Saturday, February 2, 2013


Opinion: Point guard Marcus Smart shows KU what it’s missing

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson watches from the floor as Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart recovers a fumbled ball by Johnson with seconds remaining in the game on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. The turnover nullified the the Jayhawks' comeback effort. At right is Kansas guard Ben McLemore and Oklahoma State guard Markel Brown.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson watches from the floor as Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart recovers a fumbled ball by Johnson with seconds remaining in the game on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. The turnover nullified the the Jayhawks' comeback effort. At right is Kansas guard Ben McLemore and Oklahoma State guard Markel Brown.


Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self talks after loss to Oklahoma State

Kansas coach Bill Self talks after his team's 85-80 loss to Oklahoma State on Feb. 2, 2013.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Kevin Young, Jeff Withey and Ben McLemore

Kansas players Kevin Young, Jeff Withey and Ben McLemore talk after the Jayhawks' 85-80 loss to Oklahoma State on Feb. 2, 2013, at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

OSU coach Travis Ford

Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford talks to reporters following his team's 85-80 victory over Kansas on Feb. 2, 2013.

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Box score


Six seconds less than a minute remained and the home team trailed in Allen Fieldhouse by eight points. In fairy tales, and sometimes even in real life, this is when the senior leader straps the team to his back and carries it home safely. It didn’t go that way Saturday for Kansas University senior guard Elijah Johnson. Not much has so far this winter for the second-year starter whose move from shooting guard to point guard has equated to a shift from efficiency to inadequacy.

You can’t lead a team to a dramatic comeback victory from the bench and that’s where Johnson headed with 54 seconds left, replaced by seldom-used freshman Andrew White III. When White signaled to Johnson to let him know he was replacing him, Johnson appeared to freeze in disbelief for a second and then headed to the bench.

“It’s sad,” Kansas coach Bill Self said of having to make that move at that moment. “But we needed something and we were definitely a better team with him over there sitting down next to us and putting somebody else in the game.”

That somebody else, White, hit a three-pointer, made three of four free throws, scored six points and made a crucial steal in 54 seconds.

Johnson’s brief eternity on the bench lasted 30 seconds. He still had a chance to put perfume on a stink bomb, and he looked as if he were primed to do so. After Oklahoma State’s magnificent man-child of a freshman point guard, Marcus Smart, made one of two free throws with 24 seconds left to put the Cowboys up three, Self flashed two fingers, reminding Johnson a quick two was the play. Johnson, faster speeding straight ahead than he is quick moving laterally, turned on the jets and needed just five seconds to go the distance for a layup that trimmed the deficit to a point with 19 seconds left.

After Phil Forte — son of former KU football player (1983-86, defensive lineman) of the same name — made a pair of free throws with seven seconds left to pump the lead to three points, the last chance to keep alive an 18-game winning streak was placed in the hands of Johnson. Most in the building figured that Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford wouldn’t let it come to that and would order a foul since all the research shows it’s the smart play. Ford went against conventional wisdom.

Johnson dribbled the ball to the right wing and attempted to get past Smart with a cross-over dribble. For what purpose? Kevin Young said afterward Johnson’s intention was to pass it to Ben McLemore for a three-pointer. Self wasn’t sure what his intention was, and Johnson was unavailable for comment. Whatever the design, it blew up. Smart stole the ball and pitched it forward to Forte for a layup at the buzzer. Oklahoma State 85, Kansas 80.

Smart responded to the final buzzer with a backflip, which would have qualified as a “did-I-just-see-that?” moment if he hadn’t already pulled off so many amazing plays at winning time.

Of all the aspects of Johnson’s rough day (3-for-14 overall shooting, 1-for-7 from three, six assists and four turnovers), the final play ate at his coach the most.

“I thought they’d foul and they didn’t foul,” Self said. “They backed off and Elijah had a wide-open three. All he had to do was bounce it and shoot it. He tried to go past him and crossed over right in front of a guy. I mean, I had no idea where he was going, but certainly not a good play. We had a shot. They backed off.”

Nobody made more big shots for Kansas in its improbable run to the NCAA title game last season than Johnson. That was when Tyshawn Taylor, too quick for any one man to guard, broke down the defense and created opportunities for others. Filling Taylor’s role has made for a tougher challenge for Johnson, who in the past seven games has as many turnovers (24) as assists.

Self the general manager has made life tougher this season on Self the coach than in most years.

“We don’t have a point guard,” Self said. “We’re playing with two guards, which is OK, a lot of people have to do that.”

What’s lacking?

“Poise,” Self said. “Understanding of the game, getting us into rhythm. We’re really not doing much of anything on either end. I mean, it was bad defense too. It’s disappointing because we’re better than what we played. The thing about our team is, and it’s not hard to see if you watch it, we’ve only got one ballhandler in the game. Travis (Releford) and Ben (McLemore) are recipients of other people’s ballhandling. They’re not guys who go do it themselves. And when you put them in positions to be your play-makers or be the guy who controls the ball, and that’s not who we are. That’s not how you can run good offense and look good.”

When Kansas climbs back from big deficits, such as Saturday and in the Big 12 opener in Allen Fieldhouse, it seems McLemore finds a way to get more shots up, so for him and teammates to bring some of that urgency to all game situations can’t hurt. But it all starts with the primary ballhandler.

“We’ve obviously got to get some things corrected and get better guard play and I’m not putting it all on Elijah, but that was a really poor game, obviously on both ends,” Self said.

Kansas lost this game when Smart said no to Self and yes to Ford.

“He was terrific down the stretch,” Self said of the 6-foot-4, 225-pound native of Flower Mound, Texas. “He definitely whipped our guards. I mean he whipped them. That was a physical beat-down that he put on our guys.”

If anything, point-guard play becomes more important in mid-March, when the Cowboys will be in good hands with Smart at the controls. Kansas? It usually finds a way to overcome its flaws, Saturday being the exception, not the rule.

“Our ballhandling and our guard play has been terrible all year,” Self said. “And certainly today was no exception.”


