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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Keegan

Opinion: At this point, change is due

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His shots aren’t falling. His turnovers, both of the forced and unforced variety, are mounting. And he has been less than a defensive stopper.

Nobody knows what is at the heart of senior point guard Elijah Johnson’s slump, but theories abound: He is playing an unnatural position, and his talents are better suited to shooting guard. His knee might not be 100 percent recovered. He’s putting too much pressure on himself to assume the role of team leader. His confidence is shot. All of the above.

Whatever the cause, the solution doesn’t seem to lie in maintaining the status quo. A change of scenery just might be what’s best for Johnson, and at this point, what’s best for Johnson is best for the team.

Starting the game on the bench and watching Naadir Tharpe start in his place might be just the tonic Johnson needs to break the tension building up within him and tearing down his game.

It also would be interesting to see what, if anything, a starting assignment could do for the smaller, quicker Tharpe.

Tyshawn Taylor’s career turned for the better when he returned from an embarrassing two-game suspension in late February of his junior season at Kansas. Serving as sixth man surely beats watching games in street clothes. What’s the down side to trying it?

Fortunate scheduling makes this the right time to try such a switch, with a trip to TCU next for the Jayhawks (19-2 overall, 7-1 in the Big 12). If TCU (9-12, 0-8) isn’t the worst Big 12 team of all-time, it certainly merits a spot on the short list.

Cynics might view starting Tharpe for a while as little more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

But if the move relieved Johnson of tension and gave him a chance to come off the bench and fix whatever might be broken, it could give the team a jolt.

A fresh start might revive Johnson, who in Big 12 games has shot .310 overall, .281 from three, averaged 4.3 assists and 3.9 turnovers and 8.1 points. Tharpe’s Big 12 numbers — .265 overall shooting, .231 from three, 1.9 assists, 1.5 turnovers, 5.4 points — haven’t been any better, and his size can be exploited defensively, but trying a different look is worth a shot.

Quick and blessed with good size, freshman Anrio Adams might tame his game before the year is out enough to help in certain situations, but it’s not realistic to expect he could run the team yet.

Walk-on freshman Evan Manning a couple of years from now might have the experience and the build to help, but probably not yet.

The answer lies with Johnson and Tharpe, not necessarily in that order.

Comments

Ferd Magellan 1 year, 6 months ago

If we had another guard on this roster capable of adding something, I'd be all for making a change. Since we don't, I have to side with the group that routed CU, beat Ohio State in Columbus and stands atop the Big 12 standings.

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Steve Quatrocky 1 year, 6 months ago

Totally agree with you and disagree with Keegan. EJ is the quarterback of this years team, and Bill use the loss to get him to make the next leap, and its a lesson that will make the whole team better. One of those midseason lessons you have to learn before the postseason, if you want to go from good to great and get beyond the second round and/or first hot shooting team. Bill doesnt ever give up on anybody, especially his four year senior quarterback of the team, he will be brutally honest and sees it as his responsibility to get EJ to the next level. Coach Self has said many many times, that a PGs most important stat is Wins and Losses and by that measure, EJ's a pretty good PG. He had a really bad day, lets not overreact even though home losses are always hard to accept.

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jhox 1 year, 6 months ago

Unfortunatly, our guard situation is what it is. Next year things are not looking a whole lot better. We've missed on too many top guys. I've heard good things about the point guard we're bringing in, but with the loaded roster we're going to have, I would love to have another experienced point guard. I'm going to throw this out there, and let the arguing begin...I would not be opposed to Self picking up Michael Dixon for one year. He hangs out frequently in Lawrence with some of our players already. They know him. The chemistry thing would not be a problem.

Obviously, the downside is the P.R. hit Self would take for such a move. But if any coach could handle that hit it is Bill Self. Self could put him on a short, zero tolerance leash.

I don't know Dixon at all, but do know people who do know him, and by all accounts from those people, he was a victim of a very poor choice, but nothing illegal. They would contend the only thing he was really guilty of was stupidity.

I don't want to get into specifics, because it is clearly a he said vs she said situation, and it isn't fair of me to judge if the woman's claims were legit or not. However, I would point out that he was not charged, suggesting that some of the rumors I've been hearing in his favor may well be factual.

In any event, this should make a good topic of conversation among KU faithful. I'm guessing most fans will be opposed to the idea, and I get that. I also know Self bringing in a guy with this kind of history is very unlikely to happen. We do, though, have a one year need for an experienced point guard, and he is everything Bill Self loves in terms of confidence and toughness. It would also be the ultimate "take that" to MU and their fans if we brought him in and he had a great year. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that the thought of that appeals to me. I also believe we would have a much stronger team next year with him running the point.

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jhox 1 year, 6 months ago

I want to clarify...I'm not saying this is something Self should definitely do. What I am saying is that if Self investigated the situations and felt comfortable in bringing Dixon in, I would not be opposed to it. If I had a daughter on the KU campus or living in Lawrence, I might well feel differently. I mostly wanted to throw this thought out there just to see what public opinion might be.

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jhox 1 year, 6 months ago

My suspicion is that the majority will agree with you.

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741hawk 1 year, 6 months ago

There is no question but that EJ is struggling. However, I will always remember that as a high school all-star, he wore KU sweats when he was introduced to a booing crowd in Lexington, Kentucky! He has to be trying SO hard. I just hope that Coach and he can figure out a path to improvement. All the best, Elijah!

16

yukup 1 year, 6 months ago

His actions in Lexington made him one of my favorite Jayhawks before he ever stepped foot on the floor at AFH. He has always been a loyal Jayhawk and deserves our support through this difficult time. Truly hope he shakes this funk soon and finishes his KU career basking in the admiration of the KU faithful that he richly deserves.

1

Kyle Sybesma 1 year, 6 months ago

Sometimes we forget that these kids have lives outside of basketball and it's certainly possible that there could be something occupying his mind. Girl trouble. Family member sick. Best wishes to EJ.

1

skwahjayog 1 year, 6 months ago

Sybesma, you are so right! As an elementary teacher in a title one building, I have learned the hard way that what we are getting on the surface may have so, so many hidden layers from home, family, etc.

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Curtis Stutz 1 year, 6 months ago

Like those before me I completely disagree. KU needs EJ to be the starting senior PG. HCBS has put tons of pressure on him to be a creator this year for whatever reason. He just needs to play the same way he did last year with BMac and TRele more ready to step up the way TT did off the ball last year. TT almost never brought the ball up and drove from the point last year. He was part of the offense and made a lot happen from the wing when the ball swung his way. Same thing goes for Releford this year. When the ball swings around and you have a slight edge on your defender don't put the onus back on EJ, make something happen. Same thing goes for BMac, same thing goes for KYo in certain situations. Teams were daring him to shoot the jumper. Come on Kevin! We know you can score it, pull up and shoot, put it on the deck and get it in the middle. Don't freeze up afraid you'll miss the jumper and immediately look for someone to pass to. EJ shouldn't need to be a huge playmaker for a team with excellent offensive wings. HCBS might have gotten a little too used to TT's gutsy drives working out last year. TT, after 4 years of heaving them up, finally started getting floaters/tough layups to fall last year. To expect EJ to do the same this year is absurd, he's a different player. Work the offense, whenever the bigs get good position take advantage. Whenever a small has an opening take it and don't just send it back around the perimeter once you're on the short side of the shot clock.

