anything against you or Iowa State. You guys are pretty much seen as the good guys that we don't really pay much attention to. No disrespect, we just have our own university to worry about. In fact you & Iowa State might make a good rivalry & that could boost our conference image.

Linda Daxon 9 years, 12 months ago

Yes, now that Taylor has proved why he deserves to start and played the best game of his KU career, I hope he doesn't fall back into his old ways, rest on his laurels and lose focus again. He is not a Reed or Morningstar when it somes to dependability.

hawk316 9 years, 12 months ago

TT has been such a coaching challenge for Self! How to get the best out of a remarkably talented, but frustratingly inconsistent player? Yet, HCBS continues to show why he's among the very best at what he does.

Let's hope Tyshawn continues to bring his A game from here on out. If he does, this Jayhawk squad will be very difficult to beat.

ahpersecoachingexperience 9 years, 12 months ago

100 any word on coach barnes and if he suffers from the same condition that coach brown has?

jaybate 9 years, 12 months ago

A parole officer may visit you very soon.

Woody Cragg 9 years, 12 months ago

Knock,knock? Who's there? Billy. Billy who? Billy Packer...You guess the rest Bubba!

yates33333 9 years, 12 months ago

jaybate. Don't you think Taylor has a lot of street smarts and purposely acts goofy at times?

100 9 years, 12 months ago

KSA_21_3503..... So you sulk for three days after your team loses & then come back on selection Sunday to lob a turd at us?

Most of your fanbase is just fine & respectful, very good hardworking people who chose their fanhood due to proximity, much like many KU fans did historically. I'm not sure why you can't just support your team & be fine with support.... Of your own team.

Dan Harris 9 years, 12 months ago

Not do this? definitely a K-suck English major.

bad_dog 9 years, 12 months ago

As for your perspective on "genius" KSA, not sure how "bright" you can consider anyone using the Kansas statutory reference for indecent liberties with a child as his/her/its loser name. Consider the source, I guess.

So once again, KSA. Why is it you chose this loser name?

Hank Cross 9 years, 12 months ago

Would not it have been genius to get this performance out of TT all season long? Just a thought.

KULA 9 years, 12 months ago

Yeah, why can't Tyshawn be great EVERY game?

KULA 9 years, 12 months ago

Any haters out there still trying to figure out why Tyshawn is so important to this team?

Viggo3003 9 years, 12 months ago

Child please, the hater reference gets out old whether it's sports, politics, whatever. Taylor has done plenty to justify peoples ire and that does not make them haters.

WilburNether 9 years, 12 months ago

Excellent point, Viggo3003. The stupidity of people who trot out the "H" word is readily apparent. Telling the truth is not "hating," and if that truth happens to be unfavorable, it does not make one a "hater." Anyone with an education understands that.

Kevin Studer 9 years, 12 months ago

Yes, this one game completely eliminates all of Taylor's transgressions forever. Please. I am happy for Tyshawn, all KU fans are. But don't act like everyone's displeasure with Taylor's many mistakes is unjustified. He earned people's disappointment.

Kye Clark 9 years, 12 months ago

Exactly! Also, let's wait until the great games outweigh the poor performances before anyone puffs out their chest and says "I told you so!"

KULA 9 years, 12 months ago

Yes, Bill's choice for starting guard almost every game of his 3 years, with a 92-12 record, still needs to prove his worth to some posters on this board. Whether the above posters are haters or not, you can't read some of the posts below and still deny there are haters here. I hate that.

Kevin Studer 9 years, 12 months ago

I hate overuse of the word hater. And yes, you can choose to say, after every TT positive game "he is god" all you want, or use the Dubya argument that "to dislike TT's past shenanigans means you hate Bill Self (faulty argument)," but the fact remains this one game does not eliminate things like suspensions for everybody.

Kevin Studer 9 years, 12 months ago

I hate overuse of the word hater. And yes, you can choose to say, after every TT positive game "he is god" all you want, or use the Dubya argument that "to dislike TT's past shenanigans means you hate Bill Self (faulty argument)," but the fact remains this one game does not eliminate things like suspensions for everybody.

