Sunday, March 27, 2011

Tyshawn Taylor tickled by coach’s praise

Kansas guards Tyshawn Taylor and Tyrel Reed wait to be escorted to press conferences on Saturday, March 26, 2011 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

Kansas guards Tyshawn Taylor and Tyrel Reed wait to be escorted to press conferences on Saturday, March 26, 2011 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.



Pregame: KU vs. VCU

video thumbnail

Kansas will take on Virginia Commonwealth in an Elite Eight matchup Sunday, March 27, 2011.

— Tyshawn Taylor’s smile was as wide as he could make it.

During a 30-minute interview session Saturday, the Kansas University junior guard was told by a reporter that KU coach Bill Self had just complimented him a couple rooms away, saying Taylor had grown up as a person.

“I appreciate that, Coach,” Taylor said softly, as if Self were sitting there next to him.

For Taylor, the praise means a lot.

“I’m one of those guys — I think coach Self kind of knows this — when’s he’s happy with me, I’m a happier person. When he’s not happy with my play or what I’m doing off the court, it kind of gets me down,” Taylor said. “I’m happy any time he says good things about me, especially something like that, because it’s not just on-the-court stuff he’s probably talking about.”

For three years, more than anything, Taylor has wanted to please his coach.

“Anything I do on the court, I’m thinking about what he’s going to think or what he’s going to say about it,” Taylor said. “When I make a turnover on the court, my first instinct is to look: What’s his reaction right now? What is he thinking? Is he jumping up and down? Is he like, ‘It’s OK’? What’s his mood?”

Lately, Self hasn’t had too much to get upset about.

In the NCAA Tournament, Taylor has averaged nine points, six rebounds and three turnovers on 10-for-19 shooting from the floor (52.6 percent) and 3-for-7 shooting from three-point range (42.9 percent).

Saturday, Self said Taylor might be playing the best basketball of his career.

“He’s growing up, and he’s doing it right before our eyes,” Self said. “And when he’s good, which I believe he’s been good a lot lately, he can put pressure on both ends like no one else in our program can.”

Taylor said learning from a suspension in late February was part of the reason for his recent surge.

The junior sat out two games after violating unspecified team rules. After the incident, Taylor visited Self’s office.

“I kind of broke down to Coach,” Taylor said, “and I just told him, ‘Coach, there’s a million things going on right now, and it’s hard for me to just focus on basketball. I know that’s supposed to be my main priority, but it’s hard. It’s so hard.’ And he understood.”

At the time, Taylor said his family was going through some tough times; his mother has never been married, and Tyshawn’s father and his two sisters’ fathers aren’t a part of their lives.

“I’ve always been the man in my family from a very young age,” Taylor said. “So when things go wrong in my family, my sister, she runs to me. I’m the person she talks to. When my mom is stressing out, I’m the person that she runs to talk to.

“So I just deal with a lot. I deal with a lot.”

Taylor said his family’s issues have been resolved, as his mother and sisters are happy now and also are starting to lean more on others when they need someone to talk to.

During his two-game suspension, Taylor also saw the Jayhawks were playing just as well without him as they did with him.

“I just kind of realized that (Self) doesn’t owe me anything. I owe it to myself to want to be a part of this team, to want to help us win,” Taylor said. “I just felt like I came out with a different attitude after that.”

After returning, Taylor said he worked harder to be a better teammate and also to lead as much as he could. He wanted to prove to his teammates and coaches that he deserved to be on the floor.

Taylor regained his starting role in the Big 12 tournament championship game against Texas in his fifth game back from suspension.

“Coach Self has been with me the whole time, stuck with me, never gave up on me,” Taylor said. “Got frustrated with me, yelled at me a couple times, called me a bunch of different names a bunch of times.

“Like a parent, kind of, I think coach Self gets mad, and he gets disappointed in me sometimes, but he never gives up on me.”

Taylor says he now treats life a lot like he does basketball.

For a long time, Self preached to him to always think, “Next play,” though it was difficult for Taylor. He was the kind of guy that allowed one turnover to turn into two, and two to turn into three.

When he makes a turnover now, he says he focuses on getting a stop defensively.

And when he makes a mistake in life, he focuses on learning from it and not letting it happen again.

It’s a lesson he’s learned from experience. And from Self.

