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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Column: Selden embraces ‘new season’ with Big 12 play

Kansas teammates Wayne Selden and Andrew Wiggins (22) celebrates Wiggins' dunk against Kansas State during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas teammates Wayne Selden and Andrew Wiggins (22) celebrates Wiggins' dunk against Kansas State during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self on KU's 86-60 win over KSU and Monday's showdown with Iowa State

Bill Self on KU's 86-60 win over KSU and Monday's showdown with Iowa State

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Naadir Tharpe, Wayne Selden and Andrew Wiggins discuss the latest victory in the KU-K-State rivalry

Naadir Tharpe, Wayne Selden and Andrew Wiggins discuss the latest victory in the KU-K-State rivalry

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Wayne Selden stays hot

Keegan Ratings

It’s a beautiful thing to watch. Talented young athlete makes big step up in competition, struggles to make himself the right fit for his new team. Then wham! He takes off like a kid flying out the door on the last day of school into freedom, a summer of fun in the sun.

It’s as if Wayne Selden’s confidence took one look at the non-conference season in the rear-view mirror, another at the Big 12 schedule ahead, put down the decaf, and chugged a gallon of espresso.

Selden’s last two games in a Kansas uniform have been his two best and more improvement is on the horizon.

When a freshman’s confidence grows as rapidly as Selden’s has of late, the athlete even looks taller, bigger, the space under his feet on his jumper even deeper.

For the second game in a row, Selden put his fingerprints all over an impressive KU victory, this one 86-60 against Kansas State in Allen Fieldhouse.

“He’s been as good as any player, maybe in our league, when you talk about just in league play,” KU coach Bill Self said, and then added that he meant other than Iowa State’s DeAndre Kane.

For so much of the season, watching Selden play inspired a question that looped in the brain: Where does he fit? In Big 12 play, that has been replaced by another: Where doesn’t he fit?

He fits with the ball, standing on the perimeter, looking one way and rifling a perfect post feed. He fits on the wing and in the corner, burying three-point shots, or taking hard drives to the hoop. He fits in transition, where he finishes with such mature strength and body control.

Selden hasn’t been alone in boosting his game in the nick of time to enter a powerhouse conference packed with mature talent.

“It’s the start of a new season. Everybody is 0-0,” Self said of what beginning conference play can do for a team.“That kind of renewed us from an energy standpoint and a focus standpoint. Getting to the new season was good for our guys.”

The time they have spent together with classes out of session seems to have made the players draw closer. So maybe it figures that a guy like Selden, who is nothing if not a strong teammate, has shown the most improvement.

“I think it’s just guys going out there and playing,” junior point guard Naadir Tharpe said. “I feel like Wayne and Wiggs (Andrew Wiggins) now just go out there and play their game, just being loose and having fun. When they play like that, you see what happens.”

What happened Saturday was an explosion of offensive efficiency. Selden’s three-pointer a few steps behind the top of the key came with four seconds left in a first half in which he scored 14 points, the Jayhawks didn’t commit a single turnover and built a 45-28 lead. He finished with 20 points, four rebounds and three assists.

As Tharpe noted, the pleasure Selden derives from playing basketball has returned in full force for him. What enabled that?

“I feel like the pieces are starting to come together a lot better,” Selden said. “And we’re starting to get after it defensively. We’re going pretty hard in practice, so I feel like we’re going to keep getting better.”

Human nature dictates that when a new, tougher-than-ever challenge presents itself, uncertainty enters the picture and hesitation becomes the default position. Selden has put hesitation behind him and his default position now is to compete with passion.

“I think he’s just playing to win,” Self said. “He’s not worrying about things he can’t control and you’re going to shoot it better when you do those things. He’s been terrific.”

Two games into the grueling, 18-game Big 12 schedule, Selden is averaging 36.5 minutes and 22 points. He’s shooting .592 from the field, .533 from three. Thanks to that quick league start, he no longer has to think he can do it. Now he knows he can do it.

Comments

Sae Thirtysix 10 months, 1 week ago

So great to see SGWS gaining confidence.

John Randall 10 months, 1 week ago

Remember how pleased we all were with Wayne's commitment? Then time passed and Andrew on top of everything else may have spread the luster thinner for other frosh and Tarik.

But if we had to choose one of the 'newbies' as a keeper, Wayne's my guy ... not my guy again, but still my guy. I think coaches would agree with me. Now that he's gotten past his "make no mistakes" phase all freshmen struggle with, I'm sure more of you will agree with every game.

Brett McCabe 10 months, 1 week ago

Keep pushing, young men. Keep working every day and you will continue to achieve great things.

Dirk Medema 10 months, 1 week ago

It is interesting that at the beginning of the year, our O was so post dominant, and there complaining about Selden in particular not living up to the hype or even start.

The last couple games though, the wings are flying, and defending us is really becoming a pick your poison proposition.

We're already 1 game up on everyone, and while there will most likely be speed bumps along the way, this is going to be one fun season.

Ethan Berger 10 months, 1 week ago

My favorite thing about yesterdays game was our efficiency from the mid range game. It not only opens up your offense wide open, but its also the part of the game that has suffered most. So many players think if you can drive and hit the three that you will be a star. So players don't practice the easier shot. If Wiggins and Selden can establish that part of their game, they will be NBA all stars.

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