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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Elijah Johnson least of Jayhawks’ worries

KU's Elijah Johnson catches his breath after suffering a blow to the chest against Southeast Missouri State on Friday, Nov. 9, 2012, at Allen Fieldhouse.

KU's Elijah Johnson catches his breath after suffering a blow to the chest against Southeast Missouri State on Friday, Nov. 9, 2012, at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Elijah Johnson had as many fouls (five) as points and assists combined (five) in Kansas University’s 74-55 season-opening victory over Southeast Missouri State on Friday night in Allen Fieldhouse.

“He was just out there ... didn’t make a shot, didn’t get in the flow,” KU coach Bill Self said, without a trace of alarm, after the Las Vegas senior’s debut as starting point guard at KU.

“Foul trouble kept him from getting in the flow,” Self added of Johnson, who was a starting combo guard last season, running the point on occasion to spell four-year starter Tyshawn Taylor.

The 6-foot-4, 195-pound Johnson hit one of five shots (0-for-4 from three) and two of two free throws while dishing one assist against no turnovers in 22 foul-plagued minutes. He also grabbed three boards.

Are the Jayhawks concerned about Johnson’s line?

“Not at all,” senior center Jeff Withey said. “When he was in the game, I think he did a good job controlling the tempo. He’s still getting used to that position, being the point guard. He just needs to not foul. It’s definitely correctable.”

Johnson did fulfill his leadership responsibilities admirably. He spoke to back-up point Naadir Tharpe after picking up his fourth foul with 12:10 left and KU up by just six points. With the game’s outcome still in question, he told Tharpe to embrace the opportunity to “run the team and control it.”

Tharpe responded and helped the Jayhawks re-build the lead to 13 points by the time Johnson returned to the court with 5:23 to play. Johnson ultimately fouled out with 4:04 left and KU up by 17.

“I feel we were much more ready today than we were the last exhibition game,” Tharpe said.

The 5-11 sophomore from Worcester, Mass., scored a career-high 10 points off 4-of-11 shooting (1-for-6 from three) with two assists against two turnovers in 28 minutes.

“I felt we were lackadaisical, all of us (in a 62-50 victory over Washburn). We came out with great energy,” Tharpe added of Friday’s opener. “We didn’t knock down shots, but that happens in basketball. We just move onto the next game.”

KU will meet Michigan State at 6 p.m. (Central time) Tuesday in the Georgia Dome (71,000 seating capacity for football, 26,000 for basketball). It is part of the second-annual Champions Classic doubleheader. Kentucky will meet Duke in the late game. A year ago, Kentucky tripped KU, 75-65, and Duke downed Michigan State, 74-69, in the Classic in New York.

Next year, KU will play Duke and MSU will meet Kentucky in Chicago.

The Spartans are 0-1 following Friday’s 66-62 loss to UConn.

MSU guard Keith Appling scored 17 points and sophomore guard/forward Branden Dawson 15, both off 7-of-17 shooting. Freshman guard Gary Harris had 11 off 4-for-13 shooting.

“We are going to play against real guys real soon, and those guys think that this piece of meat may be the last piece of meat on earth, and they play like it. So, if we don’t play like it, we will get our butts handed to us,” Self said.

Comments

Benz Junque 2 years ago

Johnson should give HIMSELF the same advice he gave Tharpe...

ParisHawk 2 years ago

There are Newell ratings. Do you really miss that picture with the cigar smoke?

Michael Luby 2 years ago

i think the writers are more focused on football this year for some reason, cant imagine why.

nostradavid 2 years ago

Jayhawk football is an underdog every week, but they are scaring ranked teams and beating the spread regularly - showing great effort. Only two more games to go. The basketball team is still putting the puzzle pieces together. When was the last time they were the underdog?

dstnku34 2 years ago

Maybe 3 of our last 4 official games.

John Randall 2 years ago

'3 of last 4' would be Reg Final, Natl Semi, Natl Final, and SEMo, so there isn't any 'maybe' ... I'm not sure we were favored in Reg Semi or not.

At any rate, that team is now part of the Jayhawk legacy. This team may struggle to win 24 or 25 games, or it may post another 30+ wins (how many straight?). Either way, or in between, it's sure to be another great season in the Phog.

We are honestly the most fortunate fans in the history of college bball.

