Thursday, January 15, 2015

Self says Ellis not far from breakout

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) and guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) fight for a rebound with Texas Tech guard Robert Turner (14) during the second half on Saturday, Jan.10, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) and guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) fight for a rebound with Texas Tech guard Robert Turner (14) during the second half on Saturday, Jan.10, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Kansas University forward Perry Ellis’ shooting percentage — which topped at a sizzling 54.9 percent last year — has dipped to 41.7 percent through 16 games of his junior season.

Nobody’s panicking over the decline in accuracy, which this season has included a 1-for-10 outing against Temple, 1-for-8 against Oklahoma State and 1-for-6 versus Kentucky.

“I think that Perry is just a fraction away from doing the things that we had envisioned him to do,” KU coach Bill Self said of the team’s second-leading scorer, who takes a 12.2 ppg average (to Frank Mason III’s 12.4) into Saturday’s 8 p.m., contest at Iowa State.

“I think one thing he has to do, he’s got to be a player that’s aggressive and believe that he’s the best player on the floor every night, because when he plays well, he is, and he’s proven that. I think Perry is going through a little bit of a situation where maybe we’re winning (14-2, 3-0) and maybe it’s OK for him to defer like he has in years past, because the end result has been OK. And that’s not good for us.” Self added.

“He’s got to be the most aggressive guy looking to score every night we play. Even if he misses shots, he makes things happen if he’s aggressive. I don’t think he’s far off at all, and certainly his talent level is as good or as better as it has been since he’s been here. I think he’s got to be our go-to guy, and I don’t think he’s far off. I wouldn’t be surprised at him having a big game and a series of big games very soon. I really see him taking off the last half of our season.”

Ellis is the kind of player, Self said, who “remembers his misses where some guys don’t remember their misses. He remembers his screw-ups because he’s conscientious, like you would want your son to be, whereas a lot of coaches would just as soon not coach your son. They would rather have some guys that can’t remember their bad plays.

“I think he’s almost too sweet and too nice a kid at times when things are not going well. One thing that I worry about with our entire team is our body language. I don’t think we have been a great body language team and I think Perry is one of those guys that can improve on that,” Self noted.

The low-key Ellis admits “sometime I do (put pressure on himself). It’s something I’m always trying to get better at, let the game come to me, try to work on going out and having fun.”

After a 5-for-7, 15-point outing against Texas Tech last Saturday, he acknowledged he’d been in ... “a slump. It’s something the coaches have my back, they just want me to continue attacking in practice and are trying to help me out. Coach is always saying, ‘Go hard to the hole and try to dunk.’’’

Junior Landen Lucas said he has full confidence in Ellis, noting that he’s been spending extra time in the gym and been going up to the basketball offices and “talking to coaches” as well.

“We know the talent level is there. The skill set is there. Once he gets back on track it’ll be a quick change everybody will see,” Lucas said.

“It’s something where I’ve got to come next day to practice, keep shooting and you get past it,” Ellis said of a slump.

The 6-8, 225-pounder noted it has been a bit more difficult finishing inside this season.

“Having Jo Jo (Embiid, now with Philadelphia 76ers) out there took a lot of the spotlight off me. It’s definitely different (this season). I’m trying to get better,” Ellis said.

One Jayhawk the polar opposite of Ellis from a mental standpoint is Kelly Oubre Jr., who has been on a roll of late, scoring in double figures in four of his last five games.

“Kelly can’t remember (missed shots). He can be 0-of-4 and have three turnovers and he gets a deflection out of bounds and he thinks that’s the play that won the game which is the way it should be. I think that’s great. That’s the way it should be, fun and enthusiastic like that,” Self said.

High praise: KU’s Wayne Selden Jr. was a teammate of ISU’s Georges Niang at Tilton (N.H) school and also with the Boston Amateur Basketball Club. “He’s the best player I played with until I got here,” Selden said, smiling. What about Nerlens Noel? “Best until I got here,” he repeated.

