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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Jeff Withey-Elijah Johnson next 1-2 punch?

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Kansas center Jeff Withey gets on the floor for a loose ball with Kansas State forward Rodney McGruder during the second half on Monday, Feb. 13, 2012 at Bramlage Coliseum. At right is KU guard Elijah Johnson.

During this season’s run to the national championship game in New Orleans, Kansas University standouts Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson were KU’s top two scorers in 20 of the 39 games the Jayhawks played.

Remarkable? Ridiculous? Hard to fathom?

The better question might be, is it fair to expect two players to do such a thing again next year?

Fair or not, several Jayhawks said after KU’s loss to Kentucky on Monday night in the Superdome that returning seniors-to-be Elijah Johnson and Jeff Withey could assume the roles left by Taylor, a senior, and Robinson, a junior who is expected to forgo his senior season and enter the NBA Draft.

“I could see that,” junior Travis Releford said Monday. “I could see that happening because that’s how it’s been in the past. Guys leave, other guys step up. And it’s going to continue to be like that at a program like Kansas.”

Although not exactly the same as the 1-2 punch of Taylor and Robinson, physically or emotionally, Johnson and Withey bring similar skills from similar positions. Johnson, like Taylor, is a tall guard with great athleticism who is capable of driving to the rim and knocking down outside shots. The 7-foot Withey, though not nearly as chiseled as Robinson, has great size and an improving post game. He also grew to enjoy hurting the rim with highlight slam dunks.

“They’re definitely different players,” senior Conner Teahan said Monday. “But, at the same time, in terms of importance, I think that could happen. I think Elijah can lead a team from the point-guard position very easily, and I think that Jeff can be somebody that you can throw the ball into in the post. This year just gave him more and more experience.”

While Robinson (17.7 points per game) and Taylor (16.6) led the Jayhawks in scoring, Johnson (10.2) and Withey (9.0) were not far behind. Because of his performance in KU’s final eight games of the season, when he averaged 15.1 points, led the team in scoring twice and reached double figures in all eight of the Jayhawks’ Big 12 and NCAA Tournament games, Johnson’s season average does not seem to fit. Many of his current teammates believe that stretch will go down as the springboard to a big senior season.

“He blossomed in this tournament,” Teahan said of Johnson. “He understood what it meant to be aggressive. He was always aggressive in terms of taking shots but not always in terms of getting to the basket and wanting the ball in the last minutes when great players make the plays. But he was in the tournament, and hopefully he just keeps this momentum going into next year.”

In the locker room following the loss to Kentucky, both Johnson and Withey said they would be back at Kansas for their senior seasons. And both already were looking ahead to how they could take on a larger role.

“Obviously (I’ll work on) my offensive game,” Withey said. “I don’t think I was too much of an offensive threat this year. A little bit here and there, maybe, but not what I’m capable of. So for next year, offensively, I’m going to try to get better and stronger and try and look like T-Rob. That’s the game plan.”

Asked if he thought KU’s future top duo could have the same type of chemistry that Taylor and Robinson enjoyed throughout the past couple of seasons, Withey said there was no question about it.

“Definitely,” he said. “Me and Elijah get along really well. I love the guy. He’s a great point guard, we’ll both be seniors, and we’ll have a great team next year. I’m really excited for the opportunity to be a leader. If we keep on getting better, I think this experience will only make us more hungry for next year.”

That’s the way teammates see things.

“Because of their experience and what they’ve done this year, there’s no way that they won’t be better players than what they were this year,” freshman guard Naadir Tharpe said. “That’s only going to help us get back to this point.”

Comments

Lance Hobson 2 years ago

I'm really not sure that Calipari actually commits any violations. I think he just has a reputation as a guy who can get players to the NBA and on top of that they like the guy.

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brad53 2 years ago

My line up

  1. EJ
  2. MeClemore
  3. Releford
  4. Ellis
  5. Withey

Off the bench Tharpe, White, Traylor, Young. Enough said. Next year is going to be so much fun. We are big and athletic. 9 straight and Atlanta here we come.

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Michael Luby 2 years ago

Its only a matter of time before Calishmari gets b**ch slapped by the NCAA for violations involving recruiting or some such thing. I would not be surprized at all if it happens within a year, maybe two. Then Kensucky will vacate a season of 30+ wins and KU will be all that much closer to being the all time wins leader, and rightfully so.

Im no College Bball expert, I just enjoy the hell out of it. Especially at KU. I really do think that Coach Self will get another ring before Calimari does.

