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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Travis Releford exemplifies KU’s thieving ways

Kansas guard Travis Releford, right, gets a hug from teammate Thomas Robinson after KU's win over Oklahoma on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at Lloyd Noble Center.

Kansas guard Travis Releford, right, gets a hug from teammate Thomas Robinson after KU's win over Oklahoma on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, at Lloyd Noble Center.

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While talking during a postgame interview just outside the Kansas University locker room Monday night, KU small forward Travis Releford was interrupted by someone behind him.

“Great game,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said, shaking Releford’s hand. “Good luck this year.”

“Thanks,” Releford responded after his 11-point effort in KU’s 92-74 victory.

Much of Releford’s impact came on the defensive end, as he snared two of KU’s eight steals. He has eight steals in his last four games.

“That’s the key to our team,” Releford said. “If we get out and get steals on the defensive end, we can get a score, or a guy can get fouled and shoot free throws. So that’s what we really try to key in on.”

Though Releford said the Jayhawks actually don’t get up and down the court as much in practice, coach Bill Self has made playing fast an emphasis in games.

Releford himself has been especially dangerous in transition, which is partially reflected in his two-point percentage.

The junior has made 61.5 percent of his twos this year (48 of 78), which ranks only behind teammates Kevin Young (63.6 percent) and Elijah Johnson (62.3 percent).

The Kansas City, Mo., native picked up his offense in the second half against Baylor, posting nine points on 4-for-5 shooting after halftime.

“I feel like I stepped it up the defensive end and on offense,” Releford said of his second half. “I made a few shots late. And the two guys I was guarding, I didn’t let get (into) a rhythm.”

Releford has continued his elevated play while still dealing with a right foot ailment. He continues to wear a protective boot when he’s not practicing or playing, which helps take pressure off the outside of his foot.

Though the boot has caused some who have seen him to be concerned, the injury is not significant; Releford has yet to miss a practice or game.

“After I get to playing, my body gets to warm up,” Releford said. “Then I don’t even think about it after that.”

Shabazz update: Shabazz Muhammad, the top-ranked basketball player in the high school recruiting Class of 2012, will make an official visit to Kansas University, Muhammad’s dad, Ron Holmes, told Jayhawkslant.com. Muhammad, 6-foot-6, 215 pounds out of Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman High, has a final list of KU, Kentucky, UNLV, UCLA, Duke and Arizona.

“A lot of people have it wrong about Shabazz,” Holmes told the website. “A lot of people have no idea what’s going on. We’re going to officially visit Kansas, and I’ve said that many times. If it works out, I’m going to bring my entire family to Kansas. I always knew Kansas was a great school, but the in-home visit really opened my eyes.”

Not on list: KU senior Tyshawn Taylor has not made the final list of 20 players for the Cousy Award, which is presented to the country’s top point guard. Baylor’s Pierre Jackson and Missouri’s Phil Pressey are on the final list with Shabazz Napier, UConn; Ray McCallum, Detroit; Seth Curry, Duke; Erving Walker, Florida; Scott Machado, Iona; Casper Ware, Long Beach State; Peyton Silva, Louisville; Trey Burke, Michigan; Dee Bost, Mississippi State; Kendall Marshall, North Carolina; Aaron Craft, Ohio State; D.J. Cooper, Ohio; Zack Rosen, Pennsylvania; Ashton Gibbs, Pitt; Scoop Jardine, Syracuse; Damian Lillard, Weber State; Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin; and Tu Holloway, Xavier.

— Assistant sports editor Gary Bedore contributed to this report

Comments

jaybate 2 years, 2 months ago

EJ, Travis, and Withey are proven desert players ready to step up to being the main course players.

As usual, most are focused on the incoming recruits and seeing KY and Justin as marginal role players. They did this with Brady and Tyrel for several years, too. But Brady's skills, experience and talent made him able to split time with not one but two inexperienced OADs, even though he didn't pass "the eye test" with fans. And Tyrel took up a lot of floor time, and became the full time 2 his senior year.

