Monday, November 29, 2021

Kansas big man David McCormack takes ‘step in right direction’ in KU’s 3rd-place win over Iona

Kansas forward David McCormack (33) fights with Iona forward Nelly Junior Joseph (23) for a rebound during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Jacob M. Langston)

Kansas forward David McCormack (33) fights with Iona forward Nelly Junior Joseph (23) for a rebound during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Jacob M. Langston)


Kissimmee, Fla. — By all-conference and All-American standards, Kansas senior David McCormack’s 13 points and five rebounds in 14 minutes on Sunday weren’t exactly eye-popping numbers.

But when put up against the production and performances he had delivered so far this season, the Kansas big man’s showing in KU’s 96-83 win over Iona at HP Field House was worth a deeper look.

“I think today was a step in the right direction,” KU senior and McCormack back-up, Mitch Lightfoot, said following Sunday’s win. “Dave’s going to continue to get better. You saw it last year. As he got going, he became one of the best bigs in the Big 12, if not the best big in the Big 12. I think he can grow back towards that, and I think it starts on the defensive end, with him altering shots and blocking shots like he does and getting that confidence back.”

McCormack did a little of that on Sunday, but the bulk of his step forward came from his 4-of-6 shooting from the floor and five trips to the free throw line which resulted in five Kansas points.

“I think it was better than it has been,” KU coach Bill Self said of McCormack’s play. “I still don’t think that he’s rebounding or playing to his presence at all, but I think it was better. At least he saw the ball go in the hole a little bit.”

An all-Big 12 preseason pick, and the reigning Big 12 Conference Most Improved Player, McCormack has started his senior season in the same way that he started his junior year — slow out of the gate and a little out of sorts.

Through six games, he has missed far too many bunnies in close, and he continues to foul when the coaches ask him to play straight up and flails whenever he gets near the rim or feels contact.

It’s those issues, and his teammates’ desire to see him power past them, that had a handful of Jayhawks doing whatever they could to get McCormack going on Sunday.

Midway through the first half, after throwing McCormack the ball in the post, KU point guard Remy Martin, yelled repeatedly, “Do your work, Dave, do your work, Dave,” trying to instill confidence in the KU big man.

McCormack did go to work on that particular possession, missing the shot but getting to the free throw line for a pair of charity shots.

McCormack hit all five free throws he attempted on Sunday and he earned a loud ovation from the KU fans in attendance when he checked out of the game for the final time.

Junior guard Christian Braun said McCormack’s ability to hang in there and keep fighting was a good indication that the senior forward would be “fine.”

“Everybody on the team’s confident in what he does,” said Braun, who earned all-tournament team honors last weekend. “Everybody knows what he can do. So, once he gets his legs under him and gets back to being him — being confident — he’ll be great.”

Through six games, McCormack is shooting 45.2% (19 of 42) from the floor, while playing 18.5 minutes per game. He currently carries averages of 8.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per game and ranks third on the team with 31 total rebounds, behind guards Braun (43) and Remy Martin (32).

He also leads the team in blocked shots as the only Jayhawk in double digits (10) so far.

After an off day on Monday, Kansas will return to practice Tuesday to begin preparations for Friday’s game against St. John’s at newly opened UBS Arena in New York.


Benjamin Shear 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Why does he have to, "grow back towards that" as Lightfoot says? Why did he regress so much? Serious question. As long as Self insists on playing through him, KU's ceiling will only ever be as high as McCormack's ceiling is. Seems a big risk considering how many talented players we have and how many different ways we could design a winning team.

Steve Zimmerman 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Offense-wise? Hi-low? it'll take the whole season for Dave to know how to hustle his way to the basket, or perhaps.... never. Last season, it was just luck, but if you look at how he scored, hook shots mostly while moving away from the basket and by flipping wrist, instead of raising his arm towards the basket like Dok does. Coaching staff is to blame here: Dave got the ball deep but well defended, he never extends his leg, turn and muscle his way towards the basket instead he fades away from it. He's been doing that since day-1. He's got so much power with those kinds of bulky shoulders. SMH...

