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Friday, November 11, 2011

Back in the game: Starters Tyshawn Taylor, Elijah Johnson to return tonight in opener

Kansas projected starters Tyshawn Taylor, left, Thomas Robinson and Elijah Johnson watch warm-ups prior to KU's game against Pittsburg State on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. Taylor and Johnson were suspended; Robinson is nursing an injury.

Kansas projected starters Tyshawn Taylor, left, Thomas Robinson and Elijah Johnson watch warm-ups prior to KU's game against Pittsburg State on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. Taylor and Johnson were suspended; Robinson is nursing an injury.

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Bill Self press conference, Nov. 10, 2011

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Kansas head men's basketball coach Bill Self addressed the media in his weekly press conference Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks are preparing for Towson on Friday.

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Sitting out a pair of exhibition games as penalty for violating team rules proved painful for Kansas University combo guard Elijah Johnson.

“Seeing my teammates come out of that tunnel,” the 6-foot-4, 195-pound junior said Thursday outside the northwest tunnel of Allen Fieldhouse, asked to identify the worst aspect of missing blowout victories over Pittsburg State and Fort Hays State.

“I was a teammate, but it was more so me being a fan. It’s tough to sit over there (in street clothes on bench) and be able to do nothing except voice your opinion about what is going on the floor,” Johnson added.

He and senior point guard Tyshawn Taylor — who is also coming off a two-game banishment — will start in the backcourt today against Towson in the 7 p.m., regular-season opener for both teams.

“It just sucks not being a part of your team ... where you have to be on the second squad at practice sometimes because you know you are not going to play in the game,” Taylor said. “Things like that just kind of suck, but it really didn’t kill me. My team played really well both games. We improved game to game, which is good.”

The Jayhawks annihilated both the Gorillas (84-55 on Nov. 1) and Tigers (101-52 on Tuesday), preceding tonight’s opener which features an oddity — Taylor and Johnson in the same game-day backcourt.

Usually they subbed for each other a year ago.

“Fast. Fast. That’s all I’ve got for you. You’ve got to see the rest tomorrow,” Johnson said Thursday, asked what to expect with him and Taylor starting the offense. “Faster than you can probably imagine it being,” he added with a smile.

The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Taylor enters tonight’s game as KU’s first four-year starter since Aaron Miles (2001-05). Johnson enters ready to shed his super-sub role.

“This is his chance. It’s his time. It’s the time he’s been waiting for, a position he’s wanted to be in since he came in,” Taylor said. “Now he’s getting his chance. I’m sure he’s really excited. I mean, I would be if I was him.”

Needless to say, Johnson is raring to go.

“I can’t explain how excited I am. Since high school (Las Vegas Cheyenne High) I’ve been waiting on this moment, and it’s finally here,” he said.

He has started eight of 59 games in his two-year KU career, not that many for a guy ranked No. 24 nationally in the Class of 2009.

“It never was a big deal. If it was, I’d be complaining about starting since my freshman year,” Johnson said. “But just knowing you could be the person to set the base or the tempo ... If we start out down eight points, I know it’s my fault. If we start out up 10 points, I know I had something to do with that. Everybody is waiting on the first five, and you have to be the one to step up. The fans, the coaches, the team ... everyone is waiting on you to set the pace, and it’s comfortable to know I can be one of those five people now.”

Just as Johnson was mentored by elder teammates in the past, he now will assist a rookie — freshman backup point guard Naadir Tharpe.

“I told him, ‘Just don’t play dumb,’’’ Johnson said. “When I say play dumb, I don’t mean as far as skills, I mean, ‘Don’t act dumb on the court. You know what to do. Stop asking so many questions You understand that game. Have fun. You know what you need to know ... now just go have fun.’”

Taylor and Johnson are ready to have some fun after sitting two games in the penalty box.

“I’ve got it under control. I think I’ll be fine. I won’t be in this position again,” Taylor said, sure he will not run afoul of coach Self’s rules again. “I am real hungry. I’m excited. I feel it’s been awhile since I played when it’s not against my team. I’m ready to get it rolling.”

And Self is ready to watch Johnson and Taylor play together.

“They both will start. The day is kind of early though,” Self cracked before practice Thursday.