Boouk 7 years, 8 months ago

I'll go out on a limb and say if Smart chose us over OSU we'd be the best team in the country. Fellow KU fans, is it time to give up on Elijah Johnson at PG and play Tharpe 36 minutes a game in close games? Maybe even play Releford at PG the other 4 minutes?

VaJay 7 years, 8 months ago

I'd agree with the benching part & see how things go for 10-15 min, then let EJ back in & experimenting with AW in the game or even Rio to jazz things up. We need to try something.

The one thing that has eaten at me the most is why, when we've got a big time swatter like Withey in the game, we don't FULL COURT PRESS sometimes - just to shake things up & see if we can really rattle some teams. Please Coach, just give it a shot...

TheBoHawk 7 years, 8 months ago

I remember thinking this about Tharpe about 9 games ago... but Releford, while he does take care of the ball well, is not even close to an offensive producer and is obviously not capable of the penetrate and kick, a la Tharpe.

TheBoHawk 7 years, 8 months ago

My Starting 5: Tharpe at 1 Johnson at 2 McLemore at 3 Releford at 4 Withey at 5

VaJay 7 years, 8 months ago

EJ is not at the 2 if he's not a threat to score, and right now... he isn't. I hope that changes.

Kevin Studer 7 years, 8 months ago

It would be nice if we had Royce Woolridge here as an option right now. He's playing a decent point at Washington State.

Boouk 7 years, 8 months ago

Agreed. All we need is a reliable passer and ballhandler at the PG position, and he'd probably be as good as anyone we have right now.

Kevin Huffman 7 years, 8 months ago

I felt the same way.

We'd be the unquestioned No. 1 team right now....probably 21-0 if we'd've landed Smart.

Dirk Medema 7 years, 8 months ago

Glad to see that at least someone can see through the fog/Phog? and realize that the sky is not falling. EJ really has lot his confidence, and needs to get his head back in the game. There is a reason that OSU had backed off EJ at the arc, or 6 reasons (1-7).

For all EJ's warts, this game was just as lost when Forte was caught in a trap by 4 Jayhawks, and someone gave him a get out of jail free card that sent the 90% FT shooter to his gimme pts.

It also seems worth mentioning that the last possession of both halves ended with the a TO, though I believe the first was a matter of Tharpe not getting to his spot (3) to receive the pass. The opposing D's are figuring out the O and generally fouling up the O.

It is also evident in the # of wing passes that are being jumped for steals and break away layups. Way too many lately, and that's on the whole O, but shows how predictable the O has become, and maybe gets to the lack of a lead PG - the one who is going to find the chink in the D. There is always a gap, whether it is the one the play is designed to expose or the one that is created by overplaying to break up the known tendancy

Kevin Huffman 7 years, 8 months ago looked like they tied him up to me. Also, looked like they fouled Smart before it got over to Forte. Don't know why no whistle! :(

Kye Clark 7 years, 8 months ago

Had just posted in the post-game discussion the contrast in Smart's game vs. that of EJ's today. I too have no idea what EJ was doing on that final play. Didn't Johnson balk at taking the big shot at the end of the MSU game as well?

Justin Daniel 7 years, 8 months ago

If this team just had Trevor Releford we would be the best team in the country. How did he get away from us? he could have sat behind Taylor and stepped up this year.

ku1otaku 7 years, 8 months ago

If memory serves me correct, we were a little more pre-occupied with giving our final scholarship away to Josh Selby. At the time, Selby was the better decision. Hindsight is 20/20.

KJD 7 years, 8 months ago

What? Does't deserve to play? If point guards are judged by wins and losses then Elijah had a lot to do with that 18 game winning streak that just got snapped. Teams lose in College Basketball unless you are the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers. Your 'Plain and simple' summary is outrageously wrong along with all of these other boo-birds jumping on Elijah's back.

EJ has been a big part of the current 98-2 record over the last 100 games in Allen Field House that you have surely enjoyed. KU leads the BIG XII conference with an 8-1 record and is easily a top 10 team nationally.

Suck it up KU fans. Lot's more basketball to enjoy.

TheBoHawk 7 years, 8 months ago

I agree.. Elijah is just "plain and simply" playing the wrong position... THARPE IS READY!!!!!

jayjammin8379 7 years, 8 months ago

Let's get off the EJ train and focus on what really is wrong. We have one of the most stagnant offensives in the country. Decent coaches have figured out how we start our offense and have slowed our ball reversal resulting in a ton of turnovers. We do nothing different from week to week, relying on talent, not scheme. We got torn up by Markel tonight, but we have a better version of Markel on our side in BMac. Had the Hawks been running OSU's offense tonight, with BMac running off two or more picks, we too would have had open looks and legitimate solid shots. I was critical of Self's man offense when we transitioned from Roy's uptempo style, and have been complementary of his approach to zones, not to mention how much better we are defensively, but we need creativity along with execution to make this year successful.

Kevin Huffman 7 years, 8 months ago

Tharpe turns it over almost as often.....he just loses the dribble / doesn't make as many bad passes.

theend 7 years, 8 months ago

This is the guy that used to have I-470 Interstate as a picture. He changed it.....but I can tell by the way he writes.

SaltLakeHawk 7 years, 8 months ago

The sky is green. Plain and simple.

1+1=3. Plain and simple.

Mizery has been to a Final Four. Plain and simple.

Dustin Gudde 7 years, 8 months ago

Trevor Releford wasn't recruited. He didn't slip away! Elijah shouldn't be benched or any other crazy move you guys are saying! He had a bad game and has been too passive in regular game situations and tries to turn it off and on. If anything this will be a big learning experience for him and it will make if more hungry for March!

KJD 7 years, 8 months ago

Agreed. It is always best to win though there is plenty of teaching tape for EJ. I thought the bench played well, especially to close out the last minutes of the first half to trim the lead down while BMac and Withey were in foul trouble. EJ has plenty of time to grow and TCU will help restore confidence.

VaJay 7 years, 8 months ago

Dusty - look at his stats the last several games. Coach has got to do something to shake things (or shake EJ) up.

