Thursday, February 21, 2013


Opinion: Seniors Travis Releford, Jeff Withey huge for Kansas

Kansas guard Travis Releford dives to push the ball ahead of Oklahoma State guard Markel Brown to run out the clock against Oklahoma State in double overtime on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Kansas guard Travis Releford dives to push the ball ahead of Oklahoma State guard Markel Brown to run out the clock against Oklahoma State in double overtime on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma.


Box score


— The superstars ordained as NBA players before they step foot on a college campus dominate headlines and mock drafts, but there still is a place for seniors in college basketball. And that place late Wednesday night was Gallagher-Iba Arena, where two exhausted men stood in the winner’s circle after a heavyweight basketball game that couldn’t be settled until two extra rounds were fought.

Fifth-year Kansas seniors Jeff Withey and Travis Releford can’t match teammate Ben McLemore and Oklahoma State’s wide-body freshman point guard Marcus Smart for talent and future earnings, but once the final of four buzzers sounded on a classic (warts and all) double-overtime game, there was no question who deserved the most credit for holding together KU’s push for a ninth consecutive Big 12 title.

Releford played 48 minutes and still he had enough fumes in his engine to race down a ball about to go out of bounds and to Oklahoma State, giving the Cowboys one more shot at winning the game. He got to it and batted it forward to teammate Ben McLemore, and the game was over. Finally. Both teams exerted such effort and played such determined defense it hardly seemed fair that one had to walk away with a loss.

Kansas 68, Oklahoma State 67 in double-overtime won’t soon be forgotten, and all the little things and big ones Releford and Withey did to compensate for a choppy offensive night from both teams were much appreciated by the coach who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is about his team.

“What a great hustle play by Travis to keep that ball from going out of bounds,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “And it wasn’t out of bounds. It was six inches in. What an unbelievable hustle play by him to pat that ball ahead. We’ve got a happy locker room. We’re going to have a hard time getting home, obviously. We’re not going to get home until 4 or 5 in the morning with the weather. But it’ll be a much sweeter ride now.”

Releford had just four first-half points. He finished with 18 points and six rebounds, made seven of 10 field goals and reminded everyone of what a terrific finisher he is. If he had to go up and under because Oklahoma State’s athletic, relentless defenders left him no other option, he went up and under.

Seniors don’t get fazed easily because they have seen it all and heard it all in all types of tones.

“He made a ton of head-up plays,” Self said of Releford. “Travis wasn’t plugged in at all at half. I really got on him at half. He did a much better job (the rest of the night), did a great job defensively on whoever he was guarding.”

Afterward, Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford couldn’t stop talking about how impressed he was with Withey’s defense on the perimeter, when he hedged a screen and completely fouled up a plan designed to get the winning shot at the end of regulation.

“I’d rather draw him out, make him make plays out there instead of close to the basket, but what a great, great job by him,” Ford said.

Withey totaled 17 points, 14 rebounds and four blocked shots.

Both seniors needed to be at their best because McLemore didn’t score his first points until 10:05 remained in regulation on a follow dunk, and he finished with seven points in 49 minutes. Elijah Johnson played a strong second half but was limited to 32 minutes before fouling out, and Naadir Tharpe couldn’t get anything to drop until hitting his game-winner.

This team’s abundance of seniors can only help Kansas as it tries to lock down at least a share of the conference title with five games remaining. Seniors are poised and hungry.

“Go 1-for-11 from three and 17-of-27 from the line and have five assists,” Self said. “... That’s a remedy for getting blown out on the road against a good team. Somehow, our guys just figured out a way. That was a tough win for us. Guys showed a lot of heart.”

Don’t bother comparing schedules. Kansas became the favorite to win the conference, and it has its seniors to thank for that.


Jay Dogger 4 years ago

I doubt he will get drafted but it sure seems like an NBA team could use a guy like Releford. Just look at this stats! He makes 60% of his FG shots, 46% from three, and 81% of his FTs. I bet he gets picked up after the draft as a free agent.

Chris Shaw 4 years ago

I could see Relly being a Danny Greene type of player for the Spurs. It's got to be the right system for Relly. Only a handful of coaches and Organizations could actually make it work.

Pam Goad 4 years ago

Travis is one of my all-time favorite Jayhawks, and I've been watching since the days of Jo Jo White. Maximum effort. Minimum ego. What a great attitude. What a great example!

Mike Bratisax 4 years ago

Nice! I've always liked Richard Scott. Same type of attitude and work ethic.

VailHawk 4 years ago

Loved Richard Scott! I heard a while back that he was one of the best players in Spain for a long time...

