Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bill Self: Kansas ‘thinks it should win’

Kansas guard Travis Releford finishes a dunk against Kansas State during the second half on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013 at Bramlage Coliseum.

Kansas guard Travis Releford finishes a dunk against Kansas State during the second half on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013 at Bramlage Coliseum.


So far, the 2012-13 Kansas University men’s basketball team shares an important trait with last year’s NCAA runner-up squad.

“The biggest similarity is last year’s team thought it should win, and this year’s team thinks it should win. That doesn’t mean we are a really good team by any stretch. We get in certain situations, and they enjoy that,” KU coach Bill Self said on Wednesday’s Hawk Talk radio show.

“Hopefully that will continue to be the case. Although we can’t live on borrowed time all the time, guys have played well when it has counted the most.”

The Jayhawks — 17-1 overall and 5-0 in the Big 12, compared to last year’s 15-3 and 5-0 at the same point — have had a batch of nailbiters, as they did a year ago.

KU, which clipped Kansas State, 59-55, on Tuesday in Manhattan, erased an 11-point second-half deficit to win, 64-59, at Texas on Saturday. The Jayhawks also led by two at halftime in a 14-point victory at Texas Tech and needed a last-second three-pointer by Ben McLemore to force overtime and ultimately win, 97-89, at home versus Iowa State.

Aside from that do-whatever-it-takes-to-win-mentality, “It’s totally different,” Self said of the two seasons.

“We don’t have a go-to guy. If you asked me right now, ‘OK, who do we run a play (for) that we positively want to shoot the last shot?’ I’d say it’s situational depending on how people are guarding us or what we need to do now in that situation. Whereas last year, hey, we were going to get the ball to Tyshawn (Taylor), and he was either going to do it or get it to Thomas (Robinson), and he was going to do it. We are different in that regard. We have a little bit more balance. Both teams defend well. We are getting better at rebounding the ball.”

The Jayhawks on Tuesday were able to remain the league’s only undefeated team while handing the Wildcats their first league loss.

“I thought Travis (Releford) was the best player in the game,” Self said of the fifth-year senior who hit five of six shots (two of three threes) and scored 12 points while holding Rodney McGruder to 13 points off 4-of-12 shooting (3-of-9 from three). “It means so much to him playing over here. He went 4-1 (at Bramlage Coliseum during his career). He did a great job on Rodney, who moves without the ball better than anybody in the league. We kept him out of the lane. It was team-effort guarding him.

“Travis was with him step-for-step,” Self added. “He (McGruder) got free a couple times. Over the course of 35 minutes that Travis guarded him, he didn’t get freed nearly as often as what he has been. He’s best when he can attack the lane, get in the paint and get to the free-throw line, curl screens, things like that. Trav played smart. He did a real nice job.”

The unlikely KSU culprit was Shane Southwell, who had 19 points, hitting five of 11 threes.

“We knew he was capable of making a (three-point) shot. He made 16 on the year,” Self said. “He was 5-of-11 to keep them in the game when I thought we defended all other aspects except transition. We were bad in transition the first half.

“It was an unbelievable win,” Self added, “a tough grind-it-out win. If we could just tighten up a few things ... we are not playing as bad offense as what some might think. We’ve played real good defensive teams. We’re just not making shots. We’ve got to get a little rhythm making shots, but defense and rebounding usually win on the road, and we were terrific in both areas.”

KU, which held KSU to 35.1 percent shooting and outrebounded the Wildcats 31-28, scored in the 60s four of the past five games, prior to the 59-pointer vs. KSU.

“The law of averages is you have games when you shoot 40 percent sometimes,” Self said, “but in games where people are well-coached and scout ... it’s like NCAA Tournament games where you’ve got to have guys make plays when it counts the most and play to principles. Our guys down the stretch believe they are going to win. It speaks to their toughness and experience.”

