Thursday, January 6, 2011


Break makes KU basketball better, but could immaturity return?

Kansas players Tyrel Reed (14) and Travis Releford (far right) congratulate Tyshawn Taylor during a timeout in the first half against UMKC on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas players Tyrel Reed (14) and Travis Releford (far right) congratulate Tyshawn Taylor during a timeout in the first half against UMKC on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.




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Kansas defeated UMKC, 99-52 on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self

Kansas coach Bill Self talks to reporters following the Jayhawks' 99-52 victory over UMKC on Jan. 5, 2011.

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The list of things to love about Kansas University’s undefeated, third-ranked basketball team runs deep.

For one thing, the Jayhawks have accomplished what good teams usually do during the semester break. They have turned the extra practice time into more even performances, such as Wednesday night’s 99-52 smack-down of UMKC.

For another, even with senior Mario Little serving an indefinite suspension, Kansas has become a deeper basketball team with a greater number of players giving their coach reason to trust them in tough spots, of which there will be many during the Big 12 schedule.

Third-year sophomore Travis Releford, a utility man, has established himself as a stellar defender, both inside and on the perimeter, and a vastly improved shooter.

Sophomore Elijah Johnson has made huge offensive strides, doing a nice job of distributing, shooting and energizing. He has just nine turnovers in 199 minutes of action and has shot .481 from long range.

Freshman guard Josh Selby, who has a quicker trigger than Will Sonnett ever displayed in a dusty television duel, gets better all the time. In one smooth, lighting-quick motion, Selby morphs from dribbling to shooting and is always lined up correctly. He’s made an outrageous 56 percent of his three-point shots, and most of those have been swishes.

The guards do a nice job of feeding the post with over-the-top passes, and the big men catch what’s thrown their way, big factors in the team’s .537 overall shooting percentage. KU also shoots accurately from long range. Subtract senior Brady Morningstar’s 26 attempts and seven makes and the team is shooting .417 on three-pointers, the equivalent of shooting .626 from inside the arc.

Coach Bill Self can use three of the following four guards and have outrageous speed and two or three three-point-shooting threats on the court: Tyshawn Taylor, Selby, Johnson and Tyrel Reed.

Taylor, who against UMKC played his best game since Selby’s activation, joined Selby and Johnson for a stretch that called to mind the days of Mario Chalmers, Sherron Collins and Russell Robinson playing together.

So everything’s great, right? Well, not quite. Still, the nagging fear that hot-headed immaturity could surface down the road at the worst possible time lingers.

One game after the twins, Marcus and Markieff Morris, drew deserved praise for taking their benchings to heart and hustled their way to big games played with cool heads in a rout of Miami of Ohio, Markieff spent all but four minutes on the bench in the second half because he trash-talked his way into a technical foul.

“With any team, if guys are so selfish that they think about their actions as opposed to what’s good for the masses, that’s a bad play, and, obviously, we’ve had that happen by having to get the last word in or whatever it is,” Self said. “It’s childish. It is going to hurt us. It will cost us.”

Only if it continues. Self again will take measures to try to prevent hot heads from exceeding the boiling point. If whatever it is he does to try to drive his point home gets the intended result, this team could mature into a most memorable one.


Trent Smith 11 years, 8 months ago

worst possible team lingers? Can't always rely on spellcheck.

waywardJay 11 years, 8 months ago

If the only real negative about this team is they get a touch chippy. I take it.

Funhawk 11 years, 8 months ago

They are chippy now because coach has always accused them of not playing "tough." They are only taking orders from the man in charge. If that macho tough shtick were to stop, the players would not be getting technicals.

Dirk Medema 11 years, 8 months ago

Chippy has nothing to do with playing tough. Chippy is immature, weak, snot-nosed play, the pretentious, macho, bravato illussion of toughness, and Self wants nothing of it.

Playing tough is getting smacked and staying focus enough to not deviate from the game plan. Playing tough is taking a hit while shooting and making the basket (and FT) anyway, or turning and running down court to defend (your job) without whining to the stripes (chippy, and not your job), much less sulking about an alledged missed call.

It seems that some players are many miles from losing the immaturity, and unfortunately there probably isn't enough time to sprint that far.

Definitely glad to see the 20-23 FT shooting. Hopefully, that is the sign of taking extra time to elevate that piece, the championship piece, of the game.

klineisanazi 11 years, 8 months ago

Exactly. They are not at all the same thing. The toughness Self always talks about is mental. Yes, it can involve a little swagger, but it is the kind of toughness that allows you to go into Columbia or Manhattan and come away with a win. Quite often, that kind of toughness will require a player to walk away from a confrontation. It is as much about self-discipline as anything else. Sherron Collins embodied that state of mind and that is why Self loved him. This team has players with more athleticism then Collins, but that mental toughness is something they still are working on.

WilburNether 11 years, 8 months ago

You're right about mental toughness, and partly right about Collins. Mental toughness includes not throwing an elbow at an opponent's head even if he's been baiting you in one way or another, and not mouthing off to the point of getting a technical. The twins are not yet at the level of mental toughness that they need to find.