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Jeeveshawk 2 years ago

I was thinking Johnson-Withey would be our next 1-2 punch for a long time now, and they will surprise everone with how they will be easily comparable to Taylor-Robinson, Collins-Adrich, and Hinrich-Collison. But we will also have Travis Releford, who you cannot yet take out of the equasion of being our possible best guard. I see our lineup next year being: 1- Johnson, Tharpe, Adams(?) 2- McLemore, Tharpe, White, Releford, Johnson, Adams(?) 3- Releford, White, Ellis, McLemore 4- Young, Ellis, Traylor, Wesley 5- Withey, Ellis, Traylor, Wesley, Young

Although Jack Harry won't say so, we should be the big 12 champions again and be one of the best, if not the best, team in the country.

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phogphan2000 2 years ago

I kind of hope those guys aren't the same 1-2 punch as TT and TRob. Those two did an awesome job of carrying the load this year, but what got KU deep into the tournament was the help they received from the other starters, TRel added some nice offense in certain tourney games, Withey added some nice offense at time, EJ had a really nice tourney overall. Right there you've already got a 1-2-3 punch, add in McLemore, Ellis, KYo...hopefully we've got a nice 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 punch combo next year with a bundle of guys looking to make a move/take a shot when the offense puts them at an advantage. I kind of feel bad for TRel that he was asked the question in the first place, he's got the potential to be the leading scorer next year. He really improved feeding the post this year maybe next year will be great at playing a 2 man game with a post player like Withey. Bottom line, hopefully EJ and Withey don't have to bring the same 1-2 punch all season next year 'cause they'll be playing with a bundle of talented scorers.

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ann42 2 years ago

Does anyone know the date for late night? After a great season can't wait for Next season. I remember coach Self telling us at Ladies Night out enjoy the ride. What a ride the Jayhawk nation had this year. Thanks to players and coaches.

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Lance Hobson 2 years ago

Question: Will T-Mac and Traylor still have four years of eligibility or did they use one last year as partial qualifiers?

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Lance Hobson 2 years ago

Those two will go down in KU history for what they did in March. Just fearless, competetive beasts who came through where so many other highly touted players have failed. Unbelievable stretch of basketball brilliance.

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jaybate 2 years ago

At least that's how I see it.

But, hey, I thought KU would beat Kentucky by ten, despite the talent advantage, because I never thought KU would let Kentucky go aerial on them the first half as Kentucky went aerial on them the first game of the season. Stopping jumping in a game where the refs are not calling fouls is easy. And it will be done, if that is the only way to equalize the game. The game is a self-limiting system in this regard. And because it is is all the more reason to call for the game to be cleaned up before one of the magnificent young athletes is severely injured from being flipped. And the player that does the flip is later attacked gang style. We have been here before. Remember what happened to Luke Witte of Ohio State when Bill Mussleman was the coach of Minnesota and Ron Behagen and another player went animal on him. Basketball has rules and referees so that the game does not need to go down the path of the Minnesota vs. Ohio State. But the powers that be have to send the signal to the referees to call the games according to the rules.

There is not a damned thing wrong with referees deciding the outcomes of games, if one side is violating the rules. The whole idea of basketball is to win within the rules. There is something terribly wrong winning outside the rules.

Call the game.

Forget all of this "let 'em play" nonsense.

If the media-gaming complex which appears to be in control of the game now does not insist on cleaning up the game, the next step is into flipping players and that is where severe injury occurs and that is where gang style pay back occurs, and that is where greatest game ever invented faces its gravest risk to continuing as a game recognizable as basketball.

Why?

Because the next time basketball goes down the Ron Behagen-Lute Witte path, the ratings are going to go up and the betting is going to go up and then basketball will have gone the way of ice hockey.

And that will be the end of it.

And that will be the end of The Legacy.

And the tragedy is: everyone with an ounce of sense understands this, but no one can seem to stop the runaway train that is college basketball right now.

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jaybate 2 years ago

Starting next season players will almost certainly be taught to push a Withey, or a Davis, side ways at least five feet in the air, when they try to come across to block. Bigs will be allowed to block their own man, but will be shoved side ways, or flipped, if they try to cross the lane to block another player. It is coming for sure.)

Now, if we play long and strong the way I am talking about, we are going to have another scary early season, because we are going to be relying on a lot of young players--Ellis starting at the 3 and BenMac being a 30-minute sixth man at the 2-3 a la Darius Miller for UK, and Zack Peters starting, or subbing 20 mpg, etc.