Notice: So far, OADs and 4-5 stars can't keep experienced role players off the floor more than 20-25 minutes, even if Self starts them. BRush, Chalmers, and Marcus Morris got to start as freshmen, because there was effective no experienced player ahead of them. Xavier and Selby were the only two that actually displaced experienced role players. And Xavier had an NBA body and a great trey and even he could not keep Brady off the floor more than 25 mpg most of the time. Selby bumped Brady from starting, but then Selby made too many TOs and got injured and Brady took over the 3. But even when Brady was healthy, Brady was still getting significant minutes.

So: the gaudy talent Ben Mac and big stud Traylor practicing with the team, plus in-comings like Perry Ellis, Andrew White, Zach Peters, and Landon Lucas, maybe even Shabazz Muhammad, are not going to marginalize these proven players to the end of the bench.

Whether KY and Justin start, they are quite likely going to be 20 minute men next year, and may well be crunch time players. They've gone through the growing pains of doing it and the practicing players and the incomings haven't.

And ya know what?

EJ, Travis, KY, Justin and Withey will make a very tough quintet.

But Self is going to want more trey shooting than this five enables.

So: Ben Mac is going to get minutes at the 2 subbing for KY, with Trav moving to the 3, unless KY locks in a 40% trey stroke this summer.

And Perry is going to get minutes at the 3, just as he wants to get to avoid becoming a tweener 4 in the NBA, but Perry may start until his second season, or maybe he'll start but KY will play 20 minutes.

And Traylor is going to split minutes with Justin, because we have to have rebounding if Withey is going to be a sky-hooker.

And Zach Peters is going to play 10-15 mpg for Withey, because Jeff needs his rest, and there will be times when we need Zach's bulk.

If Shabazz comes, then likely as not Andew White and Naadir will red shirt.

Lucas will redshirt either way, unless Justin can't develop any offense at all. But all Danny Manning bigs come on very strong their second seasons of playing significant minutes, so I expect the "crazy athletic" Justin to come on very strong.

Rock Chalk!

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jaybate 2 years, 2 months ago

Self rightly builds from what he already has, and then fits newcomers in if they can do the basics of defense, ball protection and ball movement.

The cornerstones of next year's team will be:

1 EJ 5 Withey 2/3 Travis--he could play either place depending on recruited talent

The proven role players will be:

3/4 KY--a scorer 4/5--Justin a defender

The maybe capable role players:

1 Naadir--we have to hope hard work can do for Naadir what it did for Tyrel, but realize Tyrel was not really ready for 20 minutes till his junior year.

Before we even consider the ineligibles this year and the new recruits for next year, it behooves us to look at the returning players and form a starting line up from them, because with few exceptions (Xavier and Selby on the perimeter, Marcus inside) in recent years, new guys frequently go through a lot of growing pains and contribute little their first seasons unless there is just no experienced player ahead of them.

So: the team based on returning, experienced players will start out like this:

1 EJ 2 Travis 3 KY 4 Justin 5 Withey

These are the guys that have already proven they can play at this level.

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Sam Constance 2 years, 3 months ago

Already said it above, but I'll re-iterate here:

Pierre Jackson stole TT's spot on this list, and the way Tyshawn abused him on Monday, you'd think he already knew it.

How that committee puts a 6th man who hasn't started a single game this season on the list over a starter who has been one of the two most important pieces on a team that has wildly surpassed everyone's expectations and is in the driver's seat for an 8th straight Big 12 title is baffling to me.

But I kind of love them for it. The longer TT goes on thinking he's the shiz and is being disrespected, the better KU is. If he really takes off, he could end up making the committee look REALLY stupid, if they end up being unable to award the most deserving player because he wasn't even a finalist.

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Jeeveshawk 2 years, 3 months ago

Why hope for Shabazz? We all know that he is going to UK.

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JHawk74 2 years, 3 months ago

Shabazz needs to be recruited regardless if he actually picks KU or not. We have to recruit the best players every year even if they leave after 1 year. One thing we don't know if all of the current KU players will return next year or even be eligible to play.

