Sunday, December 10, 2017

Tom Keegan: Jayhawks missing scoring spark off the bench

Kansas forward Mitch Lightfoot (44) catches a chop to the face from Arizona State guard Shannon Evans II (11) while pulling in a rebound during the second half, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse. At left is Arizona State forward Romello White.

Kansas forward Mitch Lightfoot (44) catches a chop to the face from Arizona State guard Shannon Evans II (11) while pulling in a rebound during the second half, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse. At left is Arizona State forward Romello White.


With no Josh Jackson on the scene to come to the defensive rescue of blown-by teammates and no Landen Lucas to lend timely help, Kansas has more defensive vulnerabilities than is typically the case.

But it’s more than that. Fatigue brought on by high minutes for key starters makes it tougher for the starters to play consistent defense. Plus, the lack of a bench means if someone’s going to get hot and carry the team back from a deficit, it’s not going to be a reserve.

Arizona State defeated Kansas, 95-85, Sunday at Allen Fieldhouse in part because it has something Kansas lacks: A sixth man capable of bringing a fresh presence at both ends of the court, not just defensively.

Sun Devils freshman guard Remy Martin did that loudly and in many ways was the difference in the game.

Martin outscored the Kansas bench, 21-1, and contributed a game-high five steals in 32 minutes. He applied ball pressure that played as big a part as anyone in forcing 16 KU turnovers.

“I think he’s terrific,” KU coach Bill Self said of Martin. “I think he’s the perfect guard off the bench. He’ll end up starting three years I’m sure, but he’s the perfect guard off the bench to change the pace or give you a spark.”

A 6-foot, 170-pound jet from Chatsworth, California ranked 128th by Rivals in the Class of 2017, Martin drove aggressively to the hoop, as did the rest of ASU’s guards, and made 8 of 11 field goals. He made both of his 3-point shots on a day the Sun Devils (9-0) made 14 of 28.

Martin gave his team what nobody has been able to give Kansas off the bench.

KU freshman Marcus Garrett is a better defender than scorer at this point in his career. Garrett and backup center Mitch Lightfoot were the only reserves to get in the game for Kansas. Both players are averaging 4.7 points per game.

The five starters — Lagerald Vick (18.7 points per game), Devonte’ Graham (16.9), Svi Mykhailiuk (15.8), Udoka Azubuike (13.9) and Malik Newman (11.6) — all average in double figures.

“Marcus has played decent so far, but we’re playing five guys who can score at all,” Self said. “You actually need them in the game when you’re behind. It’s hard when defenses can kind of go to Devonte’ or Svi or Gerald and not have to really play a couple of guys.”

Kansas can’t make a trade for Martin to enliven the bench, but the Jayhawks can get a boost from a player who started 10 games for the Sun Devils a year ago.

Sam Cunliffe is on pace to join the Jayhawks in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Saturday when KU takes on the Cornhuskers.

A high-flying, 6-foot-6, 200-pound forward from Seattle, Cunliffe averaged 9.5 points and shot .405 from 3 for the Sun Devils before transferring at the semester.

How often Cunliffe will be on the court to give the Jayhawks a scoring spark will depend on how well he defends. As tough as things are going at that end for KU, Self isn’t going to want to add to the defensive vulnerabilities if Cunliffe isn’t ready to help there.

If Cunliffe can hold his own defensively, he’s capable of giving Kansas part of what it’s missing. It’s not the part that either Billy Preston or Silvio De Sousa could bring, but he represents a start in fortifying a too-shallow roster.

More news and notes from Kansas vs. Arizona State

By the Numbers: Arizona State 95, Kansas 85.

By the Numbers: Arizona State 95, Kansas 85.


Barry Weiss 3 years, 4 months ago

Conference play is going to be just like the last two games, so we better get our act together pronto, or the streak will end.

Robert Brock 3 years, 4 months ago

KU just allowed its opponent 95 points in Allen Fieldhouse. The issue is about defense. Can anybody play this game?

Allan Olson 3 years, 4 months ago

Also yesterday Wash-U played their next game since the Sprint Center ass-wupping. Lost at home to Gonzaga 97 - 70. Gonzaga's 3 BIGS scored 46 points, so no problem with that zone defense. When will we ever see Preston, etc.?

