Which KU starter has improved the most since last season?

Tyshawn Taylor 7% 334 votes

Elijah Johnson 0% 34 votes

Travis Releford 13% 589 votes

Thomas Robinson 19% 864 votes

Jeff Withey 58% 2600 votes

4421 total votes


Alohahawk 9 years, 9 months ago

It must be said that each of the five has improved their game over last season. Each one is integral to the whole, to what this team has become. And if you take any one of them away, KU"s record wouldn't be anywhere near what it is. It's doubtful KU would even be ranked. They truly represent what is meant when defining the term, "team".

Looking back on what was expected of each at the beginning of this season:

Everyone expected TRob to excel, and he has surpassed those expectations, at least in my estimation. Better positioning in the paint against opponents, better moves to score, better at freethrows (although not consistent as of yet) and great at keeping out of foul trouble. He has taken this team and placed it on his back. He has supplied the roots from which this team has sprouted.

TT has proven that he can exceed his performance from last season. With what might be construed as less capable teammates, he has been forced to perform up to a level which most of us had hoped he would achieve. There have been a number of times when he has chosen the wrong path and needed pruning. But as of late, he has become the senior leader, the branch from which the smaller twigs sprout, the leaves develop and the fruit grows.

EJ demonstrated he could play good defense last year, and has improved in that area. However, IMHO, his offense is stunted. He relies too much on his 3 point shooting, when he could be more effective driving the middle. He has tremendous upside, but for some reason, seems to lack confidence in his abilities. He's the budding fruit that is still green. Question is, when (or if) he will decide he wants to mature.

Releford's defense keeps this team sturdy during stormy weather. His defense has improved each season, and in that area he is unsurpassed on the team. He has successfully demonstrated what happens when talented players wait their turn behind their superiors. Some may have expected more from him before this season, but he has been handicapped by the injury bug, and because KU already had experienced people ahead of him on the roster. He has been nurtured by HCBS and allowed to slowly ripen on the vine.

However, my pick for most improved is Jeff Withey. Before the season begin everyone was hoping that Withey would produce. Unfortunately, the desire and motivation didn't seem to be there. But as this season has progressed, there have been and more games in which Jeff has demonstrated that he has developed the tools necessary to hold his own in the paint. He still hasn't ripened into that golden apple left unpicked at the top of the tree. But if he keeps improving as he has during the first half of this season, no team will want to play the Jayhawks in March. He also has the best chance of achieving a triple double.

Alohahawk 9 years, 9 months ago

Mahalo. I'll take that as a compliment.

yates33333 9 years, 8 months ago

Of course. To be compared to jaybate is an extreme compliment.

Mark Lindrud 9 years, 9 months ago

I agree with you and will even say Johnson reminds me of Taylor. Lots of potential, but waiting to mature. Taylor seems to finally have matured his senior year so it maybe safe to assume Johnson will do the same next year,

ParisHawk 9 years, 9 months ago

I voted for Jeff, but I would really like to vote for the tandem TRob / Withey. We all expected TRob to improve and hoped he would improve greatly, but that last step from "one of the best" to "maybe the best" is huge.

Not only have those two improved remarkably, but in my opinion their improvements are linked: each one makes the other better, and TRob in particular would have an even tougher time on both ends of the floor without the new, improved Withey.

Joe Ross 9 years, 9 months ago

This one is easy. Jeff Withey is clearly the most improved. He's not the most valuable by any stretch obviously, but he is light years ahead of where he was at this point in Earth's orbit 365 and 1/4 days ago.

Gary McCullough 9 years, 9 months ago

I, also voted for Jeff. But what is really amazing is the overall team improvement. TT is taking better care of the ball and no one can stop him attacking the rim. TRob...what can you say...even Vitale has him the leading candidate for POTY. Travis is making a living off break away points, and is a lock down defended. And the bench is providing the minutes, if not points. TRob goes to the bench in the last two games and the margin is stretched. Early in the season I didn't think TRob was going to get any bench time. And foul trouble was a real consideration given is physical play. But the bench has come through.

The talking heads will continue to to focus on TT and TRob, but KU is a lot more than just two players. But it's all good if the opposing teams don't notice the rest of the cast.

KGphoto 9 years, 9 months ago

Withey is certainly improved. I have him second because he still isn't rebounding with enough consistency. Next year he will be posting dub dubs in his sleep. As he should be.

Mr. Robinson has improved every aspect of his game. Every single slot in the box score, and that alone would be enough, but he's been more dominant than we ever dreamed. He's becoming a legend right before our eyes. It's hard to improve much beyond that.

Marcia Parsons 9 years, 9 months ago

Releford was my other choice. All of a sudden he got his aggression back, and stopped playing so cautiously.

baldwinjhawk 9 years, 9 months ago

This one is easy. Mr. Jeff Withey is most improved player. The others were somewhat known commodoties. Jeff, I didn't personally think had much of a skill set, any drive to compete or the cajones's to play in the middle of a national caliber team. He has proven me wrong in spades. He still has a long way to go to be able to play at the next level. But compared to what we saw of him last year? Come on people... you can't really compare to two players. Congrats Jeff!

JayHawkFanToo 9 years, 9 months ago

Since the vote is for the most "improved" player, my vote is for Jeff Withey. No question about it; he has been the biggest surprise.

Mike Kendall 9 years, 9 months ago

I voted for Jeff. Choosy mothers pick Jeff.

No, seriously, not only has Andrea Hudy improved Jeff's strength, but just his overall court awareness has improved. Danny Manning has to take a lot of credit for his footwork improvement in the paint. I think if everybody brings their "A" game, and, Jeff is on, that makes our team hard to beat. Period.

