Tyshawn Taylor

Jayhawks Make another Final Four

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KU played another tough opponent Sunday in North Carolina.  This was a special game for KU because the old KU coach Roy Williams now coaches at North Carolina.  Kansas caught an extremely lucky break before the game when  Kendall Marshall was ruled out of the game because of his broken wrist. Kendall Marshall is the best player on North Carolina and he is what makes North Carolina such a dangerous team.  Marshall is the best true point guard in the country. His skills set up the athletes for Roy Williams.

The first half of the game for KU and North Carolina was a NBA game. There was no defense and both teams offenses were dominant.  Neither team could not miss a shot and North Carolina’s offense looked as if Kendall Marshall was never missing.  KU and North Carolina were neck and neck at halftime with the score being tied at 47.  However, during the second half of the game seemed to change.  KU started playing better perimeter defense and Coach Self switched to a triangle and two defense which seemed to frustrate the North Carolina offense.  Kendall Marshall loss really showed in the second half because back up point guard Stillman white was a non- factor offensively and could not get the North Carolina transition game going.  Also, Travis Releford played great defense in the second half against one of the best swingmen in the game, Harrison Barnes, North Carolina’s most potent scorer.  Kansas’ suffocating defense and potent offense helped them to pull away at the end of the game finishing on a 12-0 run winning 80-67.  KU’s offense played really well with all the five starters scoring in double figures.  Tyshawn Taylor lead all players with 22 points.  Thomas Robinson also finished with 18 points and 9 rebounds. Kevin Young played a great game as well by filling his role off the bench.  Kevin may have only played 18 minutes, but he had eight rebounds in that span.
The game couldn’t have gone any better if you are a Jayhawk fan because they locked down North Carolina potent offense by allowing them to only score only 20 points in the second half.  However, KU defense was non-existent in the first half which should be a major concern for Bill Self. For KU to continue in the NCAA tournament, they will need to put together a full game of balanced scoring and great defense.  If KU can manage to do that, they should give themselves an excellent  chance to play for a National Championship.
In the Final Four, the Jayhawks will be playing the Ohio State University.  Kansas and Ohio State played earlier this year with KU winning the game 78-67.  However, Ohio State was missing their most important player, Jared Sullinger.  KU matches up pretty well against Ohio State because Jeff Withey can limit Jared Sullinger inside. Bill Self should be most worried about the offensive minded, Deshaun Thomas, their power forward.  Deshaun Thomas is a mobile 4 who can play around the 3 point line and bang in the inside.  Thomas can take Thomas Robinson out of his comfort and fluster him like Robbie Hummel did in the first half.  The key to the game for KU is how the guards play against Aaron Craft.  Tyshawn Taylor will have a tough match up with Aaron Craft who is a great on ball defender and could force Tyshawn Taylor to make more turnovers then usual. Travis Releford will be guarding William Buford their best guard offensively who averages 14 points a game. KU should be able to win this game because they will be able to match-up and neutralize the big men of Ohio State.
Connor Willsey / Spencer Montgomery

Kansas Survives against NC State

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Kansas was involved in another tough sweet 16 game last against North Carolina State. KU did not have as tough of a time matching up against North Carolina State as they did with Purdue.  However, North Carolina State is a much more talented and balanced team.  All five starters for North Carolina State average ten points or more.

KU yet again started off slow, with North Carolina State beginning on a 13-3 run.  C.J Leslie, the best player for North Carolina State, scored five of the thirteen points.  KU stormed back with a balanced attack with points from Jeff Withey, Kevin Young, Travis Releford, and Thomas Robinson.  Kansas and North Carolina State for the rest of half were trading baskets and the halftime score was 33-32 in favor of North Carolina State.  To begin the second half, KU stormed out to a 44-35 lead with points from Jeff Withey, Thomas Robinson, Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford, and Tyshawn Taylor – all five starters.  KU from that point on controlled the game until the last couple minutes of the game. However, they could not hit a single shot after scoring two points following the three minute marker. KU ended winning the game 60-57 after North Carolina State offense fell apart in the final possession of the game.

