Blog Entry

Self finds his team situation he never imagined

Posted on: October 28, 2011 12:32 pm
By Jeff Goodman

Bill Self looked in a team photo from a couple years ago. How times have changed.

That was when he redshirted Mario Little and Travis Releford because there was such an excess of talent and depth that neither figured to earn enough time. Now the sixth and seventh men in the rotation are walk-ons Justin Wesley and Connor Teahan - who Self has given a scholarship. If Little were still here, he'd probably be getting 35 minutes a game.

Self understands that no one feels bad for the Jayhawks - and he doesn't want that, anyway. He still maintains he has two of the elite players in the nation at their respective positions in Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor - and that his starting five will be able to stack up against anyone.

"We've got two pros," Self said. "Tyshawn's so good. The light has come on and the game's in slow motion for him. There aren't five better point guards."

"And there aren't five better big men than Thomas," he added. But the depth is another story. Kansas had three signees deemed ineligible to play this season: Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor (who have both remained on campus as partial qualifiers) and Braeden Anderson, who has since elected to attend Fresno.

The 6-foot-8 Wesley is a transfer from Lamar and Teahan is a fifth-year senior who hasn't exactly played meaningful minutes in his Jayhawks career. Both will likely be rotation guys.

"We need to stay healthy," Self said. "And be junkyard dogs."

And that's likely why he's being cautious with Robinson, who bumped knees in practice and will likely be held out for a couple of days.

"In practice, I've never had to worry about injuries," Self admitted.

The key to whether the Jayhawks can continue their Big 12 dominance will likely come down to the development of guards Elijah Johnson and Releford - and the health and production of 7-footer Jeff Withey. Self raved about Johnson - which is a change from his thoughts on the talented guard from a year ago - and also said that he'll need newcomers Kevin Young and Naadir Tharpe to give him quality minutes. "I like my guys," Self said. The issue, though, is whether he has enough of them.

Photo: AP
Category: NCAAB
Since: Oct 30, 2011
Posted on: October 30, 2011 1:37 pm
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Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: October 29, 2011 1:41 am

Self finds his team situation he never imagined

Probably an accurate picture of a preseason Kansas, Jeff. There are a couple of additional thoughts. I am intrigued with Naadir Tharpe because it has been reported in summer scrimmages he is an outstanding passer and point guard. Coach Self has not had a pure point guard since Aaron Miles left. Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson are both really athletic combo guards (as was Mario Chalmers.) But Tharp has that rare ability to make big men get easy buckets and look like stars. Of course at Kansas he will have to guard to even get on the floor. Taylor did lead an under 19 USA team to a world championship a few years ago. The knock on Taylor has been his inconsistency but he dialed up his play at the end of last year and came back as a senior to take it to the next level. Conner Teahan has not had playing time but can really shoot. Kevin Young has not shown who he is and neither has Justin Wesley but Wesley's older half-brother was Keith Langford and NCAA fans may remember Langford's stardom when he was at KU.

The real question mark for this team (at least the biggest one) is 7'0" Jeff Withey. A transfer from Arizona, Withey has proven himself to be a force in shot-blocking and rebounding in limited minutes. Teamed with Robinson he should get some open looks at point blank range. If he can convert he presents problems for defenses as well. Kansas should not be counted out as they were several times in the past five years (Self won the league championship each time and a national championship as well.) And the Big XII does not look as strong as previous years, so I would not be surprised if they are in the running again this year. No, I am not predicting anything. Unlike Gary, I don't think we know much at this time of year.

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