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Friday, March 18, 2011

Tale of two Taylors: ‘Good Tyshawn’ fired up for KU basketball’s NCAA Tournament opener

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor puts up a three from the corner as the Jayhawks work out before their fans during a day of practices and press conferences for teams playing second and third round games in Tulsa on Thursday, March 17, 2011 at the BOK Center.

Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor puts up a three from the corner as the Jayhawks work out before their fans during a day of practices and press conferences for teams playing second and third round games in Tulsa on Thursday, March 17, 2011 at the BOK Center.

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Tyshawn Taylor talks about the strengths of KU and his role on the Jayhawk team during locker-room interviews Thursday at the BOK Center in Tulsa.

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After a red-shirt season last year, Kansas forward Travis Releford is ready to play a role in this year's NCAA Tournament.

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— Tyshawn Taylor has had so many personal highlights, and lowlights, in his three-year Kansas University basketball career, he has made wisecracking media wonder: “Is there a good Tyshawn and a bad Tyshawn?”

“I don’t know. I think there’s just one Tyshawn that gets in trouble sometimes,” Taylor, KU’s starting point guard, said Thursday, on the eve of today’s NCAA Tournament opener between KU (32-2) and Boston University (21-13). Tipoff is 5:50 p.m. at BOK Center.

“I also feel I am kind of in the wrong places at the wrong time. It’s how I look at it. I think it’s part of being young. I think everybody has done some things when they are young. When I get up there in age, I think it will probably be something I talk about and laugh about,” he added of some of his stormier moments at KU. “It’s something I can grow from, become a better person and better man.”

The “bad” Tyshawn at the end of February was suspended two games for breaking team rules and lost his starting spot in four more contests.

He enters the NCAA Tournament back in coach Bill Self’s good graces.

The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder from Hoboken, N.J., regained his starting job in the second half of last Friday’s Big 12 tournament semifinal against Colorado.

He scored 15 points and dished four assists in that game, and back as starter, exploded for 20 points and five assists in the title game against Texas.

“It’s how it’s been my last few years, up and down, up and down,” Taylor said of his junior year. “I want to come in this tournament, try to start this one like I ended the last one.”

Taylor, who for the season has averaged 9.1 points a game off 46.7 percent shooting, with 143 assists against 86 turnovers, has heard various TV analysts say his play could be the “key” to KU’s postseason hopes.

Guard play is considered essential to success this time of year.

“I’ve heard them say it a couple times. It feels good that people think that about me,” Taylor said. “It’s good people are saying that about me. At the same time, we’re so deep. If I do what I gotta do and my teammates do what they’ve gotta do, we’ll be in good shape.”

Taylor acknowledges his confidence is soaring.

“I had a ball,” Taylor, who took the ball to the basket repeatedly, said of last weekend’s Big 12 tourney. “My team played well. I played well. Coach was happy with us.

“I had a ball,” he repeated. “It felt good. I feel this is how I want to play. There’s no better time to start that heading into the NCAA Tournament. I am going to try to keep that ball rolling.”

Self won’t overstate Taylor’s importance in the 2011 postseason.

“Everybody needs to play well,” Self said. “It’s important key guys play well. He is a guy who can change the game and create pace and do some things others can’t. It’s important he play well.

“Elijah (Johnson) started when Ty had his issues and played very well. Then Ty was lights out against Texas and played well in the Big 12 tournament. But we need them both. That’s what I tell them. We need them both. One is more a possession guard (Johnson), and the other kind of a road-runner-type guard. But we need Elijah’s athletic ability and maybe even play some of those guys together or play those two together more than we have.”

Of course, ever-reliable Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed will be starting at guard with Taylor and the Morris twins.

Morningstar likely will open defensively on America East Conference player of the year John Holland, a 6-5 senior who averages 19.2 points and 5.9 boards.

“He’s going to be a tough matchup, whoever guards him,” Morningstar said. “And you’ve got to be ready to play team defense, especially in the NCAA Tournament, because a lot of guys on different teams can score in different ways. But I’m impressed from what I’ve seen from him. He looks like he can do it all. It will be exciting to get to guard him.”

Self said Holland, “is a potential pro. He can do a lot of things. He can post. He can face. He can drive it. He’s certainly athletic.”

KU has a wildcard guard entering the postseason in another player expected to play in the NBA, maybe as soon as next season — Josh Selby.

Selby, who has been hampered the last several weeks because of his foot injury, said he’s healthy and ready for March Madness.

“It’s exciting. Tomorrow I will be jumping out of my pants. I’m not going to lie to you,” Selby said Thursday. “I saw the atmosphere on TV today. It’s crazy. I can’t wait.”

Of his own upcoming performance, he said: “What’s happened in the past is past. This is a new season for us and me. I’m coming in with a different attitude. When coach throws me out there, whatever he needs me to do, I’ll do. I think right now, one thing we have to do is stop them from scoring. From what I’ve seen on TV, Holland is very tough. They’ve got a fast point guard, too, in Irving (D.J., 6-foot freshman, 7.9 ppg, 3.6 apg). I think if our bigs play well and our guards play well, we should be able to do some good things.”

