Sunday, February 19, 2017


Tom Keegan: Vick stock up, Svi stock down last week

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) signals to his teammates after hitting his second three of the half during the first half, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) signals to his teammates after hitting his second three of the half during the first half, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.


All the chatter surrounding the Kansas basketball team has centered on its incredible finishes, which hasn’t left room for much talk about who starts.

That's just fine with Kansas coach Bill Self, who is famous for saying that who finishes the game has far more importance than who starts it. That's difficult to argue, but a pride factor that makes starting important to athletes does enter the equation at some level.

Carlton Bragg started the first five games at power forward, but played his way onto the bench and Self shifted to a four-guard lineup.

Once Udoka Azubuike was lost for the season with a wrist injury shortly before the start of conference play, any suspense as to which center Self would send to the circle vanished and Landen Lucas has started every game since.

The team revolves around leading scorers and ball-handlers Frank Mason, Devonte’ Graham and Josh Jackson.

That leaves just one other spot. Lagerald Vick filled it in the first five games in which Self used the four-guard lineup. Svi Mykhailiuk replaced him and has started 17 games in a row.

Self doesn’t drop hints when he makes a change in his starting lineup, and with Kansas holding onto a three-game lead with four games remaining in the Big 12 race, an argument could be made that since nothing’s broken, nothing needs fixing.

Yet, nobody should be shocked if Self wants to see what inserting Vick back into the starting lineup might do for his rising confidence.

Vick scored 14 points in Monday’s overtime victory against No. 9 West Virginia and had eight points and six rebounds in Saturday’s two-point victory at Baylor. He made 3 of 6 3-pointers in the same week that Svi made 1 of 7.

“I thought he played great,” Self said of Vick after the victory at Baylor.

Josh Jackson said after that game that Vick is, "doing some great things that don’t always show up in the stat book. Without him today, we wouldn’t have won that game.”

Vick has his focus in the right place when the game starts with him on the bench.

“I’ve been able to see what type of defenses they’re in, when I should shoot, when I should drive,” he said. “I’m looking at the other guys and see what they’re not doing and what I can do to help gain another possession, or get a big rebound.”

Vick is a more capable defender and rebounder, but not as skilled a passer as Svi, who is shooting .412 from three, compared to Vick's .377. It's worth wondering whether regaining starter status might spike Vick's confidence.


Steve Zimmerman 2 years, 6 months ago

We should use Vick's leaping ability more often. This guy can fly. He should also try to penetrate more, and should be getting to the FT line with his athleticism. His 3s can be lethal once he's got his confidence going.

Marius Rowlanski 2 years, 6 months ago

Vick has amazing jumping abilities. He has put in several top 10 quality slams after getting a rebound down low. I agree that he should drive the ball more often as he shoots a very solid 85% from the free-throw line.

The only downside I see with Vick is that his confidence tends to waiver but as Self continues to allow him to play through his mistakes, I don't see that being a major problem in the future.

If Vick continues to progress as he did from his freshman season to his sophomore season, I believe he can become a very special player at Kansas.

Suzi Marshall 2 years, 6 months ago

Mykailiuk should remain the starter because he has much better ball skills, defensive ability and a higher BBall IQ. However, Svi has been in a bit of a defensive slump, especially his on-ball defense, but his help defense remains good. Nevertheless, Vick does have much better athletic ability and should have the higher ceiling. I'm just very thankful we have them both!!!

Joe Joseph 2 years, 6 months ago

I'm interested in the metric you are using to measure BBall IQ.....

Suzi Marshall 2 years, 6 months ago

Perhaps it's just that Svi knows the system better since he has had 3 years vs this being Vick's first of extended PT.

Mike Greer 2 years, 6 months ago

I too am very glad to have them both, and I'm not sure who should be starting, there are ups and downs to that one, however, I'm not sure right now I can agree with your evaluation. Svi had been the hotter shooter, but that as noted in the article has not been the case the past couple of games or more. He has a year's more experience defending, but I think Vick's athletic ability allows him to defend fairly well and again, recently, Svi has been at least a step behind on defense. Svi may have better ball skills, but he's made some very bad passes and turnovers in past few games, so I'm not sure how you arrive at ". . . much better ball skills. . . " Vick has been the better rebounder and has had more energy of late and as Steve mentioned "This guy can fly."

Starter or not, he has certainly earned more playing time these past few weeks. Maybe his mind has cleared, unlike that of Bragg who seems to still be struggling.

Marius Rowlanski 2 years, 6 months ago

Whoever Self chooses to start doesn't really make that much of a difference. As Self stated, it's more important to be on the court at the end of the game.

I'm not sure about how to measure BBall IQ. Obviously, Jackson is an amazing talent but where would you rate his BBall IQ? Experience definitely makes a difference but so does athleticism. Svi has the edge in experience but Vick is the better athlete.

John Randall 2 years, 6 months ago

I still think of Svi...liuk as the skinny kid from Ukraine, even though he has reached the age of a college freshman. I do believe fatigue is becoming a bigger factor in his play –– this has been a grueling season. The use of a few minutes of zoneD helps, but he could use a 'breather' oftener than we've been getting him one. Being a half step slow is as much mental as physical – his anticipation suffers. Same is true of turnovers.

