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Sunday, December 31, 2017

De Sousa making solid first impression with Jayhawks

Newcomer Silvio DeSousa talks with assistant coach Kurtis Townsend prior to tipoff against Texas on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

Newcomer Silvio DeSousa talks with assistant coach Kurtis Townsend prior to tipoff against Texas on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

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Silvio De Sousa's first official game as a Jayhawk featured a seat in the stands and a brand new, black warm-up suit.

Friday's Big 12 opener in Texas was not exactly the kind of debut De Sousa or the Jayhawks had hoped for when they learned just before Christmas that he would be eligible to join the team for the second semester. But rules are rules and even though De Sousa is with the team, he still must wait to be certified as an amateur athlete by the NCAA before competing in an actual game.

The NCAA is expected to review De Sousa's status for the first time as early as Tuesday, when the organization reopens following the holiday break and De Sousa likely will be able to suit up and play for the Jayhawks in the next week or so.

How much he will play when he does finally suit up depends on how quickly he picks up KU's system and how comfortable KU coach Bill Self is with putting him out there.

While the Jayhawks have had only a few practices to gauge what De Sousa can bring to the team, the early returns are full of praise.

“He's a good dude. I like him,” sophomore forward Mitch Lightfoot said before Sunday's practice. “He's got personality and he's a pretty smart kid from what I can tell, good on the court, too. Athletic, good body, knows how to play. I'm excited to see what he brings to the table.”

If there's one player on this 11th-ranked Kansas team who could be closer to lukewarm about the De Sousa addition, it would be Lightfoot, the current No. 2 big man in the rotation who figures to battle De Sousa for minutes in the months ahead.

But the sophomore from Gilbert, Arizona, who has logged 184 minutes in 13 games so far this season (14.2 per game) seemed genuinely excited about the added front court help when talking about De Sousa.

“Yeah, obviously I'm happy for the reinforcement,” Lightfoot said. “I mean, it's kind of hard to play when you only have seven guys. We were getting it done, but now that we have Silvio coming in and Sam (Cunliffe) came... who knows what can happen in the future, but I'm excited to have our squad out there.”

Lightfoot's selfless attitude came as no surprise to Self.

“Mitch'll handle whatever we throw at him,” Self said. “He's a great kid and he loves this place and he wants to win more than he wants to play. Not everybody's like that.”

Lightfoot has been that way from the day he officially became a Jayhawk, and that attitude is evident in everything he does and says. That's why he does not expect his role, approach or contribution to change much when De Sousa is in uniform.

“I kind of see it being the same thing,” Lightfoot said. “(Playing) that next spot and helping other bigs know what we're doing.”

Added Self: “I'm not sure Mitch's minutes will go down. I think it'll be the perimeter minutes that go down as much as anything.”

The reason? First, because Self always has preferred playing with two big men and three guards instead of one big man — in this case Udoka Azubuike — and four guards. Second, because Self believes Lightfoot's attitude and unending hustle are among the best on the team.

“He's a quality person and I'm so glad we have him,” Self said. “He frustrates me sometimes because I want him to do more in some ways, but it's not from lack of effort. It's more from lack of experience and opportunities.”

De Sousa or no De Sousa, don't expect Lightfoot's opportunity for playing time to go down any time soon, even if it doesn't go up either.

“We can play small. Last year we played small a lot, but it was primarily with Josh (Jackson) in the game,” Self said. “That's not small compared to this year's small. We're playing 40 minutes of small ball every game right now and it'd be nice if that could go to 20. With two additional players, I think it can.”

Garrett gets the nod again

After making just his second start of the season during Friday night's road win over Texas, freshman guard Marcus Garrett is expected to hold on to that spot for Tuesday's Big 12 home opener vs. Texas Tech.

Self said he was pleased with the way both Garrett and Malik Newman, who came off the bench, handled the switch and added that he was hopeful the change could help boost KU's bench production.

“We've been getting no offense off the bench,” Self said. “So if this is handled correctly and minds are right and it doesn't affect people (negatively), it could end up being kind of a bonus for us.”

Newman, who also has been bothered by an injured left foot, sat out Sunday's practice. Big man Udoka Azubuike, who played through back pain against Texas, also sat out Sunday. Both are expected to play Tuesday night.

