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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Keegan

Opinion: Andrew White waiting, learning

Kansas newcomer Andrew White.

Kansas newcomer Andrew White.

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The best way to get better at anything is to compete against somebody who is better at it than you. Compare Jeff Withey and Travis Releford of today to the guys who entered their first games wearing a uniform with the word Kansas splashed across the front.

Withey battled Cole Aldrich, Marcus and Markieff Morris daily in practice on the way to becoming the All-American candidate he is today. Travis Releford guarded and was guarded by the likes of Marcus Morris, Xavier Henry, Tyshawn Taylor, Brady Morningstar, Tyrel Reed and Mario Little.

Those stiff challenges and the hard knocks that come with them play as big a role as anything in players growing so much during their time, evolving from the end of the bench to the front of it and in some cases ultimately into the starting lineup. Knowing that history has helped Andrew White III, a 6-foot-6, 210-pound freshman from Chester, Va., to make it through his first experience as the lonesome figure staring through the chain-link fence watching the older kids play, wishing he could be included.

“Not that I can remember,” White responded when asked if he ever had been used as a reserve before this season. “Even going back to when I was a young kid, recreation, I was always the best player on my team. It’s different, coming off the bench, but you’ve got to adjust to it.”

It’s not as if he would make himself a starter if named player-coach.

“You look who’s playing the wing spots,” White said. “(Am I) worthy to take either one of their spots? I don’t think so.”

Red-shirt freshman Ben McLemore has more natural talent than any Kansas basketball player since Paul Pierce. Releford has four years of physical strength and advanced-level basketball education on White.

“I would like to be performing a little better,” White said. “I would like to be playing a little more, obviously, but I don’t complain about it. I don’t put my head down about it. I just embrace whatever I have to do. What freshman wouldn’t want to be playing more, honestly, but I don’t spend a lot of time reflecting on it.”

He’s smart enough to see the path the man who guards him in practice has taken to know that the work he does today will pay off tomorrow. Releford played 225 minutes as a freshman, 302 as a red-shirt sophomore. White has played 93 minutes 21 games into his freshman season. Others made Releford better, and it’s Releford’s turn to make White better.

“A couple of times, I try some of my best, fastest moves on him, and he’s always there with me,” White said. “He’s helped me to get my shot off quicker. He’s helped me to have a better first step just because Travis doesn’t put up with any foolishness offensively, so it really makes me wonder and try to figure out what I can do to better my game. I’m happy for that because some wings around, they don’t have a star defender guarding them every day, and then they get in games and realize they’re not as good as they thought they were. So I don’t take that for granted at all.”

It looked as if White had broken into the rotation when in back-to-back games in December against Colorado and Belmont he turned 18 minutes of playing time into 23 points, making nine of 13 field goals and five of eight three-pointers. In the 11 games leading up to Oklahoma State, White didn’t play in four of them and misfired on all of his 10 three-point shots in the others.

Saturday against Oklahoma State, White made his Colorado-Belmont points-to-minutes ratio seem pedestrian. He played the final 54 seconds and scored six points and added a steal. That, as any stat-obsessed sports fan with a calculator could tell you, means that if White had played the entire game, he would have scored 266 points and contributed 44 steals.

“I think without question it should give him some confidence moving forward,” 10th-year KU coach Bill Self said of White’s productive minute.

“He’s getting tougher,” Self said. “Andrew’s getting tougher. He’s a competitive kid. Andrew’s going to be OK. You look at our team. Does Andrew deserve from a talent standpoint to play more? Absolutely. No question. But you look at our team, what’s our biggest need?”

Better ball-handling and passing.

“Now you’re putting in a guy who doesn’t do that as well as some other guys,” Self said. “If we were more consistent handling and passing the ball, Andrew White would be playing more. But that’s not really Travis’ forte. That’s not Ben’s forte, so it needs to be Elijah (Johnson) and Naadir (Tharpe’s) forte.”

So White plays sparingly, never knowing when his name will be called, facing the pressure of knowing that to earn more minutes he must make shots when he comes off the bench cold. It’s not an easy role, especially for a player who always played the leading role.

