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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Svi’s hot hand the product of confidence, Self says

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) puts up a three against Kansas State forward Dean Wade (32) during the first half, Monday, Jan. 29, 2018 at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kan.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) puts up a three against Kansas State forward Dean Wade (32) during the first half, Monday, Jan. 29, 2018 at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kan.

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Kansas guard Svi Mykhailiuk has topped 20 points in each of the last three games and enters Saturday's 11 a.m. game against Oklahoma State at Allen Fieldhouse second on the team in scoring, at 17 points per game — just four points behind senior running mate Devonte' Graham's 17.2 average.

Talk about a nice way to respond to the 7-point outing on 3-of-10 shooting in a too-close-for-comfort home win over Baylor that preceded Mykhailiuk's current streak.

For the senior from Ukraine, the most important ingredient in his recent offensive explosion — 24 points against Oklahoma, 24 against Texas A&M and 22 on Monday night against K-State — has been obvious. And KU coach Bill Self talked about it during his "Hawk Talk" radio show on KLWN Wednesday night.

“He's just so confident right now,” Self said of Mykhailiuk. “And he really needs to be because Devonte's played well, but he hasn't made shots.”

While Graham, who has played all 40 minutes in five straight games, continues to impact KU's play in a bunch of other ways, he also has shot just 9-of-40 from the floor during KU's last three games, including 5-of-19 from 3-point range.

Mykhailiuk, on the other hand, shot 25-of-52 during those same games, including an eye-popping 15-of-30 from behind the arc.

A somewhat overlooked aspect of Graham's recent struggles and Mykhailiuk's surge is the fact that the two are linked.

So many of Myhailiuk's jumpers — both of late and all season — have been the product of Graham driving the ball and dishing pinpoint passes to his best friend and this team's best shooter.

“Svi's hard to guard right now, because he can shoot it and he's putting it down pretty well,” Self said. “But Devonte's done such a good job getting in there. And even when he doesn't make shots, our offense is so much better when he gets his shoulders past people.”

Mykhailiuk, who has attacked the rim better in recent weeks than at any point during his career, has scored fewer than 14 points just five times all season and failed to reach double digits just twice.

While that confidence that Self spoke of is evident in the way Mykhailiuk attacks opponents, the Kansas coach said it shows up in different ways in practice.

“I can get on to him, which I have, for taking some terrible shots,” Self began. “And he looks at me and acknowledges me, which is good, and then he forgets everything that I ever said to him, which is even better. That's the difference (in him being) a senior and a guy that's been around.”

The 7th-ranked Jayhawks (18-4 overall, 7-2 Big 12) have needed everything Mykhailiuk has been able to deliver, from the high point totals and sensational shooting to the steady hand and senior leadership.

And the way Self sees it, his team will need it the rest of the way if the Jayhawks hope to claim another Big 12 crown and make a run in the postseason.

“I personally think that the vast majority of the games are going to go down to the last two or three possessions,” Self said. “I really do. I think the league's too good and I certainly would anticipate Saturday being the same way against Oklahoma State, and then Tuesday against TCU.”

Comments

Bill Kackley 4 years, 8 months ago

I hope not. Like to have a laugher in there sometime. Hard on us old guys. LOL

Chris DeWeese 4 years, 8 months ago

Early in Svi's KU career, I was pretty hard on him. I wasn't impressed and was wondering where all the hype came from. I tried to give him a little credit because he was only 16 or 17 when he came on board. Plus, he was a stranger in a strange land trying to transition to college life. That's a lot to ask of a teenager, but I still was pretty critical. I'm so pleased to see him excelling this year as a senior. He's producing what this team needs from him in multiple ways. You have to admit that his three point shooting deserves even more attention nationally. He tends to have what other players would consider career nights from behind the arc almost every game!

Allan Olson 4 years, 8 months ago

He was always considered "just a 3 point shooter" from the git-go. Not known for defense, passing, driving to the hoop. Now look at him, he's becoming more like Frank and Josh than Brannen. I think he got a real wake up from his NBA evaluation last Spring. No question as to his progress from 16 to 20 years old. And he is just done being a teenager. Svi will play somewhere for very good money for the next 15 years. Could not happen to a better KU veteran!

Kent Richardson 4 years, 8 months ago

Sure making 5 treys is a solid 15 point which is likely matched by an opposing player. When he gets the other 5 to 8 it separates him and makes the defense which already is working hard to deny him outside have to react correctly when he drives. Add in 3 assists, at least one on that over the top pass to Udoka and he is hard to stop. The Dok lob was working at about a 50% rate until lately it;'s been working about 66%. He's banging, guarding, switching and running out. MVP consideration?

Tony Bandle 4 years, 8 months ago

It's up to him but I think Svi could be a servicable NBA player but if he went to Europe he'd be a super star. Either way, he's going to make a lot of $$$$.

Bryce Landon 4 years, 8 months ago

I'm going to miss the SVI FOR 3! cries or the SVIII cries after he graduates.

David McNickle 4 years, 8 months ago

I love the guys that stay for 4-5 years. Frank, Devonte, Svi, and Landon didn't have much hype coming out but it's fun to watch them develop. Dok and Vick could learn something from Svi and Graham.

Harlan Hobbs 4 years, 8 months ago

Dittos to everyone. Am thoroughly happy for Svi who has kept "sharpening the saw" each year at KU. He will have a bright future in whatever endeavors he pursues.

Steve Zimmerman 4 years, 8 months ago

Who is Svi's fav player? Which NBA player that Svi has resemblance to? I hope he'll turn into like LaVine.

Jonathan Allison 4 years, 8 months ago

It's hard to say who he most resembles as an NBA player.

I don't think that he's as quick and athletic as Lavine, but he should be a more skilled shooter and equally capable as a ball handler, though Lavine's quickness will allow him to be a better distributer with his ability to force help defense and then find the open man.

I think that Svi's NBA upside may end up being Klay Thompson. A deadly spot-up shooter, who can get a shot off the bounce when needed and can drive to the basket when overplayed. I didn't watch Klay in college, but in the NBA he's not really asked to facilitate very much because of all the talent around him. Hopefully Svi will be more of a facilitator as well.

I'm trying to think of other player's whom his game might resemble. It's hard to identify him with any of the superstars... Maybe a poor man's Paul George, he can shoot or score in a variety of ways. Can facilitate and play the pick-and-roll. But George is a very solid defender as well, which maybe Svi will be able to grow into a solid defender, but only time will tell. Hard to forecast Svi as an all-star at this point, but I guess there's a chance. He is only 20 after all.

RJ King 4 years, 8 months ago

We have often called Svi a poor man's Klay Thompson. Higher or lower than that will depend on who surrounds him on his next teams.

Steve Zimmerman 4 years, 8 months ago

His aggressiveness to the rim and being able to jam it - that will amp up his chance in the league. He can create shots, like you said, in variety of ways. I like Paul George resemblance. Klay looks an older version of Svi, maybe. No offense, mr. Thompson.. :)

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