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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Jeff Withey heeds ‘dunk everything’ advice

Kansas big man bounces back from benching with big game against KSU

Kansas center Jeff Withey knocks a loose ball out to the wing over Kansas State forward Jamar Samuels during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. At right is Kansas forward Thomas Robinson.

Kansas center Jeff Withey knocks a loose ball out to the wing over Kansas State forward Jamar Samuels during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. At right is Kansas forward Thomas Robinson.

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Kansas coach Bill Self talks to reporters following the Jayhawks' 67-49 victory over Kansas State on Jan. 4, 2012.

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Kansas defeated Kansas State 67-49 on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

When Kansas University center Jeff Withey received a pass from teammate Elijah Johnson on the baseline midway through the second half, three words from assistant coach Kurtis Townsend rattled through his head.

“Just dunk everything.”

“He’s been saying that all season,” Withey said following KU’s 67-49 victory over Kansas State on Wednesday night. “He wants me to go up strong and dunk everything. He tells me that every day.”

So Withey tried it ... and succeeded, going right over KSU’s 6-foot-11 forward Jordan Henriquez.

“I got pumped up for sure,” Withey said. “That kind of led another streak. We started getting a rhythm.”

The rim-shaking jam was part of a 14-3 second-half run, as KU extended a four-point lead to 15.

It also was the highlight of a bounceback night for Withey, who had eight points on 3-for-4 shooting with nine rebounds in 24 minutes.

In KU’s last game against North Dakota on Saturday, the 7-foot junior played just eight minutes — including only 24 seconds in the second half.

“I wasn’t that aggressive last game. I don’t even like talking about it, because it’s in the past,” Withey said. “That was a bad game.”

Withey indicated KU coach Bill Self didn’t need to say anything to him after the poor performance.

“He just wanted us to execute and do everything right,” Withey said. “We definitely weren’t doing what we were supposed to. He was right for yanking us out. He just gave us a little message: ‘Do what I say.’”

Withey was determined not to let the benching shake his confidence.

“I knew I screwed up. I took my medicine, and I learned from it,” Withey said. “After the game, it was over. That’s all I thought about it.”

KU guard Tyshawn Taylor also noticed that Withey stayed even-keeled in practices following Saturday’s game.

“Jeff kind of has the same face every time: He’s got that poker face that people talk about,” Taylor said. “His emotions come out every now and then, and it’s mad surprising, but he was cool. He understood what he had to do.”

Withey also contributed six blocks against KSU, which tied for his second-most in a game this season.

The San Diego native leads the Big 12 in blocks at 41, six above Baylor’s Quincy Acy.

Withey was especially pleased with his second half against the Wildcats, when he grabbed eight of his nine rebounds after halftime.

“Last game was definitely frustrating, but, oh well. It’s in the past. It’s a new game,” Withey said. “Coach always says, ‘Move forward.’ It was a good start for the Big 12 season and definitely a confidence-booster after last game.”

Comments

Scott MacWilliams 2 years, 7 months ago

Way to go Jeff, great time to step up and show us all what you can do!!

Now just keep the intensity up for the next 26 games or so....

ROCK CHALK, JAYHAWKS!!!

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hawk316 2 years, 7 months ago

Intensity is indeed the key for Jeff. He has the tools (and continues to improve), but he has to work on putting his "game face" on each time out. This is not that easy for him, I suspect, since he is naturally a laid back personality.

I am pleased that he seems to be getting lots of fan support, however. As I mentioned in another post, expectations for 7-footers often tend to be unreasonable. A Wilt Chamberlain comes along very rarely, so I think people need to understand that just because a kid is 7-feet tall does not make him superman.

Having said that, I must admit that Withey has really shown me something and is a definite asset on this team. I'm among those who are in his corner.

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jayhawker_97 2 years, 7 months ago

i love to see what Withey does on the defensive end. not only does he block shots, but he also intimidates opponents so many times they have to alter their moves/shots. now, go keep working on that plyomets training - we'd like to see more of dunks from you, big man! note to TT: don't bounce pass to Withey, please!

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nuleafjhawk 2 years, 7 months ago

I'm probably in the minority, but I love Jeff Withey. He seems to be focused, doesn't make a lot of stupid turnovers, is a very effective shot blocker and can hit free throws about as well as any 7 footer I can remember.

He just seems solid and I think he will wind up being one of our keys to making a deep run in the Spring.

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NebraskaJayhawk 2 years, 7 months ago

Totally agree. 7 footer shooting 85% from the line? Are you kidding me? Feed him the ball!