Monday’s festivities: KU athletics will honor former student-athletes who were instrumental in the desegregation of Lawrence during the late 1950s during Monday’s KU-Oklahoma game, to be contested on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Homer Floyd (football) and Ernie Shelby (track), who in 1957 expressed their intention to leave KU if some issues regarding discrimination in Lawrence were not addressed, will be introduced during the game. At 4:30 p.m., they will participate in a candlelight vigil at the Strong Hall Rotunda and walk with students from Strong Hall to the Kansas Union for a special social justice celebration. For more information on KU’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day activities, go to the Web address

Recruiting: KU coach Self went on a recruiting trip to the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions in Springfield, Missouri, on Thursday night. Ivan Rabb, a 6-9 senior from Bishop O’Dowd High in Oakland, California, competed at the tourney with juniors Malik Monk, 6-3, Bentonville (Arkansas) High; V.J. King, 6-7, Paul VI High, Fairfax, Virginia and Harry Giles, 6-10 Wesleyan Christian Academy, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Rabb is ranked No. 7 in the Class of 2015 by Giles is ranked No. 2, Monk No. 6 and King No. 18 in the Class of 2016.

Points down: Self was asked about scoring being down in college basketball this season.

“I think a lot of that is bad offense. I think a lot of it is, it’s easier to coach defense than offense and a lot of times easier to stop people than it is to exploit people,” Self said.

“But our players’ skill sets, I don’t think is quite as good. I think it’s just generally going down in large part because we don’t have as many good players playing, many great players playing in the college game as what we’ve had in most of the years past because none of them stay past their sophomore year.”


Justin Kruse 7 years, 4 months ago

Love Coach's confidence in Perry. Time for beast mode, Perry!

Benz Junque 7 years, 4 months ago

I genuinely think that Coach Self needs to get hold of his buddy RC Buford in San Antonio and have him put David Robinson in contact with Perry Ellis. Mr. Robinson was a polite, thoughtful man of faith who was able to be aggressive on the court. Many players have the natural instinct and drive to go out there and bang amongst the bodies and impose their will. This just flat out is not natural to Perry. With what I have read about his determination to get good grades in high school he does seem to be a person who takes great pride in excelling at tasks so if he could focus on being technically excellent at all aspects of the game then I think he could really reach his peak. Be obsessed with having excellent footwork. Be obsessed with going after any rebound or loose ball even remotely within reach. Be obsessed with always going after the ball with two hands. Be obsessed with always executing what your role is in a play.

You don't have to be a guy that wants to rip people's heads off or tear down the rim to be a great college big man. Ellis can be a great technician that every team hates to play because they know he'll always be doing the right thing at his max.

Justin Kruse 7 years, 4 months ago

With his footwork and moves, I agree that he doesn't need to be the guy to rip down the rim; we've got Jamari and Cliff to do that! I think he just needs to do what Self says and see himself as the best player on the floor. He's got so many great skills and a great head on his shoulders.

RJ King 7 years, 4 months ago

Love David Robinson, both the player and the man. Imagine if Perry were 7'! Instead, a couple of 6'8" "nice guys" come to mind. If only Ellis could defend like Shane Battier, or ball handle like Grant Hill . . . (and no, I'm not a Duke fan).

But yes, I get your point. Ellis' strength is his finesse and intelligence. His weakness (on the court) is his passive nature and perhaps lack of ego. So basically I'm agreeing with you.

Alex Resnik 7 years, 4 months ago

(Here comes the obligatory "if everyone plays well at the same time, we are unstoppable" comment)

If Perry puts it all together and we have Alexander as a banger, 'Mari as a great high-low option, a legit 25 pt threat in Oubre, "slasher" threat in Mason, and "do everything" threat in Seldon we can be VERY good. But the problem is getting everyone to perform that way all season (or at least during the last two tourny's of the year). That's why Self gets paid the big bucks.

