Originally published November 24, 2011 at 12:01a.m., updated November 24, 2011 at 03:19a.m.


This one sure felt meaningful


Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self, Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey

KU coach Bill Self, Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey talk in the postgame press conference following the Jayhawks' 68-61 loss to Duke on Nov. 23, 2011.

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— It’s only November, remember? Don’t forget, college basketball games don’t mean so much this far from March.

That’s why Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, winner of four national championships, flew into a rage when a block-charge call went against his team midway through the second half.

With a viper’s venom, Coach K hollered, “No way!” about eight times at the official who made the call. Then he polled the veteran of the crew and asked him what he thought and flew into another rage when the ref sheepishly told him he thought it was a charge.

It’s just the preseason. No big deal. That’s why when Thomas Robinson ended the very next possession with a bucket and fell to the floor, Kansas University coach Bill Self stomped the floor and hollered at his star power forward, “Get up! Get up!”

Emotions ran high on the floor, in the stands and on both benches throughout Wednesday night’s Maui Invitational title game played in the intimate Lahaina Civic and Recreation Center.

Duke closed much better than Kansas, scoring the game’s final eight points to score a 68-61 victory.

But to adhere to a stereotype and believe that the main reason Duke won this game was because it played smarter basketball than Kansas would be an unfair conclusion.

Duke won primarily because it had more offensive options, a better bench and matched Kansas’ high-octane intensity.

As the second half of a game packed with intensity from wire to wire sped along, each team’s most talented guard lost control of himself.

Duke freshman Austin Rivers slipped into selfish mode and was determined to win this game on his own as his father, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, shook his head from his seat in the Duke family section.

Coach K had seen enough. He had another option in Tyler Thornton, and he sent him in the game for Rivers. It was Thornton who nailed two three-pointers in the final 1:10, the second a shot-clock-beater with 20 seconds left.

Kansas senior guard Tyshawn Taylor, whose quickness and strong will played a huge part in KU taking a 35-31 lead at the half, couldn’t stop throwing the ball away or dribbling it out of bounds or zipping a pass too hard.

When Naadir Tharpe is a sophomore, maybe even before that, Self will feel comfortable putting him in the game to settle down Taylor. Tharpe’s not there yet. Self had no choice but to let his senior stay on the floor and try to lead it to victory.

Instead, Taylor, who in 38 minutes had 17 points and whose defense frustrated Rivers into becoming a solo act, tried to do too much, tried to do too much himself. His 11th turnover came with 56 seconds left and Duke leading by two points.

As for Robinson, the guy to whom Self hollered, “Get up!,” he got up all right. Over and over he got up and ripped the ball off the rim, showing why there isn’t a better defensive rebounder in college basketball. He took two charges, scored 16 points, and had 15 rebounds. He didn’t have his first foul until 35 minutes had been played.

Junior Jeff Withey, a first-year starter, was there to help Robinson. Withey contributed 14 points, 10 rebounds, two blocked shots and a lot of toughness.

Withey, warts and all, is a better player than we could have imagined watching him ride the pine the past two seasons.

Elijah Johnson is ahead of schedule as well and had a terrific tournament. He had the biggest bucket of the victory against Georgetown when he drove to the hoop after Kansas had spread the floor, and he scored 23 points in the semifinal against UCLA.

In the title game, Johnson swished a well-guarded three form beyond the top of the key with 1:33 left.

“Johnson made such a big shot, and it could have knocked you out,” Krzyzewski said.

It might have but for a reserve throwing a left-wing, right-wing combination of threes that knocked out KU, which didn’t get a single point from its bench.

Self summed up the Jayhawks’ feelings, saying they were “extremely disappointed” because they didn’t win the game but rightly added, “We came to the islands, and I do think we got better.”

• A previous version of this story has been updated.


Chandler James 9 years, 4 months ago

its not the preseason.. its the non conference season.... and next year when tharpe is a sophomore tyshawn will have graduated

pepper_bar 9 years, 4 months ago

Agreed. This isn't the UDK; KU fans should expect professionalism here.

Michael Bratisax 9 years, 4 months ago

Preseason? This isn't the MLB or the NFL. These games count.

railer20 9 years, 4 months ago

Glad you saw the Tharpe sophmore thing!!! I had to read it twice, but then I remembered it was TK writing the article sooooo.....

khekhen 9 years, 4 months ago

and college basketball plays halves, not quarters.