Lagerald's take on using bench time to scout opponents makes me see leaving the starting assignment as is, still using Vick to provide spot relief for Frank, Devonté, Josh as well as fill more minutes for the youngest, deadliest Jayhawk. We need them all, hopefully without foul problems.

Len Shaffer 2 years, 6 months ago

Good point, John. It reminds me of when Sherron had the possibility of starting but stayed on the bench and was a sparkplug (I believe that was in '07), and Sherron also referred to learning what the other team was doing by watching from the bench.

Dirk Medema 2 years, 6 months ago

'07-'08 Behind RussRob & Mario in particular, though also to a lesser extent the year before as a freshman.

Barry Weiss 2 years, 6 months ago

This is a close one. I would probably leave Svi in, but his defense has been off the last 3-4 games. Couple that with a bit of a shooting slump and one can see why Vick is getting the call more often now, and responding well. All this Svi and Graham to the NBA talk is lost in the fog now, and I'm glad! Those two will be key components in our run for number 14 next year! John Wooden approves this message.

Andy Godwin 2 years, 6 months ago

As Self has always empasized, it doesn't matter who starts but who finishes.

David Robinett 2 years, 6 months ago

Seems like both coach and his teammates have been getting on to Svi for being out of place defensively recently.

Glen Miller 2 years, 6 months ago

Svi is reeling and I wonder if the fact that Vick is playing well and he's not is starting creep into the back of his mind a bit. He hasn't shot well the last couple games and his defense has been atrocious. Teams are driving the ball right at him and he's just not able to keep up. You can see the wind blow right out of his sails when he makes a bad play or two and then he tightens up, creating compounded mistakes. Self has had a quick trigger lately with Svi as well (honestly, rightfully so). All of this adds up to confidence issues in my opinion. He has the talent, but I have often wondered about his confidence. once he gets in a funk, he's there for a while typically.

Marius Rowlanski 2 years, 6 months ago

I agree with everything you posted but as someone stated earlier, I think fatigue may be the biggest issue. Vick also lets his confidence waiver if he gets off to a slow start but at least now, Self isn't yanking him off the court for making a mental mistake.

Jonathan Allison 2 years, 6 months ago

opposing offenses have definitely been attacking Svi in isolation matchups lately. They have seemed to be targeting him by getting KU to switch him onto a faster guard and then attempting to beat him off the dribble.

This is not surprising, but what it really emphasizes to me is just how valuable Josh Jackson has been for us this year. He has shown the ability to lock down the quickest guards in the league. He has denied the ball to some overpowering post players. And he has proven that he is always a threat to strip the ball away regardless of the position of the offensive player.

Where opposing offenses want to take advantage to Svi. They clearly fear Josh.

Kit Duncan 2 years, 6 months ago

Every team has a weak link. Svi appears to be that link, and is certainly being targeted by opposing offenses. Does that make him a bad defender? No. Refs aren't calling many moving screens lately and I believe Svi has been caught several times trying to go under a screen rather than over the top. He is not as able to go over a screen as are Mason, Graham and Vick. Therefore, he tends to get caught by a screener who many times is still moving with the ball handler. I have also seen the offside defender on a number of occasions slide in to try to disrupt the ball handler's move to the basket only to have that defender collide with Svi, leaving an open path to the basket for the ball handler. I'm not sure if that would be Svi's fault or the other defender or just chalk it up to good scouting on the part of opposing coaches.

Marius Rowlanski 2 years, 6 months ago

If there is a weak spot on this team, it certainly isn't Svi. He may not have played well over the last 3 games but he is averaging 10.2 points per game, shooting 41% from the three-point line and playing 28 minutes per game.

If there is a weak spot, I would look at our front court players.

Dirk Medema 2 years, 6 months ago

Our front court players are Lucas and Jackson, or are you comparing a starter with players coming off the bench. Except for Vick as mentioned here, yes there is a drop off when going to non-starters.

Svi has been good on the year, but he has also been out of position or late on some noticeable situations lately. I think he like the others will all do well to see the subs play more the next 2 weeks regardless of where the games are.

Humpy Helsel 2 years, 6 months ago

They both have had ups and downs this season. One hot and one cold. They both have had their moments. Both are getting lots of minutes. I think Coach can figure this one out.

James Donnell 2 years, 6 months ago

Whether Vick is the fifth or sixth "starter," it doesn't really matter. Hopefully Svi will get it going again but regardless, Vick is going to get a lot of minutes. It is just great to see him come on strong, particularly wth our limited depth. He has been very impressive lately--stroking his shot, driving it (that up and under scoop against Baylor was beautiful), etc. He may very well be that X factor we will need come tournament time. Because his ceiling does seem to be high, what we are going to see and get from him is a bit of an unknown. We basically know what the other guys are capable of doing, since they are all pretty consistent (and consistently great most of the time). I will qualify that statement a little since Jackson seems to be getting a little more amazing each game (scary thought for our opponents)--we might not see his peak until April 3rd!!!

Lance Hobson 2 years, 6 months ago

4th attempt. LJW, I can't read or post with all of the popups stealing the page.

Dirk Medema 2 years, 6 months ago

We need them both to warm up in March/April. It seems to me that the grind has gotten to Svi, as well as Mason and Graham lately. Hopefully, Vick, Bragg, and even Mitch and Dwight can play more minutes in the next 2 weeks so the starters can gain a 2nd wind for the home stretch.

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