Joe Joseph 7 years, 4 months ago

I've said it before. College basketball is unwatchable at times.

Something's gotta be done to improve the pace and scoring in college basketball. The emphasis on reducing hand/forearm-checking was supposed to help, but made it worse by increasing the number of fouls and slowing the pace of the game considerably. In theory, the increased foul calls would teach players not to foul. Instead, officials just stopped calling the fouls, leading to inconsistency and a return of more physical play, also slowing the pace and keeping scoring low.

I'm interested in others' opinions on what might increase the pace of play or increase scoring?

Reduced shot clock? Limit zone defense? (like in the NBA)

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 4 months ago

I'd love to hear Jim Boehiem's reaction if they make any rule changes regarding zone defense. My honest opinion is to go with a 30 second shot clock. If creates more possessions without forcing teams that like to use clock to change offensive philosophy. There's other tweaks that can be done, but a 30 second shot clock is biggest change to speed up the game without changing the way it's officiated.

Walter Bridges 7 years, 4 months ago

Might not be what you expect. In '93 (last year w/45 sec shot) the combined points per NCAA tournament game that year was 148.6, with the 35-second clock, the average is 131.5.

We don't need more bad shots to beat the buzzer which is exactly what you will get.

Darren McSweeney 7 years, 4 months ago

I think it's ridiculous that people are worried about scoring in basketball. Have you ever watched soccer (the most popular sport in the world), or hockey, or baseball, or football? You don't need to score every 60 seconds for a sport to be interesting! In fact, folks who enjoy soccer and hockey often make fun of basketball for needing so much scoring to keep people interested. As we've seen the last couple of years, messing with the rules to increase scoring just messes up the flow of the game. Just let the game be what the game is, and if you can't handle waiting 70 seconds between scores, you should go watch... uh... I guess you're hosed.

Benz Junque 7 years, 4 months ago

You are aware that millions of people in this country don't watch the sport of soccer because it is painfully boring to watch a sport that only has a legit scoring option a few times a game, right? I have seen entire soccer games where a team did not register a single shot on goal. That's exciting? KILL ME.

I want to see the athletes be athletes, Hard to be amazed by basketball players driving, dishing and dunking when they are shooting free throws every five seconds. Add to it that every time they call a defensive foul they restart the shot clock and we have to wait even LONGER for something to happen.

Darren McSweeney 7 years, 4 months ago

That's my point. The refs are calling more fouls to help the offense and create more scoring. They're disrupting the flow of the game. The game of basketball, which I agree is the greatest game on Earth, doesn't need more scoring... but it does need less foul calls. Defensive basketball is a beautiful thing, and it should be allowed to thrive.

Rodney Crain 7 years, 4 months ago

I think that is a weak argument Benz. When you watch two athlete challenged teams, like Jacksonville and Tampa play in the NFL, or the Knicks and the Timberwolves, or any teams play that are horrible it is hard to stay interested in the games.

The World Cup had great games last year, EPL, even the MLS in soccer. If you watch 2 decent teams there are plenty of chances and usually 2 or more goals. Viewership was way up for soccer in 2014, 27 million in the US for the WC final. When you add in the Spanish channels it was over 100 million viewers in the US and close to 2b worldwide. Not Super Bowl or even NCAA Final numbers but not terrible.

We are just going through some learning phases the last few years as the NCAA has asked officials to call certain rules more closely the last couple of years. You tell in the first 7 minutes that the OSU game was going to be overly officiated. It made for a disjointed game but I am not sure I would call it boring.

Darren McSweeney 7 years, 4 months ago

Yes, that's my point. Let the game be what the game is and don't start calling more fouls to benefit the offense. There might be more scoring but the flow of the game is ruined. If the score needs to be 50-49 because the offenses stink and the defenses are good, so be it.

