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KU B-Ball Grades

Game 6: vs. San Jose State

I hate to be the KU fan who complains about wins, and this one had a really nice flavor to it after the first 8 minutes of the second half. KU had played well in the first half, but had let up at the end of the half so the Spartans could get back in it. Then, KU went on a terrible scoring drought and San Jose State went on a 16-0 run. Yuck. The lead was cut from 60-36 to 62-54, including an incredible 9-0 run over a minute and a half by scoring machine James Kinney... Thankfully, KU stepped up just enough to close it out and even their record against teams nicknamed the Spartans on the season.

Things KU did well: Field Goal Percentage Defense: Once again KU held a team under 30% shooting from the floor, and especially defended well inside the arc. Block Shots: As a team KU blocked 16 shots, with Jeff Withey getting 12 of them. As Bill Self discussed post-game, our guard defense on the ball was actually not great, but we lucked out having Jeff inside to block and alter pretty much every shot while he was in there. Move the ball/transition offense: KU did get several run-outs and did rack up 16 assists on 26 made baskets. During the stagnant 10 minute period of the second half this was not the case, as KU settled for jumpshots and forgot what had worked so well for them during the 20-2 run that started the second half.

Things KU didn't do well: Rebound the ball: Not out-rebounding this team is kind of a huge bummer. They did have some height, but KU needs to be tougher on the boards, especially when the other team misses 46 shots. As Self pointed out, a lot of blocks leads to more offensive rebounds, but I'm still not letting this slide. Shoot the three/settle for jumpshots: McLemore was 0-7, so other than him the rest of the team wasn't bad, but there were several stretches of this game where KU just moved the ball around the perimeter and then took a long jumper.

Overall team grade: B-

Jeff Withey - A+ (Season average B+) Jeff was truly a game changer tonight. Only the second recorded triple double in KU history, and I'll give him a free pass for going only 2-6 from the free throw line tonight. 12 blocks is ridiculous. 12 rebounds led the game. 16 points was a team high, and he only took 11 shots to do it. Withey is now averaging OVER 6 blocks per game this season.

Travis Releford - A- (Season average B+) Releford was definitely the best perimeter player out there tonight, and by a lot. He was efficient in his scoring, getting 13 points on just 6 shots. He pulled down 4 rebounds, dished 4 assists, and also had 3 blocks. He did spend a big portion of the second half guarding San Jose's James Kinney who ended up with 30 points, but Kinney also had 6 turnovers and had to take 26 shots to get those 30 points, which is not great efficiency. Also, most of the jump shots he took and made were closely guarded. On offense it is nice to see Travis continue to come out of his early season slump and be a real offensive threat.

Kevin Young - B (Season average B+) Keven should be commended for having some energy. He also hit some critical free throws down the stretch to help break KU out of their significant scoring slump. Did take two ill-advised threes, but that is a shot he is capable of making, as he did last year on a few occasions. Got out-muscled by SJSU's big-men, but still hustled. Probably the best per-minute rebounder on the team. Still needs to do a better job of avoiding the stupid foul, as he usually gets at least one moving screen/blocking foul way outside of the 3 point line every game.

Elijah Johnson - B- (Season average B-) EJ had an OK game if you just look at the stat sheet. 13 points, 5 assists, 3 of 6 from three point land, but he did have 4 turnovers. I rate him so low because I just expect so much more. From watching the game, EJ just doesn't display the leadership that we need him to. I think Self needs to continue making the comparisons to Tyshawn until he gets the message that that is the type of play we need from him.

Andrew White - C+ (Season average B-) Logged 4 minutes of second half action and his time on the court almost directly coincided with the beginning of the 16-0 run by SJSU. He missed his only shot, made 1 of 2 free throws, and did have a steal. Even with the steal it seems his defense is still going to be the limiting factor in getting on the court and off the bench.

Naadir Tharpe - C+ (Season average B) Couldn't keep himself on the court, logging only 12 minutes as the 4th guard. Needs to get more comfortable with the ball once he does drive the lane, because he has the speed to get to the hoop. Ran the point for awhile in the first half and only had one assist while logging one turnover and displayed poor shot selection a couple of times. A significant step back for Tharpe tonight.

Justin Wesley - C+ (Season average B-) Meh. He played 4 minutes he snagged a rebound. He committed his first foul 30 seconds into his stint.

Ben McLemore - C+ (Season average B+) Too many threes. Ben made 5 baskets, and only one of them was a jumpshot. He had 3 turnovers, and committed 4 fouls while having probably his worst defensive game of the year thus far. He did stuff the stat sheet, but we need Ben to be aggressive and not just be a three point shooter who catches alley oops.

Perry Ellis - C+ (Season average B) Ellis continues to struggle. He looks soft and lost. He did make a nice long jumper early in the game, but he just couldn't keep himself on the court. Maybe I set my expectations too high, but when you're the only McDonalds All-American on the roster I expect you to perform better against a mid-level WAC team.

Jamari Traylor - C+ (Season average B) On a night when none of the power forwards were playing worth a darn, Traylor also failed to establish himself, only logging 7 minutes, pulling down two rebounds and getting a stickback bucket.

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Game 5: vs. Saint Louis

This one felt very in control at times, but Saint Louis clawed back into the game with runs at the end of each half, the scariest of which came late in the second half when back to back threes by Cody Ellis cut the Jayhawk lead to single digits. KU quickly recovered and closed out the game. The aforementioned Ellis did score 19 points, but he had to shoot 20 times to get there, that kind of inefficiency is fine by me, although a forward being able to get off 12 three pointers is a bit troublesome.

Interesting aside: KU played 9 players, and had one player each with 0 through 8 rebounds.

Things KU did well: Defend inside the paint - St. Louis was only 8 of 26 inside the arc, which is about 31%. KU blocked 9 shots, and one of them was on a 3 point attempt, which means that KU blocked as many two point attempts as Saint Louis made. Shoot the three ball and free throws - Releford continues to rebound from his 0-11 slump, going 4 of 7 tonight and 6 of 10 over the last two games. Nobody else shot more than 3, and the three guys who did attempt a 3 all made at least one. Only 3 guys shot free throws, but they made them at a great rate. Pass the basketball - Johnson had 9 assists, and KU as a team had 17 assists on 24 made baskets, with only 9 turnovers. Young made a couple of great interior passes, and in general the ball movement was solid.