REHawk 2 years ago

I've a feeling that Elijah's aging body might come along as slowly as this team's shaky offense prior to league play. If he had the legs, and the confidence in those legs, which he possessed as a freshman, we would see him take flight to the hoop more often. Gotta be something of a jolt to him, watching Rio Adams dancing along lithely in practices. If Rio had even half of Elijah's experience and control at this stage, the EJ body might benefit from more opportunity for rest and recovery. I'm hoping that he doesn't get stressed out on the way to January. It's a very long season for a starter expected to play major minutes twice weekly. Great Jayhawk players like Miles, Langford and Simien found the stress and grind of so many minutes insurmountable during their collegiate denouement and conclusion.

jaybate 2 years ago

I missed your post coach before posting below. So what gives with EJ? Why is he even out there? It looks like he needs bed rest.

yates33333 2 years ago

What I hope JB is that this isn't just Self "whistling past the graveyard." Both EJ and Releford didn't look good. Withey also looked tired in the second half and was easily pushed around by the SE Missouri centers.

jaybate 2 years ago

Could be some kind of a bug ripping through the team that they are trying to conceal from Ratso Izzo. You mention Travis and Jeff short on fuel. Did you look at the pictures of EJ? His color doesn't look right. Almost jaundiced. I realize lighting and digital cameras can create some unrealistic effects, but this is another possibility. Self keeps warning about a severe beating by MSU if his players don't ramp it up. Is sandbagging, or preparing everyone for a really bad experience he knows is coming?

hawk316 2 years ago

REHawk, you're worried about "Elijah's aging body?" Seriously? How old is he? 21? Wait until he's MY age. That's when he really will have lost "confidence in those legs."

coloradojayhawk 2 years ago

I think he's referring to the various injuries and operations the Prophet has had on those legs.

jaybate 2 years ago

This not mentioning EJ's health appears to be reaching an absurd level of denial.

EJ wore strange, quilted looking knee wraps vs. SEMSU.

EJ could barely bend his legs in a defensive stance.

Camera close-ups of him walking to the locker room at half time showed him apparently limping.

Out on the floor, it appeared one leg would barely bend and the other appeared weak.

EJ fouls out against a minor major after almost never fouling out against anyone last season in a run to the Finals.

I write about EJ looking injured during the Newell Post Live and almost no one responds.

I post about EJ looking injured and almost no one responds. HEM, or someone, at least noted that EJ seemed to be bending over all of the time from fatigue, too.

I finally talked to a friend who was in the arena and said, "Am I crazy, or was EJ injured against SEMSU," and he says, "Yes, he sure looked injured to me. Looked sick too. Grabbing at his side."

Come on, LJW pros, what is going on with Elijah Johnson? It is okay for Self to try to mask injury and not say players are injured/sick, but the LJW pros that are at the game and have eyes. They can see if someone is limping.

This is pre-conference for gosh sakes. I don't care if EJ misses all of November and December. He's a proven quantity. All that matters is if he is well enough to start the conference schedule.

EJ healthy is a potentially superb player, maybe our best player. We need him getting well, not walking around like Joe Namath late in his career.

jaybate 2 years ago

dyna,

This must be a serious issue. You're playing it straight here. I feel the same way. EJ has given everything to this program and I can't bear the thought that something is seriously wrong.

REHawk 2 years ago

Sometime in the second half I had used that same Joe Namath allusion in reference to EJ while discussing his appearance with my wife. Obviously, his body was in a struggle last night. I think we are going to see more of BenMac on the ball for a spell; more of Tharpe, and opportunities for Rio and AW3 to get some experience...after the Michigan State game. Elijah would appear to be a player who needs careful maintenance and slower time to recover from his offseason surgery and rehab. The heading for Bedore's article is not at all reassuring to me.

jaybate 2 years ago

Thanks for the input, coach. Is it possible we've got some kind of nasty bug ripping through the team, too?

Right now, Perry, Ben Mac and Jamari are the only guys that look healthy and bouncy and strong.

You have mentioned wear and tear of a season. Is there something about playing for Self in particular that grinds the older guys down more than others? So many guys have looked looked like their bodies have worn out that have stayed for 3-4-5 years. Go down the list. Kaun could barely move by the end--both knees shot. Sherron lost his explosiveness the last season for sure. Cole was a shell of himself the last season, even though he could go 20 minutes hard late in the season. Jeff Withey came in looking healthy and strong, then mysteriously gained a lot of weight, then mysteriously began to look incredibly sick, lost more than he had gained, and literally could barely play at all. Last season Ty played on a scoped knee injury within ten days, but it did not seem to bother him too much. EJ never got the scope, and Travis played on lame ankle. Travis and EJ now appear shells of the athleticism they showed their first two seasons as bench warmers. Tyrel goes from a 46% trifectate his junior season to a 36-38 on a foot that needs immediate surgery after the season. Even Brady, who in some ways seemed the wiry indestructible type, seemed to slow down after that time he put in with that trainer out in California. I see a pattern hear of players wearing out. Are they gaining weight by means that are destructive? Is it the roughness of XTReme Muscle ball? Is it the roughness that Self unleashes in practice. Is there something about weight training work that Hudy uses? Is it playing Self defense? Is it being forced to play through injuries? What gives here?

