Sunday, August 5, 2012

One for the road: Ben McLemore motivated in final practice before tour, KU debut

Kansas University freshman Ben McLemore scrimmages with his KU teammates on Saturday, August 4, 2012, at the Jayhawks’ practice facility near Allen Fieldhouse. McLemore tweaked a hip-flexor early in the practice, but should be ready to play when KU begins its European exhibition on Tuesday.

Kansas University freshman Ben McLemore scrimmages with his KU teammates on Saturday, August 4, 2012, at the Jayhawks’ practice facility near Allen Fieldhouse. McLemore tweaked a hip-flexor early in the practice, but should be ready to play when KU begins its European exhibition on Tuesday.


Ben McLemore, who hit two three-pointers and an inside shot in the first 10 minutes of Saturday’s Kansas University basketball intrasquad scrimmage, was on pace for quite an offensive performance in the Jayhawks’ practice facility next to Allen Fieldhouse.

However, the smooth-shooting, 6-foot-5, 185-pound red-shirt freshman from St. Louis had his day cut short after suffering a left hip-flexor injury while playing defense at the conclusion of the first of four 10-minute sessions.

“Ben is good offensively,” KU coach Bill Self said of McLemore, who practiced second semester of the 2011-12 season, but did not play in games after being deemed a partial academic qualifier. “He can do a lot of things. Right now he is more a shooter and just an athlete more than knowing how to plug himself in and use his athletic ability. He’s going to be a nice player,” Self added.

The good news is McLemore’s injury is minor and he should be fine for Tuesday’s noon European tour exhibition opener against the Swiss National Team in Fribourg, Switzerland.

He’s full of energy and raring to go after not playing in a game in so long.

“I think it’s awesome. I can’t wait. I’m so excited, it hasn’t hit me yet,” McLemore said. “Once I get over there, I’m going to be like, ‘Man, it’s finally here. I finally get to play for Kansas.’”

Perhaps it’s just coincidence, maybe not, but McLemore’s Blue Team — which featured Elijah Johnson, Jeff Withey, Perry Ellis and Travis Releford — fared a lot better with McLemore in the lineup Saturday than when he was off to the side riding an exercise bike.

The Blue team outscored the Naadir Tharpe, Andrew White, Jamari Traylor and Kevin Young-led Red Team, 30-15, the first quarter. The Reds outscored the Blues, 25-11, the second quarter before the lineups were mixed and matched for the third and fourth stanzas.

“I was getting going until I got the injury,” McLemore said. “I was playing defense, sliding, and I pulled it a little bit. I’ll sit out a couple days and rest it up and be ready to go Tuesday.”

Of his outside shot, McLemore said: “It has been looking good. I’ve been working on my ballhandling and my shooting. Hopefully I’ll be hitting a lot of big shots overseas.”

Self, who has been impressed with McLemore’s work in the 10 practices that were allotted to the Jayhawks by the NCAA, said McLemore could be the best defensive player the Jayhawks have ever had and is one of the most athletic players KU has had.

“I definitely like it,” McLemore said of his coach’s praise. “It is a motivator. I don’t think it changes anything. I’m going to play my game and do whatever coach wants me to do.”

Aside from McLemore ... everybody’s healthy heading into today’s travel day to Switzerland. Senior guard Elijah Johnson, who had arthroscopic knee surgery in April, had several pinpoint passes for easy baskets and unofficially had 10 points (including one made three) in Saturday’s four-quarter scrimmage that included the international 24-second clock.

“I feel great. My knee is getting stronger. I just need to get in better shape,” Johnson said.

Johnson, who is KU’s vocal leader on the court, said the 10 practices have been beneficial.

“Right now, the coaches are instilling things in their (eight scholarship freshmen) heads that they usually don’t learn until October. It gives them a head start,” Johnson said. “It gives them a chance to warm up. I think they need that extra time to be able to settle down and study.”

As far as the intensity at the practices ... “Coach is nice right now. He is not pressuring us. He is letting us have fun right now,” Johnson said. “He wants us to enjoy it, let people realize they are at Kansas. He’s letting people breathe. When it’s time to knuckle down, it’ll definitely get more intense.”

Senior center Withey was dominant with 16 points and several blocks. KU sophomore backup point guard Naadir Tharpe had 11 points and had limited turnovers.

“Today you saw him on his best day,” said Self, who let the media watch the final pre-European workout. “Naadir has been hot and cold to say the least. He’s had problems passing the ball all over the place. Today he scrimmaged pretty well. He’s fast. He can make a shot. It’d be nice if he could settle in as backup point guard. I don’t know yet because he hasn’t been very consistent so far.”

