Tuesday, January 9, 2018


Tom Keegan: Time for the real Malik Newman to stand up

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) throws a pass during the first half on Monday, Dec. 18, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) throws a pass during the first half on Monday, Dec. 18, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.


If someone told you a McDonald’s All-American would join the Kansas basketball team in time for Tuesday night's game against Iowa State in Allen Fieldhouse, you would take that deal, right?

Wait, it gets better. The NCAA Clearinghouse has nothing to say about it, won’t in any way restrict him from playing.

It could happen. Malik Newman could show up Tuesday night for Kansas and stick around for the rest of the season. As for what player has been wearing Newman’s No. 14 jersey for the first 15 games of the season, nobody knows.

It hasn’t been the player coach Bill Self watched drop jaws in practice during his red-shirt season at Kansas after transferring from Mississippi State.

“I didn’t figure this last year at all, or this summer,” Self said. “I thought he was one of our better athletes and certainly had a chance to be one of our better scorers, if not our leading scorer.”

Instead, Newman ranks fifth on the team in scoring (9.9 points per game), lost his starting assignment to freshman Marcus Garrett the past three games, and is coming off a one-point effort that wasn’t his season low in scoring. He went scoreless in 31 minutes at Nebraska.

Newman averaged 13.5 points six games into the season and scored a season-high 17 points in the final game of that streak, vs. Toledo. He had made 50 percent of his 3-point shots to that point. In the nine games since, he’s shooting .243 from 3.

Beyond the shots not dropping, he just hasn’t had that McDonald’s All-American look to him.

“He’s a thinker,” Self said. “He’s gotten slow because he’s thinking too much. … I know that the reason for him not really playing as well or as productive of late isn’t physical. He’s just frozen from a mind standpoint.”

Self then made a prediction.

“He’ll play better moving forward,” Self said. “We’ve talked. He knows we need him to play well. The players have told him what they need from him. The biggest thing is just confidence.”

This week presents as a good an opportunity as any for a slumping player to get well because both games are at home and both visitors — Iowa State and Kansas State — are projected to finish in the bottom tier of the Big 12 standings.

Self said he had a talk with Newman recently and shared a bit of what he said and what outcome he had hoped that would trigger.

“I told him just be aggressive, try to score, don’t worry about anything other than being aggressive, to try to free him up,” Self said. “He’s going to be fine, but he’s probably hit a low point since he’s been here for sure. I don’t know. I can’t speak for Mississippi State.”

In his final eight games at Mississippi State, Newman averaged 22.3 minutes and just 6.6 points. He came off the bench in his final five games for Ben Howland’s Bulldogs.

Newman averaged 13.1 points in his first 21 college games and then faded, making many wonder if Howland just wasn't the right fit for him. It would be tougher to make that case now.

Even when he was shooting well to start this season, Newman didn’t have a breakout game.

“It hasn’t gone as scripted,” Self said. “If you look at it, he’s still averaging 10 points a game halfway through the season. If we can get 12 to 14 out of him in the second half, I think we’ll be in pretty good shape.”

Self isn’t looking for Newman to adopt the defensive-stopper role, but does want to see more out of him as a scorer. The coach talked about what Newman can bring to the team if he hits stride.

“I think he’s got personality,” Self said. “I think he brings energy to the court, but what he does is he can go get his own shot. He’s never going to be Bruce Bowen (five-time, first-team NBA all-defense selection), but he can be a guy who can go get his own shot. He has gotten better defensively, but he hasn’t been near as aggressive in making plays on the offensive end.”

Newman can’t solve the problems that come with KU’s lack of size and depth as it awaits word on possible additions Billy Preston and Silvio De Sousa, but if Newman has as much potential as advertised, he can give the team a boost in a way that makes it feel as if a new player has been added to the roster.


Austin Lopez 4 years, 7 months ago

Always been a huge fan of Malik Newman since his high school days, he is not doubt a relentless scorer, he just needs to play the game freely.

Craig Carson 4 years, 7 months ago

Newman is a vital key for this teams success..until we can add Preston and DeSousa, we are a guard oriented team..but if we are gonna be reliant on our guards, we need all hands on deck. We really cant afford to have any starter not show up and produce

Yonatan Negash 4 years, 7 months ago

Hey Malik,

I understand the pressure you must feel playing for a powerhouse like Kansas but the game of basketball is the same no matter where you play.

This is basketball, a game you've played most of your life if not all.

Get ball, dribble, shoot or pass, get a score, get back on defense and get a stop.

