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Sunday, December 16, 2012

As Elijah Johnson gets better, so do Jayhawks

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson raises up the fieldhouse after an alley-oop dunk from center Jeff Withey against Belmont during the first half on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. In front is Belmont forward Trevor Noack.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson raises up the fieldhouse after an alley-oop dunk from center Jeff Withey against Belmont during the first half on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. In front is Belmont forward Trevor Noack.

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Kansas guard Elijah Johnson raises up the fieldhouse after an alley-oop dunk from center Jeff Withey against Belmont during the first half on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. In front is Belmont forward Trevor Noack.

A healthy Elijah Johnson has helped rejuvenate Kansas University’s basketball offense, which has averaged 89.5 points a game in back-to-back victories over Colorado and Belmont in Allen Fieldhouse.

Johnson, who bruised his left knee against Saint Louis on Nov. 20, scored 11 points and dished three assists against two turnovers in a 90-54 victory over the Buffs on Dec. 8. Seven days later, he scored seven points, dished nine assists and suffered just one turnover in an 89-60 victory over the Bruins.

Coincidentally, the 6-foot-4 senior point guard from Las Vegas, who had helped the Jayhawks (8-1) average 73.6 points through the first seven games, said he felt close to 100 percent against both CU and BU.

“Travis (Releford) said he thought I was moving better, moving up the court and pushing the tempo. He said when he saw that, it hyped him up so much and made him so excited for the night. Ben (McLemore) said the same thing,” Johnson said.

“I didn’t know me just running up the court fast could bring so much energy to the team. I did, but I wasn’t conscious of it being in my own shoes. I know that’s what I’ve got to do now. I don’t have a problem doing it because I see how much my teammates feed off it.”

Johnson is “definitely getting better. He’s getting his knees back, his athleticism back. He controlled the game,” KU freshman McLemore said after Saturday’s rout of Belmont. “He was the key player of the game. He’s out there leading the team. We just follow along.”

KU coach Bill Self, who pointed out that Johnson also had nine assists in victories over Saint Louis and Oregon State, says Johnson was the best player in the game Saturday.

“I am really liking his health right now,” Self said of Johnson, who banged his hand after getting knocked down on a dunk attempt in the Oregon State game and also needed treatment for that bruise. “It seems to me he is so much more explosive and faster than he was earlier.”

Johnson made sure the Jayhawks headed into the locker room on a positive note at halftime versus Belmont. First, he hit a driving layup with nine seconds left. Then, after a Belmont turnover, he accepted an in-bounds pass in KU’s backcourt at :05, sped down-court and found McLemore for a dunk and foul shot just before the buzzer.

“Some of the plays he made … the back-door pass (to Releford earlier in half) … those are special plays. He’s getting better all the time,” Self said. “That was a great way to end the half.”

Johnson has 21 assists against seven turnovers the last three games and 46 assists to 23 turnovers for the season.

He explained the full-court dash right before half.

“That’s something where you get one chance to look at the clock,” Johnson said. “I knew I had five seconds. Once I caught the ball (inbounded in KU backcourt), the only time you get to look at the clock is half-court. I glanced at the clock and saw I had 21⁄2 seconds at half-court. I just made a play. I knew I didn’t have to rush.”

Self likes the direction of the offense heading into Tuesday’s 6 p.m. home game against Richmond, a 9-2 team from the Atlantic 10 Conference.

“I think the ball is moving. I think we’re driving to pass. We’re touching the paint off the bounce more,” Self said. “We fell in love with the three too much to start the game. Six of our first eight shots were threes (on a night KU hit 10 of 21), so we’ve got to do a better job of getting inside touches.”

It’s all a work in progress, Self said.

“We need to have a good week, play well against Richmond, then end the break right up in Columbus (vs. Ohio State Saturday) and hopefully have a little bit of momentum going into Christmas.”

