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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ring out the old: Jayhawks sport jewelry at Media Day

The four Kansas seniors from left, Elijah Johnson, Kevin Young, Jeff Withey and Travis Releford joke around before taking their places at the interview table during Big 12 Media Day on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. Coaches and players representing each school in the conference were available for interviews.

The four Kansas seniors from left, Elijah Johnson, Kevin Young, Jeff Withey and Travis Releford joke around before taking their places at the interview table during Big 12 Media Day on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. Coaches and players representing each school in the conference were available for interviews.

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— Kansas University’s four senior basketball players brought out the bling for Wednesday’s Big 12 Media Day festivities in Sprint Center.

Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford, Jeff Withey and Kevin Young each wore their NCAA Final Four/Big 12 title rings, with their intent NOT to be boastful around players and coaches from the other nine league teams.

“No. No. No. We’ve not been walking around flashing them in everybody’s faces,” KU senior guard Releford said. “We kind of don’t have to because they are huge.

“We know it’s our last time wearing these rings. We can’t be midseason wearing (NCAA) runner-up rings. We’ve got to put that in the past and go out and try to compete and win another one.”

Withey wore a KU letter jacket for what he called a “special occasion.” Releford sported a jacket with a Jayhawk on it, and point guard Johnson wore a Final Four jacket. Young had no jacket but like his buddies wore a collared shirt and tie.

“It says, ‘Runner-up,’’’ Withey said of his ring, that also documented KU’s eighth-straight Big 12 title. “That makes you think every day. I want one that says ‘National championship.’”

Or as senior forward Young noted: “I take pride in it (ring). We did earn it, but we want more.”

Young, a 6-foot-8, 190-pounder from Perris, Calif., was part of the “hard-news” portion of coach Bill Self’s 45-minute sit-down session with media members.

“Kevin to me is ahead of everybody right now because of his energy,” Self said, referring to the starting-power-forward slot next to center Withey. “He’s played better than the other guys, but he should be playing better (as senior).

“Kevin is not a natural scorer. Perry (Ellis, freshman) is more a natural scorer, which complements Jeff. Right now, I just want those guys being aggressive at all times, then we’ll try to start putting it together in a couple weeks. There are so many unknowns with Perry, so many unknowns with Jamari (Traylor, red-shirt freshman forward). Obviously Zach (Peters, freshman forward, shoulder injury) is not out there. Right now, everybody is on a level playing field.”

A reporter asked Self if Young’s energy could make him a good candidate for first man off the bench.

“Could be,” Self said. “I’m not going to tell him that right now because I think he’s worked hard enough to start without question.”

As far as the questions about his rotation, Self said: “We’ll start the season playing nine, then it will go to eight, and who knows where it will go after that? We could have a 10th, 11th (man) that will be pretty disappointed because they are pretty good. Last year we had a happy locker room. Everybody knew exactly what their role was and who was going to play and that kind of stuff. This year will be different. There will be some guys disappointed. That also brings out competition, which is good.”

Self said that, so far, the seniors have been the ones who have stood out at practice.

“They didn’t play well in Europe (on August tour). Kevin did OK, but Jeff, Elijah and Travis didn’t,” Self said. “They’ve been better since practice started. Of the freshmen, I’d say Ben (McLemore) and Jamari (have stood out). They have come a long way the last couple months.”

Self said he thinks “we have the potential to be good defensively. Offensively, I don’t know if we can score inside on the block enough.

“We probably will shoot more jump shots than we have at any point in time since I’ve been here. I’m not sure that’s a strength. We should play through our bigs more. We have a lot of guys that can rise up and make a shot. Hopefully we won’t become a jump-shooting team so to speak, but probably more this year than past.”

It’s all a work in progress. The Jayhawks have had just four practices since Friday’s Late Night in the Phog.

“I told them I’d be as hard on them as any group ever. I don’t know if that’s (been) exactly true because they try so hard,” Self said of his team, which includes seven scholarship freshmen he referred to as “puppies.”

