Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Opinion: Jeff Withey does it all for KU

Kansas guard Travis Releford celebrates a bucket by center Jeff Withey and a foul by Saint Louis in the second half of the championship game of the CBE Classic, Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

Kansas guard Travis Releford celebrates a bucket by center Jeff Withey and a foul by Saint Louis in the second half of the championship game of the CBE Classic, Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.


Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self

Kansas coach Bill Self talks to reporters following the Jayhawks' 73-59 victory over Saint Louis on Nov. 20, 2012.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Jeff Withey and Travis Releford

Jeff Withey and Travis Releford talk to reporters following the Jayhawks' 73-59 victory over Saint Louis on Nov. 20, 2012.

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Box score


The outrageously wide wingspan of Kansas University senior center Jeff Withey never touched more facets of a basketball game in the finishing minutes than it did Tuesday night in the CBE Classic title game in the Sprint Center.

A die-hard Saint Louis University basketball team would draw closer, only to see Withey, always close to the basket, push his team back to a safe lead.

Withey ran the floor hard to establish position at both ends, didn’t let anybody shove him out of the way and put his signature all over a 73-59 victory in which KU played high-quality November basketball for the second night in a row.

Withey attempted just 12 shots from the field and scored 25 points to go with seven blocked shots, two steals and five rebounds. He scored 12 of his team’s final 16 points, and the closer the game became, the more he impacted it.

Kansas had a double-digit lead from the 9:50 point of the first half until the 3:51 mark of the second half, when Cody Ellis hit a three-pointer to cut the KU lead to 65-56.

In a span of 1:34, Withey scored the next six points on a driving bank, a dunk and two free throws to put the game safely away.

His scoring total matched a career-high, but Saint Louis coach Jim Crews spent more time talking about what Withey did at the other end of the court.

“We like to go inside with several of the guys,” Crews said. “He makes it a little bit more difficult to do that, even if it’s not his man.”

The best indication of how extensively Withey disrupted SLU can’t be found next to his name in the box score, rather in the shooting totals of the Billikens. Frustrated into taking their chances outside of Withey’s long reach, they attempted an identical number of three-pointers (26) as two-point field goals and made more threes (10) than shots inside the semi-circle (eight).

“He’s good,” Crews said. “Some shot-blockers are good on the ball. Some are good off the ball. He seems to have a pretty good knack of doing both and staying out of foul trouble. So certainly salute him on that.”

The former Army head coach doesn’t dispense salutes liberally, so he clearly has a great deal of respect for Withey’s game.

The KU center was whistled for just one foul, and his official block total was seven, but it would be interesting to hear what a curious fan might find by watching the entire game again with the sole purpose of keeping track of Withey’s blocks. It seems blocked shots are the least accurate figures in sports, doesn’t it?

“I have no idea,” Withey said. “I don’t count them in my head or anything. It goes either way. Sometimes they might give you one when you don’t or miss one when you do. It goes either way.”

Nice of him to say that, and it’s not surprising he doesn’t track them in his head, but he never gets credit for a block when he shouldn’t and seemingly, like all shot-blockers, doesn’t get credit for all of his rejections.

Anyway, his statistics don’t make teammates grateful. His presence does.

“We appreciate it as players, the coaches, we see and know what Jeff does for the team,” fellow senior Travis Releford said. “He helps out a lot. He takes a lot of pressure off of guards defending because if we get beat we know we’ve got Jeff back there to alter the guy’s shot. We definitely appreciate that a whole lot.”

And Withey appreciates them for feeding him the ball. Johnson assisted two of Withey’s buckets during his 12-point flurry, Kevin Young one and Ben McLemore another.

“I definitely don’t mind it,” Withey said of the closer role he performed against Saint Louis. “It definitely wasn’t just me. My teammates did it all for me. They were throwing the ball perfect. All I did was have to catch it and go up. They were making great passes, and they made it really easy for me. That’s something we do in practice, and that’s something our guards are getting really good at. It’s giving me confidence and making me more aggressive. I definitely don’t mind being the closer though.”

The closer. The rejector. The low-post scorer. The free-throw shooter (11 of 14). Withey did it all for Kansas in this one, especially when it counted most. The exhibition game through which he somnambulated didn’t count, remember? Maybe he was just playing possum to see if anybody would fall for it.


RJ King 8 years, 5 months ago

Finally. A Withey Stank Face 2012 sighting.

RJ King 8 years, 5 months ago

"It seems blocked shots are the least accurate figures in sports, doesn’t it?"


Keegan: Either be folksy, cute, and conversational, or strive for academia and Pulitzer-ish.

