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Game 1: vs. Southeast Missouri State

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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.

Comments

Joel Thomas 9 years, 9 months ago

I know Elijah had knee issues. I forget if he had surgery, and if so, when. If that's the problem, I hope he recovers soon. One if the more likeable Jayhawks of recent years.

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