Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Column: Jayhawks provide glimpse of priceless experience

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) drives to the basket in a 91-83 Team USA exhibition game win against Canada Tuesday, June 23, at the Sprint Center in K.C., MO.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) drives to the basket in a 91-83 Team USA exhibition game win against Canada Tuesday, June 23, at the Sprint Center in K.C., MO.


— It was just a sparring session in advance of a tournament that won’t budge the Kansas University basketball team’s 2015-16 record from 0-0. Consequently, heading into the night, it didn’t feel as if it meant anything.

Then the players started diving for loose balls and exchanging the lead by answering clutch shots with clutch shots and it felt for a while as if the gold medal was at stake.

Even with Team K-USA and Canada trading the lead in the fourth quarter, it wasn’t difficult to project the winner because this Bill Self team had something that the past two didn’t, a core of tough, unflappable players hardened by years of experience playing in big college basketball games.

Relentless point guard Fearless Frank Mason III, strong, smart, physical wing Wayne Selden Jr., highly skilled forward Perry Ellis and fifth-year strong man Jamari Traylor had been through too many battles to lose this one.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self on approach to international play

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self discusses the Jayhawks' approach to international play following KU's summer debut — an exhibition victory over Canada, in Kansas City, Missouri.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Mason, Traylor and Ellis discuss summer debut

Kansas basketball veterans Frank Mason III, Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor meet the media Tuesday night at Sprint Center, following the Jayhawks' exhibition win over Team Canada.

Download podcast

Experience translates to calm nerves, smart play and supreme confidence. Experience is why a Stanford can knock off a team armed with a freshman one year before he becomes the NBA Rookie of the Year. It explains why Wichita State can look more like the No. 2 seed than Kansas.

This year, KU will be on the other side of experience mismatches and that can only be a good thing from November through perhaps even early April for the Jayhawks, winners of 11 consecutive Big 12 regular-season titles.

K-USA defeated an older Canada squad, 91-83, because it had more talent and enough experience, just the blend that promises to make this coming season an interesting one for KU, bounced from the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament the past two seasons.

Freshman center Cheick Diallo from Mali, tall shooters Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and Brannen Greene and point guard Devonté Graham weren’t available, yet KU didn’t look like a team lacking depth. (SMU’s Nic Moore came in handy.)

“When we have Devonté, because Devonté is beyond his years, we’ll be a hard team to deal with, I think, with Devonté and Frank both out there together taking the pressure off of each other,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “Wayne made some unbelievable, athletic plays. That save he made to Frank for the three was probably as big of a play as there was in the game. But yeah, it’s nice. Having a fifth-year senior and a four-year senior, and two three-year juniors out there, we haven’t had that since 2012. That turned out OK.”

That season, played without a McDonald's All-American, lasted until the final game of the NCAA Tournament.

More news and notes from Kansas vs. Canada exhibition


Rodney Pain 7 years, 3 months ago

I was very impressed with Mason's effort and Bragg's hustle. Mick and Lucas struggled mightily, though. We need to get stronger around the rim. Jamari provided a good surge of hustle too.

Shannon Gustafson 7 years, 3 months ago

I'll repost this here now that an official post game article is up:

Well, that was a very good game to watch! Was close the whole time and a ton of lead changes. Frank was a beast and put up 28 points while closing the game with 3-4 straight buckets and 2 free throws. Maybe those 30 point performances in the scrimmages were an indicator of things to come after all. Late in the game we'd run the offense and if we didn't get anything, Frank would run an iso from the top of the key and he was deadly driving for and 1's, or step back mid range jumpers, or even making a big 3 on a broken play where Selden flew above everyone else to tip it out to Mason to get us a 2 pt lead with a few minutes left. Perry was doubled the whole game but still put up 17 points and 8 or 9 rebounds. Jamari had a double double (12 and 10 I think). Selden had some great hustle plays, knocked down a few big 3's, was aggressive driving to the basket but didn't force it up if it wasn't there, kicked it out to the open shooter. I was impressed with Bragg. He stood next to Perry for the national anthem and he was noticeably 1.5-2" taller than Perry so that's good since Perry always seems undersized. His stats weren't spectacular but he seemed to have a knack for being in the right place to grab a steal, loose ball, long rebound, etc. He also lead the break a few times and had some great passes both on the break and in the paint to Jamari. He shot 4 18 ft jumpers and I made 2 of them. Also made a 3 pointer I believe. Vick looked sped up the whole game. I'm sure he was nervous. Didn't look real comfortable. Forced a few 3's off the dribble. He did finish well on fast breaks though. Overall the team was just "OK" in the first half but really stepped it up in the second half, especially down the stretch. Defense really locked down the last few possessions. With about a minute left we had a great defensive possession where Traylor and Selden blocked a drive/layup, it deflected to their center who put up a jumper from about 6 ft out and Perry came over from the weak side to block it out of bounds. Seemed to take the wind out of Canada's sails. We did get whistled for not getting it over half court quick enough (8 second rule got Frank walking it up) and we had a few calls where we hit the ball as it was coming through the basket but those are just things that will happen while we get used to these international rules.