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 8 months ago

The Kansas guard play is the worst it has been in years, maybe since the early 80s. I hope EJ comes through but it's been 21 games and this team needs to bring it together. EJ's killing us with poor shooting, crazy turnovers, poor judgement and defense, bad judgement. Self put AWIII on thee bench due to turnovers, surely he can not be much worse.

Ellis is going backwards. Today he looked like an out of placed HS player. i'm afraid we have been living on borrowed time and will be in for a tough close.

greenworm 7 years, 8 months ago

johnson after your 1 for 5 from downtown, stop it, maybe should have got white the 3rd in a little earlier, somebody drive to the hoop once in a while, we need a slasher someone that can drive it agressively to the rim. I hate to say it but we are overatted.. I don't remember the last time we had a great game, ku has been doing just enough to win and barely.. hopefully this will be a wake up call.. better to lose now than later..

kcmojayhawker 7 years, 8 months ago

Well both losses mirror one another, and in all reality we just don't have the supporting cast for Ben. T-Rob had Tyshawn and these guys as part of the supporting cast. The second guy has not been there, more of a 5 on 5 type team with Ben leading from the wing. Defense has to be it since this team cannot score in the eighties regularly, this is a low to mid 70 's scoring team. No secret EJ has not had a good year to this point considering he has as many TO's as assists the last half dozen games and his scoring is down. If he can get 12 points, 5 assists, 2 or less TO's, 4 boards, and play solid D this team may make a major run. Self has done a great job with these guys so far and knows his team better than anyone else and will find a way to get better guard play down the stretch and if he cannot there will not be a Final Four '13 for KU.

kcmojayhawker 7 years, 8 months ago

Conference play is a different animal no secrets that's for sure. Self has missed out on some top notch point guards and EJ was a two being converted to a lead guard and he's no Sherron, Tyshawn, or Russell for that matter. Long term if he can improve he may be able to Make a living playing similar to what was done with Mario. This Tharpe has played a lot etter this year than last and i expect him to earn more minutes after todays game. looking to next year, Frankcamp is not the type of point guard Self needs either, maybe this Mason can contribute.

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 8 months ago

Mason (5'11") does not even start for his prep team. I'm also skeptical about Francamp (6'0"). Self missed on every top PG in the country. Rio is out best hope. Let's pray Rio works his rear end off and comes through next year.

Kevin Huffman 7 years, 8 months ago

Agreed. I think the upside of Frankamp is that of Boschee. You hope he can come in as an undersized SG and knock in a couple of 3's a'la that OSU little guy from a year's not coming to me right now. May be a better assist man than Boschee was (hopefully), but I don't think that he's any kind of saviour.

Adams, as others have said, reminds me of T.Taylor, except that he IS at least SAYING the right things! :)

kellerman411 7 years, 8 months ago

One name. Rio Adams. Put him in right now and let him get as many bugs worked out before March as he can. He is a slasher and will open things up for ben and trav. Also, by far the best defending PG we have.

Forget Tharpe, he will always come off the bench. He is too challenged defensively.

EJ's knees are done. That is what has happened. Its taken his confidence. I feel so bad for him because he really is talented but the writing is on the wall.

Perry Ellis should have redshirted.... he is years away from competing in this league.

Without Jeff, KU is .500 in the Big 12.

Without Julius Randle, next year's team is under .500 in the Big12.

kcmojayhawker 7 years, 8 months ago

Maybe we will see Rio against TCU and give EJ a few minutes off of the point. Point guard play is huge everybody knows that and to this point, the PG play is below what we have been used to the last 35-40 years. I would be elated if Randle would come here but highly unlikely. Perry will be okay, few years ago Withey could not get any minutes because he was too weak. Give Perry sometime in the weight room and the gym and he'll be an alright 4 year player.

Zstegs 7 years, 8 months ago

I disagree sir. You have been so spoiled the last few years by the Tyshawn/sherron slashing point guard that you fail to see that we sit at the cusp of watching the next great pass--first point here in Lawrence. If we let Naadir come in and just distribute the things and cash open threes a la Aaron Miles, problem solved.

Scott Smetana 7 years, 8 months ago

I just don't see this Tharpe so bad on defense thing. Good idea with Rio, but I think it's too late in the season. Tharpe is so much better with the ball and can slash too.

Ryan Kruse 7 years, 8 months ago

Kellerman get your ass off the bandwagon, perfect. You see the game like Ray Charles with absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Read back what you wrote and after each sentence say 'I'm a sore losing idiot'

Steve Gantz 7 years, 8 months ago

And where's your helpful insight? Don't come on here and run down fellow KU fans like that sir.

Kevin Huffman 7 years, 8 months ago

We get one loss and everyone's ALWAYS almost TOO doom & gloom.

We WILL be down next year, but I doubt that we're sub-.500 next year. I would expect a LOT more out of Adams, Tharpe, Ellis, Traylor, White III & L. Lucas next season. I agree that PG will STILL be the position of concern next season....not likely to get too much better until 2014 assuming we get one in that class! :( I suspect if we were to get Randle we'd probably play him out of position at the "5".

If A.Adams were to develop into the T.Taylor style PG that we're hopeful of then maybe we could have the lineup be this next season:

A.Adams Selden White III P. Ellis Randle

First off the bench would be Tharpe, B.Greene, Traylor & L.Lucas most likely in that order I would suspect. Frankamp & Embiid would probably be like White III & Adams have been like this year....seeing only very SPOT duty. I have a funny feeling that if Randle doesn't come that we could very well be starting Lucas at the "5" OR going small with Traylor at the "5".

theend 7 years, 8 months ago

The title of this article says it all.

John Gallup 7 years, 8 months ago

Perry Ellis is not years away from competing in the big 12, That's laughable.

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 8 months ago

I hope not but he does not show any consistant signs of playing competitive DI ball. His defense is horrible. He's not showen any real ability to score. Ellis will need to work really hard to become a player by his junior year.

