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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Elijah Johnson reclaiming role as Jayhawks’ driving force

Kansas freshman Ben McLemore (23) and senior Elijah Johnson (15) talk during the end of the second half on Monday February 11, 2013 in Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas freshman Ben McLemore (23) and senior Elijah Johnson (15) talk during the end of the second half on Monday February 11, 2013 in Allen Fieldhouse.

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Elijah Johnson realizes that, whether he’s making shots or not, he’s vitally important to Kansas University’s basketball team.

“I personally say that I’ve got to start the car. We can’t drive it until I start it,” Johnson, the Jayhawks’ senior starting point guard, said after scoring five points off 1-of-6 shooting (0-4 from three, 3-3 from the line) with three assists against four turnovers in Monday’s 83-62 victory over Kansas State in Allen Fieldhouse.

“They are sitting in the car waiting,” Johnson added of his teammates. “Tonight I started the car and had everybody rolling.”

Johnson — he played mostly shooting guard a year ago — can be seen during games encouraging younger players such as Ben McLemore and Perry Ellis while not dwelling on his shooting stats — 19 of 76 marksmanship over the past eight games for 25 percent.

“When Ben sees me smiling, he smiles harder. When Travis (Releford) sees me feeling confident he feels more confident,” Johnson said. “When I am doing things the right way, Jeff (Withey) feels better. I feel that domino effect is something people should pay attention to. It shouldn’t be underestimated because when I come in not feeling great, that feeds off everybody.”

Johnson — he’s made just five of 25 threes the last four games with 28 assists against 31 turnovers the last nine games — said he doesn’t dwell on the numbers.

“I love my teammates, man,” Johnson said. “They tell me, ‘You are all right. We are still with you. Whether the fans turn or not, whether the people turn or whether they doubt you, we are still with you because we know on the court stuff is not happening when you are not in the game.’ They tell me all the time, ‘Your stats don’t show what you do for us.’ That has helped me get through all of this ... and that means a lot to me.”

Johnson — for the year he averages 9.1 ppg off 36.5 percent shooting with 110 assists against 77 turnovers — said he received a wake-up call after the Feb. 2 home loss to Oklahoma State when coach Bill Self said the Jayhawks, “don’t have a point guard. We’re playing with two guards, which is OK, a lot of people have to do that.”

“It opened my eyes. He was right,” Johnson said. “The point guard of any team, whether they can shoot it, whether they only pass it, whatever they do, they set the tempo for everybody. When they are walking the ball up, the team is going to play slow. When they are (in) attack mode, the team is going to be in attack mode. I’ve got to make sure I’m always in control of the game. I can’t let the other point guard be in control, because when he’s in control his whole team is in control. When I am in control, my team is in control.”

Self on Tuesday’s Hawk Talk radio show praised Johnson for working overtime on his shooting.

“I watched him shoot 25 threes today. Although he shot way more than that, I stayed and watched him shoot 25 going full speed, game speed. All he did was make 20,” Self said. “He’s going to have a great last six weeks. I believe it and think you should believe it. The most important thing is he believes it and I think he will be confident moving forward.”

Self said Johnson, who is coming off offseason knee surgery, obviously isn’t yet 100 percent.

“He hasn’t complained once,” Self said. “But you know, the kid did have knee surgery. He doesn’t have all his bounce back or pop back. He’s starting to get it. I see things in practice. He’s starting to take some steps. Sometimes your body won’t quite cooperate and do what your brain tells it to do. He is used to being more athletic than anybody. He is used to hitting a seam and getting through it. Now he can’t quite get through it but is still trying to hit it. It takes a while to get that pop back. I see it coming.”

Whenever asked by media about his health, Johnson says he’s “100 percent.”

“He knows,” Self said, “if you are out there, you are not hurt. You have to perform.”

Self the past couple games has had sophomore Naadir Tharpe and Johnson in the game at the same time, Tharpe running point and Johnson the 2 spot.

“I can go to the 2 when Naadir is in,” Johnson said. “I don’t have a problem with it. Today he got a little winded and I came in and got the 1 back. Whatever we’ve got to do to win, I’m down for it.”

Self noted: “People say Naadir can be out there. That’s true. So Naadir plays 20 minutes, somebody else has to play 20 at the point,” Self said. “I believe in Elijah. He’s my guy. I believe in the kid. I feel for Elijah because all he’s done since he’s been here is win a lot of games.

“Try to picture anybody who is a defense attorney and the next year is told he’s a tax attorney. It’s still law, but a totally different deal. Elijah goes from 2 guard to point guard. Even though he’s still a guard, it’s a different deal. He’s got to shoot better. He will shoot the ball better. He was like this last year too, and came on (during NCAAs).”

Now that KU’s three-game losing streak is history, Johnson sees lots of good days ahead for himself and his (20-4, 8-3) teammates.

“We had fun tonight,” he said after the K-State game, played before a loud, supportive crowd. “We needed that. It felt great. I hadn’t had that feeling in a while. That felt good,” he added of the “love” in the building.

Jordan Classic: KU signees Wayne Selden and Joel Embiid have been selected to play in the Jordan Brand Classic on April 13 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Selden will play for the East and Embiid the West.

Recruiting: Andrew Wiggins, a 6-7 senior forward from Huntington (W.V.) Prep, will visit KU for the Jayhawks’ March 4 Senior Day contest against Texas Tech, Rivals.com reports. Rivals.com’s No. 1 prospect also is considering Florida State, North Carolina and Kentucky. ... No. 2-rated Julius Randle, a 6-9 forward from Prestonwood Christian Academy in Plano, Texas, will visit KU for Saturday’s game against Texas. He also is considering Texas, Kentucky, N.C. State, Florida and Oklahoma.

Comments

DanR 1 year, 10 months ago

Just make sure it's in Drive, not Reverse!

Ray Winger 1 year, 10 months ago

EJ: recommend, don't jump to max with your jump shot. Lots of pros, have decreased their jump, to more control the shot. When hyped in the game, it may help....control the shot. You will know that you will have to be more open to take the shot, also. just a thought. Trying to help.

Jonathan Even 1 year, 10 months ago

So Elijah may or may not be hurt, but he's certainly not 100%, and it has affected his game. However, Coach does seem to be playing him still because he earned it and for sentimental reasons. But Elijah's learning how to play within himself, so watch out. He's shooting well in practice, only a matter of time until it transfers onto court. Teammates believe in the senior guard; would benching Elijah hurt team chemistry? Elijah had an "ah-ha" moment realizing his role as the point guard. Bill Self says Naadir will not assume the majority minutes playing the point guard position. Elijah says that even when Naadir is in that Elijah is in still the top dog.

You may or may not have your reasons, but Elijah is not getting benched this season.

Kevin Huffman 1 year, 10 months ago

Well, it also sounds like he's getting better health-wise so that could help - hopefully.

planojayhawk 1 year, 10 months ago

No need to bench him. Just reduce his min and give more min to Tharpe, until EJ is back to 100% and gets out of his slump.

We need EJ to have any realistic long run in the tournament.

Self finally got over his stubbornness of not giving Tharpe more min, yet he needs to walk the fine line of not destroying EJ's confidence.

oldalum 1 year, 10 months ago

Don't know why you think Self has been stubborn. He was just waiting for Naadir to get good enough to be trusted.

tis4tim 1 year, 10 months ago

Agree 100%.

I've been trying to avoid the should he/shouldn't he argument with regard to EJ starting because I do think he needs to play through this current funk. Guys at this level are just too skilled to be down for too long.