But I really don't see much way around it, if Self really wants to build a team to win rings, not just conference titles. And Bill Self has steadfastly indicated that he's not in this for his health and local glory. He plays for all the marbles all the time. He embraced XTReme Muscle in the Big Ten. He embraced hack'n'slap when Howland beating him with it. He embraced XTReme Cheap Shotting last season until it appeared that coaches made some kind of unwritten agreement to stop the XTReme Cheap Shotting two thirds of the way through last season. Self's own team last season set the precedent for XTReme Slap'n'Chop among bigs at the top of their jumps. I did a paintograph last season that showed both Morri and Thomas elevated with Thomas delivering a aerial forearm smash. Part of the reason Thomas got so much abuse this season was that he was mercilessly dishing it out last season when he subbed for the Morri, likely at Self's and Manning's instructions. But I digress. The point is that Self embraces what ever evolves. And he adopts counter measures to whatever he cannot match. The great coaches--Consonants, Self, Donovan, and others--that are not doing what ever Calipari is doing to get 6 draft choices including three lottery picks, are not going to just let Calipari walk all over them and aerial forearm smash their lesser players. They are going to start amassing enough depth to be able to afford as many fouls as are required to flip Cal's lottery picks into scared, injured, horizontal players a la Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. They are going to have guys that are designated to be kicked out of games for flipping players. And Kentucky is going to lose some of those great OADs to injury before the season is even half over. And its going to happen, unless the NCAA cleans up the game, or Cal leaves, or Cal agrees not to load up with so many 5 stars.

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jaybate 2 years ago

You've either got to get players that can get up their with them, or you've got to get enough depth and tough enough players at the four to flip the leapers on their heads and backs until they stop jumping from fear of injury. There is no middle ground any more. What I believe people have not caught on to about Kentucky's great leapers is that they face slapping our players on every play in addition to out jumping them. Davis and Jones were delivering blows on every elevation, either on the way up, or on the way down. XTReme Face slapping, eye gouging, and throat chopping is the new vertical game. It was inevitable. First the jumpers ruled, then the brawny non jumpers began shoving them around, the the jumpers started slapping the last two years, and now it is a nonstop slap'n'chop fest at the top of a 40-45 inch vertical. So: now the logical response is to keep 4 physical bigs, regardless of jumping ability and flip the slap'n'chop jumpers. Jamari could be a designated flipper among four flippers, but at 6'7 and 220 he can hardly be expected to guard effectively a Davis, or a Jones...no way.

  1. Anthony Davis proves even a great 6'10 athlete cannot shoot over a great shot blocking seven footer like Jeff, so Jeff is a great way to go at the 5, but he's got to add 25 lbs immediately, or he won't last a season without Superman at his back. But he sure as heck can rebound against him. It is not realistic to think we can stay 7 feet behind Jeff, so we have to go to muscle as backup. Muscle that can drive block a guy like Davis completely out of jumping range, and flip him when he gets airborne.

(Note: I know that flipping guys in the air is the ultimate sin of basketball, but this is the inevitable counter measure that is coming, if leapers are allowed to slap'n'chop from above as has been increasing the last two seasons. Keeping two, or even three deep at the two big positions, and using designated flippers is the ultimate counter measure. It will turn the game once and for all into a horizontal slug fest. I don't want to see it happen, but I am as sure about this as I was that the Howland hack'n'slap would be adopted, and the Consonants XTReme Cheap Shotting would be adopted, and so on. This is just the simplest kind of game theory to see this next move coming. We saw KU put Kidd-Gilchrist down early and brutally wih a two-man flip to let Kidd-Gilchrist know he might have his way outside, but not inside. We're going to see more and more of this. Were Anthony Davis to come back to D1 next season, he would never get 16 rebounds, or 7 blocks in a game. I doubt Jeff Withey will ever get 7 blocks in a game either.

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jaybate 2 years ago

Second, KU held its own with UK's inside game, but that was with Jeff Withey playing with a consensus All-American that even the players called "Superman." If KU is to stay with Jeff Withey at the 5, then KU has to get longer at the 4 than Jamari Traylor. Frankly, they've got to get longer than Thomas was. They've got to get Terrence Jones long and strong. Jones seemed a true 6-9.

4--Thomas Robinson was a great, great player, but while he was fabulously strong, a good jumper, and a preternatural rebounder, he was not long enough to more than hold his own against Kentucky's super long bigs. And without someone of TRob's caliber, Jeff would have been completely overwhelmed in every facet of the game but shot blocking. We have to have some true 6-9 to 6-11 bigs that weigh 250 pounds and that can still get up at the 4, or we cannot control the glass against a team like Kentucky. Tony Parker, who most seem to think is now virtually impossible to get, is now a must get IMHO. We have to get really big and strong at the 4. Thomas Robinson, great as he was, proves that he is the new minimum in height. We need TRob's strength at a true 6-9 to 6-10. We have Zack Peters coming in a 250, but can he get up and is he a true 6-9? I reckon he will be the kind of 4 we need, though it will take a couple of years for him to be the kind of beast that Thomas was this season, if he ever develops that far, but I feel so strongly about staying huge at the 4 that I would already move Landon Lucas to the 4 to fill behind Zack, if we don't land Parker. Parker, or someone like him, is crucial. With a Parker, Lucas can stay behind Jeff and we can have a true four man rotation at the bigs. I frankly don't see Jamari Traylor, broad shouldered as he appears, having the kind of weight and height required to play at the 4 at the highest levels, except as a backup guy useful against smaller 4s. If personel permitted, Traylor should be a backup at the 3 next season, but I am sure he will have to be a backup, maybe even a starter, at the 4. But if next year's team were fortunate enough to make it deep next year, depending on Jamari at the 4, at 6-7, is a recipe for watching Kentucky players hang in suborbital flight above the backboards again.