Transfer possibility update: Former UCLA center Joshua Smith, who has KU, Washington and Georgetown on his list of transfer possibilities, will have one semester of eligibility remaining at his future school. If the 6-10, 305-pound native of Kent, Wash., enrolled for second semester classes at KU, he’d be able to practice, but not play in games until after final exams in December of 2013. He’d miss about nine games of his senior season. The former McDonald’s All-American averaged 5.2 points and 4.2 rebounds and 13.2 minutes a game in six games this season, his junior campaign. He averaged 10.9 points and 9.9 points in 2010-11 and 2011-12 respectively. Smith was the No. 23-rated player in the recruiting Class of 2010. He had 17 points and 13 boards in a 77-76 loss to KU on Dec. 2, 2010, in Allen Fieldhouse. He had one point and one board in 13 minutes in a 72-56 loss to KU last season in Maui. He has battled weight problems his entire college career.

Comments

jaybate 1 year, 4 months ago

"Some Ways You Will Know If Josh Smith Chooses KU"

~University seismograph register temblors at Allen Field House during wind sprints.

~Sealand Shipping Container parked by Allen Field House for use as Josh's locker.

~Price for midwest pork bellies skyrockets.

~OakvilleJHawk retained to design and sink pilings to bedrock under Naismith Court.

~Conveyor belt added connecting training table to new Butler building holding 5000 bushels of Wheaties.

~Ben Howland announced as Doc Sadler's assistant.

~Lawrence area steak houses begin advertising steel reinforced booths.

~10,000 gallon stainless steel milk reservoir added to roof of Jayhawker Towers with 1' diameter gravity flow black rubber tube connected straight to Josh's apartment.

~Lawrence area pizza joints begin advertising XTReme Deep Dish Pizzas 6' in diameter by 2' deep.

~Josh arrives in Lawrence by being parachuted out of a C5A Galaxy in a Humvee container.

(Note: all fiction. No malice.)

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jaybate 1 year, 4 months ago

"What Abacus Is Bill Counting On?"

How can KU possibly have 7-8 openings?

Is Self counting Doc leaving to take a head job?

Is Evan transferring to Tulsa to play for Danny and get a cyber spying degree down there at the NSA/CIA farm club?

Is Justin jumping to SMU, or Europe?

Is CBernie jumping to ND, or the Sorbonne?

Is Governor Sam quitting and letting Self replace him to get Bill ready for the White House run in '16?

Is Cin taking over for Kitty Sibelius?

Is the Baby Jayhawk taking over for Shay Zeng?

What abacus is Self figuring 7-8 openings on?

Has Tyler refused to depilitate the caterpillar and he's transferring to Missouri to spite his father?

Has Christian Garrett decided to transfer to Liberty?

Are Joe and Norm fed up and going to Belize?

Just what the hell does Self mean here?

I swear, some days I think Self likes to flip this stuff out just to get everyone off on a wild goose chase, while he laughs hysterically about it afterwards.

Like next week, he comes into the PC and says, "I really like the health of Gary Bedore and I am expecting as many as 23 openings next season. Naturally, we will keep recruiting?"

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jaybate 1 year, 4 months ago

"Rio on the Range" (sing to Home on the Range)

Rio, Rio on the range, Where the juniors and seniors all play Where seldom is heard A discouraging word And Twitter-vents will not help you to play

Rio, Rio on the range Where the buffalo roam And the ocean's don't foam And the freshman all must wait to play.

Rio, Rio on the range, Where the combos give glue And the freshmen do too And pop tarts and pastry don't play.

:-)

Seriously, I hope he hangs in.

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jaybate 1 year, 4 months ago

"Monday Lace-Up"

~Self needs to get a Twitter account and tweet the following to Anrio: Start running the steps of Allen Field House and don't stop running until Christmas morning.