KU will meet Oklahoma (13-4, 4-1) at 3 p.m. Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse.


wildjayhawk 1 year, 2 months ago

Johnson over Tharpe any day. Tharpe coming off the bench and that is scary to think about. Tharpe is an accident waitting to happen. He looks a lot like sixpack Brady at times and we sure don't want anything like that.


texashawk10 1 year, 2 months ago

KU's best line up right now is Tharpe, EJ, McLemore, Releford, and Withey. That's the line up that's out there at the end of the game and that will be Self's go to line up down the stretch the rest of the way because Naadir has passed EJ at being a PG and Young's ineffectiveness on offense and poor FT shooting have made him a liability on the offensive end during late game situations. It would be great if Ellis got going, but even then, he still wouldn't be a good fit for a late game player this year because you would have to remove A) the best PG (Tharpe), B) the senior leader (EJ), C) the best player (McLemore), D) the best perimeter defensive player (Releford), or E) the best interior defensive player (Withey). I don't think Self needs to go more than 7 deep this year because this team is in great shape and we've seen him use White and Adams to spell either Releford or McLemore in the middle of a half near a TV timeout to get those two a couple extra minutes of rest for the stretch run, but those two didn't show the consistency on both ends of the floor during non-conference to justify more minutes now.


Tony Bandle 1 year, 2 months ago

2012/13 Jeff Withey > 2011/12 Jeff Withey.

2012/13 Kevin Young > 2011/12 Kevin Young but < 2011/12 TRob.

2012/13 Travis Releford > 2011/2012 Travis Releford..

2012/13 Elijah Johnson < 2011/12 Tyshawn Taylor.

2012/13 BenMac>>>>>>>>> 2011/12 Conner Teahan

2012/13 Bench>>>>>>>>>>>2011/12 Bench.

The secret is that there are a lot of >'s on this squad!!!!


Jay Dogger 1 year, 2 months ago

I love this team but we are very vulnerable to a loss, especially in March. We have a great SG, SF and C, but our PG and PF are just above average. Our bench is getting closer to being just two guys, so not much depth. That being said, I think EJ has obvious potential to improve/live up to potential, and Ellis may become a real threat sooner rather than later, either as starter or 6th man (majority of bench post player minutes).

Every team is going to worry about playing us, and not just because of our record. Our defense is among the best and that will keep us in games. But it's hard to win six games in a row with lackluster offense. Or is it? Last years Madness scores: 65-60 ... 63-60 ... 60-57 ... 80-67 ... 64-62 ... 59-67. We only scored more than 65 points once and no team scored more than 67 against us (avg.=62.16). That doesn't seem out of reach for this team.

I'm sure it will come down to who wins the close games in the final minute...and I like this team's chances to do that in any game. It should be a fun March.


jhawkrulz 1 year, 2 months ago

The team is awesome, and you can see teams adjusting, I think this has also led to some people saying KY is performing poorly. In the early part of the season, Jeff withey was fed the ball, and KY would get the offensive board if necessary and put in the bunny.

In recent games, they have forced KY outside the FT line, and have doubled up on Withey. If KY could make those shots, it would be incredible, but when he misses, KY isn't in position to get the bunnies, and therefore his scoring average has decreased.

Ben the book on him is to guard the catch and shoot, and force him to dribble. He has had issues with charges and or being stripped. If he has a catch and shoot, everyone knows it is going in.

EJ now is being pressured to get rid of the ball out of his hands, that is where Naadir has come in nicely, it has allowed EJ to go back to the 2 and Naadir to dribble and kick out (usually to an open Ben). I personally think that Naadir's skills and Ben's skills match up together more than EJ's and Ben's.

With KY missing the open shots, Bill has countered with Ellis more time, because he'll aggressively drive in and score.

