Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Practice makes perfect for Jeff Withey


Kansas University junior center Jeff Withey hasn’t been surprised by his season-long success at the free-throw line.

“I’ve been pretty good throughout my basketball career,” Withey, a 7-foot, 235-pounder from San Diego, said after hitting six of seven charities in Monday’s 64-54 victory over Texas A&M; in Allen Fieldhouse.

That followed Saturday’s eight-of-nine effort in a 69-66 victory at Texas.

“I definitely work on it every day. Before practice, I’ll shoot between 50 and 100 free throws. I know they are free points, so I have to make them.”

Withey has converted 50 of 59 free throws for a team-leading 84.7 percent. He made just 17 of 33 in limited duty last year for 51.5 percent.

“I’ve been practicing free throws since the beginning of the season,” Withey said. “This year I’ve definitely improved. I’ve been working at it and will continue to work at it.”

Withey made sure to mention the free-throwing of fellow big man Thomas Robinson, who went 10 for 10 from the line versus A&M.; The two combined to cash 16 of 17 free throws, quite important in a close game.

“Thomas was great tonight, 10-for-10. He came up big for us again,” Withey said.

Overall this season, Withey has made 52.3 percent of his field goal attempts to go with the torrid free-throw mark.

“One of the underrated things he’s doing ... he’s shooting 85 percent from the free-throw line which is very good for a big man,” KU assistant coach Joe Dooley said, subbing for head coach Bill Self on Tuesday’s Hawk Talk radio show. “He draws a lot of fouls. It’s a good thing because at the end of a game, a lot of times you have to take guys out. You can leave him in the game to protect the basket and also know if he rebounds the ball, you’ve got a pretty good free-throw shooter. When he rebounds it, we hopefully can go to the other end and make free throws.”

Withey — he averages 8.1 points and 6.1 rebounds with 66 blocks in 20 games — swatted eight of Texas A&M;’s shots on Monday. He had seven and six blocks respectively in wins over Iowa State and Kansas State.

“What we are getting out of Jeff is consistency,” Dooley said. “It’s not necessarily shots he blocks, but also ones he alters ... or people stop and shoot pullups as opposed to getting all the way to the rim. As he gets through this year into next year, he will continue to develop.”

That’s the plan, Withey said.

“I don’t want to let anybody down. I want to keep growing as a basketball player and get better,” he said. “I’m definitely in the right place for that with coach Self and coach Manning (Danny, big-man coach). I’m going to keep trying to get better.”

Withey and Robinson hit six of 15 floor shots Monday on a night Tyshawn Taylor cashed six of nine shots, including three of six threes, for 17 points. Taylor scored 22 points in Saturday’s win over Texas and 28 in back-to-back contests versus Baylor and Iowa State. He’s had 18 assists to 11 turnovers the last four games.

“Tyshawn is playing great,” Withey said. “He’s our point guard. It’s what we expect from him. He’s a senior, been a starter four years. He’s our captain. We’ll jump on his back and let him take us on a ride.

“He got a lot of blame early on in the season (from fans). In the locker room, we are uplifting him. We know how he can play. He’s showing it now. We know he can play like this. Early on we knew that wasn’t Tyshawn. This is the Tyshawn we see every day.”

Noted Dooley: “Tyshawn’s not turning it over as much in spurts. In Tyshawn’s defense — and coach (Self) has alluded to this so many times — the ball is in his hands so much more than any player we’ve had since we’ve been here. He has to do so many things. He is continuing to grow, adapting to his role, knowing when he needs to score and when he needs to be a distributor, which he has done well the past couple of weeks.”

KU will next meet Iowa State at 1 p.m., Saturday, at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

McDonald’s All-Americans: Several future KU basketball players are among the several hundred nominees for the McDonald’s All-America basketball game. They are: Perry Ellis, 6-8, Wichita Heights; Anrio Adams, 6-3, Seattle’s Rainier Beach High, Landen Lucas, 6-8, Portland’s Westview High; Zach Peters, 6-9, Prestonwood Christian Academy, Plano, Texas; Andrew White, 6-6, Miller School, Chester Va. The game will be played on March 28 in Chicago. The rosters will be announced during the McDonald’s All-America Selection Show at 2 p.m. Feb. 9 on ESPNU.