Kye Clark 9 years, 12 months ago

KULA - You using Bill Self's logic to defend Tyshawn is laugable. Isn't he the same coach you referred to as a "gutless wonder", and didn't you say you would trade Bill Self for Mark Turgeon?

It's not that anyone is a "hater", it's that one game is not enough to get a large portion of the fans to trust him in the NCAA tournament, which is infinitely more important than the Big XII tournament. Great game, and I'm hoping he keeps it going. But no one is out of line, or irrational, or hating because they still have doubts.

KULA 9 years, 12 months ago

If you're not a hater, quit complaining about the word--nobody called you out by name. You protest too much.

But you can't read the posts to today's & yesterday's stories about Tyshawn and deny there are haters out there.

Kye Clark 9 years, 12 months ago

No you didn't call me out by name, you simply replied to my post (see how you can tell by how the posts are staggered?) It's not rocket science.

"You protest too much"...sorry if I used too much logic and rationale, and for calling you out on the ridiculous merits of your position given your past comments.

KULA 9 years, 12 months ago

In your zeal to prove me wrong, you've totally lost track of point of the post. Like I said before, read the posts to the two stories about Tyshawn and tell me there aren't haters out there. And once again, I never called you or anyone out by name for being a hater (re-read my reply to your post). You're the one who replied to my original post. Like I said before, if you're not a hater, don't be so defensive about the word. You continue to protest too much.

David Howell 9 years, 12 months ago

I am loving Tyshawn even with the stupid turnovers at times. He is really showing his quickness and is driving to the bucket at will like I've wanted all year. Tyrel and Brady are great at driving from the baseline, but TT is the king from the top.

As long as the twins stay hot and out of foul trouble, I have to believe that 2 of our 4 guards can consistently hit from 3 land. With TRob and Little off the bench we are sitting pretty good. As for Selby, well as Brent Musberger put it, "Tyshawn work on your game and come back next year. The NBA will always be there ........"

Uhhhhhhh, duh, poor Selby has lost his edge and is definitely not looking good. I'd like for him to catch fire, but at this point he just needs to play team ball and avoid stupid turnovers. He really doesn't have much of a move to the bucket any more without going in uncontrolled or turning over the ball. With him missing almost half the season due to suspension and injury, he really has no confidence at all ............

Alohahawk 9 years, 12 months ago

The whole is the sum of its parts. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Coach Self knew where the weaker links needed strengthening, and over the season has forged standard base metal into an even stronger, but more flexible chain of stainless steel, prepared to withstand any load. The Hawks are looking pretty solid heading into the NCAA Tourney.

Great game, Tyshawn. Yours may be the final piece needed to complete the national championship puzzle. No one expects you to be perfect, but the closer you can come to it, the more likely the Hawks have to win it all. Go for it.

KU79 9 years, 12 months ago

Good post, Aloha . . . btw, any problems from the tsunami? I didn't have much time to watch the news but what I saw was all Japan, so I hope it fizzled out by the time it got to you.

Alohahawk 9 years, 12 months ago

Mahalo. Honolulu was all civil defense sirens and empty, ghost town like streets. Scary stuff. Luckily, Oahu/Honolulu only had a few ripples, 11/2 feet or so. Outer islands had some damage, but nothing major. Funny how that works. Jaybate had a good post/explication on that a few days ago.

Thanks for your concern.

Dirk Medema 9 years, 12 months ago

That's interesting Aloha. On the left coast, they are asking to declare Santa Cruz Harbor a National Disaster Area. Waves weren't huge, but for a harbor they were really pushing boats/yachts all over the place. Something like a dozen sunk and 40 damaged, plus 3 docks destroyed or something like that.

jaybate 9 years, 12 months ago

Everyone, everyone, everyone, remember how much Brady has ramped his game.

Everyone, everyone, everyone, remember how much Ej has ramped his game.

Everyone, everyone, everyone, remember how much TT has ramped his game.