I always look for anomalies in situations like this. EJ's long off season rehab stuck out like a sore thumb to me last summer and concerned me. Then there has been his subdued play, kind of like he exhibited the last half of last season, when he turned out to be compensating for a bum knee. He is one of those fantastically talented players that can find a way to play injured and still often produce better than the guy behind him.

And then there is the quote about him turning the team over to Naadir. The story left an implication that he was referring to his foul trouble causing Naadir to have to take over, but there was something in the tone of the quote that seemed way more final than just 4 fouls. EJ is so articulate that it is hard for him NOT to communicate. Just left me with an ominous feeling.

KULA 2 years ago

Good point about the Self regime grinding down players. The same point I've been making since Sherron's last season, when Bill ground him down to the nub, playing him 30-35 min/game in a season when they lost 2 games and averaged a 20pt margin of victory. Yes, there were no spare minutes to risk that year. It was absolutely necessary to keep Sherron in the game all those minutes (and not give EJ any minutes to develop). And we all saw that result--Sherron's legs were shot by March and he couldn't throw it in the ocean.

And the same case (on a weekend, as opposed to season-long scale) with The Wonderful Brady, when Bill played him 30+ min. against--who was it again?--in a proud papa attempt to get Player of the Game honors and a post-game interview on national TV for his fair-haired boy. With predictable results two days later, when Brady's legs were shot (the kindest explanation) and he couldn't throw it in the ocean against VCU.

And, as I fretted about as starter minutes piled up mid-season last year (which thankfully DIDN'T come to fruition)--how many races do you think a world class marathon runner can be competitive in each year? For an answer, reference the New Yorker article about Alberto Salazar earlier this year, the gist of which was, although a brilliant runner, he shortened his career and burnt himself out earlier than most by pushing too hard ALL THE TIME and not pacing himself.

jaybate 2 years ago

Another anomaly that jumps out is Andrew White III. He played well in Europe, but did not shoot too well there. No worry about the shooting. Strokes come and go. Next, Self said he played so well in Europe and during practice early on that he was going to be the first wing sub off the bench. Self only talks that way about a freshman, when a freshman can play adequate defense and has some particular skill the rotation needs. Its obvious that he can shoot the rock and the team needs that. And its not plausible that he could have played through Europe and the practices so far and been as poor on defense as he has shown against exhibition teams. You've been saying all along that you thought AW3 probably had the goods to play. He passes the eye test as being someone with the goods. And he evidences the kind of stability and character and seriousness of purpose in his quotes that suggest he has the goods. But then he gets in the game against ESU and he looks like a guy just dropped off from the YMCA on defense. No better against Washburn. Something appears up with AW3. I don't know what, but something appears to be. Maybe its just freshman-itis, a girl friend, or being far from home, but I sense there may be more to it. Could have to do with injury. Could have to do with not wanting to redshirt. Poppa made that 45 other schools wanted him comment. It was an anomaly. Real estate developers know how to control their mouths. They speak for a reason.

I can't tell what's up here. It could range anywhere from a couple thin recruiting classes to a physical training issue, to sickness, to sandbagging by Self.

Don't know what.

But it doesn't "feel" good.

hawk82 2 years ago

EJ is not ready, plain and simple. Bill has a huge decision to make. The MSU game likely will expose the issue to all.

Jack Wilson 2 years ago

jb: I do think you are on to something here. I didn't have time to go back and rewatch the entire game until late last night (I know, I'm slacking off there). Look, for those reading this, I don't think we're saying "for sure" or "beyond any doubt", EJ is hurt. I think it's just "look at the evidence."

  1. We know EJ had prior knee problems.

  2. Bill Self said of EJ after the Washburn game - "He knows he's not in shape." Very important quote.

  3. Look at the tape of the SEMO game. Literally at every play stoppage, EJ was leaning over at the waist, holding his shorts, out of breath. It is even more stark when you just watch EJ. This happened from the first runout of the game. Go to the 14:27 mark first half .. a decent stoppage with substitutions. EJ looks dead. Bent over the whole time. An interesting stretch is the 9:20 down to 8:55 first half. Just watch EJ. Again, he looks completely spent.