Robert Brock 9 years, 4 months ago

Yeah, this is just like the NFL. Preseason :)

Christopher Giordano 9 years, 4 months ago

Absolutely no excuse for a Senior PG to have 11 TO's in a title game. Tyshawn has to be accountable for this loss.

Every Jayhawk played 100%. But Tyshawn has to step up and guide this team. Eleven TO's is not going to get it done.

Michael Bratisax 9 years, 4 months ago

Except for the fact Tyshawn played the most total minutes in 3 games/3 days at arguably the most demanding position. Depth is an issue and we are thin at the PG. Tharpe is not ready to take over at key times. Self said he should have rested him more. No Tyshawn, no championship game. Damn...

Christopher Giordano 9 years, 4 months ago

Absolutely no excuse for a Senior PG to have 11 TO's in a title game. Tyshawn has to be accountable for this loss.

Every Jayhawk played 100%. But Tyshawn has to step up and guide this team. Eleven TO's is not going to get it done.

Michael Bratisax 9 years, 4 months ago

The second time when I watched the game - without all the emotion - I was really proud of our team. Duke is a legit #1 seed contender in March and we played toe to toe for all but the final minute.

Yes Tyshawn made far to many mistakes but he had some outstanding moments as well. Come Conference time, Tharpe will give HCBS enough minutes to let TT rest so that he hopefully will not come apart down the final minutes.

Just one or two plays decided this game.

actorman 9 years, 4 months ago

You're spot on, LAJ. And it's not like it was because of great defense by Duke. They played well, but most of the turnovers were just a matter of Tyshawn forcing things and trying to do it all by himself. What scares me is that his games so far this year have been eerily reminiscent of Sherron: when he's at his best, he can be absolutely brilliant, and when he's not he can completely destroy an otherwise great team effort.

If TT doesn't start showing more consistency, there won't be much hope of KU going far in the tournament, because we'll all know that it will just be a matter of time before the "bad Tyshawn" shows up. That's what was so incredibly frustrating about Sherron, and why he couldn't take them as far as they should have gotten.

Dirk Medema 9 years, 4 months ago

Same thoughts of Sherron. He certainly seems to have taught him well.

WilburNether 9 years, 4 months ago

You're absolutely right about Taylor and Collins. At the end of Collins' senior year, he still didn't get it, and at the beginning of Taylor's senior year, it's quite apparent that he doesn't, either. One can always hope, but I'll be very surprised if this leopard changes his spots by March.

The stoo-puds here will decry "hating" on their beloved idols, but it's not "hating" to be objective and point out obvious facts. That's called being a rational grown-up.

Michael Bratisax 9 years, 4 months ago

So is it the players or the coaching? I'm just asking an objective question. Sort of. Could be subjective as well. But if 2 four year starters make the same mistakes, it seems an external factor could be the reason.

actorman 9 years, 4 months ago

I thought about the possibility of TT switching to the 2 too, konkeyDong (love your handle, by the way), but I'm not sure yet about EJ taking over the point. He seemed to have a little trouble handling the ball as well--although it obviously wasn't nearly as bad as TT's problems.

I do have to admit, though, that I'm not tremendously confident about TT changing much. I mean, if he hasn't gotten it figured out by his senior season, how can we really expect that it will start kicking in now.

Mike Skiles 9 years, 4 months ago

Sorry braniac, but the Ohio State game is going to be a WIN for the Jayhawks, especially as it is being played at AFH. You apparently have not been watching this team very closely, nor are you much of a fan of KU history and this coach. KU is going to beat OSU. Get It (back at 'ya)!

Ryan Mullen 9 years, 4 months ago

Can someone please tell me what this means, "Withey, WARTS and all, is a better player than we could have imagined watching him ride the pine the past two seasons".

Tom Longhofer 9 years, 4 months ago

Oliver Cromwell, the head cheese of England a few hundred years ago, commishioned a portrait of himself to be painted to hang in the royal privy. Instead of having the artist make him look handsome, or even presentable, he asked that the portrait be a true likeness of his homely visage, "warts and all".

It's an expression some people use when they want to appear to be educated.

Ryan Mullen 9 years, 4 months ago

Thanks!! I have heard the expression but did not know what it meant. I thought it was a mistake at first actually.

baldwinjhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

Whithey has been sick and injured for two years. We didn't expect him to contribute much this year but we don't have any options. I think he is doing great now! Go jeff!

