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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Keegan

Opinion: Ben McLemore once again shows his huge upside

Kansas guard Ben McLemore, center, leans in as he and the Jayhawk starters huddle late in the game against Kansas State on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013 at Bramlage Coliseum.

Kansas guard Ben McLemore, center, leans in as he and the Jayhawk starters huddle late in the game against Kansas State on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013 at Bramlage Coliseum.

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Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self talks after win over KSU

Kansas coach Bill Self talks after the Jayhawks' 59-55 victory over Kansas State on Jan. 22, 2013.

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Travis Releford and Jeff Withey

Kansas seniors Travis Releford and Jeff Withey talk to reporters following the Jayhawks' 59-55 victory over Kansas State on Jan. 22, 2013.

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KSU coach Bruce Weber and guard Rodney McGruder

Kansas State coach Bruce Weber and guard Rodney McGruder talk after the Wildcats' 59-55 loss to Kansas on Jan. 22, 2013.

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Box score

KU-KSU

— Freshman forward Perry Ellis early and sophomore guard Naadir Tharpe late, fueled by ever growing confidence, helped Kansas University to grit out its 16th consecutive men’s basketball victory, 59-55, Tuesday night in Bramlage Coliseum against Kansas State.

The more good things that happen for them in games, the stronger the KU bench becomes.

But on a night he watched from the bench in foul trouble and too often from the perimeter when in the game, red-shirt freshman Ben McLemore again showed he’s the player on the roster with the most untapped potential.

From today until mid-March, McLemore’s the player who figures to improve the most, and when that happens, that’s when we’ll see how tough this veteran team that starts four seniors can become.

When McLemore involves himself in the action, especially close to the hoop, he does things nobody else can do. He had two flashes of brilliance, both in the second half of a game in which he was not a first-half factor (two points), thanks in part to foul trouble and to K-State senior Rodney McGruder’s strong defense.

The first two blink-and-you-missed-them contributions came in a 14-second span, both on the defensive end.

Kansas State’s crafty 6-foot-7, 270-pound sophomore center, Thomas Gipson, used multiple pump fakes to draw Jeff Withey’s third foul. Gipson’s three-point play not only sent Withey to the bench with 15:07 left, it cut K-State’s deficit to five points.

Gipson had the ball down low on his team’s next possession and dialed up his bread-and-butter move again. This time, when Gipson went to the pump fake, McLemore ripped the ball right out of his hands, not an easy play to execute without fouling, especially against such a strong athlete.

Just 14 seconds later, Gipson tried to score again, and McLemore blocked his shot.

McLemore supplied that sort of defensive help and also held his primary assignment, Will Spradling, scoreless.

For having such a quiet night (11 points, 4-of-7 field goals), McLemore timed his big plays well, most coming when the Wildcats drew within five points.

Again proving that good things tend to happen when McLemore moves closer to basket, he gave Kansas a seven-point lead with 9:51 left, scoring on an offensive rebound off a Withey miss.

McLemore’s three-pointer with 7:40 extended KU’s lead to eight points, and his jumper 44 seconds later gave Kansas a 10-point cushion.

Kansas State coach Bruce Weber was talking about Kansas in general, no player in particular, but his words just as easily could have applied to McLemore’s second-half flurries when he said, “They make plays. They don’t get rattled. On both ends of the court, they make plays and find ways to win.”

Once the conference season hits, scouting reports on how to defend freshmen are out, and those players need to figure out to counter the way they’re guarded. The book on McLemore says to play him tight and make him put the ball on the floor. That can frustrate him and in fact led to the second foul called on him Tuesday. But McLemore is so focused on improving, such a talented athlete and such a skilled basketball player, there is reason to believe he’ll make opponents pay for guarding him that way, and the book will have to change.

He wasn’t KU’s best player on this night. Travis Releford was, but McLemore with a couple of spurts showed why he was the best basketball prospect on the floor. He was good enough to make key plays in another tight Kansas victory. He’ll be a lot better than that when college basketball takes center stage in the sports world come mid-March.

Kansas was just good enough to stay unbeaten in the Big 12 and is alone in first place. It’s easy to see where it will be a lot better than that in couple of months.

Comments

dnvrhawk 1 year, 2 months ago

I'm sure Self was hoping that Zach Peters would develop and be part of the 'bigs' rotation this season.

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mariomiracle15 1 year, 2 months ago

Ok so I might be wrong here so please tell me if any of you guys agree with me but Im actually worried that we are moving away from what has proven to work as a "championship caliber team" under bill self, in that we don't have a dominant 2-4 man post system.