“Regardless of the situation, if I get an open look, it should go in,” White said. “So me being on the bench or going in at a time when I’m not loose or whatever, I don’t have any excuse for my performance. If I take a jump shot, I expect it to go in, regardless if I’m cold, warm or whatever else I might be.”

White’s one of those talents who could come from way down the bench, get hot and shoot his team to an NCAA Tournament victory, whetting everybody’s appetite to see more of him when it becomes his turn.

Comments

KULA 1 year, 9 months ago

"handling and passing the ball... that’s not really Travis’ forte. That’s not Ben’s forte."

Please take note of that quote from Bill, any posters still speculating about Travis or Ben playing point.

Hank Cross 1 year, 9 months ago

By all means let him only get a minute or two a game. After all, who ever heard of developing another scoring option in case a starter is cold, has foul trouble, gets injured, etc?

Chris Bruning 1 year, 9 months ago

You obviously haven't seen a Bill Self practice session

Mike Bratisax 1 year, 9 months ago

I agree and disagree. I believe Ben having a full semester of hard practice last year certainly enhanced his game but there is a huge difference between practice and real-time play. And with all respect RCJ, how many practice sessions have you sit in? From all sources, I've heard how tough they can be but are they even open to the student body? White is making incremental steps forward and I believe he will be one of next year's key players.

John White 1 year, 9 months ago

Clearly Bill Self has absolutely no idea what he is doing when it comes to developing players. Just look at all the years when Kansas players left for the NBA and the team was terrible the next season with nobody to take over . . .

SaltLakeHawk 1 year, 9 months ago

nice article, tk

i predict AW3 plays 40 minutes against TCU and goes off for 266 pts 44 steals

Philip Garver 1 year, 9 months ago

If he only goes for 266 & 44, it will be disappointing. It will mean he's not improving.

yates33333 1 year, 9 months ago

Both articles this morning are disappointing and it's not the writers fault.

Jim Erickson 1 year, 9 months ago

I would love to see Adams, White, and Ellis start playing bigger roles. One, they are exciting. Two, we will lose all 5 starters (4 seniors and lets assume Mclemore goes) before next season and any experience will be nice!!! In 2013-2014, our team will look SOMETHING like this:

G: Tharpe G: Adams G/F: White F: Ellis C: Embiid

Obviously we will have to see but in reality, it will probably look like that. Brannen Greene, Conner Frankamp, Wayne Seldon, and Landon Lucas could be in line for a big role as well, but this team will be young and will have no go-to guys when the season begins... Looks like another "rebuilding" year for Bill Self. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed last years "rebuilding efforts".

akgjenkintown 1 year, 9 months ago

Traylor and Lucas will be ahead of Embiid at the center position. Self loves defense, toughness and size and on this team Jamari is by far the toughest and strongest post player. I hope we see a leap from his Freshman to Sophomore with 2 year's of practice under his belt. I expect he could be the most improved player next year.

Kevin Huffman 1 year, 9 months ago

And I would suspect that Selden would be used at the "2" over Adams.

Jeffrey Nichols 1 year, 9 months ago

Our starting lineup will not look anything like what you have listed. Selden is a starter for sure. Every bit the player McLemore and Rush were. Frankamp may well start. Mason is going to push Tharpe for PG minutes because he has handles and penetrates, and Tharpe is reluctant and more of a set shooter. Traylor will get more minutes than Lucas - he redshirted because he is soft and not even remotely ready for this level of basketball. Embiid will end up being very good, but he will not be starting. He is every bit the project Withey was, and probably more. He's only played basketball a couple of years. I agree, I love the "rebuilding" years, and it will be fun. But I don't think those 5 will ever start a game collectively next year.

Kevin Huffman 1 year, 9 months ago

Ummmm....WAS soft. Betchya' by the start of next season he could be the best "center" candidate. Kind of a stretch to call the 6'-7 Traylor a center. Better off sharing Ellis's minutes.

Yeah, fine, he's athletic and a good leaper....I'm OK with him seeing some minutes at center.