Repeat that again, and again like you have before many times over.

Now, take a deep breath and go out there and play ball man.

Steve Zimmerman 4 years, 7 months ago

Good one, Yon. If I may add:

  • shake and bake on dribble drive ('ve seen him done it pretty good in the past)

  • fake shots, fake passes, but dont' think too much, before making a move/shot

  • box out and rebound (surprised not that many see this, but he's one of pretty good rebounders in our team), keep it up!

  • keep calm, drive fast to the basket, and get fouled!

Here's to Newman's breakout games! COMING SOON!

Yonatan Negash 4 years, 7 months ago

Steve - All good additions. Wish the kid would just relax a little.

We've seen flashes of what the kid can do here and there.

I really think when Malik decides to relax a little and starts having fun, he'll be a heck of a player for us.

Not giving up on the kid just yet.

I think he's got a lot of fight left in him.

Can't wait to see it all come together for him.

Barry Weiss 4 years, 7 months ago

It does appear his confidence must be down. I was not aware he faded similar to this while he was at Mississippi State. One thing he probably needs to do more of is dish off to another player at the end of a drive to the hoop. He typically gets stuffed like a thanksgiving day turkey. Frank Mason had that happen to him alot his freshman year, but obviously fixed that by the time he was a senior. Malik could do that too!

Lets go Malik! KU needs you!

Jim Stauffer 4 years, 7 months ago

When you view Malik objectively you see a guy who is not a great leaper, not necessarily long so you admit he is not an athletic exception say, like Vick is.

So what can you expect from him. I expects his shots to begin to fall when he gets the pressure off his head. I also expect him to find a way to finish at the rim better. He, Devonte and Vick all need to work on this. Amazingly Svi is our most dependable guy driving to the hoop. Guys need to continue like Devonte has the last two games and get some layups or free throws and we will eventually be fine if Billy and Silvio are on the floor soon.

David Robinett 4 years, 7 months ago

Love coach, but I’m pretty sure Trae Young would not be scoring 29 points a game at KU for similar reasons.

DiscGolfer Jason 4 years, 7 months ago

Nothing wrong with a scoring PG. And his assists numbers indicate he does distribute the ball often. I wonder how much Self is going to hold back Moore and Dotson.

Robert Brock 4 years, 7 months ago

KU was probably not a good place for Newman. Self and his staff have confused Malik rather than trained him. He will leave.

Craig Carson 4 years, 7 months ago

KU is a good fit for him..coaching isnt the reason for his struggles nor is it the offense itself..but I agree that he will probably leave after this season..with the talent coming in next season, especially if Vick sticks around, his minutes might be severely reduced

Craig Alexander 4 years, 7 months ago

Why and how do you think Self has confused Malik? Is Self's system really difficult?

Damian Glaze 4 years, 7 months ago

What are you talking about? KU is absolutely a perfect fit for a talent like Malik. His game is a lot like Mario; and even a lot like Langford. This is more about the mental aspect of the game. Once he shakes it off, he will be fine.

RJ King 4 years, 7 months ago

Perhaps not his particular game exactly, but as far as just the way he looks and the way he has struggled, every time I see Malik I am reminded of Elijah Johnson.

Barry Weiss 4 years, 7 months ago

excellent comparison RJ. I can see the similarities.

Steve Quatrocky 4 years, 7 months ago

Mentally, he is still a Freshman in this system and this conference in terms of Playing Time, even though he has practiced in it for an extra year. It will "Click" for him, like it does all Freshmen but he has gotten way more practice time and minutes before reaching that point than most. It comes down to learning the difference between "Being Aggressive and Attacking" versus "Being Selfish and Getting Stuffed" and a lot of that has to do with confidence. Remember Coach had to yell at Perry a long time to figure out that nuance and he was an incredibly talented player that had to "get it" before he became a great player. Have faith, Coach will bring him along, getting one or two big men into the rotation will really help everyone, especially Malik. I'm getting tired of uttering the Seinfeld-esqe "Newman" after he gets stuffed so I hope it clicks soon. If not, his PT will decrease and he'll be gone at the end of the season (undrafted FA or maybe Grad Transfer after 3 years plus summers in college), but once it clicks he'll come back for more once he realizes how much better he has gotten under Coach Self. Have Faith, it will all work out, and we will be a much different team as has been and will be dictated by the NCAA before the Big Dance anyway, just enjoy the ride and pray we at least tie for #14 in the meantime, as Coach is stressing out enough for all of us. It sure seems like somebody at the NCAA doesnt like Bill Self/Kansas, seems like they knock off one of our top recruits who they have just cleared almost every year, starting with going after Darnell Jackson and Shady