AsadZ 9 years, 4 months ago

I have always been a big fan of TT,and I was really expecting great play from him this year. However, after last night's championship game, I have come to conclusion that KU will be better off with EJ being the point guard. TT just can't control himself in Big games, 11 turnovers is unacceptable from senior leader.

I felt offense ran much smoothly in previous games with EJ at point. HCBS should try this move now rather than Feb/Mar.

I still believe TT is a very good player but he can't be counted on to be team leader.

Overall, it was good tournament for KU and a great learning experience. I was also very encouraged to see development in Whitey's game. He just does not have physical strength but he is playing better especially on D. Now if Justin can start providing some meaningful minutes KU will be a force.

Jeremy Wilhelm 9 years, 4 months ago

Big 12 tourney against Texas and that stretchnof games was the best I have seen from him - I'm still hopeful that as this team gels, TT will play within himself and take KU where they want to go.

Venkman 9 years, 4 months ago

When Tharpe is a sophomore, I'm pretty sure there will be no Tyshawn Taylor for him to spell.

minnhawk84 9 years, 4 months ago

I saw the classic Coach K approach to college basketball -- intimidating refs, whining and screaming about calls, smug, trying to win on talent rather than on refined coaching. What a jerk. The Duke "bluebloods" were given everything they could handle last night by a Jayhawk blue collar team........a team that will defy the prognosticators and be much better than they appear on paper.

Why? They have a great coach who can get the most out of his players regardless of their rank # coming out of high school. I can guarantee you that TT will be getting an earful about his turnovers, and not just once. TT is who he is, so get used to it and hope HCBS can maximize his positives and minimize his negatives. TT was brilliant and awful at the same time. Focus on embarrassing Ohio State next. Another great year to be a Jayhawk fan, in other words.

Kinyourface 9 years, 4 months ago

Give Coach K & his Dukies credit. They matched the intensity,played smart down the stretch and had a deeper bench. Both coaches were working the officials and that's part of basketball. You Kansas guys can't say anything good about Duke. Your hatred comes out with comments like you've made.Kansas is a great program just like Duke. Give your team some credit and quit blaming the refs,etc

FreddyinLA 9 years, 4 months ago

Agree. It was funny watching Wojo, Collins, and Coach K act like 3 year old on the sidelines on every questionable call. I don’t know the other guy to the left of Coach K, but he should also be fitted with a pacifier. I think the other coach was the former OU coach, Jeff Capel. He actually was cool on the bench.

KU’s assistants take care of business and act like professionals. No one is cooler than D-Manning on the sidelines. Love the way the bigs always come off the floor and immediately sit next to Danny, who then delivers a couple words of wisdom. Coach Self is the official spokesperson for KU to the refs, and that’s the way it should be.

SaltLakeHawk 9 years, 4 months ago

Agree with the pacifier comment. Duke fans should be ashamed of that assistant coach's behavior (and the behavior of most everyone else on their bench). One play when Duke was called for a debatable charge, I had to rewind it a few times to re-watch and laugh at that baby's temper tantrum. I thought he was going to run to his room and slam the door behind him.

Seriously, I can't imagine any KU coach or assistant coach crying the way Duke's coaching staff cries. Not surprisingly, the Duke players on the bench follow the lead of their coaching staff, they too cry about "bad" calls.

Excessive crying on the bench during games is like faking injuries in soccer: I don't care if you think it's part of the game, you're not acting like a man if you do it. Man-point deduction.

joeloveshawks 9 years, 4 months ago

This loss does not lie squarely at the feet of TT. Obviously he turned the ball over FAR too many times but he was also asked to do it all. He played almost the entire game. This loss in many ways lies in the fact that we do not have a deep bench. We are down 2 Freshman who would have both contributed. One who could shoot 3's and another who could help T Rob and Jeff inside.

All that said, we proved we are going to be a really solid team later this year...even with our short bench.