Mike Bratisax 4 years ago

Yes..I think he played in Spain until wrapping it up in 2007. And I'm fairly certain he had a really good time : )

jbal32 4 years ago

Great job Hawks!!! If BMAC would have been on they would have won by 15 plus!!!!

Steve Zimmerman 4 years ago

Rele needs to keep driving the ball & shooting layups after layups just like that. He does it beautifully with his swings, long steps & long arms. Especially, when Withey or KY clears the path to the basket. He could've scored 20s had he not missed those FTs. Great job, Travis!!

Kyle Seiwert 4 years ago

We'll not mention the officiating in this game (Higgins delivers yet another one for Kansas) and point out that Self had really better cash something in with these seniors, because he has made it pretty clear that he has no faith whatsoever in his bench. Sharpe played a lot of minutes, because someone had to play, but make no mistake, he was awful for the entire game, minus the game winning shot. With 4 senior starters leaving, and McLemore a sure-fire top NBA pick, Self better recruit the top players "by any means necessary" (wink, wink) or else the next couple of seasons are going to be brutal.

hawk_of_ages 4 years ago

Uh, well, he has the #2 or #3 class in the nation coming in, along with guys like Tharpe, Traylor, and Ellis who will have some experience under their belts. We'll probably struggle out of the gate next season, just as we did in 2005-06, but we should have a very good team by the following season at the latest. I don't see any reason for your negativity.

hawk_of_ages 4 years ago

... and, needless to say, I don't know what planet you're living on if you think the officials won this game for Kansas. That's just insane.

Chris1955 4 years ago

I think dfybaby21 was being sarcastic. Higgins is one of the two referees that makes me cringe when I see him in a KU game.

niemoth 4 years ago

No kidding. I know we're all biased in here but they got more calls than us. I was yelling cheaters at the tv when young picked up his 4th on that obvious travel that instead of turnover results in 2 free throws. Then he gets hacked all over under basket and ball goes out off him in 2nd overtime. They were in bonus with 11 min to go in 2nd half. Osu still only had 3 fouls 17 min into 2nd half. Cobbins terrible 5th foul was a makeup of Elijah's terrible 5th.

Rick Neely 4 years ago

Well, I am assuming that you are trolling for reactions since you are obviously not a KU fan. If you were, you would know that his name is Tharpe, not Sharpe. Anyway, in case you missed it, we don't rebuild at KU. That is a bad word. We expect the highest level of competition from our team no matter who leaves. Coach Self delivers that. Good luck to your team (whichever one that is). I am not worried about the future of ours.

Jim Roth 4 years ago

Hey crybaby21, don't hit me with them negative waves so early in the morning.

Sam Constance 4 years ago

You know, Shannon Sharpe. He plays outfielder for the New York Lakers.

Mike Bratisax 4 years ago

I disagree dfybaby21 on several points

I thought the officiating was fairly consistent. I am NOT saying it was well officiated, just that it was equally bad and oftentimes interrupted the flow of the game. The total point difference at the free-throw line was +4 for Oklahoma State.

We committed 31 fouls to their 27 and both teams shot below 70%

As for the "Self better recruit the top players "by any means necessary" (wink, wink) or else the next couple of seasons are going to be brutal" comment, I completely disagree.

First off, Hawk_of_ages has it right. This year we were ranked #10 not including Traylor or McLemore. Next year our class is ranked #2 and we possibly could add another player. Let Kentucky be the "wink, wink" school when it comes to recruiting. That's not how we do it at Kansas. Self recruits players that fit into his coaching philosophy. Freshman do not automatically get starting positions and that includes several players now in the NBA. He has had his share of misses but clearly a lot more hits. Last year's team lost four starters and the first player off the bench but somehow we made it to the final game of the season. Next year's team will be in a similar situation.

And lastly, who the heck is Sharpe?

jaybate 4 years ago

"Stillwater, Okla. — The superstars ordained as NBA players before they step foot on a college campus dominate headlines and mock drafts, but there still is a place for seniors in college basketball. And that place late Wednesday night was Gallagher-Iba Arena, where two exhausted men stood in the winner’s circle after a heavyweight basketball game that couldn’t be settled until two extra rounds were fought." --Tom Keegan

One of the five best opening graphs I have read in 59 years of seeking and savoring the best sports writing I can find.

NJHAWK 4 years ago

You must be over 70 years of age. It must have taken you a lot of years to start reading and you still can't write.

Bville Hawk 4 years ago

Agreed. TK can bring it when he wants to.

Mike Bratisax 4 years ago

Not sure in terms of ranking jb but it was an instant classic. Whether I'm reading a Tom Clansy novel or the ingredients in my morning cereal, I will often copy down a really well written paragraph or phrase...

