Friday, December 7, 2012

Jayhawks practice with bigger point guards

Kansas University seniors Kevin Young, left, and Travis Releford joke around during the annual men's basketball media day on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas University seniors Kevin Young, left, and Travis Releford joke around during the annual men's basketball media day on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, at Allen Fieldhouse.


A bit tall for the position, 6-foot-8 Kevin Young and 6-6 Travis Releford have played some point guard — yes, point guard — during this week’s Kansas University basketball practices.

Both have fared well at the lead guard position, starting point Elijah Johnson declared.

“I respect Kevin so much just knowing every play coach (Bill Self) called and knowing exactly what to do, not even looking at me to tell him what to do,” Johnson said of senior power forward Young.

“He didn’t really turn the ball over. He got us in the offense. He can feed the post better from being on the perimeter, seeing all the defenders. I thought he looked good, honestly,” Johnson added.

Of senior shooting guard/small forward Releford’s work, Johnson noted: “He knows how to run the point. He doesn’t try to do too much. He gets us in the offense. Once the ball gets to the third or fourth side, he knows to attack and give us something to feed off of.”

Johnson joked that a certain power forward from last year’s team truly would have relished a chance to run the offense.

“T-Rob would have loved that,” Johnson said with a smile, referring to 6-10 Thomas Robinson, now with the Sacramento Kings.

Self has used sophomore Naadir Tharpe at the backup point-guard position during the first seven games. He’s averaged 4.0 points a game with 15 assists to seven turnovers. Freshman Rio Adams has also played sparingly in five games.

“Maybe we should play Rio, but maybe take some pressure off of him (by putting him at 2-guard) and play Travis at the point, something like that,” Self said Thursday at his weekly news conference. “We just haven’t found the one guy that says, ‘Hey, you’re his (Johnson’s) backup.’ We’ve looked at some different things to try to get some guys back there,” Self added, noting Young’s point guard stint only lasted about 10 minutes, despite the fact “he passes it well.”

Self wants Johnson to attack the rim so he can get to the free-throw line. Johnson has attempted just 11 free throws all season, making eight. He averages 10 points a game with 34 assists against 20 turnovers.

“He’s played OK. He hasn’t played great yet. I think there’s another big step he’ll take,” Self said of the senior. “This is not anything unusual about him starting out maybe a little slow and then kind of getting his feet under him and then kicking it in. It’s just different than the way it’s looked in the past because he’s the only handler we have. If we had somebody else we’d put back there and play two guards at once, everybody would be talking about how good our point-guard play is.”

Johnson bruised his left knee — the one he had surgery on last April — in KU’s Nov. 20 victory over Saint Louis. He bruised his right hand after getting hammered on a driving layup attempt Nov. 30 against Oregon State.

“It’s not bad,” Johnson said of his knee. “I feel like I’m getting stronger. I feel I’m taking care of myself,” he added, noting his hand felt fine heading into Saturday’s 1 p.m. home game against Colorado.

“I feel I’m getting to the point I’m realizing I’m the one who has to make the plays all the time, and we’re better off with the ball in my hands,” Johnson said. “The rest of the guards are really there just to help me. It’s my job to get it going and be able to control the ball and have the ball in good hands.”

Johnson said he’s “getting used to playing that role (of point guard) again. I’m studying everything. It’s noticing stuff like I get tired at different times in the game. It’s usually when everybody else is rested and I’m having to control the game, hold the ball so long or make a play or set everybody up and get everybody organized. Sometimes that wears on you. You don’t realize it when you play on the wing. At point guard you have to make sure all five people are in order as opposed to another position when you can think about, ‘What should I be doing?’ and just get out of the way, just feed off what the point guard starts. I have to react to everything. Thinking gets you nervous or causes turnovers,” Johnson added.

Hard work: Self said the Jayhawks have been showing great effort at practice.

“We play harder in practice than we do the games. That’s what blows my mind,” Self said. “We’ll have a possession in practice, seven guys on the floor diving for a loose ball. And we’ll go through a whole half and not have anybody dive against Oregon State. So it’s kind of a weird deal. If we keep practicing the way we’ve been practicing, I know it’s going to click in and become a habit. It just hasn’t quite clicked in yet.”

Buffs coming to town: Colorado, which improved to 7-1 after Wednesday’s 70-61 home win over Colorado State, is led by third-year coach Tad Boyle, who played two years for Ted Owens and two for Larry Brown at KU. Colorado, of course, was a longtime member of the Big Eight and Big 12 before departing for the Pac-12 last season.

“I have no ill will toward Colorado. They left the league because they had to. I mean, with the league potentially breaking up, they had to jump and take what was available,” Self said. “We certainly understand that. We primarily did it (scheduled CU in a home-and home series) for our fans that live in western Kansas or the Denver area (to see next year’s game in Boulder).”