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championhawks 1 year, 6 months ago

What has Young done to show us he can hit the elbow jumper?! I cringe every time it looks like he is going to shoot it!

1

Noel Graham 1 year, 6 months ago

The elbow jumper is his best shot. Sure, he only hits if 20% of the time, but he gets 50% of the rebounds when he misses it for an easy put back.

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Curtis Stutz 1 year, 6 months ago

He's capable, he's just not confident. The problem is he cringes every time he looks to take it. Some games Releford and Young just don't play with the confidence they should. But Young doesn't have to settle when it's open either, he has options, take one or two dribbles in, put pressure on the defense.

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amatxjayhawk 1 year, 6 months ago

I really trust HCBS to put the right guys on the floor and to get the most out of the talent at hand. One thing is certain. The last thing HCBS or the team needs is advice from Keegan. Even if it is the right thing to do it doesn't need to come form this hammerhead. In fact the very mentioning of it is potentially damaging to the team and entirely self serving on Keegan's part.

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David Leathers 1 year, 6 months ago

Opinion article, not advice article. Nothing wrong or self-serving on Keegan's end.

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actorman 1 year, 6 months ago

What would you have Keegan do, amatx, NOT give his opinion??? I've criticized Keegan plenty over the years. But there is nothing wrong with him bringing up this option and giving us his opinion on it.

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klineisanazi 1 year, 6 months ago

I sure hope EJ the rest of the team isn't so soft they cannot take the scrutiny that comes with playing big-time hoops. Because if they are, we are screwed.

1

Sam Constance 1 year, 6 months ago

Oh, come on. Relax.

You sound like all the posters who were suggesting that a Keegan article about KU being expected to win the Big 12 yet again would affect the team's attitude or give opponents more bulletin board fodder.

No one on the team is (or should be) reading KUsports.com. I also fail to see how a sports columnist sharing his opinion about sports qualifies as "self serving". He formed an opinion and shared it--which is his job.

I suppose ALL sports opinion is self serving in the literal sense of the word, but we're not really having a debate about the value/role of sports opinion in general, we're talking about Keegan sharing his opinion on this particular topic. I don't think "self serving" is an accurate description.

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Scott Oswalt 1 year, 6 months ago

Maybe try Releford at point guard? This is some funk Johnson is in. I witnessed my 3rd loss ever in AFH on Saturday. Not a good feeling. Coach em' up, Bill!!!

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Scott Oswalt 1 year, 6 months ago

I didn't say anything about Ben playing the point. If Releford would've played point on Saturday, KU wins.

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John Strayer 1 year, 6 months ago

I call BS on this...luv Travis...but you can't confuse him with a good ball handler. He finishes fast breaks and is a catch and shoot shooter. TOs would sky with him being the primary ball handler.

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Jack Wilson 1 year, 6 months ago

It is sheer madness to think that any KU player other than EJ or Tharpe could handle point guard duties. Such statements evidence a comlplete lack of understanding of the type of pressure that a D-I ballhandler deals with.

Sure, walk it up the floor. But when there is pressure, like OSU brought, it's a different game.

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KULA 1 year, 6 months ago

+1--complete lack of understanding.

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Michael Sillman 1 year, 6 months ago

I think it would be worth starting Tharpe to see if it helps the team and Johnson. I'd like to see Adams get a chance to run the team for a full 5 minute split.

I am also wondering if the end of both of the winning streaks might relax the team a bit also.

While on the subject of trying something different, I'd recommend going back to bringing Young off the bench and start Ellis. Not because Young is doing anything wrong as a starter.

I just always think that the 6th man needs to come in with a burst of energy to either revive a team when it is behind or push it over the hump when it is ahead to step on the opponent's neck. No one brings the energy like Young.

Several posters have raised the issue of Self's offense becoming predictable which has some merit. However, the players are the ones who can make it unpredictable. Instead of mechanically tossing the wing pass, fake it and throw it to the other side. Fake it and hit the wing the back door. Fake it and then drive past your man to the basket. Just don't do the same thing all of the time.

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jayhawk_4_life2 1 year, 6 months ago

Far be it from me to argue with someone... However, the man has LOST 8 games at AFH in 10 years... Heck Kim English said that he is like Vince Lombardi you know what is coming but it always works. I don't think this was scheme, I think this loss was complacency. Up 4 with 6 and change left to go, there was no sense of finish them off. IF (and thats a hated word I know) they go ahead and attack the paint like they did to get up 4 and go up 8-10 with the chances late in the game they had, KU probably runs away with the game.

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Doug Cramer 1 year, 6 months ago

EJ - we're behind you...and we know you'll be fine. These adverse situations have a way of making a person better. RCJH

5

David Leathers 1 year, 6 months ago

Great analysis! I thouroughly enjoyed reading this post, which was full of positive suggestions to help our team.

Although I never publicly posted my displeasure of EJ's play recently, I must admit that I was one of those wanting to try something different at the PG position. However, after reading your post, I'm on your side. Elijah Johnson is the epitome of what we as fans should want as a Kansas Jayhawk. Throw some positive in his life, let him know we love him, and send his butt to work!

Once again, great post. Rock Chalk!

1

ParisHawk 1 year, 6 months ago

The best kind of positive post: not Pollyanna positive, but constructive.

Add me to those who feel as you do about EJ.

1

Beate Williams 1 year, 6 months ago

Excellent, logical, rational sentiments. The sky is not falling and constructive recommendations are much better than emotional criticisms.

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dehawk 1 year, 6 months ago

I too am one of the fans who will support the players through tough times and want to give EJ positive support. We all have low points but its harder to be young and have those things happen on a national stage.

1

mejayhawk 1 year, 6 months ago

Great Post! I'd just add the following to #2: Move the ball from side to side. If you watch the CU or Ohio St. games again, offensively, the game was easy for them. They used crisp passes (following a series of cuts/screens through the paint) to move the ball from one side to the other at least three times. By the third "side" the defense is so tired/out of position, someone can drive/cut/screen for an open cut. Unless I'm greatly mistaken (and I often am), HCBS's offense is based on this.

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mejayhawk 1 year, 6 months ago

For some reason it won't let me edit the above, but I meant to say, in the next-to-last sentence, drive/cut/screen for and open look.

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Curtis Stutz 1 year, 6 months ago

Good stuff slyr, hopefully his senior teammates have his back, I'm sure that means more to him than what anyone else says.

Sometimes for a ball-handler all you need is a couple give and go's to back the pressure off when defenses are overplaying.

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J.T. Even 1 year, 6 months ago

EJ needs to stop being so lazy with his passes, but wait the whole team does as well. It makes me wonder if they are doing it out of habit in practice. Maybe that's why we aren't seeing Rio and White getting hardly any minutes, and why Self is still critical of Tharpe's defense; they aren't providing the defensive intensity in practice and as a result the whole team is suffering.

If we were just more careful with the ball, despite our woeful offense, we would've won the game.

