Friday, March 1, 2013

Elijah Johnson expects to stay in ‘attack mode’

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson goes for a steal against West Virginia's Jabarie Hinds (4) in the Jayhawks' game against the Mountaineers on Monday night in Morgantown, W.Va.

Kansas guard Elijah Johnson goes for a steal against West Virginia's Jabarie Hinds (4) in the Jayhawks' game against the Mountaineers on Monday night in Morgantown, W.Va.


Elijah Johnson’s 39-point scoring spree against Iowa State on Monday night certainly was unexpected.

The 6-foot-4 senior out of Las Vegas, who hit 13 of 22 shots in the Jayhawks’ 108-96 overtime victory over the Cyclones, had a previous season high of 12 points in Big 12 Conference play — in home games against Iowa State, Baylor and Texas. His season high of 18 points came against Chattanooga way back on Nov. 15.

“This will boost my confidence ... definitely,” said Johnson, who takes a 10.2-point average into today’s 1 p.m. home game against West Virginia. “I don’t see me reverting back. It’s kind of that thing where you know you can do it, and now you’ve just got to continue to try to do it.”

Of course, Johnson, who plays point guard to open games and moves to shooting guard when Naadir Tharpe enters, has shown the ability to score in the past. He had 26 and 21 in games against Texas A&M; last season, 23 versus UCLA and 18 against Purdue in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. That 26-pointer versus A&M; came in KU’s regular-season finale, preceding a March run that had him score in double figures in all six NCAA Tournament games.

“I stayed in attack mode,” Johnson said of his secret to scoring against Iowa State. “The conversation coach and I had in that timeout (early in ISU game) ... it just sent me into tunnel vision.”

He said his goal today and the rest of the season is to “apply pressure at all times. Make it harder (for foes) to faceguard Ben (McLemore). Make it harder to sit in the lane on Jeff (Withey). I feel I can help everybody and stretch the defense.”

Johnson scored six points off 2-of-4 shooting with five assists against three turnovers in KU’s narrow 61-56 victory over West Virginia on Jan. 28 in Morgantown, W.Va. It’s a Mountaineer team that has struggled in its first year in the Big 12. Coach Bob Huggins’ squad enters today’s game 13-15 overall and 6-9 in league play. KU is 24-4, 12-3.

What does Johnson remember about that first meeting?

“Being all the way on the East Coast, real far (away),” Johnson said with a smile. “They’ve got to come all the way here this time. They’ve got a hostile environment over there, too. We’re looking forward to showing them our environment.”

West Virginia’s Aaric Murray scored 17 and Juwan Staten 14, while Withey and Travis Releford had 15 apiece for KU in that earlier meeting.

“We’ve got two games left at home,” Johnson said. Senior Night is Monday against Texas Tech. “I don’t think Travis (Releford), Jeff and Kevin (Young), including myself, want to leave any bad taste these last two games in the fieldhouse. I’m pretty confident in those games in terms of going out and playing hard.”

KU enters today’s game tied with Kansas State atop the league standings. Oklahoma State is a game back.

W.Va. coach Huggins is 0-5 against Self-coached teams (0-3 in 2006-07 while at Kansas State, 0-1 at Cincinnati, 0-1 at West Virginia).

“He is a great coach. He is a Hall of Fame coach, and his kids play as hard as anybody in the country, without question,” Self said. “Their win-loss record probably isn’t what he thought going into the season, but we will get an unbelievable effort. He is as good as our game has as far as total package of coaching, and it has been that way for a long time.”

Of today’s game, Huggins said: “I think the first thing is we have to do a good job of handling the atmosphere. It is an incredible atmosphere, 18,000 strong. They’re loud. They cheer like crazy, and the team feeds off of it. We have to handle that, kind of block that out. We have to guard and make some shots.

“They did a pretty good job taking Eron Harris out of the game the first time (two points, 25 minutes). Deniz (Kilicli, four points first meeting) has to have a big game for us. He’s been playing well. We need to throw the ball inside to him.”