HawkKlaw 1 year, 4 months ago

Two things are clear from this article.

First, Self is not happy with Naadir's (nor Elijah's) defense. He hasn't been all season. He is moving pieces of the puzzle around to see if he can make it fit better.

Second, Self does not trust Rio to run the point. He likes Rio's defense and some of his offensive abilities, but there's a reason why Self is trying Rio at the 2 rather than the 1. If he thought Rio could help all that much with getting into the paint, drawing fouls and dishing, there is no way he would be putting Travis (or even KY...eek!) at the backup PG spot.

I would also say that Bill Self is looking for a better way to have a "PG by committee," especially on offense. As others have mentioned, Self usually likes to roll with two or three combo guards facilitating the offense (rather than one designated PG). And defensively, he's figured out that he can't put EJ or Naadir on the opposing PG. He has to go a different route (Travis and maybe Rio).

I bet we start seeing Naadir's and Rio's minutes start to even out, with Naadir getting most minutes when we're in need of scoring and Rio getting in when we need a defensive stop.


championhawks 1 year, 4 months ago

Johnson will not move over to the 2 simply because BMac is there. BMac can't slide to the 3 simply because Releford is there. So unless he is going to come off the bench, there isn't anywhere but point for Johnson to play.

Some say move BMac to the point. IMO (and that's all this is obviously) is that he would not be a good pg. Someone before mentioned that it takes away from him playing off the ball and scoring opportunities that come with that (which I agree with). However, it also comes down to the fact that BMac isn't a pg. To me, getting a pass on the wing and slashing to the basket is different than having the ball up top and trying to make a move on your own. BMac is quick, just don't know if he has the handles for pg.


midwest_muser 1 year, 4 months ago

EJ will get it done. Take a deep breath everyone. I would love to see Trav play the point a bit when EJ needs a rest. AW and Perry E will grow into more minutes by Feb as well. Just watch...


59grad 1 year, 4 months ago

off topic, but I just read a good article in the KC Star on post concussion problems a Blue Springs girls' basketball player has been having. Very severe problems with memory, classes, focus, etc., after only two concussions. Made me think of Zach Peters and what he is going through.


KGphoto 1 year, 4 months ago

Sorry to bring it back up, but I'd definitely order a copy of the Mizzou game if it were available, mainly because the game ran long and my DVR wasn't set to get it all.

It stops a little before TTs final free throws. IT"S LIKE TORTURE!!

I NEED that game on DVD!


William Blake 1 year, 4 months ago

CS is stirring the pot, trying to create the same competitive feel as we have at the 4 spot. He is doing the right thing because this team isn't going any where in March without strong PG play.

I just don't see EJ bringing us to the promised land this year at PG. I'd rather him slide back into the comfortable 2 role and have him focus on improving his trey #s this year and forget pushing him to penetrate.

In the current situation, this is a train wreck in slo-mo. I just don't see EJ stacking up big minutes for another 20+ games while penetrating to the rim. He just doesn't have the health to be put in this position and it showed in our last game when he over-compensated his drive and went down so hard it is a miracle he isn't wearing a cast today. EJ needs to go back to his comfortable 2-spot, where he is very capable of helping the team in so many ways... like he has before with TT at point.

At the 2, EJ has potential to help this team more. He never has really mastered his trey... maybe this is the year! But what about everything else he offers this team; great TO/A ratio, solid defense, knowing the system and offering senior leadership, helping the PG bring the ball up, and sometimes drive the hole.

I'm not sure why we haven't tried BMac at PG... but then, I've mentioned this before. We'd be trading BMac's offensive rebound potential for other benefits; more opportunities to score (which he needs), future defensive domination of a big part of the back court, drawing defenses in to open up the trey for the rest of the team. Granted we would suffer a pretty major growing pain until he learned the position, and he currently still hasn't mastered basic "Self ball"... but do we think conservative now and hope for a miracle cure for EJ, or do we try something else?

When I think of BMac at point, I instantly flashback to '08 and CS's gamble putting BRush at PG on D. I've always loved the idea of a big, capable PG.. mostly for defensive reasons, but in this case it puts the ball in the hands more of our most-explosive offensive player!

If it worked to put BMac at point, and he became somewhat effective this year, he would climb to the top of NBA scouting reports because he could develop into one of the all-time greats at point. You don't see many PGs in the NBA capable of stuffing the ball with their elbows. Think future here because these are the types of stories that attract future stars to Kansas.

From our starters, BMac is our only perimeter player capable of driving to the rim at will... a skill we are truly missing after losing TT. It just isn't realistic to think EJ will suddenly gain that skill in such a short time while banged up. That spells train wreck because he'll have to over-compensate and risk further injury.

This is a rare opportunity for BMac... because while he learns the PG position, he has EJ to help him over the hump.