Something else that hardly is being talked about is this is not the offense that EJ learned for three years. The high-low is hardly being utilized, and that is a cornerstone of Bill's offense. If Withey, Traylor, Ellis, and Young could all either hold their own in the paint or shoot/drive from the free throw lane, this would be a completely different offensive team. Withey is playing above expectations, but he needs more help. Furthermore, Rele isn't really providing as much help in the offense as he needs to either. So Elijah, as the team leader and point guard, is trying to take over by driving more and playing faster. That's probably what Self is asking him to do. But he's playing on two broken wheels. You can tell he's trying to will his knees to comply but he still hasn't learned to play within his semi-broken self. He still doesn't trust his knees. You can say it's all in your head dummy, but the mental aspect is usually the toughest to overcome. And his shot not falling isn't helping things either for him.

(continued)

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finestack 1 year, 6 months ago

Totally disagree with Keegan on benching EJ. #nevercoached Good suggestions drgnslyr. Coaching is about reaching the individual, and connecting him with his potential and the higher purpose, and HCBS has proven he and staff can do this with any kid who is bought into the system. We all know EJ is bought in. We have all seen him excel on The biggest stage. And while he's a senior leader and starter, there is time. RocK ChalK

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finestack 1 year, 6 months ago

Also, get serious, ..."starting Tharpe ... as little more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic." Talk with Old Roy or Cal if you want to be Chicken Little about the season. But don't denigrate this great Kansas team and wonderful season with histrionics

1

J.T. Even 1 year, 6 months ago

Which is why I'm going to offer an out-of-the-box suggestion that might me get me laughed at out of the building: yoga.

I don't know if this is something that the strength and conditioning program utilizes or not. I don't know if it's suitable to throw at semi-professional athletes at this point in the season. But I know a fair amount of professional athletes do it and credit some their of success to it. Kevin Garnett, Kevin Love, Shaq, and Lebron all practice it. A lot of NFL teams are also incorporating it in their strength and conditioning programs.

Yoga helps strengthen and open your joints. It's like un-twistting a knot in a hose. It also helps with willpower, focus, and resolve. Some poses, while seeming easy, are pretty hard to do for an extended time. It takes mental toughness and concentration to hold a pose for a minute.

This is something I would seriously consider if I was EJ or Kansas's Strength and Conditioning program. It's a Ying to an already in place rehab Yang. Plus, yoga is a lot more challenging than most people give it credit, and if EJ saw some success with it, it could translate onto the court.

I've done a couple different practices, and it's always been said that if you do it everyday, you WILL see a change in your body and mind within a month.

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Kent Richardson 1 year, 6 months ago

It would address mind and body which I see pointed out as the Prophet's reasons for decline in performance.

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Michael Luby 1 year, 6 months ago

I actually think TK has something here. The TCU game will most likely be a tune up game for us. Why not sit EJ, take some pressure off the guy, let him come off the bench 5-8 min into the game. Perspective is everything! Let him sit and watch for a moment. Let him focus on where he can impact the game. Let him realize his great potential again. He needs positive reinforcement. The whole team does. This might just be a way to kill two birds. RCJHKUALLDAY

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Edward Daub 1 year, 6 months ago

Bill also tried Kevin Young at Point Guard at one Practice. I doubt he will try KY there, since he is 6'8" tall, and can he dribble and pass from there? The next Magic Johnson!

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klineisanazi 1 year, 6 months ago

I think this would depend on how Self gauges the impact of not starting on EJ. Because to me, the object is to get EJ up to speed before March. I just don't see a deep run without him putting up numbers similar to those he did before "the Slump". They can win grinders, but will struggle to win a game against more capable offensive teams. So if sitting him more would help him, and not destroy whatever confidence he might have left, it might be considered.

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Ashwin Rao 1 year, 6 months ago

I still believe that EJ is our ticket to the championship. So we need to handle this with care. Not starting EJ may reduce his self-esteem further, further aggravating the issues. I am sure Self knows better than us about the emotional underpinnings and will do what is best for the team. Given the situation, if I were the coach (which, I am sure many would point, am not!), I would start EJ (insurance), then would give Rio the much needed experience bringing up the ball early in the 1st, then choose between the three (Rio, EJ, Tharpe) as the game progresses.

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PhearThePhog 1 year, 6 months ago

Giving EJ a little change of scenery doesn't necessarily mean he's not our guy. With him highly engaged we are 19-2 and on the top line of the BIGXII standings. But January EJ is not playing like December EJ ... which is the team we need to get back to being. His confidence is rattled and may benefit from pressure relief. Start Naadir and rotate in EJ, Rio & WIII. Work EJ back as he re-emerges and it will also give 3 very capable guys PT that could prove valuable down the stretch. As for self-esteem ... this is Kansas Basketball man! ... and we don't need Stuart Smalley as our PG that requires Daily Affirmations.

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KEITHMILES05 1 year, 6 months ago

This years offense IS very stagnant. Too much standing around and Releford is at the top of the list. One minute he is active and the other his head is elsewhere. He blows Self off when told to get with it and that is a very bad sign. OSU game EJ wanted to be the man and BMac hardly got any touches the first half. HUGE MISTAKE! Then, the second half they weren't feeding Withey.

EJ has problems and it wasn't just the OSU game but the past 5 games. He looks unhappy and lost and has no lift or get go. He needs to look at himself in the mirror prior to taking the court and get things right. This is a team sport and when you are doing things detremental to the team it's very wrong.

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Mike Barnhart 1 year, 6 months ago

It's easier then you all are making it out to be. If coach wants to steal 7 minutes a game from EJ and give them to Nadir, he'll do it. No need to change the line up, just the substitution pattern.

The key is this: who play's in "crunch time?" Maybe it's time for Nadir to get that chance!

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jhox 1 year, 6 months ago

Johnson isn't the biggest reason for the loss Saturday. Poor defensive rebounding, especially the last 5 minutes, is even more to blame.

I do believe the offense looks better with Tharpe on the floor though, and would not be opposed to seeing him start. I'm not sure he's really earned the right to start, but he is playing better than EJ and probably deserves to be rewarded.

I would also like to see the short leash taken off Ellis. We need his offensive skills on the floor, badly, and if we're going to make a deep run in the tournament, we will need more inside offense. He is clearly the guy capable of providing that.

1

VaJay 1 year, 6 months ago

The guy most often beat on the board,s was EJ!! Marcus Smart was eating him alive. So its not just the giveaways & missed shots, its everything. Sometimes the bench does wonders. Its worth a shot. There have been too many games in a row like this. .

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smhend 1 year, 6 months ago

Seriously, 19 and 2 is the Titanic?

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Robert Brown 1 year, 6 months ago

Not the Titanic, but it seems like since midway through the first half of the Temple game this team has struggled. With the exception of the Baylor game at home, every game has been a struggle and there is only one other team ranked in the conference. Even though we have kept winning, we are not playing like a Top 5 team.

Not the Titanic, but the Titanic, to KU fans, is being a #1 seed and losing in the second round of the tournament to an 8 or 9 seed, a team sort of like Oklahoma State.