However, hearing EJ say this kind of stuff to the media while he's currently in a slump made me cringe. We know he's lost his swagger temporarily. He knows it. Coach Self knows it. The world knows it. But here he is talking about how he "started the car and had everybody rolling". As JayDogger said above, his stats totally betray this line of logic. Now, maybe he does a lot of cheerleading and intangible things on the court to encourage teammates and that's fine. But he ought to just keep his nose to the grindstone and refrain from talking at all and concentrate on those intangibles or whatever he needs to do to get back to his old self. Then he can safely utter comments like he did. Right now, it sounds like a guy looking for answers, a guy fishing for reassurances and a guy who thinks that by saying something enough times it makes it true.

Just keep playing hard, EJ, and let the chips fall. Things always turn out as they should. Trust in that and you'll get your mojo working again in no time.

Sam Constance 1 year, 10 months ago

He's the senior PG on this team. SOMEONE on the team needs to talk to the media, and of all the options, EJ strikes me as the best one.

He says the platitudes about "starting the car" because he knows everyone but him had better stat lines on Monday. What's he supposed to say?

"Yeah, everyone finally got out of their funk, but I'm still sucking it up something fierce."

Come on. I think we're really getting far to microscopic on him.

KGphoto 1 year, 10 months ago

That full court drive and straight-on dunk attempt was something out of the Michael Jordan catalog. If he would've finished that and one? OMG, I mean that's one of those statement dunks you don't see too often, and I think it might have been enough to replenish his confidence to full.

He needs to try that again against Texas at some point.

Mike Bratisax 1 year, 10 months ago

I was hoping that Tharpe would be the catalyst at the point as we move forward. EJ is an extremely talented shooting guard but at the point, I prefer Tharpe.

I realize that would mean some rearranging of the starting five but not so much in minutes played. Until Conner or someone else proves himself better, Tharpe will be the starting PG next year. When this team has played its best, Tharpe was getting a lot more minutes at the point.

Adam Collins 1 year, 10 months ago

I took this as he needs to be the catalyst for the team from a leadership standpoint, not necessarily a stats standpoint. Starting the car means controlling the tempo and having a positive attitude while on the court because, according to Johnson, the other players feed off of his energy and effort.

Micky Baker 1 year, 10 months ago

Early in the game EJ did make good plays. You can watch the game again if you want, but no need to be dishonest about it when everyone else watched too.

Curtis Stutz 1 year, 10 months ago

It was obvious earlier in the season that teaching and leading was cutting into EJ's ability to just play. That hasn't been/shouldn't be the case at this point in the season. Still, folks that want to see Naadir start have to consider whether he wants the pressure of leading the team out of the gates each night. I doubt it. Yes we all want to see EJ turn it over less and hit more of his shots, but he's a key player to have on the court because other guys do look up to him. It's great that his teammates have his back, as well as his coach.

Jonathan Allison 1 year, 10 months ago

Tharpe has proven time and time again that he wants the ball in his hands when the clock is ticking down. He wants to be the guy who makes a play at the end of each half. He wants to be the guy when the shot clock is winding down and someone has to hoist a shot. It looks like he loves pressure situations to me.

Still, Self's gonna roll with EJ because Self knows what EJ's capable of. I can respect that, but I don't know if I agree with it now.

dehawk 1 year, 10 months ago

But did you read EJ's comments above. Tharpe got winded so EJ went back to the 1. That comment tells me first, why Self took Tharp out of the game when everyone complained about it and second, that Tharp isn't physically ready to play an entire game. That is a good reason why Tharp is coming off the bench. At this point he doesn't have the conditioning and stamina to do a full game. Maybe that is why he didn't look as good the second half of the K State game. So let us believe CS has his reasons for what he is doing. This gave us enough insight to show he knows what he is doing. Good luck on Sat. EJ.

Jonathan Allison 1 year, 10 months ago

even Releford got winded chasing McGruder all over.

jaybate 1 year, 10 months ago

"Some More Alternate Uniform Ideas for Helping Spike T-Shirt Sales in a Trade Area Near You"

• Invertiforms--Uniforms with corporate sponsor in large, invisible letters and a tiny, highly visible Jayhawk logo.

• Nudiforms--no fabric, just the tattoo of a uniform.

• Gangiforms--the usual ridiculously outdated jams with gang logos plus the logo of the intelligence organization supplying the drugs that the local/regional gang sells (note: Intel logos will be from the Top 20 state intelligence organizations around the world dumping drugs in America to raise untraceable monies for their black operations).

• Invisiforms--above-top-secret, for-no-official-eyes-only, invisibility uniforms that hide the player and leave only corporate logos showing.

• Tweetiforms--wifi connected uniforms that low IQ and even lower EQ fans can post insipidly short twants (tweet rants) on.

(Note: all fiction. No malice.)

jaybate 1 year, 10 months ago

Yes, I read about this fabric sometime ago, but I didn't recall how far along it was. Thanks for the image.

BCRavenJHawkfan 1 year, 10 months ago

RFIDiforms--so fans can follow players exact location on the court.

doolindalton 1 year, 10 months ago

Tharpe' s game against KState was the closest this team has come to having a point guard on the floor. Elijah is a fine human being and dedicated Jayhawk, but he is not a point guard, He's a two. Maybe we shouldn't have said goodbye to Royce Woolridge quite so hastily.

Micky Baker 1 year, 10 months ago

People were saying the same thing about TT last year too. I don't care how good a team is, they go through growing pains when the players are this young.

Jim Erickson 1 year, 10 months ago

I like what Naadir is doing, but I still feel that this Jayhawks team is at their best with a GOOD Elijah Johnson at point. There is no doubt that he has been in a major funk, but he has also shown throughout major stretches of his career that he can be a stud. It's not a certainty, but he has the ability to turn it around. I understand why Self is riding this thing out.

yates33333 1 year, 10 months ago

I didn't intend a comment here. I somehow got my comment placed after this post with which disagree. I wanted to endorse the previous post by agreeing that Johnson is a nice kid, but Tharp is playing better at point guard. The trouble with Tharp is his size. It's a problem on defense. The main complaint against Tharp is the same used against Taylor last year, he plays out of control at times. He also makes a few Taylor-like plays at times.

AsadZ 1 year, 10 months ago

Yates, Tharpe D problems are behind him. Did you see how well he played D against McGruder. He was able to use his quickness and offset it agsinst size advantage and despote being taller McGruder had a very tough time scoring against Tharpe.

Tharpe brings energy. He brings penetration. He is making things happen. He should be starting at this time but I am Ok with him coming off the bench from a chemistry standpoint but his minutes and PT should keep on increasing. He has definitely earned it.

HawkKlaw 1 year, 10 months ago

Size is no problem for Tharpe. Did you watch the first half he had against McGruder? Also, he goes up against 6'4" Elijah Johnson every day in practice. Size doesn't appear to be an issue for him at all.

Jim Erickson 1 year, 10 months ago

As per my above post... It reminds me a bit of Tyshawn. There was never a doubt that Tyshawn has huge potential, but things always seemed to get in the way. Self stuck with him and we saw him blossom last year into a force. EJ, Releford, and Withey were good players last year but Taylor and T-Rob were the forces. I hope that EJ turns things around in a way that makes us forget we ever scratched our heads.

machinegun 1 year, 10 months ago

Elijah is the leader of our team. Of course, he assumes the responsibility for the performance of the other guys. That is what makes him special. Let's take it to Texas on Saturday.

jhox 1 year, 10 months ago

Tharpe has earned the right to get the bulk of the minutes at point guard. I would love to see EJ get it together and win back that right but he's not stepped up. I don't necessarily think you cut back on EJ's minutes but I do think we have to cut back on his minutes at the point and let him also spell Ben and Travis, positions he is better suited for offensively.