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jaybate 2 years ago

2 position--We have to get bigger and stronger at the 2 in a big way. EJ was just not strong enough to handle Doran Lamb, or the moving picks. BenMac at 6-5 seems to have the kind of length we need there, if he can handle the ball. Travis has everything needed, but a solid trey. Travis is actually my ideal 2 guard for the current game. He will be able to handle the dribbling duties if he were asked to practice over the off season. I believe he can get his trey back and be the muscle we need at the 2. Travis could be an incredibly punishing two. He could shut down almost every two we met this season, though even he had some trouble with Lamb, when he got switched off onto him. I think Travis will start at the 2 and Ben Mac will be the instant offense sixth man at 2.

3-position--We have to get a lot longer at the 3. Travis is as athletic and as strong and as good of a defender and glue man at the 3 as anyone can be at 6-4 or 6-5, but when a Brandon Rush, or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist comes along, as they inevitably do, late in the Madness, you've got to be long and strong at the 3, or you are going to get your head handed to you. Brady and Travis, two very talented 6-3 to 6-4 basketball players proved this repeatedly. Even two great defenders like these can't get up and under a Rush, or a Kidd-Gilchrist. And even BenMac cannot solve the problem of a Rush, or a Kidd-Gilchrist at the 3, good as BenMac is reputed to be. White at 6'6" seems the kind of guy who might be able to do it his second season, when he is muscled up and physically matured, but, frankly, I am ready, and I believe Bill Self may also be ready, to turn the 3 position back into an every game MUA. That means Perry Ellis is our 3 next season. Put Perry Ellis there, as Self put BRush there his freshman season. The '08 KU and '12 Kentucky prove that you can't be too big and strong at the 3. Enough combo guards at the 3. It will take you a long ways, but it won't take you past a Rush, or a Kidd-Gilrchrist. Kidd-Gilchrist basically gave Kentucky a third big on offense and defense. Kidd-Gilchrist was why Kentucky could always afford to go airborne to block shots, because with him there, there was always going to be one, or two stud rebounders when Davis and/or Jones were doing their aerials. Work through Perry's growing pains and let Kevin back him up, when we need to stay big, and BenMac when we need to get smaller.

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jaybate 2 years ago

"Getting Longer and Stronger Next Season and the Game Taking the Next Step to Behagen-Witte Version 2.0"

I am going to approach this from another angle.

In the Kentucky game, what did we lack to beat UK and how can we get that?

First, we lacked length, strength and scoring on the wings in the first five. We have to get much longer and stronger on the perimeter to handle the massive increase in moving picks that deliver a blow to our defenders. Perimeter players increasingly have to defend like linebackers in football. They have to be nimble side to side with great closing speed off the moving pick, and they have to be able to shed moving picks as if they were blockers, because that is what a moving picker is.

1 position--EJ, if he muscles up a bit, can probably take over for Tyshawn, where we matched up okay against UK, and we'll gain an inch at the point. And we can stay near that size with Anrio (if he were eligible), or go small with Naadir when needed. But it is important for people to understand that Sherron Collins driving his shoulder into defenders is not the past but the future. Near the end of the game, Marquis Teague was literally charging into Tyshawn out on the perimeter. Once he even threw a forearm shiver into Tyshawn as he did and the refs called nothing. Teague is 6-2 and not very heavy, but he was charging into Tyshawn just as hard as Sherron Collins ever did. Tyshawn was a great, great point guard with a stunning combination of athleticism, strength and blinding speed. But if what we saw Marquis Teague get away with the last five minutes of regulation is a harbinger of play to come, and I believe it is, brawny point guards are going to become as important as athletic point guards very soon. The game has changed so much just since Sherron left that if Sherron had been playing in the KU-Kentucky game, Sherron would literally have been unstoppable. Sherron would have put Teague on the floor with forearm shivers again and again. Where the point guard muscle style of play is headed is very obvious, if you just think about it for a minute. Point guards are going to get brawnier, at whatever their height, and they are going to start driving up and under bigs, in addition to turning corners on the perimeter like running backs a la Marquis Teague.

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Ralster Jayhawk 2 years ago

Lots of speculation here. I'm completely flummoxed why people put Anrio Adams on any KU roster for next season. I have seen n-o-t-h-i-n-g about him picking Kansas. Yes, we need another tough, athletic 6'2-6'3 combo guard, but why do people think it will be Adams?