Things KU didn't do well: Defend the three point line - To be fair, St. Louis was playing from behind most of the game, and teams do tend to put up more threes when this is the case, but SLU ran what seemed like the same screening play to free up Cody Ellis time after time, and he got up 12 shots, and only two of these attempts were desperation tries. Rebound the ball - Only winning the rebound battle by 4 over an inferior team is a bit disappointing. Also only snagging 6 offensive rebounds on 29 missed field goals is well under Self's expectations. Step on the throat - KU had an 18 point lead in the first half and fell apart, and then in the second half played to a tie. Saint Louis is no slouch of a team, but it seemed like the killer instinct was lacking somewhat.

Overall team grade: B+

Travis Releford - A (Season average B+) This is sort of the polar opposite of what we normally expect from Travis. He scored quite well in the first half, scoring 21 of his 23 points then. He was also very efficient, scoring 23 points on just 13 shots. What he normally does is stuff the rest of the stat sheet, but tonight he only grabbed one rebound, and offset one turnover with one steal. He almost certainly was the reason we had a big halftime lead, but he all but disappeared on offense in the second half.

Jeff Withey - A (Season average B) This was a great game for Jeff. In the 2nd half the team made a real concerted effort to get the ball inside, and Withey delivered. Scoring 25 points on 12 shots is fantastic efficiency, and any game where he shoots 14 free throws has a chance to be a great one. Seven blocked shots is also a real game changer, and Jeff is now averaging 5 per game on the season. The only thing keeping him from an A+ is his only getting 5 rebounds and 3 turnovers.

Ben McLemore - B+ (Season average A-) Sort of a blah game for McLemore, but he was still solid. He only played 25 minutes but still scored 11 points on 9 shots, pulled down 6 boards, and didn't turn the ball over. A bit disappointing that EJ, Ben and Naadir all didn't attempt a free throw. This maybe makes me think they should have all been more aggressive in driving the basketball.

Elijah Johnson - B+ (Season average B-) Sometimes the shots don't fall, and that is okay as long as you don't shoot a half million shots. On a night shen Elijah only shot 2 threes and didn't get to the line, I can forgive that because he played point guard very capably. 9 assists to only 2 turnovers is a great ratio, and 4 rebounds and a steal help to fill in the stat line. Still not seeing what we should be seeing from Johnson's offense, but maybe there is enough scoring on the rest of the team that he won't be the 14-17 point scoring guy I predicted.

Kevin Young - B+ (Season average B+) Young got anothere start and delivered 27 quality minutes. He didn't get involved in the offense from a scoring standpoint, but made some great moves with the basketball to set other guys up, collecting 3 assists including a very memorable pass out of a double team to feed Withey for a dunk. He also snagged a team high 8 rebounds. He did get burned a few times by the repetitive screening action to free up Cody Ellis, but Self obviously felt most comfortable with him out there, as he got more minutes than Traylor and Perry Ellis combined.

Jamari Traylor - B (Season average B) Traylor only got 12 minutes, which much like Ellis' lack of playing time I think indicates the types of skills and on-court actions that Self values the most. Traylor did pull down a couple of boards, grab an assist and two steals while blocking 2 shots. I've been very impressed with Traylor's shot blocking abilities so far this year. He failed to get himself involved in the offense though, so I can't go higher than a B.

Naadir Tharpe - B (Season average B) Tharpe struggled to finish inside the arc, and he settled for pull up jumpers when he either should have driving for layups or kept the ball moving around. No turnovers, 2 assists, a steal, and 4 rebounds still point to a decent game from the 4th guard.

Perry Ellis - B- (Season average B) Perry couldn't keep himself on the court tonight, probably due to fouls and lack of good perimeter defense. He did fill the stat sheet in only 9 minutes, with 4 points, 3 boards, and an assist and steal to offset a turnover. That being said, Ellis is our one and only McDonald's All-American, and he only played 9 minutes. That speaks volumes about both what Self values in his team, as well as how much growing Ellis still needs to do.

Rio Adams - C+ (Season average B-) Rio got just 2 minutes, missed a shot and committed a foul. His playing time roughly coincided with the beginning of a 1st half run by Saint Louis.

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Game 4: vs. Washington State

That was a solid, dominating performance. Good to see the momentum from the second half of the Chattanooga game carry over to a game against a decent quality opponent. In the last 3 halves of basketball the Kansas defense has allowed 19, 21, and 20 points. This is amazing. It seems like this team has finally bought into the idea that playing defense makes games more fun. You get more transition chances, etc, etc.

In any case, KU played well in nearly all facets of the game, so lets do the lists of team pros and cons:

Things the Jayhawks did well: Pretty much everything: WSU shot 32% from the floor, 19% from 3 point land, only attempted 3 free throws. KU won the rebound battle, the turnover battle, shot the ball very well, especially in the first half, and moved the ball well on offense.

Things the Jayhawks didn't do well: Hmm. Shoot the ball in the second half: After shooting over 60% in the 1st half, KU cooled off and ended up shooting 47% for the game.

Overall team grade: B+

Travis Releford - A+ (Season average B+) FINALLY. We know Travis is capable of being an offensive threat, after he dropped 20+ points a couple of times last year. He was the picture of efficiency tonight, and he finally made a couple of three point shots. 17 points on only 7 shots is pretty darn good, and he really provided the offensive spark on a night McLemore wasn't as involved and Elijah's shot wasn't dropping. Only played 23 minutes, but was also key in holding WSU's guards to a pretty awful collective offensive night.

Kevin Young - A (Season average B+) This is exactly what Kevin Young should be doing. He doesn't force offense, but he still makes himself a presence in the game. He grabbed 10 rebounds in only 18 minutes, and scored 4 points on just 2 shots. He also registered an assist and a steal, and only had one turnover. As long as Young isn't outclassed physically, there is no reason he shouldn't continue to get a similar number of minutes to Traylor and Ellis. A 22 year old, even one who isn't as highly rated or athletically gifted, has learned a lot about how to play basketball that his younger counterparts simply don't know yet. Young's development might prove to be as critical as anyone else's on the team, as coming in to the season it seemed that 4 starting spots were settled. If Young can bring a stable veteran presence to the 5th starting spot, then I think KU is in for another great season.

Perry Ellis - A- (Season average B) Coming off the bench, Ellis had a very productive 14 minutes. He scored 12 points on only 3 shots, becuase he was able to get to the free throw line and make all 8 of his attempts from there. He also snagged 3 boards, dished 2 assists, and added a steal and a block. Ellis coming off the bench might be a good way to balance the scoring between the starters and the bench.

