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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Jayhawks hope to avoid Florida repeat

Kansas forward Jamari Traylor (31) is surrounded by his teammates after the Jayhawks' win over Michigan State  during the championship of the Orlando Classic on Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014 at the HP Field House in Kissimmee, Florida.

Kansas forward Jamari Traylor (31) is surrounded by his teammates after the Jayhawks' win over Michigan State during the championship of the Orlando Classic on Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014 at the HP Field House in Kissimmee, Florida.

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Things were looking great for Kansas University’s basketball team early in last season’s Big 12/SEC Challenge contest against Florida in Gainesville.

A 10-3 lead, however, quickly morphed into a 24-10 deficit, courtesy of a 21-0 Gators’ run. The outcome was never really in doubt after that, the No. 13-ranked Jayhawks ultimately falling to the No. 19 Gators, 67-61.

“I mean we all watched it and played in that game. It wasn’t pretty at all,” KU sophomore forward Landen Lucas said Wednesday. “To be able to play them again is going to be fun for us and definitely something we’re looking forward to.”

The Jayhawks, who return six players, and Gators, who bring back four who played in last year’s game, will tangle again in a Big 12/SEC Challenge rematch at 8 p.m., Friday, in Allen Fieldhouse.

“We started the game out all right. They went to a 1-3-1 and gave us problems. We turned the ball over a lot and they broke out the lead crazy,” recalled KU junior Jamari Traylor. “We made plays down the stretch with Andrew (Wiggins, 26 points). It was not as close a game as the score was.”

Watching tape of last year’s KU-Florida game has helped ground the No. 11-ranked Jayhawks, who were elated upon winning Sunday’s Orlando Classic championship battle against Michigan State. Unranked Florida (3-3), meanwhile, went 1-2 last week, beating UAB and losing to North Carolina and Georgetown at the Battle4Atlantis.

“Even though the game ended up being respectable from a score standpoint, they totally dominated us,” KU coach Bill Self said of last year’s contest. “We played awful. They were the best defensive team in the country and they’re very good defensively again. They’re definitely a team that will be a high seed in the tournament.”

Florida has three starters who are double-figure scorers — junior guard Michael Frazier II (15.2 ppg), junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith (10.3 ppg) and senior center Jon Horford (10.3 ppg).

Starters faring well: Self has been pleased with the starting lineup of Frank Mason III, Svi Mykhailiuk, Perry Ellis, Lucas and Wayne Selden Jr., which has opened the last four games.

“We’ve gotten off to better starts. That is it. It doesn’t matter who starts. It’s a lot more important who finishes,” Self said. “I think Cliff’s (Alexander) going to foul quick. We probably need a big guy to defend other teams’ bigs. Svi, without question, has played the best of the perimeter guys other than Frank. He’s been really solid.”

Asked about bringing in Alexander off the bench, Self stated: “I don’t know if you noticed this, but Cliff has a tendency sometimes to put his hands on others wearing a different jersey that would lead to a whistle. At least this way, if he gets two quick fouls, he’s going to get it at the 14- or 13-minute mark as opposed to getting it at the 18-minute mark. I also think there’s an advantage of having a chance to watch from his perspective.

“When I was at Illinois, or Tulsa or Oral Roberts, nobody ever gave a crap who started. No media ever did. And here it’s a big deal. I mean, why the big deal? I don’t know,” Self added.

“I think sometimes we get caught up as this or that, and it doesn’t make any difference who starts. It’s far more important who finishes, and whether Cliff starts or not — and he probably will end up starting eventually without question — but if he starts or not, it wouldn’t affect the number of minutes he plays. Foul problems will dictate the number of minutes he plays regardless, just like it has basically every game so far.”

Graham’s status: Devonté Graham (sprained shoulder) should be able to play Friday.

“Devonté is fine. He wears a yellow shirt in practice (with players not allowed to hit him). I don’t know what that means. But football does it, so I guess we should try to copy football,” Self joked. “He’s practicing full speed. I think it was good that we only had to use him limited minutes, though (in Orlando Classic), to try to reduce the exposure that he had out there.”

Naismith list: KU’s Perry Ellis, Cliff Alexander and Wayne Selden Jr., have made the 50-player Naismith Trophy watch list, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced. Arizona, Duke and Kentucky also had three players on the list.

Self on Mykhailiuk, who averages 6.0 points a game as a 17-year-old: “Well, if he leaves after two years, because that’s what we’ll have him for more than likely is two years ... he could be terrific. He could be as good a basketball player as we’ve had here. Not the best athlete, but as good of a basketball player as we’ve had here. Think of him four years from now, that’s going to be a bad boy and he’s still going to be ridiculously young. He’s got a bright future.”

Mason rebounding: The 5-foot-11 Mason is averaging 4.0 rebounds a game.

“He was our best defensive rebounder. I mean he went and got them better than anybody else did,” Self said of Mason’s 10-rebound outing against MSU. “They were two-foot jumps and they were two-handed. He was, without question, the most aggressive going after the ball.”

Asked if Mason reminded him of Sherron Collins, Self said: “Sherron is the baddest boy we’ve had here. It’s hard to say that anybody is Sherron. I mean, you know, Wiggs (Andrew Wiggins) was great last year. There are a lot of guys we had that great. There’s nobody that came in here that was a better basketball player than Sherron Collins, period. The thing about it is, Frank’s more athletic than Sherron, because as Sherron got older, I don’t think he was quite as explosive as he was when he was young. But I love Frank, but that would be a great goal, for him to get to the point where he can play like Sherron, because that guy was a special college player.”