Freshman guard Milt Doyle had 14 points, showing a nice touch from the outside on several jumpers and like most freshmen, missing badly on others. Frosh guard Rio Adams hit a three and had six points. Perry Ellis looked comfortable inside in cashing five buckets.

Self said he doesn’t really care much about the upcoming games in Europe with the plan to play everybody between 18 and 20 minutes a game.

“What we’ve gotten out of it, we’ve already gotten out of it and that’s practice,” Self said. “Guys do work hard for the most part. We’ve done a lot of offensive breakdown stuff, a lot in 10 practices. I want to give us the best chance to win games in early November. We’ve got some big ones in early November — with eight freshmen I think this gives us a better chance.”

Notes: KU coach Self said Saturday that frosh Rio Adams, 6-3 from Seattle’s Rainier Beach High, has qualified academically, thus will make the trip. He said he received word from the NCAA Clearinghouse regarding Adams on Wednesday or Thursday. In July it was reported that frosh Milt Doyle, 6-4 from Chicago Marshall High, had qualified. Both had some concerns about their academic eligibility heading into the final days of the 2011-12 academic year. Self said all of KU’s incoming players are eligible ... The Jayhawks will travel all day today, flying commercially, and arrive in Zurich sometime Monday morning.


chriz 10 years, 4 months ago

Man, I'm excited to see this dude play. Looks like he's bulked up a little, too.

Ian Emerson 10 years, 4 months ago

I cant wait to watch B-Mac leave it out on the court. He's gonna be a champion

REHawk 10 years, 4 months ago

HA! Just count all those qualifiers which Wily Bill threw into his assessments of Tharpe and this squad. Gentle nudges for aspiring minute mongers to take to bed for the next couple of months.

Jack Wilson 10 years, 4 months ago

I definitely enjoy any info we can get, but simply no mention of Peters or Lucas from the scrimmage, or how Traylor did? Or Wesley. We only have the backup post spots at stake here. Withey being "dominant" might tell us something, but that's about all we got. Perhaps it fell into the .. "if you don't have something good to say, don't say anything" category.

Blue Team: EJ, McLemore, Releford, Ellis, Withey. Any hints in that alignment?

Red Team: Tharpe, White, Traylor, KY, __. Any hints in that alignment?

The Blue team .. drum roll .. might be the starters, and the 9 seems like a very likely 9 man rotation.

Self on Tharpe: “Today you saw him on his best day,” said Self, who let the media watch the final pre-European workout. “Naadir has been hot and cold to say the least. He’s had problems passing the ball all over the place. Today he scrimmaged pretty well. He’s fast. He can make a shot. It’d be nice if he could settle in as backup point guard. I don’t know yet because he hasn’t been very consistent so far.”

Tharpe is a worry to me only because we really don't have any other pure point guard options behind EJ. I think Self's quote sums it up from last season as well ... if he takes care of the ball, he'll be fine. Big "if", though. But if he's throwing the ball away, I'm sure Adams or Doyle will be more than happy to take those minutes.

Saw that Doyle scored 14 on erratic shooting it sounds. Don't know if those were dropped on EJ, or Tyler Self. But it sounds like he's not afraid to shoot, which is a good thing going forward.

I know Self said each guy will get 18-20 minutes per game, but with 13 scholarship guys and Wesley, that doesn't translate. Hope we get some detailed box scores at the very least.

KGphoto 10 years, 4 months ago

See: The Newell Post

He has a little on everyone but Relly I believe.

KansasComet 10 years, 4 months ago

"Don't know if they were dropped on EJ or Tyler Self"? Instant classic!!! I think I will laugh the rest of the day. Thanks for a great read!!

Kye Clark 10 years, 4 months ago

"Blue Team: EJ, McLemore, Releford, Ellis, Withey. Any hints in that alignment?"

I'm confused, as I heard SO much talk about Ellis at the 3. Hmm. LOL.

For anyone who doubted what I had said all along, at least for his freshman season, Ellis will play the four.

Tad Shurtz 10 years, 4 months ago

Full Highlights of yesterday's scrimmage, courtesy of the Shiver:

This just in: Doyle can play.

Lance Hobson 10 years, 4 months ago

Awesome footage. I love seeing these young guys get rejected by Withey. Welcome to division I boys!

ku1otaku 10 years, 4 months ago

I was most impressed by BMac. Looks like he is going to be good. I also was quite impressed with Doyle. I hope he makes his way into the rotation this year.

