Thursday, October 24, 2019

Notebook: Mitch Lightfoot could still redshirt after coming off bench against Fort Hays State

Kansas forward Mitch Lightfoot (44) comes over the top of Fort Hays State forward Jared Vitztum (21) while fighting for a ball during the first half, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Mitch Lightfoot (44) comes over the top of Fort Hays State forward Jared Vitztum (21) while fighting for a ball during the first half, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Not expected to play in Thursday’s 86-56 exhibition victory over Fort Hays State, Kansas senior Mitch Lightfoot found himself on the floor and in the Kansas lineup 4:10 into the game.

Lightfoot, who has appeared in 97 career games during three seasons with the Jayhawks, has been considering redshirting the 2019-20 season because of the surplus of big men on the Kansas roster.

In order to do so, Lightfoot (seven points, three rebounds and three fouls in 14 minutes) would have to sit out of competition for the entire regular season. The NCAA rule book states that even one minute on the court during a regular season game jeopardizes the redshirt.

After initially thinking and saying on Wednesday that he thought the exhibition games would count against Lightfoot, KU coach Bill Self found out through the school’s compliance office on Thursday morning that they would not.

“The rule, I’m almost positive, used to be that only freshmen could do that," Self said after Thursday's victory. "But we got an interpretation that Mitch could play so that’s still a strong possibility that (him redshirting) could occur.”

Self said Wednesday at Big 12 media day in Kansas City, Mo., that nothing official had been decided about Lightfoot’s status, but that the two parties were closing in on making a final decision and that some kind of official decision would be known “probably by the Duke game” on Nov. 5 in New York City.

Even if Lightfoot plans to redshirt, he still could enter the Jayhawks’ lineup at any point during the season without issue. Doing so, even for just one game, would forfeit his redshirt season, but Kansas has recent history of doing just that.

Last year, KU announced plans to redshirt then-freshman guard Ochai Agbaji on the eve of its Champions Classic clash with Michigan State in Indianapolis. Sixty-six days later Agbaji was on the floor at Allen Fieldhouse helping Kansas knock off TCU.

Agbaji’s insertion into the rotation — and eventually the starting lineup — was the result of injuries taking their toll on the 2018-19 roster. It likely would take another round of injuries to KU’s big men to get Lightfoot off the redshirt path if that’s where the 6-foot-8 senior from Gilbert, Ariz., is headed.

“The one thing about Mitch is it’s not fair to him not to have a great last year,” Self said recently. “Guys, he’s the best. He loves this place, he bleeds red and blue and I would love for him to have the opportunity to go out in style his way.”

Starting 5, for now

With starting point guard Devon Dotson nursing a sprained right ankle and out of the lineup on Thursday night, junior Marcus Garrett slid into the starting point guard slot, where he teamed with Agbaji in the KU backcourt.

Up front, Big 12 preseason player of the year Udoka Azubuike started at center and junior forward Silvio De Sousa made his return to the floor in a starting role at the 4.

The final spot in Thursday’s starting five went to freshman Jalen Wilson, a 6-5 forward from Denton, Texas.

Senior grad transfer Isaiah Moss also did not play in KU’s exhibition opener because of an injured hamstring.

Dotson has been listed as day to day and is expected to be fully recovered in time for KU’s season opener against Duke.

De Sousa received the loudest ovation from the home crowd during introductions, and, as a thank you of sorts, he let out a roar of his own as he walked to shake hands.

New 3-point line debuts

Although none of the shots they attempted or made will count in the Jayhawks’ official stat lines for the season, Thursday’s game was the first played at Allen Fieldhouse that featured the NCAA’s new 3-point line.

Now sitting at the international distance of 22 feet, 1.75 inches from the center of the rim — as opposed to the old college distance of 20 feet, 9 inches — KU’s shooters will have to adjust this season to a 3-point shot that is roughly 17 inches farther back than they’re used to.

Self said this week that he was not too worried about the added distance.

“We have not changed one bit how we practice,” Self said. “And I doubt (other) teams have either. I don’t think it’ll affect really good shooters much. But I think it’s going to affect average shooters a lot.”

Despite the fact that NCAA Division II and Division III teams did not make the change this season, FHSU coach Mark Johnson agreed to play Thursday’s game at the new distance.

“My assumption all along has been that we were going to play with the new line,” Johnson told the Journal-World before tipoff. “To be honest with you, if there weren’t two lines out here I’m not sure my guys would even notice.”

While the new distance may not pose a major challenge for the individual players hoisting the shots, Self said he did expect the longer shot to play into the overall strategy of the game.

“I do think defenses and everything will be tweaked more and you’ll play to scouting reports more than we ever have concerning shooters and the 3-point line,” he said. “So I do think it’s going to be a big impact.”

This and that...

KU’s win Thursday moved the Jayhawks to 12-0 all-time against Fort Hays in a series that dates back to 1994... The Jayhawks are now 89-9 in exhibition games, including a streak of 30 consecutive victories, dating back to Oct. 30, 2012.