Jim Erickson 1 year, 9 months ago

My point was that our lineup will not resemble this years and that whoever the starting 5 are (and all 8-9 in the rotation for that matter) will be guys having new and largely elevated roles.

Tony Bandle 1 year, 9 months ago

Not to be a smart a$$ but with all five starters leaving after this season, you have made the understatement of the year!! :)

Steve Gantz 1 year, 9 months ago

You people crack me up trying to figure out next years starting lineup!

Bob Forer 1 year, 9 months ago

Exactly. The leap from high school to Division I college is as far as it gets. Only time will tell how next year's class will respond to the profound difference in talent at the two levels.

Jim Erickson 1 year, 9 months ago

Don't ruin our dreams! PS: 2014-2105

G: Tharpe G: Seldon G/F: White F: Ellis C: Embiid

Bench: Traylor, Adams, Frankamp, Greene, Future Stud Freshman Post Recruit

:)

Mel Clare 1 year, 9 months ago

Yes, we will have Embed........BUT Landon Lucas will be a redshirt freshman with a year of practice under his belt also. And at 6'10 looks to be a banger inside! Plus 6'7 Greene who is suppose to be a shooter and the Frankamp kid is a shooter also! Next years team will be extrememley young.............Aren't 4 of the recruits next year in the top 50?

Displayhawk 1 year, 9 months ago

Did you hear this kid speak after the Oklahoma State game??? Very articulate and direct answers to the questions being asked. This kid has a bright future in more than just basketball!

CrystalJones 1 year, 9 months ago

Absolutely agree. What impressed me was the patience he exhibited in that interview. He referred to the seniors, not himself, needing this year to be successful. He said his own time will come later. He said he has plenty of time for his day in the sun to arrive. What a mature and impressive kid.

Mike Bratisax 1 year, 9 months ago

Nicely stated! He will be a huge contributor to next year's team. I still hope White can get more significant playing time this year.

Ron Franklin 1 year, 9 months ago

For the TCU game, I would like to see all the guys rotate down a spot and put Dir as the starting PG.
1. Dir 2. Elijah back where he believes he belongs 3. Ben 4. Releford 5. Withey

With this line up I'd go back to the high low (more than they are now), trying to get Travis and Jeff involved more. Travis is a man, and sometimes unstoppable in the paint. He'd be perfect to run the high for the low. This is wishful thinking but, I think it would be our most elite team.

REHawk 1 year, 9 months ago

I like your lineup, but not for the TCU game, except perhaps for 6 or 8 minutes of experimentation. For this game i would rest EJ at least 20 minutes, play Tharpe 28 minutes, and work White and Adams into the lineup for the other 32 minutes. At some point in time those two freshmen will be essential to the lineup, either to fill in for an injured starter or to inject fresh experienced energy into a tired lineup of starters who need minutes of benchtime to refocus. The TCU contest should present the optimum opportunity for such a move.

Kevin Huffman 1 year, 9 months ago

I would suspect that next year's lineup's more like this:

Tharpe Selden White III P. Ellis L.Lucas..................if we get Randle we'd probably start him as an undersized C.

Next in-line off the bench would be Traylor as the 6th man to spell either post man. Then A.Adams for either G position. Thirdly, B.Greene to spell White III at the wing.

Something tells me that's our main 8 that will see mins. Maybe even 9 if we have Randle.....although if we get Randle I would suspect we'd see a LOT less mins. for Lucas.

Frankamp will probably only see mins. next season akin to what we're seeing for Adams this year despite being so highly ranked. Probably look to him for some outside shooting. I doubt F.Mason sees any time & we may redshirt him right off the bat.

Kevin Huffman 1 year, 9 months ago

I'm not saying that he NEVER will be....BUT I do have a hard time seeing that happen as a freshman.

wisjayhawkfan 1 year, 9 months ago

how many scholarships do we have left for next year anyway?

Kyle Sybesma 1 year, 9 months ago

Not sure how many scholarships but Self over recruits because we always have someone leave early (Ben Mc) or transfer because they don't see future playing time. I heard him recently say he want one or two more players. I beleive Randle is a big target.