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akgjenkintown 1 year, 6 months ago

Totally agree. This team has not played like a top 5 let alone 10 ten team since the Temple game. Weaknesses have been exposed and are now exploited each and every game. Defense can win championships but not when you are struggling to score inside, have few transition points and continue to turn the ball over at an alarming rate. And KU's turnover continue to lead to fast break points for the opposition and that is unheard of for a Self coached team. The high low offense is none existent and the ball movement is poor. The team has a wonderful record and in retrospect few truly signature wins, i.e., Ohio State and KSU on the road. They have not dominated anyone in the Big XII and are living on borrowed time unless the offense start to click and no matter what anyone thinks it start with the point guard. Self has few viable options, so hopefully EJ can turn it around or this team will never have the chance to win 6 games in a row in March against better teams than they see day in and day out in the BIG XII. You come to KU to have a chance to win championships and this team currently is not prepared to make a long run, even though the have a wonderful record in a down year in the Big XII.

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championhawks 1 year, 6 months ago

Offensively, we really did struggle against Baylor too. We shot 37.7% and 21.4% from three. Baylor was so bad that game it made us look better than we really were!

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Robert Brown 1 year, 6 months ago

Your right, of course. I mentioned Baylor only because it was a relatively easy win but hardly a thing of beauty.

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REHawk 1 year, 6 months ago

I will say it again. I would like to see many more minutes for White and Adams in the TCU contest. If Bill Self has one glaring weakness, it is the quick yank for freshman talent. The meltdown of his squad Saturday afternoon falls heavily upon his own shoulders.

1

jhawkrulz 1 year, 6 months ago

We scored 80 points and it sounds like our offense was horrendous.

At the end of the game, we play 35 seconds of defense, but failed to block out on 3 or 4 key possessions. Yes there were turnovers, but the sky isn't falling. I think anything less than 5 losses wins the Big XII, and we are a long way away from that.

Everyone knows that there were plenty of turnovers to go around, it just is disappointing that it was the last play of the game. I could see this being the push that gets EJ going. I've always liked the Tharpe to kickout to Releford or McLemore, but after seeing EJ get to the rim a few times, I think EJ could do the same thing.

Next game, EJ Hawk to Rock!

1

Ben Kane 1 year, 6 months ago

I didn't see this game, fortunately, but i disagree as well. Putting PE in the starting lineup instead of KY will help our offense be more dynamic and thus take a little pressure off of EJ. The energy that KY would bring off the bench would be beneficial as well.

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Robert Brock 1 year, 6 months ago

PE certainly did not look dynamic against the Pokes. He is just not ready to do much against the better teams. He needs to get much stronger and learn to play tougher; he will have to play next season. It's up to Hudy to help him get where he needs to be.

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FearlessJayhawk 1 year, 6 months ago

Did anyone ever stop to think that maybe EJ simply isn't that good?

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hawk_of_ages 1 year, 6 months ago

Not anyone who saw him in the tournament last year.

1

Jack Wilson 1 year, 6 months ago

We saw Saturday the exact type of game that a team "winning with defense" can lose in the tournament -- the hot shooting team. And then, no major answer on offense. The good news is that we led by 4 late in the second half. We overcame.

First, I would not switch to Tharpe. I'd stick with EJ. That's my gut right now.

Second, I would make a point of working AWIII into the rotation. We saw how rusty he was Monday vs. WVU. We saw a major impact in one minute vs. OSU. He is an X-factor that can help us overcome the hot shooting team. He gives us a nice option from outside.

Third, I would not hesitate to play small for bigger chunks of the game. This would move EJ to the 2. Self did it in two stretches Saturday with Releford at the 4. I'd work White in there a bit, too. We need a guy that can hit that 15 footer "two out of three times" as Self said earlier. Releford and White are that answer.

Fourth, I would avoid playing Withey as the "high" in the high-low. We did that for quite a bit of time in the first half. As mentioned above, Releford and White can fill this spot for stretches.

Fifth, Ellis needs to put up, or we need to shut up about him playing more. He was awful Saturday. Fumbling the ball away, poor shooting. But a big chunk of PT for a few games should give him that chance to "put up", so to speak. As drgnslayr and other have pointed out, he is maybe our answer to fixing offensive stagnation.

Sixth and final point, one that is like beating a dead horse ... I am at wit's end on this. Look at Releford's line on Saturday. 2-5 shooting. 2-2 from 3, 0-3 from 2. Five freaking shots. Guys, this is our biggest problem. Literally forget everthing else. Releford is the guy that can score. He can get to the hoop. He can slash. I watch Saturday where he'd catch the ball, and all he had to do was want to drive. Instead, pass around the perimeter. His shooting percentage is excellent. We have seen him take over in stretches before. He has to be assertive for this team to peak. It's that simple. Half the responses I get when I say this are "well, he works so hard on defense he's too tired to focus on offense." That is lame. Many, many other excellent defensive players have excelled on offense. And Releford's best offensive stretches are many times late in games after he's been playing excellent defense. You want our answer, it's #24.

The fact is (in my opinio) we don't have that many problems that can really be fixed. Every team has flaws. We have the talent we have, and we're lucky to have it. Ok, point guard play has not been stellar, but we're also missing a big time player at the 4 that might make everything right in the world. Right now, we just need to capitalize on what we have.

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Sam Constance 1 year, 6 months ago

Agree 100% with your comments earlier re: trying out someone besides EJ/Tharpe at point guard. Completely untenable, and any suggestion otherwise isn't even worthy of consideration. Especially against a defense that's putting high pressure on the perimeter as OSU's was.

I too would stick with Tharpe, but more than being a gut feeling, I really don't know what the expected gain would be if it did work out, and the risk is high that it won't work out and ends up causing more long-term damage. Switching out the starting PG position wouldn't be like rearranging deck chairs, because with rearranging deck chairs, your risk is zero, and there is a specific connection between the action being taken (moving the chairs) and the desired outcome (more pleasing arrangement of chairs). In working with dynamic human beings, there is plenty of risk in how the change might affect EJ (no deck chair is going to lose confidence because it gets moved from A to B), and there is no direct connection between action and outcome--it's just trying for trying's sake.

I too like the idea of more of White. It seems like Self should have at least given White a shot (especially given how poor our guard play was) before we were in desperation mode. I knew that what we saw out of him for the WVU game was more positive than negative. He can help this team. I have a feeling Self waited because he saw how the OSU backcourt was abusing ours and if EJ and Naadir are "iffy" on defense, then White is even more suspect. At a certain point, we need to realize that a game isn't going to be won in a 50s-60s score and go with a lineup that is going to score.

I disagree a little bit on Ellis. He only had a single turnover, and while he did go oh-fer from the field, he earned 6 foul shots, and ripped down 6 rebounds (4 offensive) in 13 minutes. It's like he hasn't figured out how to blend the scoring finesse he had early against the rummies and the toughness that has come with his recent emergence.

