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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

cool_beans 2 years, 5 months ago

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

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hihawk 2 years, 5 months ago

Agree that Robinson and Rush were the best defensive players but, Morningstar, come on, he was a complete loser out there. Morningstar was one of the worst of the worse.

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William Blake 2 years, 5 months ago

Put your seat belts on... the ride is about to begin!

And with the addition of "Superfly" Tharpe we will have the most-athletic guard build out in the country!

RCJH!

Now get out there and kick some Towson!

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kennethst 2 years, 5 months ago

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

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justinryman 2 years, 5 months ago

Don't be dumb.

Don't get hurt.

Don't foul.

All good advice for the younguns.

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jhwkfan162515 2 years, 5 months ago

Naadir Tharpe is more worthy of a starting role than either Taylor or Johnson.

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Adam James 2 years, 5 months 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.

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Tony Bandle 2 years, 5 months 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!!

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Micah Mandy Haase 2 years, 5 months ago

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

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Steve Brown 2 years, 5 months ago

unleash the power, it begins today.

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IrishDaddy 2 years, 5 months ago

“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

Any bets on this?

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ccarp 2 years, 5 months ago

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

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KansasComet 2 years, 5 months 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.

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lmateo1 2 years, 5 months ago

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

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Martin Rosenblum 2 years, 5 months ago

"...Just don't play dumb"

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

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Ed Brown 2 years, 5 months ago

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

RCJHGKU!

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Matt1958 2 years, 5 months 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.

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Jayhawks Rock 2 years, 5 months ago

Gary, did you throw this together while drinking? Also, Johnson telling Naadir to not be dumb....good advice!

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nuleafjhawk 2 years, 5 months 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.

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jayhawker_97 2 years, 5 months ago

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

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