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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hair and there, Withey changes game for KU

Kansas University center Jeff Withey (5) muscles his way past Baylor’s Qunicy Acy, right, on Monday in Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas University center Jeff Withey (5) muscles his way past Baylor’s Qunicy Acy, right, on Monday in Allen Fieldhouse.

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Jeff Withey was quick to accept a fashion tip from his boss last weekend.

“He (coach Bill Self) wanted me to get a haircut,” Withey, Kansas University’s junior center from San Diego, said with a smile, explaining the new look he brought to Monday’s game against Baylor in Allen Fieldhouse.

“It (hair) was too long. It was getting in my eyes. I think you could see that,” added Withey, who had a friend apply scissors to his locks Sunday night.

The amount of hair clipped was significant.

“I think I had to lose at least three inches,” the 7-footer said of his official height measurement changing after a visit from his barber buddy. “It felt weird tonight (running the court). I could feel the breeze.”

Feeling light on his feet, Withey scored 10 points off 3-of-10 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds in KU’s 92-74 Big Monday victory over the previously undefeated Bears.

He also ...

  • Went 4-for-4 from the line to up his free-throw percentage to 83.7.

  • Made a perfect bounce pass to Tyshawn Taylor that led to an acrobatic layup.

  • Plucked three steals and blocked three shots to up his Big 12-leading block total to 56.

“It (effective play from Withey) changes our team a lot because we turn into a Baylor-type team and there is height everywhere,” KU junior guard Elijah Johnson said. “T-Rob (Thomas Robinson) brings the strength because he is going to muscle everything through and intimidate people.

“If teams are able to make that pass (inside), they still have to go over a 7-footer, who is athletic and can do just about anything. So when we get Jeff going, it really gets a lot of us going, and a lot of people don’t know that. Jeff is a key player to our team, especially with getting us started. When he is on track, it can be a long night for some teams,” Johnson added.

When Withey is on, he’s part of a killer inside combo with the 6-10 Robinson, who burned Baylor for 27 points and 14 rebounds in 35 minutes.

“Thomas makes the game easier for me, because he’s so strong. He moves everybody out of the way, so I can just go up and rebound,” Withey said.

“We knew they (Bears) were long and would be physical. We are pretty big too. I am 7-foot. Thomas is 6-10. Justin (Wesley) is 6-8 and Kevin (Young, 6-8) is a big man also. We match up pretty well.”

Withey, who had nine offensive rebounds on a night KU outrebounded BU, 39-24, brought great intensity to the court in his 30-minute stint.

“All the coaches tell me I’m too nice, I’m too laid back. Before the game, they try to get me pumped up,” Withey said. “Coach (Kurtis) Townsend is always in my ear saying, ‘Get mad. Go dunk the ball.’ My teammates are always trying to get me more aggressive. It helps a lot. I try to get into a zone.”

He works on controlling the glass at practice.

“We have a lot of drills. We get hit with pads, stuff like that just to practice rebounding,” said Withey. He averages 6.2 rebounds and 7.8 points per game. “With coach (Danny) Manning, we’re always going to be a good rebounding team.”

Withey’s biggest attribute has always been his defense, most specifically shot-blocking.

“Coach wants me to go after everything. If I don’t block it, I’m supposed to alter it,” Withey said. “I’ve always tried to go after the ball.”

Wooden list: Robinson has been named a John R. Wooden Award midseason top 25 candidate, the L.A. Athletic Club announced Tuesday. Others from the Big 12 on the list: Missouri’s Marcus Denmon and Baylor’s Perry Jones.

Comments

Ralster Jayhawk 2 years, 3 months ago

Time for EJ to join the party. Or, more likely, a 'break-out' party!

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Krohnutz 2 years, 3 months ago

Debate Incoming!

So I was going around in my mind on this one:

If you had to say which Jayhawk has surprised you the most in development from last year to this season, who would you pick?

Most people would say TRob right off the bat, and while he has developed into a beast, I think we always kind of knew the beast was in there.

I'll throw some names out, and you guys sort it out.

Jeff Withey; let's be honest, this guy seemed like he had a tapeworm eating everything he put in his mouth. He played limited minutes, seemed like he was a decent player but not anything stellar. Now here he is blocking shots into the fourth row, scoring those much needed inside points, and rebounding like Betty White's career.