Everyone, everyone, everyone, remember how much Josh will ramp his game.

Josh Selby is still the most monstrously talented perimeter player on this team.

As sure as I am typing, he is going to go off sometime during the next six games.

The poor guy has fought through a suspension.

He has fought through and injury that would end most guard's seasons.

And now he is mired in a slump.

But the slump has been going on a month or so.

He is due to break out of it.

He is due to break out of it in a big way.

And he will.

jaybate 9 years, 12 months ago

Dear Tom,

Animal trainers "handle" animals.

Coaches "coach" players.

The headline and story should read: "Bill Self's coaching of Tyshawn Taylor genius"

Treat our young men with the respect they deserve.

Be an accurate professional.

Rock Chalk!

Alohahawk 9 years, 12 months ago

Josh Selby aka Cole Aldrich. The making of a star.

Josh, stop thinking so much and just do what you did before, what comes naturally. Nothing fancy. Keep it simple. Fake the 3's and drive. If your opponent is concerned that you'll drive, he'll allow you more space to shoot the long balls. Bobby Knight ain't stupid (Slightly senile, maybe) but he's right about putting a fake on your opponent.

Scott MacWilliams 9 years, 12 months ago

Dear Jaybate et al,

FYI, from my experience in newsrooms, reporters don't usually have much to do with the choice of headlines. They write the story and go home. (or submit it electronically from a distance).

Copy editors are laying out the pages, bounce ideas around, and go with the one that seems best. Often this done late at night while running on fumes. Sometimes the reporters are still around, but it's really not their call.


murph 9 years, 12 months ago

Tyshawn Taylor has to be "handled". He doesn't respond to "coaching".

leonard 9 years, 12 months ago

Good call, murph. Taylor all but admitted that himself.

leonard 9 years, 12 months ago

Easy JB...your animus towards the often times irritating Keegan is misplaced here. Your complaint is a nitpick.

Alohahawk 9 years, 12 months ago

Is the person writing the article responsible for the headline(s)? Or, does the editor have the final say? Not sure what the LJW policy is. Production deadlines can sometimes limit the imagination as well. Just saying.

Terry Jacobsen 9 years, 12 months ago

It's semantics. Tyshawn has been a problem. You handle problems.

brewmaster 9 years, 12 months ago

Jaybate says to "treat our young men with the respect they deserve." Does merely being a college basketball player deserve respect? The word "handle" is appropriate.

KansasComet 9 years, 12 months ago

All the pieces are coming together. Now if we can figure out a way to get Selby going? I would think the first round game, if it is a blowout, will be an opportunity give him 20-plus minutes. This kid is the real deal. Unfortunately, he has missed 12 games this year due to injury and suspension. I still feel like there is enough time for him to find his way with the team this year.

I do not want to ruffle any feathers with my comments, I just want to state my opinion. The win last night was great, however it was pretty much a home game. Now, it is my hope that we get this same type of effort when we hit the road. I believe we have a team capable of winning it all. I think back to our 2006-2007 team, which in my opinion may have been slightly better than our 2007-2008 Championship Team, and the 2006-2007 team got a raw deal having to play UCLA in California in the Elite 8. In that situation the 2 Seed had the home court advantage.

I know we are a Number 1 Seed this year, I just hope no matter what draw we get, we are strong enough to go there and take what should be ours. We are going to need every capable body out there to win it all this year.

KansasComet 9 years, 12 months ago

Thanks! No denying they were both great teams. I gave the slight edge to the '07 squad because they beat the eventual champion Florida Gators in Las Vegas that season. I just thought we caught bad breaks with UCLA being a 2 Seed and never leaving the state of California in the tournament that year. I would have rather been a 2 Seed in another bracket that year. Anyway, both KU squads were excellent teams and I wish we could have gone back to back during that time frame.

Philip Garver 9 years, 12 months ago

If Tyshawn will attack the rim, like he has been lately, we don't need Josh in the game. It's nice to have him if we become stale. He can come in and ratchet things up a notch, even though it's not always positive. What Josh can bring to this team is what Tyshawn brought last night. If Tyshawn will do that every game, we don't need Josh's turnovers or defensive liabilities.

