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Monday, March 4, 2013

Keegan

Opinion: KU seniors let their play do the talking

Kansas seniors Travis Releford, left, Jeff Withey, Elijah Johnson and Kevin Young huddle at midcourt for a photo as they are presented before the Allen Fieldhouse crowd with their families on senior night prior to tipoff against Texas Tech, Monday, March 4, 2013.

Kansas seniors Travis Releford, left, Jeff Withey, Elijah Johnson and Kevin Young huddle at midcourt for a photo as they are presented before the Allen Fieldhouse crowd with their families on senior night prior to tipoff against Texas Tech, Monday, March 4, 2013.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self talks after win over Texas Tech

Kansas coach Bill Self talks after his team's 79-42 win over Texas Tech on March 4, 2013.

Download podcast

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self talks after win over Texas Tech

Kansas coach Bill Self talks after his team's 79-42 win over Texas Tech on March 4, 2013.

Download podcast

If ever I had been afforded the opportunity to watch historically great orators Mario Cuomo and Ronald Reagan play basketball, I would have passed, figuring they wouldn’t do anything memorable in sneakers. But I’ll never forget the goose bumps the two politicians on opposite sides of the ideological spectrum gave me speaking from convention podiums.

Similarly, I decided to skip the senior speeches, figuring whatever the Kansas University basketball team’s four seniors said standing still couldn’t speak as loudly as the effort they put forth flying all over the Allen Fieldhouse floor for the final time Monday night.

Texas Tech didn’t even have a puncher’s chance of competing. More like a speed bag’s chance against a puncher with blurry-quick hands.

On a night that featured what could be remembered as the greatest senior day starting lineup in KU history — four seniors who played key roles as juniors in getting KU to the national-title game, plus the possible No. 1 pick in the NBA draft; not the usual mix of starters and walk-ons — it became more evident than ever that this Kansas team is getting better with age.

On the way to a 79-42 blowout of the overmatched Red Raiders, Kansas stormed to a 45-20 first-half lead that was more entertaining than it was one-sided.

If not for the uniforms giving them away, this easily could have passed for the Harlem Globetrotters abusing their favorite foils, the Washington Generals. A team full of Red Raiders impersonating Red Klotz.

The four lobs thrown by Elijah Johnson can’t possibly be as easy as he makes them look and sound when he responds to questions about them in ho-hum fashion.

On his way to nine first-half assists, Johnson completed six lob passes, two apiece flushed by Ben McLemore, Kevin Young (one with his back to the basket) and Jeff Withey.

Johnson’s lobs call to mind Todd Reesing’s throws. Whether long passes or short ones, they were all right on the money, delivered with exceptional timing and accuracy.

If you’re scoring at home, give Johnson extra style points for one of the lobs to Withey and call it a hook lob. Johnson dribbled down the right side of the lane and threw what looked like a hook shot, except it was a pass way wide left of the rim and high. Cutting down the left baseline, Withey took the ball and threw it down with so much fury it made me wonder whether he imagined he were stuffing the basketball in the face of everyone who had ever asked him, “How’s the weather up there, Stretch?”

The NCAA doesn’t keep records for completed lobs for dunks in a half, but if it wants to start, Johnson’s record has a shot at standing for a while.

“They just felt good,” Johnson said. “Once I got going I just had confidence throwing them up there by the backboard and Kevin, Jeff and Ben went and got them. It kept pumping energy into the building, so I kept doing it.”

He’s been pumping energy into teammates for a few weeks now, staging an impressive in-season comeback.

His hook lob, which he explained started at the hip, was not spur of the moment, even though he made it look that way. He said he works on them in practice.

Alley-oops entertain the crowd, a bonus because they pump up the volume, which fuels the team, but that’s not the chief reason Kansas throws so many more than most teams. They’re high-percentage plays for them.

“That’s who we are,” Self said. “That’s part of our offense. We definitely practice it. We’ll do some drills where the only pass you can make is a lob to finish the play, so the guys are used to throwing it up there.”

