Friday, December 11, 2015

Hunter Mickelson happy to start

Kansas forward Hunter Mickelson (42) rejects a shot by Loyola guard Eric Laster (5) during the second half, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Hunter Mickelson (42) rejects a shot by Loyola guard Eric Laster (5) during the second half, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Hunter Mickelson, who started 25 games in his two seasons at the University of Arkansas, had come off the bench exclusively in 2014-15 and 2015-16 at Kansas University.

Until Wednesday night, that is ...

“It was a great feeling. I was really happy about it. I was over there smiling before I ran out. Just being able to start for Kansas ... that’s a big ‘ol deal,” the 6-foot-10 Jonesboro, Arkansas native said after his first start as a Jayhawk resulted in a 92-59 rout of Holy Cross in Allen Fieldhouse.

“I did (soak in the atmosphere) for a few minutes before we ran out there and actually got going. I appreciated it and it was really a great time. It was nice to be out there. It was pretty easy to get in that groove and get comfortable,” added Mickelson, who had two blocks, two steals, two rebounds and two assists in 15 minutes.

He was active on defense early as KU jumped to a 13-6 advantage.

“I think I did pretty solid as far as starting for the first time. I think I did pretty well,” Mickelson said. “I had an emphasis in my own mind to focus on defense. I think it helped out a lot.”

KU coach Bill Self went into Wednesday’s game intent on giving Mickelson an extended look. Jamari Traylor and Landen Lucas sat out the game with minor injuries, while Cheick Diallo and Carlton Bragg were awarded 18 minutes apiece and Perry Ellis 26.

“We have a lot of big guys as far as down low goes and we have a lot of guys out on the perimeter. We have a lot of weapons,” Mickelson said. “We are pretty loaded. It’s kind of a mix where we can pretty much go with anybody on a given night.”

The fact KU has six big men who have proven they can play at this level makes for some competitive practices.

“It gets pretty physical,” Mickelson said of a 2-on-2 rebounding drill in which a manager flips an errant shot off the rim. “It’s really about heart and wanting it and getting in good position. A lot of things go into it.

“We’ve got a lot of good guys. Jamari and Landen are definitely tough. Perry is tough. Cheick and Carlton for young guys are very tough. We can get tougher in some areas. As far as base goes, we’ve got some pretty good guys.”

In eight games thus far his senior season, Mickelson has scored 21 points, grabbed 17 rebounds and blocked 11 shots while logging 9.3 minutes per contest.

“You definitely want to go out on top, go out with kind of a big bang as they say in your last go-round,” Mickelson said.

Self is a big fan of the big guy.

“Hunter addresses everybody, ‘yes sir or yes maam.’ There’s no in between,” Self said, relating a story. “Hunter was late to my house one day for a non-important event. His battery went out. He had to go do something, buy a new battery or do something and was five minutes late. He could have been 45 minutes late and it wouldn’t have mattered. He felt so bad he was not actually there on time. The players love him. They absolutely love him. He’s fun to be around and is passionate about what he’s doing.”

KU (7-1) will next meet Oregon State (6-1) at 7 p.m., Saturday, in Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.


Allan Olson 6 years, 5 months ago

I'm a Mickelson fan of the his style of defense in the lane. One of the all time greatest shot blockers and rebounders in college and NBA was Celtics center Bill Russell. He played rim protector by leaving some space between himself and the opponent, UNTIL that player started his actual shot, then he went for the block w/o drawing a foul. Hunter has shown that same ability most times he gets extended minutes. We don't need another scorer, but he can bring good defensive and passing skills in his 10-15 minutes on the court Even with the "big man log jam", Hunter's talents can complement Lucas, Jamari, and Diallo in any game situation.

Mark Lindrud 6 years, 5 months ago

Self needs to be careful about musical chairs at the center spot. By conference play we need to have that starting spot figured out so that the starting 5 can play as a fluid, dominant unit.

Kent Richardson 6 years, 5 months ago

With our effective three guard set and Perry we limit all the other line ups. How much PT do we take away from Perry to develop our freshmen forwards?

James Smith 6 years, 5 months ago

Better to take the minutes away from the 3 guard set.

Jay Scott 6 years, 5 months ago

Kent- That will likely depend on how Perry is playing, the closeness of the game and how Diallo and Bragg progress. There will ALWAYS be three of Svi. Greene, Mason, Selden and Graham on the floor when it matters. More of Greene/Svi if they play better or matchups dictate.That's a no brainer. You're right. It's effective.

Kent Richardson 6 years, 5 months ago

I think with Bill's "perceived" loyalty to players he might not sit Perry very much. Perry has been our best player in the past and may be now. However no coach will likely cut off his nose to spite his face. The exception being when a situation is like Tubby Smith at Kentucky with his son or Dan Snyder at Colorado with his son. Perry needs to step it up during conference games or he could lose some PT.

