Andrew White III, or AW3, has always had the potential to play like he did against Belmont. In high school he was known as one the best shooters in the country. Shooting is one thing that translates at any level of basketball so everyone assumed that White would just step right into the rotation for KU and light it up from 3pt land. Only he didn't. It had nothing to do with his shot, his attitude, or the players around him. The reason White never could find his way onto the court for an extended period of time was because of his defense. In the last 14 days KU has only played two games and has been able to really practice hard and not worry about games. It was a learning period for freshmen just like White. After this two week period it appears that White has learned how head coach Bill Self wants him to play defense. Against Belmont White played 10 minutes and extremely effective in those minutes. By extremely effective I mean extremely effective he was 6 for 8 shooting from the field for 15 points. Anytime a player at any level scores more points than minutes played you know something was going right. Yes I will admit that White was on fire from outside the arch, 3 for 5, and KU won't play too many teams like Belmont for the rest of their schedule. Yet it's not like this is out of character for White he averaged 22.9 PPG in high school. The Andrew White we saw against Belmont could be here to stay. White is a versatile player. Standing at 6 foot 6in White can play both as a wing and a forward. Against Belmont he played both of those positions. As a forward he stretched the defense with the pick and pop game KU played. Defenses will eventually pick up on White's ability to stroke the 3 pointer but if they jump out and try to guard him then they leave the KU guard with some open space to take the ball to the hoop. For defenses it's like a rock and a hard place. As a wing player White adds height. Most college wing players are not 6 foot 6inches so White will have the height advantage against his matchup and the better he gets at defense the more he will play at both the wing and forward position. Beyond just what White brings to the game when he plays he gives KU some tough to guard lineups. With White in the game KU can go in two directions. They can play somewhat small with White has a forward along side Jeff Withey or they can play big with White out on the wing alongside McLemore, Johnson, or Tharpe. In White's breakout game against Belmont KU at one point had a lineup at consisted of McLemore, Releford, White, Young, and Withey. To be quite honest I think Bill was just trying this lineup out but in the end it made a lot of sense. With that five in the game Bill was able to rest Elijah Johnson which will be key as KU approaches conference play especially since KU plays a lot of Big Monday games which are preceded by a game on Saturday. Those are always quick turnarounds and the more rested Elijah Johnson gets the more effective he can be. Though that lineup of McLemore, Releford, White, Young, and Withey didn't include a "true ball handler" it is still effective. Releford has shown he can handle the point guard postition in small moderations as well as McLemore. Though this lineup isn't ideal it will work for small periods of time. The key to this lineup is Andrew White. If he can continue to be effective on offense and show he isn't a liability on defense he be able to save the team when Elijah Johnson needs a breather. In the end against Belmont White got his shot to show not only the fans but head coach Bill Self the player he can be now with two big games against Richmond and Ohio State White will have to show everyone that he can be the player he was against Belmont. If so KU just got a whole lot harder to beat.
Note: For more post like this go to www.rockchalkaddiction.blogspot.com
NOTE: On my blog I have three posts including this one. The other two preview Jamari Traylor and Rio Adams.
The countdown carries on with day 3. I still cannot believe that Late Night in the Phog is next friday. Time flies right? Yesterday I posted the dream on video that is played at every late night they've had a video board. It's an absolute classic. Today another classic video from Late Night its the Hawks in the NBA video. This video is a really good recruiting tool and oddly enough this event has the most recruits at it. Weird right? That video every year gets longer and longer and this year is no exception. KU didn't have a player retire from the NBA and had two get drafted, Thomas Robinson Sacramento Kings and Tyshawn Taylor Brooklyn Nets, and one get added to a roster for the time being, Sherron Collins San Antonio Spurs. With the pace Bill Self is recruiting and developing players the video will only get longer. Which has to be amazing for incoming recruits. Now if KU could ever get a big time star, not named Paul Pierce, to play at KU and then in the NBA that would help out a lot.