Jeff Withey - B+ (Season average B) Withey only played 19 minutes, but he was fairly involved in the offense, getting off 8 shots in that amount of time. A little bit disappointing is that he only gathered 6 rebounds and he didn't get to the free throw line at all. Making up for that is that he blocked 5 shots and helped to limit WSU's big man Brock Motum to only 14 points on 18 shots. 8 points is disappointing, but I won't hold it against him too much. The outside shooters were firing on all cylinders, and WSU was collapsing on the middle quite a bit.

Ben McLemore - B+ (Season average A-) Ben had a solid, if less involved, offensive game tonight. He is definitely a quality defender as well, as he so far seems to be routinely collecting both steals and blocks. A guard getting so many blocks is, I think, a true sign of the quickness of his hands. 11 points on just 6 shots, but not as many rebounds as we are accustomed to from the slashing guard. I can already hear the "one more year" chants on Senior night...

Naadir Tharpe - B+ (Season average B+) Tharpe continues to impress me with his growth since last year. He looks like a really solid point guard who will be poised to excel as a starter for the next two years. 4 assists and no turnovers in 18 minutes, along with continued improvement on defense were only offset by a less than great, but not poor, shooting night.

Jamari Traylor - B+ (Season average B) Traylor also continues to impress me with his physical play. I think he and Ellis are a great combination off the bench to compliment Young and Withey. In 15 minutes, Traylor recorded 4 boards, a steal, a block, and 5 points. We should probably just start red-shirting most of our freshman bigs.

Andrew White - B+ (Season average B) In 9 minutes, including mostly late game minutes, White scored 5 points on just 2 shots, as well as pulling down a couple of rebounds and dishing an assist. Offense is not his weakness, so having him get some minutes during the course of the game when the defensive intensity is still high is important for developing Andrew as a player. Going against EJ, Releford, and B-Mac in practice every day can't hurt either.

Elijah Johnson - B (Season average B-) Elijah had a pretty so-so offensive night, scoring only 8 points on 9 shots, including 2-8 three point shooting. He did have 4 assists against 2 turnovers, which is a good ratio. Did play solid defense, and he certainly picked a good night to have an off-night shooting, but I still expect a lot more from EJ. He was also a key factor in keeping WSU's guards from having anything close to a decent game scoring the basketball.

Justin Wesley - B- (Season average B-) Wesley got 10 minutes, mostly at the end of the game. He gets a little bit of credit for being the most experienced player on the floor for the last 5 minutes of the game, and he did snag 4 rebounds in his time. He also turned the ball over twice and committed 3 fouls in those 10 minutes, as well as missing two bunnies, at least one of which should have been a slam. Wesley is certainly benefitting from the Peters injury and the decision to Red-shirt Landen Lucas.

Rio Adams - C (Season average B-) Not Rio's night. In 8 minutes he missed 4 shots, grabbed one rebound, and didn't do much else. He is certainly an excellent athlete, but he needs to not get ahead of himself on the court. No turnovers were a plus since he is one of the primary ballhandlers when he is out there.

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Game 3: vs. Tennessee Chattanooga

A tale of two halves.

The real difference in this game appeared to be the energy expended by the Jayhawks, and as Self said in the postgame radio show, this team isn't good enough to coast along at 80%. They need to play 100% all the time. They need to enjoy playing defense and realize that all the fun stuff, like blocks, steals, and fast break run-outs which end in vicious dunks come from playing defense with energy and intensity.

Watching this game was at times excruciating, and it really just looks like this is a team that hasn't spent a lot of time on the court together.

Things the Jayhawks did well: Everything, in the second half.

Things the Jayhawks didn't do well: Everything, in the first half.

Team grade average: B

Ben McLemore - A (Season avg A) Wow. Is it too early to say McLemore is the best player on this team? He is certainly the best athlete. 25 points with athleticism to spare. Solid defense, even if he wasn't guarding the primary scoring threats for the Mocs. He makes dunks look easy, and he can score in so many ways. This guy is fun to watch, and he gets bonus points for being the one guy who came to play for the entire game.

Kevin Young - A (Season avg B+) Thank goodness for Kevin Young. He brought exactly the type of second half intensity this team needed. He snagged 7 boards in 19 minutes, had a couple of putbacks, and really contributed on defense in keeping UTC spread out and not able to run their offense the way it was run in the first half.

Elijah Johnson - B (Season avg C+) Elijah, like the rest of the team played a really crummy first half. But he couldn't have played much better in the second half. He scored 18 points on only 10 shots, got 2 boards, 2 steals and 4 assists to offset 4 turnovers, and looked much more comfortable defending the off-guard in the second half. He was a non-factor after the beginning of the first half, and jacked up a really bad three point attempt that really put Self on edge.

Travis Releford - B (Season avg B) I'm not sure which will happen first: this team stops running plays for Travis, or he starts knocking shots down. All that being said, Travis is a fantastic on ball defender. The out of nowhere performance of the Mocs' Farad Cobb came to a screeching halt in the second half when Releford hounded him relentlessly. Releford also stuffed the stat sheet with steals, rebounds, and assists. Three turnovers, the missed shots, and his contributions to a crummy first half keep him from getting higher up in the grades.

Naadir Tharpe - B (Season average B) Tharpe didn't shoot it well, especially given that he mostly took open looks. But he ran the point admirably, racking up 5 assists with no turnovers. Tharpe continues to impress me considering the way he looked last year. He's the reliable 4th guard this team needs.

Rio Adams - B (Season avg B) Rio got 4 minutes in the first half when all hell was breaking loose, and he had an assist and a sweet Sherron Collins-esque up and under layup. Also had a turnover, but brought some good defensive intensity in relief of the guards who were struggling in the first half.

Jeff Withey - B- (Season avg B-) I'm not sure if its more his fault or his teammates' reluctance to pass the ball inside, but Jeff absolutely needs more touches than he got in this game. In the second half though, he really became a factor on both ends of the court. He probably played 17 or 18 minutes in the second half, and he grabbed a bunch of points, boards, and blocks. Only getting 3 free throws was a major disappointment, and a real testament to his lack of touches in the game. An A+ for the second half and a D for the first half averages out to a B-.

Andrew White - C+ (Season avg B-) White got in for a minute in the first half, and missed the type of open look he has to make if he wants to earn more court time.

Perry Ellis - C (Season avg B-) This was another game where Ellis all but disappeared into thin air. In 20 minutes he only had 2 points and 4 boards. More disappointing than the Michigan State game because this was a team that KU clearly outclassed, and there was absolutely no inside presence.

Jamari Traylor - C (Season avg B) Traylor got the start, but tonight wasn't his night either. The freshmen just didn't appear to have their wits about them tonight, as UTC's bigs routinely got position and good looks at the basket in the first half.

