Jeff Withey paces KU against Spiders

Kansas center Jeff Withey defends against a shot from Richmond guard Cedrick Lindsay during the first half on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Jeff Withey defends against a shot from Richmond guard Cedrick Lindsay during the first half on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

1. Jeff Withey: Best player for KU in a landslide. The big man not only scored and blocked, he also showed his quickness, picking up his sixth and seventh steals of the year early in the second half near midcourt when anticipating passes. Withey posted 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting with 13 rebounds, four blocks and two assists to go with three turnovers.

2. Naadir Tharpe: The sophomore scored a career-high 11 points while taking just five shots, which included a 3-for-4 performance from three. KU coach Bill Self was more happy with his aggressiveness defensively, as he fought harder through ball screens and gave Elijah Johnson some much needed rest in the first half. Tharpe added three assists, three rebounds and two steals with no turnovers in 17 minutes.

3. Ben McLemore: Foul trouble halted what could have been a huge offensive night for the freshman, who once again was in double digits halfway through the first half. He finished with 14 points on 5-for-9 shooting (2-for-3 from three) with two assists, two steals and a turnover.

4. Travis Releford: Another steady effort for the senior, who once again was at his best in transition. Releford had 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting while making his only three and his only two free throws. He had two assists and two steals to go with one turnover.

5. Kevin Young: Self was steaming a few times because of Young's laziness on getting out to three-point shooters, yet in the end, the box score showed the senior with eight points on perfect 4-for-4 shooting with nine rebounds. Self also said afterwards Young needs to do a better job of getting position early in defensive possessions to make up for his lack of size.

6. Elijah Johnson: Self wasn't happy with Johnson after the game, saying he was still too timid offensively. The coach pointed out a pair of examples in the first half when, after a ball screen, Johnson was matched up with Richmond post player Derrick Williams and didn't even try to drive by him. Johnson was better in the second half and finished with eight points on 3-for-9 shooting (0-for-3 from three) with seven assists and three turnovers.

7. Perry Ellis: Against a smaller lineup, the freshman made scoring in the paint look simple. He posted eight points on 4-for-5 shooting but did little else in his 16 minutes, grabbing no rebounds with no assists, blocks or steals.

8. Jamari Traylor: He tries hard, as evidenced by his hustle to leap into the stands to try to save a deflection from going out of bounds. Traylor's highlight play came on a weakside block, and he added two points, four rebounds and an assist to go with two turnovers and three fouls in 13 minutes.

9. Rio Adams: Still looks like a guy that needs to settle down a bit when he gets in. Adams had a highlight-reel pass and also an aggressive drive for a one-handed dunk, but it looks like he's trying to make something happen every single time he touches it, which might be a bit ambitious. He had four points on 2-for-4 shooting with one assist in six minutes.

10. Andrew White III: Missed all five of his shots — including four threes — in 11 minutes. The freshman still contributed some other ways, notching his third and fourth blocks of the season to go with three rebounds and a turnover in 11 minutes. Season Standings
1. Jeff Withey (66 points)
2. Ben McLemore (65 points)
3. Travis Releford (61 points)
4. Elijah Johnson (56 points)
T5. Kevin Young (42 points)
T5. Naadir Tharpe (42 points)
7. Perry Ellis (37 points)
8. Jamari Traylor (32 points)
9. Andrew White III (20 points)
10. Rio Adams (11 points)
11. Justin Wesley (7 points)



William Blake 1 year, 3 months ago

I agree with your ratings, Jesse.

Besides Jeff's play I didn't feel anyone else performed spectacularly... and that comment doesn't praise personal efforts, but the fact that we ate Richmond's lunch like a snack, it implies considerable praise for our team efforts.

Naadir deserves #2 because he did step above the expectations of many.

BMac needs to practice more discipline concerning reaching on d. He has shown his propensity for foul trouble now and that is a trend we need to stop asap. Fouling appears to be the only obstacle in BMac's road to success.

TRele put in a stable effort with several nice touches in this game.

EJ is improving. He doesn't have to drive to the hole constantly... but he has to do it every game to expose the threat so defenses posture to defend the post, leaving us open for the trey. When was the last time we shot the trey this well over several games? EJ is the guy who is making an impact on that success.

Perry is improving. You can see him (physically) speeding up to the game, even though he has always had the physical speed. The improvement is in his head... speeding up the game. He has a ways to go here. His focus is excellent when the ball is near, but he's getting caught as a spectator of the game too often when he is away from the ball. Example: rebounding. He needs to show us some of the physical aggression we are seeing him do in the post with the ball but visible when he's on the edge of play. He needs to fight for better rebounding position and also for defensive weak-side help positioning. Still... Perry is coming along fine and we will all be amazed soon enough at what he can (and will) do on the court.

Jamari is filling the role of "team beast." When we need muscle on the court for a match-up, Jamari is our man. I look at Jamari and I crave a player like Josh Smith.

Rio, Rio, Rio... just let it come, my friend. Humble yourself as much as possible right now and you will be rewarded when your day comes on the court... and it will... if you let it happen. Players do not come to KU and successfully push control of coaching decisions. There is a reason why you aren't receiving much PT and you need to concede that decision because you trust CS more than you listen to your ego complaining about PT. Make a goal to be the most open-minded, positive, hard-working player in practice (which comes from being humble), give it some time, and you will gain valuable PT. In case you haven't noticed, we lose our starting PG next year and as it stands now you will have an opportunity to absorb a big chunk of those PT minutes.


David Leathers 1 year, 3 months ago

I think these rankings reflect a lot of what Bill Selff has to say after the games. For the last three weeks, the number 1 player has been whoever coach says played the best. In this one, though, its pretty clear-cut that Withey dominated all facets of the game, so I can't be too sure.


mjlindsm 1 year, 3 months ago

Are these rankings how players perform versus expectations or how they perform period? Naadir was better than we would expect from him, but he's always a good shooter in garbage time. Withey was a clear #1, but BMac was every bit as much of a clear #2 as far as making sure we win the game. You guys over-value garbage time with these rankings.


tathagata 1 year, 3 months ago

Way to go Naadir. Keep working and improving.


Kye Clark 1 year, 3 months ago

Naadir at number 2? That's a reach. It was a great performance for him personally, but let's not blow it out of proportion just because it was him. If you switched his night with BMac's, would he still have been #2? Not a chance.


Ralster Jayhawk 1 year, 3 months ago

BigBadBill now going 10 deep. (but its still non-conf...We shall see what happens in January. My speculation is that against teams not-named-ChokieState, we will have big leads, and will be able to play Rio...). Good win. Now go handle the Suckeyes...Oh, sorry, I mean "The" Ohio State University. Rock'Em, Chalk Outline'Em!


Josh Galler 1 year, 3 months ago

I missed most of the game and I ask for updates on my FB page and for some reason my cousin told me Withey got injured, and when I research it and found nothing, so I asked my cousin if he was hurt, he told me they was not able to let people know. I think he is full of it. Is he?


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