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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Keegan

Opinion: Jeff Withey saves KU against Temple

Kansas center Jeff Withey looks to block a shot from Temple guard Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson during the second half on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Jeff Withey looks to block a shot from Temple guard Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson during the second half on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self talks after Temple win

Kansas coach Bill Self talks after his team's 69-62 victory over Temple on Jan. 6, 2013.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Temple coach Fran Dunphy

Temple coach Fran Dunphy talks to reporters following his team's 69-62 loss to Kansas on Jan. 6, 2013.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Kevin Young, Jeff Withey and Elijah Johnson

Kansas players Kevin Young, Jeff Withey and Elijah Johnson talk to reporters following the Jayhawks' 69-62 victory over Temple on Jan. 6, 2013.

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Box score

KU-Temple

A Temple University basketball team that already had an upset victory against Syracuse to its name avoided all the common causes to visiting teams getting eaten alive in Allen Fieldhouse.

The Owls fell behind by double digits and didn’t feed the beast with careless passes and wild shots. They turned it over just four times, 10 fewer than the home team. They didn’t let themselves get rattled and still when all the baskets were counted up they lost, 69-62, joining the last 62 nonconference visitors.

It wasn’t difficult to determine the difference in the game. Kansas had a nimble 7-footer blocking shots from start to finish and Temple didn’t.

Even when Kansas plays with a lack of wire-to-wire fire, as was the case Sunday, it doesn’t get burned with a loss because there is no answer for a great shot-blocker who never gets into foul trouble and has the maturity not to let a subpar offensive day taint his overall game.

On a day Withey made just 3 of 10 field goals and scored just eight points, he more than compensated with nine blocked shots and 11 rebounds.

“What it doesn’t tell you is how many alters he had,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. “He changed so many of our shots because of his presence. He’s a really terrific player.”

Asked about plays that had nothing to do with Withey, Dunphy always seemed to circle back to the impact the senior from San Diego had on the game.

Asked about Ben McLemore’s pivotal steal late in the game, Dunphy quickly changed the subject, saying, “Overall, we were at the rim a couple of times late and Withey would just not let us finish.”

When talking about his leading scorer, Khalif Wyatt, a senior guard who brings so much savvy to the game, Dunphy praised his passing skills as much as the impact of his 26 points. In so doing, again Dunphy couldn’t help but return to his recurring postgame theme.

“He made a couple of great passes as well,” Dunphy said of Wyatt while looking at the box score. “I only see one assist for him. I don’t know how.”

It didn’t take the coach long to figure out how that statistic could be accurate.

“It seemed like he made opportunities for his teammates. Maybe we didn’t finish. It looked like we were going to and Withey said no.”

Withey says no a lot, which keeps the crowd from saying, “Oh, no, not again,” when Kansas defenders get beaten on a play.

“I told our guys at halftime he bailed us out of everything,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “Even when he’s not blocking shots, he’s altering.”

From his coach’s point of view, Withey’s reach forgives the sins of teammates, but that doesn’t mean the coach forgives them.

“We’re so overrated defensively,” Self said. “Our field-goal percentage defense is off the charts. We may be No. 1 in the country now, I don’t know. But we make so many mistakes. It is pretty remarkable to have a guy back there making up for so many mistakes because we’re making too many of them.”

Kansas had just one steal Sunday, proof Self cited to support his argument that the mistakes defenders in front of Withey make can’t be traced to defenders emboldened by the knowledge Withey will prevent them from paying for gambling.

“They rely too much on him,” Self said. “We had one steal. We didn’t turn Richmond over. We didn’t turn Ohio State over much. We didn’t turn American over much. So to me, if you’re making mistakes out of aggressiveness, that would translate to some screwups, but also some benefits. We’re not seeing much of the benefits from a pressure standpoint at all. I think there’s a lot of soundness that needs to be corrected.”

A more sound defense in front of Withey would result in an even tougher riddle for opposing coaches and players. As it was, Temple had tough enough challenge.

Withey ended the Owls’ first possession by blocking Anthony Lee’s shot. On the second time down the court, Wyatt drove into the lane and shifted to Plan B when Withey’s long reach came into view. Plan B resulted in an errant pass to the corner for a turnover.

Withey finished in much the way he started.

Scootie Randall tried to pad the lead, was rejected by Withey and Kevin Young grabbed the rebound. With 1:05 left, Temple’s Rhalir Hollis-Jefferson drove to the hoop looking to cut the deficit to two points. Withey blocked his shot and grabbed the rebound. With 27 seconds left, Withey blocked Will Cummings’ shot out of bounds.

No wonder Dunphy had trouble talking about anyone else. Shot-blockers have a way of staying in people’s heads like that.

