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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Keegan

Column: Brannen Greene has potential to spark KU in postseason

Kansas head coach Bill Self talks with guard Brannen Greene during a break in action against TCU on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas.

Kansas head coach Bill Self talks with guard Brannen Greene during a break in action against TCU on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas.

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— Talk centers on superstars in advance of big games. In the case of today’s 2 p.m. tip in Sprint Center between Kansas University and Oklahoma State, that means the stars playing and the one sidelined by injury.

Sometimes, a stealth bomber sneaks in below the chatter and swings the contest in favor of his team. It could be anybody and it’s impossible to predict. So I ask myself over and over: Why do I think freshman Brannen Greene could be that guy today?

Certainly the source is neither his season statistics (2.5 points in 6.4 minutes a game, .396 shooting percentage, .333 from three, one double-figures scoring game) nor his effort in the game in Stillwater. He didn’t get off the bench in that one.

Maybe it’s because first impressions tend to linger and the first time I saw him play in an intrasquad game, everything about the way the guy moved, shot and had a hint of a strut screamed “big-time scorer.”

Like so many freshmen, Greene struggled to make the adjustment, which ate at his confidence and chances at serious minutes. So why now?

Losing Joel Embiid for the Big 12 tournament and at least the first two games of the NCAA tournament makes KU hit the reset button. With a full season of practices and some game experience in the bank, Greene should be more prepared for this new season than the regular one. It doesn’t take much for a talented, natural scorer to restore lost confidence. Greene hits a shot or two as soon as he comes off the bench today and the Cowboys have one more problem than they came into the game envisioning.

That can only happen if Kansas coach Bill Self calls Greene’s number. Does the coach trust the 6-foot-7, 215-pound native of Juliette, Ga., yet?

“I do trust Brannen,” Self said. “He’s going to be a great player. Right now, he’s a really good player that just hasn’t had many opportunities. I think he’s going to be terrific. I do trust him. Now, do I trust him to the point I put him in for Wayne (Selden) or (Wiggins) if they were rested and not in foul trouble? That would be a tough call. I can see a scenario where we’d play all three together.”

Somehow, Kansas must try to find a way to turn three McDonald’s All-Americans — Perry Ellis, Wayne Selden and Andrew Wiggins — plus Tarik Black, plus Greene and some combination of three small point guards into a victory against an Oklahoma State squad that has gone 2-2 against the perennial Big 12 champions since Marcus Smart made orange his favorite color. Smart and junior Le’Bryan Nash are Oklahoma State’s McDonald’s All-Americans.

Color KU’s orange nightmares Brown, first name Markel. In four games vs. Kansas while riding shotgun to Smart, Brown, a bouncy, 6-foot-3 senior from Alexandria, La., has averaged 21 points and made 17 of 29 three-pointers (.586). Brown has gotten the better of Andrew Wiggins twice.

Kamari Murphy has been the Pokes’ starting center since a torn Achilles ended goal protector Michael Cobbins’ season. Color Murphy’s nightmares Black. Staying out of foul trouble will be vital for Black, although sophomore Jamari Traylor has played well against the Cowboys.

When it’s all over, might Greene be the color of Oklahoma State’s nightmares? Many a man who played the ponies and took hunches to the window waved goodbye to a lifetime of dreams and never again could afford to buy anything to replace the filthy, brown double-knit pants he wore to the track that night. Most hunches aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. Just in case this is one of those, don’t bet on Greene playing the stealth bomber today. But don’t bet against it either.

Self doesn’t believe in outscoring the opponent, but he usually has far better defensive teams than the one that will take the court against his alma mater.

“That’s never been one of my philosophies,” Self said. “I always thought if the other team plays poorly, your chance of winning is high. This team hasn’t consistently made other teams play poorly like some of our teams in the past. I never thought we’d have to outscore folks. I’d never let our team know we have to outscore folks to win.”

He went on to say certain situations call for loading the lineup with offensive firepower to overcome deficits. Greene was in one such lineup in the overtime loss at Kansas State, when he totaled 10 points, five rebounds, three steals and a costly turnover when the hour was getting late. It’s time to see what sort of matinee performer Greene is now that the season is getting late.

Comments

Charlie B. Gonesoon 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I'd love to see Brannen get more opportunities but it just seems that as soon as he makes any kind of mistake he's back on the bench. Consequently, he appears scared to play once he gets in. I'd like to see Traylor and Black in the game together. They seem to really click when Joel and Perry were both out this season. Finally, the furious comeback against WVA was triggered by full court pressure. KU has the athletes and the numbers to effectively play full court. Maybe not the whole game but toss it at the opponent 4 or 5 times a half and see what happens.

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Ashwin Rao 6 months, 3 weeks ago

With this game will be interesting to see how KU changes plays with Joel out. We are still a better team, but we need to make sure that the rest of the players are confident with their own skills between now and when Embiid returns. Also, I do believe that we need to fine-tune our Kansas formula that has gotten us this far with Embiid (and other tall guys prior to him) as opposing coaches are on to it now. Lastly, everything (still) hinges on Tharp... we go wherever he takes us. I hope his confidence is sky high all the way to the championship.

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Tony Bandle 6 months, 2 weeks ago

We are who we are and Bill is who he is and if the game is tight,he will shorten the bench and Brannen and Conner will be on it with their warm up jackets on.

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Gerry Butler 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I wouldn't take it to the bank or to vegas but may be interesting. may be very interesting to see if coach self tries to up tempo press more I think we have the talent our BIG problem is and always HAS been this year is getting beat off the dribble drive which in turn has caused our bigs in some trouble trying to cover up for the guards I look for a really focues bunch of hawks like was stated I think by nadair in another article they feel they can use this a like something to prove this weekend like everybody has written them off because of jo jo looking for a great game GO HAWKS

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Titus Canby 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Interesting that no one's talking about Selden. I think he could have a huge postseason. Especially on defense, which we'll need this afternoon.

