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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Elijah Johnson’s big three reflects ‘great confidence’

Elijah Johnson (15) shoots a late three-point basket in the second-half of KUÕs 63-60 win over the Purdue Boilermakers. KU will advance to the Sweet Sixteen game against North Carolina State, Friday, March 23, in St. Louis.

Elijah Johnson (15) shoots a late three-point basket in the second-half of KUÕs 63-60 win over the Purdue Boilermakers. KU will advance to the Sweet Sixteen game against North Carolina State, Friday, March 23, in St. Louis.

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It won’t go down in history as a shot as important as, say, Mario Chalmers’ three-pointer against Memphis — one that forced overtime in Kansas University’s 2008 national title victory over the Tigers in San Antonio.

But, if the Jayhawks do happen to win two games this weekend in St. Louis and advance to the 2012 Final Four ... Elijah Johnson’s deep three in Sunday’s 63-60 second-round victory over Purdue just might be recognized forever as the dagger that kept KU’s postseason run alive.

“We pretty much approach everything in terms of character. I approached it in a good character way,” Johnson said Tuesday, referring to the shot that erased a 56-54 deficit with 3:04 to play — handing KU its first lead of the game. “I was in a good mood no matter what. I was having fun. I was doing what I love to do. Why not take the shot? It was icing on the cake if you ask me,” the 6-foot-4 junior from Las Vegas added.

His trey came early in the shot clock.

“Coach (Bill Self) always talks to us about, ‘Players make big-time plays,’ and trying to make them,” said Johnson, whose steal and breakaway layup put KU ahead for good, 61-60, with 23 ticks left, Purdue actually regaining the lead after his huge three.

“I wasn’t paying attention to the clock. There’s time to play to the clock and time to just play. That was time to just play.”

Johnson — he finished with 18 points on a day Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor combined for just 21 — said he relishes making plays during crunch time.

“I don’t think I would necessarily say I want to take it (big shot). I’ve always been a guy that will take it. I’m not afraid to take it. I like taking it,” Johnson said. “I’m not a guy to say, ‘I’m going to play hero.’ If I need to, I will. If it’s in rhythm I will.”

Johnson grinned when asked what Self said to him while watching a replay of the shot during Monday’s film session.

“Coach didn’t say, ‘Elijah you’ve got to shoot that shot from now on, shoot it no matter where you catch it.’ That wasn’t the point. He just said it was a big-time shot. I think he liked that,” Johnson said.

Self said Johnson, “did rise up and make a deep three when basically it wasn’t game-point, but close to game-point. It was a big-time play because, for a guy who hadn’t shot it well — I think he was 2-for-7 going into that shot (from three) — that’s usually not a shot a guy takes unless he has great confidence. He certainly has great confidence right now.

“Everybody’s been on him all year to be more aggressive. He’s been terrific the last three games. He’s played his tail off,” Self added.

Johnson said he and his teammates take a positive frame of mind into Friday’s 9:17 p.m. Sweet 16 game against North Carolina State at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. He said the key to this weekend is, “bringing energy, not thinking we’re tired. A lot of people are starting to think they are tired on different teams. I can tell. We are not tired yet.

“Some (on other teams) are starting to feel weak and vulnerable. We’re getting close to the finish line. We want to be the ones to finish,” Johnson added.

Tough match-up: No. 2 seed KU takes on an 11-seed in N.C. State.

“N.C. State has 11 in front of its name. Our guys know that doesn’t matter. Everybody can play now,” Self said. “To me, balance is always the toughest thing, and they’ve got balance.”

Robinson honored: KU’s Thomas Robinson on Tuesday was named first-team All-America by the National Association of Basketball Coaches. Joining him on the team: Kentucky’s Anthony Davis, Michigan State’s Draymond Green, Creighton’s Doug McDermott and Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger. Last KU player to be named first-team NABC All-America was Sherron Collins in 2010. Robinson leads the country with 25 double-doubles in 2011-12, which is tied for the KU single-season record set by Drew Gooden in 2002.

Recruiting: KU is hoping to land Tony Parker, a 6-9, 250-pound senior center from Miller Grove High in Lithonia, Ga. Parker, the No. 33-rated player in the Class of 2012 by Rivals.com, has officially visited KU, Duke, Memphis, UCLA and Ohio State

“The Jayhawk fans are probably the best fans I’ve seen,” Parker told jayhawkslant.com. “I’m telling you, man, they’re something special. Kansas is a school I’m seriously considering.”