Erich Hartmann 7 years, 4 months ago

Interesting how people's personalities on the hardwood plays out, but Ellis being told to drive the rim and try to dunk it (as a junior) is interesting. I doubt Cliff and Jamari are being told to dunk it, as they already have such aggression.

I'm real hopeful Ellis will turn it around soon. He has personally demolished IowaSt more than once! We need him to again...

Erich Hartmann 7 years, 4 months ago

As Suzi did, I also re-watched the OSU game again, and I will "update" my (harsh) opinion on Ellis. He was hustling pretty well, although the mishandled balls/early t.o.'s were perplexing. Cliff's monsta-slam (over a 7-footer) stands as a stark example of what an aggressive 6'8 guy can do! I mean the whole nation saw that replay, as it made Top10, and it may give guys pause about getting hurt with the force Cliff showed. I told my son I have to keep reminding myself that Cliff is only 18 or 19yrs old, which makes his play more notable. Kind of like Julius Randle, who was a man-child. Simply put, Cliff plays like a Man.

Jamari's full length coast2coast drive + jam (against TxTech?) was another example of a 6'8, aggressive player. Love everything about Jamari Traylor.

I find no joy in bringing up (that I was saying this summer) that the talent of Cliff and the improvement+fire of Traylor, may both be breathing down Ellis' neck this season--simply because I've had 2yrs to watch Ellis (&Traylor)...And while I havent watched Cliff x 2yrs, you see 1 mixtape, and you see exactly what Cliff's mindset is, and it is not passive. I really hope the intrasquad competition rubs off on Ellis and makes his mindset more aggressive. He has the skillset. He truly does. Now, as Self said: Go throwdown on someone!

I'd like to be able to paraphrase a former US president: "If you counted on (Perry Ellis) being counted wrong!" Make it so, Perry.

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 4 months ago

The guys are starting to move consistently like a Bill Self team. If we can only finish and eliminate the mindless TOs! I've turned the corner with this team and am beginning to think we have a serious shot at number 11 and the NC. Nevertheless, we are at ISU Saturday, which always means ....

We've been on the national center stage twice (KY and Temple), let's hope the third time is a charm.

Lance Cheney 7 years, 4 months ago

They need to start making their free throws for that to happen!

Walter Bridges 7 years, 4 months ago

I've never understood the consistently poor FT shooting at KU.

It cost us a championship 2003

Rodney Crain 7 years, 4 months ago

Walter that was a difficult game to get over, I was on a leaders trip, a reward trip, I should have been enjoying myself but I was in a bad mood all week LOL. Could not beleive we gave that game away like that.

Bob Bailey 7 years, 4 months ago

Too much worrying about increasing offense. Many of the suggestions result in a game about as much fun as watching HORSE. That's the problem with NBA -- never watch it at all. Perhaps the ultimate answer is to have the NBA increase the college level to at least 3 years.

Benz Junque 7 years, 4 months ago

How do you know that's the problem with the NBA if you never watch it at all?

Robert Robinson 7 years, 4 months ago

I don't see what the big deal is with lower scoring game. They are college kids. What's wrong with a game full of defense? I get just as fired up over a steal or a block as I do a 3 pointer. Yes, the PROS score 100+ points a game. Can anyone pick out the key word in that sentence? All the new blocking rule did was add free throws. Shorter shot clock will just make sloppy play and even more free throws. Again, we're talking about kids. How about you leave the game alone?

Michael Bennett 7 years, 4 months ago

I think they mean the college game used to be more fluid and smoother when the best players stayed on the team for 3-4 years. There have been comments made by Larry Brown and other coaches that the college game is much uglier/sloppier now than in the 80s and 90s, due mainly to younger and rawer teams that lack chemistry, experience and development.

Benz Junque 7 years, 4 months ago

The college game is only ugly when the refs call 5000 fouls. Add in the fact that every team now has access to companies that are providing massive amounts of data that make game planning for a team MUCH easier than it used to be. In the '80s it was pretty much "I'm gonna do our thing and try to stop you from doing your thing" with a little bit of coaching staff knowledge of what the opponent did last year. Now, there are companies providing advanced analytics that break down every players tendencies in virtually every scenario.