“I haven’t had any reason to be really frustrated with them yet.”

Comments

TexasHawk44 1 year, 6 months ago

Nope, Hell is knowing there are so many donkeys that so blindly dance to the rhythm of a wooden spoon clanking an iron skillet. Sadly there are so many "fans" on this board who seem entranced by the sound of running water. Criticize me all you like, but anyone who thinks Jaybate is insightful or clever needs to look for a new role model. I might suggest Elmo... NEXT....

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REHawk 1 year, 6 months ago

You clunkers who keep ragging on jaybate are growing tiresome. Get a life!

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TexasHawk44 1 year, 6 months ago

I am pretty certain that Hell somehow involves Jaybate and HEM's rambling babble playing over and over on a loop.

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jaybate 1 year, 6 months ago

Makaka,

Thanks for the help. FWIW, we also don't dunk, or stuff either. Dunk implies pulling the ball back out and stuff implies the rim isn't twice the size of the ball. We actually push the ball down through the rim and let go of it. But something's are fun to say.

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makaha_mike 1 year, 6 months ago

Note to Jaybate: We don't "row" outriggers here in Polynesia, we paddle them. (We like to see where we are going.)

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JayDocMD 1 year, 6 months ago

Vonleh cut his list to 6 and we didnt make the cut according to zagsblog.com. Final 6 are UConn, Georgetown, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio State and Syracuse.

Not sure how much of a chance we ever had, but that's one less big man option to fill out our 2013 class.

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jhawkln 1 year, 6 months ago

Withey is a stud. Self will continue to make 'jump shot' comments all year to keep the fire lit under Withey's feet. Withey is a work horse and HCBS knows, as does Withey, that he needs that fuel. This team should be in the Final Four this year, no question.

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Ron Franklin 1 year, 6 months ago

My nightmare is reality. Withey didn't develop any low post moves in the offseason. All of those years with Danny, European trips, and Pro Camps and still nothing except his mini jump hook from the block? Dang it.

Who will win the low block positioning when we have to go inside?

Passive Perry and Wiry Withey?

Or

Tractor Traylor and Killer KY

We have got to get 35-40 ppg out of those four.

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Chris Shaw 1 year, 6 months ago

I love the Kentucky fans who come on this board! Makes my day! Does anybody think that Self wouldn't choose EJ over Harrow, Withey over Noel, McLemore over Goodwin, or Ellis over Poythress?

Much like Liggins and Miller, KU has T-Relly and KY. I think KU will be just fine.

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bdsnook 1 year, 6 months ago

With your headline mentioning the rings, your photog didn't find it worthy to take a photo of said rings?

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jaybate 1 year, 6 months ago

Part 6

Many others thought of it. But only Nimitz was the exact right person, in the exact right circumstance, with the exact remaining kinds of ships, to make the leap into carrier based task force warfare.

Bill Self, if he can resist the temptation to stay in the prison of his fantastically successful experience (and it is a huge temptation), has an opportunity here to take Self Ball to the next nonlinear leap.

He has clearly shown the Basketball IQ and the Basketball Mental Flexibility rating to be equipped to make this leap.

But can he find a way to escape the prison of his experience in time.

Before the Yamamoto's of college basketball try to cross the t's and dot the i's on him with their vast fleets of dreadnaughts.

This then is the crisis the campaign distills to.

Anchors aweigh, Bill, welcome to the really big water.

This is the battle costing not less than everything.

The Battle of Bothness freed from your experience of your won history, but not from history itself.

All hands on deck!

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jaybate 1 year, 6 months ago

Part 5

But where's the muscle in the XTReme Muscle era? The muscle that allows one to run and bump with a long and strong fleet like Kentucky and play grind it out with point blank barrages in a narrow slot with a Purdue armored below the water line to the hilt.

Experienced muscle is lacking even with the USS Peters, and there isn't any muscle at all without the Peters.

