Thursday, June 11, 2015

Graham working on three-point game

Blue Team player Devonte' Graham celebrates a three during a scrimmage, Wednesday, June 10, 2015 at the Horejsi Family Athletic Center.

Blue Team player Devonte' Graham celebrates a three during a scrimmage, Wednesday, June 10, 2015 at the Horejsi Family Athletic Center.


Kansas University’s basketball players aren’t handed stat sheets after playing in the 30-minute Bill Self campers game in Horejsi Center. Thus, they are somewhat astounded when informed by media of their unofficial totals.

“Thirty one? I didn’t know that. Thanks,” KU junior point guard Frank Mason exclaimed after a reporter informed him of his point production for the Red Team in Wednesday’s 95-74 victory over the Blue team.

“For real?” Blue team member Devonté Graham said with a smile after being told he’d hit a grand total of seven three-pointers en route to his 23 points.

Seven threes is a lot, even in a glorified pickup game. His official career high is three (in eight tries) set in KU’s season-ending loss to Wichita State. For his entire freshman year, the 6-foot-2 Raleigh, North Carolina, native made 17 of 40 threes for 42.5 percent.

“That was one of my focuses for this year, getting better beyond the arc, having people respect my three-point game,” Graham said. “That will open up the floor for more driving lanes. It will open up the court for Wayne (Selden, Jr.), Svi (Mykhailiuk) Brannen (Greene), everybody.”

Overall, Graham hit 46 of 117 shots his frosh season for 39.3 percent.

“I wasn’t really a big-time three-point shooter. They (foes) didn’t really have a reason to respect me,” Graham said.

KU’s backup point guard knew teams were giving him the outside shot.

“Backing off, going under screens, stuff like that ... things we do to people who can’t shoot,” Graham said, laughing. “I think it was being hesitant,” he added of his main problem. “I’ve always been confident in my jump shot. I lost a little bit of confidence last year. I was nervous being a freshman trying to play my role.”

In looking back, he realizes how he lost his confidence.

“Not shooting it well, missing a lot of shots, being hesitant. It’s a mental thing. I think I’m out of it,” Graham said. “You’ve got to put up shots. I went home (after final exams for about a month) and worked out putting up shots. I just tried to get better.”

Graham wants to help make sure KU’s incoming freshmen don’t lose confidence at any point this season.

“They’re going to be big,” he said of Carlton Bragg and Lagerald Vick, who are on campus. Cheick Diallo will report for second session of summer school. “They are just learning. I understand how we looked last year, me, Kelly (Oubre, Jr.), Cliff (Alexander), how we were just lost. They are kind of lost right now, not knowing what to do. They picked up on a couple things pretty fast that we taught them. It’ll take a couple weeks to learn as far as plays, where to be on the court, trying to talk and understand what we are trying to do.”

The Jayhawk players are working to learn FIBA rules for the upcoming World University Games, including a 24-second shot clock.

“That will help us out as far as playing faster,” Graham said. “Me, Frank, Wayne, Perry (Ellis) get up and down. We can bring the ball up and down the court faster. Getting up more shots I think will help us out.”

Graham can’t wait to play games again to completely erase the bad taste of the loss to WSU.

“That definitely will be with us a little while,” he said. “I think we’ve gotten over it. Our fans probably are more hurt about it than we are. We’ve got to focus on a new year, starting out right, and it starts in (Gwangju) South Korea (site of Games).”


Rodney Pain 7 years ago

Don't let Coach Self's comments about fools gold dissuade you one bit, Mr. Graham. Of all the things Bill has send to the media over the years, that has to be the most puzzling. Keep shooting and you'll have the chance to be a Hinrich level guard. You'll have back to back Final Fours in your future.

John Boyle 7 years ago

Puzzling?? Really. He knew as a coach that when a team hits lots of threes early they stop looking inside for easy shots and settle for the 3 and you will eventually cool off. I think it was an absolutely spot on comment. He didn't say stop shooting 3's when you're hot, just don't forget the inside play as well. KU has won numerous games in the past because some team was red hot beyond the arc early but then started missing the long range shots and had nothing to fall back on.

Kurt Eskilson 7 years ago

Good analysis of the "Fool's Gold" statement. At the time, I was unhappy about the apparent impact of that comment on the team's 3-ball shooting too. But I'm re-thinking that now. And of course now we know that Greene's injury was a big factor as well!

Marius Rowlanski 7 years ago

All good points but with a 24 sec shot clock I wouldn't be surprised if we launched a lot of 3s as the clock expires. I know I'm looking at this just for the University games and you're talking about strategy for the season.

