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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Keegan

Column: Perry Ellis’s week goes from low to high

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) throws down a dunk off of a lob pass over TCU guard Trey Zeigler (32) during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) throws down a dunk off of a lob pass over TCU guard Trey Zeigler (32) during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Brannen Greene pulled down the rebound and whipped a baseball pass to Frank Mason III to the left side near mid-court. Mason took a couple of dribbles and sent a high lob toward the rim, maybe a little too high. Perry Ellis soared way over the defender, higher than the perception many have of his leaping ability, far above the criticism sent his way five nights earlier for missing a shot.

And with one hand, Ellis corralled the pass and hammered it through the net. And, upset of all upsets,  the junior forward from Wichita who is so stoic he makes the guards at the Buckingham Palace seem like drama queens by comparison, cracked a smile. The usual Allen Fieldhouse sellout crowd of 16,300 exploded with gratitude for an amazing play and Ellis allowed himself to enjoy it. The sequel came quickly after he made his free throw. Ellis stole the ball near mid-court and this time it was his speedy dribble that he showcased on his way to a dunk that gave his team a game-high 16-point lead in Saturday’s 81-72 victory vs. TCU.

Ellis beat himself up badly for not hitting the game-winning shot at the rim Monday night in Morgantown, West Virginia, where KU lost by a point. But nobody should have been surprised to see him bounce back with a terrific game. He’s a perfectionist, but he doesn’t have a pouty bone in his body.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self on standout performances of Devonté Graham, Perry Ellis

Following his Kansas basketball team's 81-72 home win over TCU, coach Bill Self discusses the standout performances of backup point guard Devonté Graham and starting forward Perry Ellis, as well as numerous other topics.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Ellis, Graham, Traylor discuss beating TCU, manager's contributions

Kansas basketball players Perry Ellis, Devonté Graham and Jamari Traylor discuss the Jayhawks' 81-72 home win over TCU, and the contributions of manager-turned-walk-on Chris Huey, who got to play in the final minute.

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KANSAS 81, TCU 72

Box score

Ellis responded with 23 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals.

“It was tough, man,” Ellis said of the days following the Morgantown miss. “I had a chance to make it, but I didn’t, unfortunately. But everybody kept me up. Family, coaches, everybody just told me to stay positive and I did.”

It’s not as if he didn’t allow himself to watch the play in which Jamari Traylor hit him with a perfect pass from out of bounds to inside the opposite free-throw line. After West Virginia guard Juwan State cut in front of Ellis, throwing off his footwork and disrupting his rhythm, Ellis rushed and missed a shot at point-blank range.

“Yeah, I watched it, man,” Ellis said. “Just a chance to get better, see what I could have done.”

What did he learn?

“The thing is, the moment was so fast,” he said. “I didn’t know how much time was left. I guess I could have made a quick glance at the time, so I could gather myself a little better. That’s the only thing.”

Ellis did a terrific job of posting up against the Horned Frogs and Devonté Graham did a nice job of finding him early. But then for a long stretch in the first half, teammates didn’t get him the ball.

“I mean, I was just trying to post hard, it was a little frustrating,” Ellis said. “I just kept trying to post hard and get good position. My teammates, they were looking for me, though, the whole game. They were talking to me saying, ‘Keep posting hard. We see you.’ That kept me motivated.”

At one point, when Ellis was at the free-throw line for a shot, a voice from the stands broke the silence: “Keep feeding the post!”

The Jayhawks did and there was no stopping Ellis. He made nine of 10 shots from the field and had four dunks. After he used his patient, precise footwork to free himself for a bucket, Ellis pointed his finger toward the floor and twirled it. He revealed later that teammates call him “The Blender” because of how he pivots in all directions, or as Ellis put it, “When I get it in the post, I’m spinning a lot.

“That was the first time,” Ellis said of making a gesture after a bucket. “It felt good. It got my teammates excited to see me do that.”

Not quite as excited as the one-handed slam did.

“That was one of the better dunks I’ve had,” Ellis said. “It got my teammates amped up, myself as well.”

That’s not easy to do, but a wild week of highs and lows just might have brought Ellis out of his shell a little, which could make a really good college basketball player even better.