Peters at 6'9, 245#, and with football tight-end hands (26TDs) is a "top20-type of talent" (Self's quote from several weeks ago).

Dont discount BenMac's top30 ranking, and quotes by Tyshawn+TRob saying he is "gone-in-2-yrs" type of talent. He can slash and shoot the 3. And he's been in Selfball for a year, so shouldnt be totally lost out there...

I'm guessing a kid as bright as Perry Ellis (4.0gpa), and a McDAA-level talent, will start at the 4, or split time off the bench at the 3- & 4- slots, thus getting +/- 20mpg right off the bat. Maybe he is smart enough to pick up Selfball. And he is 6'8, 220#.

Jamari Traylor, 6'8, 240+, who supposedly has a "motor" reminiscent of TRob, and also has a nose for rebounds...has also received the all-important year of Self+Danny, so should be able to contribute meaningfully...

Naadir: what we saw is frosh ballhandling mistakes, but an ability to get to the rim, and also good body balance, as well as a 3pt gun. He is 'not' a pure point-->he is a...6ft tall combo guard (surprise). He will contribute for sure.

Need more info on #50 ranked Andrew White, 6'6, 220#, and can shoot supposedly. Can he defend? Can he handle the ball?

Almost no info on Landon Lucas...

So add Withey+Releford+EJ+BMac+Naadir+Traylor to Peters+Ellis+/-White...and we havent mentioned Wesley, Young, and Merv. My guess is Young works more on the plays, and tries to Hudy-ize himself if even possible. Definite contributor, as he was, even if his role doesnt change.

Major depth-chart battles this summer and fall between Traylor, Peters, Young, Wesley, ??Lucas??. My guess is Ellis plays a fair amt (penciled-in by Self already for 20ish mpg). We shall see if 'playing the top talent' like Kentucky does has any effect on WildBill...

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Ethan Berger 2 years ago

Lets not get ahead of ourselves with these 4 star recruits. They are 4 star for a reason, It will be hard to see them contribute right away. I see this being similar to the 08 class but instead we actually have a lot of minutes returning.

Starting 5

EJ B Mac Rel Ellis Withey

First 5 off

Tharpe Young Traylor White Lucas

I think Adams will be in the rivals 150 final update. Lucas is not the tallest center but is a big body, great athlete and can flat out play defense. In 2 and 3 years will have a team similar to that of the 07/08 squad but with more offense.

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HawkKlaw 2 years ago

Withey and Johnson will be the 1-2 punch on offense, but you can't discount what Releford does on the defensive end. He is a leader by example - best defender on the team. That's saying a lot when you have the Big 12 Defensive POY still on the roster.

I think most of us agree on who the starting 5 will be next year. My guess:

Elijah Johnson Ben McLemore Travis Releford Perry Ellis Jeff Withey

Key Reserves (Doubtful that Self will have more than an 8-man rotation, but...):

Tharpe White Peters or Young Lucas

We will have a ton of depth down low (weird to say after last season), so it will be interesting to see who gets minutes. I bet that Kevin Young will get a lot of minutes to start the year next season, but by conference play I bet that Peters will have taken most of his minutes. I think Young benefited this year from a lack of depth, but next year he'll have to work pretty hard to beat out the outstanding youngsters we have coming in.

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Max Walker 2 years ago

My Take on the line-up and the order of guys off the bench. That second five could easily come in and, depending on how Lucas runs the floor, fly around for a few minutes while HCBS can get in some more coaching for the starters.

Starters: Elijah Johnson G 6-4 195 Sr Ben McLemore G 6-5 185 So Travis Releford G 6-5 207 Rs Sr Perry Ellis F 6-8 220 Fr Jeff Withey C 7-0 235 Rs Sr

First 5 off bench: Jamari Traylor F 6-8 215 So Kevin Young F 6-8 185 Sr Naadir Tharpe G 5-11 170 So Landen Lucas C 6-10 230 Fr Andrew White G/F 6-6 210 Fr

Anrio Adams G 6-3 185 Fr Zach Peters F 6-9 235 Fr Justin Wesley F 6-8 200 Rs Jr Merv Lindsay F 6-7 195 So Christian Garrett G 6-3 170 So Niko Roberts G 5-11 175 Jr

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Alohahawk 2 years ago

Did anyone watch the post game excitement in the Jayhawk locker-room after the win vs N. Carolina? The hawks, including Coach Self, were huddled in a circle, jumping up and down, dancing and chanting. And into the middle of the circle, in dances Tharpe - shirtless, with a huge smile on his face. That was family at it's best, and loved Tharpe's enthusiasm.

Six month wait. Arrggghhhh!

