Monday, July 8, 2013

Super subs: A look at the best bench players in the Bill Self era

The top bench players in the Bill Self era at Kansas University, as recalled by the Journal-World and staffs, top row, from left: Darnell Jackson, Thomas Robinson, Jeff Hawkins, Julian Wright and Conner Teahan. Bottom row, from left: Sherron Collins, Sasha Kaun, Markieff Morris and Darrell Arthur.

The top bench players in the Bill Self era at Kansas University, as recalled by the Journal-World and staffs, top row, from left: Darnell Jackson, Thomas Robinson, Jeff Hawkins, Julian Wright and Conner Teahan. Bottom row, from left: Sherron Collins, Sasha Kaun, Markieff Morris and Darrell Arthur.


For the past five weeks, the Journal-World sports staff has taken a position-by-position stroll down Memory Lane and examined the top players of Kansas University men’s basketball coach Bill Self’s first decade in town.


Journal-World File Photos

The top bench players in the Bill Self era at Kansas University, as recalled by the Journal-World and staffs, top row, from left: Darnell Jackson, Thomas Robinson, Jeff Hawkins, Julian Wright and Conner Teahan. Bottom row, from left: Sherron Collins, Sasha Kaun, Markieff Morris and Darrell Arthur.

As we move forward in our annual summer series, we’ll begin to look at other elements of Self’s first 10 seasons, including categories such as best games, toughest losses, best quotes and others. But before we move on to more team-oriented flashbacks, let’s round out our analysis of the top players by looking down the bench a little bit.

Part 6 of this summer’s series ranks the top five players who came off the bench for Self at some point. Because so many bench guys wind up becoming starters later in their careers, we’ve pinpointed the specific seasons the guys on our lists filled the role of super subs.

Even though we had dozens of players and 10 years of basketball to choose from, a few names made their way onto all four lists.

Here’s a look at what we came up with:

Gary Bedore

(I’d like to give a shout-out to my Twitter followers who helped me in this category; might as well experiment with social media now and again, right?*)

1. Sherron Collins, 2007-08: Twitter users on my follow list reminded me of Collins’ great contributions backing up Russell Robinson during the title season and down the stretch in the title game. Collins averaged 9.3 points that season. He also wasn’t bad in ’06-07 coming off the bench.

2. Sasha Kaun, 2007-08: He averaged 7.1 points and 3.9 boards while coming off the bench in the title season. He also started six games that year. Kaun was simply magnificent in the Elite Eight win over Davidson.

3. Markieff Morris, 2009-10: Morris averaged 6.8 points and 5.3 boards for an outstanding ballclub. Suffice it to say he could have started for any other team in the Big 12 that year.

4. Darrell Arthur, 2006-07: The slick forward from Dallas averaged 9.8 points and 4.7 boards in making a huge impact.

5. Julian Wright, 2005-06: Wright averaged 8.5 points and 4.6 boards. He did start 15 games that season. He was a fan favorite from day one at KU because of his freakish athleticism, i.e., dunking ability.

*Don’t blast me for not mentioning the likes of Cole Aldrich, Jeff Graves, Conner Teahan, Perry Ellis, the list goes on.

Tom Keegan

1. Sherron Collins, 2006-07 and 2007-08: A nightmare to try to guard, Collins consistently lit up home crowds with his exciting play as sixth man during his freshman and sophomore seasons, when he was quicker than as an upperclassman. Quicker, and at least as a freshman, considerably wilder.

2. Sasha Kaun, 2007-08: Utter absence of ego enabled him to give way in the starting lineup to Darnell Jackson during their senior season. A lot of players say it doesn’t matter to them whether they start or come off the bench. Kaun’s play showed he meant what he said.

3. Darrell Arthur, 2006-07: His most impressive game (19 points, 6 of 7 from the field in 16 minutes against defending national champion Florida) came in one of his seven starts. Only came off the bench to try to minimize his foul trouble. Averaged 9.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks, making him perhaps the nation’s most talented reserve.

4. Darnell Jackson, 2006-07: Just as opposing players began to tire, Jackson would come off the bench, outrun them in both directions and bruise them here and there. His energy consistently boosted the team.

5. Markieff Morris, 2009-10: Averaged 6.8 points and 5.3 rebounds in 17.6 minutes and made 52.6 percent of his three-point shots during his sophomore season. He would have been a starter almost anywhere else in the country, but had to wait a year at Kansas.

Matt Tait

1. Sherron Collins 2007-08: There’s no question that Collins was one of the better players on the 2008 title team and little doubt that he would’ve started for just about every other team in the country. Instead, the bulldog from Chicago dutifully came off the bench and made Self look like a genius by making plays whenever he was out there. For a guy who wound up having one of the best careers in KU history to be able to come off the bench for the good of the team is a real credit to Collins and one of the often overlooked aspects of his greatness.