He has set no official date to announce his decision. It’s possible he could announce sometime next week while in Chicago for the McDonald’s All-America game.

Practice: The Jayhawks were to practice today, then board a charter bus at 2:30 p.m., for St. Louis. A shootaround that is open to the public will be held from 3:10 to 4 p.m., Thursday at the Edward Jones Dome.

Comments

REHawk 2 years ago

The reason very few Missouri fans ever dare to unearth the path to The Phog? Can't read all the names and numbers hanging in AFH. Reading backwards from 68, current Tiger fans can't seem to get past #15. Numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 always a complete mystery, come March and April.

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missouricat 2 years ago

Does Bill Self plan on recruiting this year or just plan on playing walkons? Thats about all he is getting for recruts? The way the experts are saying that KU isn't even in the picture for good recruits, thats what they said the start of this last season and it shows. Looks like the girls are going to do better them the men. I guess I will have to start putting my money on the women because the men's team seems to choke and Self starts getting mad and goes off half cocked. Well, the end of the KU season is just about to end this friday. Looks like Baylor is the school that has the basketball teams in the big 12. Sports magazine had an article in it about how Baylor has the big 12 tradition. The SEC looks better and better every day and how glad are Nebraska and Colorado to be out of the big 12 and now with Texas A&M leaving does that tell you something??? Sure will miss taken that money from all those JH-fans, easy money.

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midwest_muser 2 years ago

I'm not baggin on Tyshawn but I can't wait to have EJ run the show next year. I like his style and I have no doubt he'll be every bit as good as any point we've had. I like the stamp I think he, Trav and Withey will put on the personality of the team. There's still a little too much Morris and not enough Simien/Collison in the attitude. Next year that will change..

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Jackmoon 2 years ago

my prediction is that Nc state is going perform big upset on kansas on friday! If u disagree check out my blog first and see why i say this! Also u can get all my picks and some good strategies for bettin! http://ncaaplay.com/2012/03/sweet-16-day-2-upsets/

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Mike Kendall 2 years ago

keller--- Oh, my!

Talk about hitting the proverbial nail on the head! Ouch!

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missouricat 2 years ago

Well, looks like we got a taste of what KU got when they flopped out against Bucknell, Bradley, Northern Iowa and VCU. We didn't reach that low of an embarrassment, only KU could. Nice to be off to the SEC as bigger things wait us there with more money and better advantages.

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kcruser 2 years ago

Anybody know what section KU is in Friday night? I hope I am not mixed in with another team. I hope the majority of building is Jayhawk blue so I blend in well.

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AsadZ 2 years ago

kellerman, You questioned how we are loaded at Bigs next year?

Self likes 4 Bigs in his rotation. This year he got screwed with Kieff leaving early and ineligibility of Traylor and Anderson.

Next year's rotation:

Withey (I don't think he will leave as he is not ready for NBA) Ellis (Self will use him mostly at 4 spot mostly like he used Marcus) Traylor (He will have an edge as he has been practicing this year against T-Rob) Zach Young Wesley Lucas This is 7 Bigs. Lucas will most likely red shirt IMO.

Only time will tell if Wesley will be able to contibute more next year. However two points working in his favor, significant experience & knowledge of HCBS system and his athletic abilities.

Regardless, we will be loaded with Bigs, 6-7 players fighting for minutes when self likes to play 4 players.

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Priest Fontaine 2 years ago

JAYHAWKERS! check out this hilarious short film my friends in KC made: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=...

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zsn 2 years ago

OK, be absolutely honest here: How many of you had this following reaction when EJ jacked-up said three-pointer - fingers interlocked, palms on top of the head, elbows firmly in front of the chin pointing straight out, yelling "no...NO...NO...", switching to "YAAAA" and fingers uninterlocked, turning into fists pointed straight up, all in the space of a few milliseconds? Come on, be honest........

Had the shot clanged off, how many of you would be posting "WTF was EJ thinking?" I thought it was a terrible shot to be taking in that situation.....but if you're feeling it......in all fairness, if you're going to take that shot, do it early in the shot clock when no one is expecting it! No guts, no glory...and this one was all guts!! As much as I hate Raftery, this one was all "Onions"

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Kye Clark 2 years ago

Regarding Tony Parker and extended recruiting in general:

In response to AsadZ's suggestion to redshirt Lucas to open up a schollie for Parker - I'm fairly certain that redshirting doesn't free up a scholarship. Thus redshirting someone won't solve the problem that if we sign someone else, we will be one over the scholarship limit, even with Wesley already returning to walk-on status.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong on this issue.