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KansasComet 2 years ago

Coach Self likes to sub on the first timeout at the 16:00 minute mark. If he were to sub 3 players in for the starters, who would it be? In my opinion if Johnson, Releford, Withey, McLemore, and Ellis start. My 3 replacements would be: Tharpe (EJ), White (Releford), and Young (Ellis). Please share your thoughts.

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bsinclair119125 2 years ago

1) Johnson 2) McLlemore 3) Releford 4) Ellis 5) Withey

Having three seniors in the starting lineup doesn’t hurt either. A good mixture of young talent and experience.

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flyingfinn 2 years ago

Obviously a lot more talent for Coach Self to work with next year and enjoy looking at everyone's proposed starting line-ups, but having not seen Ellis play I am certain that if can not play defense Travis will start in his place with Traylor's big body down low with Withey.

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Tony Bandle 2 years ago

1] Respectfully, if any of you think Perry is not going to start, you will need to rethink your position come November. 2] Respectfully,if any of you think Ben Mac is not going to start, you also will need to rethink your position come November. 3] Respectfully, if any of you think Travis is NOT going to start, again, you will need to rethink your position come November. 4] Respectfully, if any of you think Kevin won't be the first "big" of the bench, you will need to rethink etc, etc,.

And I am sure someone will respond to my post that, " respectfully, you're full of crap"...and I will respect that. :)

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Alex Resnik 2 years ago

I love this kind of talk.. who's going to start? Who is going to be the first two off of the bench?? This is fantastic. My starting 5 are: EJ BMAC Relly Ellis Withey

With Tharpe first off the bench with Traylor. I see Peters as playing more of a Cole Aldrich role in '08. Getting some decent minutes to spell Withey, Ellis and Young. I don't see alot of playing time for Wesley (which sucks because I love that kid) and I see White being the 6th man of the year in the BIGXII. The kid can flat out score. It will be interesting to see how he defends. And as I said earlier, I don't see Ellis getting much time at the 3 this year. We all know Self likes to play 2 ball handlers, so I can see EJ and Tharpe getting plenty of minutes together and that leaves BMAC, White and Relly for the 3.

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Konkis Dongington III 2 years ago

Anyone leaving Releford out of the starting lineup next year is nuts. We have 3 great defensive-minded seniors. They're all starters next year. The only question is which of the 3 freshmen to start and where. Ellis could play the 3, pushing Releford to the 2 and playing the best of Traylor/Young/Wesley/Lucas/Peters at the 4. In that kind of rotation, my guess is that Traylor or Peters would wind up with the nod. You could play the better of BMac/White at the 2, putting Relly at the 3 and Ellis at the 4. Anything else is just gonna be too many freshmen on the floor. Self's gonna take the reliability of 3 known, talented defenders over the possibility of some good, freshman scorers any day of the week. I think we'll see the conventional starting lineup next year, but there will be plenty of opportunity for other players to work their ways in:

1) EJ 2) BMac 3) Relly 4) Ellis 5) W

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Chris Shaw 2 years ago

I don't know, but I really believe as long as academics end up being okay and he signs his LOI, Anrio Adams is going to be a sleeper next year making an impact off the bench for Kansas.

I may be completely wrong and I am surprised nobody has mentioned him, but I feel Adams has this Tyshawn ability that will allow him to find court time, even as a freshman. He's undisciplined as hell right now and he has a lot of Tony Wroten Jr. (Washington-Most likely leaving for NBA) in him, but I don't think that is a bad thing considering how well Wroten's freshman year went at Washington.

Adams is a freak, but it will be interesting to see if he gets "A Shot" at the rotation.

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JHAWK34TRUTH 2 years ago

Pg - Elijah SG - Ben SF - Perry PF - Jamari C - Jeff

I know Travis should be a starter but it's hard not to put a McD player in there at the 3 and Perry said he's comfortable at SF. Jamari at the 4 > Travis at the 3.

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KUUBERFAN 2 years ago

Alohahawk....even though your theory about most of next year's squad needing weight sounds logical, is it truelly necessary. I point to guys like Durant and Reggie Miller. They were skinny dudes but could shoot lights out. Darn I wish we could get a player like that, you are correct about Withey, Young, and Traylor needing more weight, far as I know none of them will develope a solid outside shot and will depend on strength for their post moves. The only thing I see EJ needs work on is the ability or more aptly the desire to slash to the basket instead of launching jumpers. Everytime EJ drove to the basket during the tourney he usually scored or was fouled...he needs to be more like Kieth Langford...Langford was about the same size as EJ but was fearless attacking the rim. Lets hope that B Mac and Ellis has the sweet outside shot as advertised. If so KU might be in Hotlanta for the next Final 4...which I would be elated about seeing I live 30 miles from the Ga. Dome. ROCK CHALK YA MUTHAS.....

