Saturday, December 28, 2013


Column: Jayhawks will keep things interesting in second half


A few random hoops thoughts while wondering how many more columns and features will be written this season about amazing and talented freshman Joel Embiid.

No matter how many it is, the guy is worth every inch that’s written.

  • Actually, that brings me to my first thought — Embiid. We’ve all marveled at his size, skill, footwork, touch and power, but not much has been said about his on/off switch. Of all the things that have impressed me about the big fella, his ability to turn nasty in a snap of your fingers is right up there near the top. Kind, caring and as pleasant as they come off the floor, Embiid has the ability to transform into an angry, aggressive monster on the floor. And that’s nothing but good news for the Jayhawks, who occasionally have had to beg their superstars to have a killer instinct.

  • Speaking of killer instinct, is there a guy on the roster with more confidence than freshman sharpshooter Brannen Greene? I know he got off to a slow start and that he and Bill Self were not always on the same page in the beginning, but look at him now. He’s had season-highs in minutes played during two of KU’s last three games and appears to be turning the corner in terms of earning Self’s trust. Yet again, another good thing for this roster. I get the feeling that Greene is one of those guys who thinks he’s the best player in the gym no matter the gym. And I have no problem with him believing that.

  • Belief. There’s a word that will go a long way for KU fans this season and likely already has served many of them well. And I’m not just talking about believing this team or the head coach would get it together after road losses to Colorado and Florida. I’m talking more about believing in the team’s leader, junior point guard Naadir Tharpe. Does Tharpe take a couple of ill-advised shots? Sure. Is he a little wild at times and a tiny bit shell-shocked at others? Yep. But is he the best candidate to be the on-the-floor leader for this year’s Jayhawks? You betcha. Self has said as much, repeatedly, and he’s not the kind of guy that just says things to hear himself talk. Stand behind Tharpe. He’ll make you glad you did.

  • Anyone else having a hard time believing that Big 12 play starts a week from Wednesday? If the next two months go by as quickly as the first two did, we’ll be on the brink of warmer weather and in the heart of the best part of the college basketball season.

That’s enough for now. Enjoy these guys. This team is made up of as good a group of people as I can remember being at KU.


Dirk Medema 5 years, 10 months ago

killer instinct - Anything short of a lion is trivial for Jo.

It's also fine for Greene to think he’s the best player in the gym no matter the gym, except when it means he is late to commit a foul at the end of a game and forces the actual best player on the team (Wiggins) to commit it. That's just not good BB IQ.

Definitely agree on the team being filled with players you love to cheer for.

Greg Lux 5 years, 10 months ago

We need a little of that "Killer Instinct" to rub off on a couple other players. Mainly Wiggins, Tharpe, Ellis and Selden for starters. Tharpe needs to help his other starters to do a better job of penetrating the many Zone defenses we are going to face this year. and all our players need to learn to block out aggressively to stop the other team from getting offensive rebounds. As I have said before, "If you block out properly you can actually let the ball bounce and still get the rebound". Our players are soft under the glass and let the other teams players push us under the glass so they can steal an offensive rebound. It's HIGH time we pushed back.

Rock Chalk

Jack Wilson 5 years, 10 months ago

Matt's comments on Greene are pretty timely. Greene is one of only three guys on this team that seem to have a killer's instinct (Embiid and Mason the other two). Greene is also vocal and emotional. Something this team also lacks. He also has a skill set that is complimentary to Wiggins or Selden (whichever one is in the game with him), who are both slashers.

Greene did appear to be turning a corner. But the corner is not turned so far with the only guy that counts, coach Self.

Greene had played 30 excellent minutes combined vs. Florida and UNM. Then he had 2 poor minutes vs. Georgetown and was banished to the bench the rest of the game, as if those prior 30 minutes hadn't happened.

It's not that he was yanked -- Self immediately walked right to Wiggins after Greene's turnover, and took Greene out; It was that Greene had not built up enough equity with Self to even get another opportunity in the game.

We'll see if Greene has turned a corner, and that will only be true if we see that Self lets him play through a few mistakes. Otherwise, it's business as usual.

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