Vroo 9 years, 9 months ago

I expected all of them to improve over last year. That's a given in college sports. But every one of them has improved over last year way more than I expected. And Conner Teahan who isn't in the poll has also improved beyond expectations.

Choosing just one of these as 'most improved' is tough because it changes from game to game. Most days my vote is for either Jeff Withey or Thomas Robinson.

Brian Powell 9 years, 9 months ago

Time will tell.. but it's a close race between Travis and Jeff.

A distinction that could be made is this: Travis was this good last year, and maybe earlier, but he didn't perform/produce as much or as consistently (actually he hasn't been that consistent this season until lately). He didn't play as much either, before this season, but when he did.. he was pretty good, albeit in flashes.

Jeff's actual GAME has noticeably improved, consistently, and on both ends of the floor.

Right now Withey gets my vote.. but you know Tyshawn is gunning for it at this point the way he's playing!

trehan 9 years, 9 months ago

Most improved? Withey has definitely improved and has been a nice surprise as of late and played well in some big games. T-Rob went from one of the top 6th men in the country last year to an NCAA Player of the Year candidate in a matter of months. He didn't even start a year ago! He's being double-teamed, staying out of foul trouble and still playing as hard as always. How can you not vote for T-Rob?

Jarrel Crider 9 years, 9 months ago

EXACTLY. Withey was expected to become a valuable role player and he has done just that. T-Rob went from playing about 14 minutes per game and being turnover- and foul-prone while showing flashes of brilliance to a Player of the Year candidate who DOMINATES ALMOST EVERY GAME. Easy answer should be Thomas Robinson!

IBRONNIEB 9 years, 9 months ago

I agree with you. Thomas Robinson's improvement has been taken for granted by so many. He was not even a starter, last year! Now he is a front runner for player of the year, wow! Thomas is, by far, the most improved player, although each player is playing at a much higher level than last year.

HawkKlaw 9 years, 9 months ago

The only reason TRob wasn't a starter last year is because of the Morris twins. He would have been one of the best big men in the country (stat-wise) last year if he wasn't backing them up. But even in his limited role last season, most of us could tell that he would be a beast this season. Some (including me) expected him to be the best big man in the country this year.

Withey, on the other hand, only got scrub minutes last season. Now he's a starter that puts up bigger numbers than any of us anticipated. He's blocking shots like Cole Aldrich. Before the season started, most of us fans weren't sure whether Withey would be able to man-up and play like the 7-footer he is, let alone be a starter. Some of us weren't even sure whether or not he would contribute at all this season. He has surpassed all of our expectations, to say the least. He's become one of the most integral parts of this year's team.

I see your point though. Withey and TRob have both improved tremendously since last season, and I could see valid reason to vote for either of them in this category.

jayhawka15fan 9 years, 9 months ago

I voted for Withey because he had much more roooooom for improvement, and has made great strides. You could really pick any one of them........ except TT. And I am a great TT fan. I'll take the good with the bad; he makes the Hawks go!

Dirk Ekey 9 years, 9 months ago

This whole team has come a long way. The team was gutted by graduation and the NBA after last season. Half of these guys never played together before this fall. Every one of them has had to learn to play different rolls than they did in the past. Some played support roles on last years Jayhawk team. Others have adjusted from being the superstar in the high school or junior college program they came from to learning to play a support role on an elite division I NCAA team.

I'm proud to cheer for this team!

kusayzone 9 years, 9 months ago

I voted for Jeff. Why? He is not afraid to take it to the offensive player who gets too close to his basket and swat it away. And the best part is that he has learned he doesn't have to foul--just be a 7 foot fly swatter! Sorry Thomas, but you seem to avoid defensive contact to conserve your fouls, but not Jeff...I like his efforts, especially last night in the second half when he blocked a shot at the free throw line...I would like to see the height he got on that! Jeff has become a stud!!! That being said, I think the team has progressed mightily in their own ways and have made their efforts combine to become a team effort. Coaches are always looking for the right pieces to fit on the court, and HCBS has this when this bunch plays as a team. Rock chalk guys! You all are great for Kansas basketball

wisjayhawkfan 9 years, 9 months ago

I have been impressed with the improvement of the free throw shooting.

Woody Cragg 9 years, 8 months ago

Even though Jeff is vastly improved IMO Trob has gone from 14 min per game to POY! What a Treat! Go Jaybirds!

Alan Mills 9 years, 8 months ago

IMHO, I like Withey as the choice of many. It would also be fair to cast a vote for Taylor or Releford. I'm not sure I could cast a vote for Johnson, but I can understand why some would. With Withey, Releford, and Johnson, this is such a difficult measurement. They simply didn't play last year, so it's hard to judge how much they have improved. Could they have contributed like this last year? Perhaps. Taylor has matured as this season has gone along. If the "improved" measures this season, he's the runaway winner. But, since he was a starter last year, his improvement is marginal at most. I've liked his game since he arrived, in spite of the turnovers.

All of this leaves Robinson. I offered him my vote. He played sparingly last year, and even less the year before. By the end of last year, he had not proven that he could shoot outside of 2 feet, and he had not shown much ability to defend without fouling. Physically, of course, he has been a beast since arriving in Lawrence. But, as far as having much of a true basketball game, we just weren't treated to much his first two years. This year, however, has been a wonderful change. He has shown his ability in all facets of the game. He can handle, shoot from 17 feet and in, defend and remain on the court, and rebound as well as anyone since Drew Gooden wore a KU uniform. And, there may be room to improve. He is not the best passer out of the post, by any means. And, he still has those moments where he's so busy celebrating a monster dunk that he isn't hustling back on D. But, I cannot see voting for anyone else when we're looking at a young man who went from 6th or 7th man to a Player of the Year favorite.

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