  4. What do players do when they are tired? They reach and don't move their feet. That results in fouls. EJ's result, fouling out vs. SEMO.

  5. Watch how he runs. It's stiff legged. You won't see him attacking the basket with the basketball ... for rebounds, or follows (understanding, of course, his job may be to get back on D and thus isn't supposed to many times). But when he was near the basket, no real leaping. As jb said, poor defensive stance too. Not bending at the knees.

  6. Look at the 13:35-40 mark of the first half. There is a scramble for the ball and EJ clearly comes up gingerly. It has the look of a guy who is hurting, and is guarding that injury. There was weird bounce he had after the play. The other option is a guy who like tweeked his ankle or something on that particular play. But I go with the former. He looks like a guy that has something going on and is limiting his movement. Guarded.

  7. Now look at the results. Starting with Europe, EJ is a combined 22 - 63 from the field (35%). The last three games, 36% (not counting Europe). And a horrible 9-35 from three (25.7%). Last three games 27.7%. Virtually the same as including Europe. Something is going on.

  8. And the most important one of all .. the eye test. He just does not look like the same player.

One might say -- alright, he's playing poorly because he's out of shape and not injured. Seems reasonable. But why is he out of shape? That important "why" question is what needs to be asked, as jb has pointed out before.

Ok, why in the world would your starting point guard not be in shape at this stage? A guy who is running all the time in practice, right? Doing conditioning. Running the point. He would run more than anyone, right? He should be in shape.

Except if he is not running. Why would he not be running? Self is holding him out of practice (and running) because he's injured.

As with the headline of this article, the opposite is many times true. LJW, we are interested.

jaybate 2 years ago

Solid take. More food for thought.

ParisHawk 2 years ago

When players are playing injured, Coach Self doesn't let on.

Remember Sherron was playing injured his freshman year and we only heard about it after the season was over? Same with Tyrel Reed: no mention until he went under the knife in April.

Zach Peters' rotator cuff never came up until he had to sit.

And all those times the LJW reporters never knew? Maybe not.

jaybate 2 years ago

Thx, slayr, that means a lot to me coming from a man who played the game for a living once.

Rock Chalk!

Mike Bratisax 2 years ago

For 4 years now we've been waiting for EJ to break-out and become the player we all hoped for...

Time is running out and so are excuses.

WindmillGIANT 2 years ago

I can't really say I'm glad that I'm not the only one who thought it was obvious that EJ didn't look right physically. The TV broadcast guys didn't even say anything. I kept thinking, "Do you guys not see this? What is going on?"

John Randall 2 years ago

Remember the game was on Jayhawk Network, where they toe the line or find another gig.

For those looking for precedents, Cole's sr season showed obvious respiratory problems most of the year and we still haven't heard anything about that. Have to wonder where the line is when long-term health of a player becomes secondary to squeezing out two more wins.

REHawk 2 years ago

kugrampy, I think he does care...so much that he is in a state of dismay at his body's condition. At the moment, the bounce has gone out of his game and his outlook. Sad situation for a player who has a final season shot at being rated as one of the premier guards in the country.

jaybate 2 years ago

kugrampy,

Oh, man, he cares so much it is killing him. I have met only a handful of persons in my whole life that could have played last season on a knee that needed 3 months of rehab after scoping just to get back to being able to work out some. Elijah Johnson is an absolute man. And he is smart. And he is team. And he is Jayhawk to the core. And he is willing to walk through walls for Self. And Self is apparently asking him to walk through a wall right now. If what we saw against SEMSU is any where near as bad as I suspect it is, 9 of 10 other players would probably already have hung up the tennies for a medical red shirt. I wouldn't be surprised if he does after the MSU game. I only hope its a bug, and not a really bad injury, or something.

RJ King 2 years ago

Exactly. The timing, in regards to his college career, really stinks. Love EJ's character - but lots of things here that are out of character. Even his tardy to class. Hurt too much, then decided to go? Lots to speculate.

Jonathan Allison 2 years ago

If EJ is seriously injured wouldn't Self have held him out of the game entirely instead of punishing him by starting him on the bench? That said, I can't deny that there may be something rotten in Denmark.

RJ King 2 years ago

good point. lost sight of that playing CSI

jaybate 2 years ago

Oh, yeah, Self understands Ratso totally.

And Self, rightly or wrongly, measures himself against Ratso now.

Sing it Tina!

"We don't need another hero..."

This could be bloodier than anyone expects.

Self is making no redshirt moves until after this one.