It's time now to profile another Jayhawk. To be honest I wanted to hold this one back for a few days but I couldn't.
The player: Perry Ellis
The Kansas native, Wichita Heights, has been recruited by KU since about 8th grade. At 6'8'' 225 lbs forward dominated Kansas High school basketball. A 4-time state champion at Heights this kid knows how to lead a team to the championship. Honestly I expected this kid to end up at KU and when people speculated that he may end up at Kentucky I kind of laughed at him. I believe KU is his dream school. I can believe that because almost every kid that plays basketball in the state of Kansas dreams about playing for KU. Trust me. My driveway was basically Allen Fieldhouse west and I made more game winners than you could imagine. I bet Perry was the same way and lucky for him he will live the dream while I am content with talking about the people who live the dream. Enough about that back to Perry. Here are some highlights from his AAU days.
Perry Ellis, the myth the man the legend A man among small boys Perry Ellis is a grown man
What he is good at: Perry Ellis is one the most fundamentally and overal complete post prospects I think KU has had in a long, long time. He has post moves, a jumper, strength, and ball handling. Coach Self loves to talk about what separates Perry from other kids. The separation I believe starts off the court and leads to his performance on the court. Perry is a very bright kid. He graduated in the top of his class at Wichita Heights. He plans to major in business at KU. He sounds like a kid who knows that the average NBA career is a mere 6 years. Perry I believe will eventually become a leader for this team. Probably not this year but certainly next year. All of his assets off the court help him on the court. I watched him play a few games this past year. He is a stud. He dominates the game and he also is a great leader on the court. Beyond all of his basketball abilities I believe his strength to be a leader will help this team so much. He has all the skills you could want for in a young post player. He also has all the skills and traits of a great leader of a team.
Where he needs work: In high school he played every position on the court. He brought the ball up. Jumped for the tip. He played down low. Heck if he could he may have sold hot dogs at halftime! All that variety may actually hurt Perry his first few games of the season. He needs to find a role on this team and it may not be to score points. He will need to rebound, pass, and play very good defense at first at KU. No one really knows how Perry will play when he isn't the guy getting the ball and trying to score every possession. All of these concerns are really because no one knows. We can better evaluate him after the exhibition games.
The player he represents: Perry Ellis best represents Wayne Simien. For many reasons. Both have a little finess to their games but they also have power in their game. Both played high school ball in Kansas so they will get all the fan support they could ever want. They are both listed at 6'8'' but I believe Perry actually is while Wayne never was. They both are great leaders. Where they separate is Wayne had the sweetest turn around jumper I have ever seen. The shoulder fake turn around was money. I don't believe Perry has the ability to make jumpers quite like Wayne but Perry is more athletic. If Perry could be like Wayne Simien every KU fan would be happy. In the end I think Perry will be better than Wayne and have a longer NBA career.
The 2012 moment to remember: Legends of the Phog. This was probably the most unique and coolest thing KU has done in a long time. It was the best thing to come from the NBA lockout in my opinion. It was a dream to see all these guys play together on the same court. Yes this game has no impact on the season but it was one of the most memorable parts of the season. It will be forever remembered in KU history as a day where the "what if" became a reality. Where fathers and sons truly got to see the past legends square off. I wish for the day that this game happens again. Deep down inside I hope it doesn't happen for a long time. That game ended absolutely perfect. The two "best" KU players hit two clutch shots. The fans were crazy and it was a great mix of legends. Having this game every 5 years would be nice but to really add value it should be every 10 years. Truly a memorable moment. Truly a classic.
Remember to follow me on twitter @blake_mcfarland Please comment! I don't care if it's positive or negative comments show me people are actually reading what I have to write. I appreciate that so much.
As any good KU basketball did at some point today they realized today is the first day of October. What is insignificant to most humans is significant to the die hard KU basketball fans. Basketball is near. It all begins with one of the most fun and unique nights of October, Late night in the Phog. The night where optimism reigns supreme and a scrimmage never means more is just a mere 12 days, including today, away. So to start off the countdown I am going to do a series that previews one player and recaps one memory of last season.
