Manning could provide KU valuable minutes

Evan Manning

Evan Manning

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Conner Teahan, Christian Moody, Justin Wesley and Stephen Vinson have been four walk-ons to play meaningful minutes at Kansas University in the Bill Self era.

It’s not guaranteed, but definitely possible Evan Manning will be the next non-scholarship player in line to help the team during the meat of the game.

“Evan has had a good week of practice. I mean, our team looks better with Evan in the game,” KU coach Self said of the junior point guard out of Free State High and New Hampton Prep School who has been running with the second team all week in preparation for today’s 2 p.m. game against Lafayette (7-2) in Allen Fieldhouse.

No. 10-ranked KU (8-1) is thin at point guard, with Devonté Graham out a month because of a severely sprained toe and Conner Frankamp’s decision to transfer.

“More of an emergency spot-minute guy,” Self said of the role he envisions for the 6-foot-3 Manning. “I’m not being negative at all, but if Evan can give Frank (Mason III) a couple minutes a half, and he may not have to if Wayne (Selden, Jr., combo guard) is not in foul trouble.

“We’ll probably see fewer minutes with Wayne and Frank in there together, maybe two to five a half, which will allow maybe Wayne to be fresh when Frank is not in.

“I see Evan as being a guy we can go to depending on the situation probably determining if we do or not,” Self added. “It could be we could go with a Svi (Mykhailiuk) or go with somebody else if we are not playing with a point guard. If we can run our true ball-screen mode, I think it’d be a lot easier to play without a true point guard.”

Mykhailiuk, a 6-8 freshman wing, played some point for Ukraine’s junior national team.

“Yes, I can (play point),” said the sharpshooter, who revealed Friday he has spent hours in the gym on his own first semester firing between 500 to 1,000 shots an evening.

“Sometimes my coach (in Ukraine) needed a point guard, so I was playing point guard.”

Svi likes what he’s seen out of Manning.

“He can do easy plays. He’s not going to do something special that nobody can do. It’s easy to play with him,” Mykhailiuk said.

Sophomore forward Landen Lucas said Manning has stood out at practice this week.

“Evan has stepped up on that second-group team and done a great job moving the ball and running the team,” Lucas said. “It’s been nice to have him fill in. He’s a coach’s son. He understands what’s going on and knows all the plays. When he comes in and plays with us, he does a good job making sure we’re still getting better. I think he’s ready to come into a game if he’s called on.”

Lucas, who has started the past seven games, will come off the bench today, as freshman Cliff Alexander will make his first start, Self said.

It could be good timing, since Alexander and Lucas have spent the week watching film of past KU bigs like Markieff Morris and Cole Aldrich. Other starters today will be Brannen Greene, Mason, Selden and Perry Ellis.

“I fight a lot in the post to try to get angles. They (Morris, Aldrich) let the defense position themselves, and they’d take advantage of where they went,” Lucas said. “When they got the ball it was quick moves to a jump hook or whatever they were doing. It didn’t take much time to get to the shot. For most of the bigs who come through here, they’ve scored very easily. Watching that was eye-opening.”

Of showing the players tape of former bigs, Self said: “The guys they can probably relate to as well as anybody are Thomas (Robinson) and Markieff, probably Markieff more than anybody else.

“Markieff was really smart at how to utilize his body and basically score before he catches. We have to do a better job with that. Coach (Norm) Roberts has shown them tape. We’ve had a good week of practice.”

Know the foe: Lafayette, a school of 2,400 students located in Easton, Pennsylvania, enters on a four-game win streak.

The Leopards, who are led by 20th-year coach Fred O’Hanlon (276-297), were picked preseason No. 4 in the 10-team Patriot League behind American, Army and Holy Cross. The Leopards average 79 points a game off 50.6 percent shooting, including 42.4 percent from three-point range. Lafayette averages 8.1 three-pointers, 16.6 assists and 7.2 steals per game.

“Their record is good. They shoot a great percentage beyond the arc. They have four starters who can stretch it and play around a good post guy. They’ve got a nice team,” Self said.

Senior forward Dan Trist averages a team-leading 17.0 points and 6.0 boards. Senior guard Seth Hinrichs averages 12.6 ppg and 4.7 rpg. Senior guard Joey Ptasinski (12.0 ppg) has made a team-best 29 three-pointers and has 16 steals.

Lafayette has lost at West Virginia (83-66) and at Yale (82-60) while defeating Robert Morris, Princeton, Penn, Farleigh Dickinson, Wagner, Sacred Heart and Susquehanna. This is the first meeting between the two schools.

The Jayhawks are 8-2 all-time against current membership of the Patriot League and have played eight of the 10 members. The two schools the Jayhawks have not faced are Army and Navy. The last KU contest versus a Patriot League member was on Dec. 29, 2012, an 89-57 KU win versus American in Allen Fieldhouse.

This that: Self said Hunter Mickelson and Kelly Oubre Jr., have had a great week of practice. Self said 6-10 Arkansas transfer Mickelson has been shooting well. Of freshman wing Oubre, Self said: “The light is starting to come on for him. When it comes on it’s going to stay on. He’s going to do great. The last two games have given him some confidence.” ... Of KU’s style of play with Graham out, Self said: “It won’t change what we do. It’ll certainly maybe keep us from doing some things as well as what we could potentially be doing. Then again, you could say if we’ve got Svi and Brannen in at the same time, we have a lot of shooting, too. We have enough options. I think we can tinker around and find something that’s working that night, at least most nights. It is probably a bit different than what I had envisioned (before season), but that doesn’t mean it’s worse, it’s just different. We’ll probably be more a shoot-off-the-catch team than a penetrate-and-pitch-type team.”