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Game 2: vs. Michigan State

Really tough loss for the Jayhawks. Felt like they were in control, and then they just fell apart there at the end. Bum deal. Oh well, I think it will be a learning experience, and I'd rather lose games now than in conference play or the tournaments.

Things the Jayhawks did well: -Shoot the ball: 50% is not too shabby. Neither is 4 of 9 from 3 point land. Good shot selection (or good perimeter defense by Sparty...). -Steals and turnovers: 11 steals and 15 turnovers isn't too bad in a game with this slow of pace.

Things the Jayhawks didn't do well: -Rebound: Getting outrebounded is never good. Allowing the other team to have more total rebounds and more offensive rebounds in such a close game really stinks. -Shot defense: Especially down the stretch, the 'hawks on-ball defense really slipped. MSU made it look easy at times, and especially their guards were incredibly clutch. -Take care of the ball: 16 turnovers and 8 steals against is no way to prove that you value the basketball, especially in a game of this pace. (under 50 shots for both teams and final point tallies in the 60's.

Overall team grade: B-

Ben McLemore - B+ (Season average: A) Ben was an efficient scorer, tallying 14 points on only 7 shots. Stuffed the stat sheet as well with 3 boards, 3 assists, a steal and a block, to go with 3 turnovers. Really was hoping he'd get the shot on our last possession, and they tried, but it was well guarded by Sparty. MSU's quality guard play kept Ben from getting an A.

Jamari Traylor - B+ (Season average: B+) Jamari is proving to be a great surprise off the bench. He is a much more physical player than Ellis, as I'm sure banging against T-Rob every day last year helped. While a bit offensively raw, he filled out the stat sheet with 4 boards, 2 steals, and 3 blocks. Would have been nice for him to be more involved offensively in the second half as well.

Travis Releford - B (Season average: B) This is about the type of offensive game we should hope for from Releford against a quality opponent. Unfortunately he, along with the rest of the guards, didn't play great on the defensive end, although T-Rele did have 4 steals. Glad to see him not settle for outside jumpers as he did against SEMO. And he stuffed the stat sheet pretty well.

Naadir Tharpe - B (Season average: B+) Significant cut in playing time for Tharpe, as EJ was able to stay on the court, but Naadir was still effective while he was in there. He is proving to be more of a shooting guard than a true point guard, but he still did a decent enough job while he was in there. Still a big improvement over last year.

Justin Wesley - B (Season average: B-) In 7 minutes, Wesley was quiet, grabbing an offensive rebound and a bucket on a put-back. That is what he is in there to do, and he didn't have any turnovers or fouls. Not sure of the numbers while he was in there, but MSU's bigs were relatively quiet on offense.

Elijah Johnson - C+ (Season average: C) Elijah ended up having to take the role that Tyshawn did against Kentucky in last year's Champion's Classic game. Unfortunately the rest of the team crumbled under the pressure, and EJ wasn't able to keep the team afloat down the stretch. That said, 9 missed shots is too many, and 2 assists to 4 turnovers is not good from our lead guard either. He did a much better job of staying on the floor than he did against SEMO, but maybe that was part of the problem, as MSU's guards really outplayed KU's down the stretch.

Jeff Withey - C+ (Season average: B) Withey got into foul trouble in the first half, and had too many turnovers, and not enough shot attempts. Missed a critical and-1 opportunity, and failed to make the kind of impact on the game that he should.

Kevin Young - C+ (Season average: C+) Young only played 3 minutes, committed a foul, and missed a free throw. Nice to have him back, but he's clearly not up to full speed yet.

Perry Ellis - C (Season average: B+) Ellis really melted away, and was out-muscled by MSU's forwards. He lost minutes to Traylor, and didn't get enough touches or rebounds for the kind of game this was and the type of player he needs to be. That being said, he and Withey did limit MSU's bigs offensively.

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Game 1: vs. Southeast Missouri State

Sorry for the late posting of this game... With a Friday night game I should know I need to bust my butt and get up on Saturday morning to do my grades. Anywho... on to my recap of the first game. To follow a format, what I'll do first is give a short list of the things the team did well and the things the team didn't do well. Then I'll list off each player and their grade, starting with the highest grade first. As the season goes on I'll give their average grade, and once conference starts I'll keep track of those grades separately. Okay...

Things KU did well: -Won the rebound battle: Overall KU was plus 14 in boards, 3 guys in blue tied SEMO in rebounding. 12 rebounds from a guard position is huge, and 20 boards from your two starting bigs is great too. Travis also chipped in with 5 boards. -Played great shooting defense: This is becoming a real hallmark of Bill Self coached teams. The opponent shot under 30% for the game, and we blocked 10 shots. -Shot free throws: While unlikely to shoot 85% for the year, it is an encouraging sign that Withey made 7 of 10 and 6 guys were perfect from the stripe. -Possessed the ball: I think 13 turnovers is something most KU fans can be at least okay with.

Things KU didn't do well: -Shoot the ball: Especially in the first half, when KU was itself under 30%. It didn't look like the shots were bad, just a lot of misses. -Shoot the 3: 2 for 21 is an eerie kind of number for KU fans. Just an all around awful night from 3 as Tharpe made one early, then White made one late, and in between there was something like 16 or 17 straight misses. The 4 primary guards will not (at least we hope) go 1 for 18 from three very often. Releford jacking up 5 threes is out of character, and he needs to slash more while settling less. -Step on the throat: With a 15 point halftime lead, KU let it dwindle to 4 points midway through the 2nd half. This is unacceptable against this caliber of competition. It would have been nice to see the lead quickly balloon to 20 so the team could put it in cruise control for the final 10 minutes.

Overall team grade: B

On to the players

Perry Ellis: A+ Hard to find fault with the debut for this native Kansan. 15 points in 23 minutes on 9 shots. Perfect from the stripe. 8 rebounds. He is easily the most heralded player to come out of Kansas high schools in 25 years, and through the 6 exhibition games and now this one that actually counted, we should be able to see why. He exceeded my expectations on a night when KU needed someone else to score because the outside shots weren't falling.

Ben McLemore: A+ Loses a few points for not connecting on any outside shots, but gains those points right back for having 12 rebounds from the guard spot. Really stuffed the stat sheet in tallying 5 assists versus just one turnover, a steal and three blocks. Just one point shy of a double double. Played 30 minutes on a night when Elijah was in foul trouble, and contributed to KU's smothering defensive effort. A couple of great debuts for KU's most heralded newcomers.