Perhaps, “I think today was a step in the right direction,” comment referred to 2nd half, when he finally did it.... once. That's why lobs, pick-n-roll, or interior passing works better for him than stagnant hi-low. He looked a bit more ready during Iona game.

Dirk Medema 5 months, 3 weeks ago

The incriminating number that says he’s still not getting it is the 14 minutes. If he was getting it, he’d play more minutes.

It would seem that earning all-conference honors, even in a pandemic, is more than luck, but it certainly would be nice if he got ready for the season like the other players without an extended warmup month or 2.

Coach will continue to play him just like he did with Taylor a decade ago; because he knows the ability is in there that can make a difference in March and April. It won’t automatically happen, and others have failed along the way, but Coach Self knows what it takes, and knows DMac the potential to make it and take us with him.

Coach hates to lose, almost to a fault, but also seems to have grown in allowing players to fail during the process of developing.

Robert Brock 5 months, 3 weeks ago

The Dave “mystery” is just part of the weird KU puzzle. The team looks awful - especially the defense. Worst defense of the Self era. By far. It starts with the guards who seem incapable of understanding how and when to switch and how to read positioning and closing gaps. The Jayhawks are easy to score on. Self knows it, has commented on it, and feels the frustration. Let’s hope the perimeter guys pick it up by February.

Rodney Crain 5 months, 3 weeks ago

I guess we are having a typical early season for us. This year's favorites are:

  1. Starter does not start because he is butting heads with Self.

  2. Key player is in trouble with the law before the season begins.

  3. Baffling early loss to an unranked team.

  4. Poor Free Throw percentage contributes to said loss.

  5. Coach upset with the team's performance even after a win.

  6. Weak Team Defense.

  7. A Veteran player struggling for no apparent reason.

It's dissappointing that this keeps happening. If listing them makes me a "doomer" count me guilty as charged.

Shannon Gustafson 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Dave won't "get it" until he stops forcing a shot every time he touches it and starts passing to a cutter or shooter any time a double comes. This will open up the floor for him as the risk of us scoring off his pass will slow down or stop the doubles. Once he's not doubled, he's got a much better chance at being efficient offensively. This is what changed for him last year from the non-con to conference season and it's what he needs to do again because he apparently forgot. He's go NO assists this season but yet he's doubled every time he touches it. Makes no sense.

Steve Zimmerman 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Good point, as always, Shannon. Dave is too tight or thinking too much, he doesn't see opportunity to kick the ball out or pass to a cutter, except one time he did to Ochai during 2nd half of Iona game, IIRC. But even in a 1-1 situation, he still misses his away-from-basket hook shots. That flipping wrist is a no-no without pushing his arm up - he needs to watch how Kareem did it, or even Dok.

Tom Gillaspie 5 months, 3 weeks ago

He forgot - I think that sums up the problem with Dave. He has to start over every season. Doesn't apply skills/lessons from previous year until somewhere around the start of conference games. He looks "sped-up" all the time, which leads to mistakes. KU has had other players with the same issue.

Dirk Medema 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Rodney - It just makes you a pessimist, and maybe a little creative.

The only starter not starting is because of #2, not butting heads with Coach Self. It even seemed that Coach was trying to talk him into returning with a bang instead of the resulting whimper. If Jalen were playing like he has shown he’s capable of or aspiring to (declaring) then he would most definitely be starting or at least playing twice as many minutes.

Coach Self also commonly takes the middle ground relative to the overreactions of the fans. There’s always more to work on though he rarely seems upset.

It also commonly takes a while for new players to learn team defense, especially at the level Coach teaches. Amazingly, in the end we’re also commonly highly rated in team D.

Players young and old throughout college struggle for reasons we’re not aware of because we don’t get to know everything about their lives, though we deserve to and think we do.

Baffling losses are also part of college basketball in particular and part of the entertainment of it. It’s not just KU. On any given night …

Steve Zimmerman 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Amazingly, in the end we’re also commonly highly rated in team D. - True that. It's the offense plays that need to keep improving. D is all about all-out effort and dynamic coordination. Not too worry, as Dirk puts it. They'll get it done. It's offense - that's coach BS' uhm... weakness.

