Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Column: Svi can be a teen dream

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) puts up a three pointer during the first half on Saturday, Jan.10, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) puts up a three pointer during the first half on Saturday, Jan.10, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Those held hostage by numbers, which only speak to the past and leave so much to be desired when the topic is the future, probably don’t spend much time thinking about the contributions Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk will make next season.

They have moved on because the numbers say that he shot just .306 from the field, .288 from three, had nearly as many turnovers (15) as assists (17) and had just 31 rebounds in 291 minutes.

Good thing those who prefer to let statistics, not their own eyes, tell them what they just witnessed didn’t control the fate of Sandy Koufax (57 walks, 60 strikeouts two seasons into his Brooklyn Dodgers career). Koufax was 19 and 20 when he compiled those unpolished statistics.

Svi is 17. Repeat, 17. The Ukrainian sensation was in his first year living in the United States. Away from his family. Facing quicker, more explosive athletes than he played against for most of his life. Lifting weights extensively for the first time.

Don’t look at the numbers. Consider the tools. Quick feet. Soft touch. A natural feel for the game at both ends of the floor and in transition.

Another strong recruiting class (Carlton Bragg, Cheick Diallo, LaGerald Vick) landed by Bill Self and assistants understandably has generated a loud buzz. They fill needs, have talent and know how to hustle. Plus, the unknown always creates more excitement than the known because it has no visible ceiling.

Yet, improvement from returning players figures to play every bit as big a part in Kansas having a strong shot at a Final Four appearance.

Devonté Graham, a strong thinker and leader, will get more minutes at the point, enabling Frank Mason to employ his scoring mentality without hesitation off the ball. Perry Ellis was playing out of his mind before suffering a knee injury, and he’ll play even better as a senior. He improves every year. Wayne Selden’s sophomore slump is history. Hunter Mickelson played well when given minutes and figures to play even better.

And nobody’s projected improvement is as substantial as that of Mykhailiuk, a smooth 6-foot-8 athlete who will have a better idea of what to expect in the weight room, on the practice floor and from opponents in games.

Anybody fixated on Svi’s freshman-season numbers might want to consider that if NBA scouts were allowed to express their opinions publicly, many of them would cite Mykhailiuk as the top NBA prospect on KU’s roster. Even numbers geeks must love that he will be 5.5 percent older.


Rodney Crain 4 years ago

If ifs and butts were candy and nuts, we'd all have a Merry Christmas.

I know we are not to use statistics but Koufax did not show his All Star form till he was 25 actually. I think Svi will graduate by the time he turns 23.

I Like Svi, I hope he gets off the bench next season. He could be a difference maker, just not so sure he can get past the head coach to get on the floor. Let's Hope!

This is fun TK, lets do another one!

Tom Jones 4 years ago

"get past the head coach"! Awesome stuff, RC, as usual.

Gerry Butler 4 years ago

I for one have the blinders off, the closed minded train of though put away,yes at times a lot of times he looked lost last year, caught up in a faster game, but if a person couldn't sit back and see that the kid has definetley the talent, has really good movement in his feet, sure the hell way better defensively then Brennan and before anyone says anything about Brennan being a much better shooter , ya when Brennan is on he is, but think you will also see Svi have a much better year shooting this year, much better passing the ball then Brennan, and I'm a huge Brennan Greene fan but just saying I think you'll notice big difference Svi OVERALL game especially on the defensive end is better then Greene, I don't think he is gonna have any problem as you say getting past the coach. I think I would much rather take the information that the NBA scouts that evaluate talent for a living, where its there job to do so, I would much rather listen to what they say then reclining chair side line coaches, or rather listen to Coach Self who knows just a little bit, about recruiting talent Svi will be just fine. ROCK CHALK ALL DAY LONG BABY

RJ King 4 years ago

No need for added pressure Kool, Gerry is still searching for the period and shift keys.

