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The Day After: Dominating Emporia State

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Kansas teammates Wayne Selden (1) and Jamari Traylor (31) celebrate a three pointer from reserve Evan Manning against Emporia State during the second half on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014.

Kansas teammates Wayne Selden (1) and Jamari Traylor (31) celebrate a three pointer from reserve Evan Manning against Emporia State during the second half on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014. by Nick Krug

Another exhibition season is in the books for the Kansas University men's basketball team and like most exhibition seasons that came before it, the Jayhawks learned a little, questioned a lot and got a few of the kinks worked out before kicking off the regular season against tougher competition and under more intense conditions.

KU coach Bill Self made no secret of the fact that he does not put too much stock into what happens in these exhibition games and he made it clear that he's not an easy guy to impress in games like this, where the Jayhawks are far superior to their opponent in size, speed, depth and overall talent.

Take Tuesday's effort by freshman forward Cliff Alexander, for example, in KU's 109-56 victory over Emporia State.

Self said Alexander did not play well enough to score the 12 points he did, but got most of his buckets off of easy dunks and nice efforts by his teammates to set him up.

That's not to say he doesn't get some credit for his 12 points and 6 rebounds in 13 minutes, but it's also not to say he's the early leader for national freshman of the year. Somewhere in between is more likely.

I said it after the last game and I think it holds true after this one as well. The most important part of the exhibition schedule is not to see what kinds of numbers guys can put up but how guys play together, how they perform in front of a live crowd and how ready they are for the season. There were plenty of good moments and bad in both exhibition games, but the real answers to those questions will become a little clearer starting Friday night.

Quick takeaway

In addition to all of the nit-picky coaching ploys, Self also pointed out perhaps the most important aspect of these exhibition games and that's that they give the young guys a chance to have some success and gain some confidence. Very few of KU's games, if any, will be as easy as Tuesday night's game was, but Alexander, Devonte' Graham, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Kelly Oubre and even guys like Hunter Mickelson and Landen Lucas were able to experience domination, finishing plays and feeling the love from the Allen Fieldhouse faithful. It may sound ridiculous to say those types of things are an adjustment, but even the good things take some getting used to and these young Jayhawks now have had a small taste.

Kansas head coach Bill Self takes a knee to talk with some of the freshman during the second half on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014.

Kansas head coach Bill Self takes a knee to talk with some of the freshman during the second half on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014. by Nick Krug

Three reasons to smile:

1 – Any time you can put eight guys in double figures, that's a good night. I don't care who it comes against. And here's why: It proves that you've got an unselfish team that plays together and plays for the best/right shots, not just a bunch of individuals looking to get theirs. Any number of these guys probably could've scored 30 last night, but their unselfishness — and, of course, the substitution pattern — spread the wealth and allowed a lot of guys to leave the gym feeling good about their efforts instead of just two or three.

Kansas guard Brannen Greene slaps hands with teammate Hunter Mickelson after a turnover by Emporia State during the first half on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014.

Kansas guard Brannen Greene slaps hands with teammate Hunter Mickelson after a turnover by Emporia State during the first half on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014. by Nick Krug

2 – Brannen Greene looked incredibly active on the offensive end, both in terms of looking for his shot and going after the offensive boards and loose balls. This was a great sign for two reasons: 1. Greene's coming off of a head injury and looked to be fine. 2. The more he can “plug himself in” to all aspects of the game and not just float around as a shooter/scorer, the greater his chances become of being a regular part of the rotation.

3 – KU drastically improved its free throw shooting in this one, which was pretty much a lock to predict but still good to see. After knocking in just 50 percent from the line against Washburn last week, the Jayhawks hit 25 of 32 free throws (78 percent) vs. Emporia State and looked a lot less rusty every time they stepped to the line. They focused on this a little in practice and, clearly it worked, but Self has always said he's never been a big fan of spending too much practice time on free throw shooting so it's clear that these guys took it as a personal challenge to improve the stat.

Kansas forward Cliff Alexander delivers on a dunk past Emporia State guard Jay Temaat during the second half on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014.

Kansas forward Cliff Alexander delivers on a dunk past Emporia State guard Jay Temaat during the second half on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014. by Nick Krug

Three reasons to sigh:

1 – Self said it and we already alluded to it above, but Cliff Alexander clearly was a little off against the Hornets. Maybe he was just trying too hard or pressing too much, but after sitting for nearly the first 10 minutes of the game, Alexander came in and missed a shot he forced, traveled on another possession and picked up two quick fouls. He eventually settled down and rocked the rim a few times to finish with a pretty good line, but the thing worth focusing on was not his numbers against inferior talent but why he sat so long before coming in.

