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Monday, November 20, 2017

Keegan

Tom Keegan: Defensive-stopper role in Lagerald Vick’s future

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) gets up for a reverse jam before Long Beach State forward Javonntie Jackson (35) during the first half, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) gets up for a reverse jam before Long Beach State forward Javonntie Jackson (35) during the first half, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Rare is the basketball player who leaves for the arena with his mind trained on how miserable he’s going to make life for the man he will guard that night.

Yet some of the greatest players in basketball history were even better defensively than with the ball in their hands.

Bill Russell, Michael Jordan and Jerry West should be on everyone’s list of all-time top 10 basketball players and all three men were even better at keeping someone from scoring than they were at scoring.

Kansas coach Bill Self thinks he has a potential defensive stopper in Lagerald Vick, who also happens to have a soft shooting touch and a wide array of mind-blowing dunks. It’s tough to expect a player who can get a rise out of a crowd in as many ways as Vick can offensively to make locking up the opposing team’s best scorer his top priority, but Self has a way of getting out of players what he needs from them.

Self needs the equivalent of a shutdown cornerback and he’s convinced that in Vick he has the makings of one. It will be interesting to watch that whole dynamic develop.

Self doesn’t always share the messages he imparts to players on the court, but did after Friday night’s 98-64 rout of South Dakota State.

“I told him during the game, ‘Do you really think you’re our defensive stopper?’ I mean, not being negative, but I said, ‘That’s not your mindset right now.’ I think people sometimes play to the score some, and guys who really have that mindset, they don’t do that much,” Self said.

That doesn’t mean Vick can’t develop the mindset because once he tastes success shutting down a big-time scorer he might like how that feels so much he'll be eager to do it over and over.

“There are a lot of things he can do,” Self said. “He can slide. He can jump. He’s quick. He’s smart. He’s strong. He can fake a screen. He can do a lot of things, but I don’t think he plays where it’s his mindset like it needs to be moving forward.”

Self mentioned Travis Releford, Brandon Rush and Brady Morningstar as players he could count on to shut down scorers.

“Brady was our best defender there for three years,” Self said. “(Jeff) Withey was a different type player, but certainly he was one because he was able to protect the rim so well.”

Marcus Garrett, blessed with quick hands and feet, defends well and will play a lot off the bench, but Vick’s physical gifts are even greater and his minutes more extensive, so he’s No. 1 on Self’s wish list for a shutdown perimeter defender.

Comments

Dale Rogers 3 weeks, 2 days ago

If I recall, didn't Devonte shut down Buddy Hield a couple of years ago?

Dirk Medema 3 weeks, 2 days ago

Shut him down, as in he only got 24 and not the 46 he lit us up for in the first game, though there were 3OT's involved.

Jack Hoff 3 weeks, 2 days ago

Well Vick was able to kick a girl in the face and stop any punishment from coming his way so I’m sure he can stop whatever opponents KU has coming. God forbid he doesn’t shake Texas Sourherns Hand’s during intros though. That would be really egregious.

Robert Brock 3 weeks, 2 days ago

I’ve always thought of Vick as a below-average defender; it will be interesting to see if Self can get him to get serious about defense.

Tim Orel 3 weeks, 2 days ago

I've been impressed with the number of blocks that Mitch Lightfoot has been making. He is living up to his name. He's the team leader, with a 7-6 total compared to Udoka.

Joe Joseph 3 weeks, 2 days ago

'Dok staying out of foul trouble is more important than him amassing loads of blocked shots at this point in the season. Mitch has been more aggressive, for sure, but it's come at the expense of fouls.

UA: 7 fouls in 87 total minutes played

ML: 10 fouls in 30 total minutes played

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