The imagery undeniably captures the moment.

MinnesotaJay 4 years ago

Releford and Withey both have worked their backsides off at KU. They've made themselves into the players they are, and they'll both make a far better than average living playing basketball post-college. Hat's off!

niemoth 4 years ago

While withey did play tough and played a lot of min (although he still has times of forgetting to box out and also watches a rebound come down instead of going to get it), I was impressed with Traylor. Only bad play was that air ball when shot clock going down. He was active on d and boards, made both free throws. I'd like to see a + - point stat for him last night cause that was his best game of season. Perry had a tough game but that guy never forgets to box out.

David Robinett 4 years ago

You may be right on the block outs, but Withey was generally a man on the boards last night.

arch007bak 4 years ago

Is it just me or does T Boone need to donate some clocks to OSU?

Jim Roth 4 years ago

I thought it was a geriatric clock operator who couldn't keep up.

Rick Neely 4 years ago

Its not just OSU. Did you see the end of Mich St, Indiana game?

Steve Gantz 4 years ago

Two brutal games for that issue. It really took away from the games in my opinion.

Mike Bratisax 4 years ago

It basically ruined the game. They should go back to stopwatches as the technology doesn't seem to do very well.

BainDread 4 years ago

Don't think it was a mechanical issue based on the types of errors that were being corrected.

hotrodm 4 years ago

Releford will be a millionaire, either NBA or Overseas.

wrwlumpy 4 years ago

“What a great hustle play by Travis to keep that ball from going out of bounds,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “And it wasn’t out of bounds. It was six inches in. What an unbelievable hustle play by him to pat that ball ahead. We’ve got a happy locker room. We’re going to have a hard time getting home, obviously. We’re not going to get home until 4 or 5 in the morning with the weather. But it’ll be a much sweeter ride now.”

Most of us on this Blog grew up loving and playing basketball. Some of the best moments at any level of play was the bus ride on the way home after a draining victory. Stopping to pick up an order at subway called in by one of the student managers. Driving through the night in the snow, re- watching the game and studying and trying to sleep. which is really hard for those on the team taller than 6'8" with limited leg room.


Releford played 48 minutes and the picture above shows no lag in energy in the final seconds of the game. Withy dominatied and played with 4 fouls. Elijah fouled out and made all Jayhawk realize how important he is to this team. Then there is Young. When did he become Thomas Robinson the Enforcer in the paint. That pointed shoulder told Marcus Smart not to drive the lane the rest of the night.

Big 12 Conference, time for Seniors.

Steve Gantz 4 years ago

Not sure if this has been mentioned but the play of EJ was just as important to me as TRel and JW.

Boouk 4 years ago

Outside of the two free throws he missed late in the game he played as good as anybody on our team.

David Robinett 4 years ago

EJ's shot at (I think) the end of regulation should have been goal tending, and the winning shot. Admittedly it was a close call, but fairly clear on reply. The refs were bad both ways (especially Withey's stuff & phantom foul on, I believe, Nash.

HawkKlaw 4 years ago

This article's title is the understatement of the year. Holy crap, Releford and Withey were everywhere last night drawing fouls, hitting free throws, making defensive stops, hitting big shots, etc. Those two in particular deserve a lot of credit for this win.

Rock Chalk!

W Keith Swinehart II 4 years ago

Great, story-telling photo leading the article captures the essence of this physical matchup.

Ryan Zimmerman 4 years ago

Love you Releford, but you'd have done a lot better if you weren't travelling 3 times and picking up your dribble on the traps

VaJay 4 years ago

So you're a "glass is 98% empty" kind of guy?? Why don't you look at the overall impact of what he did (especially late, when on fumes after 48 minutes of effort). You must be a pleasure to be around...

niemoth 4 years ago

A couple of those travels were crap. Their guys would also slide pivot foot tiny bit or switch feet up and not get called. Those were just a result of being on road

Navyjayhawker 4 years ago

Great performance by the seniors! Is it just me or does Traylor look like he has what it takes to be as good or better then T-Rob? That dude is a beast! If he continues to grow over the next couple of years, I see a lottery in his future.

Jeremy Paul 4 years ago

I agree 100%. He's got the body, the attitude, the hustle to be a great one.

Kevin Huffman 4 years ago

I'd say more of a hybrid of the two. I think he'll be more physical than K-Young - though not as much as T-Rob. I also suspect he'll get down more of a jumper over the years than K-Young (since he is ONLY a freshman), but it would surprise me if ended up as effective as T.Rob in that way either.

Mike Bratisax 4 years ago

I don't see Traylor being a lottery pick or even drafted but I said that a few times with other first year players and was happily proven wrong.