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Tony Bandle 2 years, 3 months ago

Could a 2012-13 lineup of Elijah @ point, Travis @ two, Perry @ strong forward, Shabazz @ shooting forward and Jeff @ center be feasible?

The second team would be Tharpe, White, McLemore, Young and Peters.

And you'd still have Justin, Jamari, Landon and Merv on the bench.

Jayhawks and Jayhawks and Jayhawks, oh my!!!!

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Nick Cole 2 years, 3 months ago

Had this convo on another article, but just came up with a fantastic idea. As far as naming the student section in AFH, here is the name I literally just came up with:

The Phog House

Had to share this little bit of awesomeness with you all today.

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William Blake 2 years, 3 months ago

I'm beating my drum again on TRele's potential on offense. I see him as a natural scorer with plenty of upside. He reminds me of Jamaal Wilkes; unorthodox shot, light touch, thin swing man, great defender, great finisher. His stroke isn't quite as smooth as Jamaal's... so I don't expect him to earn the description "smooth as silk" but he does have a unique shot form that sticks out from the bunch. Both TRele and Jamaal see easy paths for the ball to take on shots, making them hard to block. Jamaal was 6'6" and light but had no problem taking it to the big boys in the paint during his NBA career. TRele has that same ability to finish and I'd like to see him stay more aggressive on offense and become a constant mid range scorer.

This team isn't close to reaching their potential... they just have to stay hungry and not be lured into the feeling of accomplishment by suddenly earning a high national ranking. That ranking junk means nothing at this point of the season and can easily put players/teams asleep by thinking it is an accomplishment.

I've never seen a school's gym rafters flying banners acknowledging past high media rankings...

I can't mention TRele without mentioning EJ, too. EJ needs to do more than bomb 3s... he needs to penetrate and either finish to the goal or feed the assist. He's the best guard we have to feed the assist in the paint because of his vertical and athletic abilities. Every once in a while you see him make a beautiful assist in the paint and (if you are like me) you start saying, "why isn't he doing more of that?"

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lrahardja 2 years, 3 months ago

Shabazz plays like a shooting guard/small forward. Is he supposed to be a forward? Perhaps he can gain benefit by becoming stronger. KU has great coaches and strengthening program. Come to Kansas!!! KU needs a star in this position next year.

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jaybate 2 years, 3 months ago

I'm speaking father to father here, Ron.

Duke? Duke would be a good school, if you didn't want to find an exit strategy from Vegas for your family. Duke's the best private school founded on cancer money. Period. Duke's got the winningest coach ever and the best guy to learn how to cheap shot from. Period. Durham is pretty and green year round in a gloomy, old south sort of way. Duke is within striking range of the tidelands where a man can do some serious bay and tideland fishing in a Carolina Skiff, or go Grady White and big water, and actually limit out. But Durham humidity makes Kansas seem like the Garden of Eden. And, Ron, who really wants to raise their kids in the Carolinas, where folks still like to fly the Confederate flag for a hoot?

Put it this way, Ron, Ed Manning once upon a time lived in North Carolina and he had a son named Danny who was destined to become one of the 50 greatest college basketball players--the same kid that grew up now to be our big man coach and widely reputed to be the best big man coach. Could have gone anywhere. Ex-KUer Dean Smith would have sold Roy Williams into white slavery to get Danny Manning and Dean liked Roy. Note that Ed Manning moved his family to Lawrence, Kansas, when given a job by his friend Larry Brown and did not look back. Note also that his son came back to Lawrence to live during pro ball even before he thought about coaching. Note also, that Danny Manning will be coaching the stellar class of bigs that your perimeter playing son will require to win a ring. Note that Jeff Withey likely will be the best big man in the country next season, and he will have a lot of bigs to help him. Note also that Perry Ellis will be in the same class as Shabazz to keep Shabazz from getting a big head. Fathers love their sons, but understand the stallions can get the big head without the right friends. Note, finally, that Coach Consonants is on the down hill run. KU coach Bill Self is the winningest coach in college basketball the last five seasons. He won a ring in '08. He may win another this season, and will be a favorite to win one next season without Shabazz, and a strong favorite to win with Shabazz.