Tharpe showed on Monday night how valuable it is to have a PG who can consistently get in the paint and then distribute. EJ, unfortunately, hasn't shown me that ability.

ccarp 1 year, 10 months ago

My support was cemented last year against Purdue and NC State. I know EJ can ball. Just got to play with focused energy and start the car early!

Miguel Colón 1 year, 10 months ago

I want to talk recruiting. Does Noel's injury help us land Randle? What does everyone think our shot at Wiggins is?

jaycon11 1 year, 10 months ago

well, noel's injury guarantees mclemore's departure, if for no other reason than it bumps ben up 1 slot in the draft order. and i would guess that randle expects to start, which would be tricky since ellis will probably be expecting the same.

texashawk10 1 year, 10 months ago

Bill Self always plays a 4 man rotation in the front court. This year it's Withey, Young, Ellis, and either Traylor or Wesley depending on the match up. Last year it was T-Rob, Withey, Young, and Wesley.

Boouk 1 year, 10 months ago

Wiggins will go to either FSU or UK.

jhox 1 year, 10 months ago

Noel is likely gone, regardless of whether he had the injury or not. He's a big enough talent that someone will take him top 5 even if the injury is severe. I don't see where this changes anything with Randle.

I do think the fact that Kentucky is not likely to be sending as many guys to the league this year will help our cause. Also the fact that they've somewhat struggled this year may help take some of the sheen off of their recruiting all of these guys in the future. They'll still get their share, but hopefully this season's record will slow down the train a little.

I think KU is clearly the best fit for Randle. I just hope he realizes it. He is a classic Bill Self big man if I've ever seen one, and this is a position of strong need right now. He could be a first team AA as a freshman, and move on after one year in our system. Of course, he could move on after one year wherever he goes, but KU gives him the best chance to be a first team AA as a freshman.

Alex Peekeaton 1 year, 10 months ago

The only UK player affecting the recruitment of Wiggins and Randle is Poythress of which everyone is reporting he is gone.

texashawk10 1 year, 10 months ago

Noel's injury has no effect on Randle whatsoever. Noel is gone and will be a very high pick (top 3) and could be back sometime around Christmas if he doesn't have a major setback and could be ready for opening night if his rehab goes quicker than normal.

Mike Bratisax 1 year, 10 months ago

I've heard this from several people but I'm not sure I agree. Until the exact nature of the injury is revealed, including recovery time (someone should get him some deer antlers spray), there has to be some teams backing off.

This is where I have a problem with the NCAA guidelines. This kid would have been a lottery pick straight out of high school and though likely still is, his injury could end up costing him a lot of money. This NCAA policy is clearly problematic no matter which side you are on. I wish a solution would also be so clear. Noel seems like a good kid despite going to Kentucky and hopefully he will completely recover as soon as possible.

Kevin Huffman 1 year, 10 months ago

Um, I've got nothing but respect for Michigan State. Do I think that we'd probably win 5 out of 10 in a 10-game series with them.....Hmmmm, 5, I don't know but I'd say at least 4.

Were other Jayhawks fans badmouthing them or something?

Now, having said that I DO think that we'd've won that game in Atlanta had we had K. Young available to us. Been pretty obvious the rest of the year how much better K. Young's been than Traylor or P.Ellis.

clevelandjayhawker 1 year, 10 months ago

Really suprised Wiggins is coming for a visit- I was thinking it was 60% uk, 39% fsu and 1% other...I def think this helps our chances of getting one of the two Randle/ Wiggins.

Kevin Huffman 1 year, 10 months ago

I think the year UK's had in general may have them downgraded for these two. I know most have had Wiggins as an FSU lean all along, but maybe with as bad as their season is gone he's giving serious consideration to the other schools he still had not eliminated.

Let's go with that scenario.

Let's say we actually land Wiggins and not Randle.

Wiggins is DEFINITELY a SF. The only bad news there is that suddenly we have 3 SF's (Wiggins, White III & B. Greene). Someone might benefit from playing bigger than what they are. Honestly, I think that might actually be Wiggins. He could ACTUALLY steal the PF spot from P.Ellis.

More likely this would become the starting lineup:

Tharpe Selden Wiggins P.Ellis Traylor

P.Ellis could have major competition at the "4" from Traylor as Traylor may slide to the "4" if they're sold on Lucas as the "5".

In any event, even though Wiggins is the No. 1 recruit and Randle the No. 3 or 4 - works MUCH better for our lineup if we were to land Randle.

Then it would go:

Tharpe Selden White III P.Ellis Randle (undersized "5")........w/ little to no questions. Maybe Traylor / P.Ellis battle for the "4" being the only one.

If both are interested and you're convinced you can only manage to add one, I think you almost have to go with Wiggins though due to the fact that from the sounds of things he's one of those "they rarely come around" type of players. Could take a team on his back type - a'la C. Anthony.

KGphoto 1 year, 10 months ago

That's a lot of scenarios that don't include Embiid. Certainly he'll beat out long term project Landon Lucas with his defensive presence alone. I think this guy is gonna be a great center, even as early as next season.

jhox 1 year, 10 months ago

I think Emblid will leave KU as a top 5 draft pick, and he'll get decent minutes as a freshman, but I don't see him being a star as a freshman. He's still a little raw.

KGphoto 1 year, 10 months ago

Yes, "great" as a freshman is pushing it, and I'm not down on Lucas either. Lucas could be great as well. But you can't coach being 7 feet and rangy, with hops and speed. He's got something going on that I think will get him 20-25 minutes a game next year. If he can learn to put himself in good position he'll be atop the ladder at center for KU by conference play.

Star is a word I should have reserved for Selden. He has a chance next year.

texashawk10 1 year, 10 months ago

Embiid won't be a big factor his freshmen year because of his size. 7'0" is great, but like Withey early on, Embiid is going to need a year with Hudy to get some muscle on his frame to handle the physicality of the college game.

KGphoto 1 year, 10 months ago

Yeah, but I think he's a little tougher than Isaiah Austin and Ike Jr. is going off for 14 and 10 on 31min/game. Obviously Austin is more polished and is a real good shooter, but Embiid might already have more post moves with his quickness.

I like JoJo's fire. It's like he doesn't know he's skinny. Of course Coach obviously likes to work with youngsters before they get much PT, and that's certainly not working in his favor as far as being an immediate impact, but I do think he'll be a valuable piece next year. Especially if we don't land Randle.

Kevin Huffman 1 year, 10 months ago

I know that this is a pipe dream, but what do we do if BOTH Randle & Wiggins were to want to come? I think Randle it was assumed would be able to come upon McLemore leaving early. But to fit another, I think another would have to be released from their scholarship. Mason most likely?

Boouk 1 year, 10 months ago

One of them's going to go to UK and the other might come to KU.

Chris Shaw 1 year, 10 months ago

I love the optimism and that would be one glorious problem should it happen. The only problem...it's not going to happen. I will fly into Lawrence and for a week straight shine Bill Self's shoes twice a day for a week.

Seriously, that would be one amazing problem to have. However, I automatically think of Brannen Greene. I think the kid is good and ready to step in. I think the AWIII and Brannen Greene situation is intriguing enough let alone having Wiggins in the big picture.