Mad Max grab your chain saw.

jayhawkinATL 2 years ago

On a completely different note:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/basketball/ncaa/11/09/ucla-muhammad-ineligible.ap/index.html?sct=cb_t2_a10

Thank god Self & Staff didn't land this dude. They must have heard the rumors.

jayhawkinATL 2 years ago

You'd think/hope. Anyway...Howland is desperate! This class was supposed to be his saving grace.

SaltLakeHawk 2 years ago

I found some video footage of Ben Howland reacting to this news:

Kye Clark 2 years ago

http://espn.go.com/los-angeles/ncb/story/_/id/8612665/shabazz-muhammad-ruled-ineligible-ucla-bruins

The ESPN link says the two schools were Duke & UNC. But regardless of which schools, they shouldn't be punished, as they weren't the ones paying for his travel & lodging. It was some "family friend."

John Randall 2 years ago

The violation wasn't traced to the schools. AAU coach was the only one cited.

702Hawk 2 years ago

KU didn't need to hear rumors. The NCAA came out last year and publicly warned the schools chasing him that there was a possibility for him not to be eligible. That was published on ESPN. The two schools in question are Duke and UNC. But I think there is way more to the NCAA decision than that. The Family friend was his high school coaches brother. His high school coach is Rice and his other brother is UNLV coach Rice.

I think they and Jaybate both think he was getting stuff from Adidas but couldn't prove it and so they are finding another reason to nix him.

milwaukeeJAYHAWK 2 years ago

Sports Illustrated curse, anyone? lol. He was on the regional cover for the week and I was a bit confused as to why it was him and not Withey....

jayhawkinATL 2 years ago

Speaking of SI, can't believe they have KU as #3. Andy Glockner even picks KU to win it all this year! I just think they are trying to make up for last year.

KansasComet 2 years ago

Maybe, just maybe Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford, and Jeff Withey are still a little banged up from playing against pro athletes in Europe? It was physical basketball against grown men. Just a thought.

Martin Rosenblum 2 years ago

I'm going with the conspiracy theory. EJ knows Izzo has been watching our games and he's trying to psych him into a different defensive game plan. Like a magician wiggling out of a straight-jacket at the last second before he would have faced doom, EJ will morph into a Chalmerseque floor leader and scorer and end up as the hero. He'll end up with a TripDub and everybody will forget about these exhib. performances, as they should.

702Hawk 2 years ago

I like where your mind is at.

jaybate 2 years ago

Never hoped for you to be right more than this time.

Rob Bedford III 2 years ago

Move Tharpe to starting PG and EJ back to a shooting guard.

kufaninmo 2 years ago

good point, but honestly, Bmac could play just about any position that kid is a FREAK athlete!!

NationalChampsKU 2 years ago

I like to come here read the articles and see what people have to say. Today I wish I hadn't. I've become seriously worried about Elijah and the KU program wearing out it's players.

Jaybate do you really thnk Self's practices are weakenng players the longer they stay? The thought of that is ruining my sunday.

RJ King 2 years ago

It's an interesting theory, but there would have to be information about all Top-25-ish D-1 programs so a comparison could be made. I don't know of such a study, so any program comparison would consist of anecdotal accounts.

jaybate 2 years ago

NationalChampsKU,

Please understand. I am as confused what IS going on. I just through out some possible explanations. I don't know what gives here. The most likely explanation in these sorts of things is random occurrences. But because there have been so many, and because I was doing so much handwringing about Elijah, whom I care very much about, because he has given so much to the program so unselfishly, I started brainstorming possible explanations.

But BayhawkAholic's point is crucial. Possible explanations, or hypotheses, are nothing more than that unless and until data were collected on other D1 programs indicating they have fewer injuries of these kinds.

The last thing I mean to do is cast aspersions on the greatest coach of the last ten years in college basketball. I am just trying to figure things out like others here.

Please forgive me for spoiling your day with my hand wringing.

Rock Chalk!!!

KULA 2 years ago

"Greatest coach..." Just to play devil's advocate, you might get an argument from Coach K, Roy, Jim Calhoun, or even that slimeball in Kentucky, all of whom have a greater amalgam of Final Fours and National Championships than Bill in that same period.

jaybate 2 years ago

"Ratso and Bill: Dyin' Time's Here"

The title above refers to a long ago movie called "Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome" that played when I was laboring through graduate school at the University of Wisconsin and twice a week being appalled by the way basketball was played in the Big Ten. The movie seemed to try to warn us all where the world was headed, and right though it may have been in some ways (though drastically off in others), I took it in a way Australian Director and genius George Miller probably never intended. To me it seemed an ominous foreshadowing of where my beloved game of basketball was heading, which is to me a fairly reliable barometer of where America is headed at any given time.

