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.”


jayhawker_97 8 years, 8 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.

Alohahawk 8 years, 8 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. (?)

jhox 8 years, 8 months ago

Tyshawn has elevated himself into the first round. Bank on it. He has speed, he has length, he can defend, and he's proven he can consistently score. All things the NBA covets.

I completely agree with Keegan--he will be in the NBA, maybe as a role player, but he'll be there at some point, and he will be drafted mid to late first round, at worst.

Ben Simonett 8 years, 8 months ago

1st round isnt a lock at this point.

Hes definetely got himself on the radar and he will get invites to individual team work outs before the draft, but if mario chalmers can slide out of the first round, so can TT.

I wish him all the best though, the more jayhawks in the league the better

Mike Kendall 8 years, 8 months ago


I have two words for you-------Jeremy Linn.

Any NBA team that passes on Tyshawn can look no further than Mr. Linn. I feel like TT could help an NBA team out. Tyshawn has a lot of upside to him and an NBA team will probably take a chance.

Mike Kendall 8 years, 8 months ago

Dang----I was talking about EJ----not Tyshawn. Sorry folks.

stm62 8 years, 8 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 !

mojayhawk 8 years, 8 months ago

Kinda like it, but wonder what's on the other side of the helmet. Here's a link for the pix

Robin Smith 8 years, 8 months ago

finally! I've been lamenting that the helmets don't have a Jayhawk on them -- I mean the Jayhawk includes the same KU text, so why not? We have the best mascot / logo in the country.

DDDHawk 8 years, 8 months ago

I like it a lot. It has a lot more personality than the current ones. Thanks for the link, mojayhawk!

AirCapJay 8 years, 8 months ago

We need a "Power Jay" that looks mean and tough for our football helmets.

jhox 8 years, 8 months ago

I agree, konkeyDong, the WW2 mean Jayhawk is the best of all time. I'm amazed that's not been used on the football uniforms in the past. It's a natural fit.

LAJayhawk 8 years, 8 months ago

Looks a little busy with the Jayhawk covering the entire half of the helmet. I'm just thinking of it being viewed at a distance on TV. It may just look like a mess of colors. I could get a better idea if you saw several players lined up wearing them.

Just my $.02

rwhawk 8 years, 8 months ago

Agree with LAJay. But the picture is awesome.

I feel sorry for OU, you can't make that sooner wagon look cool.

JayHawkFanToo 8 years, 8 months ago

Use my avatar...ticked off Jayhawk kicks arse.

Dirk Medema 8 years, 8 months ago

My avatar is copied from the rockchalktalk logo design. There is another image that Owen made with the natural hawk head. It has the little bit of a frown with those intense eyes that rock.

Dirk Medema 8 years, 8 months ago

Here is the blog for the logo designs. Some are obviously works in progress, and didn't make the final cut(, and the logo eventually went a different direction than the side of a helmet. Still, there are some great ideas that have great ideas for the helmet, and surely be shared if asked.

KU_Alumn_2000 8 years, 8 months ago

I'm pretty sure Taylor will get drafted.

EverRisingHawk 8 years, 8 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:

KansasComet 8 years, 8 months ago

Excellent post. This kid can flat out ball!

Brian Powell 8 years, 8 months ago

My thoughts exactly, and the last few years it's something I've kinda held against coach (esp. his first year). EJ just doesn't quite have the green light or the instilled confidence from coach yet -- maybe with TT gone, he will fill that role. That's what I'm hoping.

We've seen flashes of it the last couple years, but this season kind of reverts back to his first year. A bit timid, and worried about being pulled from the game?

He can get to the rim as good as anybody -even TT- it's just not his role yet, apparently. It's coach's responsibility to get him to play to his potential, which is through the ROOF, and I hope he peaks next season if not sooner.

KULA 8 years, 8 months ago

Great clip. Of course, when EJ showed his swag and tried to fire up his team against K State last year, Bill benched him for the rest of the game. I can't figure out how he lost his swag.

Btw, Draft Express has EJ #19 second round if he came out this year, ahead of Marcus Denmon and Jordan Taylor.

Keep that candle under a bushel basket, Bill.