~Self "likes" Elijah's "health." Post this to jayBartlett's Book of Basketball Circumspection." Well, I like his health, too. And I like Bill's. And CBernie's. And Shay Zeng's. But I'm not quite sure what it means. :-) I think I'm going try this line on the next fabulously sexy woman I meet. "Hey, baby, I really like your health."

~Anyone notice that Stumpy Miller has been asked to pose for the cover of Vanity Fair's 25 most influential coaches in college basketball issue? He will wear a Napoleon Bonaparte uniform and pose with his hand inserted in his shirt and there will be a cartoon balloon with the words "Self gets more ink cause he's taller."

~yesterday slayr seized on the defining trait of this KU team: at team full of guys that can play 2-3 positions. I built on his concept by saying that I think Self is migrating this direction intentionally; that he is moving to a special ops model for team building. Every guy can do 2-3 jobs in the team and excel at them. This creates a rotation of players that Self can deploy many different ways to concentrate force on the opponent's weakness. The effect for the opponent is that the opponent has to prepare for a lot more combinations, and schemes. It seems an effective approach to coaching without a team full of 5-stars against teams that the ShoeCos may stack with 5-stars. Even if an opponent has a rotation of 5-stars, as UK had last season, they are by definition newbies. Cal has to run a very simple offense with a thin play book to keep a crowd of newbies on the same page; i.e., to keep from confusing them. Logical counter strategy: create an offensive scheme that forces these tremendously gifted, but green teams to prepare for all kinds of attacks and combinations.

Go, Bill, go!!!

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Tony Bandle 1 year, 4 months ago

Thoughts to ponder five days before the end of the world.

1] PROFESSIONAL. Don't be irreplaceble, otherwise you'll never get promoted.

2] PERSONAL. Always remember you are unique..just like everybody us.

3] FINANCIAL. If you lend someone $20 and you never see them again, it was worth it.

4] PHILOSOPHICAL. . Some days you're the bug...other days you're the windshield.

5] MATRIMONIAL. There are two theories to arguing with women..neither one works.

6] MEDICAL. Never take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.

7] SPIRITUAL. Always tell the truth, then you won't have to remember anything.

8] SOCIAL. Everybody seems normal until you get to know them.

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William Blake 1 year, 4 months ago

I thought we had this worked out and Josh had 1 1/2 yrs of eligibility left. This article says he only has 1/2 yr remaining?

If he is a junior this year.... seems he has 1 1/2 yrs remaining.

I'm not sure I'd invest in a project that can only play for 1/2 of a year. 1 1/2... yes... maybe...

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Michael Sillman 1 year, 4 months ago

I do like the fact that in the past two games we are getting the ball in bounds quickly after made shots and pushing it up the court. I hated how Taylor and Johnson walked the ball last year except after runouts after defensive rebounds.

Keep it up Johnson.

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HawkKlaw 1 year, 4 months ago

It shouldn't go without mention that Bill Self is doing quite the number coaching up this team this year. Every player is starting to buy in on defense (we had a few really outstanding defensive possessions against Belmont on Saturday), our PG's are driving the lane and dishing much better than they were to start the season, Withey is getting plenty of touches on offense (a necessity in Self's system) and continues to be a major force defensively, Travis Releford is finally turning into that outstanding player we all knew he had the potential to be, BMac is playing like the future NBA star that we all expect him to be, Naadir is becoming more and more efficient as the backup PG for this team, AW3 is figuring out how to get meaningful minutes as a freshman, Elijah is figuring out how to put this team on his back, etc.

Everything is progressing as it should and the final piece of this puzzle is Perry Ellis figuring out how to play without over-thinking everything. Once that occurs (and it will soon), this team will be even better. It would just be a travesty if nobody mentioned how excellent Bill Self has been in developing the players this year. He's done a stand up job, to be sure!

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Tony Bandle 1 year, 4 months ago

Jeff, Travis, Kevin, Elijah - Graduated, Ben - NBA, Zach - Health, Rio - Transfer, Justin -cousin Keith......that totals eight schollies for next year to me.

