Friday, February 17, 2012


Elijah Johnson still learning, growing with KU


Great college basketball coaches know what expectations to set, how to drive players to meet them and how to convince them it’s in their selfish interests to play unselfishly.

But not everything players learn is taught by coaches. Sometimes, they learn from the example set by teammates.

Elijah Johnson, the lone Kansas starter who has not received conference player of the week honors on the only squad in Big 12 history to have four different honorees in the same season, did a nice job before Thursday’s practice of articulating what he has learned about and from teammates.

The lesson he learned about Jeff Withey, Johnson said, came early.

“One thing about Jeff,” Johnson said, “since I got here my freshman year, I’ve always played great with Jeff. Always. I’m a guard that can play real well with a big. Me and Jeff, we always connected.”

To hear Johnson tell it, there is no such thing as garbage time in a basketball game. He took the limited playing time he received very seriously.

“Even in the games we got in for the last two or three minutes a couple of years ago, I would always find him an alley-oop at least one time within those couple of minutes,” Johnson said. “I’ve always trusted Jeff. Jeff is a good player. He understands the game. He makes smart passes. He doesn’t play like he’s 7 feet, and that’s what’s unique about his game.”

Johnson had a simple explanation for why he’s a guard who can “play real well with a big.”

“I like to pass the ball,” Johnson said “I’m a good passer and to be able to throw the ball up, it’s almost like playing with Blake (Griffin). He’s just not as athletic as Blake.”

Is anybody?

“Hmmm,” Johnson said, giving it some thought. “T-Rob in a couple of years. T-Rob. I’m pulling for him.”

Thomas Robinson, like Johnson, Withey and Travis Releford, is a junior, but he has one thing in common with senior Tyshawn Taylor. They both will play in the NBA next season.

And even as a senior, Johnson will continue to learn more about himself, Withey and Releford.

“I felt like I couldn’t shoot this year,” Johnson said. “But I know I can, and everyone knows I can, but I played like I couldn’t shoot. That made me learn stuff about the game overall, instead of just settling, coming down and shooting it every time. ... Coach (Bill Self) says, ‘The shot might not fall. Do something. Do something. You’re too good to just stop at that.’ And I thought about it. I am too good to just stop at that. If my shot’s not falling, that shouldn’t reflect on my whole game.”

Johnson shared how a teammate served as a good model to follow to apply that advice.

“Being scored on, I don’t like it,” Johnson said. “I don’t like it at all. I really don’t. That’s something I think I got from Travis because no one scores on him.”


mikehawk 2 years, 2 months ago

The missing piece of Elijah's game isn't shooting, it is getting comfortable going to the whole in traffic. He seems to hesitate when he gets into a crowd in the lane. If he can just go in there and sky over a big, which he is very capable of doing, with a facial, he might begin getting over being a bit hesitant. May HCBS needs to tell him to go in there and pick up some charges as if on purpose to break through what appears to be discomfort with contact. TT, for better or worse, and lately its been heavily to the better, makes up his mind and he goes, draws contact, and either makes the shot, gets fouled, or both. Sometimes he gets called for charging, but Coach doesn't mind if it is done being smart and aggressive. Coach loves "attack mode" and you hear it in his language all the time. Elijah, go into attack mode! Strange how going to the whole helps build confidence in ones jump shot.


Colin Fernandes 2 years, 2 months ago

If Johnson averages 10-15 in March - we are a Final Four team.


Jeeveshawk 2 years, 2 months ago

Johnson can be a real weapon come march. If he becomes a good scorer a title is by no means out of reach. Although to be fair it is not out of reach now, but it is a stretch to say it is likely, to say the least.


Tony Bandle 2 years, 2 months ago

I think the term "glue guy" is one of the most over-used, obtuse phrases used on this site.

You all want to know who the real "glue guy" is????

The real Glue Guy is Head Coach Bill Self!!!

The guys on the court who best embrace his coaching philososphy stabilize and energize the Jayhawk Behemoth, but without his direction, KU becomes a pedestrian shell of it's former greatness.

Many other Coaches are being touted as the COTY [ Haith, the guy at Murray State, Boehiem, etc.] but if you analyze the Kansas team loss of talent, lack of depth of abilities and toughness of schedule versus the results, the argument is compelling in Bill's favor. It won't happen, but it should.


Steve Brown 2 years, 2 months ago

the prophet has skills....mighty glad he is with us.

I've started watching him both ends and he has what it takes even in the little things.

Position, stops, defense, passing, glue guy.


Tony Bandle 2 years, 2 months ago

rwhawk..your wish is my command:

Eric Chenowerth beat up on Nick Collison Nick Collison beat up on Wayne Simeon Wayne Simeon beat up on Sasha Kahn, Sasha Kahn beat up on Cole Aldrich Cole Aldrich beat up on Markieff Morris Markieff Morris beat up on Jeff Withey

We'll have to wait and see who and/or if Jeff is here to beat up on anybody next season!!


lhohman3 2 years, 2 months ago

Tyshawn T. will play in the NBA for sure. Possibly as a 2nd round pick but he will make an NBA roster. A poor-man's R. Rondo, worst-case. He could play back-up PG. today for at least 80% of NBA teams out there.


William Blake 2 years, 2 months ago

We need you this year, EJ!

There is a lunch bucket out there with your name on it. Find it and bring it. Ask Mr. W where he got his.