Mike Kendall 10 years, 4 months ago

Great video clip. Here is what I noticed a lot:

***Withey rejected a lot of shots--No surprise--Kevin Young got rejected not once but twice.

***Unselfish play--especially with the Blue Squad.

***Perry Ellis--doesn't he have a sweet shot or what?

***Kevin Young--when his shot isn't being rejected by Withey, he has a darn good stroke.

***BMac--he could be a beast that could be a crowd favorite in a hurry. He looks like the guy at the circus that gets shot out of the cannon--ready to roll.

Rock Chalk!

FarSideHawk 10 years, 4 months ago

Loved the video of the scrimmage!

Can someone write in the jersey numbers for all the new players. I could recognize most, but not all. Would like to watch it again with the jersey numbers known. Thanks!

Tad Shurtz 10 years, 4 months ago

2 - Anrio Adams, 3 - Andrew White, 10 - Evan Manning, 11 - Tyler Self, 25 - Milton Doyle, 32 - Zach Peters, 33 - Landen Lucas, 34 - Perry Ellis.

Jack Wilson 10 years, 4 months ago

After seeing that video (thanks honk4tad), prior video, understanding what we've seen these guys do on the court, hearing multiple comments from coaches and players, hearing from Jesse and the other writers here (and without any regard for what high school coaches have said, or Isiah Thomas) -- here's a pre-Europe power ranking (without consideration of position) of the scholarship players plus Wesley.

  1. EJ
  2. Withey
  3. Releford
  4. McLemore
  5. Ellis
  6. White
  7. Traylor
  8. Tharpe
  9. Young
  10. Doyle
  11. Lucas
  12. Wesley
  13. Peters
  14. Adams.

Will be interesting to see how Europe changes perceptions.

As Ralster pointed out, the highlight of the video was the KY 'fro. Artis Gilmore would be proud.

Ben Simonett 10 years, 4 months ago

Doyle at 10?

Your poster name says HEM, but I don't believe that's really you!

Also, knowing how Self favors his veterans I'd flip Traylor and Young

Jack Wilson 10 years, 4 months ago

Odd, isn't it? It's more a product of the guys below him, particularly Adams. And 14 points seemed pretty solid. As I'm sure you know, I'm not anti-Doyle. Actually, a perfect late, no risk guy. It was the crazy response by many here to his signing. And then the reactions to my tempered opinion. But you know that.

NebraskaJayhawk 10 years, 4 months ago

Your tempered opinion of him possibly being a one and flush if I recall. Still don't like that theory...

Ben Simonett 10 years, 4 months ago

Hard to tell with the long sleeve shirt on but i looks like BMac has really bulked up.

If thats the case, he's gone after this year because an NBA body with that much raw athletic potential gets drafted in the lottery 9 times out of 10.

Tony Bandle 10 years, 4 months ago

Kansas Boot Camp? Will the sun rise in the East? Will ice cream melt in the heat? Will Calipari do anything he can to cheat?

Count on all of the above!!

Tim Orel 10 years, 4 months ago

I take it Bill Self is referring to BMac as the best defensive player during his tenure, rather than through the whole history of KU. I'm still never going to put anyone ahead of Wilt, even the guy who helped KU to a championship in 1988.

jaybate 10 years, 4 months ago

Bruce Sunzi is a confirmed decendent of the famed Chinese war strategist Sun Tzu and also a respected basketball talent scout in China. Sunzi is responsible for finding Yao Ming, among others. I know Sunzi through a mutual friend and so I sent him the link to the KU scrimmage and asked if he would evaluate the KU players. I gave the players names to Sunzi in the order of HEM's power rankings. Here is Sunzi's assessment.

  1. Elijah Johnson: He will hit the enemy where he is weak and avoid where he is strong.

  2. Jeff Withey: He will be tall where tall where the enemy is short and he will swat when the enemy shoots. Jeff will model his game off Bill Russell. He will score 12-14 points per game. He will stay close to the basket when they try to make him chase and he will chase when they try to make him stay close to the basket.

  3. Travis Releford--He is the player who will most embody my ancestor, Sun Tzu's, philosophy. He will be very sticky glue when his opponent impacts, but he will be a very big impact player, when his opponent is very sticky glue.