CrystalJones 7 years, 8 months ago

Well, why DON'T we have a point guard, Bill?!!! We are KANSAS. We ought to be able to get a point guard for crying out loud.

I am completely depressed. I know we're highly ranked and all that, but we've been skating by for a while now. We're at one of those points where the program could fall off a little. At least I hope it's just a little. We're just not as dominant as we've been in the past. I'm extremely concerned.

This has ruined my whole week. Maybe I just take KU sports too personally.

Jeff Kilgore 7 years, 8 months ago

maybe this will help: I'm not a Jim Rome clone at all, but he did make sense once. He explained that after a SoCal loss, he'd be bummed for 10 or 15 minutes and then figure he had other things to do. Don't you? Can you not appreciate a team that is 19-2? Is is logical to think that KU will always win every game? I appreciate everything they do, even in a loss. Elijah Jonson is a fantastic kid who isn't playing well right now. If we lose a few more, maybe people will take a breath and forget how good they're supposed to be.

Michael Auchard 7 years, 8 months ago

I don't think people are upset with the fact we've lost two games. I'm not, at least. I think people are upset that we really should have lost 3-5 games by now, and it's all based on play at the 1 spot. The rest of the team is pulling their weight. We need a PG badly.

Sam Constance 7 years, 8 months ago

Honestly, and I mean this in the nicest way possible:

What in the everloving hell are you talking about?

How are you measuring dominance?

Michael Auchard 7 years, 8 months ago

Not a classic PG, at 6'5, but yeah. Anyone with an ability to not turn it over at this point will suffice.

okiedave 7 years, 8 months ago

No worries. This is a good wake up call in mid-season. KU cannot coast through the Big XII, we are not that good. OSU's intensity and focus simply surpassed our intensity and focus tonight.

Kevin Huffman 7 years, 8 months ago

That and not that many teams have the tough kids like Smart & M. Brown either.

Richard Benson 7 years, 8 months ago

KU fans have always turned on their point guard. Fans shredded Tyshawn Taylor last year. All he did was take us to the brink of a national championship. Heck, I can remember editorial writers opining that Jacques Vaughn should be benched, so Ryan Robertson could start at point guard. Point guard is a terrible position. When a team loses, its point guard looks bad. So it was for the 'hawks today. And Elijah Johnson not only looked bad, he really did have a bad game today.

On the other hand, I thought Jamari Traylor had a really good game today. And as surely every single commentator has noted, Andrew White III had a really good game today. But in my heart of hearts I do not believe anyone has in mind either Jamari or Andrew running the point. Instead most admit that only Elijah or Naadir Tharp (or Elijah and Naadir) can do much by way of playing point guard and running the offense.

We'll most likely win the Big 12 with them. Maybe we'll give it a go in the post season. Between now and then my prayer is that Elijah and Naadir develop a much-needed thick layer of very thick skin.

Scott Smetana 7 years, 8 months ago

Not true. Aaron Miles, Pritchard, Hinrich, Chalmers, etc. were all amazing PGs that the fans loved. This stretch the past five years has been rough, although Collins and Taylor > EJ. I hate the criticism on EJ though. He seems like a great guy who is trying hard. He simply is a 2 guard.

Bville Hawk 7 years, 8 months ago

Chalmers played the 2, Russell Robinson/Collins handled the 1.

ParisHawk 7 years, 8 months ago

Hinrich played little point guard, even if we looked better when he did.

Michael Luby 7 years, 8 months ago

Nah, just lost all my confidence in EJ tonight. Its awful. We wont get past the first round in the NCAAs with him in there.

KJD 7 years, 8 months ago

KU will get better. EJ will get better. We've got good guards. They'll step it up.

Abdu Omar 7 years, 8 months ago

The only team in the Big XII that can beat Kansas is Okie State. I said that at the beginning of the season and that was proven true today. We will bounce back and our slap on the fanny will work and this is the best thing to happen to us. We will be fine, Elijah and all, will be fine. They had a bad game and OK State was tremendous. They won't beat us again. Mark my words.


nostradavid 7 years, 8 months ago

Iowa State showed us how dangerous they could be. KSU could also be tough the 2nd time around. I agree that this loss will be the best motivation the Jayhawks could have at this point in the season, along with a kick-in-the-butt from Coach Bill. Shedding the top ranking will also help.

Matt Strausz 7 years, 8 months ago

Relax. We needed this to get the point across. We have played like crap every since conf play started and getting rewarded for it with wins. This should fire them up. Plus we get to whip TCU to get the taste out of our mouth. We are hungry now.

A drop off in the program? You nuts? We are leading the league and have the least amount of losses as anyone in the country. And almost halfway home with our 9th consecutive B12 title. We are fine. Don't set standards that no team can live up too. Think we could be UNC or UK, THEY are having a crappy year. Smile. We re 19-2.

Scott Smetana 7 years, 8 months ago

True, but always want to see us play to our potential. Especially with losing all 5 starters next year. The Loss didn't bother me as much today as seeing EJ regress. However, I'd be shocked to see him bench EJ, especially since he's a senior and playing with heart. He's just not a point guard.

texashawk10 7 years, 8 months ago

EJ was awful today and helped shoot KU out of the game early, but Travis Releford and Ben McLemore's defense on Markel Brown needs to come under fire too because they weren't adjusting to OSU's screens at all while Brown kept launching open 3's.

Today perfectly illustrates the difference between the "Self is untouchable" crowd and the "Self's not perfect" crowd. Bill Self has missed out on every high profile PG over the past 3 classes for whatever reason and it has caught up to KU finally this season. KU is very lucky to have the expirienced talent they do, otherwise they could be in the position Texas or Kentucky are in this year.

Someone above wondered why KU doesn't run more pressure defense this year, and while I agree in principle with the idea, the reality is this team isn't capable of doing so effectively IMO. This team was at its best about 6-7 weeks ago when they were able to get out and run and ideally that's what pressing more would allow to happen, but there are two big flaws with this team that make pressing not a good idea for this team. First off, this team fouls way too much away from the basket which leads me to believe the same thing would happen when pressing. Secondly, this team does not communicate well enough to trap effectively which is the goal of running a full court press.