2 – Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk started but did not do much to take advantage of the opportunity. He missed four of five shots — which happens — and picked up three boards, two turnovers and two assists in 18 minutes. He looks great at times, especially defensively and any time he releases a jumper, but also did not go all-out after a few loose balls and looked a little sloppy handling the ball. It wouldn't surprise me for a second if this was just because of the nerves associated with starting for the first time. These guys are all still young, but especially Mykhailiuk.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk defends against Emporia State guard Tyler Jordan during the first half on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk defends against Emporia State guard Tyler Jordan during the first half on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014. by Nick Krug

3 – The Jayhawks dominated the glass — 45-29 — but still gave up 10 offensive boards to an undersized ESU team. Some of them were just loose ball pick-ups and the like, but there were a couple of moments, especially in the first half, when the Hornets got second- and third-chance opportunities.

One for the road:

KU's 109-56 runaway victory over Emporia State...

• Made Kansas 65-9 in exhibition games.

• Extended KU’s home exhibition winning streak to 42 games, dating back to the 1994 season.

• Upped Kansas’ all-time record against Emporia State to 20-3 in favor of the Jayhawks, including 7-0 in exhibition games.

• Improved head coach Bill Self to a 33-2 record in exhibition games at Kansas, including 24-0 in home exhibition contests.

• Made KU 56-4 in exhibition games inside Allen Fieldhouse.

Next up

The Jayhawks officially will open the 2014-15 season Friday night at 7 p.m. against UC-Santa Barbara at Allen Fieldhouse.

By the numbers: Kansas vs. Emporia State, Nov. 11, 2014

By the numbers: Kansas vs. Emporia State, Nov. 11, 2014

Comments

Brett McCabe 4 years, 2 months ago

This game, to me, is why other programs are moving to closed scrimmages.

It also makes me think that, as much as the in-state exhibitions my be good local public relations, it's probably time to quit wasting time with them. Maybe we do one local school for the opener followed by a scrimmage against some sort of a competitive team (if such a thing can be identified). Last night was pretty much a waste of time for everyone involved. Not sure if there is a better answer but it might be worth looking for something.

Re: Brannen, I thought his post-game comments were a little off and his defense on the court was missing. Not sure if he was specifically referring to Svi (I think he was),but Svi still looks like a far more complete player, especially since he is new to the system and Brannen should have quite a bit of mastery at this time in his career. Maturity and focus seems to continue to be a problem with BG. Both things are easy to fix but it seems like they never are when it comes to collegiate athletics.

Len Shaffer 4 years, 2 months ago

I can understand your concerns, Brett, but I don't think it would be a good idea to stop having the exhibition games. I think it's important for the new players (both freshmen and transfers) to get used to playing in front of a crowd at Allen, and it gives Self a chance to see how players react in game situations, which is never the same as a scrimmage, no matter how inferior the opposition.

Rodney Crain 4 years, 2 months ago

Brett I disagree too. It is a rehersal, as much as a scrimmage. It is two extra games for the students as well as fans. Most players get to play, especially the walk ons who get to shine in the sun as well as a chance for their parents to see them play (Mr and Mrs Manning for example). It is a $20,000 check for a local team, plus they get a great road game experience that does not involve alot of travel cost for them.

Not sure it was a waste of time for anyone but you, so feel free to opt out if you want. The coaches experiment, players get used to AFH, fans love it, they televise it, Its on ESPN 3, all in all you are watching a scrimmage so either way this is the better choice. We could schedule these with better competition but this is the big guy in the state sharing with the smaller schools. I think it is a nice gesture and they are fun to watch. If you did not smile with Evan hit that three and see Danny and his wife laughing you are not a fan anyway.

Len Shaffer 4 years, 2 months ago

Rodney, you said it much better than I did.

Titus Canby 4 years, 2 months ago

I feel like Lucas was the biggest positive surprise in the exhibition games. Great footwork, great body positioning. He reminded me a little of Wayne Simien the way he pushed guys around in the paint with his butt.

Oubre is my biggest disappointment. He has a horrible looking shot. Fortunately, he looks pretty decent on defense. I'd suggest starting Greene or maybe even Ellis at the 3.

Our perimeter defense looks way better than last year. They're playing team defense. I didn't see any of that last year, even in the exhibition games.

Can't wait for Friday.

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