“When he says I grow up, it means a lot to me. It means a lot to me,” Taylor said. “That’s just what I want to do.”


KEITHMILES05 8 years, 8 months ago

It's sad Taylor's mom hasn't fostered a relationship with her childrens father. To have the only male in the family assume the leadership is cruel.

akl6593 8 years, 8 months ago

Don't want to be harsh but you have no idea what she has or hasn't done...I would guess it is more likely that he hasn't been around not that she hasn't fostered a relationship with him. I just didn't like the way your post makes it sound like it is her fault when we have no way of knowing that.

KEITHMILES05 8 years, 8 months ago

You have no idea what he has or hasn't done. You have no right to "guess" anything.

Look, TT is the one who said his father isn't in his life and his sister's fathers aren't in their lives.

It's very, very unfair to place kids in this situation and THAT is her fault. Don't be having kids left and right and no father's in the picture.

akl6593 8 years, 8 months ago

Oh I get it, it is her fault because she has the that what you are saying? The guy has no responsibility at all right.

You flat out placed the blame on her and you have no idea so knock it off.

akl6593 8 years, 8 months ago

I won't respond after this post so go ahead and continue to be foolish if you want. We all understand birth control and it is a two way case you've never heard of a condom. PS. I am happy that she brought TT into this world!

theajayhawk 8 years, 8 months ago

Or his father hasn't. If you are oing to stereotype, more often that not, you hear father's leaving the family.

100 8 years, 8 months ago

We're proud of you Tyshawn!

Beat VCU!!!!!!!!!!

betred 8 years, 8 months ago

and their done 10 points diff. 2/17 they need a shooter

ancient_hawk 8 years, 8 months ago

Mid-2nd half. TT throws an ill-advised floater into the high post, a really bone-headed and unforced error that led to a run-out. How does he respond? Does he throw up his hands, or look over at the bench? No, sir.

He flies down the court, takes up his spot like a man, and draws the charging foul. The New Tyshon tm. Me likee.

kerbyd 8 years, 8 months ago

Life is cruel sometimes. I think it is cool that the players are finally starting to realize that Self will always be there for them no matter how upset he gets, etc. That is what family is all about.

actorman 8 years, 8 months ago

Nice recall, ancient. That was a tremendous play by TT. If he can keep playing like that, this team can't lose.

Stan Unruh 8 years, 8 months ago

If a player considering Kansas reads an article like this, why would they want to play for anyone else? Rock Chalk ... the Jayhawks have an amazing basketball program and a fantastic coaching staff. Daniels and McLemore are you paying attention?

John Mueller 8 years, 8 months ago

Great story.

Sometimes we put on our own interests as fans ahead of the loyalty and prayers we should give to these kids.

They are kids. We need to have just as much desire for their success as people as we have for their success as players.

No question, he is growing up right in front of our eyes. And, he has made a tremendous contribution in this tournament.

Becoming a great person is a much harder endeavor than capitalizing on your God-given basketball talent.

Here is prayer and support that you are on your way, TT.

PS Thanks for your basketball talent because when it is focused on team, it is a joy to watch.

KansasBob 8 years, 8 months ago

Yet another example of HCBS's brilliant coaching. And TT, if you're reading this, remember, you are a vital part of our march to the National Championship. Please don't let us or your teammates down.

Just focus, and win, baby. Focus and win.

betred 8 years, 8 months ago

Looks like KU was out coached by VCU

jaybate 8 years, 8 months ago

"Humanizing the Linear Accelerator in Tennies"

Tyahawn Taylor was so fast as a freshman I nicknamed him Quantum T. It has not caught on with fans, but it always sticks with me. The man can move like matter in a linear accelerator. He shrinks space and time, too.

Some insight into his personal burdens humanizes a linear accelerator into a great athlete with a personal life, makes us feel sympathy, but does not really explain away stretches of pop tart mass production, sucker punching football players, keyboard indiscretions, and daydreaming in the middle of hard fought games.

But Coach Self's words "growing up"sure do. They seem to explain why most of Tyshawn's problems are shrinking.

But note Self said "growing up before our eyes," not "grown up."

Tyshawn gave the swirling index finger, the "wrapped up" sign, against Richmond with 10 minutes to go; that was a little premature, and immature, for a floor leader in a hunt for hand hardware from Helzbergs.

No one, but no one, grows up completely in two weeks.