I think Wiggins is FSU bound. I think Randle is Texas or Kansas bound. Personally, I am content with this recruiting class and if Kansas can get Randle in the mix...Ellis and Randle with Lucas, Traylor and Embiid coming off the bench is a very nice frontcourt that I would love to see.

brooksmd 1 year, 10 months ago

I would hope Randle would be smart enough to realize Rick Barnes may be a good recruiter, but sucks as a coach. Barnes has the ability to use so much talent to do so little.

Mike Bratisax 1 year, 10 months ago

Nice post BigManU...I am looking forward to seeing AW3 and Greene pushing each other for PT.

I still think AW3 will leave KU as a star with a great career at Kansas. Greene also has the high ceiling... Should be fun to watch.

texashawk10 1 year, 10 months ago

If by some longshot, KU landed both Wiggins and Randle they would be fine with scholarships. When McLemore declares, that opens one up and if necessary Wesley goes back to walk on status. We also can't out the possibility of someone transferring either because we've seen it before.

hawkfan30 1 year, 10 months ago

This is because you only look at the stat line there is far more to the PG position than stats. The PG is the floor leader...communicating with his team...encouraging his guys. He "sets the tempo" for the game. In the first 4 minutes of the game EJ pushed the tempo...he set Travis up for a three that gave us a 3 point lead...then after KSU tied he drove it hard to the hoop for an and 1. Step to the line and made the FT. That's starting the car...that's getting things rolling...that's the tempo and game mindset that Tharpe entered into. EJ's second foul was another leadership type foul..a "no easy baskets" foul.

Mike Bratisax 1 year, 10 months ago

I might have stated it differently but I tend to agree with KMathis. EJ plays substantionably better when Tharpe is the PG and the rest of the team does also.

jaybate 1 year, 10 months ago

ralster,

I've respected your defense of EJ's good health and your determination not to give EJ any excuses. But...

"...the kid did have knee surgery. He doesn’t have all his bounce back or pop back. He’s starting to get it. I see things in practice. He’s starting to take some steps. Sometimes your body won’t quite cooperate and do what your brain tells it to do. He is used to being more athletic than anybody. He is used to hitting a seam and getting through it. Now he can’t quite get through it but is still trying to hit it."

--Bill Self

This guy was too great an athlete for it not to have been injury/sickness of some kind. No one suddenly forgets how to play. No one.

And Self makes clear by implication why he conceals. The opponent will scheme to attack any lack of depth.

So, whether or not EJ were getting better right now, Self would release this sort of story to keep opponents scheming for both guys.

Similarly, Naadir improving does not lessen the need for EJ to get better, whatever level of fitness he can function at. KU needs 2 guys at every position to challenge for a ring in case of fouls.

Right now there isn't evidence EJ is getting much stronger and fitter on the floor, except that he can now make a play once in awhile. That's better than nothing. His defense is pretty sketchy, but because he is such a great defender, EJ at 50% is as good as Dir at 100%.

He is in a shooting slump, too; that will end, so Self is right to be optimistic over the next month, that he should stay a starter the opponents have to scheme for

Dir on an up is now probably a little better than EJ struggling with injury, when the opponent is short, or a guy Dir can up and under a little, but Dir will not be up every game, so EJ remains a must recovery.

One thing you were absolutely right about, however, is that outside of knowing EJ is injured, we are not going to understand extent clearly till after the season

Chris Shaw 1 year, 10 months ago

That's a lot of hurt players playing crucial minutes, huh?

dehawk 1 year, 10 months ago

I agrre with you and jaybate. I always thought EJ was not 100% and I also don't believe we should be bashing any players who have contributed to the team. EJ has done alot for the team and no matter how many slumps a player goes through, these players were chosen to play for KU and they accepted. If we want to be good fans then let just support the team. We can be frustrated by the plays but lets not get down on a group of men who go out there, injured and all, to play for our school. Rock Chalk Jayhawk

AsadZ 1 year, 10 months ago

I have not bashed at EJ neither will I do it. However I am a bit surprised by timing of the comments being made by EJ. By reading these comments I got a sense that he is trying to justify his PT.

EJ is a great kid. No one can question his toughness and committment towards KU program. And of course his superior play down the stretch last year was instrumental in us getting to NC game.

But folks have to look at what is good for the team now, present situation. Coaches have to look at current state of affairs and make PT decisions based on current situation. It is clear to me that KU plays better when Tharpe is running the point. There is no question. You can go back and watch the games again.

Can EJ get back to last year's form, may be, and we all hope he does. But the fact of the matter is that Tharpe is playing much better than EJ and should be getting more PT at PG position based on recent performances.

jaybate 1 year, 10 months ago

Part 1

ralster, I was very interested by the reference to the fans affecting the team and EJ, too. Seems kind of thin skinned to me. I wonder if this refers to fans at AFH, or online, or both?

How interesting if it is the fans in the field house. When I played I never heard anything out on the floor that anyone in the stands in a flipping high school gym said good or bad ever. I find it highly improbable players can hear what individual fans are saying during the games, except maybe at free throws. If they are hearing such things, that's a dead give away that they've got concentration issues. And given the awesome noise level of AFH, even in huddles, I find it doubly improbable a player trying to hear what Self is saying could hear anything good or bad from the stands.

So that leaves what fans are saying behind the bench, when he is getting a breather. The folks behind the bench usually appear to be affluent friends of the program. Hard to imagine they are wailing on EJ, but anything is possible, I suppose.

So that leaves Twitter and online forums like this.

I can't imagine these guys read the threads here, but maybe they do.

If they do, I would tell them to toughen up, or stop reading them.

Jesus, some of the bashing many of us get here is waaaaaay worse than anything the players ever get. And there are posters hear of all ages--older and younger than our players--taking heat.

I kind of enjoy it, but I can see why some don't.

Next, while I was early to jump out and defend the value of EJ's contributions, despite being injured, and continue strongly to defend them, I am also not oblivious to how lousy he has played by most statistical measures compared with past point guards and past perimeter players and reasonable expectations for same. And so I certainly don't see anything wrong with people discussing how awful he has performed and looking at the season and conference individual statistics (TOs, FG%, 3G%, Strips to name four), if they will at the same time recognize what a Herculean effort he is giving in being out there at all. I mean, its apparent to me that if Self had had another sufficiently developed PG, EJ would have been thrown a medical redshirt for sure.

I think what EJ has done is one of the most courageous efforts I have ever seen a KU player give. I have said all season that it ranks up there with Sasha Kaun playing on two bad knees two season, maybe three. And it maybe a bigger act of courage since playing point guard probably puts way more stress on knees than playing center.

jaybate 1 year, 10 months ago

Part 2

But all that being said, after enduring what was said of Sherron, Tyrel and Josh, I find what EJ is getting is frankly not out of the extraordinary at all.

Jesus, again, EJ is getting NOTHING compared to what Brady Morningstar took two years AFTER leaving the program. I mean, really, Brady performed quite a bit better for more years than EJ, except for one brief stretch in EJ's career the last month or so of last season, and look at the grief Brady had to take.

Life is just a bitch for persons in the public eye that don't live up to expectations, or don't meet the eye test of the public.

I like to defend these guys, for the great things they do, while recognizing what they are not good at, because the combination is the full measure of a person. Not just the great things.

How can anyone not respect and admire Elijah Johnson for playing through the kind of pain he has apparently been playing through for the good of the team, and for Self, and for all of us, whether or not most of his statistics have sucked through early February.

How can anyone not respect Elijah Johnson for having found some way, any way, to get this team to 20-4 with practically ZERO bench through January, and very little beyond Tharp as of early February.