Withey nobody has figured that one out, only to launch threes like crazy and it just isn't working.


ironhead80 1 year, 2 months ago

I like Young alot and he has made alot of hustle and garbage plays to keep KU in the games, he has not shown any skill to make shots when other teams defense plays off him. Those 12 to 15 footers should be practiced all the time, especially if other teams defenses are playing off you. I don't recall any Self teams thru the years showing an out right weakness were other teams are begging them to shoot it than this one with Kevin. Nor do I see KU trying to correct it in games, leads me to believe coach Self thinks that's not so much as a weakness. If Perry doesn't make the starting line up by middle of February or if he isn't playing in games at important times, this weakness of not making this shot will comeback in haunt them in the NCAA's. Will need another scorer from the 4 spot period.


KansasComet 1 year, 2 months ago

This team is talented, confident, and experienced. I like our chances. Before the season started I said this team in my opinion has a chance to be better than last years team. I stand by that. I am not sure how far they can go, but I don't see a glaring weakness on this team. Everyone on the team is athletic, and can run up and down the court. The young guys are only going to get better as the season goes on. Kevin Young makes mistakes, but he also makes up for his mistakes. I am glad he is on our team and is more of an asset than a liability. I enjoy watching this team, and when it all comes together, it is going to be something special. We lost one game by 3 points, and that was like the 2nd game of the season. We are truly spoiled in Kansas. A lot of KU fans are too young to remember some of the lean years. I always go back to 1978 when we played UCLA in the first round and had absolutely no chance to advance. I remember thinking "will we ever be a top 5 team again? Answer: Yes!!!!! So I appreciate every win that we earn and love every single moment that we are in the top 5. I cannot take it for granted, like some appear to do.


Reuben_J_Cogburn 1 year, 2 months ago

And just to address any rumors I've seen on here regarding Kevin Young replaced out of the starting lineup....I don't foresee that happening.

Sure he had one of the dumbest minutes I've ever seen from a KU player. And I say minute because he crammed more insanely idiotic things into one minute of play than most do in an entire game....maybe even series of games. The triple foul on Southwell that finally got called, missing point blank shots, sloppy interior passes resulting in costly turnovers......and not to mention the greatest ally-oop pass of all time.

But I am going to chalk that up to a guy, who brings a lot of energy to a game, allowing that energy to get the best of him in an intense environment.

But he has done more things for this team that warrant his presence in the starting rotation. I believe Ellis is on the cusp of showing us just what he can do, but he is still a little too green to risk tampering with the starting 5 chemisty..

...and Mr. Young's Wild Ride the other night changes nothing in that regard.


Reuben_J_Cogburn 1 year, 2 months ago

Don't lose faith in Elijah. I predict he will have a breakout game soon, and start peaking right when we need him to.

Much like tourney time last year. He will get on track and become the weapon we know he can be.


JayHulk 1 year, 2 months ago



Ron Franklin 1 year, 2 months ago

Here is an interesting stat: Releford has 25 less shot attempts than Elijah, but has 24 more free throw attempts. If EJ is supposed to be our PG and penetrator, I'd like to see his FT attempts go way way up.


PeterGriffin 1 year, 2 months ago

I have been saying it most of the season and I continue 'this team will NOT lose 3 games all season'. Also is my new homepage, sorry


Tony Bandle 1 year, 2 months ago

From the Department of Nit Picking, wouldn't the word "we" been a better choice than "it" in the quote??

I think we have five go to long as his first name is Ben.

Perry's progress will place Kevin where he belongs......the shock troop coming off the bench to wreak havoc on our opponent.

Any morning you wake up and Duke lost the night before is a good morning.

Is it not apparent that the Elmer's Glue Award goes to Travis Releford this season???

Based on today: West - KU, Arizona, Gonzaga, Oregon / Midwest - Michigan, Mich.State, Indiana, Butler / South - Duke, Louisville, Florida, New Mexico / East - Syracuse, Minnesota, K-State, Ohio State [any resemblence between my guess and what it actually ends up, will be "monkeys flying out of my butt" luck!!! ]


Ron Franklin 1 year, 2 months ago

Thinking you should win is good and bad, depending on the egos that are involved. It's a delicate balance, similar to good stress and bad stress. If you let thinking you should win consume you too much just See VCU after the Morris Twins made their ridiculous pre-game comments.