But Tyshawn Taylor has had such a huge spurt of maturation, in this season of great accomplishment and great trial, especially since his suspension, that it is fair say: his main problem is no longer slow maturation.

Feeding into in all this struggle to grow up has no doubt been some of his extraordinary physical abilities that enabled him to start, since he was a freshman, but which may also have enabled him to grow up a bit less rapidly than he might have, had he been laboring with a level of abilities that could not save his fat from the fire so frequently.

It is the double edge of all great ability, is it not?

Tyshawn Taylor has the most amazing "acceleration" of any perimeter player I have ever seen at Kansas.

By acceleration on offense, I mean the capacity to leave a defender behind anywhere, anytime, on any angle of drive to the basket.

He has had this acceleration since the beginning.

It shows up most when he is on a wing.

If a defender leaves him any straight line going baseline, that has to be corrected for with a drop step and slide, by the time the ball reaches TT, there is no defender in college basketball that can cut him off. No one.

Alternately, if a defender hedges baseline, or tries to pressure Tyshawn on the trey stripe, there is no defender in college basketball that can slide with TT's forward drive to the FT circle and keep TT from tuning the corner down the lane. No one.

He is literally too fast for on-ball defenders to catch and foul, much less stay with and guard in any traditional sense of the word.

This is a big part of why Self, an old 2 guard, has stuck with him through thick and thin. As I have written before, Bill Self used to fantasize about doing just once, what TT takes for granted.

jaybate 8 years, 8 months ago

TT's acceleration comes from a combination of a quick, long first step and then what appears longer strides than most guards possess.

But there is a third component, too.

TT seems to have a sixth sense for exactly how far out of position a defender has to be for TT to be able to leave him behind. This is what I call signal judgment. Coaches and players often call it reading a defense. Regardless, he appears to see, process, and gauge the opposing player's position as fast, maybe faster than most players.

Since Tyshawn rarely fails to get by a defender, when he drives, and since he often does not drive, I am left with this: TT crunches visual signals like a massively parallel processing super computer.

Stunningly rapid and accurate signal processing of a defender's position.

A quick, long first step.

Long fluid strides once committed.

Once he got over his fear of contact in the paint, these formed his overwhelming advantage.

These same qualities are reverse engineered for defense and stunningly effective when his concentration is locked in.

Tyshawn rapidly processes how much room he needs to give a defender, which appears to be less than most, because of his acceleration.

Next TT finds the hedge position quickly. The hedge position is the spot that optimizes his ability to cut off attack in any direction given the relationship of his acceleration to his opponent's acceleration. When his concentration is off, it is finding the hedge position that becomes his weak point. His extreme acceleration lets him get by without weak focus triggering poor hedge positions, when he plays against lesser players. But against good players he is in trouble from this moment.

But even when focused, because no one can read fakes and anticipate screens right all the time, Tyshawn's awesome acceleration gives him a huge edge over other players, because he "recovers" like no on I have ever seen.

jaybate 8 years, 8 months ago

Some board rats, and Coach Self, complain that he has to recover too offten; that he suffers too many blow-byes. That has certainly been true during stretches of fuzzy focus. But fortunately Coach Self never lost sight of the forest of his rapid recovery for the trees of his blow-byes. The guys recovers faster and greater distances than any KU perimeter player I have ever seen. You don't want to have to recover too often, but man is it great insurance when you need it.

Acceleration is one of those abilities that coaches love, because it translates to decisive, broadly applicable MUA on both ends of the floor. Great acceleration, for example, allows TT to guard smaller jitterbugs and taller guys too. Getting there first in basketball erases a multitude of possible advantages an opponent may otherwise hold.

And great acceleration helps him with assists. Tyshawn can literally penetrate into places that lesser guards cannot. Therefore, he gets opportunities for assists that other players don't get.

But any great ability is kind of like having the best gun in a war. Unless you become trained, expert and reliable in its use, most of its advantage is squandered.

Tyshawn seemed to become trained and expert in his use of acceleration early on in his career at KU.

What TT has struggled with has been acquiring reliability. Until recently, he could not hold focus for long periods on either end of the floor, so he could not be reliably depended on.

jaybate 8 years, 8 months ago

With TT's focus locked in, as it has been since his two game suspension, he has established himself as the best assault rifle in the current war. He doesn't jam. He can handle abusive treatment in the field. He hits the target. And he reloads rapidly.