KEITHMILES05 8 years, 8 months ago

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

Jack Wilson 8 years, 8 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.

SDSurferFan 8 years, 8 months ago

Amazing all the lottery picks that Calapari has each year. I hate to say it/see it, but this may the year he wins it all.

REHawk 8 years, 8 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.

AsadZ 8 years, 8 months ago

Very well said. I was about to post similar comments. I can sense great chemistry in this team something lacking over last 2-3 years. Maybe this will take us to the finish line.

jhwker3031 8 years, 8 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.

rwhawk 8 years, 8 months ago

Hate to admit it, but I too thought the MU design was the best.

Tony Bandle 8 years, 8 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!!!!

Tony Bandle 8 years, 8 months ago

PS My bad...Mario was a junior when he left!!

rwhawk 8 years, 8 months ago

Also not sure Mario was necessarily 'mentored' by RR.

Now could you do a big man "beat up on" version since Manning has been on staff, like...

Sasha beat up on Cole...

SDSurferFan 8 years, 8 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.

HawksWin 8 years, 8 months ago

+1 Always loved the way TT played, definitely more than Collins or Robinson! Hope he gets paid very well in the NBA as TRob and all Jayhawks!!

Matt Kenton 8 years, 8 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.'

Sally Presson 8 years, 8 months ago

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

SDSurferFan 8 years, 8 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.

Mick Allen 8 years, 8 months ago

True, but quite often Ty is the offense. If the ball "sticks" on offense Ty often has to create. Out of necessity HCBS has had to give Ty more freedom on offense as his supporting cast is not as versatile offensively as past squads. T Rob and Withey are certainly threats offensively but both,especially Withey, do not create their own shots, but rely on teammates to get them the ball in their most efficient scoring areas. Occasionally Ty will still force some plays, but this is not surprising in light of the offensive responsibility that he has had to shoulder. Obviously the responsibility of creating or making a play carries with it the increased risk of turning the ball over. In this regard Ty's play has improved dramatically from the start of the year. It is considerably easier to limit turnovers if you are merely running the set offense. With the current Big 12 format of playing all conference members home and away, there becomes such familiarity with the opposing team's offense, having a creator becomes invaluable. The fewer plays you are called upon to initiate should equate to fewer turnovers. If Ty's forays into the paint lead to turnovers I can live with that, as much more often than not he will create a good shot for himself or a teammate and Ty is a great finisher at the rim. The unforced turnover by Ty occurs much less frequently than earlier in the year. I believe in the conference season Ty has been every bit as important to our success as T Rob. I agree that he will make a good living at the next level.

Darren McSweeney 8 years, 8 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.

James McGuire 8 years, 8 months ago

I get the same feeling. I think he knows he knows he needs to be a role player this year and if patient, he will have the opportunity to do the things we know he can do.

Trey Hohman 8 years, 8 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.

Tom Pritchard 8 years, 8 months ago

DraftExpress..They have Tyshawn second round #4..Elija is second round #19..

jaybate 8 years, 8 months ago

Tyshawn is faster than Rondo and shoots 42% from trey. He is not the ball handler rondo, rose and Wall are, so far, but he's only in his second season as a true pg.

TT will be a great fit as a 2 guard for a team with a tall pg, like Derek Rose, that could benefit offensively from resting/guarding a tall 2, while TT guards the point, but offends on the tall 2.

TT could be fine pro, fine but he will need the right fit. His dribbling skill does not yet seem NBA grade pg to me.

Bu anyone that can play pg this well after only 2 years, may have a high ceiling on ball handling, too.

Tony Bandle 8 years, 8 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!!

Vernon Riggs 8 years, 8 months ago

Remember that Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey are beating up Jamari Traylor right now.

JayHawkFanToo 8 years, 8 months ago

It is Eric Chenowith not Chenowerth, Wayne Simien not Simeon and Sasha Kaun not Kahn... Started the weekend a bit early OakvileJHawk???

Steve Brown 8 years, 8 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 8 years, 8 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.

Jeeveshawk 8 years, 8 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.

Colin Fernandes 8 years, 8 months ago

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

mikehawk 8 years, 8 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.

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