Kevin Huffman 1 year, 9 months ago

I think technically 0, but I think there's been the thought that Wesley could be covered on his Senior year - be taken off scholarship but still able to be on the team, non-scholarship. Or I think that was already even being considered in our signing of Embiid. To land one more would be contingent on McLemore going pro, whicih would seem to be a foregone conclusion.

We'll take either Randle or Wiggins (Randle would be the better fit for what they're lacking - but NO WAY would they say, "No" to Wiggins if he truly had interest - supposedly we haven't been struck from his short list yet; I think it was something like FSU, UK (thought to be the two leaders), us, UNC....and there was only like 1 or 2 others....think Ohio State might've been one.

With Randle, early on everyone was saying UK....that seems to have lost all kinds of momentum. While his list is 6 programs long, it seems like a reach for a 4th team and a more likely top 3 and UK seems to be one of the 2 unlikelies now (them & OU).......seems like the main 3 are UF, KU & N.C. State. UT on the outside, with a wee-bit of a chance.

I think in reality it's most likely between UF - already been coached by Donovan, KU - nearby, in Big XII country, seemed to trust Self with his different approach on the in-home visit & N.C. State - friend already there, seem to be a program on the rise & going to have inside vacancy.

Tony Bandle 1 year, 9 months ago

Thanks to cousin Keith Langford...one big one on a silver platter for Julius Randle.

texashawk10 1 year, 9 months ago

Jeff Withey, Kevin Young, Travis Releford, Elijah Johnson, and Zach Peters scholarships are all officially available for next year. Ben McLemore will likely be available and Justin Wesley's will be available if necessary bring KU's official total to 5 available and unofficially up to 7 available for the 2013 class.

Wayne Selden, Connor Frankamp, Brennan Greene, Joel Embiid, and Frank Mason have all committed to KU so as of right now, KU officially has 0 scholarships available. In theory though, KU can still sign Julius Randle and Andrew Wiggins (I realize the reality of landing both of them is very slim) because of McLemore and Wesley.

jaybate 1 year, 9 months ago

Good enough to play, if ball handling were not needed?

No one expects him to play point.

And when is ball handling not needed?

Self is struggling a bit.

He is standing pat not because he wants to, but because he has only one feasible, but ugly alternative--Travis and Kevin at point--the all big guys alternative spoken of a couple times this season. But Perry has not progressed enough, and Jamari's unreported knee injuries have frozen him, so Self lacks the bigs to move to the big guy line up.

This teams future does not depend on EJ and Dir getting better. Outside of EJ's horrible OSU performance aside, they are good enough now.

The problem is Self and staff can't find the next set of effective tactics for the new wide space, high low strategy. The element of surprise is worn off, and adding the old pick and roll and back side alley oop in wide space format did not improve things enough. Self and staff cannot turn back, but in the last four games they have been unable to give their guys effective new wrinkles.

Truly, the players have had to make plays, as the only way to compensate for the absense of effective new tactics.

Its a scary moment. Not strong enough to stay on the spots. Sliding off them is no longer working.

Self's solution is: play harder and protect more, till the staff can figure something out.

Figuring such things out is his job.

Its time for him to man up again.

If anyone can, he can.

But I am not entirely certain anyone can.

We are in undiscovered country with this new offense, not just on a frontier of the old offense.

Self is sailing west to get to the east.

Columbus got famous doing this, and he discovered something that changed the course of history.

But he never got to where he wanted to go either.

Christopher Self.

Or Patton flanking and temporarily running out of gas; that's the question?

Jeremy Wilhelm 1 year, 9 months ago

Seems to me you always have a theory about someone's knee being blown Jaybate... are you seeing this in their hops or something? Jamari looks plenty explosive to me right now... just his liabilities offensively that are holding him back the most.

J.T. Even 1 year, 9 months ago

Either Evan Manning or Niko Roberts was asked in a post game interview a few weeks back who the toughest player in practice is and he responded with Landen Lucas. He really thinks he's going to surprise some people next year.