Jay Scott 6 years, 5 months ago

Perry is averaging a mere 25 mins per game. He's shooting .543. Other than against Vandy, he's been solid every night. 12pts 5 reb 5/11 vs Harvard was his second WORST outing. Matched with bigger players he was 24/6 on 9-12 vs UCLA,(the Chicken Littles swear he's awful against big players) How many minutes less should he play?

Kent Richardson 6 years, 5 months ago

Jay, I'm not sure if he should. He is the main focus of our inside game for us and defenses. As a post scorer develops he should have less focus and freedom to create, which he can. There is a finite amount of minutes to develop focus lessening help for him. Versatility may be an attainable benefit of borrowing from the three guard and Perry himself. This a challenge that Self has to deal with. I'll leave it to the experts. It is fun to assess how all are doing as we go along. The real sexy thing right now is the three guard system and all the moving parts. Vick is very intriguing.

Allison Steen 6 years, 5 months ago

I am sure that's Self's plan, to have a set starting 5, but this is what non-conference is all about. Figuring out who plays better together. I hope by February its Diallo (because that would mean he's playing like a boss)

Jonathan Unruh 6 years, 5 months ago

He still needs to get 10 to 15 minutes a game even with all the bigs he moves his feet so much better. Other Teams know he is a shot blocker. also sets better screens and is more capable of scoring, proof of that in summer. Plus he's a great free-throw shooter. Jamari had a chance to be Rodman like.

Jared Reeves 6 years, 5 months ago

Hunter seems like he is a great representative of KU. With KU’s struggles stopping dribble penetration, having a shot blocker in the game is even more valuable. I agree that Hunter should get more pt.

Dirk Medema 6 years, 5 months ago

IMO he is a great complimentary player alongside Perry.

Slide Jamari over to the 4 alongside Diallo.

Kent Richardson 6 years, 5 months ago

We could have a tough one tomorrow in KC.

Oregon State has "six" 6'10" or taller players. Four are internationals. Average rebounding team it looks like with about a one a game margin. But opponents FG % is about 37%.

Still it appears they are an outside in team. Guard Gary Payton Jr. leads the team in scoring and rebounding. He is also a ball harassing defender. Other two guards can make 3's shooting 10 a game and making half of those. Payton will be on a big stage, want to shine and be the man.

Their only loss is to Valpo, at home, and the difference was from the FT line. Payton chucked up 25 shots in that one scoring 25 points and snaring 11 boards. He has 30 more shots than anyone else through 7 games. He is 6'3" so who will be assigned to guard him.

Their Coach Tinkle plays 9 who average 20 minutes a game.

We average 17 points more per game and give up about the same defensively in the low 60's.

If our live and die has one foot on a banana peel we could get into a FT shooting contest again.

Jared Reeves 6 years, 5 months ago

Great analysis as always Kent. I am interested to see what we do offensively against such length. KU's post players typically struggle against length on the inside. Hopefully we don't stay with a strategy too long if it isn't working.

Jay Scott 6 years, 5 months ago

They have tall players, but they don't play many minutes. The total time on the floor is about 40 mins for all of them. They play smaller than most teams on average. Matchups aren't an issue. Graham will get assigned to Payton most likely. Payton averages almost exactly what Alford does for UCLA. Hopefully he goes 1/6 like Alford did.

Kent Richardson 6 years, 5 months ago

You are right about the trees and that may be why they are inside out offensively. I haven't seen them play so it's all pulling out of my a**.

Jay Scott 6 years, 5 months ago

Hunter is a nice kid and a decent player. He simply isn't good enough to get many minutes at Kansas. He knew that there would be talent to compete with when he transferred. Every player who gets playing time ahead of him has earned it.

Tom Jones 6 years, 5 months ago

That's not what the conspiracy theorists say...

Brett McCabe 6 years, 5 months ago

This is a good challenge, and a good measure of where we are after two games against lesser competition. Given our struggles against length, I won't be surprised if their coach gives some more minutes to his big guys, to see how we react.

Diallo has 25 guaranteed games left in his KU career and four games before conference begins. Here's hoping that those raw skills start cooking, soon.

Kristen Downing 6 years, 5 months ago

I believe the only reason we were able to control Alford in the UCLA game was because he played every minute of the late game the night before. He played like himself in the Kentucky game. If we don't play two halves well, or the players underestimate OSU,could be nerve wracking. Throw in the KC sleep walking fans.....

Jay Scott 6 years, 5 months ago

He was also "himself" only 20 hours later vs Wake Forest. 14 pts 7 Rebs 6 assists.......... Tired against Kansas? Yes. Tired of seeing Devonte Graham's face.

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