He knows what Taylor can do.

As far as Johnson ... “Sometimes when you have returning guys who played only a little bit or averaged two or three points a game (Johnson averaged 3.4 points in 13.7 minutes per game as a sophomore), how can you really believe they are capable of doing the same things guys in the past have done? I’m telling you, Elijah is ... he’s capable. He just hasn’t had the opportunity yet,” Self said.

Comments

jayhawker_97 3 years, 1 month ago

there's always room for 2 more!! bring it on!! rock chalk!!!

nuleafjhawk 3 years, 1 month ago

Sorry to play "Debbie Downer", but my confidence level that Taylor has it under control and won't be in this position again is not very high right now.

Make me feel bad for saying this Tyshawn.

kennethst 3 years, 1 month ago

He seems to go from peak to valley. But I expect him to have a great year.

Mike Bratisax 3 years, 1 month ago

'He seems to go from peak to valley.' Perfect description... I'm just hoping that this year he keeps his head in the game and his a$$ out of 'the valley'.

JayDocMD 3 years, 1 month ago

"I think I'll be fine." I'm overflowing with confidence.

nuleafjhawk 3 years, 1 month ago

Exactly, JayDoc - and the part where he said

“It just sucks not being a part of your team ... where you have to be on the second squad at practice sometimes because you know you are not going to play in the game,” Taylor said. “Things like that just kind of suck, but it really didn’t kill me."

The part where he said "it really didn't kill me." It SHOULD have. It kills me.

Tuskin 3 years, 1 month ago

Strange. I was just thinking what a good job Gary had done writing this article. For me, it was a pleasure to read. Thanks, Gary.

Matt1958 3 years, 1 month ago

I've had people give me strange looks since the day Elijah signed and I told them how ecstatic I was about him. I still say I'll take him over the one trick pony everyone else was so high on at the time. Elijah, go prove me right.

Ed Brown 3 years, 1 month ago

Taylor, EJ and Tharpe together should be a whirlwind! Back in the true "Run 'n Gun" days.

RCJHGKU!

Martin Rosenblum 3 years, 1 month ago

"...Just don't play dumb"

How about...."Just don't break team rules"?

lmateo1 3 years, 1 month ago

I'm ready! Let's start this season with a drubbing of Towson. Set the bar for that Kentucky game. ROCK CHALK!

KansasComet 3 years, 1 month ago

This will be a really good Jayhawk team in my opinion. I look forward to watching them grow as the season progresses. I think Elijah Johnson and Thomas Robinson will be the leading scorers on this team. Not worried about depth on this team. I have always liked EJ. He has been able to learn the College game for two years now, and he should be ready to show what he can do.

Also, last year is over and it is time to move forward. I cannot get caught up into what if this player had stayed or that player had stayed. That's all excuses, as far as I'm concerned. Every good team has transfers and early departures for the NBA. Win or lose, I just love watching the Jayhawks play basketball. I still remember back in 1978, watching KU play UCLA in the Tourney and our team did not really have a chance, but I still cheered for KU, because they have always and will always be my favorite team. Just like any other year, can't wait to watch them in action.

Michael Pannacciulli 3 years, 1 month ago

Goin old school eh comet...1978!...like that.

ccarp 3 years, 1 month ago

Warm up the engine and get the rust off. We need to play smart against Towson. Save the speed for the next game.

Micah Mandy Haase 3 years, 1 month ago

Is there any way to watch the game tonight for free?

Micah Mandy Haase 3 years, 1 month ago

Thank you! Its hard to see the games here in Norman, Ok

RockCaCO3 3 years, 1 month ago

Any other options? I dont have an "ESPN3 Provider".

texashawk10 3 years, 1 month ago

You could wait and see if ESPN is doing a free preview of Full Court this week. The first games start an hour before KU's game and if they aren't doing a free preview, then someone will have the justintv link posted during the live game feed.

Tony Bandle 3 years, 1 month ago

Fellow posters...just don't play dumb.

If you look at our potential schedule after Towson it reads as follows;

Kentucky Georgetown UCLA [possible] Duke [possible] Ohio State @ USC

Not that I expect it but, potentially, we could be 7-6 by league play.