Selby wouldn’t trade his mentor, Taylor, for anybody.

“Tyshawn is fast, can defend, can get to the rack whenever he wants. He’s special,” Selby said.

He’s also key to KU’s gameplan today and, if the Jayhawks win, Sunday’s battle against either UNLV or Illinois.

As far as the “bad-good” Tyshawn debate, “For me, there’s only a good Tyshawn,” Selby said. “If there is a bad Tyshawn, he does a good job of not showing it.”

Comments

Robert Murphy 3 years, 1 month ago

If I hear one more idiotic comment about Selby in the NBA next year I'm going to hang up.

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kushaw 3 years, 1 month ago

I'm just ready for the games to start. Today has some been some really good games, but higher seeds have prevailed all day. Kyrie Irving looked "Rusty" and "Slow", but he did pass the ball well. Go Jayhawks!

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Steve Brown 3 years, 1 month ago

someone help me, my dad 85 in Az is trying to plan his weekend naps is asking me what time we would play on Sunday, anyone have a guess. thanks.

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FarSideHawk 3 years, 1 month ago

I had Tennessee beating Michigan, precisely because I know that Pearl is very well liked by his players and they will be motivated to win for him under the circumstances. Also because they had the talent to knock off some very good teams early in the year. I am beyond shocked that they gave up half way through and lost by 30!

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Ralster Jayhawk 3 years, 1 month ago

jaybate, I dont know about Mike Anderson's next move. I saw he didnt press much @AFH, saving the mayhem for KU at Columbia. But that is "his" trademark as much as m2m is Self's, and zone is Boeheim's. He did it with UAB, he still does it and recruits for it at Mizzou.


alohahawk, Hard to say about Bruce Pearl. He is very well liked by his players, and tends to recruit athletes that are motivated to play for him. As a coach, I dont know enough about his w/l performance...but knocking off a #1 KU team last year with a bunch of walk-ons says something.

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Alohahawk 3 years, 1 month ago

Wow. Tennessee routed by Michigan, 75 - 45. Could be Bruce Pearl's last game coaching Tennessee..

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jaybate 3 years, 1 month ago

Is Mike Anderson finally going to give up on the press?

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jayhawkinnebr 3 years, 1 month ago

KU better hope that Taylor plays good so that we can keep Brainless Brady on the bench.

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Lebowski 3 years, 1 month ago

I wasn't "happy" that missouri lost. I would say more "validated". Justified even further in hating them... given yet another reason to hate them. Like "what do they do for us"? Getting bounced in the 1st round... nothing.

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Jack Wilson 3 years, 1 month ago

When March hits, it is not the time to analyze like we do during the season ... now, truly, there are no style points. We are who we are. There's no prepping for the tourney. We're here.

I would caution on the TT optimism. I saw KULA's first statement above .. that TT is key to how far we go in the tournament. That may be true. Scary, but possibly true.

I truly hope that coach Self has a relatively quick hook on TT .. quicker that the game at KSU, but not so quick as to yank him after one error. Coach Self, better than anyone, knows the look of the bad TT, and he shouldn't hesitate. If TT is playing poorly, he can drive the ship right into the iceberg.

This team will cruise to the Elite 8. We will not overlook UNLV or Illinois, and certainly won't overlook our Sweet 16 opponent given their upset wins. Many times in the tournament you need some luck, and skating by without having to play Louisville is a pretty big deal. In 1988 we got Murray St. in much the same manner.

And we are just plain better than ND, Purdue, or anyone down below in our bracket. But we will need to play at least our B+/A- game to beat them. Nothing less.

As has been the case with this team all season, it will be about focus. We come out like we did vs. Oklahoma St .. we do that vs. anyone from the UNLV/Illinois game, forward, we likely go home. It is that simple.

That brings us back to TT .. he sets the tone. If he drives and clanks, dribbles off his foot, gets a charge, focuses on getting his shots .. basically does his "I look like a selfish freshman" routine .. that is a big part of the "focus" thing for this team. Because he has the ball in his hands.

I am optimistic.

RCJH!

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Tony Bandle 3 years, 1 month ago

Winning tonight is not the issue [no #1 has ever lost it's opening game.]

The issue is setting a team mindset for the tournament. The Hawks need to destroy Boston to set in place in the minds of the other teams that resistance is futile and that the Crimson and Blue Ninja Assassins will Sherman March through the field, waving the Scythe of Defeat and cut down all who dare stand in the way, showing no mercy.

Make this year March Massacre!!!!

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JHawk74 3 years, 1 month ago

Maybe Self should start Johnson in this game to keep Taylor under control for our next game. Taylor seems to play better after not starting a game or two. I'm not sure I agree that Taylor is the key to how far we go in the tournament. If Taylor is not playing well we have other guards to play his position. The Morris Twins are the key to winning a championship. If KU has 6 great games from them we are National Champions. RCJH!

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KGphoto 3 years, 1 month ago

I rather like this Holland kid. He's having fun!