IMHO, unless the light bulb suddenly turns on for EJ making good, smart passes, or for Perry so KU can get its high-low offense going which opens up the floor tremendously for the guards, there's not a viable option to fix KU's problems this season. Anybody remember back in November when Self ws talking about how this team doesn't communicte very well, that problem has not gone away and is also contributing to KU's woes as well. It's either play in the low 60's or 50's and look ugly and disjointed with EJ running the show, or gain some offense with Naadir running the show at the expense of his defense and playing higher scoring games like today.

TCU is the best team in the league to experiment against as they are the worst in the league by a significant so I'll definitly be interested in seeing if Self shakes things up on Wednesday. Also congrats to the ladies on sweeping KSU today in Manhattan.

Kevin Huffman 7 years, 8 months ago

Um, they didn't adjust? Didn't he get 25 of his 28 after about a min. into the 2nd half?!?!?! And he ended up with all of 3 pts. the rest of the gm.? No, the worst thing about that game was seeing the number of weak-side putbacks at THE MOST critical times by M.Smart. Of course, I think it was when Self went small w/ Young having gotten his 4th foul. I'd've liked to have seen him put Traylor in there at least after Marcus had that first putback instead of keep on having Releford playing the "4".

Sam Constance 7 years, 8 months ago

Today perfectly illustrates the difference between the "Self is untouchable" crowd and the "Self's not perfect" crowd. Bill Self has missed out on every high profile PG over the past 3 classes for whatever reason and it has caught up to KU finally this season.

Um... I'm sorry, the way you phrase those two camps makes it impossible for your comment to be insightful. Because you are crediting the "Self's not perfect" crowd with the inherently reasonable position before even getting started, and making the other side sound crazy.

Personally, I fall into both camps. Self isn't perfect--no one is. He certainly has shortcomings, and apparently you think recruiting misses over a 3 year period is one of those shortcomings that make self "touchable" (for lack of a better word). However, Self can be imperfect and still be effectively "untouchable", because the overall body of work--what he SHOULD be judged on--is outstanding and close to having no equal in all of college basketball. Even this year, when we are apparently suffering from Self's recruiting shortcomings, we are 19-2 with the inside track to win the Big 12 and get a 1 or 2 seed.

If you follow college basketball at all, you have to recognize that 18 year old kids are fickle. Things that shouldn't necessarily matter to them do matter. They can be heavily influenced by family. In other words, they aren't always going to pick the most "logical" choice, and they aren't always going to even pick the best choice for their own interests. I suppose you can put some of that on Self's ability to recruit and pitch to these kids about playing at Kansas, but absent being in the living room when he (and his staff) make those arguments, we don't know. And it drives me nuts to hear people prognosticate about how Self "failed" in recruiting, as if we should be pulling classes like Kentucky.

There are surely areas where Self can improve. It just strikes me as a little bit petty to sit here after a frustrating home loss sniping at all the ways Self screwed up and has us in the precarious 19-2 position we currently find ourselves in.

But again, I don't think he's untouchable. But as long as he continues to pull out the kinds of results he's pulled out over the past 10 years, yeah, he's pretty close to untouchable. Of course, he can always change that by ACTUALLY FAILING, rather than failing in the minds of some people who apparently can't handle the occasional loss with any grace or class.

texashawk10 7 years, 8 months ago

Counter to your counter, how many of EJ's assists last year came as a result of him simply being the next to last guy to touch the ball during the ball reversal before T-Rob or Withey finished inside or someone hit a 3 in the corner? Take those assists away when EJ wasn't running the point and I'd guess his A:T ratio was closer to 1.5:1 which is far less than ideal for a PG. An ideal PG is in the 3:1 neighborhood at least with his A:T ratio.

Steve Gantz 7 years, 8 months ago

Really Hawk? We've knocked out NBA guards in the last 5 years, Rose, Curry, and Craft (I know, he's a questionable pro) last year. I'm not going to analyze the others we've beat, but it's really a pretty dumb comment.

Michael Johnson 7 years, 8 months ago

for crying out loud. we lost a game. the '08 team lost 3 games in a 7 game span. it happens.

Kevin Huffman 7 years, 8 months ago

Honestly, you could argue that every single one of them that touched the floor other than White III could get a butt-chewing for their efforts. Sadly, even White III if he could've been a perfect 4-4 instead of 3-4, Elijah's :18 left layup ties it up instead of us still being in a "have to foul" position, down 81-80.

702Hawk 7 years, 8 months ago

Rock Chalk. KU is going to lace up it's shoes and still win the Big 12. EJ is the leader even if we have lost 2 games out of 21. We are having a awesome season, let's enjoy it. And I rather have a guy who is a true Jayhawk on my team any day then a cowboy.

Kristen Downing 7 years, 8 months ago

Sheeesh, no wonder the KU players are a bunch of babies. You folks are not pissed off enough! Do you know how many records the Cowboys broke for us?! Maybe it started with weak hands Withey not knowing the difference between Big Country and Ostertag. But for me, it will take a looooong time to get the image of Marcus Smart on ESPN, ESPN NEWS and ESPN 2 doing a flip on our home court. Where in the hell is your indigiation?! Or your pride.....

BainDread 7 years, 8 months ago

Yes, when Big-O and Big Country were seniors, Jeff was five years old and too busy swatting away shots-on-goal in the San Diego Nerf-Hoops League to watch Big Eight basketball on TV. I'll give him a break.

Kevin Huffman 7 years, 8 months ago

I'd love to know where the foul was on Smart's breakaway. Withey didn't touch him!!!!

okiedave 7 years, 8 months ago

H-E-L-L-O -- Andrew White plays for 1 minute and get 6 points and 1 steal. Johnson plays for 34 minutes and gets -0- points and -0- steals. 'We may have a point guard yet.