So: it comes down to Cancer U and KU and where do you want your kids to grow up--the south, or the Midwest. For you and the missus, the fishing is better in the Carolinas, but the water skiing and lounging on the deck boat with a barbecue is better in Kansas. Winter in Kansas is stiffer than in Durham, but Cancun is in the same time zone as Lawrence, so there's no jet lag, and the water's fine there any time. Duke has the legend of Doris Duke. KU has the legend of James Naismith.

You choose, Ron.

See you and the missus at Allen Field House next year.

Shabazz is going to do great where ever he goes, but he will become a better man under Bill Self and his staff.

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jaybate 2 years, 3 months ago

UNLV? Fuggedaboutit. Just being respectful to the locals. Don't even think about it Ron. Get your kids to good schools. Don't let them grow up in the shadows of slot machines. Don't let one of the shadows swallow one of your kids. And get some neighbors that have been there longer than last month. Looked at Vegas once. Know all about the new Vegas. The family Vegas. The Vegas that lives in tracts where Howard Hughes guys strung the infrastructure in desert tortoiseville. Exit, Stage East, Ron.

UCLA solves nothing. Winter's nice when the San Gabes are showing and cribs are walk-away cheap right now, but its lousy hot east of 405 in the summers with worse air than Vegas and traffic that never quits unless you commute outside the hell window. Beaches? Try to get to them on a week end in August, when you need them. Ha! And the water temperature is always too cold for anyone but kids and Great Whites. And its mostly fished out south of Anacapa. Plus Fouland is a dead coach walking.

Aridzona? C'mon Ron, that's like Vegas with an August monsoon and good nachos. Don't even think Tucson, unless its for the winter months only. Tucson has a nice desert museum and a lot of co-eds sent to UA to tan-up. Let me put it this way, Ron, Lute Olsen went there and went bat shizz crazy. Tucson's big entertainment is driving down to the border to watch various intel backed drug traffickers try to land Cessnas in barrel cactus and then fight their way to a freeway. Tucson? I don't think so, Ron. If you and your family are all over 65 and never leave your stucco prison, okay, but even then you've got to buy a second crib in snow country to keep from going bat shizz crazy, like Lute. And Sean "Stumpy" Miller? Stumpy? Stumpy? The guy who's big credit is Xavier? You want Shabazz learning his game from a guy who has to jump to look in your son's naval? How long do you think Stumpy will be able to keep your young stallion on the straight and narrow with a green team and zero chance at a ring even with Shabazz?

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jaybate 2 years, 3 months ago

"Thursday Fog Lifter"

~Travis balling on a boot? Guarding top guns. Super gluing. Glassvaccing the long glass. Offensive beasting on demand. Travis Releford has maxxed the Man-Meter. Mr. Vertical proves he can play a wicked horizontal, too. Coach Self has got to be proud of you. Your folks, too. This may be one of the great accomplishments at KU in some time. Offending on a bent rim is not nearly as tough as defending Top Gun on one. Travis, you may have had to wait, but locking down the best with a boot means you are infusing more manhood into this season than some do in a 4 year career. And I keep saying this: you are settling your guys down part of the time, and jazzing them up others--in timely fashion. Open your bank account now. You will be a draft choice next season. Bishop Miege, get ready for a local kid makes good in the L story. Just keep getting better.

~Regarding TT being left off the Cousy Award--why don't they just call this the "We Don't Shizz About Basketball Award"? Tyshawn had a learning year last season, so I'm not surprised he is not at the top of these lists. But here is the thing: Tyshawn in a learning season with 30+ wins like last year better than all but five of the guys on this list. Now, with the way he is playing this season, he is better than all of them and will be drafted higher for sure. The Cousy Award people need to go in for some brain scans immediately. Their neurons are not connecting.

~Scott Drew is apparently a peach of a guy. Sure. And Saddam had yellow cake uranium, too.