Kansas is 62-4 all-time in exhibition games played inside Allen Fieldhouse and 57-2 all-time in exhibition play under Self... KU will close out exhibition play against Pittsburg State next Thursday at Allen Fieldhouse.


Tony Bandle 1 year, 4 months ago


Could you please elaborate on the four exhibition games lost at Allen Field House? That had to be back in the late fifties or early sixties!!!

And, while your at it, how about the five exhibition losses outside of Allen? Would that have been pre-World War II?


Matt Tait 1 year, 4 months ago

Lemme see what I can dig up. Most, if not all, of those exhibition losses have come during summer trips to Canada and Europe and those types of trips. They were 4-0 in Italy a couple summers ago (against nothing competition) but I'm pretty sure they lost a few during the previous European trip and in Canada a decade or so ago.

Theodore Thadogweadore 1 year, 4 months ago

One of the losses was to the Russian National team, which featured Aarvidas Sabonis.

David Robinett 1 year, 4 months ago

I think another home loss was to the Australian national team

Steve Quatrocky 1 year, 4 months ago

Dear Mitch:

Please Redshirt. I dont say it lightly after all the times you've come off the bench and settled us down when things were out of control, I really love your D and shot blocking, but I think we will need it more next year than this year because you will get more opportunities/minutes as a 5th year senior.

You also get your grad degree which will probably be more important in your overall life than playing your last year of college basketball this year versus next. Worst case, all the bigs but Doke stay and Coach has a big recruiting haul too, you'll still get more minutes next year or you could even transfer and play immediately even though I know you bleed crimson and blue. Strength and size have always been against you when up against bigger players and another year in the strength program as your body is maturing will help you on the court regardless, especially if you go overseas to keep playing ball.

Last nights game vs Ft Hays already identified that with Doke in the game, Defenses arent guarding the 4 when playing two bigs, so this year we may be playing four guards around him more than initially thought, reinforcing the more oppty next year than this year argument, as Doke is a Senior and there isnt another one like him on the team now or on the radar for next year.

Steve Zimmerman 1 year, 4 months ago

If Mitch can hit jumpers, including 3s, would you change your mind? If he gets feed through alley-oops off of pick and rolls, would you still consider redshirt him? Things would've been different if coach is willing to design plays for him. Kid is just as energetic & quick as McCormack. Mitch's shooting form is even better than McCormack's - seriously, that needs to be corrected, big time.

Tony Bandle 1 year, 4 months ago

Let's see......Kansas vs Duke. Dok gets in foul trouble, Silvio makes a dumb play and is yanked, Big Mac, a sophomore is left in alone....HCBS yells "hey, Mitch, get in there". Full duration of Mitch's red shirt career....15 minutes, plus or minus!!! :)

Pius Waldman 1 year, 4 months ago

I also believe Mitch needs to be available. Dok until he learns that he just can't stand under the goal and expect passes will be a negative factor for team success. Maybe Mitch might be a better player than Dok. Is Dok over rated?

Steve Zimmerman 1 year, 4 months ago

...he just can't stand under the goal and expect passes... Pius, how sure are you this is what Dok wants? He does try pick and roll, but he's too slow to roll (no twitchy muscle, either) - even so, those pesky Tigers will be right there surrounding him. Can he hit a short jumper? Heck, he can't even shoot FT. So, it's reality. He can only be effective placed under the basket. What the team & coach can do to make him more efficient is to pass to Dok hi- entry pass like Braun does. Deep inside - Dok knows how to get his feet established very deep. He can catch a high-flying alley-oop, he easily draws 2-3 defenders - he needs to pass the ball out quick so we can see 3s raining. He can pass over the head to another big, too. The later is something we should see more often. If I were one of the coaches, I'd train Dok's wrists - they're too slow for passing. I hope this has nothing to do with fast-twitch genetic stuff..

J.L. Forge 1 year, 4 months ago

It's a tough call on both sides. If we get solid and consistent play from Dok, Silvio and Mac, Mitch's playing time will be far and few between barring an injury and big time foul problems. He is a team play but would hate to see him go out on the bench. If he redshirts, he could foreseeably come back next year and get some playing time while helping to lead and mentor some of the young fellas. On a side note, as mentioned earlier about whether Dok is overrated, I tend to agree he is a bit overrated. Assuming he can get the ball within 3 feet of the basket, he can make some things happen. Outside of that 3' range as well as on the free throw line, he is a major "if" to produce. He is a minimal and uninstinctive shot blocker and rebounder. A dominant big man his size should own the boards and easily pull down double figures there and at least have a verifiable presence as a shot blocker. He stands around too often on defense watching things as he did multiple times against Ft. Hays State rather than to be in the mix owning the paint as his.
Whatever Mitch does, we support you! RCJH!

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