GreatJake 7 years, 8 months ago

Like EJ and hope he gets back to his better player...... but what you stated sticks out pretty clearly

Bville Hawk 7 years, 8 months ago

H-E-L-L-O -- Andrew White is in no shape or form a point guard.

Kevin Huffman 7 years, 8 months ago

exactly. White's a 3 mainly.....could maybe be asked to play 2, but kind of scary to consider him guarding an opposing team's "2".

Kevin Huffman 7 years, 8 months ago

Selden....a wing?!??!!? NO WAY!!!!!

He's going to replace Mac as the "2"-Guard - pretty much guranteed.

The wing minutes will mostly go to White III next season w/ frosh B. Greene to see some mins. there as well.

Kevin Huffman 7 years, 8 months ago

You want to say meet someone. You want another Marcus Smart......get 2014's Emmarnuel Mudiaye!!!! And I KNOW that we're in on him, but then again so is every one else! :(

Larry Smith 7 years, 8 months ago

I just don't understatnd those who say EJ is not a Point Guard. He was a PG in high school, recruited as a pg and rated as a a pg. This notion that he isn't that position and therefore we excuse his terrible play is silly.

Kevin Huffman 7 years, 8 months ago

I agree. And I remember Taylor having his own struggles 2 seasons ago and got benched and Johnson starting about 2 or 3 gms. and some saying as good as EJ played in those games that Taylor would have to come off the bench or play the 2-guard or what-not.

Bob Thompson 7 years, 8 months ago

EJ's problem is all in his head, he is trying too hard. He needs to let the game come to him. At the beginning of the season EJ said that he is the leader of this team, and put pressure on himself. Now, when things aren't going so well, he puts more pressure on himself, and things just get worse. His bad passes are a result of him forcing the play. He wants to make the play so bad that he is telegraphing the pass and taking some of the zip of the ball.

It’s the rare point guard that can put the team on his back and take over, and it’s even a rarer point guard that can get the other 4 guys involved to play better. EJ needs to get the other players more involved in the offence, and help them play better. When this happens, KU will play so much better.

Kevin Huffman 7 years, 8 months ago

One thing that seems pretty obvious is that we could use some pass-fakes to have the defense play us honest instead of leaking out.

REHawk 7 years, 8 months ago

It is mighty durn late to give us a shot at correcting some of our guard problems. And I know I will get blasted for my I told you so criticism. But here goes. PLAY WHITE AND ADAMS at least 20 minutes each in the TCU contest! And please, Bill, do not give them the quick yank if we fall ten points behind. Playing the current Elijah Johnson more than 20 minutes at the point is not going to get this squad to optimum wins. I like Elijah and am respectful and appreciative of who he is and what efforts he has given the program. Right now he cannot compete against topnotch healthy athletes. Time for rest and recovery. And a differen direction.

Allen Shepard 7 years, 8 months ago

The problem is that Bill isn't going to run a ten man rotation for the rest of the season no matter how well those guys play. So, who stops getting minutes going forward?

REHawk 7 years, 8 months ago

We are not playing K State Wednesday. We are playing TCU. I can understand the depth of your hilarious comment. That is what I felt in the closing 30 seconds of yesterday's contest.

Tony Bandle 7 years, 8 months ago

The depth of Jayhawk Nation's passion is only matched by the soaring heights of angst after a loss:

*We are 19-2.

*We just lost only our 9th game at home IN A DECADE!

*We have all the components of a championship team,

  • This game will serve as a wake-up call for the players and coaches.

As Jayhawk fans, we are truly blessed......and spoiled. Everybody take a deep breath, watch the Super Bowl, have some really unhealthy snacks and have faith that we will fulfill our destiny.

Trust me on feels a heck of a lot better to be optimistic.

nuleafjhawk 7 years, 8 months ago

Oakville - I always appreciate your positive attitude and enthusiasm, but if the last 5 or 6 games didn't serve as a wake-up call, this one probably won't either.

Tony Bandle 7 years, 8 months ago

It will....because we finally got what we deserved... a loss.

Steve Gantz 7 years, 8 months ago

Thank you Oak. If you look back at our championship runs, we had some bad losses. These things happen.

Michael Leiker 7 years, 8 months ago

Witheys lackluster performance seems to be getting lost in the shuffle after this one. He was horrendous yesterday

Kevin Huffman 7 years, 8 months ago

Huh, I fail to see how he was horrendous...What'd he have 11 pts., 8 boards, 2 or 3 blocks, shot something like 50-60% from the floor, wasn't in any foul trouble. I think maybe if there was ANYTHING where you could pt. the finger at him is that I think he had some bad TO's.

RCJHGOKANSAS 7 years, 8 months ago

several people have complained about P Ellis not being good.....Remember the twins when they were freshmen? They were terrible...Self was wondering if they could even dunk.

P Ellis is going to be great.....even if he is a nice guy that doesn't shoot BB guns from the windows of jayhawk towers....

Max Ledom 7 years, 8 months ago

Well hey, lets all just jump ship! 19-2?! No sir get me off of this sinking ship! Please everyone, shut up. As I recall we have had tight games in the past 5. But if you remember correctly the team that took us to the title last year did not have "dominated every game" on their résumé either. EJ is a capable player. He will be fine. He will get better. We are only in February! The way fans are acting is ridiculous. This is not us. What EJ needs right now more than anything is our support and loyalty. We are 19-2. Still will be top 5. Doesn't matter how we won our games, a Win is a Win. And that's what this team does. Win. Don't head for the life boats yet gang. We got a lot of basketball left, and Captain Bill isn't gonna just roll over and die. No, no. Rock Chalk to the ceiling! Time to ride or die!

Kevin Huffman 7 years, 8 months ago

I doubt that we're top 5......maybe....suspect somewhere between 5th - 7th. I.e., if the NCAAs were to start, we'd probably be a 2 in the South w/ Florida as the 1.

AirCapJay 7 years, 8 months ago

How does Self lose a recruit to Ford? The Kansas program is so strong I can't fathom the idea that any good player would want to play anywhere else. Self needs to do a little introspection and figure out why he is losing great recruits like Smart.