Locker room changes

KU's home base has a new look. The main locker room door just off the tunnel that leads to the Allen Fieldhouse floor now sits 30 feet to the southeast, just around the corner from where it was.

Construction has been ongoing and is close to being finished.

“Yeah, we're upgrading our locker room clubhouse,” Self said. “Primarily, it's the lounge and the film room and that kind of stuff. The locker room will remain pretty much the same, but everything else will be upgraded and give us a lot of extra square footage.”

Happy 2018

With a game two days later and temperatures outside less than ideal for venturing out, at least one Jayhawk said he was happy to keep things low key during this year's New Year's Eve celebrations.

“It's suppposed to be like negative-25 wind chill so my butt will be right in the room,” Lightfoot said.

That's the kind of focus Self and the Jayhawks expect to have heading into the meat of their schedule. And it becomes especially important as Kansas tries to mix De Sousa and potentially Billy Preston into the mix in the coming weeks.

“I think we're going to be really good by the end,” Self said. “but I don't think we're going to be close to what we can be until February, and that's with everybody getting favorable outcomes.”

Bragg on the move again?

So maybe the Jayhawks won't face former Kansas forward Carlton Bragg Jr., during that return trip to Arizona State next season after all.

ESPN's Jeff Borzello and 247 Sports' Evan Daniels both Tweeted on Sunday evening that sources had indicated that Bragg was transferring from the ASU program.

The former McDonald's All-American who left KU last spring after two years with the Jayhawks joined the Sun Devils in the summer but spent very little time with the program, stepping away for personal reasons in late October.

Comments

Michael Sillman 3 weeks, 2 days ago

I wonder when Self will feel comfortable playing Cunliffe. He should be pretty game ready.

Town Thomas 3 weeks, 2 days ago

Cunliffe is good. However, I think Coach Self is allowing Malik and Marcus to play through their mistakes now. Their improvement is more urgent at the moment. Cunliffe will have the chance after that.

Marc Frey 3 weeks, 2 days ago

Certified as an amateur? Was he a pro at The Academy?

Dirk Medema 3 weeks, 1 day ago

Google Kanter, Enis for an example. Sounds like it will be easier for Silvio, but a required process none the less.

DiscGolfer Jason 3 weeks, 1 day ago

How long is it going to take the NCAA to verify his status? De Sousa will probably not play all this week.

Shannon Gustafson 3 weeks, 1 day ago

Nobody knows how long it will take the NCAA to do anything, not even the NCAA.

Marius Rowlanski 3 weeks, 1 day ago

He's been cleared to practice since 21 December. Should have already been done but as Shannon says not even the NCAA knows.

How long have we been waiting for a decision on Billy Preston?

Matt Tait 3 weeks, 1 day ago

It's my understanding that the NCAA has to interview him and check into his academic records in Angola. Could be quick. Could take a few days. Being fully eligible by TCU this weekend is certainly possible, but it could be a little longer before he's ready to actually check into a game.

Tony Bandle 3 weeks, 1 day ago

Happy New Year, everybody, and here are my New Year resolutions:

1] Stop thinking the NCAA has an ounce of competence, honor or professionalism.

2] Stop expecting to see Billy Preston in a KU uniform.

3] Believe that we will get that #14 Conference Title alhough it may be a shared one.

4] Pray that Bill Walton never does a KU broadcast again.

5] Await to see Dok and Silvio fight to get the same rebound at the same time.

6] Not throw any objects at the TV when Malik refuses to pass the ball and forces a shot.

7] Not lose my patience with Garrett while he goes through his learning curve.

8] Get to Allen Field House one more time before I die.

9] Be nice to everyone, obey the law, lose weight, etc, etc, etc.

10] Do my best not to be a total ass on this site and be thankful I am and always will be a Jayhawk.

Len Shaffer 3 weeks, 1 day ago

Well said, Tony -- ESPECIALLY NUMBER 4!!! I would actually PAY Bill Walton to go away and never do another KU broadcast (or any broadcast, for that matter; why should ANYONE be subjected to that idiot again).

I'm also with you on number 8. It's been a few years for me and I know I need to get there at least one more time.