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Walter Bridges 6 months, 2 weeks ago

As with most every other player on this team, Selden has been inconsistent. I also think he could have a huge postseason but then I can also see the possibility of him having just the opposite.

I prefer your take.

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Mark Lindrud 6 months, 2 weeks ago

I believe Selden could be this year's Ellis and start to break out right now. He has shown glimpses and since everyone is focused on Wiggins, Embiid and our point guard play, this could be time for Selden to shine. I don't think this is Greene's season to do a lot, but hope when he gets his chances he does great. He just needs to believe in himself because it seems he doesn't trust himself to do anything. Go for it kid!

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Walter Bridges 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Maybe if he had had the chance to develop his game over the season where he wasn't benched after making a mistake, I might believe the premise of this article. But since that's not what happened and nor has it happened with Andrew White and others, I see what could have been a very deep bench be anything but that.

For the Tharpe defenders, here is his chance to shine. His play could very well be the deciding factor. I proposed before letting Frankamp start just for the opening few minutes and then bringing Tharpe into the game as it seems he often gets off to a rocky start. I don't want to see his minutes reduced, just want to have a little bit of pressure off his shoulders.

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Benz Junque 6 months, 2 weeks ago

The next two weeks will be about Tharpe's ability to play at least some level of defense, Wiggins ability to stay consistently aggressive and Black's ability to stay on the floor. Anything Greene gives us is gravy.

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Tony Bandle 6 months, 2 weeks ago

OOOOHHHHH.,.Greene Gravy, how appropriate for St. Patty's Day Weekend!!!

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Andy Tweedy 6 months, 2 weeks ago

I was just reading Fox Sports' Top 10 all-time tourney performances, and number 1 was Danny Manning. I remember it as if it was yesterday, calling KU info at 5:30 AM to see if I had classes, my girlfriend cutting her feet to pieces because she went up on the Blvd without her shoes (we simply didn't have time to get them, the extra 10 seconds would have been costly)! I'm wondering what Jayhawk is going to challenge him for that spot this year when we run off 9 wins to finish the season!!! Man, I love this time of year...

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Tony Bandle 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Man, I love what you had for breakfast!!! :)

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Terrence Cernech 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Greene has all the talent he needs to become an outstanding player, even possibly a lottery pick. But he, first, has to understand for whom he is playing. With Self, it is and always will be defense first. Greene has the athletic ability to be a lock down defender and a difference maker but if he can't get his head around that he will never be the player that Wiggins is and will be. Greene comes off the floor after he demonstrates to Self that he is still a loose cannon whom nobody really knows what will do next.

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Jonathan Allison 6 months, 2 weeks ago

It's interesting that everyone has such different opinions on Greene.

Even though he knows that he's on a short leash, I don't think that he plays scared at all when he's on the floor. I think that Self tells him to be aggressive and to look for his shot, but Self will pull him out because he makes a rookie mistake like dribbling the ball off of his shoe under full or 3/4 court pressure when he should just look to pass the ball up the floor, or throwing the ball away in the half court set, or hoisting a highly guarded three ball with 20+ seconds left on the shot clock, or blowing it on defense. All of those things he will manage better as he gets more repetitions. Sure, game repetitions may be more valuable than practice reps, but if you take practice as seriously as Bill Self expects you to, then practice reps should carry over into game situations.

It's a learning curve. Greene will develop the ability to recognize in real time what is happening to him on the court and he know how to respond before it's too late. Unfortunately he's still pretty low on that learning curve.

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Mark Lindrud 6 months, 2 weeks ago

We need to remember for some of these guys they are still freshman so I can be patient with guys like Selden and Greene. Wiggins is amazing, enough said, but Mason and Frankamp leave a lot to be desired at the moment.Mason only knows how to drive and is getting more and more in trouble when he does. Frankamp can't seem to shoot right now and for being so small I don't know if it will work out in the end if he doesn't get that shot going. I hope he gets it going though.

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Larry Tomlinson 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Greene is no more a loose cannon than Frank Mason. He is the one who would warm my bench!

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Walter Bridges 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Almost prophetic except it was OSU that Greene helped to get back into the game. One of the worst few minutes I've seen from an individual player in a Jayhawk uniform but still behind EJ's Michigan meltdown.

Wiggins is the REAL deal! If he can improve going to his left (which he will) he will be unstoppable.

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Lance Cheney 6 months, 2 weeks ago

You beat me to it! I was just going to say that Greene was more of a spark for OSU than he was for us.

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Linda Peschka 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Greene, is NOT a quality player. Keegan you have it wrong again. He looks lost on the floor, as a deer in the headlights. Absolutely NO DEFENSE. He could not guard my Golden Retriever. He is slow of foot and continually throws the ball away for a turnover. He can not handle the ball once he is pressed. Just look at the game today vs.Okla. St. If he isn't making baskets, then he should not be playing. STBP>

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Michael Maris 6 months, 2 weeks ago

B. Greene played like a scared pup today. Like he's playing to NOT screw up. And, that leads to even more screwing up. The whole back court played tentative today. Thank god for Wiggins scoring today. Loosen up Guys. There's still a LOT of season left to be played.

I have to think that AWIII will be transferring out after this season is over. He got minimal playing time this season. And, with B. Greene still in the house and K. Oubre entering (as Wiggins exits), AWIII won't be seeing the court much in the 2014/2015 season either.

So, I would think that they would leave that scholarship available for the 2015 class (if AWIII transfers out).

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