Comments

FlashyThundercat 1 year, 3 months ago

Do not say anything critical of the writers for the LJW or your comment will be removed.

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Micky Baker 1 year, 3 months ago

I don't know if Jeff Withey saved this game by himself, but he had an impact. Down the stretch in crunch time Tharpe, EJ, Releford and Ben all made plays. Kevin Young was active as well and drew and OTB and made his free throws. It is one of the things about Bill Self coached teams, it is a true TEAM. Nobody is selfish on this team.

Traylor and Ellis also made some plays during this game, and with those two improving significantly the next two months, this team is going to be as hard to defend as any team in the country, and they're already playing good D and that'll get better.

Lot's not forget about AWIII and Rio, but especially AWIII. If he can come in and light it up from his spot up. This team can potentially rise above everyone else this year.

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Reuben_J_Cogburn 1 year, 3 months ago

Hey....Did you guys know that Jeff Withey played volleyball?

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Eric Baker 1 year, 3 months ago

The KUSports twitter accounted tweeted a link to this article with the statement "Jeff Withey: This year's Anthony Davis?"

I would argue Jeff Withey is not only this year's Anthony Davis, he was LAST year's Anthony Davis, too. He had pretty comparable stats to Davis, against similar or better competition, and with fewer all stars around him to draw away the other team's attention. Just saying...

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Kansas1241 1 year, 3 months ago

Here's the entire play of McLemore's alley-oop dunk in the second half in HD!!

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J.T. Even 1 year, 3 months ago

It wasn't Danny Manning, Self, Hudy, or all of the above, that made Jeff such an incredible shot blocker. Its on record that players and coaches considered Jeff to be the best shot blocker on the team when he was playing behind Cole and the Morris twins some three years ago. He already had the skills when he came here. And he is also on record as saying that playing volleyball helped hone his skills as a defender. Do you think Bill Self and the broadcasters just arbitrarily attributed this skill to his experience playing volleyball? By the way, the broadcasters aren't just talking to us Jayhawk faithful that already know such details. Believe it or not, but there are KU fans that don't get to read every article or watch every game (yes they do exist), as well as fans from opposing teams.

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741hawk 1 year, 3 months ago

When Perry came to Lawrence, I thought he would probably be an All-American. I still think that is possible. Just trying to figure out why we are surprised that his progress is slow and steady.

This is an interesting team to follow. Thanks to all who posted an opinion re Perry. Rock Chalk.

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KGphoto 1 year, 3 months ago

Perry definitely looked more confident. Just watching him getting after it on the rebounds was enough for me to see it. He'll begin a steady climb through conference play. A slow climb perhaps, but he is getting used to banging and fighting with the college-sized kids now.

I wondered yesterday what it must have been like for Perry coming to college, after being the best for four years, against the same level of competition in high school. You know the saying, "If you aren't getting better, you are getting worse"? Well how is he supposed to get better? You can work on skills, sure, but you can only practice them on the same kids you've already beaten.

When I think of it like this, it's no wonder he has been stagnant. He's an extremely smart, driven and goal oriented kid, but nobody has pushed back at him for 3-4 years. What worthy goal was still out there in H.S.? Just the same one, over and over. State Championship. Next. State Championship. Next...

It's like he needed to be shaken out of a dream or something. Bill woke him up but he's just now getting his bearings. I think now that he's awake he'll focus, once again, on becoming the best. It's a new goal after all. Be the best in college. What could be more exciting for a kid like Perry?

Anyway that's how I choose to see it.

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nuleafjhawk 1 year, 3 months ago

Little Help !

Does anyone know if Jeff Withey has ever played volleyball ??

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mattiesdad 1 year, 3 months ago

A couple more 9 block games and the record is gonna fall. Go Jeff!

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mojayhawk 1 year, 3 months ago

Perry will continue to get better all season. He looks more comfortable with the ball inside, but when he goes up for a shot, it's as if he's surprised when it's not blocked, so he overshoots, missing lots of bunnies. (Sorry, English majors, for all of the commas, the long thought just seemed to, need them).

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FlashyThundercat 1 year, 3 months ago

Tom Keegan is the worst writer ever. That opening sentence gave me such a headache. He desperately needs an editor.

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Dr. Robert s. Mosser 1 year, 3 months ago

March_, you may not remember when Greg Anthony was an All-American guard on a UNLV team that lost to Roy's team early in Roy's tenure but did win a NC. He also was a very good student in school. I think he does pretty well. I'm still waiting for an unbiased comment in these observations. I've watched KU basketball since the fall of 1939. Ups and downs. It is fun to watch this team. I get the biggest kick out of Jeff blocking/altering shots. Hoping he might have a NBA career ahead.