HawkKlaw 1 year, 2 months ago

As the number 2 or 3 team in the nation (depending on which rankings you look at), I would hope that KU thinks it should win!

As for the go-to guy, I think this year is similar to the 2007-08 season. That year almost anybody on the court could hit the game winner (Rush, Chalmers, RussRob, Collins and even Arthur). This year we have a similar situation (McLemore, Elijah, Travis, Naadir and Withey). It makes things so much tougher on opponents when they have to guess who is going to take the last shot, so I see this as a big advantage for KU. Even Naadir has proven that he has ice in his veins come crunch time, so opponents literally have to guard everyone.

Also, speaking of toughness and experience, this team clearly has both (a lot of these guys were on the Final Four team from last year). And with plays like BMac's bank at the end of the ISU game, this team also has luck on its side. KU is going to need all of these things to make a deep run in the tournament come March. The writing is on the wall.


Bob Thompson 1 year, 2 months ago

Ku has a chemistry with the 5 starters we have. I don’t think you want to take a chance and start Perry. I definitely think he should be playing more minutes, but this late in the season, stay with your starting 5.


Steve Quatrocky 1 year, 2 months ago

Note to BMac: Look at how McGruder moves without the ball and take notes if you want more good looks. Its not all on your teammates to get you the ball, you have to get open too and then they will find you.


jaybate 1 year, 2 months ago

Jelly is going through what all first year starters, including Ben, go through. It gets harder, when they learn your weaknesses. But he and Self will find a work around eventually.

Next, Jelly has gone from Mr. Happy to Mr. Stern and from 15-18 ppg to 7-10 ppg suddenly; that always correlates with unannounced injury, or a change in offensive scheme. I don't see an injury but since the book on Kevin was never a poor shooter, I lean to injury AND scheme change. Jelly's scoring tracking down correlates strongly with Self announcing he would run more plays for Ben. Something more than scouting reports is at play here, and we will find out in a month or two. Reinjury of hand most likely.


William Blake 1 year, 2 months ago

This was the most-optimistic play i've seen this year from our Hawks.

Naadir is coming on. He's adding what we need from the perimeter.

Perry is coming on. Perry can draw a foul better than anyone on this team. Feed him the ball in the post continually and he'll foul out team's post players. He just needs to settle down at the charity stripe. It's time to give him his first opportunity to start in the regular season.

Kevin Young is ready to become the best 6th-man in college basketball. It is time to make the change. It will be good for both players. Kevin knows his job is to bring energy into the game.

EJ is getting close to realizing his role on this team. He is "Elijah the Enhancer." He's supposed to enhance everyone's game, including his own by offering up baskets here and there as defenses break down and give up open gifts.

Travis has always known who he is and he's feeling more confidence to bring it when we need it most.

Jeff is our defensive beast in the post. If we can get him angry in March, he'll almost guarantee us a new trophy in AFH.

BMACulate will continue to improve every game and he'll look better and better as his supporting cast relieves some of the scoring burden. He's a freshman and doesn't need to be put on the spot. We just have to open the door to set him free. Look at how many ways he can contribute to a game. He's more than a scorer.

The unknown is our deep bench. What will AW3 and Rio bring to the mix moving forward? What will Jamari bring? I'm hopeful these guys will fill their roles well. All three of these guys have some big minutes coming their way in the Jayhawk future.


FearlessJayhawk 1 year, 2 months ago

There is similarity between great football teams and great basketball teams. The offense is what sells tickets but it's the defense that wins championships. That's why I feel good about this team. Great defense creates the opportunity to score. I think BMac has proven that he is the go to guy during crunch time. If he is covered, either Elijah, Travis or Jeff could do the job.


clevelandjayhawker 1 year, 2 months ago

Not sure my heart can handle all these close games, could use a nice blowout win.

