Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Column: Andrew Wiggins starting to put his game together


— Admit it. You’re starting to understand the fuss over Andrew Wiggins.

Even the creative Iowa State student hecklers armed with acidic tongues and strong spirits in Hilton Coliseum conceded as much Monday night as Wiggins covered so much space in the air, moved so quickly on the ground. He stunned them into silence.

They let him have it at the beginning of the night, all right: “Hey, Wiggins. You’re the most overrated basketball player in history.”

Then, just in case he didn’t make himself clear, the wise guy added: “Ever!”

No, he’s not. He’s 18, still figuring it out, still making mistakes. His handle can’t always keep pace with his blurry moves. His three-point touch comes and goes and comes back again. His finger rolls sometimes roll off the front of the rim. In time, he’ll fill out, get so much stronger, tighten his ball-handling, improve his jumper.

Already, he’s the team’s best defender, oh-so-hard to guard and now so tough to keep off the boards.

He’s so far from his ceiling, yet his head was so high above the rest Monday night that he came away with a stunning 19 rebounds to go with 17 points in 38 minutes.

The verbal darts faded during KU’s 77-70 victory against Iowa State because it’s a little more difficult to use the tongue when the jaw has dropped to the floor.

Wiggins entered his electric evening with a career-high of 11 rebounds. He picked up his 12th with 2:52 left in the first half. By halftime, he had achieved his second career double-double. Had he made 2 of 5 three-pointers (instead of one) and mixed in one more board, he would have had a 20-20 night. Even someone with perfect vision couldn’t have seen that coming.

Afterward, Wiggins revealed that one of his daily conversations with his chief basketball adviser helped.

“I had a talk with my father,” Wiggins said. “He was emphasizing rebounding, saying rebounding was the key to winning, so I tried to emphasize that out on the court.”

Rare is the teenager wise enough to know father knows best. Mitchell Wiggins, a former first-round draft pick, played for four NBA teams. Wiggins the son dominating the boards gave KU one more way to get better.

“We’re just practicing hard every day and the chemistry is coming together well,” Wiggins said of KU’s recent improvement. “Before the pieces of the puzzle weren’t really together, but now they’re coming together fluently.”

The pieces of Wiggins’ game are just starting to coalesce. He’s inching closer to a ceiling he won’t reach for years.


Steve Zimmerman 4 years, 5 months ago

I like Wiggins intensity at the defensive end. But I still think he's not himself when he drives to the basket with finger-roll. Looking at his high-school tapes, he looked so much more furious when penetrating. It was almost more like MJ. Wiggins is very capable on finishing strong to the basket, he can jump so high right now - I don't believe he needs more practice on the jumping.

His spin move is still dangerously beautiful, but more & more teams will love to jam pack his path that he just has to settle with a jumper. Watch out when he's finding his strokes on 3pt, he'll rack up 20s each game.

Suzi Marshall 4 years, 5 months ago

From the very first game it was clear he intended to be respected with his D, which was a huge pleasant surprise, to me.

I've looked at replays of Wiggins drives and J countless times, in large measure because I see so much of MJ in his game. MJ is the only player to compare his quickness to the rim and ability to spit defenders, Although MJ hit the NC winner as a freshman, it was not until his second year everyone could see he could develop into.....MJ. As Jonathan says below, it does look like he commences his flight pattern a bit early. He can definately get another foot down to take him to the rim for a stronger finish. However, by not taking that extra step, he's able to use his long reach to catch opponents by surprise.

With regards to his J, I was one of those on KUSports ripping his release that delivered a knuckleball. His form looked really good and FTs release and spin are great. Then he goes out the very next game and snaps his J, snapping the nets. He just needs repittion with the J. I think he will be a GREAT shooter in time.

Wiggins put a kill on any wild hopefull speculation about his plans for next year when he cited "only 8 more games in AFH. I'd have a major headache being a GM with the 1st pick. Wiggins or Embiid ... Jordan or Olajuwon ...cake or ice cream.