IMHO, what Elijah Johnson has done is practically a miracle. He has kept this team strapped and quilted together to this point, much the way his quilts and iron keep his knees strapped together. Just barely, but enough to get the job done. And getting the job done is still more important, even in the age of eye tests and sizzle, than looking good, putting up good personal numbers and not getting it done.

There are a lot of things EJ could have been doing to not look so horrible--a lot of things that could have reduced his TOs but these would have lead to the team faltering sooner and losing much more often. He could even have quit.

But to his lasting credit, he has found ways to win with passing and running the team that really have made others good enough to get it done. Every TO of EJ's that everyone curses about he could easily avoid, if he either had more game off the bounce in his knees, or if he would just play it closer to the vest with his bad knees. But if he played it closer to the vest, the offense would bog down even more often than it has. And Self would have had to go to Tharpe much sooner and much more often than he has had to do, because EJ has been willing to do the impossible and take the bad stats that have gone with it.

jaybate 1 year, 10 months ago

Part 3

Why can't most board rats say he has sucked heroically, and we are lucky as hell that he had heart enough and a pair big enough to pull it off, because if he hadn't, this team had no other PGs sufficiently ready to get us to 20-4, and to get us into the still relatively good position we are in for the stretch run?

I know I can.

Elijah Johnson has sucked heroically, and shown more courage than any other point guard in my memory, or any other KU player in my memory, and for that he has all the respect I have to give him.

I swear, I don't know how a guy could find a way through the hand he's been dealt and still get us to 20-4.

Three straight losses?

Well, BFD!!!!

The '08 team had 3 in 4 or 5 games, right?

I mean people have got to wake up in this country and stop reducing every freaking complex system in our society to a few individual statistics and start looking at some of the heroic things going on in this country; things being done by people put sideways by misfortune, and often times intentional cruelty and finding ways to rise above the shizz river.

EJ is only a goat if you look at how bad his personal statistics are.

EJ is a flipping hero if you look at how he has hobbled his way through a nightmarish set of personal trials to do well enough to get this team to 20-4.

People look at Self as if he has a bench full of PGs that could get this team to 20-4. NO WAY. He has Naadir who is just starting to get it together. And he has Anrio Adams who could have started and played 40 mpg and would still be a nervous reck who would have reduced this team to .500 for sure. That's all Self has. That's all EJ has behind him. That's why EJ has soldiered on.

And with some luck he might get better. And even if he doesn't, well, then he will have done the Moses thing. He will have held the wheels on the car long enough for Naadir to grow up and maybe get us into the promised land. But trust me, Naadir will sleep better at night if EJ is sharing the 2 with him.

Either way, yes, EJ has sucked and sucked badly, but he has gotten the job done.

jaybate 1 year, 10 months ago

Part 4

As my pop so often told me when recounting the battles he had been in. Many battles were won by men who were no long half the men during the battle that they had been before. And it was the guys who kept doing their jobs, even when wounded, even when barely able to keep going, the guys that injuries had made into the weakest links, that it was those guys that exhibited the greatest courage in keeping the chain together.

Lieutenant Johnson, if you can still shoulder a rifle, if you can still put a foot in front of the other, if you can still can still keep the chain from breaking, if you can get it done, then it doesn't matter a damn now what anyone else says, and it doesn't matter a damn how much of a mess you make doing it, and it doesn't matter a damn if you collapse and fall from time to time, because your buddies are there to pick you back up, stick your rifle back in your hands, and so you can call keep moving toward GETTING IT DONE.

Pardon me, for going on, but sometimes I think people have lost sight of what heroism is.

Ben is having a great season.

Jeff is having a towering season.

Kevin is having a dream come true season.

Travis is having a solid season.

EJ is having a heroic season.

Last I heard, heroism still matters.

Rock Chalk!

RockChalkDoc 1 year, 10 months ago

One of the best posts I have ever read, ralster. I agree whole-heartedly.!!

jhawkrulz 1 year, 10 months ago

I agree with your comment.

However, when you state no one forgets how to play...go look up Mark Wohlers from the Braves relief pitchers. He had literally a 100 MPH fast ball and one day he came to work and couldn't throw it for strikes...really couldn't get it within 10 feet of the batter. They tried the minors and shortly later he was gone...he just one day forgot how to play.

jaybate 1 year, 10 months ago

Interesting point now that you make me think about it. Baseball players DO lose it from time to time. So do golfers. Tom Watson. Tiger Woods. In fact, probably more golfers lose it than sustain it.

But in basketball, I just can't think of a guy over the years that was a solid D1 player who suddenly couldn't do it anymore, unless there was injury/sickness involved.

texashawk10 1 year, 10 months ago

The only part of this I don't necessarily agree with is EJ's shooting slump. EJ has never been a good jump shooter and I don't know if it's form or confidence because the majority of his shots are open 3's within the flow of the offense so they're not bad shot attempts, he just can't make them for whatever reason.

texashawk10 1 year, 10 months ago

Last year Elijah was 43% from the field and 33% from 3 which is also right on what his career numbers are as well and those numbers equal being a poor jump shooter. Take the layups away from from his shot totals and his overall FG% is probably is probably under 40%.

Boouk 1 year, 10 months ago

Really encouraging comments there from Self. If Elijah starts shooting in games half as well as he did in practice and Naadir becomes more consistent we could make another Final 4 run. If they don't, then our chances are probably pretty slim.

Boouk 1 year, 10 months ago

By the way, UK could have 6 players in the Jordan Brand Classic if they land Randle or Wiggins. They already have the Harrison's, Dakari Johnson, James Young, and Marcus Lee in the game. I have a feeling there's no way they miss out on both Randle and Wiggins.

jaybate 1 year, 10 months ago

"Whither AW3?"

This is the question foremost in my mind as we move forward.

So many have clamored for major PT for him. He has never seemed remotely ready for such, but a couple of minutes at the 3/4 seem needed to close out a half to save a starter some fouls and get a trey off.

Why not?

Assuming AW3 is not in a dog house, the answers are:

a) Self prefers Jamari 's defense and boarding at the 4; and

b) Self prefers Travis 40% gun and in late.

So: probably AW3 is just a victim of circumstances, but something feels a little odd still.

Jonathan Allison 1 year, 10 months ago

I hope that AWIII is not the next Alex Galindo.

He came to KU with a reputation as a pure shooter, with good size but only decent athleticism. He played sparingly but hit some huge and crucial shots. Then he transferred because he didn't see any playing time in the foreseeable future.

I think the AWIII will stick, because he's got the tools and the body type to be an excellent small foreward at KU by his third year.

To me he looks like a guy who could benefit greatly by taking the Travis Releford path of redshirting as a sophomore and working on his conditioning and defensive agility.

Chris Shaw 1 year, 10 months ago

Galindo transferred because he was homesick.

702Hawk 1 year, 10 months ago

Scary thought. Maybe he is in his slump. We haven't seen his product before to say he is not. It's just that even in his slump he is still really good.

Mike Bratisax 1 year, 10 months ago

I have no problem deferring to your knowledge of the game but I think it simply breaks down to this: AW3 is a terrific perimeter shooter (even if recent games haven't backed that up) who is getting the basic Self freshman intro 101.

With some of the recent scoring woes coming from the perimeter, fans see a viable alternative in Andrew White. When you look back to Self's tenure at Kansas, White is being given just about the same amount of PT as other freshmen have with few exceptions.