What Self has to do is find a way to play high low with mobile aircraft carries that dare not grind it out on the low blocks but briefly in surprise attacks.

Or Self has to jettison his doctrine and philosophy. I don't see him making that leap. Nimitz was still a US Naval office operating with connection to the long thread of US Naval doctrine when he went nonlinear and leap frogged into carrier driven task force warfare. He just took the next step of fleet warfare based available ships and technology carefully woven into the continuity of combined warfare operations pioneered by drunken genius and land lubber Ulysses S. Grant, of West Point of all places.

Yes, you see it was dog face General Grant on the Western front of the Civil War that pioneered the integration of high mobility combined sea land operations that revolutionized modern warfare. It was Grant the English and the Germans, especially von Schlieffen, studied so intensely afterwards, only to get caught up in the prisons of their own experiences, while trying to emulate and adapt the great Grant to the continent in WWII.

And it was Grant's mental flexibility (mental flexibility is increasingly coming to be understood as more vital than IQ in brilliance of innovation and execution, though both are to be cherished and nurtured) that Nimitz was also suffused through out World War II. He wasn't just a good poker player. He understood "bothness."

And that mental flexibility, combined with a military culture torn between a tradition of Grant's revelation of combined operations, with the traditional bureaucratic turf controlling separation of Navy think and Army think allowed Nimitz, under the command of Admiral King, and the absolute unparalleled master shaman of bothness, President Franklin Roosevelt, that enabled the nonlinear leap that Nimitz made.

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jaybate 1 year, 6 months ago

Part 4

Self has proven awesomely flexible within his preferred format. He has found ways to play win with 7 guys, 8 guys, 10 guys. He has found ways to play and win down the middle and inside out and even on the wings at times. He has recalled weaves and pick and rolls, and lobs and outside aerial bombardment and inside ramming.

But he has never had to dot the "i's" and cross the "t's" in a naval campaign without at least one, or two certifiably brawny battle wagons capable of playing the XTReme Game, when someone wanted to.

Self either has to change out of this comfort zone dependence on brawn meets brawn, or he has to teach his skinny pocket battle ship bigs karate, or he has to cobble up some wooden flight decks on these cruisers and call them something new, like aircraft carriers. And he has to devise new strategy and tactics, like Nimitz did fighting task force style.

The problem of Self doing a Nimitz transformation is compounded, however, by Self's vaunted and proven "Play it anyway they want" doctrine, and its deep Tumble Weed Buddhism philosophy, enmeshed with the US Marine Corp ethos of battle plans with "Whatever it takes" improvisation in the heat of battle, plus never let your buddy down.

Why is this a potentially compounding problem?

Because Self can't play it anyway they want this season, not all the time, because he lacks the XTReme Muscle Ballers inside--not unless the USS Withey, USS Young, USS Ellis take some kind of top secret elixir that makes them massively stronger pound for pound than any pocket battle ships ever seen before.

So: its not just that he lacks XTReme Muscle, its that that lack hampers his doctrine and philosophy.

This is why this season is the greatest challenge Self has ever faced at KU, and probably anytime in his career since he started without ships entirely at ORU.

The material looks very, very good, and it is. There is a lot of material and much of it is good. There is a wonderful mixture of experience and youth, though sophomore junior middle is thin.

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jaybate 1 year, 6 months ago

Part 3

Alas, the Peters tore its yard arm, er, its rotator cuff, and is back in dry dock for at least a month, and these cuff injuries have a nasty habit of rendering yard arms permanently useless. The ancient USS Bill Bridges once upon time could rebound on the high seas without knees. The USS Thomas Robinson last season got to where he could and did rebound with only partially functional elbows and knees in the hazardous waters down the stretch. But can Admiral Self reasonably expect a newly laid down hull to play one yard-armed and be battle effective in the relatively calm seas of non-conference, much less the tropical storms of conference, and the outright typhoon season of March and April?