Tyshawn Taylor; the speed, the quickness... the suspensions, the fight, the twitters. Not since J.R. Giddens (and that would be the list), do I recall a player that you just prayed the offseason ended as fast as possible to avoid further incident. He still does the turnover thing, I get it, it is part of his game; but this year his mentality seems to be a healthy one in that he wants to go out a winner more than a weiner.

Travis Releford; possibly our best all around ballplayer not named Thomas Robinson. He went from role-player with probable talent to the wingman every team needs. He is not the best player on our team in any one category, but he is in the top three on EVERY category. You have to have guys like this to be successful. He is like a Toni Kukoc that can actually play defense. Yes, that's right Travis, if you read this, I just said you were our googly looking white European guy that somehow learned to defend, and your last name when pronounced correctly sounds awefully close to "Cool Crotch."

Anyhow, I'll cut the list there as the post is getting huge and the wife is getting frisky. Hope them Hawks keep the attitude and spirit rolling, it is contagious.

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FarSideHawk 2 years, 3 months ago

It would be great if we get Shabazz next year and Isaiah for the following year, as mentioned above.

It will get crowded again next year, with some redshirts and transfers possible. We will be deeper next year, but will TRob and Tyshawn are going to leave huge shoes to fill.

Assuming (wishing Shabazz comes), we'll have this rotation:

  1. EJ
  2. Shabazz
  3. Travis
  4. Perry Ellis
  5. Jeff Withey

Back-up Guards: McElmore, Thaarpe or White Back-up Bigs: KY, Jamari or Zach Peters

Since HCBS is not going to go more than 9 deep; If Shabazz comes, one of White/Naadir won't see much time.

This should be a exciting prospect to Shabazz. He can be the scoring focal point on that team!

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REHawk 2 years, 3 months ago

Another feeling of animosity that I bear is toward the Big 12 turncoats, Nebraska, Colorado, A+M, esp. Missouri. No matter the potential dollars to be generated or lost, I hope that our athletic dept. avoids those vermin like the plague. Hopefully, I will have blazed out through a crematorium before we ever again schedule those institutions, esp. in the grand sport of Jayhawk Basketball.

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REHawk 2 years, 3 months ago

jb, my hackles are still alert every time I hear the word Villanova. My wife reminds me that the lingering anymosity stems from their student section chanting "Overrated!" at our Jayhawks back in the Miles/Simien/Lankford/Bill Self 2nd year. I still bear as much enmity toward them as I do Scott Drew and his classless pre-game maneuver in the fieldhouse two years ago. To wit, I don't like that Overrated stuff. Demeaning and disrespectful to any opponent, worthy or not. I hope our fans will bury that chant. I know that I will feel esp. ferocious toward Villanova and Baylor all my few remaining years.

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jaybate 2 years, 3 months ago

Shabazz will probably choose KU.

Arizona will be too young next year for a title.

UK is always too young for a title.

KU will be just right.

The only reason for him not to come to KU is if he seriously thinks he can't beat Ben Mac and Andrew White out.

If he thinks he can, then he will come.

If he thinks he can't, then we don't need him.

Next.

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missouricat 2 years, 3 months ago

Yes you had a good win the other night against Baylor, congratulations. You beat a 5 th place team, impressive. Got to see some of the high school games the other day. Shabazz Muhammad who is a sp looked very very good. He has a lot of offers from schools like Kentucky who looks to be the front runner now. Jabari Parker a sf has great game. Branden Ashley a pf , Anthony Bennet, and Adam Amin are great players. Recruiting Experts, Dave telep and Paul Biancardi said that Kentucky is high on these players list. Looks like John Calipari possibly does it again in recruiting with some of these players. The experts said who ever gets Shabazz, will get a grandslam.

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Steve Gantz 2 years, 3 months ago

Another recruit who's listed KU is 2013's #1 rated guy Jabari Parker. He's from Simeon in Chicago, which happens to be Derrick Rose' school. Some are calling him the best HS player in the country no matter what class. Self's got some work to do though as he seems interested in helping out local schools like DePaul or even Northwestern. But Bill can work his magic like someone mentioned with Shabazz above. Maybe we have a chance with him. Of course guys like him, Shabazz are likely one and dones too, so that tempers the enthusiasm a bit.

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Tony Bandle 2 years, 3 months ago

Unbelievable news about Shabazz.

Wouldn't it be the ultimate irony that after all the ups and downs, Tyshawn not only emerges as a true NBA talent this year but his performance and opportunity set in the Self offense convinces Shabazz that he will be the big fish in the big Kansas pond.