2008: 6-10 Sasha Kaun 6-10 Cole Aldrich 6-9 Darell Arthur 6-8 Darnell Jackson

2010: 6-10 Marcus Morris 6-10 Markieff Morris 7-0 Jeff Withey 6-9 Thomas Robinson

This year is frightening because we have "decent" guard play that can get us far but only Jeff Withey is playing to that "dominant" post presence.

Next year, yes we have the 2nd best class.

Ball Handlers: Frankamp, Tharpe, Adams, Selden, Mason Three Point Shooters: Frankamp, Tharpe, Adams, White, Mason, Selden Post: ???????

7-0 Joel Embiid 6-10 Landen Lucas 6-9 Justin Wesley 6-8 Perry Ellis

We need Julius Randle and another immediate impact big pronto!!!!! Losing Peters actually really killed us. Yes we have a great backcourt of the future.... But as history will tell us, the bread and butter of Bill Self's successful teams has been through deep post play. Embiid is good, but extremely raw and probably will take some time to be an impact post. Lucas, should be another thomas robinson but again will take some time to develop. Wesley and Ellis need to just grow. We need 1-2 more post players and then this class can be called righfully one of the best classes ever and this team can compete for back to back to back national ships.

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Alex Laughlin 1 year, 2 months ago

Anyone seeing this Duke game? Wow.

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chalkitup1811 1 year, 3 months ago

calihawk33: i'm pretty sure we won a national championship with all our players being pot heads, ala chalmers,darrell arthur,darnell jackson, brandon rush sherron collins. all those guys were smoking pot and still got the national championship and drafted. some have been plagued by injury others didn't work out as well but i don't think weed has to do with anything. if you don't think derrick rose smoked weed while at memphis you're crazy the guy cheated to even get into school.

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KansasComet 1 year, 3 months ago

I am not concerned about Ben McLemore leaving Kansas to go the NBA. I am too busy watching and enjoying this young man play the game of basketball. I am so glad he decided to become a student athlete at the best University in the world! When the time comes, he will decide. I will be cheering for KU again next year, same as always! "These are the good ole days". Enjoy them folks!!

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Tony Bandle 1 year, 3 months ago

Four seniors plus one lottery pick plus one on his cousin's nickel equals six schollies.

Conner, Wayne, Frank, Brannen, Jo Jo and Julius.....sounds good to me!!

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Hank Cross 1 year, 3 months ago

When you're top lottery pick, you take your ticket directly to the NBA and cash it in. There's nowhere to go but down by staying another year and you risk an injury. Is the risk of a torn ACL worth playing UMKC again? Staying for 4 or 3 is for players like Withey who need the extra time to raise their marketability.

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FearlessJayhawk 1 year, 3 months ago

What makes BMac so good and so valuable is that he knows how to give balance to the whole team and he knows when he needs to assert himself. I believe he is going to be an absolute super star at the next level. Those qualities are found only in truly great players. I can't wait till March!

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Tony Bandle 1 year, 3 months ago

The only thing that will prevent BenMac from going to the Show next year is a "Rush-like" injury that will force him to stay another year and recuperate..and none of us want that for him.

Remember, he is really a 2AD, with a semester of absorbing the Jayhawk culture and a semester of actual full tilt practice. He is far ahead of the other OADs we've had and, barring any unforeseen circumstances, he will declare and God Bless him for it!!

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justanotherfan 1 year, 3 months ago

My rule of thumb has always been lottery pick. If you are a lottery pick, you jump, because lottery picks tend to get lots of chances in the NBA, even if they struggle. As for whether or not he's ready, I think Ben is the best KU player since Paul Pierce. Stardom isn't a guarantee, but guys with his talent are the types of players that NBA teams build their future around.

He shoots the ball so efficiently that I can't really see another year in college benefiting him. On ten shots a game he's shooting 51%, which is pretty impressive for a guard. He's shooting over 44% from 3 (on over 70 attempts). The only criticism I can make is that he only shoots about 4 FTs a game, but he shoots over 87% from there. At worst, he's a great perimeter shooter at the next level. The only question is whether he's a complimentary scorer as a spot up shooter, or an elite scorer if he adds more off the dribble game. Either way, it's a question that will start being answered this summer when he's taken in the top 5 of the draft.

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Chris1955 1 year, 3 months ago

All of us have opinions on whether or not BMac should stay or go. I wonder what the former KU stars playing in the NBA would tell him?

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HawkKlaw 1 year, 3 months ago

I thought about BMac's scenario a lot last night. He's clearly one of the best freshman to ever don the crimson and blue. But I truly believe he's so great this year because he had a semester to sit out and learn the system. Selby and Xavier didn't have that "luxury" (I'm sure BMac wouldn't call it that) and both of them struggled much more than BMac their freshman years. BMac looks like a 5 star, Top 5 sophomore out there (as opposed to a freshman).