My concern is that, individual player improvement aside, there are two things that we are still doing poorly which suggests that this team isn't capable of doing them well: 1) crisp, quick & intelligent passes, and 2) high pressure perimeter defense. We don't pass quick enough (meaning time elapsed between passes) or with enough "mustard" (ball velocity/trajectory), and a lot of times when we do manage to make quick passes in succession, it ends up being turned over, because we don't do enough ball fakes to keep the defense on their heels. Then, the flip side is that we don't get enough pressure on the perimeter to discourage three-pointers, and then we don't close out when the teams do shoot. That one is incredibly frustrating to me, because with a guy like Withey manning the paint, we shouldn't need to collapse on the post so much, and half of our three-point defense problem is helping off of opponents on the perimeter.

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Woody Cragg 1 year, 6 months ago

Great assessment. All valid points, especially #3 where I would like to see Relly at the 4 & playing smaller more often. Also agree that while Perry could be the answer, Travis knows the system, can get to the rack & finish, is great at the line, & is clutch late in the game. Adams could get some of Tharpes' min with EJ on the floor as well, as his defense seems quicker than Nadir. Defenses are giving EJ the open shot now, he's been told to keep shooting, albeit with no improvement in the results. With him more restrained from the ball handling responsibilties, that may cut down on the TO's, poor shooting, & poor passing he's displaying at present. And as I have stated since Oct, White can be the real wild card for an offense that has a footer low in the blocks, which is where he belongs. Plus I will also add that we really do have one helluva team, that is just not executing fundamentally at times, but is freelancing way to much allowing opponents to control tempo. When try to play faster our poor shooting abounds. Should we play true half court HiLo with crisp ball reversal as in past years, the open shots or backdoor cuts are there for the taking. I would expect some different approaches coming vs TCU, as it won't get any easier than that going forward

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jhox 1 year, 6 months ago

I'm not opposed to going small and playing EJ at the 2 more, but if we do that, our guards need to do a lot better job of going to the defensive glass than what they've been doing. As for Ellis, his biggest problem, I'm convinced, is the short leash he's on. He's thinking way to much and worrying about making mistakes. There is no quicker way to will yourself into a mistake than to worry about making one.

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Kye Clark 1 year, 6 months ago

I have replied to your suggestion on playing small before with this disagreement, and that is that by playing Releford at the 4 in order to get Tharpe in the game, you have taken your best perimeter defender - Releford - and neutralized him, or worse, made him a liability, by forcing him to guard the post. And you've replaced our best perimeter defender with Tharpe - our worst perimeter defender. It is an acceptable line-up in small doses, or more so when playing teams that have a stretch 4 that plays on the perimeter anyway.

I'm actually for seeing more of Tharpe and less of EJ. The tide seems to have turned with the fans here, where they went from an extreme anti-EJ overreaction, to now we're seeing the sympathetic overreaction in the opposite direction - the "we're rolling with him no matter what" stance. Fans are back to making excuses for him. Even Coach Self can't make up his mind. He's blasting him in the post-game interviews, now he's saying he's one of our best players. He says KU has to have it's best players in the game. If that was the case, why exactly did seldom used Andrew White III sub in for him during crunch time?

My suggestion is this: right now, EJ is not a better PG than Tharpe. He's not a better SG than BMac. And he's not better than Travis, regardless of position. So EJ should come off the bench. This way, he's back to handling the back-up PG duties, which he has shown he can do very well, and he can play off the ball when he subs in for BMac or Travis, and maybe get further into his comfort zone.

I am in agreement that Travis pulling a disappearing act on the offensive end is a huge problem. At halftime I posted how we needed him to provide us more offense. He hits a 3 within the first minute and I thought that would get him going. He doesn't attempt another shot for over 10 minutes.

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PhearThePhog 1 year, 6 months ago

Hardly the Titanic. But what brought the Titanic down was arrogance that it will NEVER sink and and a failure to pay attention to the warnings and act immediately. Our 'Titanic moment' could end up being an early exit from the tournament as a high seed if we don't correct our direction and change our mindset that we have to hit the floor with an intense desire to win and not expecting to win. HCBS and these players did hear the warnings and will act. Watch.

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Dyrk Dugan 1 year, 6 months ago

i disagree with the subject of this article. 19-2 and 7-1 don't warrant it. not yet. remember, same Sr. PG who took it to Ohio St. in their house.

too much history at this point.....and not enough evidence. the next three games are key though......a lapdog roadie, a tougher roadie, and then the big rival back home on Big Monday. that will be all the evidence we'll need.

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championhawks 1 year, 6 months ago

I'm not sure if a lineup change is what is needed, but changes in play are needed, IMO. EJ can't take 14 shots and 7 from behind the arc, especially when he is struggling like he is. BMac is the only perimeter player who should have numbers like those.

The high-low has been important to KU the past few years and has worked great. How many times did Marcus or Markieff throw a pass down low to theother from the elbow? It doesn't happen this year because neither of our big guys can hit the elbow jumper consistently. Young is not an offensive player, so I really don't expect him to improve on that. Teams have sagged off him and basically double Withey so there is no way to get a pass to him from the elbow. I would love to see Ellis get more minutes and get in the flow of things because I feel like he has the ability to hit that shot. He is progressing and getting better, but unfortunately I'm not sure if he has shown enough to be a starter. As others suggested this, I would love to see it happen as well and bring Young with his energy as our 6th man.

Lastly, our end of the half possessions are pathetic. If there is a play that is supposed to be ran, they better work on it because they must not be executing it. Whether it is the chop play or something else they draw up, they need to get something going into the half. IMO, I've seen too much of EJ standing at mid-court until 7 seconds left and then they put up a forced 3 or turn the ball over. EJ is not TT or Collins and isn't going to make a play 1v1 most of the time.

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championhawks 1 year, 6 months ago

I totally agree with #5 (others too, but wanted to comment on that one specifically). At the end of the game, OSU wanted it more and it showed on the boards. I can remember 1 specifically where there was 2 or 3 OSU players going for the ball while 2 KU players were basically standing there watching them, not one jumped for it. I believe Smart ended up with the offensive rebound and put back. And you should very rarely give up an offensive rebound on a free throw. That was just poor fundamentals and, like you said, want.

I mentioned before that pressure D disrupts us more than I remember it has in awhile. Off the top of my head it caused at least 2 of BMac's, the one he tried to throw over a defender and the guy just took it from him, and another where he missed a pass and it hit him in the chest (I believe that was caused by the pressure they had been putting on him). 12 turnovers between 3 guys is WAY too much, EJ's just came at a much more critical time.

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Sam Constance 1 year, 6 months ago

Just a note about something you said re: Marcus Smart.

He had 9 rebounds as a PG. 8 of them were offensive (and yes, I mean that as a double-entendre).

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Robert Brown 1 year, 6 months ago

I think what is good is that it is the beginning of February and there are time for adjustments to be made and at the end of the day, a couple of conference losses are not that big of a deal and could be a good thing if part of the problem is complacency.

While loyal to his players, Bill Self has proven that if something is not working, he will make adjustments.

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KU 1 year, 6 months ago

Nine games at the end of last season are the reason people expect so much from Elijah Johnson. Nine games. Granted, those were nine very important games--including 2 in the Big 12 tourney and 6 in the NCAAs. In those games, he averaged 14.4 ppg; 50.5% FG; 46.8% 3FG; 2.33 APG; 1.55TO.