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karken1992 2 years, 7 months ago

I don't know if we are in the minority or not but you are not alone. I love Withey. Not only great blocker and free throw shooter but I can not remember (ever) a 7 footer that ran the court as well as him. He is also a very good passer and he puts some extra hustle in on setting screens. Might not ever lead a single game in scoring but I would take him on my team any day.

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baldwinjhawk 2 years, 7 months ago

Totally agree! He will be a key next year also.

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Ryan Shelton 2 years, 7 months ago

Love him as well. I was hoping to see more of him last year. Remember, Cole Aldrich said once that Withey had a chance to be one of the best Jayhawks ever. I'm not quite ready to agree with that statement yet, but he and Cole definitely banged against each other in practice a lot, so he knows something.

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Martin Rosenblum 2 years, 7 months ago

"J D E" signs need to be distributed at all remaining home games. "J D E" is the new "FOE" from last yaer.

I agree with nuleaf on Withey. And I was one of his skeptics going into the season. Can you say DManing has embraced the project successfully?

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ccarp 2 years, 7 months ago

Or JDER...just do everything RIGHT :-)

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straight 2 years, 7 months ago

"it's mad surprising ..."

What? I'm a language guy and I don't know what to make of that turn of phrase by Tyshawn. It's either brilliant or bizarre. I have no clue what it means.

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rwhawk 2 years, 7 months ago

"it's [really super-duper crazy] surprising..."

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labbadabba 2 years, 7 months ago

In context I read that to mean that he let's his emotions out on occaision and suprisingly that emotion is 'mad.'

It made sense to me when I read it, now I feel old and white.

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Tuskin 2 years, 7 months ago

Mad, as in, crazy. Here it means crazily surprising. Or just translate "mad" as "very."

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jhox 2 years, 7 months ago

I think it is just used in the context of something along the lines of, "He's got mad skills", or "He's got mad hops..." Not mad in the literal sense of the word.

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hawkhoops 2 years, 7 months ago

Way to go, Jeff! Exactly what the team needs from you.

Keep it up!

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hawkfan30 2 years, 7 months ago

I really feel like our guys are coming into their roles and HCBS is starting to see those roles more clearly.

1) T-Rob = The Beast, Trobasaurus Team's Leader 2) Travis = The Scrapper, Blue Collar Man getting loose balls, rebounding, playin' D 3) Withy = The Enforcer, Rejector Holding down the paint, blocking shots, rebounding 4) EJ = "The calming influence" settles the team down, takes care of the ball 5) TT = The Aggressor taking it to the paint, getting fouled, playin' D will make some mistakes with the ball but if Self's glad we got him so am I. 6) Teahan - Rival Killer hitting the big shots in the rivalry games when we need them...kind of like Reed.

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Tony Bandle 2 years, 7 months ago

We will be hard-pressed to go very far with only six settled players..KY, Justin and Naadir need to step it up!! God, I wish BenMac and Jamari where there!!!

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REHawk 2 years, 7 months ago

"...guys are coming into their roles...." That certainly was the case last night. Go right down the stat sheet to see what each of our top 7 players accomplished. And much of the good stuff last night does not even show up on a stat sheet.

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Thomas Michaud 2 years, 7 months ago

Another great thing about Jeff: when he takes it strong, gets fouled, and makes the free throws ... great FT shooter for a big guy!!

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Mike Kendall 2 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, like 85%.

Jeff---

From my Jayhawk heart to yours---- "Dunk you very much!"

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HAWKTOPIA 2 years, 7 months ago

Jeff is so close to being the guy who pulls this team together, and to new heights. Jeff brings attributes that do not exist without him on the floor. He needs to beef up and play hard. I feel some bigs will only jump as high as they have to, which is usually not too high. Jump strong, squeeze the ball, slam it home!

i would like to see Jeff stay on the court a lot more. the sheer fact that he is a consistant high percentage FT shooter is enough to validate his presence on the floor.

Playing time is often the only way to let a player know you demand more effort. If that is what is keeping him out, so be it. A big man like Withey, with intensity, will be a game changer.

RCJHKU

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AsadZ 2 years, 7 months ago

Jeff has been the biggest/most pleasant surprise this year. He has come long ways. The team plays a lot better when he is guarding the paint. Go Big Fella. Rock Chalk Jeff Withey.

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justanotherfan 2 years, 7 months ago

When Withey plays like he did last night (aggressive, angry, forceful) he is a good player and this KU team jumps up a level. When he is passive he can't secure rebounds or score on the block.

We need angry Jeff!