Allan Olson 3 years, 4 months ago

Forgot to include versus U-DUB...KU BIGS [incl. Young] had 16 points. My prediction is that Dok better stay for all 4 years because the last 15 months have been a bust. He will be in the NBA when its 1975 again and he loses 30 more pounds.

Craig Carson 3 years, 4 months ago

Azibuike is a bit raw, but to say these last 15 months have been a bust is a gross over exaggeration...what did you expect him to become in 15 months, Shaq, Patrick Ewing, Tim Duncan ect....? I agree that he should stay at least another year, but he isnt a bust..

Allan Olson 3 years, 4 months ago

Hey I know his injured wrist cost him most of last season's games and practices. Then extended through last summer. Further, I know he's just 18 years old. However, I'd settle for him playing as well as Clay Young does more than 4 feet from the basket. He cannot seem to move his body sideways without much time and thought. And, just watch on defense, he only secures rebounds that come perfectly to him. He does make me long for Landon, who was much more advanced as a sophomore.

Steve Johnson 3 years, 4 months ago

Worse team I have seen in 10 plus years. Soft, Weak, No Defense, Slow, Passive, Mentality all are terms that come into play. No bench makes it worse. 3 of the 5 starters should be backups and the others including Garrett, Lightfoot should be playing in Junior college. Next year looks much better

RJ King 3 years, 4 months ago

Wow. Things are oversized in Texas. Including hyperbole.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 4 months ago

We have ONE post player who will be a draft pick one day but for now, he is being asked to do things far beyond his current abilities. Preston not only let himself down but he let the entire team down for a $20,000 car. He should transfer before spring break and hopefully still find a way into the NBA. Actions have consequences but in this case they affect the entire team.

Steve Zimmerman 3 years, 4 months ago

Garrett and Mitch are better on defense. But at this point, teams that are running & gunning win..oh, and playing Zone-D against us. If we don't have answer on Offense, might as well forget about this season. Mind that ASU just played a couple days ago, then they had to travel to KU. They're 7-man rotation, too. I think they have better stamina than our boys.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 4 months ago

Self is called this team the softest team since his first year. The difference is Self recruited every player on this team. Instead of loading up on transfers, maybe finding a few bigs to help out this year. Marcus Garrett started off like he was going to be the next Vick but since then, his confidence and play have regressed and our only other recruit, put himself I had of the team.

I am not giving up yet on this team but it's laid 2 eggs in a row and with conference play coming around, something was change for the streak ends this year. All streaks end but I would've liked to see us alone on the top of consecutive conference championships.

RJ King 3 years, 4 months ago

Self also recruited Bragg - in the #30's and looking like a 3 year player. Remember his freshman year when he was so likable and showed so much promise? Coleby's injury turned out a lot worse than prognosis, and he walks away. We pick up Whitman for insurance, and he flakes out. Self didn't give Preston the car.

Indeed, Self recruited them all, but he is not clairvoyant. Those players collectively share the blame for our lack of balance and bench.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 4 months ago

No disagreement RJ. Self is not clairvoyant but I can't remember any other time that we had so much trouble with eligibility issues. Self recruits first on ability as do 99% of every other Division I program.

When Bragg committed, I was ecstatic as he was our first recruit that year but his issues extended from on the court to off the court. I don't know how to recruit character other than past behavior and gut feelings but I'm not a Division I coach either.

Allan Olson 3 years, 4 months ago

I have been wondering why Preston even contact Self about the accident. He must be pretty dense to rat on himself with the smoking gun still in his hand. Just handle the car problem on your won, after all you are an "adult" with free will!

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 4 months ago

What would be the repercussions if the NCAA found out later that Preston was ineligible even if no one else on the team knew at the time?

Tom Jones 3 years, 4 months ago

Games get scrapped if he's ineligible. What the Athletic Department "knew" at the time is just ammo for stronger penalties on top.