2. Thomas Robinson, 2010-11: He may have been limited to fewer than 15 minutes per game — talent ahead of him and 5.6 fouls per 40 minutes contributed to that — but when he was on the floor, Robinson displayed the kind of raw energy and emotion that led to an All-American nod and a trip to the title game just one year later.

3. Markieff Morris, 2009-10: What a luxury Self had in Markieff this season — a 6-foot-9, 232-pound rebounding machine who also could step out and stroke it from three-point range. Like Robinson a year later, Morris’ confidence and sense of belonging grew tremendously during his sophomore year and he parlayed that into a fantastic junior year and then wound up in the NBA Draft lottery.

4. Jeff Hawkins, 2005-06: The Kansas City, Kan., native who came to KU as a bit of an afterthought wound up playing a huge role on this team. With a ton of talented but young guys still growing into college basketball, Hawkins averaged 20 minutes a game, made 12 starts and provided a veteran presence on the ball and another deadly three-point weapon (43-of-106, 40.6 percent for the season).

5. Conner Teahan, 2011-12: There are plenty of other bench guys who put up better numbers than Teahan, but few played as critical of a role on their specific teams. Often dubbed the “sixth starter” by Self, the versatile Teahan averaged 5 points in 21 minutes per game but, most importantly, stayed on the floor and kept Self from having to turn to unproven and untested reserves Merv Lindsay, Naadir Tharpe or Jordan Juenemann. Although it wasn’t a stellar statistical year, Teahan’s role on helping this team get to the title game cannot be overlooked.

Jesse Newell

1. Darrell Arthur, 2006-07: Though he started only seven out of 38 games his freshman season, Arthur had a remarkably productive year. Playing 19 minutes per game, the forward averaged 9.8 points and 4.7 rebounds and also led KU in blocked shots while posting top-100 marks in offensive rebounding and block percentage.

2. Sasha Kaun, 2007-08: Kaun’s ability to grab offensive rebounds and block shots while avoiding turnovers made him a valuable member of the 2007-08 title team. The senior also played one of his best games at a crucial time, scoring a team-high 13 points on 6-for-6 shooting in KU’s 59-57 victory over Davidson in the Elite Eight.

3. Sherron Collins, 2007-08: Collins’ numbers actually were better overall his freshman year, but the Jayhawks don’t win the national title without his steal and three late against Memphis in ’07-08. The sophomore started just three games that season, but he still was on the floor (and produced) during the most important minutes of the year.

4. Thomas Robinson, 2010-11: The sophomore had impressive numbers considering he played just 14.2 minutes per game. Robinson averaged 7.6 points and 6.4 rebounds — that comes out to 21 points and 18 rebounds per 40 minutes — and made 60 percent of his field goals. Had he logged enough playing time, Robinson would have ranked second nationally in defensive rebounding percentage that year.

5. Markieff Morris, 2009-10: Before breaking out offensively the next year, Markieff Morris provided KU with a solid defensive presence his sophomore season. The forward ranked in the top 155 nationally in offensive rebounding, defensive rebounding and block percentage and also averaged 6.8 points while playing 18 minutes a game.


milehighhawk 8 years, 12 months ago

Hmm. Was expecting to see true benchwarmers (Connor Teahan, Jeremy Case, etc) rather than dudes who didn't start one season at KU.

chriz 8 years, 12 months ago

Yep... this would've been a good opportunity to showcase some of our spares.

Chris Baker 8 years, 12 months ago

Yeah. Most of these are NBA players, all of them are playing for pay. When I think "KU Bench Player" I don't think 1st round NBA draft picks.

Jonny Swift 8 years, 12 months ago

I don't believe Sherron, Conner Teahan, nor Jeff Hawkins are playing for pay. Sasha and Darnell were both 2nd rounders

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 8 years, 12 months ago

If the player made the list for another starter category, they shouldn'be on this list

Jonny Swift 8 years, 12 months ago

Conner Teahan and Jeremy Case made some lists at SG. So did Jeff Hawkins at one of the guard spots. So they shouldn't be included on the Super Sub list? They both never started

Gary McCullough 8 years, 12 months ago

Cole taking the ball away from Tyler Hansbrough should be the #1 highlight for bench plays.