Also, I'd like to think that fate had something to do with it. I'm not a big fan of superstitions, but I remember when another scoring leader at KU had to come back and play another year at KU when he didn't necessarily want to: Brandon Rush. Rush went on to lead KU in scoring for a 3rd straight year and also to lead KU to the National Championship. I can see BMac's story panning out very similarly. Fate (and, well, the NCAA) has kept BMac in the NCAA for two semesters longer than he expected. He's leading the team in scoring and KU looks like a big favorite to win it all this year. Let's hope the end of his time at KU is as glorious as Rush's was.

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hammerhawk 1 year, 3 months ago

Great job, Jayhawks. You played well enough to win another one at our Western fieldhouse.

My advice to BMac is stay at KU another year. He will be a better player in the NBA because of staying. I give as an example one of the greatest of all time: Paul Pierce.

Go Hawks. Again, congrats for beating the state "rival" yet another time at their place!!

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Tony Bandle 1 year, 3 months ago

Kansas will not lose at home = 9-0/Current road game victories = 3-0/On road at WV, TCU, OK = 3-0/ Road at ISU, OSU, Baylor at worst = 1-2/ Total 17-2.

I officially declare, for the 2012-2013 season, Kansas the ninth straight Big 12 Champion!!!!!!!!

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Steve Corder 1 year, 3 months ago

Ben is gone after this year. The money is too much to avoid. Would he benefit with another year under Self? Yes.

I hate the NBA and this one-and-done crap. It serves no one but the NBA and inflates young impressionable kids' sense of worth.

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jgkojak 1 year, 3 months ago

When you go Top 5 in the draft, you go.

When you go No. 1 in the draft, there is no doubt you go.

BMac could only harm himself by returning - and possibly hurt our recruiting - recruits need to see Self as completely supportive of BMac moving to the next level when he's clearly ready - even if its BMac's decision to stay, Self should push him out the door.

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jaybate 1 year, 3 months ago

Chris,

The memory of the ankle sprain will probably make him jump, but slayr's argument yesterday is my new rule.

You jump when you have built a skilled, trustworthy team of advisors around you, so you don't squander your money. You stay as long as it takes to assemble. The team has to be yours, so you are not theirs. Leaving a day before that is worse than injury risk.

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chriz 1 year, 3 months ago

Those of you who think Ben should come back are, IMHO, mistaken. He's not Josh Selby nor Xavier Henry. He's stronger and faster and, as you can see, pays on both sides of the court. Plus, by the end of this year, he will have already played two years.

He did exactly what he should've done. Make good grades, play at KU for a year, watch his stock sky-rocket, and go make some money. Of course I'd love to see him stay, but you go to college to get a job. And he's got a job. He's ready.

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jaybate 1 year, 3 months ago

Ben and Trav demonstrate the essence of TEAM. Both players can score and guard. But the tendency is for one to score more and the other to guard more. Specialization. But what good would Ben's scoring be without Trav's guarding? And what good would Trav's guarding be without Ben's scoring? With these two, in this scheme, it means nothing to talk about one without the other.

Same for the rest of the team, too.

No one could defend the perimeter as they do without Jeff inside this well without the level of perimeter defenders KU has.

After a season, all guys have different ceilings and futures. But during a season what one player does is inextricably dependent on what his teammates do.

And this is the beauty and advantage of TEAM in action.

And why commentary focusing on one player, no matter how insightful, packs within it oversimplification readers must be alert to, if they are to be good teammates to authors.

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JayDocMD 1 year, 3 months ago

"Ben McLemore once again shows his huge upside"

"Upside" - is that what the kids are calling it these days?

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April13 1 year, 3 months ago

Love when a guy does "something else" to contribute when his game is a little off. The steal and the block were huge, the unselfishness on the fast break was huge...just gotta love Ben!

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nostradavid 1 year, 3 months ago

Ben's redshirt year made him a monster this year. Perry's improving fast. The tight game meant only a 7-man rotation tonight. Watch Out Okiehoma!

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Doug Cramer 1 year, 3 months ago

Would like to see Mac Attack stay another year or two to polish his skills.

Learn from Selby and Xavier. These guys are non-factors in the NBA.

Look at Collison, Heinrich, and Chalmers...these guys stayed at least through their junior seasons...and have influence.

Mac Attack is great...but it would be nice to have him stay on campus for a while.

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Kevin Enos 1 year, 3 months ago

I've seen a lot of blue-chip players come and go in recent years and not contribute much to the team but BMac is pretty impressive. It's great to see that Perry is gaining confidence, he's starting to really become a factor on the floor. I saw him on the BS Show the other night and didn't realize that he was such a smarty - class valedictorian of all things.

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Scott Smetana 1 year, 3 months ago

I think the player to improve the most by March is Ellis. No disrespect to BMac, he's already awesome.

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