Saturday, December 17, 2016


Tom Keegan: Bragg can help the Jayhawks take the next step

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) finds a hole as he cuts between Davidson forward Dusan Kovacevic (0) and Davidson guard Rusty Reigel (32) during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016 at Sprint Center. At right is Kansas forward Carlton Bragg Jr. (15).

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) finds a hole as he cuts between Davidson forward Dusan Kovacevic (0) and Davidson guard Rusty Reigel (32) during the second half, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016 at Sprint Center. At right is Kansas forward Carlton Bragg Jr. (15).


Kansas basketball coach Bill Self already had used three post players, including freshman Mitch Lightfoot, when he put Carlton Bragg in the Davidson game with 11 minutes remaining in the first half Saturday in Sprint Center.

The crowd responded with quick welcome-back applause for the sophomore forward from Cleveland who had been suspended when battery charges were filed against him and reinstated when the charges were dropped, all in less than a week that felt more like a month.

Bragg stumbled through most of his 10 first-half minutes. Josh Jackson, the freshman who again ensured victory by contributing in just about every area a basketball player can, set him up beautifully with an over-the-top pass and Bragg couldn’t finish the play. Later, he shot an air ball.

If Bragg’s season follows the rocky-start, strong-finish trajectory of his performance in KU’s 89-71 victory vs. Davidson, that will bode well for KU’s chances of cutting down the Sprint Center nets in the Midwest regional final and advancing to the Final Four in Phoenix.

A 6-foot-10 forward who always has looked more comfortable burying mid-range jumpers than jockeying for position underneath, Bragg stayed close to the basket, kept it simple, played to his size and produced.

He finished with seven points and eight rebounds in 18 minutes. In eight second-half minutes, he totaled five rebounds, three on the offensive glass, and five points.

“I think he just believed in himself,” said senior guard Frank Mason, the game’s defensive standout. “He had confidence in himself coming into the game. He didn’t really play well in the first half, but we we just told him in the locker room to stay aggressive and stay confident, and that’s exactly what he did. I was happy to have him back part of the team.”

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self talks 89-71 victory over Davidson, strong play from Lucas and Bragg

After an 89-71 victory over Davidson in Kansas City, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self met with the media to discuss his team's strong offensive rebounding, production from his bigs, and his decision to start Svi Mykhailiuk in place of Lagerald Vick.

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In 39 minutes off the bench, Bragg and healing senior Landen Lucas combined for 15 points and 16 rebounds and did not commit a turnover. They had a big size advantage against Davidson and played like it.

“I thought they both played very well,” Self said. “I thought Landen was really good, you know missed that one uncontested one in the first half. I was going to go back with Landen, but I thought Carlton played just as well as Landen down the stretch.”

So he stayed with Bragg, no doubt a boost to the sophomore’s confidence as he tries to find a way to play with the same degree of comfort and effectiveness in traffic as he does sizing up his soft and sure mid-range jumper.

Once Big 12 play arrives, the points in the paint and rebounds at both ends will be tougher to come by than in Saturday’s game for all of KU’s post players, but part of the benefit of mixing size-challenged opponents into the non-conference schedule is that it can fuel a struggling post player’s sense of self-worth.

“He got his confidence,” junior guard Devonte’ Graham said of Bragg’s night. “We’ve been pushing him in practice, making sure he stays aggressive, brings energy, even though he’s coming off the bench, and I thought he did a great job of that tonight."

Bragg has skill and size, a strong mentor in Lucas, and extremely aggressive, smart and talented teammates on the perimeter. Next to freshman center Udoka Azubuike (two quick fouls, limited to seven minutes of playing time), Bragg is the team’s biggest X-factor in that he has plenty of untapped potential. In the best-case scenario, Bragg will continue to take baby steps forward, Azubuike can take even bigger ones, and Lucas will stay healthy to lend his forceful, steadying hand.

Solid, consistent production from the frontcourt will suffice because the perimeter players consistently will give foes more than they can handle.

By the Numbers: Kansas 89, Davidson 71.

By the Numbers: Kansas 89, Davidson 71.

— See what people were saying about the game during's live coverage.

More news and notes from Kansas vs. Davidson


Mallory Briggans 3 years, 5 months ago

I guess its safe to say that Bragg has not progressed to the level that would give him NBA consideration....He is no where close at this point.....and hopefully he realizes it as well.....but on the flipside thats not terrible thing . Next years team looks to be a good one and 1 more year with Bragg wont hurt. Bragg has been given a second chance and I believe he will refocus and become the player we know he can be......Bragg's true worth will be how he responds when the conference season starts and we go on the road. We all know the opposing fans can be cruel and classless and I m sure they will say things about his recent arrest if Bragg can step up then that will help shut them up .......lets hope he does ......and as long as we take care of business Bragg will have the last laugh well as the team

Brett McCabe 3 years, 5 months ago

Well put. Here's hoping that Carlton has a super-strong season from here on out. The kid is undoubtedly talented, and there is a lot of opportunity waiting for him.