Hawks, don't slow down but be ready for the bumps in the road.

Also, I, like nuleafjahwk, feel that it is very difficult for a leopard to change his spots, so I too have cautious reservations about Mr.Taylor. Let's hope he proves us both wrong!!

jayhawkjunior 3 years, 1 month ago

I was looking at that as well. I really don't think we'll win or lose all of those games. We'll win at least one in Maui since we would play Chaminade if we lose to Georgetown. That said, I hope with our starters all returning players (if not all returning starters) perhaps we can play a little more together than the one and dones of UK. Perhaps if we win several of these games we can bust into the top ten.

jaybate 3 years, 1 month ago

jaybate news service (ins):

Dateline: inside Scheduling.com

Slug: Self says non conference schedule still not tough enough, adds two more...

jns stringers have breached web site security at Inside Scheduling.com and learned the schedule presented by OakvilleJHawk has been amended as follows.

Kentucky Georgetown UCLA [possible] Duke [possible] Ohio State @ USC Los Angeles Lakers Miami Heat

(Note: All fiction. No Malice.)

Adam James 3 years, 1 month ago

We will not have the same win/loss record as we did a year ago, but this team will be a tougher to beat when it matters most.....in the NCAA Tournament

One thing you can't measure on a team is their hunger to compete. We have EJ, Connor, Withey, Releford, T-Rob.... all guys who have had to wait in the wings (sometimes behind lame hyped players-Selby) and now they get their chance. This will lead to an exciting team to watch and a team that has more and more fun each game they play together.

railer20 3 years, 1 month ago

Because he had one and half good games against high school talent? Let him prove himself in real games first. He has plenty of chances early in the season. I am pretty pumped about his future though!

HawkKlaw 3 years, 1 month ago

As much as I love Naadir (my new favorite Jayhawk), I would have to disagree with you. He isn't nearly experienced enough to be the general on this year's team. Next year is a different story. We will have a lot of young talent and he will be expected to lead them to the promised land.

Remember in '08 when Sherron was a freshman coming off the bench? He provided a huge spark (and quite a few turnovers) when he came into the game. I think that will be Naadir's role this season...minus the turnovers hopefully.

Ian Brown 3 years, 1 month ago

Just to clarify, Sherron was a sophomore during the '08 season, not a freshman. Not that it makes any difference, though, for I certainly agree that that should be, and will be, Naadir's role this season. He's going to be a lot of fun to watch these next few years. He has the makings to become an all-time favorite Jayhawk.. (The thing is, nearly every player that plays for Kansas in some way becomes one of my "favorite" all-time players.. But, I guess my point is, Naadir appears to have that extra something that could make him a very special Jayhawk.)

HawkKlaw 3 years, 1 month ago

Oh yeah, that was Cole's freshman year. Time flies!

justinryman 3 years, 1 month ago

Don't be dumb.

Don't get hurt.

Don't foul.

All good advice for the younguns.

kennethst 3 years, 1 month ago

Anybody know how I can watch the game on TV or internet?? Thx!

Cmill1221 3 years, 1 month ago

It's on espn3. Free on your xbox360 or ps3. Any "ESPN+" or abc game can be seen on there. For CBS games try Justin tv it google "front row sports.tv". They had the first two games.

HawkKlaw 3 years, 1 month ago

Are you hi??? Morningstar was awesome. He was the glue last season. I'm proud that a Lawrence kid could contribute so much in his time at KU.

Haters gon' hate.

texashawk10 3 years, 1 month ago

Pay no mind to someone who contributes nothing but wasted space to these boards.

cool_beans 3 years, 1 month ago

Seven hours until the BOOM stick gets laid down on Towson!

ajhk 3 years, 1 month ago

Interesting. Terrence Jones's high school buddy was driving an Escalade? He borrowed it from his roommate? Hmmm, Jefferson High graduates less than 70% of its seniors. How many do you think actually make it to college?! What a coincidence that of the very few students that actually make it to college, one happens to go to the same school and end up as Terrence's Cadillac chauffeur (I mean buddy). I know, I know, It wasn't his Escalade either, he just gets to drive it whenever he wants.

Anyone else find this a little "funny?"

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