~Ron Holmes could be playing the other schools with Kansas, but something about his word choice made me think he may be a good man. He wants to bring the family to Lawrence to see if its a way to make his own "Leaving Las Vegas." Solid move. Lon Kruger shot his sequel and put the ending in Norman. Living in Sun Belt deserts in the global warming era is just so 20th Century. Once you've been roasted into a human gila monster, and felt the asphalt at the end of your short driveway melt your Nikes for 5 years, sane persons say, "How do I get out of this concrete tilt-up and stucco hades, at least from July to October?"

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Travis Clementsmith 2 years, 3 months ago

You guys are actually complaining about recruiting the #1 prospect?

Look, even if that prospect doesn't come to KU you always want them to visit. Top players talk with one another and they relate their experiences to one another. Maybe this year Shabazz decides to go somewhere else, but two years down the line, when we really need a top talent at his position, that player speaks with Shabazz and asks him what he thought about KU on his visit. What Shabazz says may decide whether that recruit takes a visit here.

Dumb, dumb, dumb. That's what I say to people who don't want a top 10 recruit to visit. Thank god you are not in charge of recruiting.

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bennybob 2 years, 3 months ago

There's no room for another 2/3 on next years roster. Releford will be back as a 5th year senior and historically that means Self is going to give him alot of minutes. You then bring in Mclemore and White both as freshman. Its idiotic to recruit 3 players of the same position with one recruiting class.

The Bazz scholorship would be better off spent on a legitimate big like Tony Parker because after Withey/Ellis the front court talent next year drops off quickly. Peters might turn into a solid player after 3 years of development but anyone who thinks Weasley,Young, Traylor and Anderson can be a formidable front court in the Big 12 is delusional.

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Hawkerman 2 years, 3 months ago

Thank you Cousy award nominators for putting a chip exactly where it needs to be.

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Ron Prichard 2 years, 3 months ago

Anyone that says they don't want Shabazz hasn't watched any of his highlights. That kid is a beast!! Not only can he elevate, his shot is as smooth and effortless as any I have ever seen coming out of HS. Plus he is clearly agressive and strong, both valued traits by Self.

Could you imagine how athletic and fast we would be with the following lineup?

Johnson/Tharpe Releford/McLemore Ellis/Traylor/Young Shabazz/Wesley Withy/Peters

We wouldn't have to play set positions (other than Withy and maybe the point). Everyone else would be virtually interchangeable.

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Sally Presson 2 years, 3 months ago

I'm so happy for Travis, he's stayed in there and worked hard and never gave up on KU or himself. He's doing such a great job. Sure love to see these guys stay for 3-4 years. by the 4th year they really shine. Stick with us boys, under the direction of Bill Self and his coaching staff, you'll be glad you did. Tyshawn has improved his game so much and look how much he's excelled this year, very few turnovers and is a great "team" leader. Rock Chalk ready for Texas!!!

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Mike Kendall 2 years, 3 months ago

Releford is a key for us. In transition, he is deadly. I love it when he plays lock down defense for us.

In regard to Shabazz----I have seen him on youtube one time. Oh my gosh---unbelievable---who wouldn't want a player like that at KU? I would sacrifice a lot to coach a player like that.

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Woody Cragg 2 years, 3 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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Woody Cragg 2 years, 3 months ago

Travis has just been undressing guys lately. Defense can get the offense thriving like nothing else can. It can get a crowd into or out of it in a heartbeat. When Holly Rowe said the db rating was at 113, that's damn near like aircraft traffic. OSHA requires hearing protection at about 95-98 db...that's serious $#@t in an enclosed area of that size!

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AsadZ 2 years, 3 months ago

Though Releford said the Jayhawks actually don’t get up and down the court as much in practice, coach Bill Self has made playing fast an emphasis in games

Great coaches adjust. I'd never expected HCBS to emphasize fast playing with such a thin bench. However after VCU loss he came to realization and has made an adjustment.

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studio 2 years, 3 months ago

I love KU's development "under the radar" so far this season. After the Baylor blowout, I hope these kids are ready for the national spotlight as T-Rob's "supporting cast" of Tyrel, T- Rel, & J- With assuredly become media darlings by staying focused on the prize for playing HCBS/ACDM basketball. Rock on.