Admiral Chester Nimitz, CINCAC, WWII, facing such misfits between past experience and harrowing present realities, decided to break out of the brig of his past, and rewrite strategy and tactics from battle wagon centered fleets, to highly mobile aircraft carrier centered task forces.

Nimitz was a rather unsung fellow with little combat experience before rendezvousing with his destiny. So: in some ways he had only the education and indoctrination of the Naval Academy and the Navy to overcome in his mind.

Self, on the other hand, appears to be facing the greatest challenge in his already lengthy and remarkable career. In short, Bill has a lot more battle experience forming a larger mental prison to escape than Nimitz had.

Can Self escape the prison of his experience, as Nimitz did his, and so craft a mobile carrier based task force strategy that divides the XTReme Muscle fleets, strikes fast and fiercely, and the opponents' greatest vulnerabilities--mobility and flexibility--and route an often more powerful opponent by playing a different kind of game?

Most admirals (and most coaches) cannot make such XTReme changes from their past experience effectively (and the operant word is effectively). All try, but few have the knack. The prison bars of experience restrain them from taking the audacious, but elegantly fitting, next step.

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jaybate 1 year, 6 months ago

Part 2

So: given the perimeter talent on hand, imprisonment in the experience brig outside is not likely a problem for Team Jayhawk 2012-13

Which brings us to the big ships, the battle wagons, operating at the center of the fleet, in the paint, the blocks, the war zone, the no man's land without barbed wire, the realm of XTReme Muscle, the forearm smash zone, the domain of pain, the butcher blocks, the rectangle of mangle, etc.

Here the prison of experience gets more problematic. Self has Jeff Withey and Kevin Young for experienced battleships. These two fellows are experienced, skilled basketball players that have been through the wars and know how to give Self what he wants. So: que es la problema?

Well, one weighs 235 on a 7-0 and not very beamy frame, while the other at 180-190 on a 6-8 frame looks at times less beamy than an out rigger on a Polynesian rowing hull. These two would have been considered heavy, or light cruisers back in the age of skinny battle ships like Kareem Jabbar and Tom Burleson. In today's game, it is practically like sending out sub chasers into harm's way of beamy super dreadnaughts.

Self also has the latest new hull--a slightly beamier and fundamentally sound natural scorer in 6-8 225 pound Perry Ellis--to set to sea with. But 225 is a minimum of 15-20 pounds still too light of displacement for the dreadnaughts that will range from 240-260 pounds with a Yamato or two tipping in at 280-300 pound displacements.

If Admiral Self tries to go to sea for a season with the USS Withey and USS Young, and even with the freshly laid down 6-8 225 pound displacement USS Ellis in a three battle wagon rotation, and play it the way the last ten KU teams, especially the last 3 have played the game, this seems a fleet destined to wind up on the bottom of some D1 equivalent of Lead Bottom Sound, heroic, but overwhelmed and sunk.

Self, looking at his fleet and his charts, has to recognize this. And it has to have been why he was so upbeat (and almost thankful) about the freshly laid down 245-pound displacement USS Zachary Peters steaming out of a Texas basketball ship yard just in time for this naval campaign out of the inland port of Lawrence, Kansas.

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jaybate 1 year, 6 months ago

"The Big Water and the Battle of Bothness"

Part 1

"Everyone is a prisoner of his own experiences." --Edward R. Murrow

Each new season is a setting sail on the same ocean that is endlessly different in its sailing conditions and the kinds of ships one has to make the voyage.

Each new season begins with what we know and expect leading us into the unexpected changes of the ocean we sail.

Bill Self has set to sea ten times. He has won 84% of his games, ten straight league titles, a runner up ring and a championship ring with a fleet of 3 combos and 2 bigs executing a thousand pages of high-low sets come hell or high water.

The combos destroyers and frigates had to guard, protect, keep the ball moving, feed the post, and make an open look, to paraphrase Tyrel Reed's memorable distillation for what it took to play for Self. Two needed to be impact players. Elijah, Ben, and Travis seem to have these combo roles wired.

