Svi Mykhailiuk has taken his act, in the past seen mostly in practice, and gone public with it. As a result, an already strong Kansas University basketball roster has become deeper, smoother, more dangerous.
Svi’s late-season surge equates to a contending Major League Baseball team adding a hired gun for the stretch run and postseason. A more consistent Johnny Cueto in sneakers.
Svi made all five of his three-point shots and led Kansas with 17 points in 23 minutes off the bench during Saturday's 67-58 victory against Texas Tech. A nine-game winning streak, 12 consecutive Big 12 titles, a hired gun joining the mix. Nobody will dispute KU’s No. 1 ranking when the Associated Press college basketball poll is released Monday.
“He looks like a pro,” KU coach Bill Self said. “I mean, he looks like a pro to me. The way he played at K-State, those were as good a plays, I mean looking plays, as anybody’s made for us this year. Jumping up shooting threes in transition, confident.”
Images from Saturday's game between the Jayhawks and Red Raiders at Allen Fieldhouse.
Svi’s smooth gait, speed, and classic jump-shot form have hinted at future production, but the shots didn’t start dropping with any consistency until recently. He used to look like a good prospect. Now he looks like a good Big 12 player, too.
He has made 9 of 11 three-pointers in the past three games, including victories at Kansas State and at Baylor.
When Svi plays with the sort of confidence he has of late, it’s difficult to remember that the 6-foot-8-inch sophomore from Cherkasy, Ukraine, is 18. When he plays tentatively, he looks even younger.
He definitely has played with more aggressiveness of late and had no trouble identifying the source of his growing confidence.
“It’s always making shots and playing good defense,” Svi said. “When you make shots, you’re more confident. And when you play good defense, it makes you more comfortable and gives you more energy.”
Svi has the skill to take advantage of screens as both a shooter and passer, hitting the screener rolling toward the hoop with good timing.
“When he’s knocking down shots, defenders will be on him and it will be key to him making great passes,” senior Perry Ellis said.
Nobody has a better feel for a player's talent than a teammate, which is why no one who practices with and against Mykhailiuk daily is surprised with his breakthrough.
Kansas basketball coach Bill Self discusses his team's home win over Texas Tech, which sealed up at least a share of the program's 12th regular-season Big 12 championship in a row.
“We always believed in Svi,” junior Frank Mason III said. “Every day, even in practice, we would tell him to keep his confidence, tell him he’s a great player, great shooter, to try to keep him going, because we know he’s a huge part of our team.”
So is Brannen Greene, who gives Self not only another option at wing, but the chance to use Greene to back up Ellis, or even someone who can play alongside him for stretches against teams with smaller lineups.
Six of the eight players averaging double-digit minutes for the Jayhawks (25-4) boast high three-point percentages: Greene (.537), Ellis (.462), Devonté Graham (.423, same as the team’s percentage), Wayne Selden Jr. (.409), Mason (.393) and Mykhailiuk (.388).
Kansas basketball players Frank Mason III, Perry Ellis and Svi Mykhailiuk meet with reporters after the Jayhawks earned at least a share of KU's 12th consecutive Big 12 title with a win over Texas Tech.
Svi led the way but was not solely responsible for the bench's strong contribution on a day the starters needed the help. Jamari Traylor and Chieck Diallo combined for nine rebounds and three blocked shots in 26 minutes.
Things are rounding into shape in timely fashion for Kansas, whose coach is forever mindful of means to ensure his players remain hungry.
— Sports editor Tom Keegan appears on The Drive at10:30 p.m. every Sunday on WIBW-TV.
— See what people were saying about Kansas vs. Texas Tech during KUsports.com’s live coverage