That would allow him to avoid sharing the spotlight with 10 other MacAmericans at Calipari U or playing for clueless Holland of the hapless UCLANs!!

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PurePierce 2 years, 3 months ago

Do we have a scholarship open for Shabazz? If not, where do we get it?

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LAJayhawk 2 years, 3 months ago

Interesting...

Slant is reporting that they spoke with Shabazz Muhammad's dad (this reporter apparently has a good relationship with Ron Holmes, his dad), and he said Shabazz was DEFINITELY going to be visiting Kansas soon. Ron even said he was going to try to bring the entire family on the trip (brother Rashad is a 3-star Junior) with Shabazz. The most interesting part, though, is that Ron said the media who give updates on Shabazz are totally clueless and often wrong about what's going on with him.... hmm, maybe the Kentucky v. UCLA rumors may be a bit premature?

Here's a great quote:

“I’m going to come, my wife is going to come and Shabazz is going to come,” he added. “I’d also like to bring Rashad and a few others (family members). I’ve said all along that Shabazz would visit Kansas. I always knew Kansas was a great school, but the in-home visit really opened my eyes.”

Self's workin'....

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chaggs 2 years, 3 months ago

has anyone noticed the subtleties of the team this year? Early in the season, it appeared the team tolerated being together because that's what they do. No body to offer a hand up when their teammate was on the floor. No encouragement for a free-throw shooter. No excitement. They were just going through the motions.

Since conference play started, that has all changed. Maybe it's the unified purpose of another banner. Perhaps it is the intensity in practice with Traylor and McLemore. Yet again, maybe it was simply allowing this team to gel. They are a team!

It's certainly nice to see, though!

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wtf45 2 years, 3 months ago

If you want a good laugh go to nbc action news kansas city and look at the new jack smack.

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jgkojak 2 years, 3 months ago

The Traylor/McLemore issue may have been a blessing in disguise- because no way Withey would be getting as many minutes/have the impetus to develop his game with those two eligible.

As it stands, Withey is forced to become a beast this year, and w/Robinson gone, starts at Center next year and dominates inside. He really could be a linchpin to make next year's team special, and this year we may be in for a surprise in March.

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beware0fph0g 2 years, 3 months ago

Unrelated: Today is the blackout day to protest SOPA/PIPA for many popular sites. Please take 10 minutes out of your day to email your representative and urge them to vote these bills down.

Some sites that have blacked out in protest: www.wikipedia.org www.mozilla.org www.google.com www.reddit.com

>

If you are in Kansas, the three representatives contact forms are conveniently down right now (Yoder, Roberts, Moran). Take to twitter/FB.

Related: Withey is the perfect piece to the puzzle. Even if he doesn't touch a shot, he absolutely alters the way players around him take shots. They have to adjust with him around, and that alone is extremely beneficial. Combo that with a potential double double (and like someone said above) a potential trip doub, and that is one hell of a contributor.

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Joe Joseph 2 years, 3 months ago

So far this year Kansas has proven that it can play with and beat anyone on its home court.

Kansas is yet to prove, however, that it can handle a truly hostile environment. While I'm excited about the progress this team has made, I'm trying my best to contain my enthusiasm until Kansas can beat a Missouri, Baylor, K-state, or even Iowa State on the road.

When KU can do that, I will start to buy-in to the April potential of this team.

Not trying to be a Debbie Downer. Imjustsayn!

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Tony Bandle 2 years, 3 months ago

Thinking next season in the post TRob era, Jeff is establishing himself as that inside presence that's going to make Perry, Zach, Jamari, Landon etc.capable of having an even more enhanced impact than already anticipated.

I predict because of Jeff's presence, Perry Ellis will hit a boatload of 10-15 footers next season.

PS Other Famous haircuts: Samson Travis Bickle from "Taxi Driver" Sinead O'Conner Telly Savalas Marie Antoinette [from the neck up] Albert Einstien Moe Howard Edward Scissorshand Wolverine Rasputin Chewbacca

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yates33333 2 years, 3 months ago

AtlJaybird. Agree completely. Self and the coaches do marvelous work in getting the innate ability (talent) of these players to develop. I think this team will not fold in March as others with more hype have. Wouldn't it be grand if they were good enough to be in the final four. Dreams!!!

For some damn reason I can't get the reply tab to work on this page. Think it's a LJW plot or an old, cheap computer?

