San Antonio — Following the Kansas basketball team’s Final Four loss to Villanova, sophomore guard Malik Newman shares his thoughts on the Jayhawks’ struggles at The Alamodome.
Newman, who became one of KU’s best players late in the season, said he hasn’t yet decided whether he will turn pro and leave the program early.
The season he spent playing alongside All-American Devonte’ Graham, Newman added, taught him a lot.
San Antonio — Malik Newman doesn’t hold any ill will for his midseason benching.
“I deserved it,” Newman said. “If you was watching us play, I definitely wasn’t providing enough for the team.”
Since being benched and having a “man-to-man” conversation with coach Bill Self in the middle of Big 12 play, Newman’s play has picked up dramatically.
Newman has scored in double-figures in seven straight games and he’s scored 20 or more points in five of them.
“It was a process, it was just me finding myself and doing a lot of soul searching,” Newman said. “Never doubted myself, I mean just trying to find the person that I knew I was. Trying to find out where he was.”
Omaha, Neb. — After an 85-81 victory over Duke in the Elite Eight on Sunday, Malik Newman said it was hard to process his first trip to the Final Four.
"It still doesn't feel real, even to this point," said Newman, who scored a game-high 32 points. "I know we there. We're happy to be there. I'm excited to be there, I know the seniors is and the rest of the team and coaching staff ... tomorrow when I wake up, I think I'll feel totally different."
Newman played defense on Grayson Allen on Duke's final possession, watching Allen's shot bounce on the rim twice before slowly rolling out. He thought it gave the Jayhawks a confidence boost to force overtime.
"I just knew that I had to step up with my play for the last five minutes of the game because at the end of the day, it could've been our last five minutes."
Omaha, Neb. — Malik Newman isn't too concerned with how the oddsmakers view Sunday's game against Duke.
"At the end of the day, we just have to go out and play," Newman said. "The guys that put on the Kansas uniform and the guys that ride the bus over with us, as long as all of us believe, we feel like we can do it and we have a great chance of winning."
As for his own play, Newman had a little bit more to say.
The sophomore shared the story of the first time KU coach Bill Self called him, "soft," and noted it's been "a while" since he felt as good as he does right now.
"Right now, as of lately, I've been at an all-time high," Newman said. "I don't plan on looking back."
OMAHA, Neb. — Malik Newman noticed a change in the Jayhawks after they took a 20-point lead over Clemson.
“We kind of relaxed,” Newman said after KU’s 80-76 win. “We stopped being as aggressive.”
While the Jayhawks allowed the deficit to slowly get cut down to four, they managed to outlast the Tigers, thanks in part to a key play by Devonte’ Graham.
While the senior didn’t have his best game, shooting just 4 for 12 and committing three turnovers, Newman noted there were other things he did in the win.
“He’s a winner. He’s a winner,” Newman said. “At the end of the day, that’s what’s in his DNA.”
OMAHA, Neb. — Malik Newman's recent uptick has him looking like a player many haven't seen in quite some time.
All the way back to AAU, one reporter inquired?
"I wouldn't say that," Newman said with a smile. "but we are seeing a different Malik Newman."
Part of what's led to Newman's uptick, the sophomore said, has been an increased focus on the defensive end. That came from coach Bill Self, who Newman said has reminded him about the importance of being good on both ends of the floor.
"You won't be a complete player until you can defend," Newman recalled Self saying. "That's something he always tells me."
Wichita — Malik Newman took a pause so Devonte' Graham jumped right in.
Moments after scoring 28 points to lead the Jayhawks over Seton Hall, Newman was asked if he was back to his Big 12 form.
From a nearby locker, Graham made his voice heard:
With the win, the Jayhawks advanced to the Sweet 16, doing so for the first time in Newman's on-court career.
"This is what you dream of," Newman said. "I'm proud of it. I'm proud of this team."
Wichita — Kansas sophomore guard Malik Newman said the top-seeded Jayhawks have observed some of the national buzz 16th-seeded Penn has garnered ahead of their Thursday NCAA Tournament matchup at Intrust Bank Arena.
KU’s players, Newman shared, are trying to find the balance between ignoring the hype and giving the Quakers the respect they deserve.
“It could be good or it could be bad. I mean, you can look at it as, ‘Ah, man, they’re hyping this team up,’ and this, that and the other,” Newman said. “And then you start thinking about it like, ‘Are they really this good? Are they this and are they that?’ Or you can look at it as they’re just hyping the team up just because we’re Kansas or something like that.
“We try our best not to look into it and look at it just as another opponent that’s going in to play,” Newman continued, “and we have to take care of business.”
KU (27-7) and Penn (24-8) tip off Thursday at 1 p.m.
“They’re easily a team that if we overlook then they could give us problems or possibly beat us,” Newman said. “So we can’t overlook anyone at this point. Everyone in the tournament is capable of beating someone. If not, they wouldn’t be here. I think if we overlook somebody our chances of going home would be very high.”
According to Kansas senior point guard Devonte’ Graham, his teammates Malik Newman and Silvio De Sousa couldn’t have picked a better time than this weekend to experience breakthroughs.
Following the Jayhawks’ 81-70 victory over West Virginia in the Big 12 tournament championship game, during which Newman scored 20 points and De Sousa provided 16 points and 10 rebounds, Graham said they give the Jayhawks a new element just in time for the NCAA Tournament.
“Now on the scouting report it’s not just going to be me, Svi (Mykhailiuk) and Udoka (Azubuike),” Graham said of the preparation awaiting KU’s upcoming postseason opponents. “When you’ve got five guys out there that can be in attack mode it’s hard to guard that. It’s perfect timing and the perfect time for them to get hot.”
Kansas City, Mo. — In two games playing without injured center Udoka Azubuike, Kansas starting shooting guard Malik Newman has experienced an offensive uptick.
Newman followed a 30-point game against Oklahoma State in the Big 12 quarterfinals with 22 more versus Kansas State in the semis.
Fellow starting guard Devonte’ Graham said Newman has given the Jayhawks a much-needed offensive boost.
“I really don’t think it got nothing to do with Dok being out,” Graham said, “but I think it’s just him making shots. We’re putting him in a position just to make plays and he’s having that confidence and letting it fly.”
Newman shot 8 for 14 against K-State in an 83-67 win, after making 11 of 15 versus the Cowboys.