I guess someone could break it down a lot further but AW3 will see significantly more time on the court as other freshmen have, as long as he keeps developing all of his game not just a three point specialist.

texashawk10 1 year, 10 months ago

I think AW3's problem is adrenaline. When someone only plays a couple of minutes at the end of a half and is coming in cold, their adrenaline starts flowing and he doesn't compensate for the adrenaline all the time and as a result, his normal shooting motion results in a much stronger shot than normal. If's AW3's defense was up to par, I absolutely would be in favor of giving him more minutes, but his defense is awful at this point so he doesn't really deserve a lot of meaningful minutes unless there's major foul trouble with Releford and McLemore.

monkeehawkSL8 1 year, 10 months ago

With Kentucky having an off year, don't get me wrong anything can still happen. Is there any possibility that some of the freshman playing there believed they were going to win everything this year, the whole rotation would be drafted like last year. Now, things haven't worked out that way. Next years team is suppose to be the greatest recruiting class in the history of college ball, whoops there is a log jam of talent all thinking they were either going to be in the NBA or starting for next years team.

I know I have taken a long time to make my point, Kentucky ends up loosing some commitments because they may have to work for a spot in the rotation, 10-12 top 30 players, thats a lot of young egos to buy into a system. There maybe some players available as this season comes to an end. Thoughts anyone, Bueller, Bueller?

Jonathan Allison 1 year, 10 months ago

I thought about this earlier in the year. So I looked up the mock drafts and all of the Kentucky players were still projected lottery picks and first rounders. They still had room for the heralded recruiting class, AND the option of still adding BOTH Wiggins and Randle by potentially some player giving up their scholarship (similar to what we frequently considered with Morningstar).

That said, the unfortunate injury to Noel could change things just a little for them, but they still likely send enough players to the NBA to add their current recruits plus one of Wiggins or Randle.

Chris Shaw 1 year, 10 months ago

Very intriguing article with some very interesting quotes. Not really sure how to digest it all. Part of me is kind of confused and part of me is to the point of being very optimistic simply based on Self's comments.

The only thing I know is that it's pretty easy to start the damn car. It's getting your car home unscathed through the daily riggers of rush hour, construction zones, school zones, road ragers, texters while driving, 4-Way stops, yield roundabouts, car-pool lines, weather hazards, pot-holes, impaired drivers, teenage drivers, and many other things I am leaving out that puts our daily lives and others in jeopardy while driving. You got to "Focus" while driving.

With that said, I have been pretty critical of EJ throughout this season, but I think he has a great chance to prove himself over the next 4 games against Texas and TCU and 2 huge games on the road at Okie State and Iowa State. If he is going to get better and snap out of this "Funk" per say, no better way to do it than on the road against The Pokes and Cyclones, which we all know has pretty good guards on both of those squads.

Chris1955 1 year, 10 months ago

I understand the sentiment that Bill Self has for EJ. I understand that EJ is trying to overcome whatever knee problems that he had or has. I dont think I buy the Naadir ran out of gas comments.

It's Bill's team and he gets to make the decisions. However, if EJ is the starting PG at OSU we're going down to defeat. At least with Tharpe at PG we may still have a chance at our 9th straight BB title.

If EJ is the competitor that Bill Self thinks he is, he should certainly be able to beat out NT in practice and with his performance during games. Ignoring the obvious is seldom an effective solution.

Sam Constance 1 year, 10 months ago

" However, if EJ is the starting PG at OSU we're going down to defeat. At least with Tharpe at PG we may still have a chance at our 9th straight BB title."

Honestly, what is the point of this comment?

Aside from being completely baseless speculation (OMG NAADIR HAD 20 MINUTES OF GOOD BASKETBALL!!!! HE'S THE ANSWER AT POINT!!!!), it unnecessarily trashes a guy who has given everything to KU basketball.

Even if you believe this, why not just keep it to yourself?

hawk_of_ages 1 year, 10 months ago

" However, if EJ is the starting PG at OSU we're going down to defeat."

Did you say this before the Ohio State game too?

hawk_of_ages 1 year, 10 months ago

He's talking about Ohio State because I brought it up, but he fails to explain how we beat one of the best teams in the country, with the best defensive backcourt in the country, on the road with Elijah Johnson starting at PG yet have NO CHANCE to beat the other OSU if the same Elijah Johnson starts in Stillwater next week.

Cameron Cederlind 1 year, 10 months ago

But, if you have a competent tax attorney already working for you, why not keep the defense attorney at his more comfortable more successful position?

Chris Shaw 1 year, 10 months ago

You know what I say to that? Go Hawk Yourself! That was a funny post.

Cameron Cederlind 1 year, 10 months ago

Oh really!? what do you think you are, UBigMan?

KansasComet 1 year, 10 months ago

Elijah Johnson is my guy. I will always support him. I love watching this young man play. This is his team, until the season is over. Next year, it may very well be Tharpe's team. Elijah is the starting point guard on this team. He is not going anywhere. There are those that want him taken out of the starting line up? That is their right to feel that way. I don't know how that makes team chemistry better? Part of good chemistry is to know your role. Elijah Johnson has accepted and embraced his role every single year. He sat bench when required to do so. He played point, when a player was suspened or injured. He played shooting guard when asked to do so. He has probably played through pain all season, because he would not miss this opportunity for the world. It is easy to sit back and say that he can't do this or that, or judge what type of guard he is. What Elijah Johnson is to me is one of my favorite "All-Time Jayhawks". He is a five star recruit that is all about team and not about "me". How rare is that this day and age? I will continue to throw my support his way because of all the joy he has brought me over the years, and when he is down, I feel it is my duty to help lift him back up. He is one of ours, and that is what this young man deserves from the Jayhawk Nation, and that is what he will continue to get from me!!!

RockChalkDoc 1 year, 10 months ago

Well stated, KC. EJ has a lot heart, and he is one of my top 10 favorite Jayhawks of all-time. My list is comprised mostly of 4 year players who simply love KU. TRob and a couple of others are exceptions. EJ absolutely loves KU and we love him. A picture of Coach Self and him has been my computer background all year. EJ, you make me proud to be a Jayhawk!

Sam Constance 1 year, 10 months ago

Couldn't have said it any better myself. Here here!

oldalum 1 year, 10 months ago

Agreed. The rest of the team seems to feel the same way. When EJ got knocked flat by a K-State player, all four remaining players rushed over to help him up. I think dumping EJ would cause all sorts of chemistry problems.

Tony Bandle 1 year, 10 months ago

DEFINITION OF TRANSITION YEARS.

1] For Kentucky...17-7, best player hurt, no RPI juice in a crappy conference, ready to go unranked AGAIN, possibly looking at NIT.

2] North Carolina...16-7, about to get pounded by arch rival, not ranked, hoping for NIT.

3] Kansas...20-4, tied for 1st in conference, ranked in Top 15 all year, headed toward 23rd straight NCAA Tourney.

Gee, I wonder which school I am happy to be part of? :)

Alex Peekeaton 1 year, 10 months ago

Sorry Oak, losing 2 starters isn't a rebuilding year. Losing 5 starters is a rebuilding year and that's what KU will be facing next year.

oldalum 1 year, 10 months ago

You mean like we did following the 2008 championship year?

Alex Peekeaton 1 year, 10 months ago

It's indeed a sad day for this to happen to an absolute warrior like Noel who gives his heart and soul on every play...I wish I could say that about every player on UK's team, but that's not the case.

Sam Constance 1 year, 10 months ago

Don't you have some BBQ sauce somewhere that you should be bathing in?

How can you ignore the aggressive play he started the game with, setting the tone? His first shot was a made layup and-one. That sounds like starting the car to me.

Sam Constance 1 year, 10 months ago

Man, I don't have the patience to answer the same questions over and over. I was pretty clear how his play "started the car". You can't use the analogy "starting the car", then look at the statistics he generated over the entire game.