More news and notes from Kansas vs. TCU


By the Numbers: Kansas beats TCU 81-72

By the Numbers: Kansas beats TCU 81-72

Comments

Dale Koch 7 years, 9 months ago

Great game Perry! Great to see you smile! Keep it up.

Bryce Landon 7 years, 9 months ago

I hope he has several more vicious slams in him.

Janet Olin 7 years, 9 months ago

I didn't watch Sports Center to see if Perry's dunk made highlights, but it would be fitting, especially after all the ESPN shows played his missed lay-up. Go, Perry! We like it when you smile.

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 9 months ago

Perry is working hard to channel his α-Ellis.

Let’s all hope Keegan is right and this “just might have brought Ellis out of his shell a little, which could make a really good college basketball player even better.”

Steve Zimmerman 7 years, 9 months ago

I know it's TCU, but to see Ellis dunked like we know he's capable of the whole time, it's very very satisfying. His pass to Cliff in first half is what we like to see more out of our bigs. Keep it up, Perry.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 9 months ago

Perry Ellis showing some emotion is a big positive step for him that he needs to keep up. I have no problem saying that I will rip Perry when he plays soft because there's zero chance I'm as hard on Perry as Self is because he knows Perry is capable of being an All-American. The attitude and swagger he played with today is when Perry looks like the great player that he's capable of being. I know TCU doesn't have the best front line, but seeing Perry throw down multiple dunks with authority had to be a direct response from the criticism Perry was getting after Monday. Good things happen when Perry asserts himself and bad things happen when he doesn't assert himself. I hope on Monday night, Self tells Perry to foul Gipson or whoever Perry's guarding to let him know that it's going to be a long night for him. Make Perry do something aggressive to get him in that mindset because KU is hard to beat when Perry has his A game going.

Steve Zimmerman 7 years, 9 months ago

Amen brother. Love that emotion - when he soared and after the dunk. He gets it, I hope. No more softy Perry, this is mean Perry. A very very mean Perry.

Dirk Medema 7 years, 9 months ago

A lot of change has come since Coach Self stopped trying to force him to be a banger-post player. He's not. Since around the time of the game in Ames, Perry has been playing a lot more on the perimeter, and often with the ball in his hands. It seems to me that it has freed him physically from all the big bodied banging, and mentally from trying to be a square peg in a round hole. Perry is still soft as typical 4's/power forwards go, but then he's not a typical 4. He is just fine as a 3/4 tweener.

Benz Junque 7 years, 9 months ago

Smiling after a dunk makes his "mean Perry"?

Shane Johnston 7 years, 9 months ago

Hopefully, the smiling means he enjoys being "mean Perry"

Gerry Butler 7 years, 9 months ago

No smiling after the dunk doesn't make him mean. its THE DUNK that makes him mean the aggressiveness of the dunk would you have wanted to try and go up and block that I don't think so it was his aggressiveness the ENTIRE GAME that gives the fans that perception. I couldn't feel any better for Perry what a better way to shut up the morons that have all the answers and are so quick to be critical of Perry. the people who probably have never even come close to stepping on the court as a player very happy for Perry. As far as the smile people are just glad Perry did show some EMOTION after a great play which deserved some emotion there can be a difference between a mean and a aggressive and Perry was both Saturday stay with it Perry having 4 year players like you that really love your school and take pride from being from the state and playing hard no matter what makes me proud to be a life time KU fan. GO HAWKS

Joe Ross 7 years, 9 months ago

Here's the truth. Kansas normally has an Andrew Wiggins or a Ben McLemore. A Thomas Robinson, Sherron Collins, or Wayne Simien, etc. "Someone" who is the unquestionable "go to" guy on a loaded team. This year we do not have that player and, lacking that, we fans have been looking to our most efficient player (Perry Ellis, leads team in points and rebounds) to fill that role. But that is not who PE is. He is a solid role player who fans expect will carry the team on his back, when in actuality his skill set is best suited to being the number 2 guy. We are bound to be disappointed if our hope is that Perry will lead the way all by himself. The composition of our team is different this year: the burden of leadership is distributed to at least 3 players (Mason, Ellis, Oubre), and not one of them is capable of carrying that mantle all by himself for more than a handful of games consecutively. Having said that, it is absolutely true that Perry can be more aggressive at times, but even at his most consistent effort he lacks the mindset and height for his position to be a wrecking ball. In my opinion he has acquitted himself well given his natural capabilities. No player ever plays to his potential all the time (Andrew Wiggins, Big McLemore, and TRob, for example all had stretches of games where they disappeared and/or played "soft", but it wasn't as noticeable because their supporting casts were better able to take out the slack). It appears to me that the truth on Perry lies in the middle: he can be more aggressive, but fans' expectations are ridiculously high.