Comments

Mike Riches 4 years, 3 months ago

This is a killer four game stretch we're in right now. Mich State, Florida, at Georgetown and Utah, who just upset Wichita State...we should be favored in each game, but I think 3-1 in that stretch would be respectable. But since when is KU happy with respectable? We want a dominant team, and this is a great shot to show that!

By the way, I'm glad Bill Self is copying football putting Graham in the yellow jersey...sounds to me like he is lobbying for the Football coaching job!

Erich Hartmann 4 years, 3 months ago

Well you know a Self-coached football team would be tough. (Not "soft"). They would have great Huditioning. And Self's a recruiter, able to bring in 4-5stars...as well as coach them up. Sounds like a W to me. Hire Self.

Jonathan Allison 4 years, 3 months ago

"I just knew that we could find a good use for those ugly yellow jerseys that Adidas gave us" - Bill Self

Adam Collins 4 years, 3 months ago

In other news: Tarik Black got a double double in the NBA last night playing only 23 minutes.

Jonathan Allison 4 years, 3 months ago

In the last 8 games (with Howard injured) He's averaging 7 pts, 7 rebs in 22 minutes and shooting 57% from the field.

Rob Bedford III 4 years, 3 months ago

And T-Rob can not find his way onto the court.

Erich Hartmann 4 years, 3 months ago

Yep, Robert, it simply shows how unpredictable factors can affect a guy's chance to play in the NBA. The right situation is huge. TRob, while certainly not as polished as Collison, I think was a better player than Black (in college). But maybe Black's extra 20lbs makes a difference. And their post games are different: Black's more traditional, TRob's a more agility/movement-based one, although he can rebound with the best of them.

Sure wish Thomas got more chances to shine...

Walter Bridges 4 years, 3 months ago

The Morris brothers also seem to be hitting their stride though if asked after their 2nd year at KU, I would have bet Marcus would the slightly better of the two.

Jonathan Allison 4 years, 3 months ago

I love hearing Self talk about Sherron. He takes a lot of pride in how Sherron played the game and what he was able to accomplish at KU.

Cameron Cederlind 4 years, 3 months ago

I once saw him eat an entire turkey without chewing.

RJ King 4 years, 3 months ago

Says someone trying to feel better about himself by putting others down.

Wish unfunny fat jokes didn't intrude upon insightful basketball comments or other unrelated, but interesting and intelligent posts.

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 3 months ago

The sad thing is the truth of that statement. Sherron's basketball career was derailed because he never met a meal he didn't like. Sherron's conditioning was always a big issue at KU and his playing weight was about 15-20 lbs. heavier than it should've been. Sherron was one of the quickest players I've seen when he got to KU. That quickness disappeared over the years because his weight kept going up. Had he been able to keep his weight in the 200-205 range, Sherron would've been a 1st round pick and probably still in the NBA today.

Allison Steen 4 years, 3 months ago

Lol I'm not gonna lie, that was funny. But it is a HUGE reason why sherron has struggled. He always had trouble with his weight.

Russ McCaig 4 years, 3 months ago

2 Comments: 1) Love seeing Perry smiling in this photo....as well as the others...but especially Perry showing the emotion...

2) with Florida ranking 260th in PPG, 93rd in Reb/gm, 230th in assist/gm, and 305th in FG% I would hope we have more than a 'good' chance at home to win this game....can't wait to get in AFH!!

Justin Kruse 4 years, 3 months ago

Love Coach's comments, attitude, and perspective on the starting line-up! Having an energy guy like Cliff coming off the bench 5 or 6 minutes into the game is awesome.

Erich Hartmann 4 years, 3 months ago

Absolutely beautiful comments by Self regarding his inner perspective. He loved that aggression and tenacity of Sherron. There is the recipe for how he wants KU lead guards to play and attack. Sherron gave us everything he had, and I shall respect him forever for it. That bit of orneriness gave him that competetive edge. (Selby had too much of it= not coachable. I talked to people who knew him on the East coast: "you cant tell Selby nothin".). What Sherron needed was for Fate to have made him 6'2...or at least a different metabolism/body type.

And the comment about "who cares who starts" and comparing the KU-media compared to the media around ORU or Tulsa or Illini...is illustrative: It shows WildBill sticking to his time-tested ways. Of course a royalty lineup will have more scrutiny, but that phrase by Self was coolly calculated to put things in perspective for all who read/heard it (every year, Self tries to duplicate his team-building that creates a team capable of winning 30+ games, as he is again sticking to his ways this year). I got about zero problem with Self sticking to his ways. If he thinks he can come up with something better, that's his call.

RCJH

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 3 months ago

Sherron's misfortunes were all self inflicted. Proper eating alone would've made Sherron an NBA player or at least still playing basketball somewhere.

His swagger is something that has been missing since T-Rob and Tyshawn left the program because his swagger definitely rubbed off on those two along with the Morris twins. I do see a lot of those traits in Mason and if Mason becomes a leader on this team, that will be the absolute best thing that could happen to KU for the remainder of Mason's career at KU.

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