If you take those games out of his season averages from last year, really the only year he played enough to get a good sample size, he averaged 8.9 ppg; 40.1% FG; 29.9% 3FG; 3.05 APG; 1.50 TO.

That's really in line with his current production, with the exception of his assists and turnovers. He is averaging 9.3 ppg; 38.5% FG; 33.3% 3FG; 4.9 APG; 3.19 TO.

My point is that Elijah is playing to form. The end of last year was the anomoly. This January was not the anomoly.

Self has 2 choices--stick with the status quo, which has been good enough to win a lot of games ugly and hope our defense is good enough to carry us through the post-season, OR play Naadir/Anrio more in hopes that their inexperience and/or defensive deficiency is more than compensated for by an improved offense.

Knowing the Bill Self/Doc Sadler defensive braintrust, I would bet the house that they stick with the status quo.

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KU 1 year, 6 months ago

I don't think we disagree. I said his averages were about what they were last year with the exception of assists and turnovers. Elijah is expected to initiate more this year as indicated by his increase of about 25% in the number of possessions used, and his weakness as an initiator clearly shows in his assists and turnovers. He has increased both the percentage of assists and turnovers, compared to last year In other words, with the ball in his hands more, his effectiveness has decreased substantially. I think you have to go back to Aaron Miles' sophomore year to find a KU point guard with an offensive rating of 93.....and it's not even close. Most KU point guards over the past decade have had offensive ratings well over 100.

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Tony Bandle 1 year, 6 months ago

Very subtle meaning in the title of the article although I doubt seriously Keegan consciously did it.

Let's look at the rest of the schedule:

1] @TCU - If the margin of victory for Kansas is less than 10 points, it will be the upset of the century.

2] @Oklahoma - Much tougher challenge, Hawks better bring their A-Game.

3] Kansas State - Rough game but the Hawk Magic continues..no way will Bill let Bruce beat him in his own house..no friggin' way.

4] Texas - Julius, this one's for you, bud!!

5] @ Okie State - Payback Time...but it won't be easy!!

6] TCU - See item #1.

7] @ Iowa State - Sirens, red flags, warning shots, alarms, etc. going off for this one: Hilton Magic vs The Road Phog!!

8] Texas Tech - See items #1 and # 6.

9] @Baylor - Our Ace in the Hole...Scottie on their bench!!

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jgkojak 1 year, 6 months ago

Recipe for a 2004-05 type late-season meltdown

1 - @TCU = W 2 - @Oklahoma = L 3 - KSU = L 4 - Texas = W 5 - @OSU = L 6 - TCU = W 7 - @ISU = L 8 - TTU = W 9 - @Baylor = W

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justanotherfan 1 year, 6 months ago

EJ hasn't looked healthy to me all year. He makes plays in short spurts, then looks completely flat for long stretches. I'm no doctor and I don't have any insider knowledge, but he doesn't look like he is playing healthy right now. Maybe he is and just doesn't have confidence in his knee, so he can't go all out on it like he needs to.

However, I don't think making the change makes KU any better. It's not like Naadir is playing leaps and bounds better than EJ right now. It's not like Rio has been lighting it up in his limited time. There just hasn't been anyone that has emerged right now to take EJ out of the lineup.

Is EJ struggling - Yes. Has anyone stepped up in his place - No. We need a Yes to both questions to justify a change.

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Stephen Johnson 1 year, 6 months ago

EJ needs to spent some time looking at the game from the bench. His guard play has been totally unacceptable and he would be the first to say he's not happy with his recent play. I do not see us being a final 4 team with the current PG play. I hate to say it, but I agree with Keegan.

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Sam Constance 1 year, 6 months ago

After reading a lot of the comments here, I have to wonder how the complexion of this game changes if you take away 5-6 of Johnson's shots (so he ends up shooting 8 or 9 instead of 14) and give them to Releford and White.

We were a timely bucket away from having the Cowboys at enough of an arm's length to hold them off.

If I could talk to EJ, I would say to him--if you're struggling, take fewer shots and focus more on getting your teammates the ball in situations where they can shoot it right away. Show us those leadership qualities by getting in Releford's ear and telling him that we need him to shoot 100% from three on more than two shots. If you haven't missed from three, and shoot 40%+ on the season, then you haven't shot enough threes.

I don't think benching Johnson does anything except make the fans and Monday morning coaches FEEL like something is being done. Making a change just to do SOMETHING is a terrible reason to make a change. If Self is going to bench EJ, there needs to be a specific goal and reasonable expectation that the goal is a plausible outcome from the action taken.

What reason do we have to believe that benching EJ will help anything? The only reason I can imagine that being the case is if EJ is being lackadaisical or not trying. To me, it clearly seems like the opposite is his problem--trying too hard and pressing. Benching him is more likely to exacerbate that problem than alleviate it, unless Self can somehow spin a web of golden BS to get Johnson to believe his benching is about allowing him to regroup and rest, and not about punishing his poor play.

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Justin Carlson 1 year, 6 months ago

Looking ahead! A lot of the "Experts" are saying that the game @ TCU will not be a good guage to see if we are back on the right track. I dont agree TCU is bad but a 0 win team at home needing something positive vs. a limping "diaper filled baby team" who knows we might be prime to give TCU their first win of the the Big 12 season! If that does happen my teenager daughter and I will be kicked out of the house and be moving into my office!

So as I look ahead after about the midpoint of the conference season lets look ahead at the remaining schedule and our record going on the the B12 tourney.

@ TCU Win 20 - 2 8 - 1 (12 point win with a little roster shuffling and more mins from Rio/White III still sloppy guard play nothing fixed)

@ OU loss 20 - 3 8 - 2 (4 point loss Kusports boards go crazy calling for EJ and Self to leave town)

KSU WIN 21 - 3 9 - 2 (The game that changed the season! Seniors and Self right the ship our offensive flow and defense mirror the Dec 8 CU game put up 82 points in a 20+ rout of the kitties!)

Texas WIN 22 - 3 10 - 2 (Mario's jersey up in the rafters and gameday nothing else needs to motivate a team! BIG WIN 20+)

@ OSU Win 23 - 3 11 - 2 (Self will not lose to any team twice in the same season not going to happen esp. to the pokes 2 point game BMAC wins game at the line!)

TCU Win 24 - 3 12 - 2 (Labored ugly 15+ win setting up a look ahead to the clones)

@ Iowa ST Loss 24 - 4 12 - 3 (ISU goes nuts makes 14 3's and we struggle again to get to shooters and PG play exposed again mirror game of the first meeting except we are not and home and lose late by 3!

WVU Win 25 - 4 13 - 3 (Muscle game ugly foul fest at least 2 "T's" from WVU and pull out a 8 point win!)

Texas Tech Win 26 - 4 14 - 3 (Senior night!! Nothing else needs to be said! Self and Manning get 5+ minutes 25+ win)

@Baylor Win 27 - 4 15 - 3 (We own Waco and Withey has another monster game! We win by 10+)

27 - 4 15 - 3 another Big 12 regular season championship 1 seed in B12 tourney!