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 9 months ago

That is all true but think about what is within the grasp of this team:

1) Big 12 Champions

2) 30 win season

3) Number 2 NCAA seed, 1 seed is still reasonable

4) Reaching the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.

All these achievements can be accomplished while playing by far the nations most difficult schedule. Think about this a minute: According to CBS Sports, the KU SOS is 0.6373, which is .0324 better than second place UNC. Applying that .0324 gap to UNC to the rest of the field would reach down to St. Johns, which has the 33rd ranked SOS.

Even by the ridiculously high standards Self has established, those results would reach the Gold Standard.

Joe Ross 7 years, 9 months ago

Again Suzi, I am finding it difficult recently to interpret your response. While I agree with a lot of what you say, you do not make it at all clear how your comment relates at all to anything Ive posted. You have to tie Perry Ellis into your response to bridge my comment and yours; otherwise, you leave me as lost as an Easter egg.

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 9 months ago

I'd hoped you would see the corollary to your comments. As stated, I agree with your statements about this team, specifically it does not have ... Someone" who is the unquestionable "go to" guy on a loaded team.

Your comments along with my addition point to the paradox about this team and Ellis, relative to the typical Self teams. Even if we have expectations for Ellis out of line with who he is, Ellis more than likely will end up as a top 20 KU scorer and leader of a team that can individual meet high standards. The team, in general which lacks some of the historical Self signatures, nevertheless can collectively meet those high standards.

Joe Ross 7 years, 9 months ago

Again, thank you for being more clear. I agree with some of what you say. It seems to me, however, that if we admit to having expectations out of line with who he is, that if he doesn't live up to them it is our fault for holding those expectations rather than Perry's for not being able to live up to them; therefore, any accusations of bitterness toward Perry is undeserved and unwarranted. Sometimes I think we (and I certainly include myself) can be overly analytical about "abilities" and tweaking certain things about players in game situations that we forget Perry is a young man who is trying his level best to win. And isn't it true that it's very easy to hold athletes to different standards than we hold for ourselves? But yes i agree that in many ways (that are not helpful to our prospects in March)--and I do mean "many"--this is an atypical Bill Self-coached team. I think that fact leads to more frustration than anything else. I get it. The passing is atrocious. We have difficulty scoring in the post. Rather than having rim protectors inside big men are having their ways with us. The transition game is weak. On and on I could go. But Perry can not be the donkey upon which a tail is pinned in identifying the trouble with this team. There are too many areas of deficiencies that don't involve him, or within which his involvement is limited. We simply lack star power is all, and if we had a Jahlil Okafor on the team this year then Perry's detractors would suddenly be singing his praises (even if his performance remained right where it is). But you are also right when you say that fruit is still within reach that can make this season sweet. I rather doubt getting a 1-seed is within reach, but there are some very attainable goals both team-wise and for individual players.

Tom Jones 7 years, 9 months ago

Yeah, we could win out and, depending on what a bunch of other teams do, still not get a one seed.

This is one of those years where I would rather be a two seed anyway, though.

Tom Jones 7 years, 9 months ago

Unless it's the two seed in UK's bracket, but geography would likely keep that from happening....

Shane Johnston 7 years, 9 months ago

"...even at his most consistent effort he lacks the mindset and height for his position to be a wrecking ball." While I'll agree Perry's mindset often hasn't been as aggressive as the team needs, I think it's something he can come out of. The last three games suggest he can string those type of games together. A wrecking ball was a good way to describe Perry against Baylor. To lower our expectations at this point is probably selling Perry short.

For a deep run in March, we need good guard play, good coaching and our best players to play well. I feel great about our guards and coaches, but to this point in the season our best players have under-performed relative to what a deep tournament run will require. Perry is picking things up at a great time. Now it's Kelly's turn to up his aggressiveness a notch or two and Cliff needs to justify getting more minutes.