John Brown 4 years ago

This article reads like it was written by a 12 year old. It is all over the place and communicates nothing important about Svi other than he is 17, repeat 17. I guess that when it is a "Column" it bypasses the editing phase?

Kurt Eskilson 4 years ago

Tough crowd this morning. "Brennan"? I don't know who he is, but I'm a "huge fan" of Brannen Greene. Details aside, I certainly agree with Gerry that NBA scouts probably know a thing or two about potential … since that's what we all know they draft on.

Benz Junque 4 years ago

NBA scouts raved about Cliff, too. Means nothing other than that somewhere down the line he might be really good. Svi will get the chance to prove he is ready to produce now. If the reports of his hard work this offseason are true he is trying to take advantage of the opportunity. Fingers crossed.

Humpy Helsel 4 years ago

The movement, the anticipation, the quickness of decision making around passing and ball movement, were what impressed me. The shot is there and will fall. But he does need a chance to play through mistakes and not pulled each time he takes a hurried shot, or misses an assignment. But that is classic Bill Self coaching, trying to get into the minds of talented freshmen who need to practice and watch, and listen (Andrew Wiggins excluded). He looked like he was in pick up games in Europe at times last year. But no doubt, the talent is there. I still say #! is out of the question at this point, but this year's team is a great blend of talented veterans, older guys, guys who know what is expected of them, and the new blood mixed in. I'm sorry Tom, I like the story, but why can't Landen Lucas even get a mention?

John Boyle 4 years ago

Landen Lucas is a fine reserve for 3-5 minutes a game. He is way too slow and can get pushed around way too much for a guy his size. He offensive skills are non-existent. Having said all that, I like him and hope he shows some improvement this year.

Rob Bedford III 4 years ago

I like Landon the most when he is sitting on the bench.

Glen Miller 4 years ago

Coach Self started him in the first games of the season...... that right there tells you all you need to know about his talent and basketball IQ. The fact that a 17 year old kid comes into Kansas and starts is not lost on me. I look for him to be our starter at the 3 spot. It's easy to see that he is superior to Greene in every aspect outside of 3 point shooting. He was not only adjusting to college basketball, but a huge change in culture, life and surrounding support. Svi will be just fine and all of those who are crossing your fingers will be clapping your hands loudly instead. RCJH!!!

John Boyle 4 years ago

Nice post. Now can you serenade us with some "Stairway to the Stars"

Jay Scott 4 years ago

How do readers see the minutes being allocated? Dec1? Feb1?

Joe Joseph 4 years ago

There's 120 minutes for spots 1-3. Mason and Wayne will command 30 mpg. That leaves 60 for Graham, Svi, and Green, which I imagine will be dispensed almost equally. I don't anticipate Vick (if he reclassifies) playing more than spot minutes, except in the event of foul trouble. Those who think Selden's PT will be reduced this coming season are mistaken and not because he's going to turn into the player we've all wanted him to be (although hopefully he will), but purely because Bill Self rewards loyalty to the program. Self doesn't start a guy for 2 years straight only to bench him in year 3. Not gonna happen.

Perry will play 30 mpg. That leaves the remaining 50 to be divided amongst Traylor, Lucas, Diallo, and Bragg. I anticipate Lucas and Diallo largely splitting minutes at the 5, with Traylor being the primary backup to Ellis. I'd like to see a lot out of Bragg this season, but I won't be surprised if he becomes a spot-time guy as well. Again, Self's going to play Traylor and Lucas if for no other reason than the fact that they're 4th/5th-year players who know the system and they've clearly gotten in good with Self.

Freddie Garza 4 years ago

It's not that easy. There's this other thing called "foul trouble". HCBS doesn't always get to dictate how many minutes a player plays. The refs have a say too. However, in a perfect world, I think it's fair to expect Mason and Wayne to play 25+ minutes per, but lets not be fooled into thinking that playing 20 minutes per game is not enough time to leave your mark. That's HALF the game.

There are plenty of minutes to go around for Mason, Wayne, Greene, Svi and Graham.