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Keith Hummel 2 years, 3 months ago

Year after year, I marvel at how these teams mature and develop throughout the season. This years' team, however, has taken it to a whole new level. Choose any one of the players in the rotation, compare their performance now to what it was in November, and the improvement is astonishing. More importantly, perhaps, this team is finding an identity and each player knows his role. I know they will play a bad game or two between now and March, but you've gotta be impressed with the job Self and crew have done. I think the challenge for this team will be mental. That is, can they develop the mental toughness it takes to make a run through the tournament. Given the progress to date, I like our chances.

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wrwlumpy 2 years, 3 months ago

He might have been there to recruit Ahmad Fields. 6'5".

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wrwlumpy 2 years, 3 months ago

HCBS was in Charlottesville Va. last night at Miller School of Albermarle watching our newest Hawk, Andrew White. My brother sent a half page picture of him sitting in the stands from the Charlottesville paper this Morning.

http://www2.dailyprogress.com/sports/2012/jan/17/blue-ridge-holds-miller-home-ar-1619062/

Apparently he wanted to stay in touch with Andrew, but the article at the end seems to think he was there recruiting another.

Aftrer the Baylor game, I would say he picked a good night to recruit.

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middleoftheroader 2 years, 3 months ago

Jeff Withey was quick to accept a fashion tip from his 'boss' last weekend. “He (coach Bill Self) wanted me to get a haircut,” Ok I agree Self is ' like a boss' in the internet meme sense, but he isnt literally his boss. Am I being too harsh? I haven't had my coffee yet.

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LSHawk 2 years, 3 months ago

I was looking through next years commits and didnt see any true center types, ( 6-11 or 7 footers) do we have anyone commited for next year or 2014 that is a true center?

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Martin Rosenblum 2 years, 3 months ago

I'm borrowing a portion a phrase from a former coach at KU:

"I don't give a sh%* about..."........the length of a players hair.

In fact, let's start a new thread. Kinda like the old "Yo' Momma's so..." contests. I know we've got a lot of things we dont give a sh^# about on this board.

Who's next?

I'll start.

I dont give a sh#@ about: running the score up at the end of any game.

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Mark Lindrud 2 years, 3 months ago

I am glad Withey got rid of the hair. Was making me think he was a stoner lol. Oh and put on some weight this offseason!

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nuleafjhawk 2 years, 3 months ago

KU junior guard Elijah Johnson said. “T-Rob (Thomas Robinson) brings the strength because he is going to muscle everything through and intimidate people.

Thank you, Gary, for clarifying that T-Rob - Thomas Robinson.

I would have spent all day trying to figure that one out. lol

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Ferd Magellan 2 years, 3 months ago

Just stay healthy. Never have I watched a KU team that could not afford to go to the bench as much as this one.

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Dirk Medema 2 years, 3 months ago

There will likely be a Dayton game (Cole's 3xD) where the opponent attacks the rim relentlessly, and Jeff spends the entire night swatting away shots. Most games will be more like Baylor where he just intimidates them into mostly staying away. The fast break stuff set the tone for the game as much as TRob's dunk, though not nearly as higlight worth.

TT & TRob may be scoring the pts, but it is Withey, TRel, and EJ that eliminate the response.

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LAJayhawk 2 years, 3 months ago

I apologize for a comment that is off the subject, but I've been wondering this for a while....

Has anyone heard from 100 lately? I don't remember seeing a post from him since preseason football articles last summer. I hope he is okay. I miss the obligatory, "Just beat [fill in the blank]" before every game and his constant upbeat and often inspiring posts. He's a unique voice on here, and I would like to see him back.

Perhaps he just needed a break and has taken some time away from the boards; I know I do from time to time. But if you know him -- and he is okay -- please ask him if he might consider posting again. I'm sure I'm not alone in enjoying his words to compliment the Jayhawk news. Without him it kind of feels like we're missing a member of the extended Jayhawk family.

Rock Chalk.

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KU_Alumn_2000 2 years, 3 months ago

Withey - the unsung hero. Why ?

1: his defensive presence and shot blocking in the post takes pressure off of T-Rob...which allows T-Rob to stay out of foul trouble...huge !!!

2: leading shot blocker in the Big 12...creates havoc upon opposing teams trying to score in the paint.

3: his length allows him to rebound a ton...especially when T-Rob is getting doubled up on block outs.

4: has very little ego...and is happy being a team player and creating chemistry with T-Rob in the post.

Withey - I hope you put on another 25 lbs of muscle for your senior year.

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