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Sunday, December 2, 2018

Senior guard Lagerald Vick now KU’s unquestioned go-to guy

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (24) spots up for a three during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (24) spots up for a three during the second half on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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In the aftermath of KU’s 90-84, overtime victory over Stanford on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse, Jayhawk hero Lagerald Vick was asked if he ever thought about passing instead of pulling the trigger on a game-tying 3-pointer with less than 10 seconds to play in regulation.

“No,” said Vick with a sly grin and look of confidence matched only by the way he is currently playing. “I was putting that one up.”

Up — way up — it went, and down it came, splashing through the net with 6.8 seconds to play to give second-ranked Kansas life in a game KU coach Bill Self said the Jayhawks (6-0) were “lucky” to win.

Luck certainly had a little to do with it. But Vick played a bigger role.

And even though Self divulged after the game that the final play was supposed to run through junior forward Dedric Lawson, no one’s even the least bit upset with Vick for taking the shot. More importantly, just six games in, Vick now has established himself as the clear answer to the question, “Which Jayhawk do you want taking the final shot with the game on the line?”

“You know, we’ve said a lot of times, ‘Who do you want to go to?’” Self said. “Even when we won the national championship, everybody said, ‘Who’s our go-to guy, who’s going to take the shot at the end,’ and that kind of stuff.”

So did Self believe Vick, the senior who came oh-so-close to leaving KU after his junior season, could play himself into that role this season?

“After I’ve seen it, I don’t think there’s any question he can be that guy,” Self said. “... He’s probably not the one to get fouled because he doesn’t shoot a lot of free throws. But if you need a 3, he’s definitely the guy that you want taking it.”

In 38 minutes per game so far this season — far more than anybody expected any single Kansas player to average — Vick has done that 28 times in 47 attempts (59.6 percent), and so many of those 3s have been crucial, whether to tie a game, win a game or simply keep the Jayhawks in the game.

It’s hard to imagine exactly what this Kansas team would look like had Vick elected to stick with his decision to leave school early, but Self and his coaching staff haven’t spent much time thinking about that during Vick’s stellar start.

“Of course, we’re happy (he came back),” Self said. “That goes without saying. But that’s water under the bridge. That was stuff that happened six, seven months ago. Trust me, we’re not going to have a staff meeting to (discuss) how lucky we are. We’ll have a staff meeting to talk about how we can play better and maybe try to get him some more shots.”

So many of Vick’s shots this season — in big moments and otherwise — have come in the flow and rhythm of KU’s offense, with Vick taking what he can get instead of trying to force the issue.

While explaining that very thing about his 27-point outburst against Stanford, Vick said he was simply trying to let the game come to him. He then added: “And when it came, it came.”

Both the decisions and the explanation point to a player with extreme confidence who appears to be more comfortable than ever. And it’s those things that continue to inspire Self to sing Vick’s praises whenever asked.

“I think (saying they’re happy Vick’s back is) a pretty obvious answer because his attitude and everything’s been terrific,” Self said. “But the bottom line is, when the decision was (made) to come back, forget about the past. It’s a new chapter.”

Comments

Bryce Landon 1 week, 6 days ago

I can think of another four-letter word that ends in "ck", and I just want to say, [Insert word that ends with "ck"] those ugly black jerseys Stanford was wearing!

I also find Vick's quote amusing, "And when it came, it came."

That's what she said!

Justin Kruse 1 week, 6 days ago

Nothing against Lawson, but why would the final play be drawn up to run through him? Great game, LV! Stay in attack mode and stay confident!

Len Shaffer 1 week, 6 days ago

Good question, Justin, I was wondering the same thing. Given that Lawson appears to be stronger inside than on 3-pointers, it doesn't seem to make much sense to draw up the play for him.

Shannon Gustafson 1 week, 6 days ago

It wasn't drawn up to run through him, it was drawn up with multiple options (like any good play) and you read the defense to determine which is the best option. In the case of this play, Dotson could hand off to Vick and if he's open, he shoots. If he's guarded but Lawson is open, he's supposed to pass to the open man. Vick did not pass it and instead chose to shoot over 3 defenders. In a "normal" situation this would be an improper read and a bad shot. Since Vick was playing/shooting out of his mind though, there was essentially no such thing as a "bad" shot for him in the 2nd half and therefore his shot was "good" even though he was defended by 3 players.

Kit Duncan 1 week, 6 days ago

Just curious, Matt. The broadcast showed former KU coach, Ted Owens in the stands. The announcers said he and many of his 1966 team were there. If so, why is there no mention in these pages? A brief shout-out to Coach Owens and any of his former players who were in Lawrence would be nice.

Classy coach deserving of our respect and good memories of him and his teams' time at KU.

Thanks

Matt Tait 1 week, 6 days ago

They introduced Coach Owens during a timeout and, to be honest, it slipped my mind. That said, it's not that rare for Coach Owens to attend KU games. He's been to dozens over the past several years and that consistency may be what keeps him from being a notable attendee. For example, Sherron Collins is at just about every game these days and is introduced at a few of them, but I rarely note that he was there, too.

We always try to make note of names like those — and others — who are in attendance, but guys who are there somewhat regularly don't always get the same treatment as guys who are rarely if ever back at Allen Fieldhouse.

Hope that clears it up. And, yes, I agree that Coach Owens is as classy a man as there is and very deserving of love and respect from KU fans everywhere.

Enjoy the rest of the season!

Daniel Parker 1 week, 6 days ago

I remember getting bashed on here a little when I expressed how happy I was to have Vick come back and that I would rather have him than a couple of others....that said, I didn't expect such a change in attitude and assertiveness. Very happy for Lagerald....and still glad he's back

Jonathan Allison 1 week, 6 days ago

a quick look at the stats reveals that Romeo Langford has been pretty good so far for Indiana, but I'm glad that we didn't sign him. I believed it at the time and I still do that one year of a Sr. Vick will be more valuable than one year of a freshman Romeo.

When Vick made his announcement that he was entering the draft and not hiring an agent I got blasted for suggesting that he was leaving open the door for a return. Why? Because LaLa Vick said that he wasn't coming back.

Michael Leiker 1 week, 6 days ago

Sure nice to have a 6’8” guard with a 45” vert shooting 60% when you’re down a couple at the end of a game. What a weapon

Barry Weiss 1 week, 6 days ago

No doubt I am very surprised by Vick's performance this year. He was a bit hot and cold last year, disappearing at times, especially once league play started. Dedric has also been better than I imagined with all of his double, doubles. Those are very, very hard to get and he gets them on a regular basis. Dok just needs to stay out of foul trouble and try to get a better FT shot. Coach has been keeping him out some under 2 minutes because of this and I would rather have him in contesting a shot. Dotson has been great, Grimes I still have faith in.

Andy Godwin 1 week, 6 days ago

This team clearly has not dominated, albeit against solid teams. The key will be to get Grimes and Moore going because there is currently zero threat other than the outside shooting other than Vick. To have only one player (Grimes faded away jumper) other than Vick make a shot outside of 5 feet is a bit concerning and quite amazing. Clearly the strength of this team is driving to the basket, but in this day and age KU needs to find some other reliable shooters. Without Vick’s unsustainable 3 point shooting pace, KU might already have 2 or 3 losses on their resume.

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