As for number 6, I think Malik was like that at the beginning, but I've seen a lot of improvement, in that area at least. He still seems a long way from putting it together (whatever that means), but it doesn't seem like he's forcing it very much anymore.

In any event, number 10 sums it up best. Happy New Year to you and the rest of Jayhawk Nation.

Barry Weiss 3 weeks, 1 day ago

lol...Tony, number 6 made me laugh, on my list too!

Kent Richardson 3 weeks, 1 day ago

Always look forward to your posts. Thanks for being a regular contributor.

Dirk Medema 3 weeks, 1 day ago

Hopefully, the comments in this article put to rest the silliness about Mitch transferring. Such a treat to have him on the team. It is fun to see his game growing, and realize he has much more to offer in the years ahead.

Does it also seem like he's becoming the team spokesman? It seems like he is the person being quoted about whatever topic or other player on the team.

Marius Rowlanski 3 weeks, 1 day ago

Agree. Seems he is on everybody's transfer list. He's invested 2 solid years of work and continues to improve. Self rewards hard work and defense. He may lose some minutes but that's what team players do.

Allan Olson 3 weeks, 1 day ago

Very informative article on Mitch. For his two seasons he has been plugged into being a BIG. Not his best role given his talents away from the basket. I can see him redshirting next year to re-focus his game back to a small forward game for his final two seasons. In any event, certainly feel good about him staying a Jayhawk. Hopefully, his greatest contributions will be as a redshirt junior and senior.

Tony Bandle 3 weeks, 1 day ago

LIke . [ Is that how you agree with a comment these days? When it comes to technology, I'm in the period preceding the dinosaurs.}

DiscGolfer Jason 3 weeks, 1 day ago

It seems Bragg may never play again unless it's NAIA. It won't be D3 because that level does not offer scholarships.

Yonatan Negash 3 weeks, 1 day ago

It's unfortunate to hear about Carlton Bragg.

Had hoped things worked out for him at ASU.

It's obvious this kid has been misguided and that is unfortunate.

Humpy Helsel 3 weeks, 1 day ago

We KU FANatics, along with our media hype folks always get very excited about the latest and greatest. Granted, there have been a few exceptions (duh! Josh last year), but the reality is the latest and greatest take time to transition from shooters/scorers to all of the other stuff Coach expects and demands. Case in point, Marcus Garrett can't shoot a lick and he is starting because he came in understanding all of the other stuff and its importance. Did anyone notice the steal he had the other night on the feed to La Bamba (if I was the Texas band director this would be one of this year's pregame songs!)? If not, watch it again. It was a thing of beauty most miss because it occurred in a flash and illustrates why Self wants him out there. The play illustrates his sense of anticipation which also was on display on a cross court pass he got his hand on which went out of bounds. Also, where our other shooters kept trying to shoot over or distance from the big guy, Marcus goes right at not only La Bamba but another Texas player who both stepped aside and to avoid fouling. What does he do but goes under the basket using the rim as block protection. Really? From a Freshman? This kid is a thinker. I think he will be guarding Trae Young at least half of the time. As you listen to Coach's statements, if he gets Will It Go Round In Circles eligible, Sam integrated, and Silvio ready, we will be ready about Big XII tournament time. Can you win a 14th strait while you redesign a team during the conference season? It will take a bunch of 3's during the construction phase. I'd put the odds today of the 14th at no more than 50% (which is undefeated in conference at home). I'm glad Coach got a chance to hold the grand baby at Christmas because it may be the last time between now and April 1. It has a chance to be one of his greatest coaching achievements. He gets so much attention about his focus on fundamentals of the game, he doesn't get enough credit for his creative thinking/planning.

Kent Richardson 3 weeks, 1 day ago

He keeps on displaying that extra ability to steal an entry or kick out pass as you pointed out. Now we need more of his shown ability to close at the rim. I like him on Trae Young and also when Young does his long ahead and flip passes to the corner Marcus could get in Young's head a bit. Young gets careless when he tries too hard. Hopefully, by the time Young figures that out we will be rid of him at the college level. Also Cunliffe could slap Trae around or land on top of him a couple of times with extra fouls to give.

Love the clever musician BP references.

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