The player: Rio Adams
It's a bold move to start with the most unknown player on this roster. But making a blog is a bold right? Back to Rio Adams. Let's start with the basics. The 6'3'' combo guard from Seattle Washington has been a kid Bill Self has wanted for some time. Recruiting Rio was not the problem getting Rio eligible was the problem. Regardless of his academic issues they appear to be resolved. Rio did play in KU's European tour this summer. He averaged 21.0 ppg, 6.0 apg, and 5.0 rpg in high school. If I had to describe him in one word it would be explosive for many reasons. He is very quick and he is very fast. They are different things if you are wondering. Usain Bolt is fast Magic Johnson is quick. He is also explosive because the kid can dunk! He is very good at driving in the lane. A trait that is vital for any guard who wants to score in college.
Where is he best: Rio looks like a typical point guard in a Bill Self offense. That where I think he will spend the majority of the time on the court. He is extremely athletic and can get to the rim. Having a guard that can do that is so helpful in the motion offense KU runs. He seems to handle the ball fairly well so he may find himself in some crunch time minutes if Elijah cannot play or if Naadir Tharpe can't fix his turnover problem.
Where he can improve: Well I don't know about you but I haven't found too many highlights where he shot the ball. So either it was just to easy to get into the lane for him or he can't shoot. I fear the latter may be true. He even admits in the press conference that he needs to improve his jump shot range. Lucky for him I doubt he will need to shoot too much his first year at KU.
Who he reminds me of: The lazy answer is Tyshawn Taylor. Though that may be the best comparison because of what Rio does well and doesn't do well. Rio Adams can get to the lane and make layups or dunks. Tyshawn Taylor could get to the rim with the best of them. Both are extremely athletic, can make great passes and make the worst passes you'll ever see. Though they do separate. Tyshawn ended his career being a great three point shooter. Rio may get there but right now that's hard to see.
What to expect: Rio will not play all that many minutes for KU. I expect Elijah Johnson and Naadir Tharpe to dominate the minutes at point guard. Though when Rio gets in I expect him to be exciting. Kind of like a lightning in the bottle player for KU. I doubt he will spend a lot of time as the only point guard in the game so his role this year will be more of a combo guard but when he finally leaves KU I feel that he will be known as a point guard.
2012 Moment to remember: Kansas 61 Duke 68 Maui Final: Is it bad taste to have the first moment to remember a loss when the season had so many winning memories? Here's why it's a moment to remember. Going into Maui KU had been beaten pretty badly by Kentucky. Though no one knew what Kentucky would become they knew they were good. KU was still trying to find what kind of team they would be and who would play the most minutes. If you remember in this game Justin Wesley was the first big man off the bench. It may have been the last time he was the first big man off the bench too. Everyone thought Duke was a lot better team than Kansas. Yet the boys of rock chalk nation played very well. They not only hung in the game but they were winning most of the second half. If it wasn't for not one but two miracle three pointers for Duke Kansas would have won. From that game forward KU knew they could beat any team on their schedule. Because of that game the whole season took a different turn. A turn that would lead them to the final game of the season.
Follow me on Twitter: @blake_mcfarland Special edition follow Rio Adams on twitter: @tharealrio2ku Follow my blog at http://1man1blog1school.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-countdown-to-madness.html
• Keys to success and demise for the Jayhawks against the Wildcats
Now I feel that this needs to be said. I do not want to rival the hard work that guys at the LJW and KUSports.com do when they make their cram sessions.