For 2013 Jo Jo, Wayne, Conner, Branden, Frank...five down.

Josh, Julius, ?????....three to go.

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beebe1 1 year, 4 months ago

It's awfully difficult to teach a dribbler NOT to dribble into big trouble; took 3 1/2 years to get Taylor to perform.

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Woody Cragg 1 year, 4 months ago

This is just my 2 cents worth: Adams' role should be obvious to him. It's bench minutes, waiting in line, and being a good soldier. In layman's terms, doing what you're told no matter what, so the precise & finite discipline is forged into your personality, with the end result being one's (or the teams') trust to be 100% dependant on your decision making. It's not about any of this "the man" crap, it's about the team. If his ego is so fragile that he needs to go social...then maybe HCBS has another project-like Tyshawn. That certainly was a rewarding process for Bill, because at heart he really does have their best interests forefront, and is a teacher. But it sure wasn't a quick fix either. Coach Manning's steady & calm influence is gone & I don't know who can right this boy's ship. Each year, student, & player has to be handled differently, but the bottom line in everything is discipline. If you cannot commit that, then I'm not sure where you transfer to & successfully participate. Any coach, seargent, or DI is gonna break you down to erase the bad habits, plain & simple, then build you back the way he wants you. Thats what boot camp is for. Most of us have been through that at some, or many, points in life. Rio just needs to accept it for what it is, & move on to take his place in this program. It's entirely up to him to determine his volume & quality of effort & work, and the goals he sets. Plus he also must understand that not everyone evolves to become a Jo Jo, Chalmers or Hinrich. But Rio, if you do work your rear off, rest assured the General will reward you.This ended up being more than 2 cents, maybe a nickle or dimes' worth. JMO.

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prairie_rattler 1 year, 4 months ago

If HCBS is considering Josh Smith, that's good enough for me. If nothing else, he's a force in practice against the first team.

2

HawkKlaw 1 year, 4 months ago

I feel for Rio, but let's face it: Rio will not get many minutes at the backup PG spot this season. It's pretty clear that Naadir Tharpe is Self's choice for that role this year.

However, next season is a different scenario: Tharpe will be the starter (at least to begin the season). Rio and Mason will be behind Naadir battling it out for backup minutes. Rio will have the upper hand due to his experience, but if he wants a steady amount of minutes next season, he needs to beat out Mason. And from how I've heard Bill Self describe Mason, this will be no easy feat. I think Rio will win out, but right now it's anybody's guess.

Which takes us to 2014-15. Tharpe will be a senior and will probably still be the starting PG, but if Rio sticks it out, he could quite possibly go 50/50 for minutes with Naadir (or maybe both of them will start, combo-guard style).

And by Rio's senior year (2015-16), he could very likely be the starting PG at KU. Again, he's going to have to beat Mason (and whatever new recruits Bill Self brings in), but I think he's got the skills to do it.

So Rio just needs to make it through this one tough year before he starts to see meaningful minutes. He's got to prepare himself mentally for that, because we can all tell that he is physically gifted. By the time Rio is a junior at KU, he'll be a beast of a college player. I hope he hangs in there so we can all see that progression, but it won't be easy. Here's hoping he gets his head right.

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milehighhawk 1 year, 4 months ago

Photo Caption Contest......GO!

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Konkis Dongington III 1 year, 4 months ago

As far as the Josh Smith situation goes, I don't have a problem pursuing him, but I think there needs to be a quid pro quo imposed on him vis a vis PT for weight loss. At his best, Smith was that unstoppable force that dropped 17 and 12 (15, I don't remember the rebounds) on the Morris Twins. At his worst, he's that kid that had to catch his breath getting up off the bench in Hawaii. The 305 number is a lie, because at 305 or thereabouts he was that unstoppable force. I'm guessing he's closer to 340 - 350+.