(It's like having Two Buck Chuck with a 5 star Duck L'orange. Pick one. Here's a word: incongurous)

Jim Roth 8 years, 5 months ago

Your criticism is incongruous with your spelling!

yates33333 8 years, 5 months ago

incongruously. Give him some slack.

Actually this is an excellent column. The counters don't give shot blockers credit for some shot blocks and the reason why isn't apparent. Withey probably had twelve or thirteen blocks. I lost track early in the second half.

RJ King 8 years, 4 months ago

thanks for the help D. And true about shot blocking stats.

I was mocking Keegan for using the phrase, "doesn't it? (as though he's sitting next to us on the couch), alongside the Spelling Bee entry, "somnabulated."

Kind of seems bizarre, conflicting, discordant, disparate, extraneous, incoherent, incompatible, inconsistent, irregular, jumbled, mismatched, shifting, unbalanced, uncoordinated, unpredictable, unrelated, or, um . . . incongruous . . . doesn't it?

Jim Roth 8 years, 4 months ago

Sorry BayHawk, I was merely trying to be folksy and cute. I don't usually worry about mere typos from my ivory tower....

Eliott Reeder 8 years, 5 months ago

Um... actually, "incongurous" ain't a word big fella...

Eliott Reeder 8 years, 5 months ago

You beat me to it Tundra! BTW... I hear there's a lotta 'Publicans incongurous these days...

John Randall 8 years, 4 months ago

That's not all you don't worry about.

When criticizing writing, it matters whether you write badly.

RJ King 8 years, 4 months ago

geez . . . am I the only one who types with my thumb on a phone while actually watching the road???

KULA 8 years, 4 months ago

Wow, do you really think your snide critique of a small town newspaper writer is important enough to be posting while you're driving? If the "Bay" in your name refers to the SF Bay, what you're doing is illegal in this state. Put your frigging phone down before you have a wreck and kill someone.

RJ King 8 years, 4 months ago

LU - Let me come clean. I was speaking figuratively and trying to make a joke. It was neither true or funny. I was actually at my computer at home trying to relax and wind down after extreme focus during a 10-hr work shift and a 90-minute late night drive back home.

FYI, on the road I occasionally look at Inrix. I occasionally text a "yes" or "no" to spouse or child when at a stoplight. (Yes, I know that's illegal - just coming completely clean.) I haven't had an accident in over 40 years of driving, so you're probably not at greater risk driving in CA with me on the road.

I get critiqued all the time for my work. It's not snide, it's part of honing your craft. Many of Keegan's articles are a rough read because he changes the tone mid-stream. It's like having a country song morph into a rock anthem, and then switch to a pop ballad. Oftentimes he just trails off without any sort of concluding paragraph. There's a difference between offering specific technical suggestions for improvement, and the name calling and merciless, mean-spirited bashing posted by some.

Keegan gets paid for writing. His product is fair game for criticism, just as is Bill Self's or Dick Vitale's. It is reasonable to expect a certain quality product from people who are paid to produce it.

My problem is with the grammar and spelling police who jump all over fellow posters when they make a mistake. I obviously didn't proofread my first post, or think through my second. Texting while driving was a very poor example - not funny, and not even true. My bad for misrepresenting myself, and for the lack of humor.

What I should have said, is that we don't know what else others are doing when they contribute to this site. There are many posters using Siri, using a computer at age 80, waiting in a doctors office, without their reading glasses, sitting in a crowded lunchroom, and so on. We fellow posters need to ease up on one another. We're only human, and we're on the same side.

mojayhawk 8 years, 5 months ago

"Somnambulate" is what I plan to do at work the day after Thanksgiving.

Andy Godwin 8 years, 5 months ago

Being on of Withey's biggest critics this season it was nice to see him play with energy from the beginning to the end of the game. This type of effort will be needed night in and night out for KU to be successful.

Michael Bratisax 8 years, 4 months ago

Still wouldn't mind seeing him go to the basket a little more aggressively but he has put in the hard work and it's good seeing it pay off.

UncleMiltyN 8 years, 5 months ago

Is it just me or does this article seem like it was written by a junior high kid tryin a little too hard to be cool

VaJay 8 years, 5 months ago

ok, ok, ok. The article was fine except for the interesting finish. Just enjoy the remarks about Withey and the fact that we are very lucky he decided to stay here this season & not go pro yet!

Woody Cragg 8 years, 5 months ago

We never knew who'd show up last year. Please be different this season Jeff?

mikehawk 8 years, 5 months ago

Love the "stank face" comment. We noticed it last night watching the game and know it reflects Jeff is INTO IT. My wife and I didn't have a name for when Jeff gets that look, but I'm going with stank face for the rest of this season. Come on, Jeff...more stank face!

archercc 8 years, 5 months ago

Probably the biggest spark to Withey's game last night was excellent perimeter play in the first half. They wanted to key on Jeff and kept him quiet in the first half and had they not drained those open looks could have continued to. Travis's points lead to Jeffs, as SLU had to play honest defense and definitely didn't have the size to match up.

