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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Kansas needs confidence, consistency from Carlton Bragg

Kansas forward Carlton Bragg Jr. (15) flashes a smile while waiting for a free throw during the first half, Saturday, March 4, 2017 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Kansas forward Carlton Bragg Jr. (15) flashes a smile while waiting for a free throw during the first half, Saturday, March 4, 2017 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

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— Kansas sophomore forward Carlton Bragg Jr. produced six points and five rebounds in 13 minutes off the bench in Friday’s 100-62, first-round NCAA tournament victory against UC Davis.

If he can produce in similar fashion against tougher competition on a consistent basis, that can only help Kansas to survive and advance.

“We’ve said it all year: Carlton’s the X factor,” teammate Josh Jackson said. “If you really look at our team, any time Carlton has a good game, we’re going to win and we know it. He just has to keep his confidence level up a little bit and we have to find him a little bit more. I don’t think we really look for him as much as we should.”

Bragg, blessed with a better perimeter jumper than most 6-foot-10 players, has had to play mostly center this season out of necessity after a season-ending injury to freshman Udoka Azubuike. He has had his moments, but hasn’t put together a consistent stretch of good games. For example, Bragg followed an 11-point effort in 18 minutes in a victory at Oklahoma State with a one-point game in a loss to TCU in the opening round of the Big 12 tournament.

“Coach (Bill Self) is a lot harder on Carlton than he is on a couple of other players because, like I said, we all know that he’s basically the X factor,” Jackson said. “We need him to do well on the team. Sometimes when coach gets on him, his confidence goes down a little bit, but I feel like he’s doing a great job right now. I feel like (vs. Michigan State) he’s going to have another great game.”

Bragg had three offensive rebounds in the first-round victory.

“I love getting offensive rebounds, getting us extra possessions,” Bragg said. “I feel good. I’m playing my role. It keeps coming. Just playing my role, doing the little things, offensive rebounding, blocking out, rotation, just a little bit of everything to bring us energy.”

Bragg averages 5.6 points and 4.2 rebounds in 14.3 minutes.

Comments

Steve Zimmerman 1 month ago

Yes, with confidence, Bragg will be able to grab the ball, use his shoulder, fake, strong moves to the basket instead of shying away from a defender. On the other end of the court, I've seen him boxing out his defender, but not consistently. His defensive stance has improved. Will coach let him take those jumpers? If he's confident, I'm pretty sure he'll make those. I wish he can make better use of his long arms by DUNKING the ball hard.

Dirk Medema 1 month ago

For the next few games, he needs to be our Lucas-lite, facilitating the others and adding a few points where available.

For next year he needs to extend his range out to 3 like so many other bigs that aren't Dok, but are still effective.

Marius Rowlanski 1 month ago

Maybe extending his range from 12-18 feet would be a good start.

Craig Alexander 1 month ago

This article points to something that might be contributing to Carlton's struggles. Josh mentions Self being extra hard on him sometimes since he knows Carlton is the key. Bragg seems like the guy who needs a free mind to play well. Self might need to change his approach with Bragg going into the rest of the tourney and next season. Let's just have some fun and I hope Bragg uses his quickness and length to bother the Spartans!

Harlan Hobbs 1 month ago

Just finish plays, Carlton, and everything will be fine. The enthusiasm is there, but he misses more good inside opportunities than most.

Dale Rogers 1 month ago

If he stick around for another year and can play his more natural position I think he's going to be a major positive for our team. I don't agree with the soft comment. I think he's just lost in playing a role that's not a good fit for him right now.

Marius Rowlanski 1 month ago

Preston will get more minutes than Bragg next year unless something dramatically changes.

Marius Rowlanski 1 month ago

I don't think Kansas lacks any confidence. A senior led team back from an Elite 8 performance? There may be a couple of players in that category but none of the starters.

Steve Zimmerman 1 month ago

you got that right (after watching us vs MSU)!!! I underestimated our team, either that or I just don't want to have too high of a hope. But so far, I'm so so happy we've played much much better together. I'm still happy even if we got beat the next round. This team is for real, is so fun to watch as the season winds down. I'm sure going to miss our Vets and JJ, especially.

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