Call me crazy... just don't call me late for breakfast.


CWGOKU 1 year, 4 months ago

Is there a high light video out of last season? One would think that after a Final Four year they would make one, but I have not seen one.


JayHulk 1 year, 4 months ago



Tony Bandle 1 year, 4 months ago

On this Anniversary of the Day of Infamy, I salute and thank all service men and women, past, present and future for their sacrifices to keep our freedoms safe.

Today is my father's 90th birthday. Big Bill, as we call him, was celebrating his 19th birthday in St.Louis when he heard the news on the radio that Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor. He joined the Navy and didn't return home till 1946. His story was repeated by millions of young Americans, many who never made it back home.

Please, never forget what this generation did for the future of this planet.

PS. He is a great Dad, a great man and, his love his five sons is number one..however, number two is his distaste for the University of Missouri. I know you'd all like him!!


Brian Powell 1 year, 4 months ago

But I would love to see Rio get more PT! I think he has super high potential to contribute big on both ends by the end of the season.. . just hope it doesn't get stifled or screwed up like I fear EJ's has been :(


Brian Powell 1 year, 4 months ago

It's gotta be just a 'message' to our PGs...

Both KY and Releford play better OFF the ball (except maybe for Travis in Transition), so playing PG makes little sense to me.


Jack Wilson 1 year, 4 months ago

Also, listening to the press conference where this was brought up, of course, no one even asks about Tharpe after Self discusses the other point guard options. The obvious questions relate to what is Tharpe doing wrong, will he continue in his role, that there was a discussion on effort and proximity to the offensive player by Tharpe on defense a few weeks ago, what's going on there? I mean, you have a coach discussing Releford and Young at the point, and no one in the group of reporters asks about Tharpe? Puzzling.


Jack Wilson 1 year, 4 months ago

This is an indictment of Tharpe. No other way to read it. “We just haven’t found the one guy that says, ‘Hey, you’re his (Johnson’s) backup.’ We’ve looked at some different things to try to get some guys back there,” Wow.

And from everything that has gone on, from everything that has been said, from the substitution patterns, from Self's reactions during the game -- Self is looking to make a change.

I remember when Self said he was recruiting and needed a "point guard", many folks were like, why? We have Tharpe, with Frankamp coming in for 2013, and Adams could play there. Made sense. Perhaps now we know why.

I'm really not sure what else Tharpe can do within his capabilities. He's handled the ball nearly flawlessly, low turnovers, etc. His effort was obvious after Self's "effort" statement. But Self is wanting more. Not sure Tharpe can give him more.

All signs point to Adams. In the press conference, the question that preceeded Self's point guard discussion was related to point guards getting into the paint on offense, and point guards guarding the paint on defense. We have only one that appears able to do both -- Adams. Adams' behind the back, slashing layup againt Oregon St. was a snap shot of what he can offer (better than Tharpe there). But the bet is he'll throw the ball away more. Can Self stomach that and let him play through it? History says no. Let's see.

But let's also remember in all of this, at its core, the point guard role is that of ball handler. Can Adams handle the ball well enough to play the point? I can assure you that neither Releford nor Young can -- a possession here or there, sure. As jb alluded to above, we've heard this stuff before. The Releford/Young stuff is a red herring here.

My bet is that Adams can handle it if Self's willing to absorb some big bumps during the learning curve. I said before the season started that if I were Adams, I'd be dribbling a basketball everywhere .. to class, to the Burge Union, up the Hill to campus, on the bus, everywhere. Same advice now.

A few weeks back, I'd mentioned where Tharpe, for this team, was the better option. Meaning, could Adams improve enough to give this team what it needs from the PG spot? Right now, I think Self is not only concerned about Tharpe, but also EJ. Another PG option could move EJ off the ball a bit. It seems crystal clear that Self is looking to switch this up a bit.

Substitutions will be very interesting Saturday .. and then as we wait another full week for the next game. If Tharpe plays his 16 minutes and Adams 5, all this talk is just talk. Something tells me there's a little fire with this smoke.


wrwlumpy 1 year, 4 months ago

Jaybate, I was wondering when you were going to bring back the Chester analogy.


bennybob 1 year, 4 months ago

Self getting some ideas on what to do with a larger point guard. Forshadowing for Wayne Seldon playing the point next year?


Mike Barnhart 1 year, 4 months ago

I think Coach Self saw Oregon State's guards bringing the ball into the front court then handing it over to big Joe Burton (6-7, 300+ lb) to START the offense in some kind of hybrid high-low set. It really freed up their guards to cut and slash and score ... a lot!


nuleafjhawk 1 year, 4 months ago

I'm not sure that having a 6' 6" or 6' 8" point guard is "outside the box " thinking.