This, that: West Virginia is 8-5 at home, 3-7 on the road and 2-3 on neutral courts. ... WVU averages 65.6 points per game and allows 66.1. ... The Mountaineers are outrebounding foes 35.8 to 33.7 and average 7.4 steals while forcing 14.4 turnovers per game. ... Eleven Mountaineers average 11-plus minutes per game and 10 have started at least two games. ... Freshman guard Harris averages a team-leading 9.3 ppg with 37 threes. ... Junior center Murray averages 8.8 ppg and a team-leading 6.2 boards. ... KU coach Self watched prize high school senior prospect Julius Randle score 40 points for Prestonwood Christian on Friday in a Texas state playoff game in Plano, Texas. Randle, the No. 2-ranked prospect in the country by, is considering KU, Kentucky, Florida, Texas and N.C. State.


milehighhawk 5 years, 3 months ago

Actually, it just sounds like 18,000 strong, coach.

Steve Zimmerman 5 years, 3 months ago

I hope EJ's black-out will spread among the other in the team. Yes, BMac, especially, you. We can prove to opponents that KU is not just about Defense.

Rock Chalk!

Curtis Stutz 5 years, 3 months ago

I would love to bet KU -15.5 in this one, but the only time in the last 2 years I bet on KU was against TCU the 1st time and that went horribly wrong. I've bet against KU in their last 3 big games against KSU, OSU and ISU. So far so good, not going to mess with it. I'll save my money to bet on Baylor in the finale and then bet against KU for all 6, not 5, games of the NCAA tourney!

dylans 5 years, 3 months ago

Sounds like you are hedging your bet.

Curtis Stutz 5 years, 3 months ago

I'm just hoping for KU to kill them either way. I think in the NCAAs last year I bet on the other team and they covered once or twice. I had to bet OSU M/L 'cause they were favored against KU in that one. If I could avoid losing so much money on teams like Drake that can't win on their home floor against the last place team in their conference I'd still have money to keep betting against KU. The way those other games are going I'm not sure.

Eric Lee 5 years, 3 months ago

I bet on KU last week but only first half. They ended up covering anyway but looks like it will be the same thing.

KULA 5 years, 3 months ago

I hope by "attack mode" EJ means getting the ball to the rim instead of trying to shoot out of his slump from behind the arc.

mikehawk 5 years, 3 months ago

Amen to that. I have blogged previously his shooting slump began to abate when he started to go to the rim more frequently, rather than trying to shoot himself out of it.

Brianna Zaleski 5 years, 3 months ago

I think he was pretty clear about that in his quotes about constantly applying pressure. That would infer (to me), "touching paint" with his drives, making a defender, other than his own, commit to him and then passing to the open man. EJ has proven to be a pretty effective finisher around the rim, he just has to be equally as effective kicking out to open teammates to truly maximize his role as the PG. Tharpe is a good example of someone who is opposite. An effective passer, once he's by his man, however lacks the size to be reliable as an inside scoring threat, consistently. Tyshawn Taylor being the most recent example of a player who had both capabilities and was deadly w/ both.

FearlessJayhawk 5 years, 3 months ago

This is something I don't understand. When I played I was always a fairly consistent shooter. If you practice and you're comfortable there shouldn't be that much difference from game to game. My advice to all players is to get the cob-webs out of your head, just relax and go out and have fun. I don't think many players really have fun anymore. If you're not having fun, forget it. When I played there was no real money to be earned; besides, I wasn't real big. My brother and I played for hours and hours strictly for the enjoyment of the game. Also, we played only during basketball season. We played other sports as well. Today, kids have to play year-round which will burn you out over time. I believe there are lots of players today who are playing basketball simply because their parents have made them or encouraged them to play and they have lost the joy in the game. They are doing it strictly for the hope of making it big some day.

Jack Wilson 5 years, 3 months ago

Great post. "Also, we played only during basketball season. We played other sports as well. Today, kids have to play year-round which will burn you out over time."

Right. Now for kids it's that crazy chase for a scholarship, starting at age 12.

