Quick adjustment period has helped Tristan Enaruna adapt to KU basketball team

Kansas freshman Tristan Enaruna pushes the ball up the court as fellow freshman Isaac McBride defends during a scrimmage on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas freshman Tristan Enaruna pushes the ball up the court as fellow freshman Isaac McBride defends during a scrimmage on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

It’s been a quick adjustment period for Kansas forward Tristan Enaruna after coming to KU from the Netherlands in May.

“I feel my shots are falling way better than (they) did before,” Enaruna said. “I’m starting to understand the basics and the foundation and I’m starting to understand how Coach (Bill Self) wants to play, starting to know the teammates and how they play.

“I feel like everything’s coming together.”

Initially, Enaruna felt a significant difference just by being away from friends and family back home. But after a summer with this KU team, the 6-foot-9 forward said he’s gelled well in this new environment.

Part of that is due to the leadership exuded by returning players such as sophomore point guard Devon Dotson and senior center Udoka Azubuike.

While Dotson and sophomore guard Ochai Agbaji are projected to play significant minutes this season, Self believes freshmen Christian Braun, Jalen Wilson and Enaruna can still make immediate impacts.

“But hey, I think they’re playing beyond their years right now,” Self said. “I could see them being able to play in big moments early, even though it’s not really fair for us to ask them to do that. You’d rather rely on experience, but I think they’ll be capable of doing it.”

Self added that the young group can benefit tremendously from the experience and developing leadership of guys like Agbaji, Dotson and junior guard Marcus Garrett.

To help prepare for that potential early workload, Enaruna has relied on the help of his coaches, specifically assistant coach Norm Roberts, who recruited Enaruna.

“Adjustment-wise, I think all of the coaches are actually trying to help me with doing that,” Enaruna said. “It’s just a matter of time. It’s a process.”

On the court, one of Enaruna’s biggest points of emphasis is the newfound consistency of his jump shot. Specifically, he’s tried to keep his elbow above his eye to improve the arc of his shots, because before he would find his shot at times coming out flat or short.

“The arc is really something that’s been helping me out right now,” Enaruna said. “I knew it was important for me, and I knew it was going to be important for me if I was going to play the small forward position in college. You’ve got to be able to stretch the floor.”

A certain drill in practice has helped that. For five minutes, the team shoots strictly 3-pointers for five minutes, with the goal being to hit 60 shots in that time.

“You can really see the difference from the summer,” Enaruna said. “I couldn’t even get to 40, but now I’m really consistently getting above 40 and working my way to getting 60. I think it really helps.”

Enaruna said he also shoots plenty on his own time individually, but assistant coach Kurtis Townsend has worked with him from time to time to “see how my jumper’s looking.”

He also has made improvements to all facets of his game.

“I think I’ll be able to impact this team a lot on defense by grabbing deflections and crashing the defensive boards,” Enaruna said. “And just trying to make the guys around me be better by playing hard.”

As he continues to adjust to both a new place and new level of competition, Enaruna said he just focuses on playing hard, something he’s accustomed to.

“Just to play on a higher pace because it’s just a big difference from high school to college,” Enaruna said. “In the summer was the first time when I kind of had a taste of what it’s like, so it’s just adjusting my speed to this level.”