We need you, man!


RockyMountainHawk 2 years, 2 months ago

I guarantee you that EJ will be the "nobody saw that guy having a year like this" guy for us next year. First it was Cole... then the Morris Twins... now T-Rob and Withey. Once he's put in a situation where he has to step up and put the team on his shoulders, he's going to be amazing.


SDSurferFan 2 years, 2 months ago

One more quick point and then I have to go bring my A game sitting in a cube all day and do my best to help me and my workmates win.......

TT doesn't seem like he is auditioning for the NBA. Sherron did IMO his senior year and without a doubt the OADers did. TT is doing it within the offense.


Sally Presson 2 years, 2 months ago

Great article on Elijah, his assists are so valuable, keep up the great attitude and good play Elijah.


Matt Kenton 2 years, 2 months ago

In the Beyond the Phog book, Drew Gooden speaking on Roy's treatment of Luke Axtell, said he would yell at him when he drove and said to not ever take it inside the arc.

Quite a contrast to "Do something. You're too good to stop at just that." So nice to have a coach that 'gets it.'


SDSurferFan 2 years, 2 months ago

Love TTs play this year. KU has not had a guard who could go to the basket so easily in a long time. Including Sherron, Chalmers, Selby, X, etc..... obviously the first two had great KU careers but TT has another gear and is amazing when he gets to the bucket. That is why he will be getting paid very well next year to play a game in the US.


Tony Bandle 2 years, 2 months ago

Looking at the Kansas guard genealogy:

Kirk Hinrich mentored Aaron Miles Aaron Miles mentored Russell Robinson...... Russell Robinson mentored Mario Chalmers... Mario Chalmers mentored Sherron Collins ... Sherron Collins mentored Tyshawn Taylor.... Tyshawn Taylor is mentoring Elijah Johnson

My only regret is that Elijah did not red shirt early in his career so that we would have had him for two more seasons, not just one.

Also, each of these players benefited their senior year from being four year players. I anticipate that Elijah will reach the promised land and become the star we all know he is capable of being!!!!


jhwker3031 2 years, 2 months ago

Of all those designs, I think the Misery helmet is the best. The ideas for the B12 south teams are horrible. Traditional powerhouse schools should ALWAYS stick with simplicity. Bama, tOSU, Mich, PSU, UT, OU, FSU, USC, ND, etc.

The new breed teams....or at least what we hope are the new breed teams in KU's case....should feel free to get a little creative. I like the KU design as well.


REHawk 2 years, 2 months ago

I find it terrific that this group of players has bought so heavily into the team concept, and that they are aware of the explosive nature of solid team defense, Bill Self style of winning basketball. These players seem really to like each other...and to respect the special ingredients which each individual brings to the game. Jayhawk fans now are viewing what these players have known all along, from their hours of practice sessions and hanging out together. There appears to be a cohesive spirit, esp. among the top 6 players who share major minutes in games. They seem to have grown to trust and respect the varied contributions, each to the other. Tho slim in number, thank heavens for the genius of Bill Self to recruit, land and develop players who are apt to be molded to the max for winning basketball.


Jack Wilson 2 years, 2 months ago

Draft positions being discussed above .. here's some links. Heard on the radio this morning that some new mock has Withey at #25. But couldn't find it on-line.


KEITHMILES05 2 years, 2 months ago

Self has been harping at EJ to drive more and I don't understand why he doesn't do it. Really perplexing.


EverRisingHawk 2 years, 2 months ago

EJ is so athletic and so talented, I would love to see him play with more aggression. Some of his offensive timidity seems to boil down to overthought. I can remember watching him get into the lane on a drive and hesitate on the 4 foot jumper he created for himself, resulting in a near air ball. In a pass or shoot moment, instinct is critical. Conscious thought blows plays - the inner basketball beast must be allowed to take control. If he can shut his head off and play with fluidity and with an implicit trust in his instincts, I think he will thrive. It's also tough for him to shine when he's yielding to a white-hot TT who does very little wrong on the offensive end these days. That aside, release the basketball beast EJ. We know he's in there. I just got done watching this clip from your high school days, and I know you have the swag:


KU_Alumn_2000 2 years, 2 months ago

I'm pretty sure Taylor will get drafted.


stm62 2 years, 2 months ago

This is off subject, but what does the jayhawk nation think of Charles Sollars big jayhawk football helmet design? I think it is awesome !


Alohahawk 2 years, 2 months ago

Interesting prediction by Keegan regarding TT. "Thomas Robinson".... "has one thing in common with senior Tyshawn Taylor. Thay both will play in the NBA next season."

I'm sure the Jayhawk Nation would like to see that happen. However, I've not heard any rumors about TT being drafted as of yet. Although I'm not one to pay close attention to the NBA draft predictions so maybe I've missed something. (?)


jayhawker_97 2 years, 2 months ago

EJ surely can throw some lobs and finish them, too. he's definitely capable of shooting 3s, pulling them jumpers and playing solid D (with impressive steals). what ticks me off is how he's not aggressive enough to create opportunities for the bigs. he has to play with more confident. most of the time, he'll pull back or throw the ball outside instead of charging ahead. guess it's not his time yet as long as TT is still in charge. i'm pretty sure he'll hit the spotlight soon.

p/s: Keg might have just pushed a button, read between the lines. cough. cough.


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