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bennybob 2 years ago

Withey and EJ are the logical picks, but i wouldn't be surprised if Ellis or Mclemore leads the team in scoring next season

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Steve Gantz 2 years ago

As we speculate on next years rotations, I'm wondering if there's any news about the schedule.

I believe that during our seasons that ended with disappointing losses our non-conf schedule was kind of soft. This year was one of our toughest in many years. We can't discount that as a major factor in our success.

I would love to copy all of your speculations and revisit them next season, see who's the smartest KUSports fan! I won't try to speculate!

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Jason Keller 2 years ago

I say we play Ellis at guard, he moves like one anyway and will probably play guard in the league. Nothing like a big dominant guard to shoot jump shots over K-State players. Let Traylor and Lucas play 4.

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Joe Joseph 2 years ago

Hard, if not impossible, to replace arguably the best forward/guard duo KU has had in recent history.

KU's success next season will once again depend on the development of unproven talent. The big difference is that next year's unproven talent is a bunch of freshmen who are not familiar with Self's coaching style and demands. McLemore and Traylor, yes. But the others have no idea.

Bill Self deserves all the credit he has received for putting this team together and helping it reach its absolute ceiling. But next year -in my opinion- will be an even greater coaching challenge to win the Big 12 and make a run in the NCAA tournament. We knew Tyshawn always had the potential to dominate and we knew T-Rob was going to be a double-double guy coming in to the season. Do we know that about any current players on next year's roster?

Should be another fun, interesting season! I'm already scared.

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yates33333 2 years ago

Hopefully KU won't have to depend on two scorers next year. Such an arrangement makes it too easy for other teams to defense them. Robinson had to face being doubled and tripled after the first few games revealed how much KU depended on him. TT was guarded almost as if it were a box and one at times. I hope we have at least four scorers next year and three excellent rebounders and five outstanding ball handlers. Of course, Withey and Johnson should be the foundation of the team. I've always thought Releford could be a super sixth man. Sometimes the sixth man is more important than several starters. Especially when he is on, and at time Releford was on, almost carrying the team.

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AsadZ 2 years ago

Unless something drastic happens Ellis will be a starter IMO. My starting 5 would be:

EJ Ben Travis Ellis Withey

For Bigs, Young/Traylor off the bench.

White on 3 spot

Tharpe to back up EJ

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april28 2 years ago

Big shoes to fill.

The reports that I read had McLemore being the clear leader in ability - so he may actually fill the T Rob role. Tharpe is so fast, I see him being a great contributor next year - especially defensively.

Assuming that you get a litle more scoring from Withey, more from Elijah and a significant contribution from BMac, then you've got a solid offensive base to work from. Would love to see Travis become more confident and active on the offensive end.

Should be fun to watch as Self puts the pieces together!

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keith horinek 2 years ago

We will have three returning starters from a team that went to the national championship game, plus Mclemore and Traylor who have been practicing with this team all semester. We have Young, Wesley and Tharpe that served backup roles this year and three freshman bigs that are all 4 and 5 star recruits plus 2 three star freshman guards coming in next year. I see another big 12 championship and if they jell and play hard like this year's team did, a chance at another final four.

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cozzhawk 2 years ago

Hudy needs to get Withey on the Crossfit Football program during the off season. Kid needs some bulk if he's going to dominate.

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Danny Hernandez 2 years ago

Remember when Roy early on would substitute 4-5 players?

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KansasComet 2 years ago

Maybe we can substitute 5 players at a time this year? I have no idea if that would work or not, however we seem to have the talent to do it. Kinda hard for opposing teams to game plan against 10 players. Just random thoughts.... the roster for next year is not complete yet.

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fansincewilt 2 years ago

I think you have to figure Releford into that duo making a trio of 1-2-3 scoring punch. All three of them took a back seat to Taylor and Robinson for a very good reason. I think they have it in them to step up and along with those coming on board actually have a higher ceiling than this year's group. What we will be missing is Taylor's and Robinson's desire. That will be very difficult to replace. Time will tell. I came on the board today to see if Thomas has announced his intentions yet. I know he has to go but O how I would love to see another year of that kind of desire. That was beautiful.

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trustyourSelf 2 years ago

As usual, right after the season ends, I'm ready for the next season to start next week. I am really encouraged by the the players we have returning next year. I know that Elijah, Withey, and Releford will be our three headed monster, but what I'm really curious about is who else will step up. We have so many players coming in that we just don't know how they will play/fit into Self's system. If I had to make a guess at the rotation it would be: Starting 5: Elijah, Releford, McLemore, Ellis, Withey Rest of rotation: Tharpe, Andrew White, Young, Traylor That leaves some really good players out (Wesley, Anrio Adams, Merv, Zach Peters, and Landen Lucas). I'm so interested to see how and who we play.