Kye Clark 7 years, 8 months ago

There are many reasons why players choose different schools. It isn't just a case of KU vs. OSU or Self vs. Ford. Style of play, playing time, willingness to play freshman, etc. all play roles. Self might have told Smart he would have to come off the bench his first year before having the opportunity to start. And with the season EJ had last year and the expectations for him this year, that was more than reasonable.

It is true we had a slight down-swing in recruiting a few years ago which led to the thin bench team last year, but have you seen next year's class? I believe it's ranked #2. You can't get 'em all!

Kevin Huffman 7 years, 8 months ago

OSU atmosphere is just SOOOOOO stale lately. They ACTUALLY have a good team this year and had a good opponent in Iowa State on Wed. night and I swear it looked like GIA was like 40% full, was really quite pathetic honestly!!! And that's not from like Texas Tech where I could see & understand those kind of attendance expectations. They've had good crowds in the past and it's not like it was a bad weather day or anything.

Kevin Huffman 7 years, 8 months ago

Problem being.....still not getting PGs! :(

Doug Cramer 7 years, 8 months ago

EJ - This Jayhawk is behind you !!! You've got a little adversity to get through...and it's gonna feel great when you pull through...and help us bring home a national championship !!!

Cody Riedy 7 years, 8 months ago

The season is over half over and we haven't won the National Championship yet! My god! How can this be? What's to be done?!

Robert Brock 7 years, 8 months ago

Two big recruiting failures last year: Kaleb Tarczewski and Marcus Smart. This team would look a lot better if we had landed those two. Pity.

Tony Bandle 7 years, 8 months ago

No one seems to mention the loss of Zach Peters and what impact he might have brought to the rotation. If nothing else his big body banging the opponent for five fouls a night may have a] worn down the opponent's big men, b] given Jeff extra in-game breaks and rest, c] bench toughness with a little scoring thrown in and, d] provided competition for Jamari and Perry for playing time - and we all know competiton is good!!

Tony Bandle 7 years, 8 months ago

Love the expression of the blonde cheerleader in the top photo right above EJ. She looks like she just walked in on her parents "doing it!!"

HawkInAL 7 years, 8 months ago

Meh. This team has won ugly all year by playing hard-nosed defense and leading the nation in FG % defense. They haven't given up 60 points since the Iowa State game until the Cowboys dropped 85 yesterday.

-Give up 85 points at home and you deserve to lose. Plain and simple.

This team needs to embrace who they are: play gritty defense, let Ben score 15-20, Jeff 10-15 and figure out where the 30 points will come from on a game by game basis. Score 60 and win. That's who this team is, plain and simple.

In two years the freak show will be in town with Greene, Seldon, Embiid, Frankamp, Rio, AW3, Traylor, Ellis. Loads of firepower.

In the meantime, I'm happy clubbing teams to death and winning while scoring in the 60's.

KU 7 years, 8 months ago

It is no surprise why Self has missed out on the top point guards the last decade. Number 1, his philosophy is to run two combo guards so the opponent can't cut the head off his offense. He doesn't really value a true point guard as much as other least that is what opposing recruiters are saying when the make home visits to the top PG prospects, which brings me to Number 2: opposing programs can use Self's own words about his philosophy about guard play and the evidence of his Illinois and Kansas rotations to prove that a true point guard migt not fit Self's system.

Consider Nebraska football under Tom Osborne. Would he ever have a chance to get the top pro-style QB recruit, despite all his success?

Kevin Huffman 7 years, 8 months ago

All the more why we MIGHT have some success in recruiting E.Mudiaye....PERFECT "Self" ball type of G.

offline 7 years, 8 months ago

Self is not a recruiter and it has shown in the past few years, remember Morningstar, what a dud he was and it is just that, Self cann't recruit players, Players that are worth anything are not interested in KU and Self. KU will lose at least 5 more games and that will make it difficult for KU to get into the NCAA Tournment and no big 12 title. The only good chance would be to replace Self with Doc Sadler who can coach.

Kevin Huffman 7 years, 8 months ago

Are you some kind of Syracuse, U of A, or UK "trolling" fan....'cause it sure sounds like it.

Sam Constance 7 years, 8 months ago

That's a fantastic screenname.

Assuming, of course, that it is intended as a reference to your brain.

KU 7 years, 8 months ago

Don't take my previous comment as anti-Self. I am a huge fan of Bill Self. My point is just that a coach will attract the type of player that fits his style and opposing coaches will use his style against him to sway recruits to sign elsewhere. We have been fortunate enough over the last decade that a sufficient number of Self's combo guards proved they COULD handle the pressure and the ball when called upon. This year, we don't have that luxury. I was never a big fan of EJ. Even after he had a good run at the end of last year, I thought he would return to his trend line. He has never been an especially good ball handler or passer or defender. The only time he has shown himself to be an adequate shooter was the last 10 games of last season.

At this point of the season, Self has 2 choices: stay with the known quantity for better or worse and hope the defense is enough to carry the team through the post-season, or switch to Naadir/Anrio and hope their inexperience is offset enough by an ability to make the offense better. Knowing the Self/Sadler braintrust, I would put my money on them opting for the status quo.

Kevin Huffman 7 years, 8 months ago

That's not true!!! In terms of only time as adequat shooter....he was also good in that vein during the pre-conference season especially in Maui....heck, I think his best half of basketball was the 1st half against them....I think he had like 15 or 18 in that 1st half.

KU 7 years, 8 months ago

It is absolutely true. If you exclude the last 9 games of last year, EJ's numbers are in line with what he has done this year--8.9ppg; 40.1% FG; 29.9% 3FG. EJ was never consistently a good offensive producer except for the last 9 games of 2011-2012. This year he is averaging 9.3ppg; 38.5% FG; 33.3% 3FG.

It's the poor assist and turnover numbers that are really hurting the team, thought. His Offensive Rating is 93!! You have to go back over a decade to find a KU point guard with that low of a rating.