Jeff Withey: B+ A lot of people knocked me for saying that Withey would average in the neighborhood of 17 points, 12 boards and 4 blocks a game. Well look what stat line he put up: 17, 12, and 5. I'm not sure how to really feel about this, as SEMO seems like the type of opponent he should be ABOVE his season averages against, but on the other hand the Redhawks' inside players weren't exactly bums (Tyler Stone is an all-conference caliber player, and Nino Johnson is a guy expected to make a huge leap forward this season). Love that Jeff made 7 of 10 free throws, but I'd like to see him finish a little bit better, as 7 missed FG's is a bit out of character.

Jamari Traylor: B+ It'll be interesting to see how things shake out once Kevin Young is full speed, but Traylor did look every bit the part of a capable backup inside force. Would have liked to see him snag a few more rebounds, but sometimes the ball just doesn't come your way, and he did other things to impact the game including an assist, a steal, and a block. Just like Withey, he approximately met my preseason expectations of minutes played, points and rebounds. Kudos to him.

Naadir Tharpe: B+ Considering that last season Tharpe had a Michael Lee-like appearance on the court, I can't see much negative to say about Tharpe's performance aside from a few missed shots. Played 28 minutes, which is easily a new career high, and his improvement on both sides of the ball was evident. Obviously we would all like to see more shots go down, but otherwise there wasn't much to complain about.

Andrew White: B Got a rare make from 3 for the Jayhawks, and snagged a board in his 3 minutes of garbage time. The kid can really score, but you have to do everything to see the floor for Bill Self.

Travis Releford: B- Releford approximated my preseason expectations, but he still left a sour taste in my mouth during this game. 5 threes is too many for him to settle for. 4 turnovers is too many. I understand that since Elijah played fewer minutes that Releford had to become more of an on court ball-handling leader, not just the glue guy position he excels at. Travis needs to prove that he can handle the increased responsibility this year.

Rio Adams: B- Generally tough to grade guys who get 5 or fewer minutes. Adams committed 2 fouls in his short time on the court, but did sink a couple of free throws and tally a rebound and an assist. Mainly I think it speaks volumes that he came off the bench before White did, considering the level of hype for each of them.

Justin Wesley: C In 8 minutes, he had 2 rebounds and 2 turnovers. Wesley is certainly an athlete, and he does look thicker this year, which will hopefully help him on the defensive end. On offense, however, he just looks lost. He knows he is not a part of the offense, and he plays like it. Can't give a higher grade for this type of performance.

Elijah Johnson: C- The prophet needs to be a much more positive force. Fouling out cannot become a regular occurrence for Johnson. He is easily the leader of the team and most experienced ball handler on the roster. 4 points and 1 assist in 22 minutes from the supposed leader of the team is simply not good enough. Probably got a couple of tough whistles, but he needs to figure it out. I really think Elijah is the one guy this team can't be without in an important game.

Reply 1 comment from Joel Thomas

2011-2012 Recap and 2012-2013 Expectations: Part 2

Okay, so when I last left you, I had to some extent recapped the 2011-2012 season, and given you what I consider are my expectations for the returnees to the 2012-2013 team. In summary, last year's lack of depth let us learn quite a bit about the handful of upperclassmen that are returning, but leaves plenty of minutes in the rotation to be earned from a crop of newcomers.

This type of season with seven newcomers (and it would have been eight but we already had one transfer away!) is a formerly rare phenomenon which rears its ugly head every few years due to mass defections (transfer or early-NBA-entrants), inconsistent recruiting class sizes, or other factors. This makes predicting how the upcoming season will go an even less exact science than normal. Luckily we have two players who essentially were forced to red-shirt last season due to eligibility issues, so those two (McLemore and Traylor) may not look like FRESHMEN at the beginning of the season.

As a re-cap, I predicted about 50 points out of the returnees, and about 110-115 minutes per game. So we've got about 90 minutes of court time to fill between 7 new guys (read: some people won't play very much, or at all). Also, 50 points isn't going to win you many games, (Except in the Big 10) so we're going to need 25 to 30 points per game from the newcomers as well.

Ok. I think that gets us up to speed. I'll lay out my expectations for these guys in order of who I think will have the most to the least impact this season.

Ben McLemore. Ben has the benefit of being on the "red team" for the second semester of last season, and going against the likes of Releford, Taylor, and Johnson every day in practice. Much like a scout team player can make or break a football team's season, I think McLemore had a huge impact on the success of last year's team. McLemore has been praised by Coach Self as being maybe the potential best defender on the team. This is high praise for a youngster on a team with other great defensive talents. McLemore is a freak athlete as well. He can shoot, he can jump, he can glide. ANECDOTE ALERT! After last season was over, I was running on the "track" at the KU Rec center and had the privilege of watching T-Rob, Tyshawn, Jamari Traylor, and Ben McLemore playing some pick up basketball on the courts below. The basketball was largely sloppy. T-Rob was running the point and popping threes, but I did get to see Jamari throw Ben an alley oop dunk. The dunk itself was pretty vicious and impressive, but the most amazing thing was (and maybe it was just my viewpoint from above) I swear Ben could have grabbed the top of the backboard when he went up to get the ball. He got UP. Anyway, I think Ben is going to be great. Hopefully for more than one year, but since we're just worried about 2012-2013 here we can at least hope for one year along the lines of Xavier Henry, instead of Josh Selby. Ben will surely struggle as all freshmen do. He'll have terrible games. He'll have fantastic games. He'll have wholly mediocre games. I think he'll be the 3rd starting guard, and I think he'll get around 25 minutes a game. I'll also give him a very Brandon-Rush-esque 13 points a game. The key for him will be moving the ball as much as Self likes to. Self doesn't want the ball to stick in anyone's hands, and for a newcomer to the system, the pace of play and passing in the offense can be troublesome. I think Ben's "red-shirt" year will greatly improve his ability to impact the game on a consistent basis right away.