But the sport that ruined it all was soccer. Soccer was the first sport that pushed the all year thing, have to play in the spring (through June), have to play to play in the fall, indoor in the winter -- no respect for the other sports seasons. Soccer really ruined it.

I knew a number of kids that had to choose soccer only or not play. And that's how it's become now with all the sports. In football, you have mandated 7 on 7 an other workouts that conflicts with baseball season. There's spring/summer/fall AAU basketball. Very rarely do you find a three sport athlete. Baseball is a year round deal even in this part of the country .. tournaments through the first weekend in November, starting mid-March, with mandated workouts over the winter.

In every sport it's .. if you don't commit, you'll fall behind. You have to commit.

The exceptional, top athletes can do all three -- baseball, basketball, football (I don't count soccer as a sport, by the way -- soccer makes it nearly impossibe to even compete in a 2nd sport). The next level of athletes just can't do three sports anymore, and it's even hard to really commit to two sports at a high competition level.

Jeff Kilgore 5 years, 3 months ago

I read Carlin's autobiography last summer--great book. His life had real hardships that he worked to overcome. I liked the courage that grew from him as he matured.

Jack Wilson 5 years, 3 months ago

I have been the anti-soccer since I was about 10 years old. Some quick soccer issues I have:

1] Red cards, yellow cards .. ref runs in and holds up a card.

2] Clock starts at zero and runs up.

3] Everyone says "nill" instead of zero, even Americans who never say "nill" in any other context.

4] Players fake injuries and get carried off on a stretcher.

5] Game can be stalled out with no offense required, and a tie is common place.

6] Playoffs are a two game series, "aggregate" goals.

7] Exhibitions are called "friendlies".

8] Extra time .. no one knows what it is until the ref blows his whistle.

9] Those stupid horns, urine bombs, riots, hooligans, etc.

10] Sponsors all over uniforms

But most of all, I hate soccer because it is every day of the year. It changes its game to fit the season. There's indoor, outdoor, different field sizes, different goal sizes, futsal, ugh. And if you don't like it, soccer weenies simply respond that you "don't understand it." It is a horribly boring game.

Jack Wilson 5 years, 3 months ago

Ok, but I just don't want to hear you say that EJ's turnovers were nill .. but on the other hand, I guess that would be fine.

Woody Cragg 5 years, 3 months ago

Years ago when our kids were small & played nothing but FB, BB, & BB, the subject of soccer came up in a conversation among friends. My buddy, who had quite a knck for low key, country boy type humor at just the precise time said, "Yeah, my kids don't give a krap about soccer, I think you need to have a name like Zack Zsciewanadict to like that friggin game!" Trust me, the full impact of this pround statement is all in the pronunciation. LOL

Steve Gantz 5 years, 3 months ago

I'll tell my freshman daughter who is a soccer player it doesn't count as a sport. Here in Louisiana it's a winter sport, and the season just ended. She pulled double duty this year playing varsity 75 of 80 minutes, and then 15 minutes later played all 60 minutes of the JV match. She was on the field for over 2 hours! I'd love to know how much running she did in those matches.

Jack Wilson 5 years, 3 months ago

I begrudgingly acknowledge it is a sport. Wish your daughter great success in the future .. I bet dad is proud. Enjoy it all.

Steve Gantz 5 years, 3 months ago

Well, I am just a bit. She earned a varsity letter the other day for the sport. Excited for the next three years!

jhox 5 years, 3 months ago

Everybody has off days shooting. The key is recognizing when you're a little off before wasting too many shots. If the first 3 or 4 don't fall, try something else. Get in the lane and dish to a teammate or, if the lane opens up, shoot a layup and try to get a rhythm going. Our point guards have had too many games where they just keep jacking 3's even when they aren't falling. Sometimes a little too much confidence can be a bad thing.

nuleafjhawk 5 years, 3 months ago

“They’ve got to come all the way here this time. They’ve got a hostile environment over there, too. We’re looking forward to showing them our environment.”