Bryce Landon 7 years, 3 months ago

Mason single-handedly won the night for Kansas.

Shannon Gustafson 7 years, 3 months ago

Didn't Mason also have like 2 or 4 points or something at the half? I seem to remember thinking he was having an off night at halftime. That makes his final stats even more impressive.

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 3 months ago

K-USA...first time I've seen that. Is it Keeganism phraseology?

It is great the new guys are getting a chance to learn our system early and Kansas representing the USA. This is late June and my sports cycle mentality is firmly in the Baseball and Golf mood. With the Royals holding a 3.5 game lead over the Twins, their arrival for an early July series seems a more appropriate priority than the games in Korea. Additionally, the Astros have a 4 game lead so the anticipation of a KC-Houston playoff is great. Also, the Yanks are only 2 back in the East. Not to mention absorbing the aftermath of the US Open and the upcoming Open Championship on St. Andrews hallowed grounds.

However, the Hawks are representing the USA so those games will demand center stage in our household. to weekend big series vs the Twins ( this weekend

Harlan Hobbs 7 years, 3 months ago

Suzi, give me your take on Jordan Spieth. I commented to someone last evening that, given his maturity at such a young age and his attraction to the fans, he could someday follow in the footsteps of legends like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Gary Player, and Tom Watson as fan favorites who are noted almost as much for their character and philanthropy as they are for their golf games.

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 3 months ago

Harlan - Like everyone in Texas, I'm exceptionally proud of Spieth. Although I've never met him, it feels like he's part of our broader family. I live in a huge Texas golfing community and have known the Speith since before his '09 Junior Am title. My family is closely aligned with Rockhurst ( a Jesuit School) in KC and Speith is a Dallas Jesuit grad. He's the same age as my son, so we know that whole Dallas Jesuit and Golfing community very well. Speech has a great longtime girlfriend a TTU 4.0 grad.

Spieth, McIlroy, Fowler, DJ, etc have finally gotten me through the post-Tiger blues of the past several years. Then through a KU guy like Woodland into the mix. I'm super excited about and plan to attend the Open Championship on St. Andrews. Dustin Johnson has the most jaw dropping game I've ever seen. I'm never going to get over his drive Sunday on 18! A 370 yard drive that split a 10 yard wide fairway on the 72 hold of the US Open trailing by one shot.

Titus Canby 7 years, 3 months ago

Suzi, are you really going to St. Andrews for the British Open? Nice. And I'm old school. Growing up, "The Open" was the U. S. Open. That other one that Watson won all the time... that's the "British Open." You know, those guys we beat in the Revolutionary War.

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 3 months ago

Titus, You bet I am. We went in '95 and witnessed Tirger's heroics in '00.We had planned to attend all the Open Championships held at St. Andrews but missed '05 and '10. As for the name, the Scotts simply call it the Open Championships. Since the game commenced operations there some 1,000 years ago and this year is played at St. Andrews, I submit to their will. Everyone knows about how the USGA nurtured and build the game through the 20th century and now but playing in the British Isles is very special. After every single person, no exceptions, makes a golf trip to the British Isles they feel the same way. Funny thing is, personally I loathe playing those links courses like St. Andrews and especially Turnberry!

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