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Sam Constance 1 year, 3 months ago

Did anyone else hear Greg Anthony, when Temple was down 7 and had gotten fouled with under 30 seconds to play, suggest that they should think about missing the second free-throw? I think I yelled "HAVE YOU EVER PLAYED BASKETBALL?!?" at the television.

CBS' crews always seem to be pretty bad for regular-season games, but today they felt like they were just talking to hear the sound of their own voices. Between Gumbel feeling the need to chime in that he "LOVES that show!" (about Vegas), all the rambling on and on about "tempo" (I think they may have said the word 100+ times), and the obligatory praising of Coach X because he calls timeouts when his team has just allowed 8 straight points (no, that doesn't make you a great coach, that makes you a non-comatose coach) they offer very little analysis of value. But Anthony's comment about an intentional free throw miss was the crown jewel of stupid analysis today. Why anyone who played basketball would believe that one of the most low-probability plays in basketball should be used in any situation except a last-resort, we-have-no-choice, there-is-almost-no-time-left situation is baffling to me. Of course, he also defended the refs terrible "on the floor" call of Kevin Young's goaltended shot late in the game, saying there was no "continuation" in college basketball. Funny, mainly because I figured when you are fouled after leaving your feet (as Young CLEARLY was) doesn't have anything to do with continuation. Releasing the ball AFTER you've jumped isn't "continuation".

Maybe his producers should let him know that sometimes silence on the air is better than sheer idiocy. Sorry. I really don't care for CBS college basketball crews. At least not during the regular season.

All in all, I'm happy we pulled out a win on a day when the team seemed to be making lazy passes like they were contagious. I was actually quite impressed by Tharpe's play for most of the day. Obviously Withey and Young too, but Tharpe really seems to have rounded into a solid care-taking ball handler. He played a lot more under control than EJ did, at least today, even if he did pass up a couple of threes that I thought he should have taken. Every game I get less and less worried about the future of our starting PG next year. I also wanted to note that I think people are being too hard on Ellis for this game. He had a pretty bad offensive day, but he also ripped down 5 rebounds in 10 minutes, including a monster offensive rebound (1 of 2) in traffic surrounded by 4 Temple players. I think he's starting to get it.

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LLH 1 year, 3 months ago

The nice thing about Perry is that his post movements are fluid. You can tell he knows how to work himself open in the post and has a number of polished moves/countermoves for a young fella. I still believe that he will be a factor for us moving forward and with his IQ, think he will improve immensely with each conference test. Whereas many are concerned about Perry's performance, I kind of look at him as glass half full. The talent is there. He just gets a little ahead of himself, too sped up, thinks too much. In High School, I'm sure he didn't really have to think much as he was so dominant (741 touched on this) and scored with ease over smaller, weaker players. Not a knock on Perry, just think this all factors in. I see him being a 3-4 year guy and will walk away from KU as one of the many memorable players before his time is done. Once he gets stronger, and more seasoned, he will be a beast.

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741hawk 1 year, 3 months ago

RE: Perry Ellis I have a perception that virtually every time he gets the ball in the paint he feels obligated to shoot it, and they are usually well-guarded shots. It seems like he seldom passes out from inside. I'm guessing that comes from his four-year successful high school career when dominating inside was easy for him. Was his high school career so easy that it is holding back his development now?

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Tony Bandle 1 year, 3 months ago

Clark Kellog [grudgingly I admit] made a great point about Jeff's volleyball talents teaching him to go straight vertical with arm extension only, in order to avoid net contact, thus helping him block shots without fouling.

Gee, I think there was another tall Jayhawk center who was one heck of a volleyball player...what was his name??...Milt??...Will??...?? Anyway, maybe every college big man in America should take up this game in the offseason.

That was a very good Temple team that overall was playing well while we were not. To pull that game out will provide valuable experience and confidence for this team later down the line.

PSST..would someone please tell Perry it's alright to go up strong and play with abandon!!

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OakvilleJaybateNightmare 1 year, 3 months ago

I already posted this once but I couldn't help but notice how poor Ben's defense was when Bill finally put him on the ball. The dude got by him effortlessly. If Ben wanted to, no one could get by him but he is so darn athletic that he has learned to just block shots from behind or steal the ball on the drive. That is one of the few weaknesses he has that would hurt his pro career if he left after this season. If you let someone turn the corner like that on you in the league, he'll put you on Sportscenter. Unfortunately, I don't believe it can be fixed by the end of the year. It's a whole mentality shift. Bottom line, he is a marvelous player and has a long career ahead of him but this is something that is really beginning to show through on film and will need to be fixed.

