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Friday, March 25, 2011

Keegan

Recent slump not worst thing KU’s Josh Selby has experienced

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Pregame: KU vs. Richmond

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Kansas takes on Richmond in the Sweet Sixteen of the 2011 NCAA Tournament.

— When Kansas University freshman guard Josh Selby is asked about the Baltimore neighborhood where he grew up, he shakes his head, says very little and comes across a bit like a veteran of a foreign war who just doesn’t want to go there.

What, I wondered, was the most difficult thing he ever witnessed in Baltimore?

“I don’t think I want to talk about that one,” Selby said from a chair in front of his locker in the Alamodome. “I just saw some stuff. I just saw some stuff. I don’t want to talk about that.”

The question surfaced after Selby said he thought Baltimore, per capita, produces the best basketball players in the nation.

What makes it so?

“Just because of our toughness at heart, that’s why,” he said.

From where does that come?

“Being in Baltimore,” he said. “If you saw Baltimore, you’ll understand why. I can’t talk about it, but you’ll understand why if you’re in Baltimore.”

Rough neighborhoods tend to develop basketball talent.

“It’s true because I think it just carries onto the court,” Selby said. “What you learn from the street or in your normal life, you take it over to basketball. If you see certain things or you’ve been through something that’s going to make you mentally and physically tough, you’re going to carry that same attitude onto the basketball court.”

KU assistant coach Kurtis Townsend took multiple trips to Baltimore to recruit Selby.

“It was unbelievable,” Townsend said of the neighborhood. “It was awful. If you’ve ever seen ‘The Wire’ on HBO, that’s exactly how it was. I mean, boarded-up homes. He came from a tough area. His mom did an unbelievable job getting him to the point he’s at without getting seriously injured before then.”

Once Selby made a name for himself on the playgrounds of Baltimore and in AAU games, he said word spread, “Real quick. I was just handling my own against older and younger.”

He said he prefers playing basketball outdoors.

“You can talk trash,” he said. “You got the girls, the crowd. It’s just a fun game, that’s all. Fun atmosphere.”

You lose the game, you lose the court, which stokes competitive flames and brings out the best in the players.

“So it does,” Selby agreed. “And then the trash-talking brings out the toughness.”

Was he good at trash-talking?

“Great at it,” he corrected.

Is he still?

“Yep,” he said, “just don’t do it as much.”

It’s a tough thing to do from the bench. That’s where Selby was for the season’s first nine games, serving an NCAA suspension for receiving improper benefits. Then he played 13 games, and played well in all but a few of them. Then he injured his foot, missed three games and has lost more than playing time since returning.

Even the playgrounds of Baltimore didn’t prepare him for the sort of slump he has endured since returning from a stress reaction.

“There’s no injury now,” Selby said, looking down at his foot. “It healed.”

The same can’t yet be said for his jump shot.

In the 13 games before the injury, Selby averaged 26.6 minutes and 12 points and shot .419 overall and .435 from three-point range. In the 11 games since, Selby has averaged 13.8 minutes and 3.5 points and shot .280 overall and .167 from long distance. Before the injury, he hit multiple threes in nine games. He has not hit more than one in a game since. In his first 13 games, he reached double-digit points nine times and hasn’t reached it since.

Selby scored 21 points in 27 minutes off the bench in his much-awaited debut against USC. It remains a career high and is eight more points than he has scored in the past 61 minutes, spread out over six games.

The question no longer can be why Selby plays so little, rather why so much. The simple answer: If he can hit a couple of jumpers in a row, maybe, just maybe, the real Selby could return.

Is it possible Selby could this season have another game similar to the one he had against USC, when he made five of eight three-pointers?

“I don’t know,” Selby said. “Whatever happens, happens. I might can, might can’t.”

Townsend spoke to why Selby hasn’t matched his pre-injury performance.

“It’s not from lack of effort or anything like that,” Townsend said. “He never got back in the rhythm, and then you know how that goes, he’s just got to have one of those good games to get his confidence back.”

Selby said on days the Jayhawks don’t have practice, he puts up 500 shots a day in the practice facility after punching the right numbers on the door’s combination lock. He doesn’t bring a rebounder to feed him shots.

“By myself,” he said. “I go get the ball.”

What does he think about during those solo shooting sessions?

“Everything,” he said, revealing nothing.

Making his first two shots tonight in a Sweet 16 game against Richmond could do more for him than all those days of 500 shots at a time.

Again, could he be the player he was against USC?

“I think so,” Townsend said. “I’ve tried to have talks with him to tell him, ‘Remember how good you were early? You’re still the same player.’ It’s just a confidence thing, but, boy, I’ll tell you what, it’s hard to get confidence in one of these games on one of the biggest stages. I think if he just hits a couple of shots, gets his mojo back, he’ll be fine.”

Time is running out on any chance to justify the wild hype, but it’s not as if the excitement grew from nothing.