Good to have that off my chest so here we go. With the Sunflower Showdown part one to be played Wednesday, that means that there is no more joking around, no more waiting to play the Howards of the world, and no more hoping for drastic change. For the most part when the Jayhawks take the court that’s what they have for the year. The same is true for Kansas State. The most surprising team so far in the Big 12, even with Missouri's early season success, the Cats are both a tough team to beat as well as a tough team to predict. They have talent, but nothing special, they win games, though they rarely are impressive in their wins. Yet they win. That’s why the first part of the Sunflower Showdown will be interesting to see. It is as much of a chance to make a statement for KU as it is for KSU, both positive and negative. It has that feeling of a season changing game. Which brings me to my first key, Allen Field House. Frankly when is Allen Field House not a key when the Jayhawks play at home! The students will be there, loud, crazy, and ready to inspire this team, even though class in not in session. The pump up videos will be out and will for sure at least get the crowd up to 115 decibels. I believe it’s safe to say who will get the benefit. Advantage: KANSAS.
Kansas State has found an answer, though two years late, for the void left by Denny Clemente. Angel Rodriguez is a stud freshmen guard and the more he plays the more he impresses me. Along with Southwell, and Spradling K-State’s guards will be a lot for Kansas to handle. Though the flip side is also true. The pure athleticism of Tyshawn Taylor, and Elijah Johnson will cause both mismatches and head aches for the Cats. The Jayhawks will need Travis Releford, Connor Teahan, and Naadir Tharpe to play well, and play some valuable minutes. Advantage: WASH KU/KSU
Nether team can really rely on what their guards bring to the table. K-State will not have played guards like Taylor, and Johnson so far this season. If they can’t guard Teahan early he may send AFH into frenzy. Though the turnovers will bite KU, K-State will look to capitalize on them and take the crowd out of the game. Rodriguez, Spradling, and Southwell have never played as big of a role in as big of a game in their careers. It's just to hard to tell who will have better guards. Danny Manning has consistently turned potential into talent at Kansas and he has done it again with Jeff Whitey. Whitey was awful last year. Though what he has done all year hasn’t been pretty where would the Jayhawks be without him? The seven footer from the left coast has had as many great games as terrible games. He has dominated the paint, got rebounds, scored points, and held down the fort when Robinson needs a rest. Yet in some games he has been the demise of Kansas. Like his performance last Saturday. After playing well against Howard the smaller, quicker big men of North Dakota gave him problems all game. Self was not pleased with Whitey, as well as many of the players, and told the media that those, the players he wasn’t pleased with, were going to practice harder than the ones he was pleased with. Let’s hope that the extra practice will help Whitey, and I have no reason to not believe he will have a decent game against K-State. I haven’t even mentioned Thomas Robinson. Robinson should dominate the game down low. Though it is expected that the Cats will double team him he still should be able to get a double double. Along with Kevin Young and Justin Wesley KU should dominate Samuels down low. K-State’s big men Samuels, Gipson, McGruder, and Henriquez will not be a problem for the Jayhawks. Advantage: KANSAS In January for some reason Bill Self begins to shine as a coach, while Martin has had good Januarys and he has had bad ones. The difference between the coaches is that Self is a big game coach. If it’s a big game against a big team his teams play very well. This season alone the Jayhawks played very well against Duke Georgetown, even Kentucky, and Ohio State. Those games should have the feeling of this game. Though Self in my opinion clearly out coached Thad Mata, and not so clearly out coached Coach K, he cannot afford to be out coached. Martin leaves his fingerprints all over his teams. Their toughness, relentless, and attitude resembles their head coach. You know Self will have KU amped to play the Cats, Martin will have the Cats’s also amped, when push comes to shove not many can beat Bill Self. Advantage: KANSAS With all that being said my prediction for the game is: KU 76 KSU 70. The Jayhawks pass the first of many tests that the Big 12 has to offer. My hawk to rock is no other than the man, the myth, and the legend, Thomas Robinson. Some say he has a body as built as Dwight Howard; let’s hope he has the superman cape like Howard has. Robinson goes for 20 points and 15 boards. Dicky V better begin to notice, this kid might be the national player of the year.
• “Put your shoes on!”
In case you haven’t heard Elijah Johnson made quite the shot the other day at practice. The video has hit YouTube and it’s safe to say it’s a classic for the KU faithful. Here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVq-sB... Let’s hope this can carry over in a positive way for the game against the Cats.