I post this on occasion for readers to view our scholarship situation. It is next year's roster as it stands now, assuming TRob leaves (pretty much guaranteed) and Wesley returns to walk-on status:

Returning players: 1. Withey 2. EJ 3. Releford 4. KY 5. Tharpe 6. Lindsay

Becoming eligible: 7. BMac 8. Traylor

Incoming recruits: 9. Ellis 10. Peters 11. White 12. Lucas 13. Adams

There's thirteen, the maximum allotment of scholarship players. Despite this, Self has kept recruiting. Why? The likely reason is that Self doesn't want to get caught flat-footed again like he was last year if a player or two surprises him and unexpectedly declares for the draft. The most likely player from this list to test the draft waters next year is Withey, although I think he is best served returning for his senior year.

Now the question becomes, is Self readily offering a scholarship to someone like Parker even if he loses no one else? If so, that means someone is leaving, be it voluntarily or having Self pull a scholarship. Lindsay is the likely candidate to leave under either scenario, although I could also envision Tharpe.

I am not a fan of pulling scholarships from players on the current roster. I understand that scholarships are on a one-year basis and are not guaranteed four-year contracts. My issue is more with the NCAA rule that the player transferring must sit out a year. In this situation, when a player loses his financial aide not through any choice of his own, I feel the player shouldn't be penalized.

Also, I like Lindsay. I feel that he's a project worth keeping around that may pay dividends in year three in the program. I also like Tharpe, and feel that after a year with increased minutes in the regular rotation as the back-up point guard he will make an excellent floor general his junior year.

Anyway, there is also the possibility that Self is simply recruiting to cover his bases, and has not solidly offered any of these recruits. It may be the reason Sampson chose St. Johns. He might have decided he didn't want to wait to see if a spot opened up here. Or not.

It will all sort itself out soon enough I suppose. Really looking forward to watching next year's squad, after enjoying the last memories this year's team makes of course. Rock Chalk!

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Jason Keller 2 years ago

Tony Parker, I'm almost disappointed that you weren't able to visit Lawrence on a regular non-Mizzou game night. If you had, you would have seen that we show up like that EVERY night, not just for Mizzou. Come to KU and learn from the best, win a championship and be a first round NBA draft selection. We're looking forward to the announcement, bud.

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KU4LIFE24 2 years ago

EJ has come up big in the NCAA tournament! I'm looking for a big game from T-Rob and Tyshawn Friday night as well!

I'm not too worried about getting Shabazz because I'm not sure he would fit into our system, but adding another big man would be great (Tony Parker).

ROCK CHALK, JAYHAWK!!!

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Tony Bandle 2 years ago

Brock and AsadZ,

1] Parker has a huge upside as compared to guards still out there. 2] Parker is a pure center 3] Withey may actually be gone next year with TRob and Tyshawn. 4] KU has Manning...everybody else doesn't. 5] With Elijah, BenMac, Naadir and Rio, I feel the backline is in pretty good shape. 6] Conner F will be here in 2013 7] A Jayhawk in the hand is worth two in the bush!!

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jaybate 2 years ago

Brock, you're probably right, but 6-9 and 250 out of the box sounds good after the lumps Purdue dished out. :-)

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Robert Brock 2 years ago

I don't think that we will get Tony Parker or anyone else from the Class of 2012 (we already have signees PF-Perry Ellis, PF-Zach Peters, and C-Landon Lucas - plus commitments from SF-Andrew White and PG/SG-Rio Adams). Let's move on to the Class of 2013 and concentrate on Julius Randle. He is someone who is a serious difference-maker no matter what position he is playing.

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REHawk 2 years ago

There is a growing altogetherness about this squad which portends awesome good things...unless they run into players with a 40 minute shooting frenzy similar to Hummel's hot hand in the first half. Even then, there appears to be enough athleticism and intermittent lockdown defensive intensity for the Jayhawks to stay in the game with anyone. The next player to step up in this tournament with invigorated confidence just might be Jeff Withey, who could hurl a monkey wrench into defensive schemes designed to shut down the offense of TT, T-Rob and EJ. Jeff and Travis are two starters destined to inherit scoring opportunities in lieu of so much defensive focus on our 3 hottest scoring hands. I envision Withey as a timebomb, ticking downhill for an explosive scoring production. If he should go off early in a game, and teammates grow confident in getting him the ball, offensive mayhem might break loose. Perhaps this is just wistful dreaming, but I've a feeling that Withey is due for a super performance, if we can keep the season alive long enough for the moment to occur.

