Tag:Elijah Johnson
Posted on: October 30, 2011 7:59 pm
Edited on: October 31, 2011 1:18 am

Self suspends Taylor and Johnson for exhibitions

By Gary Parrish

Kansas coach Bill Self announced Sunday night that he has suspended Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson for the Jayhawks' two exhibition games because they violated team rules this past offseason.

"Tyshawn and Elijah have both been terrific since school began in August," Self said. “They’ve not only performed well, they have been very responsible and disciplined the first few months of the school year. But during the offseason they violated a rule that I told them, because of some past experiences, their punishment was going to be severe and I was going to hold them out of the two exhibition games. They have been aware of this for several months and also are disappointed but have had very positive attitudes about it."

The suspensions of Taylor and Johnson -- both of whom were also suspended for violating team rules last season -- means Kansas will have just five scholarship players available for Tuesday's exhibition against Pittsburg State if Thomas Robinson, a CBSSports.com First Team Preseason All-American, is unable to play because of a hyperextended knee. Self said Sunday that Robinson is "questionable" for the exhibition. The 6-foot-9 forward was injured in practice last week.

"Losing two players and Thomas being questionable for Tuesday’s game probably changes the look of our team as much as anyone in the country," Self said. "This gives a chance for our young guys to play under the lights and see how they react."

Kansas is ranked 14th in the CBSSports.com Preseason Top 25 (and one).
Posted on: March 2, 2011 10:54 am

Taylor active for KU's final home game

Tyshawn Taylor could be playing his last home game at Allen Field House.

Posted by Eric Angevine

I actually try really hard not to be cynical about these things, but is it a coincidence that Bill Self has opted to get Tyshawn Taylor off the bench and back into uniform in time for tonight's visit from Texas A&M? As KU's final home stand of the year, the game will be a showcase for Bill Self's seniors. Tradition dictates that Brady Morningstar, Tyrel Reed and Mario Little will get at least a token start, though each of the three has started on his own merits in the past.

Taylor is a junior, but there has been some talk in the past of his jumping to the pros before his senior season. His reputation for off-court shenanigans (though this latest may actually have occurred more or less on the court, in a perverse sort of way) may make that a pretty dicey situation, though. Nonetheless, this could, conceivably, be the final home game for Taylor and fellow junior Marcus Morris..

Taylor won't start, but he will likely play some. That could be part sentimental, as outlined above. It could, in my more cynical heart, also mean that Bill Self wants every weapon in the quiver as he finishes out his quest for an unprecedented seventh straight Big 12 title and a potential No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Playing A&M at home will make that task difficult enough, but a season-ending game at high-pressure Missouri will make Taylor's speedy presence even more crucial.

Since tonight is Senior Night at KU, the true resolution of the Kansas point guard drama will likely be suspended. Normal rules of starting and substitution do not apply on the most emotional of nights in Allen Field House.

In all likelihood, we won't see this team's true postseason lineup until Saturday, when Bill Self will honestly have to juggle Elijah Johnson, Taylor, and Morningstar in his season finale.

Photo: US Presswire
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Posted on: February 22, 2011 1:41 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2011 4:03 pm

Parsing KU's point guard situation

Posted by Eric Angevine

KU has plenty of point guard options, and that’s a blessing.

However, at this late point in February, I’m sure Bill Self would rather know which one he’ll be counting on to lead his team in the postseason. Right now, he can’t know that.

We know that Tyshawn Taylor, the regular starter, played the most minutes of any Jayhawk before his latest indiscretion – 27.1 per game, to be exact. He also had a 1.7 to 1 assist to turnover ratio and a good defensive impact, with 1.2 steals per game. Most importantly, he had the speed that Bill Self craves.

So, if Taylor sits, where does Kansas go from here? Does Bill Self suddenly forgive all and bring Taylor back for the postseason run? Or has this opened the door for another of those weapons we touched on?

The number one option most fans would look to in this scenario is freshman Josh Selby. He has the speed of a Tyshawn Taylor, but combines it with superior shooting range. The only problem there is that Selby has been injured. He also sat out the first nine games of the season, and has never really found a rhythm. When he does play, it’s as more of a combo guard than a pure point guard. His flashes of potential would probably warrant any kind of experiment Self might want to conduct, assuming his foot is up to the task.

The foot and its various accoutrements are what gave us a good look at our other intriguing point guard option. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star told the story in today’s recap of KU’s decisive Big Monday win over Oklahoma State:

Josh Selby and Brady Morningstar also played at the point, and Selby was in the plan to start. But at the 3 p.m. shootaround, just before the team’s live 10-minute scrimmage where the starting lineup is identified, Selby didn’t have an insert he uses for the shoe of his injured foot. Selby couldn’t practice without it, and the nod went to Johnson.

“We can’t let him practice without it,” Self said. 

If you don’t practice, you don’t start, obviously.