Dirk Medema 8 years, 5 months ago

The mobile athleticism at the 4 this year should play into so much more PT for Withey this year, and puts him into more of a Cole-ish role. Already, the team seems to be rounding into form and function. Now Coach can spend the next few months refining the execution. It must be ominous to play anywhere else in the Big 12 in particular.

PSM 8 years, 5 months ago

A lot of users are too critical of Tom Keegan. He writes decent articles and has a depth of sports knowledge and media experience to draw from. And stuff like that.

UncleMiltyN 8 years, 5 months ago

First, you're probably right. Maybe I just got out on the wrong side of the bed this morning. I don't think I've ever been critical of Keegan before. This one just didn't seem like something a Sports Editor with 30+ years of experience would put out.

Michael Bratisax 8 years, 4 months ago

I agree 100%. I always look forward to his articles

Ludwig Supraphonic 8 years, 5 months ago

Loved the ESPN in game comments regarding KUs inability to prepare bigs for the NBA. It made me hope recruits were not sufficiently gullible to find these guys credible. Those of you who watched the SEMS game on ESPN3 may have seen the Kentucky Insider recruiting infomercial at halftime. Caligula schmoozed at a lunchcounter with Joe B Hall and noted an NCAA championship was of lesser import than placing 6 in the first round. This year his goal is seven. He opined about his need to make sure he wasn't the only one making money. What a humanitarian. Though I must applaud ESPN for providing this public service message.

Andrew Moore 8 years, 5 months ago

I agree, the in game comments on ESPN from Bardo about big men not succeeding in the NBA because KU's system makes the game too easy for them is ridiculous. If anything, it got players to the NBA who wouldn't have gone their otherwise. It doesn't mean that players didn't develop or were not prepared.

The reason KU's big men haven't been successful in the NBA has four parts.

1) they are mostly young players and its too soon to tell (Morris Twins, T-Rob, Cole) or 2) Injuries have prevented great careers (Darrell Arthur, Wayne Simien) or 3) Were fringe talents to begin with (Darnell Jackson, Sasha Kaun (great career in Russia could probably play in NBA if he wanted to) and 4) Left school too soon and wasn't ready to contribute and then didn't develop (Julian Wright)

Sam Constance 8 years, 5 months ago

Any "analyst" who somehow thinks that post moves only involve things that a big man does while possessing the ball is nothing more than a hot-air blowing hack.

I imagine someone like Bill Walton (whatever happened to him calling games--LOVED his take on things) would say that more of the "post moves" revolve around getting into position before you even get the ball.

And you raise a great point about getting players to the NBA as big men that probably wouldn't have gone otherwise. Arthur is probably the lone exception to that notion, as he was highly-touted coming out of HS and may have lost draft stock because he was willing to buy into being a part of a team, and look where it got him...

Michael Bratisax 8 years, 4 months ago

False rumors on draft night and some really bad luck w/injuries have hurt DA the most BUT he hasn't quit and I still believe his career is a long way from being over.

wildjayhawk 8 years, 5 months ago

Good article Tom, some of these morons don't appreciate or not smart enough to understand good articles.

HawksWin 8 years, 5 months ago

Good article.

Have you noticed when Jeff pulls/holds/inserts his mouth guard, how much/many germs from other players' hands are going into his mouth? Hey, this is the germ season & can't have our players sick with flu. Wonder if refs sanitize the balls. Hey, student manager?

Michael Sillman 8 years, 5 months ago

For the sake of some of the posters here, we need to change the law that requires everyone to read Keegan's columns and comment on them. I'll cast the first vote in favor of repealing the regulation.

Mark Lindrud 8 years, 5 months ago

He finally showed life the last few nights, but I want consistency from him. Can he do something similar night in and night out? I'm hopeful, but lets see how he handles double teams and the other defensive issues he will probably face. The other issue is Young cant score, which may make it difficult so I need to see more, but I'm hopeful.

John Randall 8 years, 4 months ago

I'm not so sure Young can't score – he just puts more energy into things that are more important to the team.

Kit Duncan 8 years, 4 months ago

Nice article Tom. Please disregard the foolish comments from the people most likely to have read Cliff Notes to do their homework instead of the real thing. One paragraph does not make the rest of the article a poor read. Besides, I thought it was clever of you to refer to Withey "somnambulating" rather than the harsher term "sleeping".

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