Except when the game is over our fans won't be throwing things at them or tweeting psychopath stuff to them..............

joshuamc914 5 years, 3 months ago

I don't care if Kansas brings its C plus game against WVU it will still be able to beat WVU they're terrible. At home this will be a 20 point blowout I'm confident. We should've beat them by 20 the first time but to many careless turnovers. We're at home this one is going to get ugly and McLemore will break from his slump and we might see an Andrew White sighting today early watch for it.

joshuamc914 5 years, 3 months ago

I want to see more Andrew White because I know in the tournament were going to need him. There is always a game where the refs call it tight an foul trouble mounts what if Releford and McLemore get slapped with 2? We need to season him to have him ready down the stretch. I feel like WVU and Tech are prefect opportunities to use him. We don't need Rui getting minutes because he is a turnover waiting to happen. White always shows me flashes, but then he presses because he is worried about hitting the bench. I know we will need him in the tournament of a couple of minutes just like Naadir last year against Purdue when Tyshawn had foul trouble last year. For the future I'm not worried he will be a starter next year he an flat out score he needs to defen better and like Self said he isn't a ball handler but with next years team he will start I'm confident, and next years team will be young but talented going to take till Jan or Feb got them to hit their stride.

FL_Jhawk 5 years, 3 months ago

We will see today if EJ has gotten it all together, for sure. I believe he will have great games the rest of the year now, even if he never again scores over 20. If he is hitting shots, opposing teams will have to decide to concentrate D on Withey, BMac or him. We will be very tough to defend in that case.

And if Tharpe gets his 3 back; if Young can make those bunnies; if Perry keeps hitting those jumpers; if Travis get more open looks; if if if ....... The true excitement of this team might just be beginning.

bradynsdad 5 years, 3 months ago

I really hope we sign Randle. I think Rio is going to be good but I wouldn't shock me if he transferred. He was tweeting stuff again last night that made it sound like he was tired of it at Kansas.

Jonathan Allison 5 years, 3 months ago

It's strange how one can be such an enthusiastic teammate when the lights are on and the camera is rolling. He's always the first off the bench at the 4 minute media timeouts to high-five and chest-bump his teammates, he's always the one yelling the loudest whenever one of the players makes a dunk or a three. He looks happy in the locker room, he looks like he's fits in on the team, like he knows his role both now and in the future.

Then he tweets. It makes me wonder whats really going on in his head. Could his tweets be just a young kid trying to stir the pot? Is it just a game to see what kind of controversy he can create? Is he truly unhappy here? Does he really want to transfer?

That Bill Self had to address it publicly a couple weeks ago, indicates that it's a serious issue, but his body language isn't that of a malcontent or even just a kid who isn't enjoying himself. He looks like he's having fun, and he's telling the public otherwise. It's backwards.

Boouk 5 years, 3 months ago

He's been tweeting stuff like that since December. With that attitude I hope he transfers.

jaybate 5 years, 3 months ago

EJ went in attack mode the last 11 minutes (6 regulation and 5 OT). Scored 27. Round to 25. Extrapolate to 40 minute game. 100 points per game.

If EJ stays in attack mode, forecast reads: 100 points vs. WVU. :-)

tis4tim 5 years, 3 months ago

Ha! I once scored 2 points in the first ten seconds of a game and was well on my, so I dreamed, to 480 overall, putting Wilt to shame. I think I ended up with 2 points. It would have been four, but I dribbled out at the end of the game instead of going in for the breakaway dunk.

PVJayhawk 5 years, 3 months ago

tis, you should have kept it up. 480 points would probably have set some kind of record!

Robert Brock 5 years, 3 months ago

McLemore needs to remind us that he is still playing.

John Smith 5 years, 3 months ago

Will the CBS crew call it Phog Allen Fieldhouse like the ESPN hacks erroneously do every game? Just my little pet peeve.

Boouk 5 years, 3 months ago

We need Ben McLemore coming off screens in "attack mode."

MinorThreat 5 years, 3 months ago

Rio tweeting nonsense again?? Self made a clear point about that... anyone have what he tweeted?