Self develops talent better than any other college coach. When Morningstar came to Kansas, I figured he was just a legacy player and would spend his career sitting on the bench. What other coach could have gotten more from him than HCBS?

Kent Noble 4 years ago

I don't know what game you all were watching, Releford was good in regulation, but was nowhere to be found in that double OT!! Him and McLamore left Naadir hanging in OT! Great job Naadir way to get some balls and step up and take that last shot.

hawk_of_ages 4 years ago

Pretty sure Releford took a big shot in OT that rolled off. And he made huge defensive plays and free throws.

ollerfarm 4 years ago

Tharpe and Young shot ALL of the shots in both overtimes, except the 3 from the corner by Ben Mc. Releford, Withey and Mc were just watching the two worst players for KU on the floor shoot and miss, with one exception, Tharpe hits with 16 seconds to go.

hawk_of_ages 4 years ago

Really? So you're saying we didn't score a point in either overtime till Naadir's floater? That doesn't sound right to me.... Oh yeah, we scored all of our points on HUGE free throws by Withey and Releford. So I guess they weren't just standing and watching after all, eh?

Brianna Zaleski 4 years ago

Sorry hawk, you're wrong on this one. Every half court set in OT consisted w the ball being passed around (like a hot potatoe in BMacs case!) then ending up in either Young or Tharpe's hand for "take 'me". Of course there were the possessions that ended with Rele ad JWs ft's and that was great. It just seemed when we got to a point where we needed someone to play take'em our best players were nowhere to be found.

hawk_of_ages 4 years ago

What did I say that was incorrect? And why does no one mention Releford's drive at the end of the 1st overtime? To say that he and Withey were standing around watching in the OTs is just flat-out wrong -- and bordering on blasphemy considering how crucial they were to us in crunch time.

niemoth 4 years ago

Releford can get better at cutting to basket when Tharpe is driving. I feel like Elijah and Tharpe both drive to basket looking to dish and then no one is trying to get open so they get stuck and turn it over. Last night Elijah wasn't looking to dish and was taking it to them. Still confused as to why self kept putting it in tharpes hand instead of Elijah's when both on floor. Should have kept spreading floor for Elijah when clock going down, he was schooling everyone, even on that big swat (which if that was at home is probably goal tending). He made that defender look silly right before it got swatted out of bounds.

Luke Kading 4 years ago

I'm not trying to be negative, because overall I thought Releford and Withey played well. However, how many times is Travis Releford gonna cross halfcourt against a press and immediatly pick up his dribble? It seemed to happen three or four times last night, and each time he did it he was going so fast that when he stopped he drug his pivot foot and traveled. That shouldn't happen from a senior guard. He should have enough ball handling skills and poise to bring it up every once in a while and keep his dribble. Also, he needs to be ready to shoot when he catches the ball on the perimeter. He is a good shooter, but it seems like he is never ready to catch and shoot. He passed up a handful of good looks last night where he catches it and doesn't even look at the basket. Especially in a game like this where the offense is struggling, he needs to be ready to take good looks when they are there, because he can make those.

As for Withey, again, good overall game, but he missed a couple bunnies in the second half that could have avoided overtime to begin with, with the most obvious coming right before Marcus Smart's three to tie it with about a minut left.

Oh well. Both guys played well and that was a great win against a very good team. Good to see Elijah play well again (minus some bad first half TO's). He is crucial to this team having a shot to win the national championship. He is the best option at driving the lane and getting his own shot.

BainDread 4 years ago

For not trying, you did quite well!

Ryan Zimmerman 4 years ago

exactly what i was saying above... basketball 101 is to not pick up your dribble. Look, I'm an alum and I love these guys, but a senior (5th yr) should know how to break a press. He saved us a ton with his drives, so i don't discount that at all... Just seeing why it was as close as it was.

Steve Reigle 4 years ago

Now we need Oklahoma State to take out Kansas State when they go to Stillwater. And we have to take care of our own business including our trip to Ames.

Michael Leiker 4 years ago

That was one unhappy fan base walking out of Gallagher-Iba last night. They really felt like they got the raw end of the deal. I was eating it up. 1st trip there for me and it lived up to all my expectations. Best place other than AFH I've seen a game.

Kevin Huffman 4 years ago

Not like that all of the time though like AFH is. Seen them host Iowa State both of the last 2 years in a similar Wed. night vein and the place is lucky if it's half full and in close games - only maybe 1/2 the 1/2 crowd to begin with was "into the game". I DO like that you're at least more "on top of" the court though.

Saw the KU/OU game at Lloyd Noble this year and you feel pretty far back there.