LATER JC

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jhawkrulz 1 year, 6 months ago

ISU played a near perfect game and still loss at AFH, I don't see them putting two perfect games against us...they had their chance, we win that one.

I think @OSU is our tough one, not because OSU won at AFH, but it seems like HCBS has always struggled at G-I.

I wouldn't be surprised if we didn't lose another conference game though.

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Reuben_J_Cogburn 1 year, 6 months ago

That's actually a reasonable prediction.

This loss was inevitable and necessary. Self's teams in the past have always rallied. Let's see what this team is made of.

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Phoghorn 1 year, 6 months ago

Doug Gottlieb might have had his shorts on backwards, but we simply got caught with our pants down.

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mejayhawk 1 year, 6 months ago

EJ is the same kid who hit clutch shot after clutch shot a year ago, throughout the tourny and in our team's most recent NatChamp game. He took care of the ball and played great defense. He can do those things again and I believe he will.

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Robert Murphy 1 year, 6 months ago

A college design class has calculated that if all the deck chairs on the Titanic plus other wooden objects had been lashed together it would have made a raft big enough to save all the people who wouldn't fit into life boats and further that they had time to do it. Sometimes, with reconsideration, rearrangements are effective.

Speculation regarding putting Johnson on the bench to start games can be tried but without his playing better the team will have problems going forward regardless. He is a team leader. His health has been a concern throughout the season. I have said for some time that Nadir's improvement has helped a lot in resting Johnson. Without the younger players improving more this team will struggle. I think we can all see that Perry, Traylor, White and Adams are not showing enough improvement. If these guys were playing better our chance of wearing down other teams would be greatly enhanced. We are about half way in, it could still happen as White demonstrated.

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Woody Cragg 1 year, 6 months ago

Someone, anyone, has to get to the line more & knock em down. Late in the game it's not KY. Slashers & bangers can beat shooters 9 out of 10 times at the line. OSU was hot, damn hot Roosevelt, so slow down the pace & make teams play your game & not theirs. Remember the Purdue game in the dance last year? And could we please have more substantially hard screens in the paint, not like KY's soft movers on the perimeter, from the 3, 4, & 5 spots, to get great looks & backdoors when cutters are overplayed, and Bmac & others can finish at the rack with the "and 1?" IMO these guys are just standing around too much waiting for the defenders to go to sleep. The off ball movement is not there like it was a month ago. The great news is the coaches should fix this attitude in time so the peak will be there in March. I do expect maybe 2 more losses on the road, but will still be in line for the conf title if that holds true. But am not feeling that great about a #1 seed as I was earlier. The way HCBS publicly challenged their manhood may be just the trick to get them to play more physical. Certainly that was a calculated move & not a sporadic meltdown. OSU just had some superior athletes on the floor Sat and consequently we got out-hustled more than I've seen in a long, long while. Look for that adjustment immediately if not sooner.

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Sam Constance 1 year, 6 months ago

We shot 27 free throws against OSU and made 21 of them for a 77.8% from the line.

I just don't think free throws are a problem for this team. Certainly not one that warrants any extensive addressing over other more pressing issues.

Pressing issues like the lack of off-ball movement and activity in general on offense, like you mentioned.

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Woody Cragg 1 year, 6 months ago

The main point is to slow down the pace of the game to suit our people. With the exception of KY & Perry, the FT % is PDG.

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Blake Brown 1 year, 6 months ago

I had these same thoughts after the OK State game. Start Tharpe, bench Johnson and do it for the TCU game.

I`d add a few hours of running stairs for across the court passes for all and kick Ellis in the ass to wake him up to the big leagues. Young has got to be a threat from the free throw line to open up the inside- practice, practice, practice Kevin.

With no point guard, no bench and poor ball protection/ handling, we`ve been fortunate to win many games and now we lose one and need to learn many lessons to get better and be a factor in March.

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REHawk 1 year, 6 months ago

Rest, refocus, recovery, rejuvenation are in EJ's best interest right now. No more than 20 minutes at TCU.

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ABeesus 1 year, 6 months ago

Jumping doesn't cause the same strains or pains as moving laterally. I've known many players who could still dunk, but their lateral movement was impaired from injuries.

Pain problems in a knee or ankle throw off passing, limit defense, and really wreck shooting.

I think EJ has serious joint issues.

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scott8013 1 year, 6 months ago

"Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic"? Wow, you'd never know this was a top-5 team that is first in conference with one conference loss and two losses total.

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Jack Jones 1 year, 6 months ago

Random thoughts > 19 and 2, not bad. Lose a game in AFH - only fifth under Coach Self > to a team that couldn't miss first half > that scores 85 points > with two players scoring 25 and 28 apiece > down by 14 - up by 6 and closes a 6 point gap, to 1 in less than 45 seconds > wind up losing primarily due to giving up 2 offensive rebound baskets off opp. free throws + an unfortunate turnover by a player trying to make a play > and a TEAM that played the worst game of the 21 games we played >> and we only lose by 3 >> yeah, I know > I don't count that last 'bunny'.

No question, this year's team does not match up well, when compared to recent former teams in terms of over-all talent or depth. However, to their enormous credit, they are playing above their "on paper" ability through sheer toughness, grit and will to win. The sky is still intact.

19-2 > "you gotta go with those that brung you !!!" Coach will take care of the details.

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championhawks 1 year, 6 months ago

Young is not an offensive player and therefore will not all of a sudden begin hitting the foul line jumper. His game is hustle points and put backs. Until Ellis can come in and be productive for more minutes than he is getting, no one is going to hit that shot to open things up for Withey under the basket.

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Chris Shaw 1 year, 6 months ago

Well, I am going to disagree with about 95 percent of you on this board about EJ and his Point Guard Role and really EJ's role in general. I do agree with Keegan that a "Change" is in order, but it's not the change he discussed in his article.

Look, I've been extremely hard on EJ all year, but I've never believed in him at the "PG" spot. However, I think EJ is essential to this squad over the next half of the season, just not at the point guard spot.

Even back when KU was destroying the likes of Colorado, Ohio State, Oregon State, Belmont, and American, I knew something was not right with EJ. I got blasted for it, but I don't take anything back because EJ simply doesn't have the mental makeup to be a PG. Sure, he has the tools, talent, and physcial charactersitics to do it, but he doesn't have the basketball IQ or PG IQ to do it propely. Some players have it, some players don't. No knock on EJ, he's just better suited to be a SG.

With all that said, this is my solution and this is a good week to try it out to start the second half of the season. You are on the road @TCU and on the road @Oklahoma, which doesn't have as good a backcourt as Okie State, but they are long, athletic, young, and very good.

As much as I don't want to do this scenario I think as a Coach you have to talk with Travis Releford and discuss with him about coming off the bench and take on a role like Darius Miller did last year for Kentucky. Look, I don't like this option because Relly has earned his starting role, but I think this is a better option going forward. It allows Relly to be the star of the second unit with his defensive ability and it allows him more opportunities for shots since he is the most efficient offensive player Kansas has. You may limit Relly's minutes by 5 or 7 minutes a game, but I think Kansas will be better for it.