This team still has tons of upside just from the development possibilities with Carlton, Udoka and Lagerald. RCJHK!

Jay Scott 3 years, 5 months ago

What is there to taunt him about? Why would he care? When the story became clear, all that he did was was get laid, likely by more than one sorority girl. The horror...

Dirk Medema 3 years, 5 months ago

A second chance comes when you screw up. Except for less than remarkable play to start the season, Carlton hasn't screwed up. He was about as fully exonerated as possible on the false charges off the court, and showed tremendous discretion in the process.

On the court, he wasn't as instant elite as we had all hyped he'd be. It's a long season, and he is showing that we haven't begun to tap into his potential. At this point, it does look like he'd benefit from another year of Hudization, but it is a long year and we should know very well that players are often drafted on potential. Especially young tall players.

Jay Scott 3 years, 5 months ago

8 or 9 days ago, when the reactionary Chicken Littles were declaring Bragg banished forever, the Jayhawks were no longer a strong national championship contender. They are again.

He looked ready to play yesterday. Against opposition with real power forwards he'll be more in his element and indispensable.

Humpy Helsel 3 years, 5 months ago

Based on the information I had, I was certainly one of those (It's OK, Jay. I've been called worse than a Chicken Little) predicting the end of his Jayhawk playing days. More, and better information produces a different picture. A reminder to me and to others to slow the rush to judgement. Facts are facts and hype is hype. Guilty as charged. I should have waited before convicting the poor kid before all of the facts and the process was in. Hope this young woman is able to move forward with better things ahead. Good lessons for all of us. Thanks for being a great Sheriff of this website and blog area, Jay. You're the best.

Mallory Briggans 3 years, 5 months ago

Taunts by fans are part of the game ....but some cross the line far as it pertains to Bragg point was him not letting it affect his play on the court .....To Braggs credit his happy go lucky attitude will prevail .......and he will shake the haters as he should.

Barry Weiss 3 years, 5 months ago

I don't see any taunts coming out of this. This was a flash in the pan deal that was over and done with within a week. Not enough time or media exposure for some college kid at Texas to get wound up about this. There may be one nerd somewhere that shouts something, but its not like Carlton is going to face a big deal anywhere. Its over, move on.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 5 months ago

So glad it never came close to being a Baylor/Minnesota sort of thing. I'm guessing there will be more than one "nerd" (really bad choice of words IMO) amongst the other 9 universities, but then maybe I'm just haunted by images of antlers.

Barry Weiss 3 years, 5 months ago

ok snowflake, some of the definitions of a nerd are "boringly studious" (heaven forbid college kids are that! "single-minded expert in a particular technical field" wow, that sounds pretty bad.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 5 months ago

Were you around for the Stipanovich target T-shirts?

Dirk Medema 3 years, 5 months ago

A kid on my HS basketball team had a skin condition that led him to shave his head. Opposing fans would wear skull caps to taunt him. He would polish his noggin in their direction on the way down after posterizing one of their players. He helped top it all off with an undefeated state championship (Illinois big school, including Mark Aguirre, and Isaiah Thomas).

It's just fuel for the best.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 5 months ago

The next step is totally dependent on the development of the frontline. The backcourt already is a monster; a 5 headed interchangeable monster. There are obviously variants between 5-11 Mason and 6-8 Jackson, but it's a uniform gradation when considering the other 3 heads in between. That's especially true now that Svi has started attacking the paint.

The most encouraging thing about the Davidson game IMO was the returning to form of Landen. He seemed to be doing all the smart, positioning things that made the team so much better at the end of last year, and Carlton started to step up, as mentioned in the article, in more the manner we all expected from him. The ability to swap out parts, especially on the front court was part of the difference for the '08 NC team. The ability for Dok, Bragg, Coleby, and Lightfoot to develop, and Landen to return to form will be the difference between good season ending in disappointment, and a great season.

That and shooting FT's at least 10% better.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 5 months ago

Great post Dirk. Not sure as to why Coleby isn't logging more minutes.

Len Shaffer 3 years, 5 months ago

Very well said, Dirk.

I was never as worried about Landen as a lot of people seemed to be. I have a feeling his injury was most of the reason he wasn't playing as well as at the end of last year. Now that he seems to be completely healthy, he's playing better than ever.

Kit Duncan 3 years, 5 months ago

Funny thing. Some folks thought Carlton made a mistake by smiling for his mug shot. I believe it might have been a smart move. It should make it harder for anyone to mock Bragg by using his mug shot against him.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 5 months ago

Tim Miles might be looking for a new job at the end of this season. You just can't lose to a Gardner-Webb at home.

Steve Macy 3 years, 5 months ago

I like Carlton's game, hope he plays strongly through the rest of the year, find out his draft stock, and hopefully come back. Lightfoot, a guy who's motor is great, needs to get a few years under his belt and gain some strength. There is talent there.

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