KansasComet 9 years, 12 months ago

It's great to see Reed and Morningstar playing like it could be their last game! I was impressed with their hustle and put-backs on missed shots. Plays like that could be the difference in winning the title. Kool Moe Dee reference? How about "How ya like me now?" Excellent Post!

Philip Garver 9 years, 12 months ago

Let's hope we're not sent to the Wild, Wild West.

CC_Hawk 9 years, 12 months ago

Can someone tell me the story of the white tape on Tyshawn's right hand?

Ben Kane 9 years, 12 months ago

not sure, i think he messed up his finger in one of the first games this year, but he's been wearing it practically all year.

NickBarnes 9 years, 11 months ago

In the Movie "The Street Stops Here" he actually breaks his finger before the state tournament in highschool his senior year. He went on to win the State Championship that year. I'm sure it still isn't perfect.

ahpersecoachingexperience 9 years, 12 months ago

I can't wait to see the genius in letting selby fire up a shot the first time he touches it, dribble the length of the court into a compacted lane at 90 mph, and set team records for traveling calls in a game.

WilburNether 9 years, 12 months ago

Any idiot can see that the all-tournament team should have been Morris, Morris, Taylor, Hamilton, and Burks.

Tristan Thompson had a decent tournament, but putting him on in place of Taylor is a travesty, and a testament to the stupidity of the news media people who select the all-tournament team.

bad_dog 9 years, 12 months ago

I believe that's called the "consolation prize"...

Theutus 9 years, 12 months ago

If you've ever seen tape of EJ playing before KU, you'd know that he can drive all day long...

The problem here is that he doesn't have the leash from Self to do it. If he makes a turnover, he gets yanked. TT? He can rinse and repeat turnovers 2 or 3 fold and not get yanked... And even if he did, he'd be back in the game at the next whistle.

EJ is just fine, and he'll be our next great PG. He's just gotta wait until TT is gone, because Self will not allow anyone else to be our go to PG while TT is here. Hopefully TT can keep up the good play... But quite frankly over 3 years, he's only disappointed me by losing his head time and time again. Fool me once, yadda yadda yadda.

jaybate 9 years, 12 months ago

I think we are going to see more of EJ at the point than we saw against Texas, but it is hard to say what Self will do in this regard. Imagine trying to prepare for KU right now. An opposing coach can't even be sure who will be playing the point.

jaybate 9 years, 12 months ago


This is in response to your question about TT maybe being street savvy and just occasionally intentionally acting like a goof ball.

Ya know, Yates, I thought that for a time, but what I really think now is: TT is pretty much WYSIWYG right now. He's got a still developing brain and so he acts erractically, sometimes with great skill and maturity, and other times like he has an unconnected wire.

Ever since my biologist father-in-law presented me with brain scanning research in Science magazine that proved that human brains literally do not grow together all their inter connected neural nets until around 23 years of age, I really think a lot of what passes for goofy behavior among these young players is really and truly a brain that is just not yet fully grown.

People focus a lot on Tyshawn, because he has evidenced these short coming for several years. But I swear EJ has just as many disconnects in personality and logic as Tyshawn. If you listen to EJ's interview, or read his quotes, he sounds like one of the most savvy, and intelligent young men I have ever seen in tennis shoes and a jock. Yet at the very same time he is doing some of the weirdest things on a basketball court that I have ever witnessed! And then he goes off yelling after a dunk and getting a technical. And then after playing like consummate point guard, when riding the bench during one of Tyshawn's better performances, EJ is over on the bench kidding around with Thomas Robinson like they are a couple of 5th graders in the back of the room in elementary school.

There's just a lot of different tracks of emotional and intellectual development occuring at this age and they literally involve the wetware of the brain not yet being fully grown together in its connections

And I don't want to limit this to TT and EJ.

