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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Kansas to prepare for Kentucky game without Bragg

Sophomore forward suspended Thursday for 'violation of team rules'

Kansas forward Carlton Bragg Jr. (15) defends against UNLV guard Kris Clyburn (1) during the first half, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016 at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

Kansas forward Carlton Bragg Jr. (15) defends against UNLV guard Kris Clyburn (1) during the first half, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016 at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

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An already bad week for the Kansas men’s basketball program got worse Thursday night, when KU coach Bill Self announced that sophomore forward Carlton Bragg Jr. had been suspended indefinitely, effective immediately.

Self said in a news release that Bragg’s suspension was not connected to the reported rape at McCarthy Hall in December, the on-campus men’s basketball apartment building that opened a year and a half ago.

“Carlton is suspended for a violation of team rules,” Self said in a statement. “This violation is not connected to the alleged incident in McCarthy Hall on December 17th.”

The suspension is the second slapped on Bragg in the last 50 days and adds another dismal chapter to a sophomore season that has been a far cry from what many expected from the 6-foot-10 Cleveland native who was a McDonald’s All-American and five-star recruit coming out of high school.

Bragg’s first suspension, which cost him one game, was the result of his involvement in a misdemeanor battery case in early December. He was initially arrested but ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing when a surveillance video surfaced that showed Bragg acted in self-defense.

With Bragg expected to miss this weekend’s game at No. 4 Kentucky — 5:15 p.m. Saturday at Rupp Arena in Lexington — and possibly longer, the Jayhawks’ already short-handed lineup becomes paper thin.

Since the start of the year, Self had settled in on giving most of the minutes to just seven players. With Bragg and his 6.1 points and 4.8 rebounds in 15 minutes per game being one of those, KU’s bench now consists of just one player who has logged consistent minutes this season, sophomore guard Lagerald Vick.

Freshman forward Mitch Lightfoot has operated as the Jayhawks’ eighth man during recent weeks, but Lightfoot has played double-digit minutes just one time this season (14 vs. UMKC in early December) and is averaging 4.3 minutes per game in 15 games this season.

Lightfoot’s eight minutes on the floor during Tuesday’s loss at West Virginia matched his total playing time in the Jayhawks’ previous seven games combined.

Lightfoot and junior Dwight Coleby both stand to see an increase in minutes and the possibility exists that the Jayhawks also will look to play more zone defense to protect starting forward Landen Lucas and allow the length of players like Josh Jackson, Svi Mykhailiuk and Vick help them survive on the defensive end.

"We want to play man," Self said earlier Thursday, several hours before announcing Bragg's suspension. "But the reality of it is, with our depth situation and certain things and maybe depending on how they're shooting the ball that day or whatnot, it may dictate that we play some zone."

Asked after Tuesday’s loss to WVU how it felt to play extended minutes and how he managed to handle limited playing time so far this season, Lightfoot provided an answer that now rings more true than ever.

“I gotta be ready all the time now and (that) helps me because I’ve gotta be engaged,” he said. “Even in the games I don’t play in I’m still engaged, trying to figure out ways to help. I’m just gonna try to do whatever I can when I’m off the court or on the court so when I go in I’m ready.”

Lightfoot, a 6-8, 210-pound forward from Gilbert, Arizona, who has shown an abundance of poise and confidence when he has taken the floor, said he had total faith in his head coach to bring him along.

“Like coach says, reps are gonna help me get better and I believe him,” Lightfoot said. “He’s been here and done this before and he knows way more about it than I do. So I’m just gonna trust him. He knows best. And when I’m out there I’m gonna give it everything I’ve got for us to win — rebounding, defending, whatever he needs.”

Comments

Tim Orel 2 years, 5 months ago

I am looking forward to Lightfoot becoming the second coming of Cole Aldrich - the best surprise pretty much out of nowhere. Now, if we could just get him another four inches and about forty pounds, but that's on Hudy...

It's also Coleby's turn to shine. I'm looking forward to him getting untracked. We've seen glimpses - it's go time or #13 can't be reached.

Aaron Paisley 2 years, 5 months ago

Cole Aldrich was a McDonald's All-American in HS, that's not coming from out of nowhere.

RJ King 2 years, 5 months ago

another four inches is on Hudy? She must have some sort of barbaric stretching contraption of which we are unaware . . .

Jay Scott 2 years, 5 months ago

Hopefully for Bragg this is just a dust up over the total failure of the coaching staff to allow him to develop and not academics or some other issue.

Now we can see how effectively a freshman and and questionably healed transfer who have been given no opportunity can replace a top recruit who has been given no chance.