Kye Clark 7 years, 7 months ago

Anybody else think Jeff should be shooting our technical foul shots from now on? I think the Tech game was the last time we shot any, and if memory serves Tyshawn shot the throws. No disrespect to Tyshawn's free throw shooting abilities, he's good, but I'd rather have Jeff shooting them.

nuleafjhawk 7 years, 7 months ago

I totally agree that JW (everybody else uses initials or nicknames!) should be shooting the technicals.

Or maybe if everyone worked on their free throws as hard as JW does - ANYONE could shoot them.

Jonathan Allison 7 years, 7 months ago

I think that it's ridiculous to even suggest that a big man shoot the technical foul shots.

Let alone Justin Wesley.

nuleafjhawk 7 years, 7 months ago

LOL (Laugh Out Loud) !! (2 exclamation points)

OMG ( Oh My Gawsh ) rwhawk & plasticJHawk - you guys got me good with that whole JW thang. I see where you're going with that - har har - it COULD be Jeff Withey OR Justin Wesley. I had not thunk that out real goodly.

I mean, they are almost identical in every way. Same height, same color, same haircut, same stats...

Withey - 8.1 ppg (points per game) 6.1 rpg (rebounds per game) 17 total assists 66 total blocks 458 minutes played 55 total fouls

Wesley - 1.7 ppg (still points per game) 2.2 rpg (still rebounds per game) 1 (yes ONE) assist 12 total blocks 233 minutes played 49 total fouls

STFU (Say, Thanks For Understanding) (I'm still a nice guy - I wouldn't go there!)

jhox 7 years, 7 months ago

I remember in the old days guys would even come off the bench and shoot technical free throws. Sometimes it would be guys who rarely saw the court. I see at least some value in that. If you've ever gone to the line with rubber legs after working your butt off playing defense you'll understand when I say it makes shooting the freebie a lot tougher. But, ultimately, you need to put your best clutch free throw guy on the line.

Jack Wilson 7 years, 7 months ago

I agree with ict completely .. right now, there is no other person I would prefer on the line than Withey.

On a somewhat separate point, is it completely amazing that EJ has shot only 17 free throws the entire season? KY and Teahan have shot more. Releford has shot 3 /12 times as many.

It is a reflection of EJ not taking the ball to the hoop.

Todd Hill 7 years, 7 months ago

I notice that EJ & Conner have the green light to shoot from the 3. Do they not have the green light to drive to the hoop? I never see EJ drive to the hoop even if he has the lane. He sometimes starts the drive then kicks it out, to usually TT. I thought he was a slasher in high school. Just seems odd to me.

Thad Daugherty 7 years, 7 months ago

Sorry I wanted to be at the top. I love TRob but he has got to learn to pass to Withey. He missed(overlooked selfishly) him so many timesthelast couple of games. He should be riding the pine just for that. Yeah yeah I know he is our best weapon. But C'mon!

JJHawq 7 years, 7 months ago

"...Manning (Danny, big-man coach)."

Thanks for the clarification. We would have wondered who this "Manning" guy was... Sorry - I had to make some fun...

How nice is it to have TWO very big bigs that can shoot foul shots so well? TRob's improvement has been amazing. It's that Self/Hudy/Darnell/MorrisTwins work ethic shining through.

nuleafjhawk 7 years, 7 months ago

Careful JJHawq - I got in big trouble a while back because one of the articles mentioned T-Rob and then in parentheses it said (Thomas Robinson). I happened to point out that I was glad they clarified that T-Rob = Thomas Robinson. Who knew ?? Lol.

lurkerhawk 7 years, 7 months ago

Hate to break it to you but the sun doesn't revolve around us KU fans.

nuleafjhawk 7 years, 7 months ago

Hate to break it to YOU, but it does.