Boouk 5 years, 3 months ago

Dave Telep said Randle's down to 3 schools. He thinks they're KU, Texas, and UK. I think they're KU, NC State, and UK.

monkeehawkSL8 5 years, 3 months ago

Didn't coach say that if Rio repeated his social networking that he, (Rio), was out of here? Or from where I'm sitting there.

Does anyone have info on the "conversation" between coach and EJ that "lit" a fire under his butt? Is EJ"s butt still on fire? If your butt is on fire can you use it to ignite other player's butts? Is it bad luck to light more than one other butt if your butt is the one on fire. Has there been as mass inferno of butt lighting going on? I hope so.

I smell a hot victory today. May the Jayhawk's butts burn united to the NC! And the butt flame be passed on to each incoming Jayhawk to burn eternal. RCJH!!!!

chriz 5 years, 3 months ago

Does anyone know if we've figured out how to play perimeter defense yet? Aside from Elijah going crazy, that's the biggest mystery from the Iowa State game. We know they're a three-point shooting team. The only way they can beat us is from three-point range. So we let them hit 18 threes on us?! Makes no sense to me.

utahjayhawk 5 years, 3 months ago

Agree totally, much rather have a 2 seed. No difference really in draw, just with less pressure as a 2.

theend 5 years, 3 months ago

JayDogger-I would love to beat Mizzou in KC.....but that game would terrify me. Don't know if my heart could survive that one. In the big tourney.....I prefer to stay away from rivalries.....but you get what you get.......aint a thing I can do about it.

Jeff Kilgore 5 years, 3 months ago

chriz, our D is fine. ISU has scholarship players who've hit those shots all year. Maybe not to that extent, but sometimes in games, it's not about you, it's about them. Here's another way to look at it: suppose an ISU fan said, "How come we couldn't stop Johnson? He almost scored 40!" Athletes are good enough to beat your best efforts--some nights, repeatedly.

kennethst 5 years, 3 months ago

To any of you following the saga of my little 3 year old daughter and her stuffed baby Jayhawk.....Today I asked her if "Baby Jay" would beat the Mountaineers. After I told her what a 'Mountaineer" is.....she giggled....grabbed 'BabyJay" and ran out of the room.

Kids crack me up.

kennethst 5 years, 3 months ago

Well....She has seen and knows what mountains I gave a polite version of what a "Mountaineer" is........Apparently, she thought that was funny.

theend 5 years, 3 months ago

I never really gave much thought to ISU. But I'm really starting to dislike them. I hope OU kicks the ^%^& out of them today.

I think their pathetic fans' behavior is caused by anger and bitterness from decades of inferiority......and also that they know there will be decades more in the future. And there is not a single thing the corn-eaters can do about it.

theend 5 years, 3 months ago

You're right. But they just really annoy me lately.

Mulligan2711 5 years, 3 months ago

I attended the Prestonwood Christian Texas State Playoff Game last night. It was played in Mansfield, not in Plano.

The first person that I saw when I entered the building was Zach Peters. I told him that I was sorry to see his career at KU end the way that it did. He told me that he will be attending OU this fall. No, he will not play basketball.

I am totally convinced that Julius Randall will be attending Kansas.

Self and Roberts were at the game. They were talking to Michael Irvin and watching Randall. Randall was a man among boys. He was 6" taller than anyone else on the court and absolutely dominated. He scored 40 points, had 4 blocked shorts and grabbed 15 rebounds.

He is in absolutely terrible shape. Midway through the 1st quarter he was buckled over and sucking for air. I realize that he has only played four games since his return from the foot injury that he suffered at Thanksgiving. He is a throughbred that just needs conditioning.

All night he was playing for Self. He looked up in the stands all night long. I was glad to see that Bill Self was the only coach in attendance because it really shows the interest on his part. My gut instint is that the competition for Randall will come from Florida. Kentucky has to many players that want the ball. Randall will be a OAD but he would be fun to see at Kansas.

theend 5 years, 3 months ago

Jesse!!! We demand meaningless banter!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

JayHawkJay82 5 years, 3 months ago

Let's go EJ!!! I'm not expecting a repeat performance but that still gives you a lot of room to work with!

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