Now, the question is, can Hudy work miracles and keep Smith within a usable weight range? I think from seeing Sherron's difficulties w/o Hudy, the answer is yes. He was never small during his time at KU, but Hudy's regimen, and more importantly, her willingness to actually eat every meal with Collins and enforce his diet, allowed him to be the stud he was for us. In other words, who needs willpower when you have a dietary godmother literally looking over your shoulder?

Taking on Smith is not without it's risks. Still, I think it's clear from everything Howland has shown in recent years to everything that we've heard about him in the news, that there's no control being exercised in Westwood. It's a different situation here, and one that might actually be able to allow a guy with Smith's issues to prosper, rather than continue to flounder.

It appears to me, at least, that the only real baggage Smith's carrying with him is that excess weight. It's difficult to know if he's coachable or not because he'd have to have had a real coach in his college career for that to be judged. From a scholarship perspective, however, adding Smith is risk free. We've signed 5 with the 5 open scholarships we had when Doyle left during the summer. Peters departure opens a 6th, and the eminent departure of BMac to the NBA will yield a 7th. If Rio really can't stick it out (but I hope both for his sake and ours that he does), that'd be an 8th. Either way, we'll have at least one scholarship that we can use on a guy like Smith without forcing a squeeze on somebody to open up for a Randle, Wigs, or Johnson, should we get lucky there.

Lastly, the departure of Smith from UCLA really underscores to me how much of a mistake it was for Tony Parker to choose them. Although I wasn't terribly high on him at the time, I figured if he had any sense, he'd look at Smith, himself, and Hudy, and decide that KU was the best place for him. Even without Smith as meaningful competition, he's struggled to get to the floor. I think he'd have fared much better here.

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Jack Wilson 1 year, 4 months ago

Just a note to clarify the article .. Smith will have one semester of eligibilty if he plays in 2013/14. That's correct.

But Smith could choose to sit out 2013/14 entirely, and he'd have a full season of eligibilty left for 2014/15. Given his weight issues, needing to get in shape, etc., that would at least seem like a greater possibility than the normal guy transfer (though probably remote in any case).

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wrwlumpy 1 year, 4 months ago

After re-watching the Belmont game, I was thinking that the big man interior passing , especially Withey brings back memories of the Mark Randal days. Big to big passing on this team is as a thing of beauty. Two freshmen had the prettiest play from Ellis to Traylor for a dunk. 3 out of our 4 highly recruited Freshmen are starting to get it. Ellis and Traylor are getting tougher and AWIII is getting smoother. I feel that Richmond is very good and could be a trap game. We will beat Ohio State on the road before going into conference. Make up your mind Rio, do you want to join in?

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KEITHMILES05 1 year, 4 months ago

With Adams the LAST person off the bench Saturday and his body language horrible I doubt he is on the team next year, if he even makes it that far. There is more to story.

1

LIFELONGHAWK38 1 year, 4 months ago

@ 6'10 and 305 I would say thanks , but No thanks to Josh Smith unless we just had a schollie to waist during his one semester. However since Coach Self has a few more wins as K U mens basketball coach than I do I will leave the decision up to him. LOL :-)

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REHawk 1 year, 4 months ago

I hope we salvage Rio Adams. From the getgo he showed evidence of buying into Bill Self's demand for a defense-first mindset. As for his erratic offense, he seems almost to be in panic mode, attempting to make things happen rather than allowing the game to come to him. Freshmanitus. The behind-the-back dribbles in the paint have gotten to become a signature failure in consecutive appearances. Ralster or Ict or whoever suggested that Russ Rob or Chalmers fly into Lawrence to talk heart to heart with him made good sense, even though an unlikely happening, as those former players are caught up in the swirl of their own games and careers. Rio has the tools to become an outstanding point guard, but must get control of his Jayhawk situation in order to settle into patient application of his potential. Obviously, he is going to be a 3 or 4 year college player before he can attract professional attention. Perhaps a 5th year if he transfers. I really hope the kid can channel his emotions into becoming the very best Jayhawk basketball player whom Bill Self thought he could be when the scholarship was offered. He's got the look of a Tyshawn Taylor quick twitch slashing clone...and that's mighty fine stuff.