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Alohahawk 2 years ago

Obviously I'm not Hudy, or Coach Self, but I would speculate the following for this summer's workout needs:

EJ, @ 6'4" & 195 lbs, is probably about where he should be weight wise. At the most 10 lbs more in the upper body. Anymore and he might lose a little of his speed and leaping ability.

JW, @ 7' & 235 lbs, needs at least 20 lbs of muscle in his legs & maybe 5 - 10 in his upper body. I doubt he could gain that much over the summer, but he'll need it at the next level so why add it ASAP. That shouldn't effect his court speed, nor his blocking since he mostly stays grounded, using his length rather than his leaping to block shots. He'll need upper body strength if he's to retain rebounds, especially if TRob decides to head to the NBA.

KY, @ 6'8" & 185 lbs, needs more weight everywhere, maybe 15 lbs in the upper body & 5 -10 in the legs, although he's so quick to the ball on rebounds you have to wonder how more weight would effect that.

Releford, @ 6' 5" & 207 lbs, I'd say, is about where he should be weightwise. Maybe a few more lbs in the upper body.

Wesley, @ 6' 8" & 200 lbs, could use more weight, similar to KY, since he is expected to play power forward and will need to stand his ground in the lower paint area. Unfortunately, weight and speed aren't Justin's main problems, it's his need to reduce his fouling.

Traylor, @ 6' 7" & 215 lbs. At that weight, it doesn't sound like he would be very strong in the paint, and he might need more weight in the legs. However, he is a mystery to me, having not seen him play. I have no idea how well he has been able to hold his position during practices. But from the pictures I've seen, Jamari looks solid in the upper body.

Tharpe, @ 5' 11" & 170 lbs, would seem about right. Perhaps add 5 - 10 lbs in the upper body. He's about the same height as Collins, but is about 25 to 30 lbs lighter. Still, Sherron was able to speedball down the court pretty fast.

Lindsay, @ 6' 7" & 195 lbs, needs to gain both upper and lower body weight, mostly for defensive purposes. Again, since I've not seen Merv play much, he could be an unknown commodity and end up equal in status to Jeremy Case, who could shoot lights out, but was only used sparingly.

Just my two cents on weight training.

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Michael Sillman 2 years ago

Clearly Jayhawk nation has moved on to next season. It is fun to speculate about playing time.

I don't agree with some posters who have penciled new guys into starting roles. Self does not think that way. He will not sacrifice W's for developing young players. You must know his system to get off the bench

Obviously the returning players including Mclemore and Traylor have a big leg up on the recruits in terms of knowledge and conditioning. Even the best high school fitness training can't hold a candle to D1 training.

Don't count out Lindsay either. I was not surprised by Withey's success this year. He always looked good during mop up duty. Lindsay is my sleeper for next season. He has length, quickness, hops, and a nice looking shot. Reminds me of a young Tayshaun Prince, the old Kentucky star.

My starting five at the beginning of the season (to start an argument):

Johnson Releford Young Traylor Withey

First off the bench:

Mclemore Tharpe Ellis Lindsay

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ajhk 2 years ago

We've seen both Withey and EJ explode in the tourney. I have plenty of Faith in both for next year.

EJ finally showed the type of slasher he can be in breaking down the D or going for the score. He's always had handles, ridiculous athleticism, distributing goggles, and confidence to knock down the needed trifecta. Nice to see a confident and very effective drive added to complete the package.

Just like AD did for Kentucky, we all know how Withey can turn a game while scoring very few pointsts. But... Withey also has a great shot and his scoring will increase as he undoubtedly will be taking more shots. His free throw percentage speaks of his good touch, but he also has great mechanics for a big man. Cole, for example, did not have good mechanics as his "wind up" created a lot of wasted motion, took too long and made it easy for a defender behind him to swipe it in the middle of his shot. disclaimer- not taking a shot at Cole, he gets much love.

Withey doesn't have the explosion (right now) to recover from a jump (rebound) and quickly get back up to dunk it but I'm sure he'll work on that. For the tall big with slightly slow feet, there is no better shot to master than a hook. work that hook Wit.

Releford has quietly taking on the role of facilitator and lock-down defender. I think He'll continue down this path. His frame reminds me of B-Rush and I think he'll be as feared of a defender next year.
Also: Hello spin move! I see Releford pulling up for more jumpers, though more importantly, slashing and drawing fouls. I see him rotating in at the 2 with B-Mac and the 3 with Perry. (Coach did say he's looking for Perry to play the 3 "...a big guard.")

All three of these studs will be solid players and leaders.

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Scott MacWilliams 2 years ago

Onward and upward, as ever, Jayhawks!

With Travis, Elijah, Jeff, Kevin and the rest of the returning crew being bolstered by a strong recruiting class, I like our prospects A LOT!!!

How many days till Midnight Madness???

Rock Chalk, Jayhawks!!!

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