Once upon a time there was basketball game between a young KU basketball team, it was in Cole Aldrich's first season starting, as I recall. Point guard Sherron Collins fresh from a ring in 2008 was supposed to take 15 shots a game and carry the young team on his back. Early on it met a team from East Lansing Michigan coached by one Thomas Izzo. KU coach William Self, also fresh from a ring, faced Thomas Izzo. And this was not the first time William Self had faced Thomas Izzo. It turned out that Willliam and Thomas had had a few prior meetings, when William had coached the Fighting Illini. And William had gotten the better of Thomas a few times, but William had learned just how rough Thomas taught his players to play.

I frankly had though I had seen a lot of dirty basketball, having gone to graduate school at Madison, Wisconsin, in the dark ages of the 1980s and seen Big Ten Bang Ball for two ugly winters back when I still had a few inches of vertical and the will to shove leapers in intramurals.

But until I saw what Thomas Izzo instructed his players to do to KU that game, I did not truly grasp the resident evil in Thomas "UP" Izzo. And from that game forward, he became incontrovertibly (to me anyway) Ratso Izzo. I call him Ratso Izzo, not only because he has a rat-like face, but because he coaches as a rat would coach, were rats to gain intellect, opposed thumbs, and vocal chords. He moves up and down the side lines like a rat moves. After a dirty play, he smiles as a rat would smile. I do not call him Ratso Izzo, in reference to Dustin Hoffman's Ratso Rhizzo in John Boorman's sad, dreary "Midnight Cowboy." I have nicknamed him for rats that scurry in grain elevators eating the seed stock of the future, as he scurries through the seed stock of the future of the greatest game ever invented eating and destroying that seed stock.

jaybate 2 years ago

Part 2

"Dr. Dealgood: Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls... Dyin' time's here."

Ratso Izzo is not all bad. He has a wife and children. His players like him. He has won rings. He has reputedly done many charitable things for many people. He is reputedly an honest citizen and he is beloved by the Spartan faithful. These raise him to respectable...but for one thing.

Ratso Izzo has been a ring leader among those that took the greatest game ever invented by the scruff of its neck, and dragged it down in the sewer of XTReme Muscle ball. As I have noted before, his team was half of the ugliest National Final game ever played: the 2000 slug fest between MSU and Wisconsin. It was a game which will live in infamy and deservedly so.

Aunty Entity: Welcome, to another edition of Thunderdome!

KU plays MSU in Atlanta Tuesday night. With apologies to the fine citizens of Atlanta, think of Atlanta as a really nice version of Barter Town in Beyond Thunderdome, if only for this game.

Self has been warning players and fans about this MSU game for quite awhile now.

Self has clearly approached the early games so far not as tune-ups for a season, but training exercises for a hot war, as opportunities to prepare players for what is coming by firing a few live rounds over their heads.

And the troops have not looked totally squared away, or prepared for the violence they are likely to encounter in MSU.

Self himself seems a little out of character.

First time I've ever heard him say, as he did in reference to Kevin Young's one-handed return, "talking automatically brings energy as well."

Huh?

Haysoos Kreesto, I thought the last half of last season was through the looking glass!

Kevin's our best "talker?"

Is Self desperate for his own Mad Max, or what?

This season, Self has apparently already taken the team through the looking glass by November 11th and thrown the flipping little vanity mirror away to create a one way trip!!!!

Hey, how about we find another year of eligibility for dynamitehawk and put him on the bench and let him joke the other team out of their game, while we're at it! :-)

Self appears to be paradoxing on this MSU game--not unfamiliar technique for him.

On the one hand, he seems to have been building for the game, seems to be geeked about playing Ratso for bragging rights about which young team can survive such an early XTReme Muscle Game.

jaybate 2 years ago

Part 3

On the other hand, Self seems to be building for an "I told you so" moment to the team. Like if we get our clocks cleaned by 40 and a couple guys wind up with noses sticking out the back of their heads, Self gets to walk amongst the wounded saying, "See, I told you this was going to happen, if you played soft."

Self is trying to make this be about the team and not about him. That's a classic teflon move, if ever there were one.

So: I'm calling Self out on this here and now: man-up against Ratso in this game, don't just ask your players to man-up.

I don't care if our "crazy young" (Self's words), injury and perhaps sickness riddled team (my words) gets the snot kicked out of them by MSU, or pulls the game of their warm ups and whips a "crazy young" MSU team. MSU is probably younger than KU is.