  4. Ben McLemore--McLemore is a nice player that is mean to opponents. When they sag off, he will step out, and when they step out he will drive in. The only concern about McLemore is his health. We know with your Coach Self that when an injury is minor, he says the player is nicked up, and when the injury is major, he does not mention it at all. If McLemore says he had a left hip flexor injury and Self says Ben's a little nicked up, then it might be a minor injury. But if McLemore says he had a left hip flexor and Self does not comment on it then it may be a major compound fracture with infection in the marrow that Coach Self will insist he play through. To know is to not know with your Coach Self and to not know is to know.

jaybate 10 years, 4 months ago

Part 2

  1. Perry Ellis starting with what appears the first team does not mean what you think it means and means what you do not think it means. Perry starting with the blue team now does not mean he is a lock as a starter come October 15th, as many of what you call board rats assume. It means that Coach Self wants all the 5 star recruits that are choosing between Coach Self and Coach Calipari between now and October 15th to think that Coach Self starts 5 star freshmen from the beginning for as long as the illusion can be maintained. The truth is that until defense is being required in practice and in games, who starts and who subs means nothing.

  2. Andrew White--those that let bad stretch of shooting by a trifectate make them think the trifectate is not a strong contender for PT, also thought that China could not industrialize in hurry. The trifectate that misses now will make later. The trifectate that makes now will miss later. It is the average that the triacetate makes in practice that determines the average he will make in games, plus or minus 2%. Andrew White makes many treys in practice and he is 6-6 and he can guard. These qualities are known to have medicinal qualities as strong as tiger bone wine to Coach Bill Self.

  3. Jamari Traylor—Being called a smaller Thomas Robinson in his first season suggests that, like Thomas Robinson, he will not play very much his first season either. When Jeff Withey plays, he must have a scorer for a 4, and when Jeff Withey does not play, the 4 must be a rebounder. Therefore, if Jamari plays at all, he will play when Jeff does not play and not play when Jeff does.

  4. Naadir Tharpe—He who distributes must be able to stop distributing. He who scores must stop scoring. He who steals must stop stealing. And he who can do none of these must sit.

jaybate 10 years, 4 months ago

  1. Kevin Young—When a skinny man wears an Afro and so looks like a carpenters t-square in tennis shoes, he must score better than a five star to beat out the five star, but when a skinny man wears no Afro and so looks like an ebony chop stick, he must guard better than a five start to beat out a five star.

  2. Milton Doyle—If a point guard throws the ball away before defense is required, then he will sit and remember throwing the ball away when defense is required.

  3. Landon Lucas—When a team needs a 5 to back up a 5 and the tallest big recruit disappears like a guerilla army in the mist , even when defense is not required, then as soon as defense is required the tallest big recruit must dawn a rouge smoking jacket for a season and think about defense.

  4. Justin Wesley—When a big on scholarship becomes a big off scholarship before playing defense, then after defense is required he may not get a scholarship next year either.

  5. Zach Peters—When the only 240 lb. big fouls too much early, fear not, for during stretches of fitting games in windows he will be able to foul as much as he likes.

  6. Anrio Adams—When a point guard attacks them where they are not, yet cannot get to rim, then he too will get an rouge smoking jacket.

(Note: all fiction. No malice.)

jaybate 10 years, 4 months ago

Sun Tzu say numbering system glitch halt all those that try to go too long. :-)

jaybate 10 years, 4 months ago

jaybate News Service (jns):

Dateline: obverse universe

Slug: jaybate interview with Jaydogger

jaybate: Its great to have Jaydogger here.

Jaydogger: Its insignificant to be there.

jaybate: When did you first realize you wanted to be jaybate's Jaydogger?

Jaydogger: I never realized I always wanted never to be or not to be jaybate's Jaydogger.

jaybate: Let's do some free association.

Jaydogger: Let's not think about all determined disassociation.

jaybate: I will take that to mean you are ready to play.

Jaydogger: We won't give this not to mean we are unready to work.

jaybate: man

Jaydogger: woman

Jaybate: love

Jaydogger: hate

jaybate: cold

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Jaydogger: dark

jaybate: 1

jaydogger: 0

jaybate: Jaydogger.

Jaydogger: jaybate.

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jaybate: Thanks for sitting in.

Jaydogger: No thanks for sitting out.

(Note: All fiction. No malice.)

John Randall 10 years, 4 months ago

How many readers would read "ebony and chartreuse" as simply an accurate description of the uniforms Nike chose for Baylor?

Martin Shupert 10 years, 4 months ago

Looks like another rebuilding year to me... just like last year... All we can hope for is another conference title and a halfway decent chance of winning the National Championship. Coach Self needs to work harder. Some teams even think they have a chance at beating us. It's sad. (yes, tongue in cheek here...) Go KU!

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