If you don't believe me go stand outside at 5:33 pm this evening (assuming you're in Lawrence) and face West. (That's the direction that the sun is when it goes down)

Stand there for the next 14 hours. Then turn around 180 degrees. (That's just halfway around - not all the way) You will see the sun rising.

OH - the sun just revolved around you.

Another little snippet of helpful info - this is a KU site. Hence the name..... so if you're here and can't quite figure out what a T-Rob is - you should probably be somewhere else.

rwhawk 7 years, 7 months ago

Hate to break it to you, but I'm pretty sure the earth is revolving around the sun, not the other way around. But good try.

And his point is that sometimes articles get picked up in other areas of the country for whatever reason, thus its good journalism to do this. Hence the sun not revolving around Jayhawk fans comment.

nuleafjhawk 7 years, 7 months ago

Yes, I got the point.

And sorry I'm not a science geek and don't really care which rock revolves where as long as I can get through the winter without getting frostbite.

My point is that since this is a KU site, with articles written, edited, read and commented on by KU people and fans, you should not have to explain everything to everyone.

Otherwise, with every article we'd have to explain to someone the KU really stands for the University of Kansas, and not Kansas University.

Ben Kane 7 years, 7 months ago

again, this is something they have to put in there. often one of these stories gets picked up nationally by espn and such and they have to keep their articles readible to the lowest common denominator, eg a mizery fan.

Kent Wells 7 years, 7 months ago

Well then, I suggest that all that fancy talk about percentages be scrapped.


Because there is no way in hell a Mizz fan could ever figure that concept out when they don't even know how to spell or pronounce the name of their own state!

Ben Kane 7 years, 7 months ago

maybe if they broke it down into cartoons for them.

jayhawker_97 7 years, 7 months ago

“I don’t want to let anybody down. I want to keep growing as a basketball player and get better,” he said. “I’m definitely in the right place for that with coach Self and coach Manning (Danny, big-man coach). I’m going to keep trying to get better.”

--- Jeff, trust me; i'd be surprised if some fans are disappointed at your game. you've shown that you're waaay better than any of us would have expected. keep it up, you're on the right track. you're in good hands. thanks for those awesome D!!

KULA 7 years, 7 months ago

Great pregame focus on Tyshawn on the ESPN broadcast the other night. Although they didn't say anything that hasn't been said on this board, it's nice to see the national media take notice of a player (who's not in the Big East or ACC) who's got the skill set to lead his team to the Final Four. And great to see Tyshawn growing into the role. His shot is looking as smooth as silk, whether it's a free throw, 3 pointer, or finishing on another layup as he routinely beats his man going to the hole.

Brad Avery 7 years, 7 months ago

“I definitely work on it every day. Before practice, I’ll shoot between 50 and 100 free throws. I know they are free points, so I have to make them.” This should be a team practice and philosophy, not just Jeff Withey's . Free throws will be even more crucial in games against the competitive teams KU will see in the tournament.

Ben Kane 7 years, 7 months ago

I worry though that without TRob next year he will become much less aggresive around the rim because he won't be able to play off of the double (or triple) on the other side. If he gets to the point where he can go up hard and get fouled everytime he will become a double machine just because he's so good at the stripe. Danny (KU big man coach) will have his work cut out this offseason working on improving withey's post up. the sky hook is great but you will never get fouled doing it and you take yourself away from the rim for a rebound.

coolsportsdad 7 years, 7 months ago

So, he's having a good year this year, so let's start worrying about NEXT year? How about just "enjoying the ride" for a change? Every other year the Jayhawks' only scenario is to live up to expectations (meaning Natl Champ or bust) while this season these guys are abe to exceed most expectations. Relax, enjoy the moment. Good job, guys!

Ben Kane 7 years, 7 months ago

oh thank goodness for your advice on how i should live my life.

if you've ever read my posts before you would know i've been nothing but complimentary about withey all year, so forgive me for looking ahead for a minute. it's a good thing coach self is always looking ahead or we'd have no recruits yet for next year.

Jim Jackson 7 years, 7 months ago

How is Zach Peters doing in his Sr year? Anyone know?