Chris Shaw 4 years, 5 months ago

Pretty simple actually. He's primarily a two footed jumper. I didn't realize he was so much of a two footed jumper. There is consensus out there that you get to the rim quicker and faster being a one footed jumper vs a two footed jumper. If you can do both like MJ....well....that makes you the greatest of all-time.

Yonatan Negash 4 years, 5 months ago

Andrew Wiggins a big bad wolf is coming over to Allen Field House this weekend.

To protect the house you gotta catch the wolf, and it takes a wolf to catch a wolf.

Remember the words that came out his mouth make him pay.

"They are saying he is the best college player there is and he has not even played a game yet," Smart said. "Of course that hypes me up. It is all talk. He still has to put his shorts on one leg at a time like I do. It is all potential. I am not saying he can't do it. But he has not done it yet.

"If you work for what you have instead of it being just given to you, people respect you a lot more because you understand what it takes, you’ve been there and done it. No one can just say it was easy because you took it. You didn’t just get it. You took it. So all the power and credit to [Wiggins]. Congratulations for the Sports Illustrated, all the hype, congratulations to him. But that’s definitely a lot of pressure on him."

RJ King 4 years, 5 months ago

Looks like they put on their pants about the same way. Different positions, but comparable stats. Smart seems like a good kid, but a little resentful over the media zeal for Wigs. I like that we can probably rest assured Andrew will do his talking on the court.

Marcus Smart - freshman year

PPG 15.4 RPB 5.8 APG 4.2 BLK 0.7 STL 3.0 TO 3.4

Marcus Smart - 2013-14

PPG 17.8 RPG 5.4 APG 4.1 BLK 0.7 STL 2.6 TO 2.7

Andrew Wiggins - 2013-14

PPG 15.8 RPG 6.3 APG 1.5 BLK 0.9 STL 1.0 TO 2.0

Yonatan Negash 4 years, 5 months ago

Key to winning Saturday.

The success of our big men will once again be key to a win Saturday.

Oklahoma State can hurt you from several areas but they don't big men to stop ours.

J. Embiid will be unstopplable, they won't have an answer for him.

T. Black needs to stay out of foul trouble, this is a must. I assure you, he will be needed.

J. Traylor must also be a factor, got to out hustle Markel Brown & Nash for rebounding efforts

N. Tharpe - All I have to say is remember the dude backfliped in our own house

A. Wiggins and Selden must have solid games.

Jonathan Allison 4 years, 5 months ago

One thing about Andrew right now that is preventing him from finishing at the rim, is that he's still playing sped up. He's taking off so far out from the goal that he nearly always has to attempt a lay-in because he's already fully extended.

He's attacking the paint with so much velocity that he's nearly out of control, and it's partly because he's trying to jump past defenders instead of stepping through. If he could just get one step closer to the rim before his launch then he would have enough time to gather for the jam. It's partly because of how he's being guarded, but partly also because he's not developed the skillset yet to slow down just enough to get by the defender on the floor rather than just taking off before the defender gets into position.

Jonathan Allison 4 years, 5 months ago

of course if he starts to convert on the soaring fingerroll lay-ins at 80% then it won't matter as much.

Jim Stauffer 4 years, 5 months ago

If everyone Negash names has a big game as he insists they need to, we will win easily over a OSU team that needed a late 3 to win at WVU.

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 5 months ago

I don't disagree, and I will add a name to that list...Perry Ellis. OSU is a very good team even without Michael Cobbins (who wasn't a big threat on offense any way), and are more than capable of winning in AFH again this year. KU got lucky that ISU's 3 point shooting was beyond awful Monday night and if KU plays like they did Monday against OSU on Saturday, KU will likely lose because Phil Forte and Stevie Clark have been lights out from 3 point range this year.