Rodney Crain 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Dirk, Dirk, Dirk, over and over again you completely whiff on what I am saying. The only thing you got right in your post is my name.

Remy did not start the first game, as they both said, Coach and Remy, we are both stubborn, thus butting heads. Whiff. Jalen was suspended and i as backup till he earns his starting spot back? Focus Dirk, maybe stay with the sentence structure posts you make.

You missed his radio rant on the team, Self was very clear and negative on a few points. Again, Whiff. You are projecting Dirk.

Whiff again, Coach S said last night the Team should be farther along. It is not an overaction to agree with his statement. He was very clear.

Deserve? Think we do? Whiff. What are you even talking about? Pro, College, Peewee we never deserve or know about what is going on in their lives at any level of sports? If your going to make excuses at least list an example.

Baffling losses are part of our basketball program, and are not common with the top tier programs. When they happen to the top teams it is an outlier, for us it is common.

Please stay in the sentence structure lane. Let the adults post about the other things. You seem happier with you correct Matt or Benton. Stay in your happy place Dirk

Allin Herring 5 months, 3 weeks ago

I guess if you consider getting 13 points in a game is turning it around then Mack is just fine. But because of his poor play in the first half he spent more than he usually does on the bench while Lightfoot outplayed him yet again! Self need to stop running the offense through him (he caused the loss to Dayton) and start letting Remy be Remy. Right now Mack and Wilson should be sitting so far down the bench they could sub for the hot dog vendor.

Joe Black 5 months, 3 weeks ago

David McCormack by all accounts is a great young man. However, he is not a great (or even good) basketball player. He isn't talented enough to be the guy you run your offense through. He holds on to the ball too long on double teams, he doesn't make power moves to the rim and doesn't rebound at even close to an adequate level. Lightfoot (except for his inability to stay out of foul trouble) has outplayed him. KJ Adams has brought more energy. It is time for a change to be made but the season is lost. McCormack has had more than enough time in his career to get things figured out. He is a serviceable backup big man but nothing more.

Robin Smith 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Pretty simple, dude just doesn't have the killer instinct. He should be crushing it. Ultimate success depends on him so there's no such thing as stop trying to go through him. I mean, unless you just want to capitulate on title aspirations.

Bryce Landon 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Doesn't seem to me like anyone on this team has a killer instinct. It's not just D-Mac. It takes an entire team of softies to blow big leads three games in a row.

Barry Weiss 5 months, 3 weeks ago

well, this looks like a normal year. our fans freak out early and often.

Tony Bandle 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Random Thoughts:

1] I got nothing, actually.

2] Can you tell a person's psyche if he or she leaves the toilet lid up or down?

3] At least some of KU Nation have an obvious whipping boy this season.

4] Saint Louis, MO. may be the murder capital because we sure killed the NFL!

5] KU will win 30+ games, compete for the league title, make the NCAA for the millionth season in a row, lose an NCAA game we should have won and the beat will go on.

6] Is it sacrilegious to wonder, just a little bit, how the Hawks would fare under a different coaching staff......just askin'.

7] Scott Drew has the same number of NCs as Bill Self.....the apocalypse will soon be upon us!!!

8] just for fun, I totaled up our football record for this century: 80-190. Take away Mangino and it's a glorious 30-141 !!!!!!

Bryce Landon 5 months, 3 weeks ago

I'd love to have Billy Donovan coach the Jayhawks; he's won two national titles to Bill Self's one.

Steve Zimmerman 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Tony, #6 - you can just keep dreaming until he poofs.....

John Smith 5 months, 3 weeks ago

McCormack has talent and has shown some shooting ability is past years, but he isn't a smart player. In the Dayton loss, he is fed the ball, he's outside his shooting range , so tries to push his way in and uses his forearm to clear out the defender, an obvious no-no. He has enough experience to know better, but does it anyway because he isn't smart. If the move to the basket wasn't there pass the ball back out and let the go to guys, Agbaji or Martin shoot or drive to the basket.

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