KJ Quartermaine 2 years, 5 months ago

You're "hopeful" most likely because you spent 24-7 attacking anybody who called for Bragg to be booted from the team after his run-in with the crazy ex. Now that it looks like Bragg could be more than Self ever bargained for, you're now backpedaling on what a class citizen you think he his. I don't have a clue what the suspension is about, but it can't be good. He was given a new lease on KU basketball life, and a month later he finds him suspended yet again. And your response is to blame the coaching staff?

Jay Scott 2 years, 5 months ago

You're a little behind on the Bragg discussion.....catch up and then try again.

Brett McCabe 2 years, 5 months ago

The Kentucky game is a gift - a break from conference play while Self and staff figure out how to reset the team for the back-half of conference play - this game couldn't come at a better time. If ever there was a moment for a group of guys to rally together, this is it.

On a related issue, maybe this helps Vick step up and get more focused and more consistent. Stories last year suggested that he and Carlton were running-buddies, maybe the Carlton fog had impacted Lagerald's vision too?

Though I would never wish this set of circumstances on a team (Coleby's slow return, Udoka's injury, Carlton's suspension) it's actually going to be fun to watch how the staff and players respond. How do you make a top-ten basketball team the underdog cheer for? This is it.

John Strayer 2 years, 5 months ago

Huh??? A very depleted KU squad on the road against a fellow blue blood program...on national TV. Yeah...I see how it could be a great time for this game.

RJ King 2 years, 5 months ago

Vick has never appeared unfocused to me. Last year there were little minutes available. Consistency will likely pan out this year due to more minutes.

Brett McCabe 2 years, 5 months ago

I wasn't talking about last year. Maybe you don't read the articles, or watch the games, where Vick's focus and intensity has been inconsistent and observed.

RJ King 2 years, 5 months ago

Actually I tivo the games and sometimes watch many plays 3 or 4 times to see how they developed - how different players either did or did not contribute to the play.

Read the articles? Maybe you don't know me, or what I do, or with whom I live and work. I stated that Vick has never appeared unfocused to me. To Me. (to me.)

Joe Joseph 2 years, 5 months ago

Can we get a percentage wheel in regards to what happens with Carlton Bragg after this season?

30% he returns to KU 20% he transfers 50% he declares for the draft

Ya know, something like that?

Brett McCabe 2 years, 5 months ago

Matt's asleep, so here it is:

Transfer: 99% Other: 1%

Transfer where? My money is on a Big East team.

Jay Scott 2 years, 5 months ago

I agree completely. Wow. Awesome! I'll even narrow it to...Creighton.

For his sake I wish he'd transferred 40 days ago. He's an NBA talent.

Barry Weiss 2 years, 5 months ago

I don't know Joe, with all due respect, I don't think there is any way He would be drafted in the NBA with his body of work for 1.5 years. Don't get me wrong, I like the kid and want him to be a 4 year Jayhawk, but he has not shown near the performance to get even close to the second round, if you ask me. This is just another blow to the team. Two articles on ESPN out of about 8, both dealing with KU.

Joe Joseph 2 years, 5 months ago

By "declaring for the draft" I simply mean to imply that he will play professional basketball next year. Whether that be NBA, D-League, or international.

Barry Weiss 2 years, 5 months ago

Oh, I understand. Ya, I think he has the skill set to play beyond college, its just been a rough year for him combined with coach needing him to play a role different from last year. I hope whatever caused this suspension is not serious.

RJ King 2 years, 5 months ago

How about we wait and see what this is all about? None of us have any idea as this point.

Brett McCabe 2 years, 5 months ago

Because it's a discussion board. This what we do.

Dan Wasserman 2 years, 5 months ago

In my opinion, Bragg is very frustrated with his role. I think he envisioned himself as more of a wing player with more opportunities to shoot and drive from the perimeter. He doesn't look comfortable trying to catch the ball down low and turning and shooting.

I don't see him coming back next year. He'll most likely test the NBA waters.

If you're 6'8 and above, plan on playing in Self's hi-low offense, unless of course you have incredible skills like a Josh Jackson.

Brett McCabe 2 years, 5 months ago

It does seem a little like a square peg in a round hole.

Robert Brock 2 years, 5 months ago

Bragg just doesn't fit in. May I recommend Toledo, Ball State, or Central Michigan.

David Robinett 2 years, 5 months ago

Jay, you must have failed to put on your sarcasm font because I cannot believe you're actually agreeing with Brett.

Jay Scott 2 years, 5 months ago

Gotta give props when they're due. Fair is fair.