Brian Conrad 4 years, 5 months ago

not sure where you don't disagree? my Question to Aaron . do you really believe OSU a better team? more Talented ? Smart better than Wig ? Nash better than Embiid? really think Murphy is better than Ellis? brown is better than Seldon? only spot they may have edge is offense over Tharpe.. but Nadir has better assist to turnover and KU Bench WAAAAAY better .. to many big bodies to come in one after another , they have no way of handling inside game.. Mason needs to practice his backflip dunk for end of game :)

Rodney Crain 4 years, 5 months ago

Agree 100% Tom, Wiggins is coming on, still a lot of ceiling too. He looked like he had a blast in his ESPN interview after the game, lots of smiles, looked like he had a great time winning that game. I could not be more happier for him, not the results, that is great for me the fan, but to see him having such a good time after a win. Let's hope we play better Saturday and he has another great time!

Tony Bandle 4 years, 5 months ago

Key to winning Saturday.

Score more points than they do.

Sorry, Yonatan..I just couldn't resist. :)

Suzi Marshall 4 years, 5 months ago

Or as Self would say...Don't let them score as many points as we do.

Tony Bandle 4 years, 5 months ago

Losing Cobbins is a huge blow to Okie State. They lose a premium defender, a rebounding machine, their presence in the middle, the trigger man for their transition game and weaken their bench to fill his spot.

I would start Wayne on Smart beat him up a little then then switch to Andrew.

If they are hitting their threes, it will be a tense, close game. If they are only average or below on their three pointers, we will blow them out!!

Suzi Marshall 4 years, 5 months ago

I agree about Selden on 6'4" Smart unless.

I'm sure Self will go with a man D, especially after ISU. What do you think of this:

Selden 6’5” 230 on Smart 6’4” 220 17.8 ppg

Tharpe 5’11” 170 on Williams 6’5” 210 8.3 ppg … red light flashing

Wiggins 6’8” 200 on Brown 6’3” 190 16.8 ppg … Brown will torch Tharpe

Embiid 7’0” 250 Nash 6’7” 235 13.5 ppg …. If Embiid guarded ISU's Kane some

Ellis 6’8” 225 on Murphy 6’8” 220 5.7 ppg …. Not sold on Ellis' D

Jonathan Allison 4 years, 5 months ago

I haven't watched OSU but having looked at their stats it looks like they send out the lineup that you have indicated, but having ZERO post players on the bench that play any substantial minutes (even since Cobbins' injury) they must rotate Nash to the #5 and Williams to the #4 to play with Smart, Forte, and Brown on the perimeter for at least 50% of the time. Williams has only attempted 10 threes and Nash 4 threes all season. Williams brings more rebounding and defense than Forte who is essentially an offensive spark plug and a good ball protector as well.

Tharpe and Mason will match up much better when Forte is in, and while Embiid and Ellis won't need to worry too much about the three point shot on Williams and Nash, they will still have to respect both players shooting range and ability to create off of the dribble... It will pull both players away from the hoop on defense, meaning that the game may look similar to the ISU game and we should hope the Wiggins et. al come ready to chase down long rebounds again.

However, when Murphy is in OSU will definitely have a mismatch on the perimeter. Perhaps Greene may get more playing time due to matchups. Or perhaps we may see the return of Andrew White who hasn't seen the floor since a brief few seconds against OU.

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 5 months ago

Cobb ins was averaging 4 rebounds in 20 minutes per game and had multiple foul outs this year. Losing him is not as big a deal as some people are saying. His defense does hurt them, but he wasn't giving them much else this season. KU's still going to have to play better Saturday than they did on Monday to beat OSU.

Brian Conrad 4 years, 5 months ago

like West Virginia almost did last week? OSU won by 3 .. West Virginia not as good as ISU ... KU played very good Monday and doubt OSU will even win at ISU . no way OSU talent level 4-10 as good as KU

Todd Hudnall 4 years, 5 months ago

Nice article Tom. I loved your comment - "It’s a little more difficult to use the tongue when the jaw has dropped to the floor." I think most knew it was only a matter of time before Andrew's game came together - too much athletic talent not to turn the corner. Just keep listening to your coach and to your dad young man - 19 boards - wow!

Tony Bandle 4 years, 5 months ago

Game strategy:

OFFENSE - Pound the Rock Into the Hole.

DEFENSE - Guard the Perimeter as if it was the Last Twinkie on Earth.

OPEN PLAY - More Dives for the Ball than Greg Lagonis.