Perry Ellis. Perry Ellis increases the number of McDonald's All-Americans on our roster from 0 to 1. That is high praise. Looking back on the McD's guys on KU's roster, there are very few "busts" out there. In fact, the last bust (Micah Downs in 2005) transferred away after 1 year, and David Padgett (who some might consider a "bust" but was a solid, if oft-injured performer for Louisville) also transferred away. Every other McD's all american from this millennium was either drafted or spent time on an NBA roster. That is a pretty impressive accomplishment. Perry Ellis is a great kid. He had a 4.0 in high school, he did volunteer work and I think started a program pairing special needs students with peer mentors (or something like this) at his high school. He has a chance to be a special player. He also is the kind of kid who will probably stick around for all 4 years, even if he has a chance to leave early and make a lot of money, like Wayne Simien and Raef LaFrentz before him. For this year, I think he will be the 5th starter, and I think he'll be a solid contributor. I'm looking at 8 points, 6 boards. This might seem low for such a ballyhooed player, but remember that Self LOVES experience, and Ellis is one of 4 incoming big men who will all be vying for minutes. His points might go up a bit if Withey ends up getting double-teamed and his touches get limited, but I wouldn't expect more than about 10 points a game. He'll probably play 20-25 minutes a game, so I'll call it 22 minutes. Ellis apparently has the skill set to play the 3, and if he proves he can he might get some minutes there, but Self has proven that he likes having ball-handlers over size on the court, as he has really limited combinations of three bigs on the court at once. I think Ellis has a chance to play the three after his frosh year, when Releford and maybe McLemore will be gone, but he'll have to compete with Andrew White and next year's incoming Brennan Greene for minutes there. In any case, I think Ellis will be solid, and he'll be fantastic by the time he's done at KU.

Jamari Traylor Traylor, like McLemore, has a significant advantage in experience over the rest of the incoming big men. Traylor got to bang against Robinson and Withey on the practice squad all of second semester last season, and this, along with a semester of work with Danny Manning, will hopefully show results on the court this year. Traylor isn't a great talent, but he was a top 150 player. He also doesn't have great size, as when I saw him playing pick-up ball at the rec center at KU, he looked about the same height as McLemore, but with broader shoulders. So while he might be a bit undersized, hopefully he can build up his frame and be a solid energy guy off the bench. I don't think Traylor will score much, so I'll give him 4 points and 4 boards in 15 minutes a game. I can see a Darnell Jackson like career for Traylor, where he slowly develops his first 3 seasons and then really explodes onto the scene as a senior. (180 minutes, 77 points)

Andrew White We know one thing about Andrew White, which is that he can score. I've been blown away by some articles about how he practices shooting and the percentages he makes during his gym sessions. Lots of scorers show up at KU and something just doesn't translate to keep them on the court. Jeremy Case was an incredibly prolific high school scorer, and he just couldn't get minutes. Its hard to figure how/where he would get his minutes on this year's team, since he pretty much plays the same position as Releford AND McLemore. For this reason, I'm going to set my expectations low for this year, with a hope for growth in the future. I'll say 2 points in 8 minutes a game.

Anrio Adams 'Rio is the secret weapon that we know as little about as our opponents. He comes from a great basketball program and family, as he attended Seattle's Rainer Beach High which also produced the Stewart twins (Lodrick and KU's Rodrick). I believe he is also the god-son or nephew (or both) of their dad, Bull. He might be a complete surprise and a real offensive threat, or he might be Royce Woolridge and just never look like he's going to be in Self's plans. I'll give him 6 minutes, and 1 point, but he has the potential to steal minutes away from White and Tharpe if he proves worthy.

Zach Peters Perhaps a bit underrated due to his participation in football (and lack of AAU basketball exposure) Peters appears to be a solid guy with a good head on his shoulders. The football no doubt toughened him up a bit, but fewer minutes on a basketball court might hold him back in the short term. I think Peters will develop into a high level big man, but for the time being, I think he's at a disadvantage to Withey (talent and experience), Young (experience), Ellis (talent), and Traylor (experience). He'll get a few minutes, especially early in the year while the rotation is still being settled and a few chances for blowouts give Self a chance to empty the bench. I'll say six minutes, 2 points, 2 boards.

Landen Lucas Rare is the recruiting class with 4 big men, and when you add that to 2 returnees including a preseason all big 12 type player, one of those 6 guys is going to be left out. Lucas is the least heralded of those 6 guys, aside from maybe Young, who has a significant experience advantage. Self isn't big on redshirting guys as freshmen, but I think it would be worth Lucas' while to take a year to get bigger, and better. What likely happens is he gets some early season mop-up minutes (like Merv Lindsay last year) and then if the next recruiting class gets a couple of highly rated big men, he transfers down to a mid-level program. Else he can be next year's 4th big man and hopefully develop from there.

So there you have it. There is a range of expectations for the newcomers to this year's team. We are now down to a couple of weeks from late night, so we, as Jayhawk fans, will be able to get our first real glimpse of the promise each of these guys has. Well, it'll be a first chance for those of us who couldn't afford the european vacation this summer...

I don't know about you guys, but I sure am excited.

Reply 4 comments from Drew Alan Scott Murphy Geezer Beddie

2011-2012 Recap and 2012-2013 Expectations: Part 1

So. That 2011-2012 season was pretty spectacular, huh?

It had a very "Danny and the Miracles" feeling, right?

The only difference was last season's Jayhawks were a top 10, (top 5 really...) team all season long. It was rarely pretty. Sometimes it was just painful. But they won games, and they just kept winning games. Led by two of the best individual seasons in recent memory, and a remarkably healthy roster of complimentary players, the 2011-2012 Jayhawks fulfilled the promise that the previous season's team, which was both more talented and much deeper, could not.

So what did we learn from the 2011-2012 season? Well if we didn't already know it (and who didn't?) we now know for sure that Bill Self is one of the 5 best coaches currently going, who knows how to get the most out of every player on the roster.

Thomas Robinson had ridiculous expectations for a 14 minute per game 7th man, and he faced double teams and collapsing zones throughout the season, but Self (and departed big-man coach Danny Manning) expedited Robinson's development from a promising prospect to a full-fledged-force. Thomas' is an inspiring story that as Kansas fans we are all aware of, but that should not cease to amaze us. I am constantly in awe at the drive that this young man has to take care of the family he has left, primarily his kid-sister. When being interviewed at the NBA draft, someone asked how he felt to be the number five overall pick, and instead of celebrating or being in awe of his own accomplishments, he said, in true T-Rob fashion, "I've got more work to do." I can only hope we amass a roster of players with half of his heart and drive.

Tyshawn Taylor was much maligned, and in some ways rightly so. He didn't help his case against his slew of detractors when he got off to a rocky start in big-time losses to Kentucky and Duke. The crunch time turnover (his 11th?) against Duke could have defined Taylor's season and set him back permanently as an un-harnessed weapon, but the coaching staff did not waiver in their confidence in Taylor. They kept running him out there, for 35 minutes a game, and he started to deliver. He figured out how to harness his speed, and he found an outside shot. Most importantly, I think, he figured out how to be a leader on the court. His energy and effort were unmatched on the roster by anyone not named Thomas Robinson. Mario Chalmers turned himself into a career pro with one shot, and while Taylor's rise was not as meteoric, it may end up being just as profound. He'll be fun to keep an eye on as he starts his career with the semi-hometown Brooklyn (nee New Jersey) Nets. (Non-arena-compatible)

But there were other players besides these two. Connor Teahan was the sixth man. I'm going to repeat that because it bears repeating. Connor Teahan was the sixth man, on a team that made it to the national title game. He doesn't warrant much discussion other than acknowledging that he, you know, played in the games. He did "steady hustle guy" things, he just didn't do them anywhere near as well as Tyrel Reed or Brady Morningstar did them. Also not appearing this year will be the graduated Jordan Juenemann and the transferred Merv Lindsay.