Also, Naadir did play well defensively. I would argue that it was far and away his best defensive performance all season, same as his first half PG play was. The issue I have is that you don't turn on a starting senior point guard in favor of a sophomore who until very recently, looked not much better than said senior, just because the senior has a stretch of bad games. I've said this already, but I don't mind easing back on EJ's minutes and increasing Naadir's. Some additional rest for EJ can't be bad, and the way Naadir played warrants an increased role. But this whole idea of some kind of more-symbolic-than-functional removal of EJ as the starting PG is just reactionary to the fact that his poor play coincided with KU's first 3-gm losing streak in 8 years.

I watched the game up close and personal, and KU's offense looked about as smooth as it has all season long, and it looked that way right from the start of the game. Passes were more decisive, quicker, players were aggressive. To suggest that Tharpe's excellent play was the cause of KU's offensive improvement is wildly simplistic.

hawk_of_ages 1 year, 10 months ago

"You're teammates were not looking at you Mon they were looking to keep the ball out of yours and PE's hands to avoid turnovers."

Anyone who watched the game could see that this statement is complete and utter nonsense.

REHawk 1 year, 10 months ago

As I see the EJ situation, Bill Self scrambles for a reverse psychological spin...following his humiliating negative eruptions to the press after Okie State and TCU losses. Yeah, EJ's potential is crucial to the future of this squad. Naadir's amazing first half vs. OK saved our bacon and got the team back on a roll. This article highlights some bizarre talk.

Norm Jennings 1 year, 10 months ago

not a stats-guru so if my impression is wrong - flame away

my best recall of EJ at his best was delivering the ball near the rim where Withey/Young/Traylor could jam it home

that doesn't seem to available anymore - in conference play our opponents may know us too well?

Distrbution below the rim, or creating off of the dribble, appeared to come easier to Nadir in the game with K-State then it has with EJ of late.

Will it be the same for Nadir against a taller, quicker opposing PG than Angel Rodriguez? Don't know.

Was it an anomaly of one night of Nadir avoiding the bad shot and envisioning the about-to-open passing lane? Don't know

Will EJ start creating from the dribble-drive without losing the handle and/or passing into an about-to-close passing lane?

Don't know, but none of the last four games would appear to indicate that this will be the case, whatever the reason.

If we have to start the upperclassmen, fine, but it seems to me that not giving Nadir more minutes to answer these questions before March might make for a short tournament.

dylans 1 year, 10 months ago

You people that don't have to deal with butt hurt KSU fans are lucky.

I just tried to pick up some screws at the hardware store yesterday and I hear, "You had to come in here today to rub it in." I replied,"I wasn't going to say anything (about the game)." A second KSucker,"Those refs were terrible." I replied, "You don't get blown out by 21 due to refs." #2, "Well, we'll still beat you in football." Me,"It's still basketball season, but at least KU wins there bowl games." #2,"How about Belmont?" Me,"I think KU beat them by 30." #2, "I mean Butler." Me,"They are pretty good, but we haven't played 'em" #2,"Well, KU will loose to some nobody in the tourney." Me,"Maybe, but it won't be KSU. Thanks for reminding me why I don't like K-State fans."

Typical of the KSU fans around here. They don't sing the praises of their own team instead they try to run yours down. f#%$ 'em.

dylans 1 year, 10 months ago

hahahah I was looking back at previous tournament results and KSU lost to Butler. What a moron.

clevelandjayhawker 1 year, 10 months ago

I think NT isnt ready to be a 30+ mpg guy just yet. He played great in the first half, but was only average in the 2nd. Now that may be better than EJ right now, but I think Self is trying to get NT to be a 25-30 min guy, but he is trying to do it in a smooth transition, not a drastic change. Now if we lose to texas.....

EJ will bounce back, hopefully the long week between games is just what his knee needed. If he hits some shots early he will be back in his old form.

Robert Brock 1 year, 10 months ago

Someday, Bill Self will recruit somebody who can play the point without dispute. I don't know when that will be. Getting Tyus Jones or Emmanuel Mudiay would help.

hawk_of_ages 1 year, 10 months ago

Past Self recruits including Mario Chalmers, Deron Williams, and Williams's backup, one Tyshawn Taylor, are doing it in the NBA right now.

mikehawk 1 year, 10 months ago

This is the problem here, I believe. EJ is putting way too much pressure on himself. Relax and just pay Elijah. It will come.

jgkojak 1 year, 10 months ago

It sounds like EJ is hurt and just hasn't got it all back yet- its tough to come back from knee surgery. It also sounds like there will be a play in the next few weeks where he makes an incredible leaping play and we'll know he's back.

JayHok 1 year, 10 months ago

One thing Self surely is aware of that many of us tend to overlook is the defensive contributions of EJ. Plus the need for two PGs to get developed for March and April if he gets both of them understanding the speed that our offense needs to run, particularly the passing. Self is being a good father figure at the right time. Tharpe played great but he can't realistically PG the team for 40 minutes a game the rest of the year. The best thing we can do is be supportive and trust the coaching staff. From what we saw on Monday it looks like the meat and potatoes is finally going the proper speed. That's been a big concern. So it took an embarrassing loss to TCU to learn some things for March and April. OK.

Joe Baker 1 year, 10 months ago

Loved what Tharpe did during the ksu game. I think EJ will emerge from the ashes. EJ shakes this funk, look out. The guy is capable of going unconscious at anytime. Teams know what Ben and Withey can do most games. EJ is the dark horse and he's dangerous. I pity the team that gets the honor of watching him emerge from all this crap.

Laugh, but EJ is capable of a 25+ or maybe 30+ game. It seems like a long shot now, but most didn't know they would be at this point in the season either. He's way overdue.

Rock Chalk EJ, GO KU

Alan Mills 1 year, 10 months ago

This article surprised me. Perhaps, as someone said above, he "started the car" with that missed dunk attempt. Just the fact he would try that on two bum knees seemed to get others juiced. But, his less-than-stellar play certainly did more to slow the car down, or even crash it into the woods.

Not sure where anyone sees defense as a contribution Johnson is making right now. He cannot guard at all - again, two bum knees doesn't help him at all. He needs to be defending the slowest guard on the other team right now, plain and simple.

Jaybate, continue to disagree with you on White. When you can consistently hit the rim on a few shots, you get to play. But, a shooter who is more known for air balls is just not a shooter! He's fine on the bench right now, until he learns to shoot the ball in a game.

Tony Bandle 1 year, 10 months ago

Could it be that the only way to learn to shoot the ball in a game is to be in a game to shoot the ball? Just askin'

Tony Bandle 1 year, 10 months ago

Just curious..does the Big 12 Championship remain a Co-Championship even if one team sweeps the team their tied with, 2 to 0?? If so, then this scenario could help us against OSU if we lose down there or hurt us if we remain tied with KSU.

We have shared three of the eight straight conference titles, one with OK and two with TX but I can't remember what the head to head was those years.

Something tells me if you're tied your a co-champ no matter what the head to head was but I can't verify that. can anyone help me?

Redlandsjhawk 1 year, 10 months ago

This post needs to go on someone's bulletin board

JayHok 1 year, 10 months ago

This comment would be removed so I won't even write what I really want to say.

Jason Keller 1 year, 10 months ago

What? Bill Self is nearly 6'4". He is far from sawed off.... I'm not sure I understand your post. Travis Ford is 5'9" and he is well aware that Bill Self is taller than him. He would not call him sawed off.... It must mean something else, where I'm from sawed off means short in stature.