And he accepts EJ playing 15-20 minutes now, because he knows that the "point committee" approach keeps him fresh and that freshness magnifies his edge in acceleration (and focus) on both ends of the floor.

From the moment EJ played well in his absence, somewhat counterintuitively, TT and EJ moved from a strictly competitive relationship, to a cooperative relationship. Though either one would no doubt gladly take all the minutes at the point, both now understand and experience that the "point committee" make them both better.

I don't know if the NBA will take Tyshawn after this season, or not.

But I do know this: this has been Tyshawn's first season as full time PG. So: he has, not just a high ceiling, but a full blown atrium, in terms of room for improvement. He could next season easily become a consistent 10 assist, 15 point, and 2 TO PG and still leave room for EJ, Selby, Releford and Thomas to be huge. When his fingers on his shooting hand are healed, I am convinced he can become a consistent 40% trey guy. With a comfort level at PG, I am convinced he can cut his TOs to 2 per game. With threats like EJ, Selby, Releford, and Thomas around him, I just don't see how anyone could ever keep Tyshawn out of the lane next season. If Self can create a three big rotation for next year's team, Tyshawn could super nova, as a senior.

But for now, the key is not to back slide and keep getting a little better each of the next three games.

The big atrium is next year for the humanized, linear accelerator in tennies.

HawkKlaw 8 years, 8 months ago

I've also noticed the change in Tyshawn. He's finally bought-in to Self's style of basketball. When TT is driving and dishing like he has been for the past 3 or 4 games, KU is really tough to beat. He gets everyone on the court involved. That's exactly what he did in the Richmond game, which is why KU cruised to such an easy victory. I think Ty finally realizes that he and the Morris twins are the most vital parts of this team.

Time for glory! Beat VCU! Rock Chalk!

redlegger 8 years, 8 months ago

Thank you Tyshawn! Like Coach Self, we will never give up on you!

Love this Team!


redlegger 8 years, 8 months ago


Tyshawn, even though you don't receive as much hype as some of the other Players on the Team, you should know...

We want you one more year!

(Plus you can get your College Degree!)

jhox 8 years, 8 months ago

For those of you intested, there are a number of excellent articles in the Kansas City Star today. One I really enjoyed reading discussed the lengths that the KU basketball staff goes to, in order to make things easy on the players. Things like tracking what the guys like to eat, what they like on their sandwiches, right down to how the lettuce is cut up, or what spices they like or don't like in their corn. Coach Henson literally charts these things.

If I were a member of the KU coaching staff, I would carry that entire page from today's Star, and show it to every recruit. I can't imagine why anyone would want to go anywhere else, if they just knew how far the KU staff bends over backwards to make their lives comfortable.

Marcia Parsons 8 years, 8 months ago

Same for the Wichita paper. Good article on Taylor also.

Benjamin Piehler 8 years, 8 months ago

just dont get TOO tickled TT.....

but he has been really well lately... less bad turnovers and more taking shots that he knows he can make.

HawksWin 8 years, 8 months ago

Hawkinator, It's a good thing you aren't on the coaching staff. What a thing to say! Are you looking for TT to fail & disappoint you? Well you'll be disappointed. He isn't perfect because none of us are. But we love the kid & have compassion for him. I can't imagine dribbling a ball with your palm vs. finger tips. I'd be parking in a handicap section if two of my fingers were taped! We are proud of you TT. Go get the Rams!!! Go get that NC!!

REHawk 8 years, 8 months ago

What a joy and sense of relief to see Tyshawn transformed into a steadier more focused player since his February suspension. The frustration for all of us lay in the knowledge that he represented such fantastic unbridled talent, prone to helter skelter goof-ups, on and off the court. Behind the scenes he appears to have been dealing with family responsibilities not conducive to competitive growth and pinpoint focus. Gotta hope that his recent determination and terrific play continue...and that off the court distractions don't derail his progress. When his execution is "on," a national title is well within Jayhawk grasp.

Marcia Parsons 8 years, 8 months ago

Enjoyed your "column" jaybate. One thing I wanted to mention: That twirling finger isn't a sign for "wrapped up". According to Marcus it means "Let's wrap it up." Not significant other than it makes it less immature at the 10 minute mark.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.