KU 7 years, 8 months ago

It's absolutely true. If you take out the stats from the last 9 games of last season, EJ averaged 8.9ppg; 40.1% FG; and 29.9% 3FG. This year: 9.3ppg; 38.5% FG; and 33.3% 3FG. He was never consistently a good offensive player other than the season-ending stretch last year.

It's the very poor assist and turnover numbers that are hurting the team, though. He turns the ball over on 29% of the possessions he ends. His Offensive Rating is 93!! You have to go back more than a decade to find a KU point guard with that low of a rating.

Dyrk Dugan 7 years, 8 months ago

yes, it was a bad play at the end...a missed play. EJ didn't have a good overall the last 7 seconds are really a microcosm of the entire day.

but to put the game's defeat at the hands of one player is ridiculous. mult. players had three plus TOs....we gave up a lot of O rebounds at the worst times.....we had a stretch of the beginning of the game and at the end of the game, where we gave up 44 points in 18 total minutes...that's an absurd pace.

and think about it, if EJ had made one more shot...let alone two, which would make him 5-14 for the game, we win it.

so Coach Self, it's a fairly clear cut decision: do you think Elijah Johnson just needs to make a couple more shots a game, and work through TOs? or is it a lost cause, at 19-2 and 7-1 in the league, change lineups, insert Mr. Tharpe, and bring EJ off the bench?

i don't believe one loss in league play merits the latter. but we indeed shall see.

Bradley Sitz 7 years, 8 months ago

KU is paying Bill Self $3 million a year for this pathetic offense? Excluding the one actually decent offensive performance during conference play (ISU @ home), the half-court offense is degrading into three perimeter players that are unable (Johnson and McLemore) or unwilling (Releford) to score. The bench is not providing any offense, either. And, then we have interior players that seem incapable of making point blank layups. How many point blank layups has Young missed? And yet, Young is the only starter that shows consistent energy and gets to the free throw line. I will list the stats since ISU: In 223 minutes, Johnson hs made 21-58 FGs 7-26 3Pt, 10-13 FTs 24 TOs and scored 53 points. In 253 minutes, Releford has made 28-49 FGs, 6-15 3pts, 17-19FTs, 10 TOs and scored 79 points. In 223 minutes (of a possible 280), McLemore has made 36-71 FGs, 18-37 3PTs, 24-29 FTs, 21 TOs (almost has bad a passer as Johnson), and scored 108 points. Tharpe is the only sub with over 100 minutes in conference play, in 127 minutes he has gone 11-38 FG, 6-26 3PT, 7-8 FTs, 11 TOs for 35 points. Total bench scoring since ISU is a grand total of 72 points! Young has 52 points and Withey has scored 84 points. No one has fouled out. So what is this saying? The stats indicate that this is a very passive team that does not drive the ball, does not get to the free throw line, is extremely prone to poor passing, and can not count on any offensive support from the bench. To get guys moving, they should institute a motion offense that would require some decent screening motion and get the perimeter players to the foul line. Only Withey and Young are going to the line, and they are the poorest FT shooters. A good defense can only carry a team so far. Letting a 6-4 guard get 8 Offensive boards did not help, either When has any of the guards taken a charge?

Sam Constance 7 years, 8 months ago

You are officially the first person I've ever heard suggest that McLemore can't score.

Congrats on being one of those completely uninformed, I'm-angry-when-we-lose-and-need-to-rage, fairweather fans.

Kent Noble 7 years, 8 months ago

EJ is going through some tuff times right now. But lets look at the big picture, the whole starting 5 throws the ball away. We are averaging 12 plus turnovers a game it's not just EJ, everybody is having really stupid turnovers. Stupid is, is what stupid does and our turnovers are youthball turnovers. What I don't understand is coach Self jumps all over Nadir for taking a three point shot at somtimes the wrong time, but I would rather have that than throw the ball right to the other team. At least we have a chance to score instead of throwing the ball away. I never seen a KU team that throws the ball away as much as this team, I mean come on people 4 starting Seniors & 1 freshman that's ridiculous.

Sam Constance 7 years, 8 months ago

This is a great point that is often missed.

EJ had 4 TOs, including a pretty bad one at the end of the game, but Withey and McLemore each had 4 TOs as well. And they are both playing positions that aren't constantly handling the ball. Also, neither of them managed to put up 6 assists to offset their TOs.

The whole team suffers from a lack of crisp passing, lack of ball fakes, and lack of quick passing decisions. ALL of them come up short in this arena, but EJ is just getting hammered.

It reminds me of the ways in which some of our fans completely trashed Tyshawn his junior year and even at the start of his senior year. Or the way our fans trashed Josh Selby. Or Xavier Henry.

Perhaps, we as fans, should look in the mirror in terms of bearing a tiny amount of responsibility for the perceived difficulty in getting primetime backcourt players to come play at KU. Because the fans are so accustomed to dominance all the time that the second there is even a hint of falling off or controversy, we turn pretty quickly. I can't believe all the terrible ideas that people have offered up with the interest of benching EJ because "he deserves it".

If I'm a top-level point guard and deciding where to go, I might be put off by the ravenous ways in which we seem to turn on our point guards when things get a little tough. Probably not a major factor in most recruiting battles, but something to consider...

Kevin Huffman 7 years, 8 months ago

I did have the thought. Why in the heck would you choose Okla. St. over KU if you were Smart. All I can think of is that Ford probably promised that he'd likely start from the get-go and Self was probably less promising.

Jeremy Wilhelm 7 years, 8 months ago

I'm just going to refer every one back to this page of panic when it all clicks for Elijah in the next few games and he's playing well again. You all need to relax.

Sam Constance 7 years, 8 months ago


We lost at home, dropping Self below .500...

...for Big 12 titles to Home losses.

Think about that statistic again. Remember all the great ways in which EJ has contributed to and given his body for KU Basketball. Look at how infrequently we have to experience this feeling compared to other fanbases.

THEN SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP. Let's at least wait until we have some actual controversy and losing issues before our website is overrun with doom and gloom.

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