I want to see Self amped to the roof top and fighting mad the minute the first punch/cheap shot is dished by MSU. I want him off the bench tearing the refs a new one and staring down Ratso. These players, the young ones and the old ones, need to see the old Self, not the one that played it so close to the vest the last two seasons, while coaching XTReme Cheap Shotting Lite.

Either that or I want Self cold as ice and ordering the reserves on the floor to go to work on MSU. I don't care if Self gets thrown out of this one. I don't care if some of our players get thrown out. I never want to see anyone injured in the greatest game ever invented, because it was designed to be a non contact sport. I always call for the referees to call the game the way it was intended. But its time for KU to stop bringing knives to gun fights with Ratso.

I keep an image of Cole Aldrich getting mugged against MSU in the back of my mind always. And so I want to take the fight to them. I don't care if we get beat by a hundred, because of it, or inspite of it.

Self crossed the Rubicon long ago on playing the XTReme Game. Joe and Norm and Kurtis are experienced enough to call the shots for him, if he gets tossed. Play it anyway Ratso wants.

jaybate 2 years ago

Part 4

Come out for warm ups in football helmets and shoulder pads, and start banging and slapping helmets. Put smoke bombs in the ear holes. Put a Ghetto blaster on the bench playing "Ride of the Valkyries" or Tina wailing "We Don't Need Another Hero..." Assign every player a flack jacket and a blackjack and have him cheer by waving it, so they know we are ready for a bench clearing brawl.

During the game, go down fighting this time, Bill. You, Bill. Confront Ratso.

And for every one of ours, take two of theirs. Start nothing. End everything. No pre-emption. Massive retaliation. Never do it with starters. Always use our reserves on his starters. When Ratso's players punch one of ours, we throw two of his down on their rotator cuffs the very next rebound. If they try to put one of our guys on the floor, Self brings reserves and puts two of theirs on their brain cases. Tell our bouncy new guys like Ben and Jamari not to take on air, until the blood has been let and the refs have to start calling fouls, then tell them to jump over, around and through their plodding mug ballers for a stream of dunks that result in separation.

Am I a hypocrite for feeling this way? Maybe, but until the rules change, this is how it is, as nearly as I can tell. So: remember the muggings Ratso has given.

Elijah Johnson appears to be laying it all on the line just to try to keep playing for this game in Thunderdome. The Prophet needs to be saved. Who will take the form of Mad Max?

Manning up starts with the coach.

It may be time to burr you're hair and enter Thunderdome in black leathers and boots for the sake of your team.

After you mentioned two packs and one piece of meat, slayr mentioned Thunderdome.

Two men enter. One man leaves.

That doesn't just go for the players, Bill.

Remember this quote from the movie, Bill.

"Mad Max: Thunderdome. How do I get in there?

Aunty Entity: That's easy. Pick a fight!"

There will be stretches of this game in which the refs will swallow their whistles. Ratso appears to know this. Bill appears to know this. The networks appear to know this. The NCAA appears to know this. The ADs appear to know this. The Chancellors appear to know this. The ShoeCos appear to know this. All god's children appear to know this.

"Dr. Dealgood: [giving instructions to Mad Max and Blaster prior to their battle] Thunderdome's simple. Get to the weapons, use them any way you can. I know you won't break the rules, because there aren't any."

jaybate 2 years ago

Part 5

So why do we even bother to play the greatest game ever invented, if we have to play the XTReme Game in order to stay competitive? Why don't we just say the game has been coopted and corrupted and walk away? Maybe start the Naismith College Basketball Association and start over.

"Savannah Nix: Time counts and keeps countin', and we knows now finding the trick of what's been and lost ain't no easy ride. But that's our trek, we gotta' travel it. And there ain't nobody knows where it's gonna' lead. Still in all, every night we does the tell, so that we 'member who we was and where we came from... but most of all we 'members the man that finded us, him that came the salvage. And we lights the city, not just for him, but for all of them that are still out there. 'Cause we knows there come a night, when they sees the distant light, and they'll be comin' home."

We remember the rules David Boothe bought and still can't find a place for--still can't put in a box and light up for all to find.

We remember James Naismith and his ideals.

We remember how the rules were once called and could be again.

And our brave young men return to the hardwood after all of us having tried to remember and shake our heads in sorrow, but then set the bonfires and rally round our team hearing the dreaded chant that echoes more and more through Barter Town.

"Two men enter. One man leaves."

Woe is the greatest game ever invented.

"Two men enter. One man leaves."

Woe to the players that must play it this way.

"Two men enter. One man leaves."

Woe to the fans that must cheer it this way.

"Two men enter. One man leaves."