One had to be glue, whether, or not, he could impact, also. Glue meant getting the ball to the right guy after the point guard had tried and failed. Glue meant compensating for the other two combos, plus the bigs inside, in any ways that a particular opponent's match up stymied the glue man's other teammates. Hence, one night a glue man might have to guard the other team's toughest offender outside. Another night the glue guy might have to go inside and double a behoth on the blocks. Another game a glue man might have to practically guard two men--his man plus help defend a great point guard. Another game a glue man might have to into the paint to guard a short four. Another game a glue man might have to up his scoring from 8 ppt, to 12-15. Another night he might have to score 20+. Another game the glue man may have to go to the glass and try to get 8 reebs instead of 3-4. For persons that don't like the term glue man, this nevertheless summarizes the skill set and modulated execution required year in and year out by a Bill Self glue man--a term Bill Self uses often.

In Travis Releford, Bill Self seems to have the glue position, uh, glued. And with Bill saying Trav has cleaned up his trey shot some, Travis is within striking range of becoming, what is in essence, the quinessential Selfian basketball player, i.e., the perfect paradox in the deep paradox that Self Ball is about: both impact and glue. Call "the impact glue man." BRush was the definitive impact glue man. Xavier tried it out, and though he was quite good, as a whipper, he really needed to come back a second year to have enough seniority to really own it. Josh was the right personality and XTReme athleticism, at the right time, but about 2-3 inches too short and then too injured to own it. But Travis, like BRush before him, seems ready to own this position fully this season.

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Tony Bandle 1 year, 6 months ago

Rings for second place???

Famous groups that would have earned a second place ring:

1] Custer's Seventh Cavalry. 2] The Egyptians versus the Israelites. 3] 2008 Memphis Tigers[ oh yeah, the did get one but had to give them back!!]. 4] Davey Crockett. 5] The 12-man Kansas Orange Bowl Defense. 6] The Super Bowl Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings [four each]. 7] Anyone who tries to outpost Jaybate in lines per post. 8] Dewey. 9] The rest of the Big 12 in basketball.

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William Blake 1 year, 6 months ago

“We probably will shoot more jump shots than we have at any point in time since I’ve been here. I’m not sure that’s a strength."

I hope a large percentage of those jump shots are in mid range...

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Woody Cragg 1 year, 6 months ago

Check out the avatar. Here is the ring from the 08 NC Team.

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rockchalk_dpu 1 year, 6 months ago

The only thing this article was missing was a quick photo album of the rings. If all four of the guys had them on, couldn't Nick have borrowed one real quick, set it on a table and snapped some photos of the front and sides? I feel like the athletic department should be trying to get photos of those out there so that fans, and more importantly recruits, can see these things and thought at the very least the LJW would have something about it.

If I've misstated my comments and there is an album out somewhere, please let me know, it would be greatly appreciated.

RCJ

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IrishCharlie 1 year, 6 months ago

so gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay.

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Michael Luby 1 year, 6 months ago

LOVE IT when this board starts to light up. Means the season is very close to beginning!
RCJHGOKU!

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REHawk 1 year, 6 months ago

Perry Ellis is blessed to fill a roster spot wherein he does not shoulder the immediate burden of early stardom. He arrived at Kansas with fabulous credentials, and appears to be a future lottery pick after careful development. Kevin and Jamari appear to be set to relieve some of the pre-conference pressure at the 4 position, allowing Perry to assume the eventual starting role incrementally. I view Kevin Young as becoming one of the nation's most dynamic 6th men by late March. A guy whose bounce and enthusiasm immediately sparks game changing direction.

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Jonathan Allison 1 year, 6 months ago

“No. No. No. We’ve not been walking around flashing them in everybody’s faces,” KU senior guard Releford said. “We kind of don’t have to because they are huge."