And the guys on the other end are used to throwing it down.

Comments

Born_And_Raised_A_KU_Fan 1 year, 7 months ago

Some of those plays had better be on ESPN's Top 10.

Kevin Huffman 1 year, 7 months ago

Only the one off to the side and kind of almost behind the basket that Young stuffed was and based off of the replays I thought it was onlhy the 3rd best one.

My favorite was Young's reverse dunk off the lob.

Steve Zimmerman 1 year, 7 months ago

I wish every game is a senior night game from now on. Those ooops are very delightful. Rock Chalk!

Bob Forer 1 year, 7 months ago

EJ has made a remarkable turnaround in the last three games. 12 assists tonight. Wow!

clevelandjayhawker 1 year, 7 months ago

That dunk by Withey should make a great poster

Steve Gantz 1 year, 7 months ago

The Young one handed jam was the best imho.

Steve Gantz 1 year, 7 months ago

The senior day lineup in '86 was Dreiling, Kellog, Thompson, Junior Cedric Hunter and Sophomore Danny Manning a great lineup that compares favorably to yesterdays senior day lineup.

Woody Cragg 1 year, 7 months ago

Keegs, only 10 comments so here is one I've been sitting on all day.

While Jeff, EJ, Travis & Ben have become everything they've been advertised to be, the one phenomenon that I'm still trying to comprehend is...Kevin Young! And what an enjoyment he is to ponder. I mean, this guy is like the proverbial Krap in the pasture-he's just everywhere. First half, second half, OSU, ISU, TT-whata motor this kid's got. Savvy? Oh, I guess so. He's been a glue guy beyond belief for this team. Self threw minutes after minutes at Ellis, but Young just has kept gettting better & better & better. Steals, throwdowns, rebounds, tip ins, leading the break-you talk about above & beyond, Kevin has quietly become a star without much fanfare or copy. And he's always smiling like it's the greatest gig on Earth. He's become the ultimate teammate and along with all the obvious praise for all the afore mentioned & deserving stars above, my hat's off to this young man for doing all, & I mean every single bit, of the dirty work necessary for a team to win the whole shebang. That reverse, over the head flush was just stupendous. Some of the things this kid does just sets he Fieldhouse ablaze. Self called Travis the Rock of this team, & any one of the others could easily be called the heart or the soul, but Young has almost secretly become the guts of this team and has proven it game after time after game. Any chance he's a grad assistant for Self next year? If he's interested he's sure making a damn good case for it. That just might be a really good fit next year for a team of underclassmen, don't you think?

RJ King 1 year, 7 months ago

Global - I was just ready to post this, when I read your post . . .

If KY's family moved to Lawrence, how likely are we to see him as a graduate assistant next year? Of the three seniors most likely able to play overseas (Rele, Johnson, Young), Kevin seems the most interested in eventually coaching.

You're right. This kid is just Feel Good all over!

actorman 1 year, 7 months ago

You said it, global! KY has been my favorite player on the team all year. He's just so much fun to watch.

LAJayhawk 1 year, 7 months ago

"...this easily could have passed for the Harlem Globetrotters abusing their favorite foils, the Washington Generals."

Um... I said exactly that on the live blog last night. Like almost word for word.

John Randall 1 year, 7 months ago

Good for you! Now let me try ...

"...this easily could have passed for the Harlem Globetrotters abusing their favorite foils, the Washington Generals."

LAJayhawk 1 year, 7 months ago

It would be fun if you ever offered some insight of your own instead of tagging along after the fact to criticize what others post. Or maybe it wouldn't. That's probably why you do what you do. All the time. Carry on.

Jeffrey Nelson 1 year, 7 months ago

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JayhawkRock78 1 year, 7 months ago

Well said global. Many times I see what looks like a missed shot or possible turnover KY comes flying in from no where and makes a play. Love the smiles and energy. He is one happy ball player!

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