“He was everything they said he was coming out,” Townsend said. “Even at the McDonald’s practices, I had a few NBA guys tell me, ‘Hey, he’s a big-time player.’ He’ll be fine.”

Richmond prides itself on playing great defense. A turn-back-the-clock game from Selby wouldn’t hurt KU’s chances of avoiding an upset.

— Tom Keegan can be heard at 8 a.m. Friday, March 25 on 610Sports.

Comments

100 8 years, 5 months ago

We're proud of you Josh!!!!!!

Lockdown D for 40 minutes today boys....

Have a blast....

And....

Own!!!!!!

The!!!!

Statsheet!!!!!

hawk316 8 years, 5 months ago

Josh, keep your head up. It's going to come.

Also, hope to see you back in a KU uniform next year. A full year, healthy, productive and developing under great coaching would do a world of good for your game. And what a difference maker you could be on next year's squad!

riverdrifter 8 years, 5 months ago

Looking at Arizona and Florida tonight I think Josh needs to be a considerable presence from here on out if the Hawks are to win the whole thing.

I'm certainly no Missourian, but for Pete's sake "show me"... I'm not betting the rent on it.

Nicholas Cederlind 8 years, 5 months ago

Seriously, Josh, you're still a beast. Every freshman has a slump (look at Xavier). Your shot will inevitably come back and in the meantime, we need a team focused on D, anyway! Go get 'em!!

beardwater7 8 years, 5 months ago

The kid needs to bust out his headband! Rock Chalk!!

didjabuti 8 years, 5 months ago

Definitely!! What is Coach Self's aversion to headbands anyway? Taylor and Selby both love the headband and play great with it. I've always assumed he felt it took away from the team mentality. Shoot, I say give em all headbands!!

DSommersby 8 years, 5 months ago

I still believe Selby is going to be a great player for KU. His injury really slowed him down and he lost his mojo for a while. He's a frosh, but Larry Brown would often say after 20 games you are no longer a Freshmen. I think Josh has played in 20.

Just play with a free mind and keep the ball moving. I don't think we need Josh to feel like he has to hit jumpers. It would help, but I'd like to see him strategically attack and get in the lane and make some stuff happen. Pick the right spot, but he can be a creator and like Tyshawn when he can get close to the rack the bigs can often get an easy stick back as the penetration draws the help defense and we can clean up any misses with easy slams by the Twins or Thomas or whoever is patrolling the lane.

Keep your head up Josh. I heard Tyrel Reed say today, Play D, feed the post, move the ball, and make open shots....We are with you and all of the Jayhawks!

Rock Chalk!

Thad Daugherty 8 years, 5 months ago

I have been somewhat critical of Josh on offense. He just seems to stand around out there. But, it is hard to get in a rythm from the bench. He has a very short leash right now. If he misses a shot or makes a turn over he gets yanked quick. When Xavier had his slump coach left him in and let him play through it. Maybe if he knew if he made a bad shot or a turn over he would stay in the game he would relax and get more in the flow. Don't get me wrong we have the best coach in the country and the NCAA tournament isnt the time to be messing around but maybe we should have let him play through some things before the tournament started.

KansasComet 8 years, 5 months ago

If Josh can get the ball early in the break, I think he will be effective. Sometime he receives the ball a little too late, which limits his opportunity to create. Hopefully he will get loose on a couple of fast break buckets and then get his jump shot going. We are going to need everyone to produce from here on out. It's about to get real serious folks! Go Jayhawks!

mojayhawk 8 years, 5 months ago

Hey Josh,

Gotta love what Tyrel said. Take it to heart. It's a simple message: "Play D, feed the post, move the ball, and make open shots."

Relax and enjoy and enjoy the moments ahead. And remember, when you're in the game, the outcome doesn't rest on your shoulders.

Rock Chalk!

Ashwin Rao 8 years, 5 months ago

It is just the confidence thing. I don't believe that he took any shot in the last game even though he had ample opportunity.

I remember the time when he was on top of the key and was open for enough time, but he just hesitated for a second and then just passed the ball along. He should have taken the shot right there. Unless he takes some shots in a real game he won't get his confidence back. I don't, for a minute, believe that Coach would have pulled him off for taking a missed shot if it had a chance of going in. We desperately need him between now and the trophy! There are some great shooters in the way, and we need to have answers for them!

akl6593 8 years, 5 months ago

I'm sure that neighborhood produces some kids who play like their life depends on it...because it does. The adjustment he has had to make this is year is incredible. I think he seems like a great kid. I hope he is able to regroup but mostly I hope he makes the most out of his time in college so he can have a great life...

KU79 8 years, 5 months ago

Scott Pollard was on RCST this week and when asked who he thought could be the guy that steps up in the coming games to spur us to victory, he said Selby. That would be great for him, and for us. He's a good player and he'll be fine. Brady was mired in a shooting slump earlier in the season and he busted that. Every time he shoots now I think it's going in. Selby will be back to that point, too, I just hope it's sooner rather than later (next season).