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Shawn Otrimble 2 years, 3 months ago

Shabazz is a beast, anyone who says they wouldn't want him at KU is a fool. Even if it's for 1 year. That man-child can play, I would compare him to a young Dr. J.

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master16 2 years, 3 months ago

TT is definitely playing as a top 20 (more like top 10) PG as of late. but early in the season he had his mishaps. but to leave him off the list is still pretty ridiculous.. KU is #7 in the nation, 15-3 with two victories over the top 5. we wouldn't be here without Taylor, and he got shafted.

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jhox 2 years, 3 months ago

I'm most worried about the point guard position for next year. Elijah is not a true point guard. He's simply not comfortable enough with the left hand. Tharp may turn into a player, but he's not there yet and certainly not comfortable handling the ball under intense pressure (at least not yet.) I don't see a true point guard recruit in our 2012 class. I really believe that issue needs to be addressed, and it needs to be addressed quickly.

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MorganR 2 years, 3 months ago

. I am so impressed with Mr. Releford's effort. He had some very good games last year even with limited playing time. This year, he has gotten an opportunity to show his talent. My son commented on the "team chemistry" noting they seem to have fun and never seem to lose their composure. That's a credit to the quality of the players and the coaches.

I share the views of SoCalAlum, Ca_hawk, and others that I would not want to trade Mr. Taylor for any other guard. I am sure Mr. Taylor's performance will demonstrate his ability relative to the other guards on the Cousy award list.

It is gratifying Mr. Muhammad, as the top high school player in the Nation, is considering KU. This is a testament to Coach Self, Coach Manning, the other coaches, and the tradition of excellence that our coaches and players exemplify.

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deberg81 2 years, 3 months ago

Also does anyone know why I can't post comments on the message board topics? Wont work for some reason. I really wanted to chime in on who my most hatedd cbb players were. Terrence Jones and Austin Rivers btw.

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deberg81 2 years, 3 months ago

I'm pretty sure tyshawn is one of the best 20 point guards in the nation.

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mojayhawk 2 years, 3 months ago

Shabazz to KU for one year? You betcha. It's the way things are done. He's already good. Coach Self and Company will make him even better.

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jayhawker_97 2 years, 3 months ago

Travis has length, and his defense position is a lock-n-tight; the only way for the opponent to escape is by acting up to cause him a foul call. but gosh, those are a lot of steals. keep it up, Travis! oh, and please be confident in slashing & shooting. dont' be afraid to just take & shoot the ball. you can always dish it off while driving.

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Scott MacWilliams 2 years, 3 months ago

Are you kidding me?? TT not on the top 20 list of PG's for the year?? All he's done is lead the team to some monster victories to date, and looks like he's just (finally) really hitting his stride. They must be hitting him hard for his assist/TO ratio.
Also, interesting comments by Shabazz's dad. Sounds like he was very impressed with the coaches on their visit.
For me, the jury is still out on whether the OAD situation is a net gain or loss for KU. I don't think we can or should expect the same results that came with X and Josh. Let him come if he wants, welcome him with open arms, and trust the coaches to fit all the pieces together. R O C K C H A L K, J A Y H A W K ! ! !

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ca_hawk06 2 years, 3 months ago

I'll take tyshawn over any of those PGs. Keep doing your thing, Tyshawn. No turnovers= no impact; if you aren't making mistakes you aren't doing anything. Without him, we are mediocre at best. Him and T-Rob are gonna lead us to another Big XII title and our best NCAA tourney since '08 (or at worst, as good as last year) '

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SoCalAlum 2 years, 3 months ago

What a travesty that TT's not on that list...granted I don't know all of their stats, but really now, the PG from Iona? Gibbs from Pitt (uh...winless in BE).

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trustyourSelf 2 years, 3 months ago

I'm not sure I want Shabazz if he's gonna be gone after one year. Also, we have PLENTY of depth at the 3 spot next year (Releford, McLemore, Perry Ellis, Andrew White)

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