Rock Chalk!

jaybate 2 years ago

Thx for weighing in. That's certainly a possible contributing factor.

Martin Rosenblum 2 years ago

What if.....

There was some sort of weird curse invoked in Columbia upon their departure from the B12?

HCBS has secretly been having Hudy tweak some of her sessions rendering players at less than their peak in order to make fans more humble and take some of the lofty expectations down a notch? (We have been getting spoiled)

DManning really was the glue all along and now with him gone, the exposure is troubling?

The sportsbooks in Vegas have covertly taken control of their native son and are manipulating his play for their benefit?

dylans 2 years ago

Wasn't EJ hurt over the summer and that's why he's a little behind in his conditioning? Did he have knee surgery or just a nagging sprain? Help me out if anyone recalls. Thanks

REHawk 2 years ago

jb, I did not intend to open such a deep can of worms in my pointing out the exhausting agonies of Miles and Co. who played their hearts out in so many minutes, back in their final year. But for the benching of freshman Russ Rob, there was very little substitute help for those senior players who had been recruited by Roy Williams, then spent two years with Bill Self. In retrospect, it is amazing that those players and their new coach adjusted so well as they did to playing winning basketball. But I digress. My point is that players everywhere, esp. those aged 22 or 23, seem often to flag and sputter by season's end when they are faced with 30+ minutes of play, game in and out, under the stress of championship expectations. Freshmen and sophomores would seem to possess more bounce and energy, although they are hampered by lack of know-how by way of less experience. So far, but for brief spurts, our 3 senior starters already appear hampered by the stress of, perhaps, a variety of factors, some of which you have pointed out. And, yeah, the coach is a wily fox who might have been in the process of overworking players through these first 3 contests in order to present a face of listless exhaustion for opposing scouts and reviewers of game tape; covering all bases prior to opening day for the "real" competition. That said, I cannot but think there is a serious problem facing EJ. He has been a patient warrior, committed to walking through walls, as you say, for his coach and the program. Would be a miserable shame for him to tack through a senior season at half mast...or perhaps drop sail and sit out the entire 5 month storm. Maybe this is an overreaction at this stage; but a review of the SEMO game appears to bode ill for EJ in this month of November.

D20 2 years ago

Two points I wanted to make:

  1. Regarding the injury conspiracies... I think that one has to keep in mind that these players are playing very long seasons of 30+ games at a very physical level. That is obviously going to take a toll on the players' bodies, no matter their age and condition. I can't imagine a scenerio where the coaching staff are knowingly overextending the players with regards to conditioning/forcing them to hazardously play on injuries. That would not help the coaches see players move on to the NBA, which seems to be an important résumé builder for recruitment purposes. Maybe I just don't want to see the negative, but it's just too hard to fathom. Why would the players subject themselves to that when there's money to be made at the next level? Why would a Brandon Rush suffer a major injury and then come back to play for someone who was just gonna do it again to him and ruin his career? It just doesn't make sense.

  2. When it comes to this years' team, I think that we have some real potential, but it's gonna take a while. Not only do we have a lot of freshmen, and not only did we lose Ty and TRob, but we also had significant staff turnover. I think that is as big of an adjustment as anything for Self to make. I think we still have a great staff and talented players, but it's gonna take a while. We might not get quite the number of victories that we're use to, but we will be good.

yovoy 2 years ago

19:02, 1st. Started there. He was fine, then he wasn't. Looks like he got a shot in the side, started leaning then. Seemed to favor his left side a bit. I remember a shot of him coming to the bench and he was grimacing. I wondered if he had a stomach bug, or if he might be having cramps from something else. Or if he'd gotten a shot in the solar plexus. He's not in shape and maybe a little injured. I'm shocked because at the end of last year his conditioning and "size" showed the work he'd put in. He looked like a horse during the tourney. He looked bigger and better than he had all year. His role grew, and his physical size seemed to grow with it. He might be changing up his weights/nutrition to get his body to a more prototypical PG physique. He will be expected to play more mpg, so maybe he's "retooling", losing some weight, and he's just a bit weak as he hasn't adapted to it yet. He looked the most winded of all the players going into the tunnel at half. Maybe it's a case of "heavy weighs the crown"?

No matter what the "problem" is, I'm of the same opinion as the headline of this story.

When he's on the bench, he's still the player he was, up cheering and being the best teammate he can be. He'll work into shape and/or get over any illness/injury. He's not our only hope, but he and Relly need to play like the Seniors they are. Releford had about the worst game I've seen him have in the years he's played. Except for a few plays in transtion, his physical and mental presence were unusually absent.

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