Think about Brady's behavior over the years. On the one hand, he seems the most mature and savvy basketball player around, while at the same time he is driving loaded on the Turnpike in the middle of the night? The kid who never makes a TO, or an erratic play in three seasons, suddenly throws a ball in the face of a player when play has stopped?

Or take the inimitable, unflappable, nearly robotically consistent Tyrel Reed. He has a 42 inch vertical leap and after 4 years has to be encouraged to go to the rim? I recall one time this season Self finally said to Tyrel that maybe he ought to use his god given jumping ability and go to the rim, and Tyrel sounded struck dumb by the suggestion...after four years!!!! It was like it had never occurred to him that he ought to drive to the rim. Sure Self drills them in their roles and sure Tyrel is a master at sticking to the role Self crafts, but a guy with a 42 inch vertical seems stunned, as if it had never occurred to him to go out and jam with the high flyers?

jaybate 9 years, 12 months ago

These are young men, Yates, boys in many respects. I believe part of Self's genius is to realize that and to try never to ask them to do things they are not yet emotionally ready to do. By emotionally, I mean on the neural net development level.

Sometimes, out of frustration with having to deal with these late blooming neural net connections, I think Self compensates with, "Well, you may not be able to think yet, but you damn well can play with some pain!"

But the pain centers in the brain are subject to the same kinds of uneven development as the rest of the centers of brain activity.

I really think Self knows these players very well on a psychological and developmental level and I think he has a lot of sympathy for the limitations related to brain developmental vs body development, though he might speak of this in more jockish, less neurological terms.

Every guy on the team has amazing physical ability, even the walk on's can fly threw the air and jam with the greatest of ease in warm ups.

But the game is hugely mental once the conference season starts. It is a kind of psychological warfare in which Self has to ask himself: is this young person's brain sufficiently developed to make it fair to him to put him in harm's way, even if he has exactly the kind of a body that we need?

jaybate 9 years, 12 months ago

Last season, it did not matter that Thomas Robinson had an NBA body. Self just would hardly put him in.

This season and last, it does not matter that Jeff Withey, even though a bit slight of build, has the size and shot blocking ability this team desperately needs, after many, many tests, Self has just finally decided the kid just isn't ready for the kind of combat that goes on out there.

My guess is all these parents are grateful to Self for disciplining their kids, and at times for holding their kids out of competition.

Two seasons ago Travis Releford was so erratic he had no business walking unattended on a sidewalk, much less on a D1 floor, regardless of how intelligent he may be in a classroom.

This season, Travis was on his way to serious impacting, but he got injured and he clearly does not have the kind of mental development yet to play through the pain, to perform at a high level despite the injury.Travis is not a coward. He would walk through walls for Self. His brain, at the present stage of development, just does not permit him that much control over his emotions and his pain centers to play injured effectively. Self didn't like it, because he needed Travis, but in the end Self respects a player's limitations and, while he does not reward them for them, he certainly does not run them off the team either. Next season, Travis will probably be fully mature in term of brain growth, and I fully expect him to be a cornerstone of the team, a great impact player and one of the most level headed guys on the team.

Part of the reason I part with many on the issue of players needing more playing time to get comfortable is this: if a player's brain has not yet reached sufficient developmental growth to have the neural net connections necessary to perform well, giving that kid more minutes is kind of like asking a wobbly colt to run a race. They can't do it and it would be wrong and cruel to ask them to do so. Its a judgement call, of course, and Self can't be expected to judge right everytime on players, but IMHO he has a good track record of knowing when to give them more rope, and when to completely take them out of action and let them mature a year, even two.

I really think these players want to play and be as good as their coach wants them to play and be, and that they try. But there is just a ton to learn about how to be a globally functional young adult and there just are brains that are not fully integrated during the college years.

jgjones101489 9 years, 12 months ago

all u bardy and tt basher's r fair weather fans. if either has one bad game in tourney, y'all will be on here throwing out as many lowballs as u can think of. tt is awsome. he'll wind up being a four year player and i can't wait till next year for a tt, selby, and ej lineup. get ready for the highlight reel with releford coming off bench. get out of here fair weather fans this is jayhawk country win or loose.

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