Two returning guys who will be heavily counted on for both tangible production and intangible "other stuff" are Travis Releford and Elijah Johnson. Releford takes over the "elder statesman" role formerly held by Teahan, Morningstar, and Jeremy Case. Releford is a jack of all trades, master of none type. He can defend well, but has trouble slowing down quick guards. He shoots jumpshots just okay. He has thrown down some monster dunks, but is rarely explosive in traffic. His free throw shot looks about as awkward as my 9th grade formal. But, being around Bill Self longer than anyone else on this roster, he knows what to do. He knows where to go. He knows where everyone ELSE should go. He also has that knack for making big plays when the team needs it the most. Self described him as being the best "old man" in the league. He wouldn't be out of place on a 1950's era team, other than the massive shorts and hi-tech sneakers. Due to the influx of talent at the small forward position (in the form of Ben McLemore and Andrew White), I wouldn't be surprised (or really, disappointed) to see Releford's numbers stay about where they were last year. 9 points, 4 boards, 2 assists, 1 steal, all in 30 minutes a game. If he emerges into a double digit scoring threat, I'm not going to complain. Unless its because someone else got hurt. Then I'll complain. A lot.

While consistent production from Releford would be welcome, I have higher aspirations for Johnson. The prophet really elevated his game down the stretch, as Taylor's outside shot disappeared into the abyss of giant arenas of the NCAA tourney, and we finally saw some flashes of the player who was ranked 24 (I think?) in his high school class. Johnson had a few games where you were just like "STOP SHOOTING IT". He has a tremendous ability to frustrate fans with his willingness to settle for a jumpshot instead of using the quickness that we all know he has. When he's hitting half of his 3's this isn't too bad, but when he's like 1 of 8 and refuses to dribble the ball into that thing called the paint I just want to scream into a pillow. I'm counting on Johnson to be a 1st-team all-league guard, so something like 17 points per game, 6 assists, 3 boards, 2 steals. Shucks, I'm hoping he's better than Taylor was, which I think he can be. He makes better decisions with passes, but he needs to stop bordering on being too tentative. I think Taylor might be the better defender and faster player, but Johnson is definitely more athletic, and is a better actual player of basketball than Taylor was.

Most important to this year's team was last season's development of Jeff Withey from "tall man on basketball team" into "basketball player". It remains to be seen how he handles being the focus of the opposition's interior defense, the loss of world-class big man developer (and forever the holder of the "Best Modern Era Jayhawk Basketball Player" title) Danny Manning, and the lack of anything resembling an experienced front-court teammate. All signs point to Withey being a double-double machine who also completely destroys both his own single-season blocked shots record as well as Greg Ostertag's career blocked shots record. I'm hopeful that Withey can be in the neighborhood of 17 ppg (bolstered by his 80% free throw shooting) 12 rbg, and 4 bpg. To me anything above that would be totally gravy, and anything below that, especially in the rebounds and blocks department, would be a bit of a disappointment. (It should be duly noted that nobody would be close to either if blocks were kept as a statistic in Wilt Chamberlain's college days. If venerable retired Lawrence Journal World reporter Bill Mayer is to be believed, Wilt averaged approximately 300 blocked shots per game.)

Okay. Those three guys are expected to be steady (1st-Team all big 12 in the case of Johnson and Withey) performers who give you 30+ minutes a game every night. They did it last year, and we expect some growth. That makes sense. The rest of the returnees are a bit of a crapshoot.

Can anybody honestly tell me what to expect from Kevin Young? He's small for a power-conference big man. He sometimes looks like he's in the game just to foul even if there's 15 minutes left in the first half. There are four new big men who all are probably better basketball players, but all aside from Traylor have the disadvantage of being brand spanking new and not having a year of Self's system in their brains. We all know how much Self values experience. Young also got a chance to play internationally with Puerto Rico's national team. He had some flashes last year. Honestly, I think his role will diminish throughout the year as the freshmen bigs get more experience. I'll give him 4 points, 4 boards a game. Anything more probably means our young bigs aren't developing and Young is the 7th man the entire year.

Justin Wesley. I'll say three quick things about Justin Wesley. 1) He is basically this decade's version of Bryant Nash. 2) Hopefully he learns how to act like Wilt Chamberlain on a basketball court while he's doing this movie. 3) Every time I think about him, it just makes me miss how awesome Keith Langford was/is. If Wesley plays regularly, I think its a bad sign for this team. That isn't really a knock on Wesley, but he's on this team the reason the nerdy kid makes it into a frat: legacy.

Naadir Tharpe. Here is my hope for Tharpe: He turns into Russell Robinson. Remember that Russell struggled mightily his frosh season, playing 10 mpg, only appearing in 2/3 of the games, and he even considered transferring if memory serves me right. Bill Self hates inexperience, especially with his guards. He'll play an inexperienced big because he has to, but if he has 4 healthy guards and one of them looks like a deer in headlights on the court, the other 3 guards will play all 40 minutes. I also fondly remember how completely lost Michael Lee looked his freshman year, and he turned into a solid contributor by the time he was done. I honestly think Tharpe has more talent than that, but I think he could be anything from a 9th man buried behind the starters plus Anrio Adams on the depth chart, or he could be a part time starter/6th man type in the guard rotation with Johnson, Releford, and McLemore. I. Just. Don't. Know.

I have Thomas Robinson's 2011-2012 campaign as the best by a KU big since Collison's 2002-2003 season which, oddly enough, also ended in a National Championship loss. Tyshawn Taylor showed incredible growth (finally!) throughout the season, and was arguably the best all-around point guard in the country during the conference season. Both of these players are gone, along with the 6th man (as insignificant as he may seem). That is a lot of minutes to replace. I've discussed what I expect (or don't) from the returning players, but who will replace the departed? It remains to be seen which of the slew of young players will step up to fill the void. I'll take a look at all of those fresh faces in my next entry.