Jeffrey Nichols 9 years, 4 months ago

You are deluding yourself to think the loss wasn't because of Tyshawn. For 4 yrs now he has played out of control, failed to run the offense, and turned the ball over. Nobody kills KU's momentum more frequently than Taylor. Multiple opportunities to extend the lead against Duke and Taylor repeatedly made bad decisions. He thinks he can create off the bounce the way Sherron did, and he simply can't. He jumps and then gets that stupid look on his face and he realizes too late that he has no options. What is amazing is that he still does it after 4 yrs and a lot of minutes. So what that he played almost the whole game, look at the box score, all 5 starters were over 30 minutes. That is just giving him an excuse to suggest it is acceptable. If Taylor would just play within himself, he has the potential to be really solid. Maybe even make a living playing b-ball. But not playing like he has so far this year (or the last 3 yrs). Wish he would - we need it.

Michael Bratisax 9 years, 4 months ago

+1 joeloveshawks. Many reasons we lost, including a miracle shot by Duke w/three sec. left on the shot clock. We had the lead with 90 seconds remaining in the game. Without TT, we wouldn't have been in the final game.

Clarence Haynes 9 years, 4 months ago

IMO, Tyshawn was tired. Coach should have put the ball in the hands of Elijah who heated up toward the end. Nonetheless, I like this team! They play big time D. Withey is coming into their own and even during Coach K's interview after the game, he said, in giving kudos to TRob, "that is a man out there"! This KU team has the makings of being special in March if:

1) Tharpe gets more plaing time to spare TT and/or EJ, 2) Releford continues to play strong defense, 3) Coach runs schemes to create more open shots for Conner, and 4) Wesley and Young become more consistent, .

Can't wait to see the matchup between TRob and Sullinger Dec 10.

eway12 9 years, 4 months ago

We looked tired the last 6 minutes and I think that's why we lost. Tiredness causes mental lapses like Elijah helping off Dawkins on a drive by Kelly and Tyshawn not being prepared for a hedge and dribbling the ball off his foot. We also were not moving the ball those last 6 minutes so we had to rely on TY/EJ/TRob to make a play on their own. It was a great game and we definitely showed we're a quality team (unlike in the Garden) but our lack of bench is going to cause us to stumble at times late in the game. Well done, boys. You played with heart and it was a fun one.

rwhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

"Withey, warts and all, is a better player than we could have imagined watching him ride the pine the past two seasons."

Agreed. I would like to official say I was wrong last year when I was so sure Withey would be useless until his senior year, and only then would he barely be an average contributer. I said I would come back and say here it is...he has made me eat my words and sound foolish.

"When Naadir Tharpe is a sophomore, maybe even before that, Self will feel comfortable putting him in the game to settle down Taylor."

Keegan, when Tharpe is a sophomore he won't be able to come in the game to settle Taylor down.

rwhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

I should have read the comments before bad for the redundancy.

3GJayhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

"Withey, warts and all..."???

Elijah ahead of schedule? No. He was way behind schedule until now. I'd say he is getting close to being where he should be given his amount of PT. His upside is tremendous still though in my opinion. He'll get a fair amount better.

Spencer Goff 9 years, 4 months ago

I have mixed emotions about this game.

First, TT was terrible down the stretch, but I'm not ready to saddle this loss solely on him.

(It should be noted, and check my past posts, that I am not a Super T Supporter or a member of the KU-Can-Do-No-Wrong Fanboy Club)

TT was aggressive, but his control and decision making has not developed as it should in four years of collegiate basketball. It's like he is stuck in a time warp sometime during his freshman year.

Duke only really played six players with any significant minutes, so it wasn't like our rotation was being overwhelmed. Granted, in most Bill Self years, we have one of the best benches on the planet, so in that regard this year's team is atypical. (It should be noted that I am not at all in love with Duke's bench and when they play a team like North Carolina their starting five are going to get run until they puke).

No, I'll put this loss on three pointers. Now part of that goes into perimeter defense, part of that goes into Coach K's players and recruiting style (he typically goes after and gets perimeter shooters), and part of that goes into just blind luck that will not always be there.

Most statistics for the game were surprisingly close. They beat us by five in turnovers, we beat them by five in rebounds. Only one statistic was ridiculously swayed; three pointers. We hit 2, they hit 11. Furthermore, our bench guys like Teabagger (who is our three point "specialist") managed to can a whopping 0-1 night. Not an impressive night for the Teabagger. I understand their bench scored 9 points to our 0 (yes OUR bench scored 0 points...) but 6 of those points were Thornton's prayers.

Look, Super T. was what I THOUGHT he was, athletic and quick enough to outrun his brain; but our entire perimeter defense (Super T. included) and perimeter offense will have to get better.

Later folks, hope you all had a good Turkey Day.

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