Elijah Johnson put himself in the picture with a great performance against Oklahoma StateWhich creates a bit of a conundrum, because sophomore Elijah Johnson (right), who has been something of an invisible man for KU up to this point, got the start and played very well. He had 15 points on 5-6 shooting, and most of that was an amazing 4-4 night from behind the arc. Johnson also played super-sticky defense on OSU’s Keiton Paige, who had trouble even getting his hands on the ball, let alone shoot it. The diminutive sharpshooter ended his miserable evening 2-of-11 from the floor. As Gary Bedore of the Lawrence Journal-World points out,
Johnson’s defense on Jacob Pullen a week ago was more effective than anything Taylor threw at him.

As Kerkhoff noted, Brady Morningstar also plays some point, but it’s pretty clear at this stage that a lack of speed is going to limit the senior to role player duty.

If I had to guess (and I think I do, since I asked the question), I would say that Johnson has earned his start as the nominal point, with Selby alongside and steady Tyrel Reed in the third slot. Morningstar will continue to come off the bench, and I suspect Taylor will – at least for a while – if and when he returns.

The truth is that KU has operated without a true point guard all season long. A Johnson/Selby backcourt is a pairing of two combo guards who can both score and pass. I discussed the KU guard rotation with Paul Biancardi – ESPN’s recruiting director and former Horizon League coach of the year – and he told me at the time that it’s fine to use such a rotation as long as one of the two athletes can act as the primary scoring option. Selby can do that.

If this was an isolated incident for Taylor, I’d say he might get his job back sooner rather than later. But at some point, I have to believe that his litany of poor off-court decisions are going to trump the fact that he makes pretty good on-court decisions. Not knowing what his latest indiscretion is, it’s hard for me to guess, but this is the first one that’s put him on the bench in street clothes, and I think that’s at least a meaningful symbolic gesture. We saw Morningstar sit a whole semester last season for a DUI incident, but we’ve also seen Taylor play after being openly critical of his coach, so I’m pretty much in the weeds on where this might be going.

Kansas probably has the talent to reach the Sweet 16 no matter which starting backcourt they go with. For this team to reach its Final Four potential, however, the rotation must be settled before the end of the season.

Posted on: February 22, 2011 1:40 pm
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Posted on: February 22, 2011 12:15 am
Edited on: February 22, 2011 12:42 am

Jayhawks' depth could separate them in March

Posted by Jeff Borzello

No Tyshawn Taylor? No problem.

Without its starting point guard, Kansas kept chugging along towards a potential top seed in the NCAA Tournament, steamrolling Oklahoma State, 92-65.

Elijah Johnson, Taylor’s replacement, did just fine in the starting lineup, finishing with 15 points, three rebounds and three assists. Johnson also knocked down all four of his 3-point attempts.

His performance shouldn’t come as a surprise, though. Kansas has been plugging in players throughout the season without a drop-off in production.

When Josh Selby missed three games earlier this month, Brady Morningstar simply stepped in and averaged 13.3 points and 5.7 assists. Thomas Robinson has missed five games this season – in his role as third big man, Jeff Withey averaged 4.8 points and 2.0 rebounds in 10 minutes per game.

On Monday, the Jayhawks got 25 points, 21 rebounds and six assists from their bench, led by Mario Little’s seven points and 10 boards.

That sort of depth could be what separates Kansas from the other contenders come March.

Bill Self simply has so many options to bring into the game if something isn’t working. Selby provides instant offense and a playmakers; Johnson showed tonight he can man the point; Robinson is a very productive scorer and rebounder; Little has shown flashes of his offensive potential; Travis Releford is a 6-foot-6 scorer; and Withey provides five fouls and inside depth.

Those six players combine to average 36.8 points, 17.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists – none of the other top-six or seven teams can match that sort of production off the bench.

While other teams may struggle if their star players are having off-nights, that’s not the case with the Jayhawks. In Marcus Morris’ three worst games, Robinson stepped up to average 10.3 points and 9.0 rebounds in those three outings – and Kansas went 3-0. Of course, there’s another member of the Morrii providing balance on the inside when Marcus struggles, but that’s beside the point.

With Taylor suspended indefinitely, the Jayhawks’ depth will be tested. It doesn’t appear to be a problem, though. Self has multiple players – Johnson, Morningstar, Selby – who can bring up the ball and initiate the offense. Johnson did most of the heavy lifting tonight, but Tyrel Reed also had five assists and Selby came off the bench for a solid 20 minutes.

Taylor is one of the team’s best defenders, but the Jayhawks’ backcourt forced Oklahoma State’s starting guards, Keiton Page and Markel Brown, to shoot 4-for-17 from the field.

The suspension is reportedly not expected to last the entire season, but even if it did, Kansas might be in good shape. The biggest problem with this team could be its lack of poise, and Taylor’s suspension is just another example of that missing leadership. Would it really be a huge problem if Taylor – who has had a few problems in the past – missed a few games?

Given the way Kansas has played when its starters are sidelined, it doesn’t seem like the Jayhawks would even miss a beat.

Photo: US Presswire

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com