Joe Ross 7 years, 9 months ago

I happen to agree that we have underperformed and need greater contributions from key players.

Tony Bandle 7 years, 9 months ago

I am asking all of you, me included, to look in the mirror and honestly say that this team now, only four games from post season league tourneys and the NCAAs is truly consistent enough to win six games in a row for a National Championship.

1] No true presence in the middle will be a big disadvantage at both ends of the court.

2] Kelly, Cliff, Svi and Devonte have never been to the NCAAs....almost half our rotation.

3] Which Perry will show up...forget by game, how about by halfs.

4] Coach Self's seemingly stubborn refusal to admit that KU must win against quality opponents with the perimeter game rather than his traditional all things through the paint.

5] Item 3, just substitute the names Kelly, Cliff or Wayne [although he has been better].

6] KU's uncharacteristic poor shooting percentage for two point shots.

Conclusion???...I don't think any of us will need to worry about reservations for Indianapolis this year.

Still, #11, a 26th consecutive NCAA invite [leading the nation], 25+ wins and a Top Ten ranking ain't too shabby!!!

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 9 months ago

My opinion, I agree that 6 in a row likely won't happen, but who actually thought the 2012 team would reach the title game? That team had freaking Connor Teahan as the 6th man and Justin Wesley as a rotation player.

1) Agree with this, unless Cliff snaps out of his funky because he is that player.

2) Not concerned at all about this, enough young teams have made it to the Final Four with a lot of youth that it isn't an issue. The bigger issue for KU is a lack of vocal leadership on the team. There's been glimpses of it this year, but no one has claimed that role.

3) Agreed, timid Perry gets KU bounced early. Yesterday's Perry and the one in Orlando is who KU needs to show up.

4) I disagree with this one. Playing through the paint will always be the way to go. You force the defense to collapse on the post and you will have players open on the perimeter. This is what Self means when he wants to play inside out with this team.

5) I agree with, KU needs 3 guys to being shooting really well in the tournament to keep moving on. It doesn't matter which 3, KU just needs 3 guys each game to step up.

6) This one is puzzling because this is Self's best outside shooting team, but probably his worst shooting team overall. It's just maddening how many bunnies this team has missed and how many shots have been blocked. A shot fake would put this team on the free throw line so many more times which will help the offense as well because teams can't play as tight in foul trouble.

This isn't the worst team in 25 years like some have claimed. This team isn't likely to lose 10 games like last year, or the 1998-99 and 1999-2000 teams. This team also won't finish in 5th place in the Big 12 like the 1999-2000 team did or be an 8 seed like that team. I know thfreshmen on that team got KU to back to back Final Four's, but that 1999-2000 team is probably the worst KU team in the last 25 years.

Joe Ross 7 years, 9 months ago

Number 6 is fairly simple to reason out. We dunk the ball a whole lot less than in previous years. Slam dunks are high percentage shots. When you instead settle for floaters and 5-foot shots your percentage will go down. Why do we dunk less? It's simple: we're shorter this year.

Mark Lindrud 7 years, 9 months ago

I don't worry so much about #2 because that is an issue for lots of teams, and look at Kentucky and how many freshman are playing regular minutes.

1 is the one that concerns me the most because we don't have an inside presence. We can look at last year when Joel went down and our inside game was non-existent. Traylor is a power forward with hustle, Lucas is a soft center and I have noticed a milk carton with a missing basketball player: Cliff Alexander, "Call this number if you have seen this player. We would like for him to show up soon. His coach misses him."

We have had a good season and another Big 12 title with a Sweet 16 appearance would be great for me personally.

Mark Lindrud 7 years, 9 months ago

I have no idea why my font went so huge on part of that, weird, and wow that is big and annoying.

Mark Lindrud 7 years, 9 months ago

That is your comment back? Seriously? Good job forgetting to start your comment capitalizing if we are going to nit pick.

Jonathan Allison 7 years, 9 months ago

I was telling you why your font went so big. Not correcting your grammar. sorry for the confusion.

Mark Lindrud 7 years, 9 months ago

Ah, ok. Well that is very annoying lol. Good to know though, and I can definitely watch out for that in the future. Let's hope we kick some Wildcat butt tonight. Rock Chalk, and sorry again.

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