Aaron Paisley 4 years ago

Caleb Swanigan has committed to Purdue, Calipari whiffs again.

Joe Ross 4 years ago

Can you believe the number of recruiting misses they've had this year? Wow!

Len Shaffer 4 years ago

Awesome! The evil empire is crumbling!

Joe Ross 4 years ago

Cue Katie Perry "Teenage Dream"

Suzi Marshall 4 years ago

Cal heading to NO may have something to do with his recruiting misses.

It took Koufax until the '61 season, 7 major league seasons, till he came into his own. Koufax broke in with Brooklyn as a 19 year old in '55. He was 25 in '61! Mykailiuk is still 17! I'm hoping and expecting a huge season from Svi but he will still only be 18 so that tempers my enthusiasm some. Nevertheless, he is a good heady player and I expect him to start at the 3 since Greene will be slowed this summer.

We need 6 perimeter guys because there will be a ton of fouls called all year long. 25 minutes will likely get a good aggressive player 4 fouls.

Aaron Paisley 4 years ago

Cal's not going to NOLA, they can't afford him and won't give him GM control like he wants. Self has also never used a 6 man rotation on the perimeter. Vick is depth for this year in case Greene doesn't heel properly. His minutes will be very limited this year and mostly be garbage minutes this season unless he redshirts. If KU's perimeter players are committing as many fouls as you say, they will be on the bench very quickly because that means their defense will be crap.

Joe Ross 4 years ago

Mark it down. John Calipari will NEVER AGAIN coach in the NBA. The reasons are simple. Calipari is a megalomaniacal egotist, and in a sport where the college game is more about the coach and the NBA is more about the player, the professional ranks are much less well suited to John's personality. Right now he is basking in the attention he is receiving at Kentucky. Secondly, Kentucky can match any financial compensation that Cal would receive in the League. In other words, it makes no sense economically to return to coaching in the NBA. Finally, Cal gets to do whatever he wishes at the college level. In the NBA he will not be able to run a team with complete control. So to recap: he won't make any more money, he will receive less national attention, and he will have to surrender autonomy. No way he ever goes back.

Brian Wilson 4 years ago

Right up and to point when he and the UK gets whacked with NCAA violations!

Matt Woolley 4 years ago

Maybe just at the end of his career. Just to prove that he can do it. I could see the same happening with HCBS. Just a pride thing.

Aaron Paisley 4 years ago

I wouldn't say never again because I can picture a team being willing to pay Cal the $10 mil per year he wants along with full control of the roster personnel.

Joe Ross 4 years ago

I grant you that might happen, but he already has that package at Kentucky basically. The school would certainly attempt to renegotiate his contract to match what any NBA team would offer. So all other things being equal, Calipari would in essence be choosing to shun the limelight, and would receive much less national exposure. Not to mention the fact that if he gets hired in the NBA, it will be by a team who is struggling and in need of a coach, whereas at Kentucky they are competitive for a Final Four appearance every other year. So even if an NBA team gave Cal more money and control, the choice would still distill to less national exposure on a struggling team vs. a very high public profile on a team that is a winning blue-blood. Coaching at Kentucky lends itself to leaving behind a better legacy than, say, New Orleans, Orlando, or Denver.

Aaron Paisley 4 years ago

There's no guarantee it'll be a bad team that shows ponies up what Cal wants. Pelicans obviously didn't give Cal what he wanted, but they are a playoff team that's only going to get better in the next few years. The Cleveland Cavaliers were willing to give Cal what he wanted to try and entice LeBron to come back to Cleveland because Cal was LeBron's personal preference. I think the biggest reason Cal turned it down was because he knew he had something special this season similar to how Roy knew he had a special group when he turned down UNC the first time. Cal obviously has a desire to go back to the NBA again otherwise he wouldn't have said what it'll take to get him back to the NBA.

Joe Ross 4 years ago

Ill let that be the last word.

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