REBOUNDING - Consider each Rebound a Winning Lottery Ticket.

FOUL SHOTS - Treat Each One like a Faberge Egg.

STEALS - Every Pass is really Yours.

BLOCKS - Protect and Collect.

Aaron Paisley 4 years, 5 months ago

If we're ever going to see Bill Self game plan a zone defense, it would be the triangle and 2 against the Pokes with Wiggins on Smart and Selden on Forte or Clark depending on which one is in the game at the time. I doubt we'll see that since Self plays man 99% of the time, but this is a game where a triangle and 2 could be an extremely effective defense to keep OSU from getting hot behind the 3 point line.

Brian Conrad 4 years, 5 months ago

2 huge areas KU is better Bench and assists , believe it or not Tharpe & Seldon have been as hot from 3 pt land as Forte and Clark in Big 12 play . last but not least 3 pointers come easier at home.. Forte has had that knack for being a pain in our side .. we shall see . just do not see OSU having an answer to Embiid , Ellis , Black and Traylor inside.. Smart was miffed about Wiggins bet he is real upset NBA boards have dropped him below 2 KU players ... remember Nash has tendency to disappear , if he does in this game , we win by dozen..

Mike Riches 4 years, 5 months ago

I'm sure Selden will start out on Smart, but if Smart starts heating up, I would LOVE to see Wiggins guard him (much like when he switched to Jabari Parker earlier this year.) If/when KU wins Saturday, would it be too much to ask Bill Self to do a back flip at center court?

Ryan Houston 4 years, 5 months ago

I have a good feeling about this game. I just know we are going to win this one. It is personal. If we can win the next 2 games we will start to walk away with the conference title.

John Wayne 4 years, 5 months ago

Just watched Texas Tech fans storm their court after the Red Raiders upset Baylor. Last night I watched the Hoosiers beat Wisconsin, causing Indiana fans - INDIANA! - to rush the court at Assembly Hall.

Just made me wonder the last time anyone rushed the floor at Allen Fieldhouse.

I graduated from KU in '91; I don't remember it happening while I was going to school there.

I've watched a lot of KU basketball over the last 23 years, and I can't remember it happening one time in any game I watched.

Anybody know?

I just think it's cool that Kansas fans don't do it.

Timothy Rake 4 years, 5 months ago

John, when's the last time a #1 or top 10 team came into Allen Field House to play, let's say, an unrated KU? When's the last time the bookies in Vegas made KU a huge underdog in its own house? And when's the last time this unrated underdog in its own house beat the odds and upset that top 10 team?

Ah, I think I understand why KU fans don't rush the court.

Steve Brown 4 years, 5 months ago

Spring 1972 (approx.) unranked KU upset top ten Missou and Bud went off for 50 points. We sat right behind Owens front row. You bet we stormed the court and made the front page of sports section of KC Star full color, Ted had that photo on his wall for years. I had hair in next to Bud on top of the key. What made that night special was the 20 year reunion of the National Champs and Olympic team. They sat left of us on bottom three row, who were these old guys? ( funny I think they were 40 at that time. Ted took Bud out but didn't know he had 48 points, inserted him back in with less than minute left so Bud could hit the 50. Sweet apples! Not sure yet think that back then only one team from a league could go to March Madness and this game may have knocked MU down so KState could go as our B-8 representative. Memory fades. That year I recall we may have gone 8-8 at home and needed that win in the last game of the season, to prevent the first ever home losing streak. I can still smell the popcorn and the air from the indoor dirt track and see every stitch of the cheerleaders uniforms, Heck I was 17. I recall being mad at the alums across the way not standing for the whole game, my how time changes things. RCJH GKU

Rob Byrd 4 years, 5 months ago

I am pretty sure that it was my 8th grade year in '73/'74, after we beat Mizery by 35 or 40. There was another time when about 100 kids rushed the floor while the rest of the Fieldhouse yelled at them to get off the floor and show some class! :-) Had to be freshmen! I think that was maybe 2006? We did storm the court in '08, at the NC, but it just doesn't happen @ AFH. We EXPECT to win at home! RCJH!!!

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