October 13, 2014
By Benton Smith
Kansas University basketball players Conner Frankamp, Brannen Greene, Wayne Selden Jr. and Frank Mason name some of the team's toughest players.
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TOUGH can have many meanings. Giving maximum effort is probably the most important component.
Being so much more talented than opponents makes a team "tough to beat," but laying everything you have on the line needs to include having and using heart and guts a lot more than we saw last year.
Settling for twenty-five wins, even with BigXII #10 thrown in, was just border line pitiful!
There were times when the team looked soft last year and the Hawks were taken apart. I expect that this year's squad will be solid and they will look like junkyard dogs on defense!
Tough to me means responding to challenges by your opponent. Competition requires a desire to win every minute of the game. You have to show the will to win, to compete for rebounds, to defending your goal, boxing out, all elements of the game that you can contribute to. When I see our Coach call a play or a player soft on the sidelines of a game, it is usually when they have not competed to the best of their abilities to win an individual battle.
There are many examples of being tough in sports, I like the way Michael Jordan played. It has been said that he does not like to lose at anything, anytime. His will to win makes him very tough to play against in any competition.
Did he say Tyler?
Perry Ellis = soft. (Or at least that's what he showed when matched up vs. length or brawn, so far in his KU career.) Change our opinion by showing us something tougher in the Perry Ellis Portfolio...
They say Ellis was watching tapes of Marcus Morris, being the same size, weight, and position. If he wants to catch Marcus Morris, he's got work to do. Marcus absolutely looked like an NBA player for ALL of his junior season. There is a reason Marcus went lotto. (The shock, to me was Kieff also going lotto).
I've said this many times: Perry Ellis (in his first 2yrs, at least) looks like a UNC-type MickeyD. Got finesse, got moves...but lacks the hustle-stuff that most Self-type bigs also have: rebound hustle, defensive hustle, and a dose of power. Yes, "power", which even Withey developed a bit of (recall him breaking 7ft Jordan Enriquez' nose).
Sometimes, you have to learn to play 'nasty', even if it isnt in your personality. Another example of such would be Elijah Johnson, another articulate, intelligent, nice-guy persona...who possessed an NBA-guard body, but played more like Brady instead of Tyshawn/Sherron.
I'd love for Ellis to do a Marcus impersonation, but Marcus definitely had developed a nice swagger by his junior season (which Self loved and cultivated that in Marcus).
This is Bill Self ball. Self = former Big10 coach used to battling Izzo. Matter of fact, Tom Izzo's MichState has clubbed us 3 times straight. Last year was the 'softest' squad we've had under Bill Self, purely by coincidence due to extreme youth. Embiid had a nasty side to him, but we never got to see the Hudy-ized, experienced upperclassman version of him, or of Wiggins, who was extremely competetive and hands-down the best defender on the team. Other than those 2 frosh, the team was very spotty in the toughness dept. Some good moments came from Mason, Selden, and Traylor.
Look for a night/day turnaround in the toughness category this season. Self has had time to work his indoctrination in the returnees...and it is readily apparent that BigCliff and Oubre both just happen to be wired with aggressivity (think Sherron/Tyshawn/Chalmers/ & (either) Robinson mindset).
This isn't Roy ball. (With all due respect to the 15 great years Roy gave us. We are down the road now with something better...)
The other 'softness' last season came from Tharpe, inexplicibly...but his situation was dealt with severely by Self (as he did Giddens and Gile...), and proper order and expectations for on-court/off-court behavior have been reset by Self for his University of Kansas Jayhawks.
I agree with Self's values and visions for his team. Always have. And I always approve of Self's message.
Tyler Self could be a late-blooming BStar...?
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