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Monday, February 15, 2016

Keegan

Tom Keegan: Landen Lucas’ willingness to work benefiting Kansas, crippling opponents

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) and guard Wayne Selden Jr. box out Baylor forward Rico Gathers (2) during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) and guard Wayne Selden Jr. box out Baylor forward Rico Gathers (2) during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Some bench warmers pout. Others shout, lending support to teammates. Some check out the scenery in the stands. Others sit on their hands, draining the energy out of that section of the building.

Fourth-year junior Landen Lucas, a barge when running next to a speed boat like Perry Ellis, knows how to watch basketball. So he watched and put himself in the position of the players on the floor. It worked.

His father, Richard Lucas, played at the Univeristy of Oregon (1987-91) and is a former Div. I assistant basketball coach. It shows in the way his son plays, maximizing his ability, forever improving, out-working quicker opponents for rebounds.

“My dad was a big-time rebounder,” Lucas said. “He always told me that if I wanted to play at the next level, whether that be middle school to high school or high school to college, I need to rebound the ball. That is something that every team needs so that is something that I have been focusing on because this team needed a rebounder. I’m happy I can be that guy for this team.”

Lucas was that guy again Monday night in a 94-67 rout of injury-weakened Oklahoma State in Allen Fieldhouse. He scored a career-high 14 points, to go with 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season and second of his career. Five of his boards came off the offensive glass on a night he reached double figures in rebounds for the third game in a row.

“It’s something that I enjoy doing,” Lucas said of rebounding. “Really, if you just go after the ball, that is more than what most other players are doing. If the ball is shot on one side of the basket, then it is probably going to come off the other side. It is really basic, but most people don’t fight to get to the opposite side very often, so it’s just the small things like that that allow me to get the rebound.”

Kansas rebounded more of its misses (16 offensive boards) than the Cowboys (13 defensive rebounds) did and won the battle of the boards, 45-27.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self liked KU's offense vs. OSU, but not Jayhawks' defense

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self discusses the Jayhawks' Big Monday win over Oklahoma State, addressing, among many topics, how KU's offense looked much better than its defense.

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Lucas is beginning to curtail his foul troubles, as well. His communication skills have played a part in that.

“I’m trying to make friends with the refs, first of all,” Lucas said, only half joking. “I’m being friendly with them and it’s paying off, so I’m just going to continue to do that. It’s nice because they talk to me and there are a lot of things I do, they’ll let me know, ‘Ease up off of this,’ or, ‘Watch this or that,’ and then I’m able to adjust to them. They’ve been great at doing that and I’ve been trying to play physical without getting too many fouls.”

Lucas’ realistic attitude helped him to make the most out of practice time and weight-room workouts.

When Lucas watched from the bench nobody had to tell him the teammates playing in front of him deserved to be on the floor more than he did. And he watched more than his teammates.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Lucas, Greene and Selden talk Big Monday win over OSU

Kansas basketball players Landen Lucas, Brannen Greene and Wayne Selden Jr. discuss the Jayhawks' 94-67 home win over Oklahoma State.

Download podcast

“There are fast people out there and there are strong people,” Lucas said. “I’ve always looked at other people around the Big 12 and saw how they could get theirs and I always thought that I could do the same thing that they do. There are great bigs like Ryan Spangler (Oklahoma), (West Virginia’s Devin) Williams and (Baylor’s Rico) Gathers that I watched. And I was like, ‘OK, I can do the same type of stuff that they do.’ Now that I’m getting the opportunity, I’m able to do it.”

And how does he do it?

“Just position, understanding of the game and just strength,” Lucas said.

Lucas isn’t missing as many shots as earlier in the season and he vows he eventually will hit jumpers.

“With myself and my teammates getting me the ball, it’s going to continue to grow,” he said of his offensive skill set. “Tonight, there were things I could do a lot better. I’ve been trying to get in the gym to get my jumpshot better. In due time, it will start going in.”

As long as he rebounds his misses, who cares?

— See what people were saying about KU’s rematch with the Cowboys during KUsports.com’s live coverage


More news and notes from the KU-OSU rematch




By the Numbers: Kansas 94, Oklahoma State 67

By the Numbers: Kansas 94, Oklahoma State 67

Comments

Suzi Marshall 3 years, 9 months ago

Lucas is converting Jayhawk Nation over to the value of signing intelligent, hard working good 3 star kids, who develop their games and a relationship to the university over a 3-5 year period instead of the Alexander 5-star types, who want to get out-of-town as quickly as possible.

Lucas can learn a page or two from this new #34 kid we have by throwing down some vicious dunks. I can hardly believe my eyes watching Ellis attacking the rim on a regular basis. Just think what that kind of attitude could do for Lucas when he gets the ball in close.