I do think the 24 sec clock will give KU an early season advantage when the 30 second shot clock comes in to play.

Ronald Cox 7 years ago

As an alum of KU, I enjoy every team and feel the losses only as sadness for players, not as an alum. So, for me, the WSU loss is history. Like any other loss .

Tony Bandle 7 years ago

Maybe we should consider moving KU home games to the Horejsi!!!

What? We lost to WSU? Oh well,

That guy in blue behind Devonte...he sure looks familiar. :}

Marius Rowlanski 7 years ago

I was surprised their was no mention of EJ. Good to see him and all the former 'Hawks' helping get this team ready.

Forrest Ranjer 7 years ago

Devonte, it's a new season man. We're with you. WSU is sooo last year, we've already cleaned the floor several times following that milky loss.

The coolest thing about this year is we actually have four seasons: International, pre-Big 12, Big 12 and post. The international season gives us an incredible opportunity to learn to play quicker, which will really bring the rookies along (at least in practice). And the new year, at least for practice, started this week.

Exciting times! We don't need no stinkin' WSU memories!

Steve Quatrocky 7 years ago

I just hope the experience practicing and playing faster under FIBA rules will mean I never see our point guard walking the ball past half court. If that guard is moving faster on the first pass, the defense is moving too and has a much harder time defending the pass and then the next pass, leading to a break down and easy bucket in less than 15 seconds. We wont have as much time to get it to the "third side" as we did in the past. At a minimum, it should give our guys a big head start in adapting to the NCAA's shorter shot clock. With our speed, and lack of a seven footer in the middle, are guards need to exploit their speed, because "Speed Do" and we can rotate to fresh legs with plenty of talented guards that all need to grow with their playing time.

Mick Allen 7 years ago

John, I think your interpretation of Coach Self's statement is a correct one. For validation look at the Cav's- Warriors' serious. When Golden State doesn't shoot the trey well they're up a creek because their inside game is not dominating.

Mick Allen 7 years ago

Senility is a cruel thing. The Cavs- Warriors series, not serious.

Keith Gellar 7 years ago

i don't think most of us will ever forget the WSU loss. Its bad enough we throw games to KSU, but never did i imagine us losing to a Marshal coached WSU squad. I think a lot KU fans died a little inside after that loss...

Harlan Hobbs 7 years ago

Everybody is on the mark today. Congratulations!

Don't worry, Mick, I don't think that senility has set in. If it has, I have been there for some time now.

Harlan Hobbs 7 years ago

You're right to a point, Keith. Losing to WSU was definitely a bummer, mainly because they will be talking about it for the next 30+ years like they did the Battle of New Orleans during the Darnell Valentine era. However, I'll keep the KU tradition and national championships as a soothing reminder of what we can relish as KU alumni and/or fans.

Aaron Paisley 7 years ago

WSU was the better team last season. A lot of veterans who played a big role in that Final Four run compared to a lot of young players with minimal tournament experience and the outcome shouldn't have been that surprising. There was no logic to their seeding other than to create the KU-WSU match up. They were top 15 in the polls all year and had a top 20 RPI which means they should've been a 4 seed last year.

On to Devonte, he was a 40% 3 point shooter last season, his accuracy isn't what needs work. He just needs to take the open shot when it's there and he'll create his own space to drive by people.

Marius Rowlanski 7 years ago

The truth can be hard to swallow but I agree. We didn't have enough experience or continuity last year though I still think our players had a much higher threshold in terms of undeveloped talent.

Erich Hartmann 7 years ago

Good comments. WSU was the better team, we lost our poise. Self said it, Frank said it, even Brannen Greene mentioned us getting away from our defensive principles. Of course you can say they were just echoing "coach-speak" from the defeated lockerroom, but in the Bill Self system of ball over the past 10yrs...its the god-honest truth. We looked like a high-school team that second half. Frank and Devonte came to play. And our post players got outplayed by 2 x 6'7 guys, and a 7ft Wamukota.

So there's no surprise in seeing what a mid-major coach can do with some seasoned upperclassmen.

Now, y'all will get reminded what Bill Self does with a team of veterans who also happen to be high-talent kids. He was doing this years before Gregg Marshall, eventhough Marshall is older.

Erich Hartmann 7 years ago

Glad to see Elijah Johnson back in Lawrence! JayhawkForLife I only wished for his sake, that he'd put up another 4-5 30+ point games, as his draft potential would have soared...but everyone has their on-court personality.

EJ, Tyshawn, TRob, Releford, Withey came oh-so-close in 2012. Man, did that team have heart...a lesson for all.

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