Michael Bennett 7 years, 4 months ago

Good point on the more advanced scouting of today. The uglier game is probably a combination of those factors. The rule changes have affected the number of fouls called. I would add the # of fouls called would likely be partially reduced if the players were older and more "foul savvy", as fouls can be a problem for freshmen.

Rodney Crain 7 years, 4 months ago

They might want to look at the rules, they change as the players have changed through the years too. 2 hand written pages are now aprx. 145+ 12 font typed pages now.

Scott MacWilliams 7 years, 4 months ago

Okay, so how many 5-star hoopsters fit in a bass boat?? And where's the 3-point line?

Damian Glaze 7 years, 4 months ago

I hope it starts to click for Perry soon. He has been atrocious over the last three weeks. He is regularly pushed aside for rebounds, after getting a few bumps and bruises he resigns himself to shooting perimeter shots; and when he does get to the rim it is timid. I guarantee the scouting report by other teams says to punch him in the mouth early and make him feel uncomfortable in the post and he'll soften up and move outside. Self uses the term aggressive probably not to hurt his feelings, but the real term that should be used is -- he has to get tougher and intimidate instead of being intimidated.

Rodney Crain 7 years, 4 months ago

Perry - the KING of the Summer camps I remind you, a few interesting stats so far;

He is averaging 28 mins. a game.
56% of his games he shot less than 50%. In 8 games he shot less than 38%. 31% of his games he had 4 or less rebounds 31% of his games he scored 7 or fewer points Averages 1.75 turnovers a game, has had more than 3 only twice

His 4 worst games of the season were KY, Lafayette, Temple, and Baylor where he hit or surpassed his season worst performances across the board.

Just stats, but interesting.

I agree with some other posters on here. I think he has hit his ceiling, if we can get 10+ points, and 7+ rebounds a game, everything else is frosting on the cake. He struggles against big, or tall post players at times, can have concentration issues in some games, and can get down on himself if he has issues early in games, like missed easy shots, or being blocked. He can be soft around the rim too.

Let's just be happy for who he is and not get our hopes up that he is something he is not.

Damian Glaze 7 years, 4 months ago

Good stuff. I have a new approach to my viewing pleasure (or displeasure). Thanks.

Kristen Downing 7 years, 4 months ago

Next play, Perry, next play. Works in life too.

Mike Riches 7 years, 4 months ago

It's interesting that Ellis talked about the difference of having Embiid down low last year. I'm sure JoJo did take some attention away from Ellis, but Perry's points per minute actually increased fairly significantly in the seven games JoJo was out (.45 to .61).

I don't know the stats but it feels like Perry has been blocked many more times this season than in the past. Any basketball player would probably agree that getting his own shot blocked can mess with a player's mind more than almost anything. And it seems like that negative effect might be magnified for a player with a personality like Perry's.

Harlan Hobbs 7 years, 4 months ago

Really impressed by both of your comments, Benz. Hadn't thought about the David Robinson scenario, but I find it very intriguing. Thanks for planting the seed.

John Pritchett 7 years, 4 months ago

"I worry about with our entire team is our body language. I don’t think we have been a great body language team.."

I liked Cliff's body language in the game against OSU, but it got him teed up.

Robert Lofthouse 7 years, 4 months ago

Ultimately resulting in a win. Maybe he should do that in every game?

Steve Zimmerman 7 years, 4 months ago

I'd say, watch something that'll inspire you, Perry. Watch Gary Payton II, if you must. He's only 6-3, but always goes up high. I don't think you need to be a son of an NBA to be able to do that. Perry has all the tools. All he needs to do is just go play hard like there's no tomorrow. Practice hard. Desire to carry the team's loads. Be the best you can be, Perry!! You can do it, my man!!!

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