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jhox 1 year, 4 months ago

Is this the most athletic Kansas team ever? On paper, it may not be, but watching the game Saturday night I was seeing passes and catches unlike anything I can recall seeing. Guys making leaping catches in traffic while running full speed and making bullet passes ahead to teammates. It wasn't just a one time "wow" kind of play. There were there were multiple plays that we're just crazy athletic.

This is a fun team to watch. I can't wait to see what happens next.

1

KansasComet 1 year, 4 months ago

Each season the Kansas Jayhawk Basketball Team takes on a new identity. No two seasons are the same. I said before the season that this team has a chance to be better than last year's team.

Elijah Johnson is one heck of a point guard. He always has been. For him to play a secondary point guard role, and at the same time clean up after Tyshawn Taylor, the often erratic point guard of last year's team was incredible. Elijah Johnson has patiently waited his turn. And yes, had he been allowed to play meaningful minutes in the VCU game we would have won! Andrew White III is comparable to Elijah Johnson in that he will patiently wait, while improving parts of his game, until he is brought into the rotation.

Anrio Adams appears to be the second coming of Tyhawn Taylor. In stead of seeking self-improvement, (no pun intended) he appears to have taken to social media to voice his frustrations. I remember Tyshawn Taylor making similar comments through social media about knowing what his role is on the team, after a road loss to Tennessee.

Anrio Adams issue is that he is used to being "The Man". What he has to understand is every player recruited by Coach Self was "The Man" on their team before arriving in Lawrence. Anrio Adams needs to work on ball security, stop the unnecessary behind the back dribbles that will get stolen in the paint, and improve his shot selection. His time is coming, no different than anyone else. When it clicks for him, this team will be scary good.

I really enjoy watching this year's team. I hope we close out the year on a good note. The next two games will kind of let us know where we are at. Go Jayhawks!!

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swigrimm 1 year, 4 months ago

Great Article about what coach might catch Coach K's most college wins record. Wanna guess who they said had the best chance? http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/news/20121213/catching-coach-k/?sct=uk_bf3_a2

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Scott MacWilliams 1 year, 4 months ago

The student section doesn't need to do countdowns for the Hawks, that's ridiculous. If anything, do it for the opponents, starting at 10 when there are about 15 seconds left. Or start counting in reverse to mess with their heads??

Of course, the players have a pretty good view of the shot clock....

Better yet, choose some goofy song that will mess with their concentration and belt it out in unison, like soccer fans, at opportune times. Maybe: "I Wish I was and Oscar Meyer Weiner! That is what I'd really like to be!"

or "I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK, I work all night an' I sleep all day I likes to put on dresses and hang around in bars!"

I'm sure the Jayhawk Nation can come up with a few more suggestions for the AFH Mind Mess Top 40??

Rock Chalk, Jayhawks!!

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JayDocMD 1 year, 4 months ago

I'm skeptical of Josh Smith, but he might provide a mercenary-style big (and I mean BIG) body for a semester. If we miss out on other big men who are talented enough to contribute right away (Randle, Dakari Johnson) it's kinda scary to think all we have down low at the 5 next year is a raw freshman Embiid with RS freshman Lucas. Ellis/Traylor/Wesley could play out of position out of necessity - but that's certainly not ideal. Peters would've probably been our best option of 4's to play out of position and guard the other teams big. I'm thinking we are really gonna miss him next year.

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Joel Thomas 1 year, 4 months ago

Anyone else 10 seconds is too early for the students to start the shot clock countdown? Houston does it. but they've been working on takeoffs. If anything, do it for the other team.

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