Haha, Releford is awesome!

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Martin Rosenblum 1 year, 6 months ago

I wonder what SEC media days consist of for KY? There are never any seniors to interview who have been heralded during their years at KY. Nobody to flaunt conference or other championship rings (those guys are in The League now). Is it just Cal solo, bragging about having the #1 recruiting class for the next year?

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Dirk Medema 1 year, 6 months ago

“I told them I’d be as hard on them as any group ever. I don’t know if that’s (been) exactly true because they try so hard. I haven’t had any reason to be really frustrated with them yet.”

So Self.

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Jay Dogger 1 year, 6 months ago

Not surprised about what I heard re: Young. Sort of about Traylor. Lucas, step up!

Last year's team had a remarkable will to win. Will this year's? Time and EJ will tell. And Withey & Releford. Perhaps Young. ...1st or 2nd place...?

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Alohahawk 1 year, 6 months ago

IMHO, EJ will do great, if he doesn't rely on his 3 point shot, too much. He needs to use it to keep the defenses honest, but that should give him that extra half-step to get by his defensive man. He has the quickness and ability to drive the lane, as well as the hops for an occasional lob/dunk. I hope the fact that he hasn't made any of the pre-season All American lists (so far) gives him some incentive. I think he would hold his own against any point guard/shooting guard in college right now. And, I'm glad to see he has taken over the leadership role. With so many unknowns and freshmen, KU will need that both on and off the court. He is truly proving why everyone loves a four year/senior player. And I get the impression he'd rather play as a Jayhawk for many more years, rather than leave for the league. He has been the perfect fit in Self's system.

If I remember correctly, Vitale has Withey on his second team All American list. I think that's about right, based on Jeff's performance last season. Hopefully his offense has improved over the off-season, and that his teammate(s) down low can perform well enough to relieve some of the defensive pressure Jeff will receive now that TRob is gone. Let the opposition foul yah, Jeff. That may be your bread and butter this season. You could end up the top three point player (dunk and one) in college this year.

I expect Releford to start out in gangbusters mode, until the underclassmen (Ben, Perry and Andrew) get comfortable on the court. I would expect him to lead the team in points on numerous occasions during the pre-conference games, then, be more defensive minding during the Big 12 games.

I like what I've been hearing about Young. He sounds like he has taken Self's coaching to heart. He may not have the weight to muscle-in, but he does have the quickness to surprise a lot of the opposing teams big men down low. He demonstrated last season that he has a nose for finding the loose ball, and if he gets the minutes, he could end up competing for top rebounding honors.

Tharpe. You're performance this season is going to reflect a lot on how well the team does, overall. And there isn't a member of the Jayhawk Nation who doesn't want you to succeed. We're rooting for you. (Come on, Rio, put the pressure on him, because you're next in line.)

The question left unanswered by the Euro trip is: Just how good is Ben McLemore? Due to his injury, he didn't really have the opportunity to exhibit his game.

Due to their lack of game experience, the freshmen (Ben and Traylor included) are going to be fun to watch develop. I hope that all of them meet Coach Self's expectations. Even though I don't expect it to happen, I'd really like to see all of them wearing the Jayhawk uniforms as seniors. What a night that would be for senior speeches.

Hurry up! I can hardly wait for the season to begin.

ROCK CHALK!!!!

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texashawk10 1 year, 6 months ago

I hope this team doesn't become dependent upon the jump shot. Even with a great jump shooting team, all it takes is one off night to end a tournament run. Jump shooting teams also don't shoot very many free throws which is a big issue as well. If KU does struggle with inside scoring, I would expect Self to turn EJ, McLemore, and Releford loose with driving the lane and creating opportunities for themselves and the low post guys for easy buckets.

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Ian Emerson 1 year, 6 months ago

I haven't seen an elite jump shooting ku team in along time

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Bulkmania 1 year, 6 months ago

The article kinda ended in a very "keegan-esque" way.

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