Follow me on Twitter: BmcfarlandONW
Finally it happened. Something that has been typical of KU basketball teams just never really seemed to happen this season. An absolute beat down. You could tell they were very motivated to play this game; they wanted to beat down Howard. They needed to find their groove. They needed Howard more than Howard needed KU. For possibly the first time this year I could not complain about KU’s shot selection. KU drove to the hoop as much as they could. They fed the big guys and it showed up in the field goal percentage and on the scoreboard. When they shot three pointers they were smart, in the motion of the offense, and well, open. They did not look out of control. It should have made you feel good. Though some of these bright points were probably the product of playing an overmatched Howard team. Nevertheless KU needed a game like this. Whitey looked impressive today. He played like he is 7ft tall, which he doesn’t always do. He blocked shots, and changed other shots. Elijah did drive, though not as often as I would like him to but he did try to. Tyshawn played like a senior guard. Thomas Robinson dominated. Teahan drained three pointers. Travis played solid on offense and defense. KU had just the kind of game it needed and right they needed it the most. After two offensively tough games, after a brutal schedule, on top of finals, and Christmas, KU needed a game to unload on someone. This game was more a televised scrimmage than a game. But right now KU needed a scrimmage. Guys like Elijah, Travis, Whitey, Kevin Young, and Justin Wesley needed a game like this. Elijah hit a couple three pointers, had a couple dunks, and a dime here or there. Just what he needs to get ready for conference season. Whitey needed to block some shots, hit a hook shot, and get some boards. Travis continued to play great defense, he hit a couple threes, and he played his most complete game at this point in the season. Kevin Young might lead this team in floor burns by the end of the season, and tonight he had his fair share. Wesley played well, nothing special, but that’s just what Self needs. Whether it was Howard, Self’s meeting with the team, or the players only meeting, or a combination of all of them, there was something different about this team tonight. Finally KU had a game where they didn’t have a lot of pressure on them. More importantly they won, and they won big. Finally KU dominated, just like they should.
Follow me on Twitter @bmcfarlandONW
This Bill Self led Kansas basketball team isn't quite what we normally see from him. Though it's not the McDonalds All-Americans that are missing, it's a guard who can create for himself. Self's offense relies on great guard play. Many of us don't really think Tyshawn is a great guard but for as many mistakes as he has made he has made great plays. Yet Tyshawn, shouldn't have to be the guard that creates for himself. The guard that needs to create for himself is Elijah Johnson. The junior guard hasn't had this kind of role in his career at KU, yet many fans, coaches, and media expect him to jump right in to the role of a great guard. EJ isn't playing bad, he is playing quite fine, but what he needs to do is drive. Rarely has Bill Self not had a guard that can create and drive well, Sherron Collins, Deron Williams, Dee Williams, Mario Chalmers, to name a few. This year so far he doesn't have that guy. Tyshawn has tried but that is just not his style or role for this team. That role is EJ's. EJ can jump out of the gym and has extremely long arms. Johnson might be the most athletic guard in the country. He has a lot of the physical attributes of former Memphis stand out and current Kings guard Tyreeke Evans. Against Georgetown Johnson took over PG, actually waving Tyshawn off, and was able to create a shot for himself which helped propel this team to a win. EJ hasn't done that lately. EJ has been lost out in 3pt land, making a few but not many and averaging somewhere between 6-12 ppg. That isn't what Self had in mind. Self even thought that Johnson would "blow up" this season. So far there has been no "blow up" from Johnson. Now don't get me wrong Johnson can shoot the 3, but to help his team out more he needs to drive. Whether or not Johnson can score when he drives is beside the point. If EJ is driving a big man has to rotate which means that either Trob, or Whitey, or whoever else is in should be open. Creating shots for himself, and others, should help this sometimes offensively inept team score. Though if there is a player on KU who has the ability, potential, and opportunity it would be Johnson. So Johnson might just "blow up", right when his team needs him too.