Kurt Eskilson 4 years ago

My son and I were at OSU the last time KU lost there, and the fans were ultra-classy. I especially remember being told more than once, "Remember when we beat you last in 2008? Your season went pretty well after that! Good luck in the NCAAs."

jawsrecliner 4 years ago

Don't want to rain on any parades or be negative, but let's not crown KU yet. We still have to go to Ames, where ISU is undefeated this season. They almost beat us here. Baylor also likes to get up for us when we come to town. I don't want to count any chickens...

Kevin Huffman 4 years ago

I think most I've seen on here are STILL picking us to lose in Ames. Having said that OSU still has to go to Ames and K-State has to go to OSU.

And this isn't the Baylor team of last year let alone 2 years ago. They lost rather easily to ISU at Waco (by 7 I think?) last night.

Chances are good that we lose at Iowa State, K-State loses at OSU & OSU loses at Iowa State. Us & K-State would TECHNICALLY share the reg. season conference championship.....9 in a row would still apply though AND we'd still be the 1-seed in the Big XII Tournament.

niemoth 4 years ago

I thought we had a much better chance of losing to osu than Isu, so I feel better about us beating them. Osu was favored by 1 last night. We will still be favored at Isu. That doesn't mean we will win but I'm not ready to say chances are good that we lose to Isu.

Dan Harris 4 years ago

one game at a time! remember TCU?!?

Brianna Zaleski 4 years ago

Is there any doubt that Travis Releford is the best, non-dunking,finisher in college? Especially when he gets out in the open court, he is very hard to stop and always seems to have the defender on his heels. Very pleased with him last night. Liked how he buckled down (along w/ Withey) and hit his impt ft's after having missed some early. That's the advantage of having exp seniors.

Jack Wilson 4 years ago

I posted below .. but missed reading your post before. Or would have noted my complete agreement: "Is there any doubt that Travis Releford is the best, non-dunking, finisher in college?"

Easy answer - yes.

COjayrocks 4 years ago


JayHok 4 years ago

Personally I loved seeing how much Self wanted to beat Ford. By beating Ford he not only kept his team in first, he also beat Mizzou and Kentucky all in one night at Ford's home court. Thank you to all Jayhawks who stepped on the floor. Each one of you allowed destiny to reveal itself, a one point victory for KU in Ford's living room. Thank you to all KU players who didn't step on the court and all assistant coaches. Without your hard work in practice and game preparation, destiny could not have revealed itself last night. Onto the preparation for Saturday. RCJ!

Ryan Zimmerman 4 years ago

The refs last night were pretty awful both ways... The foul they called on McLemore and even EJ on his 5th late in the OT were awful And the announcers were trying to make the Kevin Young "forearm shiver" so much more than it was. He doesn't HAVE to get out of the way ... they were making it sound like it was such a vengeful move

Jack Wilson 4 years ago

The time in life begging Releford to be assertive on offense, to drive, and to get the ball to rack seem well worth it everytime he plays like last night. It's great to see.

Wish he could have that same approach every game .. performances can be up and down .. but the aggressive approach is the key.

He is one of the best finishers at the rim I've ever seen. Solid. Soft. Great angles. Awesome.

LngTimeFan 4 years ago

I'm liking what I see out of Traylor. He's getting it more and more every game. Perry will too, it's just gonna take him a little more time. We know he can score, and he positions himself for a lot of rebounds, dives for loose balls, etc. He's gonna be fine.

kuphotog 4 years ago

Great game!!! Seniors know how to win. Just shows why college players need to stay at least two years and maybe more as our seniors showed who can come through in the clutch!!

Hoosierhawkfan 4 years ago

Great win gentlemen!! Kudos to all. My heart has finally returned to its normal state.

Benjamin Piehler 4 years ago

NCAA Tourney is going to be crazy this year... great win for the guys, I had a feeling they would get a W.

Benjamin Jones 4 years ago

Tom, it's "set foot," not "step foot." It's like nails on a blackboard every time I read that malapropism.

Bville Hawk 4 years ago

It's a direct quote from Coach Self, speakeasy. I didn't listen to the press converence, but I'm guessing Coach misspoke and said 'remedy.'

Benjamin Jones 4 years ago

And is every single copy editor on the copy desk sound asleep? “Go 1-for-11 from three and 17-of-27 from the line and have five assists,” Self said. “... That’s a remedy for getting blown out on the road against a good team." Obviously Self said "recipe," not "remedy." Going 1-for-11 from three isn't a remedy for anything HEY! WAKE UP!!!

Jim Johnson 4 years ago

I didn't get to see the game but was wondering if any cartwheels were executed. lmao

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