Kevin Huffman 1 year, 9 months ago

Yeah, I don't see soft at all. Don't know who would post that and why.

I would argue that the only player that would seem to have earned the reputation of "soft" would be P.Ellis and even he's getting a little better and not shying from the contact as much as he used to.

stinkybulldog 1 year, 9 months ago

AW3's high top fade is coming together nicely!

Kevin Huffman 1 year, 9 months ago

The weird thing about AW3 is that he's got a MUCH older face than he actually is. You'd think he was like 10 years older than he is. At least it's not a Greg Oden or Kendrick Perkins face where they look practically 15 - 20 years older than they are!!! :)

DanR 1 year, 9 months ago

Hell, he's a good looking guy, in sort of a George Clooney way, and I'm secure in my own masculinity to admit that!

Jayhawkgirl2 1 year, 9 months ago

After watching the Oklahoma State game and seeing the stats, I was impressed by the 54 second performance by AW3 in just one minute and with Kansas down big White imposed his will to win. The last possession should've been in his hands, Self says White has gained confidence, I say White has earned solid playing minutes. When we play big tall strong guards like Marcus Smart 25 pt 8 offensive rebounds or Markel Brown 28 pt 7 for 10 from 3 pt range, White can be the XFACTOR . AW3 gives us another weapon in big games. Lets give him a chance to see what he can really do. Love me some Jayhawks

Kevin Huffman 1 year, 9 months ago

Another thing about AW3 that's impressed me more recently, is that before a big reason that he wasn't getting mins. was for being a supposed liability defensively, but the last 2 - 3 x he's been out there I HAVE NOT SEEN that like I had in the past. Seems to be vastly improving that part of his game.

SCHNBALL 1 year, 9 months ago

It was only after the Texas game, we were told, ahh, learn to live with winning ugly! And then boom, time for a change, and our guards are not good enough! Good thing Keegan is not our Coach, we would have tried every offense and defense ever invented in 1 season. While most have jumped at EJ, and with some of the criticism just, I would ask that if you look back at the very Texas game, it was the start of our offense getting pushed away from the basket, and who does that make it tough on, yes the point guard. For any of you that have played point guard, you know there are many more responsiblities put on you than the other guys on the floor, EJ was the silent finisher last year, now he must make the adjustment to be the leader of this club, and I think he will make the needed changes. Anyone remember Tyshawn last year, after playing point for many years?

While most of us look at the offensive end for the loss and average play as of late, I would suggest we look at the other end of the court, as with most of HCBS teams, their offense begins with defense and we have been average since the Texas game. Which brings me to a question, are any of you suprised we have not seen Justin Wesley at all this year? He is one of our better athletes and I believe he could contribute on defense and around the rim on offense. Self tends to go with older players that have been in the system, but not in this case when it come to Wesley, Traylor and Ellis.

Kevin Huffman 1 year, 9 months ago

Yeah, - Alex Smith syndrome! :) lol. He WAS seeing mins. and then he was out sick or hurt - broken finger, was it? And since he came back now still not seeing mins.

Like you were talking about with a reminder. I remember toward the end of the 2011 season TT REALLLLLLYYYYYYY struggling BAD, and then all of a sudden in the Big XII Tournament, ESPECIALLY in the Final Game against Texas something clicking and he started going hog-wild!

jaybate 1 year, 9 months ago

Schn,

I too have wondered about Justin. But the answer as always is in team need. Last year Self could get points in a pinch at 1-5. So: he could afford to guard the post with a non scorer and weak FT shooter.

This year scoring is scarce and every one can defend, so to play you've got to foul less, explode more, and shoot better FTs than Perry and Jam Tray.

Justin is also stuck waiting for Perry and Jamari to get it. Self knows Justin can guard the post, but he has to develop Perry and Jam Tray. If Perry and Jamari ever get solid, then I expect Self to shift to XTReme ball and think we will see lots of fouling; in turn we might see Justin some as the fouling mounts.