4 years, 7 months ago

" thinks too much" this has been a common theme with Self trying to get guys to play defense. They think too much about defense (switching, locking down, blah blah blah) and then can't play O. This has to happen at least once a year with somebody. Wayne, Kelly, on and on. Not HCBS' fault that he wants the guys to play defense. but square peg, round hole sometimes. Incorporate the Zone that he seems to never want to play but is now leaning towards. Clearly HCBS knows what he's doing, but man, this does get a little old. Also, could HCBS explain to us, or the guys, what "be aggressive" means? it does seem simple, but then you can watch them try to do too much and it always backfires. Because, inevitably, when they try to 'be aggressive' they do too much. Then, HCBS takes them out immediately and they wonder, 'what did i do?! - i Was being aggressive'" Please tell me others notice this theme as well? RCJH!

DiscGolfer Jason 4 years, 7 months ago

Absolutely spot on about Self sitting players. How is it Cal and K can play freshman and maximize them but Self has trouble doing it. Not putting him down but his ego gets in his own say. Has little bench depth but Mitch and Cunliffe get little playing time. Head scratcher for sure. Seems like Self plays not to lose than playing to win.

DiscGolfer Jason 4 years, 7 months ago

Dix you see that play by Cunliffe? Got a foul and Self benches him. Not at home. WTF?

4 years, 7 months ago

very nice article TK! (now also tell us where Beaty is holing up and get some words about his recruiting class for us!) RCJH

Harlan Hobbs 4 years, 7 months ago

Oh, Jason, wise up. "Playing not to lose rather than playing to win." Are you kidding, or are you still caught up in football season.

KU rarely gets outplayed in the last 6 minutes of a ball game. Why? It is because they know how to win, and they play to win.

By comparison, look at TCU. They had OU on the ropes in Fort Worth and let them slip away. Then, they came back against us to tie the score and even take the lead briefly late in the game. The crowd was going nuts, but KU put on the accelerator and won the game.

DiscGolfer Jason 4 years, 7 months ago

Ok Harlan, then please explain Self's EE appearances. Are you the type that goes off of faith, praying or hoping? Those intangible beliefs result in nothing. Never have, never will.

I've spent many dollars at KU and donate. I do have a little say on how said dollars go. If you contribute all mighty dollars, great. If not then please shut it.

Let's take a look at Izzo with doing more with less. Why can't Self? Both only have one NC but I'd be more than happy to trade in meaningless B12 conference wins for FF banners.

Steve Johnson 4 years, 7 months ago

The young man just needs to have some fun. That goes for several of the players. No doubt he is a great athlete and is skilled. Something will trip the switch and he will be a standout. Lots of pressure on a team that is over rated and trying to live up to the Kansas expectations. Self should tell them forget about the Big 12 championship, tell them West Virginia is going to win it. Loosen up and go play basketball

DiscGolfer Jason 4 years, 7 months ago

Absolutely! Thanks S J. Seems like too many athletes and even coaches forget this concept.

David Robinett 4 years, 7 months ago

There was probably relatively little pressure to play “within the system” in Italy and that’s why Malik excelled there , But not so far in the league.

Robert Brock 4 years, 7 months ago

Self is not perfect. He has done a poor job of developing Newman and letting Malik fit in. Self is basically confusing the kid.

DiscGolfer Jason 4 years, 7 months ago

Be careful RB. If a fan disagrees with how coach is doing things then you may be labeld a hater.

Never understood idiots...I mean fans that get upset over criticisms of a coach. IT would be different if Self won 3 NC's in his tenure. He hasn't. So we are to be happy and complacent in B12 titles only. How far our fanbase hs fallen and accepted less.

Jonathan Allison 4 years, 7 months ago

there's no need for you to issue a warning to Mr. Brock. Brock has been around this forum long enough to understand how people will react to bold predictions, hot takes, and other snarky one-liners.

Many people on this forum look forward to seeing his comments on recruits, transfers, etc. He usually has a pretty good read on such things, even when the truth isn't popular here.

Mike Greer 4 years, 7 months ago

It looks like Coach's talk with Newman worked, not only did he have a career day shooting, but also showed great hustle on defense and rebounding. Definitely his best effort of the season!

Commenting has been disabled for this item.