Jerry Walker 3 years, 9 months ago

Putting the cart ahead of the horse and looking at next year, the front court looks awesome.

With big Luc anchoring the middle...surrounded by Diallo, Bragg, Coleby and Azubuike...what a load!

Robert Moore 3 years, 9 months ago

We're watching a future coach as well as a player with the right attitude who is growing every week.

Suzi Marshall 3 years, 9 months ago

I've been saying that as well. If he gets into coaching, which he seems to be a natural for, we may be watching a future Kansas HC developing right before our eyes. But for now, he needs to develop his shot to hit consistently when left open and a bit more offensive aggression around the rim.

Keith Gellar 3 years, 9 months ago

we do this every year...beat up on the big 12. its the same narrative, ooh, the big 12 is the toughest conference, and we're beating them up like hot cakes and when tourney time comes, big 12 teams just fizzle out. we will see this year if it will be the same case.

One would think our performance vs big 12 teams is a good indication of how we will do in the tourney, but last few years haven't swung that way.

Mike Greer 3 years, 9 months ago

Interesting comment on the hope one has in the BigXII and the eventual disappointment in the tourney. I think, even though the SEC is not the premier conference in BB, that the mid season conference competition should be an indicator of who in the BigXII has serious tournament potential. At least it's a mid season game against a non conference opponent and that may be a better indication of how the teams are really doing in the bigger picture.

Timothy Rake 3 years, 9 months ago

We'll never win with Lucas! Bench Landon Lucas! Free Cheick Diallo! Fire Bill Self! Where have all the voices gone? Long time passing? Where have all the voices gone, long time, ago....

Cameron Cederlind 3 years, 9 months ago

You can't use current success to justify past playing time. Everyone is happy that Lucas has figured his game out recently but the criticism of his playing time early in the season was a legitimate concern when he wasn't producing at all. With him asserting his size and actually putting stats on the board, we now have a legit shot at the final four. We previously did not.

Timothy Rake 3 years, 9 months ago

And that game has developed because BS kept him on the court. Perhaps he knew something all us back-seat coaches didn't

Jared Reeves 3 years, 9 months ago

Timothy,

Are you suggesting that if BS kept Diallo or Bragg on the court (who have higher upside), they too would have developed to the same degree as Lucas? If so, I agree.

Earlier in the year, it seemed like Lucas had reached his potential. However, it is nice to see him continue to get better.

Cameron Cederlind 3 years, 9 months ago

Or perhaps he didn't, we don't know. The criticism for not giving Mickelson or Diallo more playing time was legitimate, don't dismiss it as nonsense now that Lucas has started to play better.

Allin Herring 3 years, 9 months ago

Lucas has really come on of late and I guess the watching and practice is paying off. In watching Diallo the the last 2 or three game I can see why Lucas is playing ahead of him as he really looks lost out there and is in need of a couple more years development. Mickelson needs to be playing before Diallo.

Harlan Hobbs 3 years, 9 months ago

Couldn't agree more with Robert and Suzi. One reason I like to listen to the post game shows on the radio is to hopefully hear Landon talk about the game. He is extremely articulate, comes from a strong background, and is a born leader. Just have to love his comments about smoozing the refs. This guy is really smart - - you know, the "flies and honey" analogy.

RJ King 3 years, 9 months ago

George Brett used to get chummy with the home plate umpires. Chatty, curious, polite, etc. Pretty sure it tightened up the strike zone for him just a tiny bit.

Kit Duncan 3 years, 9 months ago

Landen is in his fifth year at KU, having redshirted his freshman year. He understands the system and where he is expected to be on the court during set plays. He knows where to position himself to rebound and has learned (recently) how to block out without fouling. His ability to go strong to the basket on put backs and deep passes have improved remarkably over the last few games. Cheick and Carlton are just freshmen and have a long way to go before they will be able to accomplish all the things Landen does now. No doubt they should be studs next year if they stay for another season. Hunter and Jamari bring different skills but also do not appear to do all the things Landen does. My guess is, Landen won the job on the practice court and has shown he can bring it to the game. Play on Landen! Play on!

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 9 months ago

Lucas is still hurting us on offence but he is setting solid picks, clearing out the paint for our guards to penetrate and making hustle plays. If he could just stop rushing his shot and learn to shoot 5-7 feet from the basket (which I think he will work on this summer), it will be very tough for anyone to push him out of the starting rotation. Watching his development has really been fun. He should be a good role model for Lightfoot.

Udoka will learn a lot from watching Lucas's work ethic and will become a dominant force if he is willing to stick around 2-3 years. Really he will need three years. I think Diallo will move to the 4 with him and Bragg splitting the majority of the minutes available... unless Diallo listens to some extremely bad advice and jumps to the NBA.

One constant under Self: Hard Work Pays Off.

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