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AsadZ 2 years ago

Its great to get talented guys however looking at current roster, guys already recruited and our scholarship position, I think we have a greater need for a guard rathen than a center. We will be loaded with Bigs however guard position can get some boost.

We will have EJ as PG. While Tharpe has talent, it is not clear whether he will be able to be a solid back up although he has been playing much better lately.

I feel that Justin will have to give his scholarship, and one big, most likely Landen has to redshirt, to free up a scholarship. I'd rather see that go to a talented guard rather than Big at this point.

Comments are welcome.

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smccullough 2 years ago

Come on Mr. Parker. We have no real center who does everything real centers do for a whole basketball game..

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AsadZ 2 years ago

Fellow Jayhawk fans, On a different subject, while anything is possible at this stage, looking at brackets on sweet 16 round, I feel that East bracket is toughest followed by West, Midwest and South.

What do you think?

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RockChalk26 2 years ago

Best thing about EJ peaking in the tournament, teams have to game plan for him. Tyshawn and T-Rob will have huge games on Friday due to the fact that NC State has to focus on EJ.

I have been waiting for this moment all year, EJ drawing attention away from TT and T-Rob. It couldn't happen at a better time.

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leonard 2 years ago

Enjoy your stuff as usual, jaybate...but I think your focus on Nadir's critical role and the Hawks being rested enough to compete with UNC is a little over-dramatic.

I recognize the grind of a long season but with 5 days off before NCState and the 2 day turnaround for UNC I don't think physical fatigue will be a problem. If fatigue is a factor...I think it's more a mental issue than a physical one...for any team that has advanced this far.

If we're going to look past NCState and the fatigue factor then we surely have to look at the short roster situation for UNC as well.

-- "Call it the latest bad break (the Marshall injury) for a team that lost its No. 2 ballhandler, Dexter Strickland, to a season-ending knee injury, then played three postseason games without two-time ACC defensive player of the year John Henson after he sprained his left wrist in the conference tournament...

If Marshall can’t play against Ohio—and that seems likely the case—one option for top-seeded UNC (31-5) could be Stilman White...

The lightly tested freshman has gone from being one of the last players to receive a scholarship to being Marshall’s primary backup—to possibly starting in the regional semifinals.

“Stilman’s grown a lot. When he first got out there, we were a little scared that he might have an anxiety attack or pass out,” teammate Harrison Barnes said with a laugh." --

Any positive contribution from Nadir would be welcome but I don't think our season is perched on the brink and dependent on Nadir's performance against NCState.

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Tony Bandle 2 years ago

Hawks...do what I do every time I pass thru Columbia...roll down the window and spit!! It's very juvenile....but it's really fun!!

This season: 1] Who'd a thought 30 or more victories was a definite possibility/ Not me!! 2] Who'd a thought the Hawks would go 16-2 while winning the Big 12? Not me!! 3] Who'd a thought KU would be in the Sweet 16 with Conner, Kevin, Naadir, Justin and Jordan as the "Bench"? Not me!! 4] TRob was going to be good, but POY good? Well, yeah, I kinda did on that one. 5] Who'd a thought Tyshawn would have a great shot at the Cousy? No way!! 6] Who'd a thought the LayHawks would be in the Sweet Sixteen and Bonnie's job would be safe? Not me and not me!! 7] Who'da thought Withey would become the Human Eraser [except against teams playing four guards]? Not me!! 8] Who would ever give up on a Bill Self Kansas team? NOT ME!!!!!!!!!!!

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jaybate 2 years ago

jaybate (anonymous) says...

"NC State Skinny".

Offense: Mirror image of KU offense statistically..

Defense: Similar perimeter defense, but not as strong of post defense..

Thomas, Jeff and Kevin should be able to weigh in against Wolfpack..

Gottfried taking a ride on Sidney Lowe's foundation, the same way Haith did on Anderson's..

Self and Gottfried may have some connection way back in both their Oklahoma days..

Gottfried will be clever enough to give Self some stimulation..

Big Challenge: Finding a way to win the game with starters kept to 30 minutes, as was done versus Detroit. That leaves room for a full amp versus Baja KU aka UNC. To do it, Naadir's got to go 10-12 minutes and Conner and Kevin/Justin have to play 20. .