Cameron Schienebeck 8 years, 5 months ago

Look how Brady started the season. One good game and it can change everything. I really hope to see Selby break out and dominate like we all know he can.

justinryman 8 years, 5 months ago

When Josh made that up and under lay up agains Illinois I saw again what he can bring to the team. He's a driver, with an outside shot. But I like his D, his muscle and his ability to just not go in the tank.

He should sit down with Thomas and talk about hard times and adversity and learn from him.

Tough times don't last, but tough people do.

Brendan Connolly 8 years, 5 months ago

It seems to me that the biggest problem for Selby is that he is playing "defensive" or rather not to blow it instead of attacking. He is a player that can cause problems with his penetration. That doesn't mean I want to see him going in 1 on 4 and attacking the rim with little chance, it means that it would be great to see him get the ball on the perimeter, throw a shot fake up, drive to the hole and dish at last second.

Best case scenario is that he gets a fast break layup in and then a minute later, drives to the hoop aggressively. From that point on he could look to hit an open man on a drive, drive and draw fouls, or once every few times pull up and hit an outside shot. He is a driving nightmare and just needs to realize it.

He could be like Omar from The Wire (since it was referenced in here). The other team looks up and sees him and knows that it is trouble.

jaybate 8 years, 5 months ago

~If Josh the Ripper is truthing about his ankle...

He will be back to playing 20 minutes a game tonight.

~"Play D, feed the post, move the ball, and make open shots." -Tyrel Reed

Its so simple. :-)

I would only add one thing.

Use your vertical.

Tyrel waited till his senior year to use his.

What a waste!

HawkKlaw 8 years, 5 months ago

When I watched Selby in the McD's All-American game, I thought KU had landed a John Wall type of talent. In that game Selby was dishing, making layups, hitting 3's. I thought he was easily the best player on the court that day (although, admittedly, I am incredibly biased).

Now, when I watch Selby, I don't see any of that. I think, like the article said, its just a confidence thing. Next year, when KU will probably be looking for a leader to replace Marcus, I think we'll see Josh's confidence come back and we'll see the true Josh Selby on the court.

Sally Presson 8 years, 5 months ago

Hang in there Josh, we know you're good and your time to shine will be next year. heck you still have time, we've got 4 more games. you have it in you, I know you do. Enjoy the rest of the tournament!!! So glad you chose KU

Benjamin Piehler 8 years, 5 months ago

if anyone has interest in an accurate view of inner city life in Baltimore; HBO's "The Wire" is a fabulous show, pretty intense stuff.

I think its important to not try and force anything with selby as far as playing time goes. The team seems to be in a rhythm, and its important not to make any sudden changes that might throw them out of it.

Benjamin Piehler 8 years, 5 months ago

my bad, "The Wire" has already been referenced here. Still, check it out.

Steve Gantz 8 years, 5 months ago

I really hope that basketball and the education that it is affording Josh will help him to break out of the cycle of poverty that affects so many in our inner cities. I teach school in the city and see the despair of kids who don't have a sport to give them a ticket to the future. We try our best only to see many end up in even worse situations. I hope for Josh' sake that he makes it.

kcglowboy 8 years, 5 months ago

Man I hope Josh has the good sense to come back next year. If he's healthy and getting to play major minutes from the get-go, there's absolutely no doubt he'll be a dominant player on a team that will really need him in order to maintain its level of excellence. Hang in there Josh!

jayhawker97 8 years, 5 months ago

Josh, call Kyrie Irving. talk to him. believe, just believe in yourself, Josh. you are the best freshman on the court!! go out there and kick some butts just like you did during your high school years!

go Selby, go Jayhawk!

ajhk 8 years, 5 months ago

Josh is a great kid, teammate and an unbelievable talent.
This is definitely a confidence and comfort thing. He's been really concerned about fitting in and hasn't loosened up enough to gain that swagger back.
He needs time out there to get back to his usual self. I doubt that happens this tourney. I'd really like to see him strengthen up over the off season. No doubt, if he returns next year, he'll be a force. If I was him I'd take that opportunity, it looks like next year we'll be dependent on the guards for most of the offense.

omng392 8 years, 5 months ago

Josh I hope you read this kid, because you have beat the odds. Look at where you came from. To have the toughness to make it out of Baltimore takes character and heart. Where so many have failed you have succeed. Veterns talk about going to the well wqhen they need to reacj down to find away to win. You have and earned that. A hundred times over. Tonighrt remember where you came from and remmeber how it made it who you are and drain the winning three just like Mario did.

Reock chalk jayhawk you are winner kid. One baltimore guy to another

actorman 8 years, 5 months ago

I thought one of the most encouraging signs was that Josh didn't force anything against Illinois (or was it BU, I forgot which game he played a fair amount in). If he doesn't think too much about trying to be the man, and just concentrates on playing solid defense and not trying to do too much, he can help out even if he's not scoring a lot.

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