Bob Forer 1 year, 9 months ago

One cannot help but like the kid's attitude--honest yet unselfish. He's going to be a very good one, I suspect.

Kevin Huffman 1 year, 9 months ago

maybe, he'll end up a "wing" version of Billy Thomas? Fill it up from 3? He seems to have a better frame than him, so maybe we can see some boards & blocks too.

Tony Bandle 1 year, 9 months ago

Ellis, Traylor, Tharpe, White3, Adams, Greene, Frankamp, Embiid, Lucas, Selden, Mason, Wesley...that comes to 12 current or future schollies for '13/'14 [the extra one is Zach Peters relinguished one]...so one left over plus one more if needed with Keith covering for Justin.

Next year will be a real battle with no one, frankly at this point in the season, a lock from this year's team or this year's recruiting class going into next year a sure starter. Does this seem a reasonable statement??

Woody Cragg 1 year, 9 months ago

Is a frog waterproof? Kevin for Justin...for Randle, we hope.

Woody Cragg 1 year, 9 months ago

...I still think he's a dead ringer for a juvenile Robert Parrish...with a 20 foot plus longer range... Go AWIII!

hawkdiek 1 year, 9 months ago

I have always thought that as well. Mini Parrish for sure.

Jayhawkgirl2 1 year, 9 months ago

If life was fair and Kansas starting lineup was based on production on the floor AW3 should be in our starting lineup.

REHawk 1 year, 9 months ago

Yesterday, I called for complete rest of Elijah Wed. night, 40 minutes to be split between White and Adams. Only trojanhawk took the bait and responded. Today, I have transitioned to 20 minutes for EJ, 28 Tharpe, 32 White/Adams. Keep in mind, please, that my proposal is for the TCU battle, not the major upcoming Saturday/Monday campaigns. I sit here as a dartboard, awaiting an onslaught.

DanR 1 year, 9 months ago

When did you suggest that and were subsequently laughed off the planet?

REHawk 1 year, 9 months ago

If you are laughing now, I promise to get back to you late Monday night. Tho my principal focus is on the current guard situation in regards to Wed. night's game, I am keeping an eye toward the not-so-distant Saturday/Monday engagements in which our guards will undergo near maximum stresstests.

DanR 1 year, 9 months ago

I'm not laughing. I'm seriously asking when you suggested that EJ be sit for an entire game, because I looked through you comment history and couldn't find that stupid post.

SCHNBALL 1 year, 9 months ago

hawk, did not read your post yesterday, is this rest for the sake of rest only?

REHawk 1 year, 9 months ago

Yeah, actually I lean toward complete rest for the TCU game...if we can win the contest with freshman subs. But I know full well that Bill will not offer complete rest; perhaps rightly so. Psychological factors and leadership concerns....

REHawk 1 year, 9 months ago

Jaybate, HEM, ict, slayr, ralster, konky: Come on, come on!

Dick Williams 1 year, 9 months ago

wissoxfan cracks up at the thought of us prognosticating next year's starters and who should get more minutes, etc.. Laughing is being nice of wissoxfan as to me it is the worst case of arm chair coaching when you consider the consistency of Self's overall performance and for goodness sakes we were in the Championship game last year! There is no better recruiting magnet. You would think this is the first year he put himself in a position to have to 'rebuild'. So before you, all so prescient wannabe coaches talk about this subject just remember that this fellow is reminding you here that you will be seeing whoever plays whatever number of minutes next year will find themselves in the Big Dance and with a chance to take it all. Sure the bookies are going to give you greater bang for your buck compared to this years team but let's face it I just want to talk about the excitement of watching the growth of people like Ellis, Tharpe, Traylor, AW III and the entrance of great talent with the wonderment of who might be as cool under pressure as the Mannings and the McLemores of the college bball world and contribute immediately. Good grief, if Ellis gets his mojo with his fellow Wichitan you might have two guys right there that could start anywhere. We will only have a difficult rebuilding year if we have three or more one and done recruits in my humble opinion. Self sure has the stats to back this up - nine straight Big 12 regular season championships - I am floored by this every time I think about it.

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