If we see Naadir play the first half vs NC State, it means Self believes the team is good enough to beat UNC on Sunday; i.e., its worth the risk of resting players vs. a major to leave full tank for UNC. If Naadir does not play the first half, it means Self thinks the team's reasonable potential has been reached with a win over NC State..

I believe Self thinks this team matches up well with UNC, so I look for Self to gamble and play the subs alot vs. NC State. This means it will be a nail biter and a significant chance for a loss against an 11 seed we could otherwise beat, if we played our starters all the way..

Oddly enough, a Final Four appearance likely hinges on whether Naadir Tharpe is ready to play 15 minutes against NC State that enable us to beat NC State and play UNC with a full tank..

Rock Chalk Naadir

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Alohahawk 2 years ago

This seems like a "feel good" article meant to sooth and relax the Jayhawk Nation before KU's upcoming game(s) in St. Louis. The headline may spotlight EJ, but the article includes a number of different anecdotes and quotes, another TRob award, recruiting imformation, Etc. All of which spotlight the positive. Even with the importance of the upcoming games, there's very little "negative concern" mentioned about KU's upcoming game. > Congratulations to TRob for being chosen as 1st Team All-American by the Nat'l Assoc. of Basketball Coaches. Question: What with all these different groups nominating all these All-American teams, which one does KU recognize when deciding to hang a player's jersey? >The quote by Parker graphically illustrates how a recruit can be influenced (positively) by the AFH crowd. It was only a short while back when I posted my concern that recruits who attended the "Legends of the Phog" and "KU vs MU" games might feel intimidated by the noise and crowd participation, because a number of them had decided to go elsewhere. I hope I have to eat those concerns. And if Parker does select KU due to the crowd appeal factor, he should fit right in as a true Jayhawk. Want to hear your name echo in the Phog, Mr. Parker? Sign that LOI.

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Cmill1221 2 years ago

A little gem for all of you who are looking for a good laugh. MU had a little show on CBS following them from selection show through the tournament. CHECK IT OUT!!! HAHAHAH http://www.ncaa.com/menshighlights/video/basketball-men/2012-03-15/missouri-confidential-episode-two

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jchief40 2 years ago

I would envy any team that had to face the likes of McLemore, Johnson, Muhammad, Ellis, Withey and regular doses of Parker (who should go pro after Junior season), Releford, Tharpe, Traylor .. on and on. But for now, it's NC State. Let's take care of business! Rock Chalk.

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ajhk 2 years ago

“I was in a good mood no matter what. I was having fun. I was doing what I love to do. Why not take the shot? -EJ

That's a great attitude and the type we need to see out of our guys for the rest of the tourney. It's possible to prepare and play focused, intense, serious, disciplined, and tough, while at the same time having fun and playing loose with big a$$ smiles!

Let's remember - Beyond all the revenue generation from paraphernalia and tickets, future contracts for players, current ones for coaches, the pressure to play in line with the program history and tradition, at it's core, this game is supposed to be fun.

To our beloved Jayhawks-

You guys have exceeded this year's expectations. You've given us another great year to truly be proud of and it was a ton of fun watching it take place.

I now absolve you of any pressure to go further this season.

What I want to see most from this team is a group of guys having the most fun they possibly can. Playing basketball is fun! I believe that if every game is attacked with the energy and excitement as if it was the last chance to be together and have this level of fun, then everything else will fall into place.

I KNOW our Hawks can win the whole damn thing, but, I won't be disappointed if they don't. I'd only feel let down if they didn't have fun trying.

Go get'em boys!

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jchief40 2 years ago

I think both Shabazz and Parker will play together at KU. I think the epic conclusion to that Border War game may have been bigger than we realize. From a recruiting standpoint it could not have been scripted any better. KU is the place where 4s and 5s become stars. Shabazz and Parker want to play together and want to win a championship. There's no place like Kansas.

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gardenjay 2 years ago

I hope they get a chance to ride up the arch - if they can fit in those little caterpillar cars.

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Priest Fontaine 2 years ago

Tony P! your talents are more than welcomed in Larryville! Bring Shabazz with you and let's have a legendary incoming class!

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kusportsdotcom 2 years ago

I have a feeling we'll land one more recruit this spring. Might as well be Mr. Parker. That's gonna be one heck of a class, especially when you add in BMac and Traylor.

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