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ChesterCopperpot 2 years, 7 months ago

Oh my gosh! I must have had a lot higher expectations from Withey this year than most people, because that guy drives me crazy! Yes he had some nice blocks and a few solid plays in the second half, but dang, all these gushy rave reviews are a bit surprising. Seems like the only time he ever moved on offense in the first half was when KSU was shoving him around. Maybe it’s unfair, because I see T-Rob working constantly which probably makes Withey getting abused look even worse. I’m sure I’m spoiled by the slew of tough big guys that have come though KU lately. I guess, I just wish he could hold his ground a little bit. His touch and free throw percentage can’t be denied, but what’s the point if you can’t get him the ball down low because he’s being cleared out by a 6’6” guy? Toughen up, hold your ground, geezz! Also, why does a freaking 7 footer need to be told to dunk everything? What the hell did he think he was supposed to do with the ball? He is closer to the rim than every other player on the floor! That’s just annoying!

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Kye Clark 2 years, 7 months ago

First of all...love the name! Sweet "Goonies" reference.

Secondly, you're not wrong in your criticisms, but maybe your expectations for him are a little off. It's true he gets pushed around with ease on offense. Probably won't ever change. Also, he has trouble guarding skilled bigs that are able to back him down. However, he has a role and it is pretty important to this squad's success. He is the rim protector. What is the quickest way to get KU in trouble in any game? Get TRob in foul trouble. Self knows this, and as a result TRob is not always the most aggressive post defender. Enter Jeff Withey, who is a great help defender. This is his most valuable responsibility in my opinion, the ability to provide help defense and change shots. It also helps the guards as they are able to stay up on their men a little tighter on the perimeter, because if their man drives by them Withey is behind the play to compensate.

The other reason you may be seeing the rave reviews is that fans are finally seeing some progress & production out of him. When he came onto campus he was not ready to contribute. After being here a year he said he still didn't know the playbook. So to go from that to being a valuable asset is definitely pleasing.

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Jim Roth 2 years, 7 months ago

It's all about your expectations.

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Tuskin 2 years, 7 months ago

I expected him to be a little better than he was last year. He has come a long, long way, though, so I'm very pleased.

Now, I'm not going to compare him to Shaq or TRob. That wouldn't be a fair comparison, since he has a different body and skill set. Comparing him with phenominal players would only serve to make me less happy. Enjoy what we have!

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REHawk 2 years, 7 months ago

Good job, Jeff. Keep a pumpin'.

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REHawk 2 years, 7 months ago

Good job, Jeff. Keep a pumpin'.

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packywacky88 2 years, 7 months ago

I predict that at the end of this season, Jeff transferring in from Arizona will be seen as a pivotal moment in KU Basketball history.

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Jack Wilson 2 years, 7 months ago

Wow, that might be wackywacky.

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Tony Bandle 2 years, 7 months ago

No offense, but a pivotal moment would be more like Wilt coming to Kansas or hiring Larry Brown, Uncle Roy or HCBS. Jeff may be more of a pirouette moment.

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4Runner 2 years, 7 months ago

I’m in TOTAL agreement with ChesterCopperpot when it comes to JW. Most of the time he looks lost out on the court, and seems to be easily pushed around by smaller players. And at 7-feet, why would he need to constantly be told to get up and jam the ball? Jeff is somehow posting some impressive numbers, but can you imagine what his numbers would be if he really played his size?! Why is it so difficult for big guys to always utilize their height and wingspan on defense? Most seem to play all hunched over and not often enough do they get their arms UP! Don’t get me wrong, I’m pulling for Jeff, it’s really great to see his improvement because we need him! It’s as if someone needs to get up in his grill and say “Come on Big Man, show us the Rock Chalk in you”!!

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Tuskin 2 years, 7 months ago

When I first started reading this article, I wasn't thinking that I'd learn the height and weight of Vietnamese potbelly pigs. What a bonus!

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Alohahawk 2 years, 7 months ago

Regarding recruits: ESPN.com on their NCAA basketball page - middle section area blog titled "Recruiting and high schools", has an interesting interview with an unidentified "Recruit X". He describes what happened on a recent visit to a school, including drinking and women. He also mentions that, in talking with other top recruits who have visited other schools, it happens with all of them: The current players take the recruits out to clubs, party and that women are available for each recruit.

Interesting read, and not too surprising. Makes one wonder what Tarczewski (sp) might have experienced on his visit to Arizona. I remember that he said something like he fell in love with Arizona.

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Alohahawk 2 years, 7 months ago

Forgot to mention, Withey is tied for 12th in the nation with 2.93 blocks per game.

And TRob is 2nd in rebounding per game, with 12.3 per game. Forget who but first place guy, if I remember correctly, has 12.4 per game.

Keep it up, guys.

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Clarence Haynes 2 years, 7 months ago

As they sayin the Caribbean mon, KY needs more meat on the bone!

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