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LLH 1 year, 3 months ago

JB, your point about limited defensive ability is spot on regarding EJ and Naadir. As you eluded to, EJ's may be mostly health related. I'm still hopeful for Naa and Ben due to limited exposure to this level of competition thus far. I think as the season goes on, we will see Ben become more defensively sound and maybe even a lock down type defender by Madness time. Naadir is intriguing, he is very fast in a straight line and with the ball, yet laterally, not very quick to this point. I still believe that both of their ceilings could be fairly high defensively, however, the EJ knee prob is disheartening because he was a flat out stud defender last year coupled with TT.

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actorman 1 year, 3 months ago

Yeah, good call on Kevin's FT's, and his play in general. It's great to see how consistently he brings the energy game after game.

As the game was winding down, I was thinking that this was exactly the type of game KU needed, to see how they would respond to the challenge. It's encouraging that they were able to pull away a little at the end, given how mediocre a game they played overall.

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Gerry Butler 1 year, 3 months ago

i have to agree with LLH agree 100% ya jeff was huge, but i think kevin was even bigger i am going 16 pts, 10 rebounds, and hitting 6 HUGE, I MEAN HUGE free throws when he is shooting 56 % for the year you can't ask for much more just a very very solid player for us he adds energy to the team just injects energy

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jaybate 1 year, 3 months ago

Perry is the missing link.

He seems ready to play, but right now none of the starters seem to understand how to fit him in.

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jaybate 1 year, 3 months ago

Jeff is good, maybe the best, at B&A.

We also have two perimeter starters with limited defensive ability. EJ tweaked his knee again and is apparently never going to defend at the awesome levels he did before the knee injury last year. Ben is a freshmen-- good but inconsistent on defense.

So Self has chosen to rely on Jeff and Kevin to deny an inside game, while using his L&A perimeter to deny the trey. Hold down the fouls and KU's defense stifles. Strips aren't worth the fouls. The backups can't stop the treys.

Self's complaints are real, but they are a product of limitations and compensating strategic choices, not something that can get better. If it could get better, a week and a half of 2-a-days would have made it so.

Self said from the beginning the team's weakness was scoring. So he has strung a defensive bow that needs few strips.

It would be nice though, if Ben an EJ and Naadir could stay in front of guys a bit more.

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LLH 1 year, 3 months ago

I would add that Young also kinda saved the day too. For a 56 % FT shooter to toe the line late in a game and go what was it 6-6? Make no mistake, Jeff was huge and deserves tons of credit as stated in the article. This game was a weird one for me. I knew coming in that Temple is talented and dangerous. There were a few things in the game that left me scratching my head a bit. Not to complain about the officiating, but I felt it a bit inconsistent. Seemed to be KU was getting the business under the boards with few fouls called on these particular plays, but were called for several touch fouls on their defensive end. There were two calls against Travis that just dumbfounded me. One was when he closed out to the corner, under control and simply put his arms up inside the shooters arms, on the ball. He didn't jump, and didn't appear to make contact with the shooter's (Wyatt I believe) arms. Yet, he was called for a foul and somehow, it was a shooting foul though Wyatt wasn't really in the act of shooting, or no moreso than Young was when he got his shot goaltended. The second one was when, once again, Wyatt, drove him baseline and there was a slight contact, not a bump, more a brush, and tweet, foul. Jeff appeared to be hammered on a number of shot attempts, but shot 2 FTS. Temple has always been excellent at slowing the game down. They defended well and KU had several lazy passes into the passing lanes that led to steal and subsequent layups or fouls leading to FTs and free points for Temple. Sorry, kind of all over the map here. The point I'm making is that Wyatt really seemed to get it going when TRele got into foul trouble. Officiating may not necessarily determine final outcomes in games, but I do believe that it shapes the identity of the game. KU held Temple without a FG for a LONG stretch, yet Temple was able to take the lead and mostly from the FT line. Wyatt, good player as he may be, seemed to benefit from a few friendly calls. I also saw him carry the ball at least 3 times, and flat out travel two more, four of these he either scored on or went to the line. Putting BMAC on him was a great move by HCBS. Great win, great way to head into conference play. Thanks for the first half thrills Hawks.

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Boouk 1 year, 3 months ago

One steal the whole game and the opponent in the bonus with more than 10:30 left in the second half isn't what we're used to seeing defensively.

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Scut Farkus 1 year, 3 months ago

I also think Withey is just becoming more comfortable with his body. He looks a lot more agile, quicker and definitely faster up and down the court. I see his NBA stock rising to a possible lottery pick. He has a lot more upside than Aldrich and could be an impact player after 2 or 3 years and some more work in the weight room.

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John Randall 1 year, 3 months ago

Well reported, Tom.

Can you manage to work in some opinion to go along with all the facts?

Keep the truth and candor coming!

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