JayHok 1 year, 10 months ago

Same thing for me, it didnt make complete sense at first, in fact I didn't even know what it meant. My inlaw said everytime he paused the tape he'd walk up to the screen, say it with a cadence while grinning like the devil and thumping Self with a pen evoking roars of laughter from the players and coaches. On the screen Self must have looked twelve inches so I'd imagine that's where Ford got off calling him sawed off.

nuleafjhawk 1 year, 10 months ago

Travis Ford is a fine one to be calling anyone "sawed off". What is he - 4' 3" ?

Sam Constance 1 year, 10 months ago

You know, I was wondering about this the other day when all the talk about the conference race was going on.

The old rule was that the title was determined by league record, regardless of tiebreakers. And the reason they did this (as I'm guessing you know) is because with the unbalanced schedule, you didn't get a full picture of each team's ability home/away. Allowing for a shared title enabled the difficulty of comparing disparate schedules an irrelevant problem.

But now that we have a balanced schedule, were each team plays every other team at their own court and their opponents, it seems like its time for the shared title to go away, except in cases where two teams finish with an identical record, and go 1-1 against each other.

But I doubt it will change, because I have a feeling the coaches and ADs like having it be a tiny bit easier to get "CONFERENCE CHAMPION" on their resumes.

Steve Brown 1 year, 10 months ago

If end up with same recordas OSU for example, and they beat us twice, and we tied for 1st place, an argument could be made that we had 'better' losses..Head to head works for conf. tourney seeding but not for trophys. On related subject all those years we played Texas once keep in mind we played Tigers twice, so stop the BS that our past titles are tainted sans a true round robin.

texashawk10 1 year, 10 months ago

Tied in the standings equals a co-championship and the head to head records determines seeding in the Big 12 tournament. KU has shared 3 regular season titles during the current 8 year streak, but was the two seed in the Big 12 tournament each of those 3 years because they lost the head to head tiebreaker to OU in 2005 and Texas in 2006 and 2008.

wrwlumpy 1 year, 10 months ago

I never thought Naadir could be this good. For an entire first half I felt that I was watching a reincarnation of Tiny Archibald. His 2nd half not quite as good, but does anyone remember a young man that was being screamed at on national TV all last year. If Bill continues to stay on your case it is because he cares. Anyone who can play for Bill Self and stay with it will be a better man. Mom's and Dad's, tell your sons to be Jayhawks.

Sally Presson 1 year, 10 months ago

Elijah, way to get your mind set in the right direction. Anyone who knows basketball knows how valuable you are in leading the team. Your value to the team goes far beyond how many points you score. And I'd like to see anyone who critizes you for anything to step in your shoes and play like you do, they wouldn't last one minute. With that being said, get our guys ready for the remaining games, we need them all on the win side. And thanks for staying Elijah, we all appreciate your 4 years.

Rock Chalk

Jason Wilson 1 year, 10 months ago

EJ set the tone of the game and set the speed of the game. Did he miss shots still? Yeah. Did he turn the ball over? Yeah. Doesn't mean he didn't lead the team. Tharpe played fast too, and they both played fast together when they were on the court at the same time, but EJ is the one that got it started...

And Tharpe was definitely sucking wind, because on the tape you could literally see McGruder gasping for air. And if McGruder was sucking wind, you know Tharpe had it even worse because its harder for the defensive player than the offensive player... always having to fight through/around screens.

AsadZ 1 year, 10 months ago

But Tharpe made the difference. Look at the score. It was very close for the 1st 7-8 mins when EJ was at the point. He got his 2nd foul and Tharpe came in and immediately KU started on a roll and got a nice separation.

Right now Tharpe is playing much better than EJ at the PG position.

Tony Bandle 1 year, 10 months ago

After the way Naadir played on Monday night, if he was 6'-4" tall, he would be a lottery pick come this April!!

Bill is a leopard who can't change his spots...but he can rearrange them as needed. I think we will continue to see EJ start at point for the rest of the season, but watch as HCBS goes more and more to the two PG offense with Naadir.

Also, watch the rotation shrink as well. As the games get more crucial, the commercial breaks increase....don't be surprised at a seven man rotation of EJ, Jeff, KY, Travis, BenMac, Jamari and Naadir. Unless something radical happens or there is an emergency situation, I think the bus has left the depot for Perry this year!!

kufaninmo 1 year, 10 months ago

"Whether the fans turn or not..."

we're all still right here with you EJ! don't you ever worry about that.

Priest Fontaine 1 year, 10 months ago

Get ready for the Julius Randle visit this Saturday vs. Texas. Hope someone makes a sign that includes the hash tag: #juliusmaximus

kusayzone 1 year, 10 months ago

I keep waiting for the "Talk" to match the "Walk"....put your shoes on EJ!

Robert Murphy 1 year, 10 months ago

This is pretty simple. We must have good play out of Nadir and EJ if we are to succeed. You can't win with one and not the other. By reducing Johnson's minutes he has a better chance to heal. Nadir can not succeed without Johnson as he cannot play 40 minutes. My biggest disappointment is with Ellis, White, Traylor and Rio. These guys have had half a season to develop and it really hasn't happened. This team could wear other teams down if the players off the bench had been more effective and had played as advertised. It is still possible but I am becoming doubtful that it will.

Jack Wilson 1 year, 10 months ago

I agree with your disappointment in the guys off the bench, but with Traylor, did you really have expectations? I didn't. With White, he has been effective anytime he gets some real minutes.

Jack Wilson 1 year, 10 months ago

New ESPN rankings are out .. a few moves:

13 - Wayne Selden

28 - Joel Embiid

43 - Brannen Greene

47 - Conner Frankamp

no rank - Frank Mason

soapisurfriend 1 year, 10 months ago

Interesting to see Frankamp and Greene slip a bit. Also interesting to see the staff showing late interest in Emmanuel Owootoah of the Frank Mason mold. You don't need me to tell you that there is no way there is room for both those guys in this class.

Scott Smetana 1 year, 10 months ago

Perfect numbers. I'm not a fan of one and done top 5 guys. I hate the NBA for drafting guys with 'potential'. Noel and BMac belong in college 2 more years, not getting 10 min/game next year.

Ethan Berger 1 year, 10 months ago

I'm curios to see on why Greene and Frankamp are close 5 stars on rivals but almost middle of the pack on espn. Esp Greene. Has great size for a 2 and can do it all. This guy will be a star for us. prob not year 1 but year 2. I have a feeling Selden will be a one and done also.

Joe Baker 1 year, 10 months ago

Selden was also bumped from a 4-star recruit to a 5-star too.

Suzi Marshall 1 year, 10 months ago

I love EJ and will never forget what he did for us last year. This year he has earned my admiration for fighting through physical problems and giving all he has. EJ is a great kid!

RockChalkDoc 1 year, 10 months ago

+15.
He is a GREAT kid. I love our EJ!!

hawkeroo 1 year, 10 months ago

There is no doubt that tharpe played the major role in Monday's defeat of K state. We all love EJ for what he's done but at 60% efficiency he is no longer driving the bus and for the good of the team, Self has to comprehend that Tharpe at 100% should assume the leadership role and relegate EJ as Tharpes' backup. Leave Ben at the 2 spot. Tharpe drives the lane with speed,elusiveness,doesn't turn the ball over as often as EJ does and has a higher pct. of shots made, moreover more agile (witness the reverse layup against the cats) Additionally, there does not appear to be ample time left in the season for EJ to recover sufficiently to regain 1 spot and to take the hawks to the next level. Let common sense over ride loyalty. RCJH!

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