Dale Rogers 2 years, 5 months ago

To me, the obvious key at this point is staying out of foul trouble. And we all probably can figure out that teams will do their darndest to initiate contact resulting in fouls on us. For that reason, our guys are going to try to avoid fouling even more than normal, meaning defense will suffer even more and aggressive offense may also suffer. The only hope I can see is that Lightfoot and/or Coleby come around quickly to fill the voids. Yes, plural voids. I think we really need one of them to exceed expectations by a bunch and the other to help out significantly. Without it, this season is going to fall far below what I initially thought it had a chance to be.

Chandler Accipiter 2 years, 5 months ago

Does Carlton still get to participate in the annual players only meeting? Because I have a feeling it's coming up soon. This year's theme is "Let's get our stories straight."

Brett McCabe 2 years, 5 months ago

Drug story just posted. Seriously guys, smoke a joint, pitch the roach. No need to have hardware in your room. Amateurs.

Barry Weiss 2 years, 5 months ago

"IF" Carlton is the person in this drug offense, I think he will be gone. I don't know the history of other players that may have had this problem or how they were dealt with. Don't get me wrong, I think weed and basketball players goes together like PB&J, but that's just me.

Joe Joseph 2 years, 5 months ago

It's Bragg. And players have gotten in trouble for weed before, but I don't think there's ever been legal trouble stemming from said weed. Self's decision will establish precedent within his program, so I imagine he'll tread cautiously and probably suspend him for several games. How many games did Morningstar get for drinking and driving? BM didn't get the boot for that, so I can't imagine Carlton does for his offense...

Barry Weiss 2 years, 5 months ago

ok thanks. well, it looks like we may need to look to a team without Carlton for a while. Lightfoot does make some good plays and gets some blocks. Colby seemed to be a good rebounder so we got that going for us. Neither is the scoring threat that Carlton was. Man, this just exposes us big time in the paint. We have a real challenge on our hands now.

Ryan Zimmerman 2 years, 5 months ago

I honestly don't see how Bragg can be an NBA player. He's struggled against anyone of size and even though he put on weight in the offseason, he's still too weak for a big underneath. Plus, with limited shot range I don't see why any team would want him. To see true leaders like Ellis and Selden not get drafted, and them two being staples of the program, I don't see how Bragg brings something more to the table. Yes he's taller, but he's not dominating on any kind of consistent level to make an NBA scout think he's someone to add to the team.

Side note, my score prediction as I don't think it'll be close: 70-87 UK Too much size underneath for us to capitalize

Jay Scott 2 years, 5 months ago

Was Withey an NBA player after 600 college mins played? The Morii? Aldrich? Arthur? Robinson? Collison? Manning? Any big other than Embiid? Did they all play out of position?

Check his per minute numbers. He's averaging 12/10 per 30 mins. Have you seen his outside shot? He was 4-7 from beyond the arc last year, with 7 tirades from the bench for shooting them....that's .571. Those weren't Perry Ellis JV girls set shots either. He has a Carmelo Anthony release.

This suspension might be because Bragg has done something stupid, but his skills are real. All the players say he's a worker. He's been given no shot to play his game. He's Self's biggest failure.

Layne Pierce 2 years, 5 months ago

Totally agree that Bragg is at a disadvantage for the type of game he is suited to play, but then if you're a winner, you figure out how to help win. This is what I really like about Jackson, he plays to win, not just for the glory, or the headlines, and he contributes in every way, defense, loose balls, rebounding, assists.

Bragg is still acting like a little kid out there. It is nobodys fault that Azu broke his wrists, that changed everything, for the team and for Bragg. It actually had the impact of giving him more minutes, but they would be minutes where he had to man up, and get the job done. Haven't we all been at a job, where something goes wrong and we have to suck it up and cover. That goes with the territory.

I think something has happened with Josh, he is not as quick, not as focused, not as aggressive as he was last year, and that's not just because of the coaches.

I have noticed that the team runs plays for him to score, but he often can't get it done.

Harlan Hobbs 2 years, 5 months ago

Just go with the flow. As for Carlton, I will withhold judgment until more information is known. However, it is clear that he has some issues that belie the constant smile and perceived attitude until now.

He apparently needs help, and I hope that he gets it. Otherwise, he could become just another example of someone with little future, which would be a shame.

Doug Clark 2 years, 5 months ago

Obviously he has had issues off the court, he has not improved like most talented players do from freshman to sophomore year. Despite what some people say, he hasn't earned more playing time, and he gets in foul trouble alot which limits his minutes to try and make an impact. It's not the coaches fault he hasn't been able to get out of his own way all year. In my opinion there is more to the story and he hasn't focused on basketball because of off court issues, there have been issues with 2 different females this year, that doesn't seem like someone focused on basketball.

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