Because of that scenario I think you start Tharpe, EJ, B-Mac, KY or Perry, and Withey. EJ is in a very fragile state right now and I think you have to show him confidence by making a move that will allow him to thrive and that is at the SG spot. I also believe that B-Mac will take on more responsibility defensively and offensively with Relly coming in as the "Enforcer" off the bench. I do think B-MAC relies on Relly a little too much. This would also allow EJ, B-MAC, and Relly not figiting and counterfeiting each other on the shot chart, while in the game together.

At this point, it doesn't matter if you are 19-2 or 20-1, or 15-5. A Change is necessary and IMO getting EJ at SG and spelling Tharpe at PG is essential over the final 16-19 games and bringing Relly "The Enforcer" off the bench. That scenario creates more confidence for EJ, more shots for B-Mac, More efficiency opportunities for Relly.

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Chris Shaw 1 year, 6 months ago

You aren't benching Releford! It's not a demotion!

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Kye Clark 1 year, 6 months ago

BigManU - Disagree with your proposed change.

I like the outside-the-box thinking, but it is a demotion. Not starting + less minutes = demotion.

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Chris Shaw 1 year, 6 months ago

Not a demotion! It's making the "Pieces" work. KU lacks ball handlers and a position for EJ. Darius Miller was never a "Demotion" coming off the bench. Plus, he was an NBA player coming off the bench for the Wildcats last year and was one of the main players in the Final 4 that directly led to Kentucky cutting down the nets last year.

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NebraskaJayhawk 1 year, 6 months ago

The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Wow, settle down people. Self will challenge their manhood and all will be well. Get over the loss and move on. EJ is in a slump, but he is not going to get benched nor lose his position at point. Come on, man!

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Gregor Southard 1 year, 6 months ago

19-2 hardly rates a "Titanic" analogy.

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machinegun 1 year, 6 months ago

The wind blows, Keegan tilts leeward. Is Bill Self going to yield to Keegan and a bunch of frontrunners? And how exactly would that help Elijah's confidence? We have a top 5 team with a 19-2 record. Thank goodness Elijah Johnson is the leader of our team. Thank goodness Keegan is not Bill Self's brain.

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HawkKlaw 1 year, 6 months ago

I do love what Naadir Tharpe brings to the game, but no way Self sits EJ at this point in the season. We're getting close to halfway through the Big 12 conference schedule and Elijah's record as a starting PG is 19-2. That's the kind of winning you don't mess with.

I agree with the sentiments that Self should go small and have both EJ and Naadir on the court together more (not necessarily start Naadir, but have him play more minutes at the expense of Kevin Young and/or Perry Ellis). Naadir is quicker on his feet than Elijah and turns the ball over less, but Elijah is one of those clutch performers that can make big plays when games are on the line. Don't count Elijah out because of a loss at Allen Fieldhouse. Bill Self has lost, what, eight home games in ten seasons? Statistically, these kinds of losses are bound to happen and we need to look at Elijah's whole body of work, not just this loss to Okie St.

Also, going small would allow B-Mac or Travis to play the 4 spot. In that case it is much more difficult to double-team Jeff Withey because McLemore and Releford can both hit the open mid-range jumper. We'd probably lose out on rebounds more often, but I believe our offense would be able to score more.

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Kye Clark 1 year, 6 months ago

For those of you that are just all too happy to point to our record as some kind of absolute proof that everything is fine, let me ask you this: can we get better? If you think the team has peaked, plateaued, whatever, then by all means bask in it.

Even though they fell a little short last night, the 49ers are the best example of not accepting "pretty good". They went to the NFC championship game last year, were already having a really good season, Alex Smith was having statistically the best season of his career, and Jim Harbaugh had the guts to look at the back-up and say, "he could make us better." And he did.

So why can't we look at EJ, who is not having a very good season, then look at the bench at Tharpe and say the same thing?

The best news is that this is basketball, which means that if such a decision were to be made EJ would still see significant court time.

I love EJ. He's a Jayhawk and so much of what we want our players to be. And saying a change is in order doesn't mean I like him any less, or root for him any less. It's just accepting all evidence this year as proof that it's doubtful he's going to elevate his game to where we'd like it to be, and not having blind faith, or wanting to see him get minutes out of sentimentality.

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Chris Shaw 1 year, 6 months ago

Great Post Icthawkfan! With that said, I am going to leave you another scenario to think about. Flacco had a very sub-par regular season and at one time was possibly going to be benched (Media Analysis). Harbaugh stuck with Flaaco and he became a Super Bowl Champ! Flaaco had one hell of a post-season. I like your example, but I also like the Flaaco example. I guess we'll know which way this all falls at the end of the season. :)

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Kye Clark 1 year, 6 months ago

Very true BigManU. But the Ravens actually did do something similar, they fired their offensive coordinator mid-season. So we see both Superbowl teams were willing to shake things up in what they felt was the best interest of the team. In the Niners' case, it was on-field personnel. In the Ravens' case, it was with coaching and the way they were calling the games.

The reality is that it boils down to if you have someone/something available that is better. And we rarely know, because we only get to see one scenario play out in reality. We don't know that if the Niners stick with Alex Smith could they have actually won the Superbowl, or if the Ravens still could have won it with Cam Cameron as the OC. It's speculation, but my thing with Tharpe & EJ is it's worth a look, and if it doesn't pan out you can always revert back to the way things were. Coach Self has done this before, benching (suspending even I think) Tyshawn and putting EJ in as the starting PG 2 years ago. EJ performed well, but Self decided his team was better off with Tyshawn at the point so he switched back. No harm. It's not football in which you have a 16 game season and one loss could cost you a playoff spot. Nor is anyone actually losing their paying job over the deal. And EJ would still get to play.

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Jack Jones 1 year, 6 months ago

First of all > ..."our record...absolute proof that everything is fine." Show me where anyone suggested everything " is fine." "If you think....team has peaked, plateaued, whatever....". Show me ..(same as above). Your comments are, at the minimum, gross misreading/ or more likely intentionally absurd. First paragraph = serious credibility hit. When "quoting" others remarks, thru your own filter > be more careful next time.

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Kye Clark 1 year, 6 months ago

From not the post IMMEDIATELY above my original one here:

HawkKlaw says "Elijah's record as a starting PG is 19-2. That's the kind of winning you don't mess with."

I'm not going to do any more of the research for you if you're that lazy.

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Kye Clark 1 year, 6 months ago

Or you could look IMMEDIATELY below these posts and see this:

kranny says "19-2 and people are talking about going back to formula. EJ will be fine, KU will be fine."

Next.

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kranny 1 year, 6 months ago

Unbelievable. 19-2 and people are talking about going back to formula. EJ will be fine, KU will be fine. The team is at the edge of the horse latitudes. Personally, I think TCU is going to wish they were back in the Mountain West after Wednesday night. The wind will fill the sails again. All need to be calm and Rock Chalk. Bill always gets them to figure it out.

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Gil Ek 1 year, 6 months ago

Think the seniors are bored and looking toward the tourny.

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Thephogminusix 1 year, 6 months ago

Maybe they should start Tharpe, Johnson, Releford, Withey, Mclemore.

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