Joe Joseph 8 years, 12 months ago

Goes to show how stacked KU has been when future consensus all-Americans are coming off the bench. And as sophomores nonetheless!

hawksince51 8 years, 12 months ago

Collins 07-08 certainly made the biggest contribution. I always figured he would have been the consistent starter before mid-season except for his knee injury at CU. Then I would go with Arthur, Kaun,and Kief, in the years mentioned above. Then I gotta go with Perry Ellis this year above any of the others in this article.

wrwlumpy 8 years, 12 months ago

Not to change the subject, but Hudy just tweeted this from the weight room. Ellis and Traylor both with 313.5bls. Here is the Ellis vid.

Michael Bratisax 8 years, 12 months ago

Where is Kevin Young? How can he NOT be on this list? Mario Little? Steve Woodbury (just as an example) and Christian Moody are Super Subs.

All these guys listed here were expected to be starters at some point. Most freshmen are expected to be role players for their first 1 - 2 years w/the exemption of OADs

If Kevin Young isn't #1 on most peoples list than redefine the concept of Super Sups to NBA talent playing behind a more experienced NBA talent.

Matthew Pyle 8 years, 12 months ago

Agree. Collins and Tharpe would be on top for me. Sadly I think they whip Michigan last year if Tharpe plays the majority of EJ's minutes. I also agree with Little. He was a true bench player his entire tenure; could rebound and score well for his size.

Steve Brown 8 years, 12 months ago

Was Cole a 6th man the year he came in to plank Hansborough?

hawksince51 8 years, 12 months ago

I think more like the 11th. As I recall, all the other bigs got into foul trouble against UNC so he was put in and stepped up big time. I do not recall that he had other critical minutes his freshman year.

ParisHawk 8 years, 12 months ago

Your recollection is correct: Cole had practically no critical minutes his freshman year except those few against UNC.

Self had a 7 1/2 man rotation that year: 5 starters, Sherron as guard off the bench, Kaun as big off the bench and Cole as second big off the bench with half Kaun's minutes.

I can't believe anyone would seriously put Cole's freshman year in a "best sub" list based on 8 minutes against Hansborough. Those minutes were great but did not change the outcome. Kaun's 6 for 6 performance against Davidson was infinitely more significant, without mentioning his contributions all year long.

Michael Bratisax 8 years, 12 months ago

Is an NBA lottery pick really a Super Sub? Completely agree ParisHawk.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 8 years, 12 months ago

Does KU have any other major college sports besides BASKETBALL??

You know, swimming, track, vollyball, fencing....., hey.. it is almost FOOTBALL SEASON!!

It doesn't seem so with the myopic sports staff of this news rag.

wrwlumpy 8 years, 12 months ago

Click on football at the top. That where I go when I read about KU Football. It is almost wrestling season too. Thanks for visiting.

SaltLakeHawk 8 years, 12 months ago

technically it's more myopic to look at football, since it's closer.

Michael Bratisax 8 years, 12 months ago

Hmm...Didn't the KU Women's track team just win an NCAA Championship.

Steve Gantz 8 years, 12 months ago

I'll say what probably a lot of people here think but don't want to say. I don't care about football season. Sure I'll check the scores and hop on the bandwagon like a few years back, but it's a basketball school and that's it.

Preston Dwiggins 8 years, 12 months ago

How about our bench when we lost to VCU? Selby, Releford, EJ, Little, TRob, Withey. I'm still not over that loss...

Gregor Southard 8 years, 12 months ago

Wondering if you guys got the idea for best 6th man from my post the other day? Not really, quite the coincidence the other day, though! :)

Eric Sorrentino 8 years, 12 months ago

Nice list, guys. And I am a loyal follower of Gary Bedore's Twitter account. Great mention!

Gary Bedore 8 years, 12 months ago

You are a great man. And not even an anonymous moniker! Eric Sorrentino is the best!

wrwlumpy 8 years, 12 months ago

Conner wasn't the best, but when your sixth man is a walk on and achieves final four status, he should be lauded for living the dream of every walk on at KU. Dr. Moody was the last one of those that I remember.

clevelandjayhawker 8 years, 12 months ago

Im in favor of skipping the whole " toughest losses" category....seems like that will just bring up rage that I have tried to burry deep deep down.

Suzi Marshall 8 years, 12 months ago

OMG....I hope to hell the LJW does not do that! For the past 30, it seems every year, except '88 & '08, in the past 30, Kansas adds another candidate for "toughest loss."

RawkChawkJayDoc 8 years, 12 months ago

Honorable mention to Kevin Young for his performances off the bench in the 2011/12 season. Although he only averaged 11.4 minutes with 3.4 ppg and 3.0 reb, I recall that KU rarely lost the advantage when he came in. And, more importantly, he made things happen, usually via a steal, key rebound, or lock down defense. Good enough to earn a starting spot the following year.