Reply 3 comments from Drew Alan Joe Ross Mariosmiracle

Game 35: KU vs. Lehigh, NCAA Round 1

Eye test: B+. Unspectacular in stretches, but the second half we dominated on offense, and they racked up some points by pressing and taking the ball to the hole hard.

Average Grade: 8.9 (B+)

Weighted average: 9.9 (A-)

A+: Marcus Morris. Didn't start the game with the necessary effort, but Self recognized it immediately, informed the player, and Morris made an immediate adjustment. 26 points on 15 shots is excellent efficiency, despite going 1 of 4 from the line. Also had 10 boards and 2 assists against 3 turnovers. Was the interior offensive force we needed. (B+, B+, A-, B+)

A+: Tyrel Reed. At one point one of the announcers said "maybe they should guard him", and I couldn't agree more. Reed was left WIDE open, and attempted 7 shots, all 3's, making 4 of them. also collected 3 rebounds, 1 steal, and matched up really well on defense as well, not getting exposed often at all. Nice to see Tyrel's outside stroke clicking. (B+, B-, B+, A-)

A: Sherron Collins. Very solid game from Collins. 50% from the floor, 50% from 3, 100% from the line, 6 assists and 1 turnover, 4 boards and a steal. We has some tremendous will and energy, and is regularly seen barking at teammates telling them to play with something close to his own energy. (B+, B+, B+, A)

A: Tyshawn Taylor. Wasn't connecting from distance (0-3 from 3), but was 3 of 4 from inside the arc, grabbed 2 rebounds, had 4 assists against 1 turnover, and collected a whopping 6 steals. You need defense? He's got it. (B, B, B+, B+)

A-: Jeff Withey. A minute, a board, and a block. His time will come. (B, B-, B, B+)

A-: Thomas Robinson. Got 7 minutes, several of them in the first half when Aldrich was on the bench with 2 fouls. Had 3 boards, 2 blocks, no turnovers and no fouls. Did get a 1 and 1 opportunity and firmly bricked the front end... (B-, C+, B, B-)

B+: Xavier Henry. Another quietly efficient game. 11 points on 7 shots. 6 rebounds, an assist, 2 steals and 3 turnovers.

B+: Cole Aldrich. All but disappeared in the first half, and this might be the only game of the tournament where we can afford for that to happen. Still finished with 11 points on 10 shots and 8 boards, and was an absolute force on defense in the second half. Finished with 5 blocks. (B+, B+, A-, B+)

B: Markieff Morris. Did not stuff the stat sheet, but as the announcers pointed out, he did a lot of things that don't show up in the stat sheet. Did have 2 points on 3 shots, 3 boards, 2 assists, 3 blocks, and a turnover. Did an excellent job, along with his brother, of double teaming the post player in the second half, and that proved to be a key in extending the lead. (B+, B, B+, A-)

B-: Connor Teahan. Played a minute, would have had an assist if CJ had made his 3 point attempt. (B-, C+, B-, B-)

C+: Brady Morningstar. Took 5 shots, only made 1 of them, a 3 pointer, and had no rebounds, but did have 2 assists against 1 turnover. Played solidly on defense. (B, B+, B, B)

C+: CJ Henry. Played a minute, missed a WIDE open 3. (B-, B, C+, B-)

C: Elijah Johnson. Played a minute, and threw an UGLY interior feed right by Thomas Robinson. (B, B, B, C+)

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Game 34: KU vs. Kansas State (in Kansas City)

Eye test: K-State is a very good team. Not as comfortable of a win as home, but not as tight of a game as the one in Manhattan. I'll give them an A-.

Average grade: 8.5 (between B and B+)

Weighted average: 9.21 (just above a B+)

A+: Marcus Morris. Tenacious. 18 points on 13 shots. Tied with Cole for team high and game high 8 rebounds. Had a block and 2 turnovers. KSU's starting forwards combined for 3 of 15 shooting. A good bounce-back game after Marcus couldn't keep himself on the floor against A&M. (B+, B+, A-, B)

A+: Tyrel Reed. Up to this game this season, Tyrel Reed was 8 of 9 from the free throw line. Against K-State he got to the line 9 times, equaling his prior season total, and cashed 7 of them. He was aggressive, made shots (3 of 4 from the floor, and both of his 3 pointers) and he took care of the basketball, (one assist and no turnovers). Nice to see Tyrel step up and have a game like this, because at the very least, he'll have to do this next season, if not sometime before this season is over. (B, B-, B+, B+)

A-: Sherron Collins. My god does he want this so badly! He is rounding into form at the perfect time. Today was a perfect example. He only took 2 three pointers, did score on a few nice drives to the hoop, made his free throws, got 4 rebounds, and distributed the basketball like a true point guard, 7 assists versus just 2 turnovers. Also held his own on defense against Pullen, holding him to 5 of 17 shooting. The oft overshadowed 6th man from the '08 title team wants a title that he'll be remembered for. (B+, B+, B+, A)

B+: Brady Morningstar. Only got 13 minutes, but made the most of them. Collected 4 assists, 2 steals, 2 rebounds, a turnover, and made one of two shots. (B+, B+, B, B)

B: Cole Aldrich. A steady, if unspectacular, game from Cole. Got into foul trouble, and struggled with his shot a little bit, did do his job of rebounding (tied for a game and team high 8 boards) and clogging the middle (2 blocks, 3 of 15 shooting from starting forwards for KSU) but K-State's main weapon is transition driving by Pullen or Clemente, and that doesn't really play into Cole's strengths. (A-, B+, A-, A-)

B: Markieff Morris. Did have 3 turnovers, but he made his free throws, and grabbed 6 boards. Helped the overall solid interior defense as well. (B+, B, B+, A-)

B-: Xavier Henry. The kind of game that shows Henry's maturity as a player. He didn't shoot well from the floor (just 1 of 7), but he maintained his defensive effort, grabbed 5 rebounds, had a block, an assist, and didn't turn the ball over. (B+, B+, B, B)

B-: Tyshawn Taylor. Didn't force much, had trouble staying in front of Clemente (but everybody does?) but didn't do anything to really hurt the team, was just overshadowed by others. 2 boards, 2 assists, a block, and a turnover, 3 points on 3 shots. (B, B, B+, B)

B-: Connor Teahan. Just got in at the end of the first half to avoid having a starter pick up a stupid foul. (B-, C+, B-, B)

C: Thomas Robinson. Needs to go up with authority. Got blocked by Samuels on two consecutive shot attempts sandwiched around an offensive rebound. Needs to figure out how to score the ball better from so close in. (B-, C+, B, C+)

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