With regard to Collins, sometimes he was mentally tough, and sometimes he wasn't. It was anything but mental toughness when he allowed an opposing player to take him out of his game AND the team's game, as happened, among the more prominent instances, against Syracuse and Northern Iowa. Collins would occasionally lapse into thinking that the game was about him showing up an opposing player who had gotten his goat. That's exactly what happened in the losses to Syracuse and Northern Iowa.

Let the Collins fanbois squeal like stuck pigs. That's the way it was.

ohmixmaster 11 years, 8 months ago

You're not wrong about Collins, but think about how many games KU won, going back to his Freshman year, because of that same mentality. His last two years, especially, he HAD to take that mentality because of circumstance, and it paid off for him and KU. There are two real differences between Sherron and the Morris Twins; the first is that Collins never got Technical's. The second is that this years team is off the charts talent wise and there is no place for that type of mentality. Food for thought.

NJHAWK 11 years, 8 months ago

I have a feeling that TRob will start (if he does not miss a lot of practice time) in place of Kieff. Kieff should come off the bench. He did not show any focus last night. It was completely irresponsible of him to pick up three fouls in the first half (especially without TRob).

kusayzone 11 years, 8 months ago

I went to the game last night and was disturbed by one thing. At one point of the game, the TEAM became a game for ME. It seemed that one player felt he needed to be all the highlight reel material. I saw selfish play and where as I have not always been a Sherron fan, this team doesn't need that.

Ian Brown 11 years, 8 months ago

"It seemed that one player felt he needed to be all the highlight reel material."

Of whom do you speak? Travis Releford with the windmill slam and then the step back three-pointer? Selby, with his usual aggressive play that I've come to appreciate more and more after each game? Elijah with the missed dunks at the end? Or Markieff for getting the technical foul?

In my opinion, aside from Markieff's bonehead tech, KU played quite unselfishly. They did total 26 assists, after all. That's 7 more than our average assists per game.

LAJayhawk 11 years, 8 months ago

1) Great points, all.

2) Even better avatar. I'm in the middle season two on Direct TV's 101 network. D'Angelo is not much of a fan of belts anymore...

3) Definitely agree on the team play, especially defensively. We used the trap to significant success in the first half.

Ian Brown 11 years, 8 months ago

Thank you, LAJayhawk.

The Wire is simply amazing. Each season improves upon the last, with exception of the last season, Season 5. Even so, I still thoroughly enjoyed Season 5.

I agree with you on the defensive play. It seems to me that Selby is improving exponentially on defense with each game. I'm excited to see him continue to improve throughout the remainder of the season.

Ian Brown 11 years, 8 months ago

Also, if you are speaking of Releford, I quite enjoyed that highlight reel material.

Jonathan Allison 11 years, 8 months ago

I enjoyed it on Sportscenter this morning, as I didn't get to watch the game here in Houston.

When was the last time a Jayhawk was #1 on the top 10? Seems like its been awhile.

11 years, 8 months ago

26 assists on 34 field goals: just sayin'...

Benjamin Clay Jones 11 years, 8 months ago

Who's Will Sonnett? Fifties western TV series character, I'm guessing? And was he chippy?

89JHawkDoc 11 years, 8 months ago

The Guns of Will Sonnet was a western show in the late 60's. The title character was supposed to be the fastest gun in the west, but he was never seen on the show. The stories all revolved around his father (Walter Brennan) and his son (Dack Rambo), also both very fast with their guns, who travelled around the west looking for their missing and mysterious father/son Will. There's your TV trivia for the day. Since the character never appeared, we can't really say whether he was chippy or not.

Jonathan Allison 11 years, 8 months ago

word is he lost in a duel to Clay Allison, the gentleman gunfighter. Fastest gun this side o' the Pecos. Never killed a man that didn't need killin'.

Just kidding. I've never heard of Will Sonnet.

Bill Horton 11 years, 8 months ago

Will Sonnett, late 60's, played by Walter Brennan. He often avoided gunfights by reminding opponents that he was good with a gun - "no brag, just fact".

jhwk215 11 years, 8 months ago

why wasnt robinson out there? I missed the first half

Ian Brown 11 years, 8 months ago

I believe he was attended his grandmothers funeral.

Stay strong, TRob. We're all behind you.

Lindsey Buscher 11 years, 8 months ago

"Subtract senior Brady Morningstar."

Got it. Sounds good to me.

KGphoto 11 years, 8 months ago

Dude had a better game than Mk. Do you want to subtract Kief too?

KGphoto 11 years, 8 months ago

This Brady bashing is beyond tired. It's dead. Let it go.

kcglowboy 11 years, 8 months ago

Amen! It is, as you said, beyond tired. Dead. It's also flat-out pathetic when people who are supposedly fans of one of the best, most exciting teams in the country, can't open their mouths or type a complete sentence without being negative.

Dale Koch 11 years, 8 months ago

Glad to see ibrown3 say something about TRob being in our thoughts. Didn't see that mentioned too much last night at all. Get back soon TRob, we're going to need you big time. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Cizur 11 years, 8 months ago

They did mention his name at least once. They referred to him as an emerging NBA quality postman.