I believe it is " oh crap, I'm the coach of the team with the second most wins in college basketball history and at this point in the season, I don't have a point guard capable of leading this team " thinking.


doolindalton 1 year, 4 months ago

Maybe he doesn't know the offense well enough yet. but BMac should be KU's point guard. With all that ability both to score, pass and run the break, I would think the coach would want the ball in his hands as much as possible.


joeh80 1 year, 4 months ago

Self says he has no ill will towards Colorado because "They left the league because they had to". He won't say it to the media but he has ill will towards MU and NU.


jaybate 1 year, 4 months ago

P.S.: The moves with Travis and Kevin may not happen, just as Self's talk of moving Marcus Morris outside and posting Mario Little never did, but it knocks the guys out of "Ive heard Self's speeches too many times now" mode. It creates a diversion opposing coaches have to prepare for.

Self may have signaled his real plan behind the diversion, also: seven guys diving for the ball.


If you don't have the offensive players needed to score more, then amp up the defense and make the opponent score less.


Get the guys who play the hardest and toughest--Travis and KJ--on the floor more, and by accordion effect get the guys who could be the toughest hombres of all--Jamari and Perry--on the floor more.


For there isn't.


jaybate 1 year, 4 months ago

Box. Outside. Think.


The Ice Man Cometh.

The second coming of George Gervin.

A 6-8 point guard on offense playing zone perimeter!!!

Its not Withey on the wing of a 1-3-1 defense yet, but Self is getting looooooooong on defense out there on the zone perimeter!!!!

And it would get, by accordion effect, Perry and/or Jamari 10 more mpg inside, while getting KU's very own Roy Hobbs--Kevin Young--10 more minutes on the floor; this resulting in a scheme that gets more of his best players on the floor more of the time.

And it gives Naadir another spur to get better. The very hint of being replaced by power forward will sting and enrage born PG Naadir to his core.

In. Stick. Needle.

And it acknowledges EJ could be gone at any second, because of his knee from hell, which it is about time Self faced up to.

This is classic Self.

Simultaneous equations with multiple unknowns.

This is a great move, even if Self were never to go to it. And I doubt he will.

Its the kind of audacious, outside the box move that makes the sailors and aviators out on the flight decks of the hobbled Yorktown, Lexingtonn, Enterprise, and Hornet think the old man upstairs has a pair and is fighting to win, even against seemingly insurmountable odds.

Sometimes men who want to fight and win need to know the old man upstairs has an audacious plan for a daring enterprise.

Sometimes men under siege need to see just how smart and resourceful the old man can be to take it up a both themselves.

Sometimes men who want to fight and win need to know the old man is not just going to grind them down and use them up in a war of attrition that is a lost cause.

Sometimes they need the old man to put the only carriers we have hidden in the vastness of the Pacific lying in wait for a vastly larger fleet steaming toward Midway with nothing but fight and the element of surprise on their side.

Meet Chester Nimitz guys.

Welcome to Midway!

Its early December, the war is hanging in the balance early due casualties sustained and the old man is letting you know he is playing to win it all again.

Damn! What I wouldn't give to be on this team. To be in those practices. To take on impossible odds. And be lead by the old man who has an audacious plan...for a daring enterprise...that just might work...if we all do our jobs...and attack when he gives the signal.

Anchors aweigh!!


Scott MacWilliams 1 year, 4 months ago

This reminds me of something I remember reading about Roy and Ostertag from back then. Apparently Roy would occasionally switch defensive assignments up for a few possessions and put Big O on the opposing teams point guard. Must have worked, I guess, as those teams seemed to win quite a few games as they went along. Can you imagine having that big oaf in your face? Must have been a riot for Ostertag, and Roy, too.

Have fun with it, guys!

Play with power, skill, and great abandon!!

Put Kevin 'Pogo stick' Young on point!!

Rocke Chalk, Jayhawks


phogphan2000 1 year, 4 months ago

It'd be nice to see Young get a shot at playing somewhere other than the 4, which I assumed he would coming into the season. Of course with Peters gone, Ellis and Traylor not exactly taking care of business, HCBS has needed Young in that bigs rotation. Hopefully those 2 step it up a notch and open up the opportunity for Young to play on the perimeter with EJ, TRel and BMac part of the game. I have high hopes for 'Rio, he has the quickness and likes to attack, I think Self is right to look for ways to plug him in without the pressure of running the point. The more time he can get on the court alongside EJ the better I would think.

I'm glad CU is giving us a shot at a solid (top50 type) OOC win, and Temple remains undefeated. Sagarin also ranks Belmont top50. Kind of wish the road games with Okie St and BU weren't so late in the season.


Jay Dogger 1 year, 4 months ago

Off topic, but does anyone know where/how to get a DVD copy of our win over Mizzou last year at AFH? It would make a great present!


Bill Skeet 1 year, 4 months ago

Wowsa. Either an act of desperation or stroke of genius.

or maybe a bit of both.


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