Oh yeah, he also shoots like 87% FT. (170 for 196 I believe. Deadly) He's taken about 150 more shots than McM this year, but he hits well under 40%, and 32% from the arc. Nonetheless, he is the head of the terrier, so BStar, get out there and cut it off. And don't foul.

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REHawk 3 years, 1 month ago

Yeah, when jaybate lines up the 'vettes for the big parade, let's hope the Ferrari is polished and purrin', all set to lead the pack.

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SaulGood 3 years, 1 month ago

I am excited for Tyshawn, despite a great many growled protests to his play in the past. I like the humor that the guys are in for the tournament, and not looking forward to 'casters talking about "overconfidence" or the like. I hope Tyshawn can admit his shadow may always elbow its way into the forefront, and concentrate on making short, smart passes and using that speed to combine with strong drives straight to the hoop. This kid could end up being huge in the tournament. Selby - there's so much pressure in your court life right now - I hope we see that megawatt smile on your face several more times this season while you're out on the floor.

More than anything, I want Boston to be the first victim of what a high-octane, talented team can do when they play together, trust each other, remember the fundamentals, and play to win.

Tonight's the night, guys! Own it!

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Mike Bratisax 3 years, 1 month ago

Should I feel guilty that I was GLAD Mizzou was bounced in their opening game? Strangely I found myself pulling for KSU. I think it must because I didn't want Pullen to go out like that. He has proven to be a worthy warrior.

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ParisHawk 3 years, 1 month ago

Another disgustingly off-topic post: if you do Twitter, follow Jay Bilas during the tournament. Insightful and hilarious! Digger Phelps must be furious. If you don't get his reference to his dog eating from the Morehead bowl, ask me and I'll explain.

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ParisHawk 3 years, 1 month ago

In the other regions, the higher seed won every time but one. In our region, only the underdogs won. We are the only #1 seed whose path to the Final Four got easier yesterday.

That being said, can we please just win t? Today is the last game of the season until we win.

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jaybate 3 years, 1 month ago

"And What If..."

~And what if Selby is healthy and Tyshawn is on? Simple. KU is the King of March and April.

~And what is it? March? And Self is about to try another guard combination--the one so many have been calling for--Tyshawn and EJ. I love it. KU may be the first team to work at getting better all the way through the flippin' tournament. Hey, Coach Self, let's schedule some post tournament games to keep getting better. Let's play through the flippin' tournament to get to some serious getting better!

~And what if TRob's knee actually feels a little better? He may be ready to return to Dunkternity levels of terror in the paint.

~And what if Mario Little has his shooting slump out of the way? Bring it Mario!

~And what if Tyrel has broken through mind barrier of suborbital flight? What if he turns into Dunkin' Reed for the last six games of his career. What if mid air knees to the grilles of opponents are his new signature move? Yeee haw!

~And what if the Twin Constitutions of the Paint let freedom !@#$%^&ing ring? Sweet Philadelphia freedom!

~And what if Brady goes 16-24 from trey the next six games and Roger finally says, "Man, I had a few inches on the kid, but, man, he really is better than I was." What happens? No one, beats us with the trey on their hot night; that's what happens.

~And what if Mother Morris has finally sat Jeff Withey down and said, "Pale face, I've got some soul food here that is going to make a tank outta you, too. Eat and swat, young man, eat and swat!" KU has that 10 minutes of unexpected big one key game to close the circle and win the ring.

~And what if Mom and Dad Releford say, in their best imitation of Mr. and Mrs. Heathcliff Huxtable, "You know, son, you're a Huxtable, and well, Coach Self has these moments where he gets so pre-occupied with getting better one way that he forgets about how much better he can get another way. Young Travis, we are quite confident that Coach Self is going to call your number when the chips are down and you least expect it, and, well, son, we love you, and believe in you, and want you to kick some gluteous maximus, if you know what we mean?" The pain circuit in Travis' ankle suddenly interrupts and goes impact monster and says, "Hey, look, Mom and Dad, I'm Wind Millin' on Duke!!!"

~And what if all of the above comes true? Simple. Round up all the Vettes for a parade. Hang another banner. And welcome this team to the pantheon.

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KULA 3 years, 1 month ago

Looking forward to a great game from Tyshawn. He is definitely key to how far we go this year.

Kansas needs to come out a slap it on someone Friday, like Florida and UConn did Thursday. None of this namby-pamby BS like the Lehigh game last year.

Glad to see Louisville go down--I was worried about them. But I wouldn't have minded going through Louisville & Notre Dame & Pitt and owning the Big East like we do the Pac 10.

Really torn over the UCLA/MState game--didn't know whether to gloat over M-State for being chumps who didn't belong or UCLA for being chumps who blew a 23 pt lead. In the end, glad to see Izzo go down.

Great to see K State move on and represent the Big 12. Sorry to see Mizzou go out in the first round--especially to the Big East. Go A&M & Texas! Btw, how come there's no Big 12 team in the East regional?

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basketball122009 3 years, 1 month ago

tyshawn is key to how far we go!! ROCK CHALK!

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