Jeff Coffman 8 years, 12 months ago

So if I use two different computers I have to complete the questionairre on both of them?

And if I miss a day, I have to answer two questions the following day.

This seems absurd.

Evan Bilyeu 8 years, 12 months ago

After this season their lists will definitely change! Tharpe will be up there with Ellis and maybe Traylor. I agree with clevelandjayhawk on the skipping the hardest losses lol. Number 1 on my list would be falling to Kentucky and right behind that would be losing to TCU! Lets never talk about that loss ever again.

Phil Leister 8 years, 12 months ago

You don't really understand the criteria for their lists.

clevelandjayhawker 8 years, 12 months ago

Super Subs-

1 Yellow Sub/ Planet sub

2 jimmy johns

3 quiznos

4 firehouse

5 goodcents

John Myers 8 years, 12 months ago

Two Planet Sub locations just opened up here in Austin... Happiest day of my life.. Well, one of them..

Michael Luby 8 years, 12 months ago

HAHA! Thats awesome!
Personally Id put Goodcents at #2 and take JJ's off the list. the owner of JJ's likes to kill animals with a super high powered long range rifle and call it hunting...on his companies dime no less.

Pat Bell 8 years, 12 months ago

Off topic, but I am wondering what has happened to the message boards. All I get is the request to tweet or to like. Can't read any of them.

Jesse Newell 8 years, 12 months ago

I'm getting the same thing. We're looking into the issue. Thanks.

Jeff Coffman 8 years, 12 months ago

I'm guessing Google is messing with your website.

Phil Leister 8 years, 12 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

jaybate 8 years, 12 months ago

Note: In order to read jaybate's post you must first answer a survey question.

  1. Which kind of survey would you rather take?

a. A survey collecting information about you in order to manipulate you into spending money you don't have;

b. A survey that finds what you are most afraid of and then uses that fear to motivate you to spend money you don't have;

c. A survey that figures out how much spare time you have, so that a firm can make you do more of the work in providing a good or service to yourself, so the producer can do less work providing it to you; or

d, A survey that tries to identify services you don't need at prices you will have to borrow to afford.

And now the post...

"Some questions surveys never ask:"

~Have we enriched you at our expense?

~Have we put your needs ahead of ours?

~Would you rather we weren't part of a producer oligopoly?

~Did you like the way we got you to buy something you didn't need?

~Would you rather we go back to using human beings answering your calls in dialects and accents of English you understand, who route you swiftly to the appropriate department you need to speak with, or would you rather we keep using automated response software that drags you through long, counter-intuitive and poorly explained menu choices, after which you find yourself speaking to persons speaking dialects and accents of English that would only be plainly understandable to a tenth generation citizen of Delhi?

~How can we help you understand what is wrong with our product, so that you can pick a better product, if we are cutting corners, er, value engineering our products, in anticaption of declaring bankruptcy to get out of funding pension benefits?

Michael Luby 8 years, 12 months ago

Well Jaybate, when I take tests with multiple choice questions like you have above and if I dont know the answer I pick either C or the longest answer given which also happens to be C in this case. But, Im actually going to pick B this time because Im afraid. Like StupidMichael afraid of producer oligopoly.

Steve Hilker 8 years, 12 months ago

Christian Moody. Conner Teahan. STUDENT (damn good) athletes. Did it the hardest of ways and played at the highest level of college basketball. While I appreciate all the rest, they mostly all had a very high basketball pedigrees. These two earned it every day in practice and outplayed a lot of 4 and 5 star recruits. In my opinion, true sixth men.

Michael Luby 8 years, 12 months ago

Seriously LJW. Those multiple choice advertisements are extremely annoying. If you dont want to lose your readers/bloggers, then toss those things out the window, like now.

KULA 8 years, 12 months ago

This is the list that Brady should've been on.

Jacobpaul81 8 years, 12 months ago

Collins was never Robinson. His best season was 07-08 when he played back-up. It helped he had 6 other guys who could play. I do agree his 07-08 season was top 5 among back ups. It helps when you play opposite better overall ball players.

I'd argue #1 Kaun in 08, Arthur 06-07, then Collins 07-08, Robinson, and then Graves.

ParisHawk 8 years, 12 months ago

Championship Game, down 7 without the ball. Sherron steals the inbounds, passes while falling down, then gets back in bounds and buries the 3. Down 4 and Memphis has to shoot free throws.

Then the assist on The Shot by Mario.

What more do you want? Two years coming off the bench for the good of the team when he could have started? Oh wait...

Preston Dwiggins 8 years, 12 months ago

I think Collins was at his best his junior year. He was a workhorse for us.

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