Jack Wilson 7 years, 7 months ago

He decided not to play so he could go to some football camps .... coach Self said that was fine with him.

Ken Tomberlin 7 years, 7 months ago

I'm pretty sure he didn't play some AAU basketball this summer/fall so he could play high school football. He is playing basketball and doing well his senior year.

7 years, 7 months ago

I couldn’t find any current season stats for Zach, but he is on their basketball roster:

Also, there was this from last Friday’s game:

"12. (12) Prestonwood Christian (Plano, Texas) (18-4) PCA bounced back from last weekend's humbling loss to Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) with a 76-59 win over Bishop Dunne (Dallas). Five Lions reached double figures led by future Kansas Jayhawk Zach Peters with 20 points."

kerbyd 7 years, 7 months ago

Dawkins is 6'6" and 300 lbs? Guess someone else besides Zach should be playing football.

FSUJHAWK 7 years, 7 months ago

I think JW has been the biggest surprise of the year. He's been totally solid and consistent (for the most part). Thanks for your hard work JW!!!


rwhawk 7 years, 7 months ago

I think Justin Wesley fouls too much.

Tony Bandle 7 years, 7 months ago

I think Scarlett Johannson is "torrid"!

Jim Dickerson 7 years, 7 months ago

One aspect of Jeff Withy's shot blocking that is so impressive is the soft touch he has on a lot of his blocks. It keeps the ball in play and generally results in a turnover. Swatting the ball into the 20th row of seats does not accomplish a great deal cause the ball goes back to the opponent. Keep up the good work Jeff.

Janet Olin 7 years, 7 months ago

Jeff deserves credit for his improvement and his attitude. He is a very valuable member of this team. I'm glad the other players have started cheering and encouraging him--seems to have given him more confidence.Go, Jeff!

cobweb 7 years, 7 months ago

I said last fall that Withey would be the pleasant surprise of the year. They laughed at me.

Jonathan Unruh 7 years, 7 months ago

Withey is playing D much better than Robinson. Robinson only has 24 blocks.

sleepy33 7 years, 7 months ago

Right, shot blocking being the only measure of defensive contribution...

REHawk 7 years, 7 months ago

rockchalk, you are comparing apples to oranges. Different positions and responsibilities, JW and TR. Not to mention length.

r0ckchalk311 7 years, 7 months ago

+1 I like Mr. W. He's has impressed this year!

KGphoto 7 years, 7 months ago

He is a Christian Laettner clone with the new buzz. Looks good though.

Tony Bandle 7 years, 7 months ago

From " It's a Mad. Mad, Mad, Mad World", a modified phrase;

" All the shots are buried under a big "W", I tell you...a big "W"!!!!!!

jazzhawk 7 years, 7 months ago

I believe Jeff's ability to block without fouling with the body is a direct result of his volleyball background. You spike without jamming your hand down on the net. You can't bend forward or jump into the net. I would say let's recruit some more V-ball guys or maybe incorporate that into D-Manning's training; not that it needs anything but you can't discount Jeff's skill set.

jazzhawk 7 years, 7 months ago

That was not meant as a 100% serious comment about recruiting but I do think that background has benefited Jeff in a big way. Also, sorry for the duplicate post below!

jazzhawk 7 years, 7 months ago

I believe Jeff's ability to block without fouling with the body is a direct result of his volleyball background. You spike without jamming your hand down on the net. You can't bend forward or jump into the net. I would say let's recruit some more V-ball guys or maybe incorporate that into D-Manning's training; not that it needs anything but you can't discount Jeff's skill set.

JayHawkFanToo 7 years, 7 months ago

In a recent interview (Bill Self Show?), Jeff suggested that volleyball has helped him most in the "timing" of the block.

Make_Ur_Free_Throws 7 years, 7 months ago

Way to go Jeff! It stands to reason that if you are a big man taking care of business in the paint that you WILL be fouled! Teams that have big men that can't shoot free throws have always amazed me; it's like they have settled for an incomplete game! Slamma-Jamma is a beautiful thing from a big man, but so is putting points on the board with the clock stopped....and how many important games seem to come down to that?! Kudos to Jeff & T-Rob for doing the work in practice to bring a complete game!