I like our team, but right now I dont feel we are that good. But apprently no one else in the country is that great either. I trust that over the nexdt six to seven weeks coach will get these guys to perform at their best on a consitent basis; if not we are a few made threes away from an earlier March exit then we would all like to see.


Boouk 1 year, 2 months ago

We have a top 3 pick but no go-to guy?


Jayhawks Rock 1 year, 2 months ago

I notice in the picture that K-State has 23 hanging in the rafters. I guess they know that BenMac is a superstar. Too bad they don't realise he is our superstar.


doolindalton 1 year, 2 months ago

Personally, coach, I'd rather have five guys who think they should win rather than a "go to" Thomas Robinson who the other team knew they had to guard. When Robinson had a so-so night, so did KU (e.g. Kentucky). This season, it's not on one guy but rather four seniors and one very talented freshman who can all score in the right situation, plus a developing bench. This team is a lot of fun to watch.


nuleafjhawk 1 year, 2 months ago

I do like the confidence that this team displays. What I like even more is the fact that they can show that confidence without trash talking and chest pounding. I've seen very little of that from this group and it's a credit to Bill Self and the coaching staff. I can picture Coach Self telling them, after a great play, "Act like you've done it before. Man up, show some respect and let your game do the talking for you."


hotrodm 1 year, 2 months ago

I hope that Kevin Young gets back to playing his "A" game. He didn't play Southwell close enough on defense. Southwell was able to shoot too many wide open shots and kept K-State in the game. Kevin is such an important member of the team and when he is "On" KU is very hard to beat. Come on Kevin, take KU back to the final four.


texashawk10 1 year, 2 months ago

The biggest difference between the basketball and football teams (aside from talent level) is the mental toughness of each team. The football just didn't have the mental toughness to succeed in close games as a result, they failed to close out opponents in tough games and that's been the case for a long time. This years and last years basketball teams are two of the most mentally toughest teams I've ever seen. Last year's team had no business reaching the title game based on talent, but the mental toughness of that team propelled them far beyond where their talent level should've taken them. This year's team has a lot more talent than last year's team, but the same kind of mental toughness that makes them near impossible to beat. Bill Self has fully embraced Big 10 style basketball with these teams and it may make life miserable for us to watch, but a cold shooting night doesn't completely kill KU's chances to win a game. And as long as KU takes care of business at home on Saturday, they will move up to #1 in the coaches poll.


KawJayhawk 1 year, 2 months ago

Thomas Robinson posted 12 points and 14 rebounds in a win over the phoenix Suns tonight.


Robin Smith 1 year, 2 months ago

This team is unflappable. I like this makeup and mix of players A LOT.

Maybe someone can help me out. Does anyone know where to find a clip of that tip pass Young made on the break? I wanna watch that over and over again. Real heady.

Also, a sidenote: on some ESPN coverage of Miami smackin up Duke the analyst compared a Hurricane player to Kevin Young. Something like "a difference-maker, always in the right spots, hustlin". Good stuff.


Suzi Marshall 1 year, 2 months ago

Self said it best in that last sentence. This group of seniors have great experience from last year. tough as leather, and have supreme confidence in themselves. I think the toughest group Kansas has ever had. This is a group bound for glory ... great and willing to do whatever it takes to win.


KawJayhawk 1 year, 2 months ago

If Elijah can hit some 3's they could have a real good chance at making another run a the final 4


jakejayhawk 1 year, 2 months ago

Love the attitude. Not that we deserve to win by walking on the court but rather we have the ability and believe in ourselves if we give our best effort. And this team DOES have the talent to win. If we can find a way to lock down that small, quick, perimeter player we can handle the other positions defensively. The team is coming around and has incredible upside.


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