LAJayhawk 11 years, 8 months ago

What's his face did say -- awkwardly -- that TRob was in our thoughts and prayers twice in the same sentence during the TV broadcast last night. He did, however, leave out who's funeral TRob was attending, saying only "a death in the family."

kesmithstl1 11 years, 8 months ago

You have to play the game with a chip on your shoulder! Every school does it! As a result, chippiness goes hand in hand. Don't give me this crap about sportsmanship either (spare me).

Dirk Medema 11 years, 8 months ago

A "chip on your shoulder" and "chippiness" may be grammatically similar, but they do NOT go "hand in hand", nor does every school play chippy.

I'm not sure what reference to sportsmanship you are referring to, but it isn't a given with respect to any of it. I would say that sportsmanship is a reasonable expectation, but so is playing tough and without being chippy.

Helping a guy up off the floor is sportsmanship. Knocking him there within the rules of the game in the first place is playing tough. Knocking him there outside of the rules of the game (include also throwing elbows to head, talking back for T's, bumping ref's, ...) or most anything warranting a T is being chippy. Playing tough will earn enough respect from most ref's that they will at least talk to the player if something approaches excessive/T-able.

lee3022 11 years, 8 months ago

Hmm . . . . seems to me that if you are a good player you don't need to tell the opponent that, except by your play. I do realize that some NBA players run their mouth during games (KG for one), but the good players that do that are using it to gain an advantage by getting under an opponent's skin. Not real attractive to me. Think Steve Nash needs to be chippy? Too much class to stoop to that level. College is more about sportsmanship than the pros. These players represent their school and are ambassadors for the school. Play hard and tough and still with class is better.

But the bigger point is Coach Self is not tolerating it so learn the lesson guys.

Robert Brock 11 years, 8 months ago

The Hawks have done well - against cupcakes. The opposition is going to get much tougher and our road games will test our young players. I'm pumped!!!!!

jaybate 11 years, 8 months ago


Echo that!

To use a military metaphor...

They went through boot camp.

They have been on training maneuvers in pre-conference.

Combat starts now.

Many will live.

Some will perform beyond all expectations.

Some may break and run a few times from the XTReme Muscle.

Some may become casualties from the XTReme Cheap Shotting.

But, finally, they will leave no brother behind.

Destination: one game in April.

Mission: Get it done, whatever it takes.

Sempre fi!

Steve Brown 11 years, 8 months ago

Jhawk in Cornhusker land we know the truth you are actually antler in Columbia and I hope Brady hits the winning FT that puts us on 100 at the end of the game while you sit on 50.

who you going to pick on next year, can argue about playing time a fun excercise yet if they wear the Crimson & Blue then they ALL have my support, you are a detractor. Not a fan, show your true colors, tigerkitty.

gchawk 11 years, 8 months ago

Great post, couldn't agree more. KG Photo put it very well, this Brady bashing is boorish and pathetic. He's a terrific young man who works his tail off, and while he might not be the most gifted athlete, he gets a lot out of the talents he's been given.

jaybate 11 years, 8 months ago

Dear Tom,

The immaturity will not return.

But what is left of it will continue to be slowly etched away by the acid of experience.

In today's game, if you can defend the post and the trey stripe, go +5 on the boards, average making 50-55% of FGAs, shoot 68-72% on FTs, and shoot the trey as well as the opponent, you are in the hunt for a ring.

Our defense and rebounding have tended to be good. FG percentage is there. Trey shooting has been shaky but seems to be trending up and is usually better than the opponent. FT shooting has been up and down but close to the required minimum range.

It is not a question of whether immaturity will return?

It is a question of whether what remains of the remaining immaturity will be tempered into steel by March?

KU_FanSince75 11 years, 8 months ago

I was listening to Bob Davis and Chris Piper on the radio broadcast (I refuse to listen to Greg Gurley and Dave Armstrong, btw). And for the record, Chris Piper was all over Kieff for the trash talking tech. Kieff will learn from it. After that happened, the camera panned to Kieff on the bench. It looked like at the time, he was going to sit on the pine for awhile. These kinds of technical fouls hurt a team. But HCBS won't allow it---thank God he's our coach!

KU_FanSince75 11 years, 8 months ago

I was listening to Bob Davis and Chris Piper on the radio broadcast (I refuse to listen to Greg Gurley and Dave Armstrong, btw). And for the record, Chris Piper was all over Kieff for the trash talking tech. Kieff will learn from it. After that happened, the camera panned to Kieff on the bench. It looked like at the time, he was going to sit on the pine for awhile. These kinds of technical fouls hurt a team. But HCBS won't allow it---thank God he's our coach!

KEITHMILES05 11 years, 8 months ago

Yeah, the twins need to man up and stop acting like babies. If you are reading this twins take it to heart.Your reactions are hurting the team so stop it. It doesn't matter who did what but how you react. Right now you are reverting to your freshman attitudes which nobody liked. Grow up and move forward like the good men you are.

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