REHawk 7 years, 7 months ago

slayr, I like your Mr. W. jazzhawk, your v-ball recruiting idea holds credence. Can't recall name, but recent bigtime Arizona star had also played v-ball. The verticality of that training pays off for big men who are otherwise prone to foul situations (cast into space for foul situations).

GeoHawk15 7 years, 7 months ago

Chase Budinger. I don't remember him blocking a lot of shots, but he sure made a lot. What ever happened to that guy?

REHawk 7 years, 7 months ago

In Wilt's biography, I remember his commenting on the benefits of v-ball to his game, after he went pro. He played that game often, esp. in his West Coast years.

ku_foaf 7 years, 7 months ago

Had to post this somewhere...

The year is 2036 and the United States has just elected the first woman as Presidentof the United States ..

A few days after the election, the president-elect calls her father in Kansas and asks, "So, Dad, I assume you will be coming to my inauguration?"

"I don't think so. It's a long drive; your mom isn't as young as she used to be, we'll have the dog with us, and my arthritis is acting up in my knee."

"Don't worry about it, Dad, I'll send Air Force One or another support aircraft to pick you up and take you home, and a limousine will pick you up at your door," she said.

"I don't know. Everybody will be so fancy. What would your mother wear?"

"Oh, Dad," she replied, "I'll make sure she has a wonderful gown custom-made by one of the best designers in New York ."

"Honey," Dad complained, "You know we can't eat those rich foods you and your friends like to eat."

The President-elect responded, "Don't worry, Dad. The entire affair is going to be handled by the best caterer in D.C. and I'll ensure your meals are salt-free. Dad, I really want you to come."

So her parents reluctantly agreed, and on January 20, 2037, arrived to see their daughter sworn in as President of the United States . The parents of the new President are seated in the front row.

The President's dad notices a senator sitting next to him and leans over and whispers, "You see that woman over there with her hand on the Bible, becoming President of the United States ?"

The Senator whispered in reply, "Yes I do."

Dad says proudly, "Her brother played basketball at KU."

ku_foaf 7 years, 7 months ago

I think Zach Peters has the same thing going on as Wayne Simien - he committed early and no other schools or coaches paid any attention to him, so the media also didn't pay any attention to him. Then all of a sudden, I believe the summer before starting at KU, he was ranked very high, I believe a top 25 overall, or maybe top 25 at his position.

I have not yet seen him play, but he did not have the physique of a typical 16 year old sophmore recruit, rather like Xavier Henry.

jaybate 7 years, 7 months ago

Justin, Jamari, Zach, and Landon are why Jeff is being trained for the sky hook.

None of these guys will have the scoring bug that TRob has now, for at least two seasons.

But Justin can guard and the rest will be able to bang.

That means Jeff's got to be the points in the paint.

But I'm not sure a sky hook can work in all this contact. Kareem, like all NBA stars, was protected by the refs. No one seems to get protected once the whistles get swallowed. They may let the stars foul more, but they don't protect them from fouling the way they did Kareem. And even Kareem had to wear goggles.

Buy some goggles, Jeff.

kerbyd 7 years, 7 months ago

And some body armor. Maybe one of those batman suits.

jaybate 7 years, 7 months ago

Now that would be great. Jeff Withey in a Batman suit sky hookin'!

Alohahawk 7 years, 7 months ago

At the moment, Jeff is running 8th nationally for blocks per game (3.25/game). If the ref would have given him that straight up facial block he had instead of a foul, he would be tied for fifth.

On a different note: is running a vote for "POY". Currently, A. Davis from Kenstinky is in first, and TRob is second (about 300 votes behind), with a few others getting votes.

Hit the voting and support TRob.

Mike Kendall 7 years, 7 months ago

Withey hitting free throws is a great weapon to possess. KU possesses this weapon. Whoever said that Withey should be shooting technical foul shots, I say "I am all for that." Rock Chalk!

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