Craig Carson 3 years, 4 months ago

Marius..lets be fair to Self..the lack of front court players is NOT, I repeat NOT his fault..KU had 5 front court players heading into the season..FIVE!!!...3 cowardly transferred out and 1, Preston, is being held out..those transfers happened late in the recruiting Self and his staff no time to scurry out and find any decent size that wasnt already signed...6'10 guys dont grow on trees LOL..this season issues have just come down to bad year will be much much better

Bryce Landon 3 years, 4 months ago

I'd be curious to know what the coaches and players are actually doing with their time when they're supposed to be preparing for big games. When you get pounded by one team, that's one thing. When you get pounded back-to-back games - and both games take place at home (well, Sprint Center isn't technically home, but it may as well have been) - then it's time to ask what's really going on during practice time. It doesn't sound like they're using their time wisely at all.

Jerry Walker 3 years, 4 months ago

jajaja...another crackerjack from the peanut gallery who thinks he knows more about running a practice than coach Self.

Bryce Landon 3 years, 4 months ago

Hey idiot, the results of what's going in practice are showing, and its time to demand accountability for the lack of preparation for two opponents we should have defeated.

Jerry Walker 3 years, 4 months ago

Maybe if you're multi-talented you could drop by coach Beaty's office on your way to see coach Self. Maybe even think about a book deal...self-help books are always in big demand.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 4 months ago

I have no idea what happens in practice and I doubt there are many outside the program that do. This team seems to be missing something that past teams have been able to overcome.

Are we lacking in talent, motivation, too many transfers or something else? Self has had a few years in which we got off to a slow start but he usually finds a way to make things work out but he has his work cut out for him this year.

Jerry Walker 3 years, 4 months ago

Nah, I'll just skip the inanity of the conversation about telling coach Self how to run his practices.

RJ King 3 years, 4 months ago

"Their time"? You mean the shortened practice time because they are fatigued? Pretty judgmental for someone with no actual insight. "It's time to ask what's really going on during practice?"

How about assuming they are trying to patch and compensate here and there for the lack of a Bragg, Coleby, Whitman, and Preston. Or maybe Self just sits in the stands and reads while the players try to clone themselves.

Bryce Landon 3 years, 4 months ago

Shockingly, Kansas is still ranked in the Top 15 of the new AP poll - #13 to be precise.

David McNickle 3 years, 4 months ago

Shows you what sportswriters know. This is a Top 25 team at best. Nebraska will give the Hawks everything they want. When's the last time KU lost 3 in row?

RJ King 3 years, 4 months ago

when they were called the Topeka YMCA.

Ray Winger 3 years, 4 months ago

Gray....How is it that Arizona players were wearing gray uniforms against a gray background....This should be illegal...BB is played very much using peripheral vision. Professional Baseball is very much interested in the background and sleeves of pitchers, shouldn't the same apply to other sports? How often was quickness of an opposing guard hidden by a gray uniform against a gray background? Someone with authority should protest and make sure this doesn't happen again!!!

Barry Weiss 3 years, 4 months ago

they need to sheet or get off the pot on Preston!

Bradley Sitz 3 years, 4 months ago

This group of individuals will be difficult to mold into a team capable of winning conference games. First, they are too physically soft. This group refuses to take charges; they are never on the court going after 50/50 balls; they refuse to hit the offensive boards; they never set screens; they do not go to the hole with any aggression - which is why they never get to the free throw line. They must have a safe space lounge attached to their locker room. And, they are coached by an individual who, despite making $5 mil per year, seems incapable of taking corrective action during the game. I mean, why not try a basic motion offense or go to some form of zone defense since your team, especially #10, are incapable of playing man defense. Only hope is that they can shoot better than 50% from 3 point and are successful lobbying over other teams playing poor defense,

Mike Greer 3 years, 4 months ago

Worthless i-pad, can't reply to a post. According to previous articles Preston registered the car with the athletic department, so they knew he had it. The question then becomes, why didn't they investigate back in August? Perhaps it would have been cleared up by now. Maybe it's only a violation if you wreck it. Ha.

Coach plays these things close to the vest and by the book, so I don't look for an update until it's resolved, one way or the other.

Mike Kendall 3 years, 4 months ago

Coach Self hinted in his post-game interview of maybe playing a match up zone defense. Mmmmmm--could we see one at Nebraska?

Commenting has been disabled for this item.