KU yet again had a horrible game offensively, shooting 37 percent from the field and going one for twelve from the three point line. However, KU had their best defensive performance of the tournament thus far.  Jeff Withey had a career high 10 blocks and Thomas Robinson was dominant when getting rebounds finishing up the 15.  Also, Tyshawn Taylor finished the game up with a surprising 10 rebounds.  KU defense frustrated North Carolina State the whole night.  North Carolina State only shot 28 percent from the field. Thomas Robinson yet again showed he was the best player on the floor finishing with 18 points and 15 rebounds.  Thomas Robinson played with a Dennis Rodman mentality last night and will need to continue with mind-tricks for KU to win in the future.

On Sunday, KU will face its toughest test so far in the tournament in North Carolina.  North Carolina could be missing its most important player, Kendall Marshall, to a broken hand.  If Kendall Marshall does not play or plays ineffectively, KU will win the game. North Carolina has a history of losing without having its point guard playing well. They lost when Raymond Felton and Ty Lawson were hurt and have also lost to lesser opponents.  Last season, North Carolina was horrible until they put Kendall Marshall into the starting line up.  The key for KU this game is their ability to pressure the point guard into making mistakes.  Also, KU will be able to match up against the impressive front line of North Carolina which includes three future possible lottery picks – Tyler Zeller, John Henson, and James Michael McAdoo.  KU will also need to rebound the ball effectively because North Carolina is the best rebounding team in the nation, averaging 45 rebounds per game.  The game will come down to whether Kendall Marshall plays for North Carolina. If he plays and does it well, North Carolina will be going to the final four.

Connor Willsey

Kansas Steals one from Purdue

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KU faced another tough opponent in Purdue on Sunday Night.  Purdue, a lower ranked team, had given many top Big 10 teams a good game throughout the year.  Purdue also plays great defense and makes very few mistakes. This Purdue team showed up last night.  They had a great defensive game plan for Thomas Robinson and the defense frustrated KU’s offense causing them to shoot only 30 percent from the field.
The game couldn’t have started out any worse for KU with Purdue starting out the game on an 11-2 run as forward Robbie Hummel scored 9 out of their first 11 points.  KU couldn’t generate any offense during the first half.  Purdue made Thomas Robinson a non-factor offensively for most of the first half.  Purdue would triple team Thomas and force Thomas to either take a bad shot or he would pass the ball out to a wide open shooter.  KU had trouble defensively as well in the first half trying to guard Robbie Hummel.  KU originally had Thomas Robinson on Robbie Hummel, but with Robbie Hummel being able to hit the three, Thomas was no match.  KU then had Kevin Young guard Robbie Hummel, but Kevin picked up 2 quick fouls and went back to the bench.  Robbie Hummel finished the first half with 22 points.  KU trailed at the half 36-30.

The start of the second half didn’t look promising for Kansas as well with Purdue starting the half on a 10-2 run.  Bill Self switched up his defense to match-up zone which slowed down Purdue’s offense. Robbie Hummel only scored 4 points for the rest of the game .With this change in defense, KU started to make some shots offensively.  Elijah Johnson, a junior shooting guard, led the charge offensively, making a three pointer and completing a three point play (the old fashion way).  With a perimeter player stepping his game up this allowed the middle of the defense to open and allowed Thomas Robinson to face less double and triple teams.  Thomas Robinson and Elijah Johnson carried the team offensively for the rest of the game. KU won the close game 63-60 and will advance to North Carolina State in the sweet 16. Elijah Johnson played the best game of his career finishing with 18 points 4 rebounds and 3 assists.  Thomas Robinson finished the game with 11 points and 13 rebounds.

KU played the worst game of the year against Purdue.  Purdue should have won the game and dominated KU for 35 minutes of the game. However, I think this game will be a wake call for KU and show them can’t start sluggish and expect to win games.  I thought KU was exposed against Purdue.  Purdue showed that you can eliminate Jeff Withey from the game by having a more guard oriented line up on the floor.  Jeff Withey only had 4 points in 15 minutes of playing time.  However, KU will not shoot 30 percent from the floor for the rest of the tournament. This was by far their worst game of the year offensively.

KU’s next opponent in the sweet sixteen will be North Carolina State.  While I don’t think KU will have a hard time matching up with North Carolina State, I think this could end up being a much harder game for KU. First they have a two power forwards that I feel can both guard Thomas Robinson in C.J Leslie and Richard Howell.  C.J Leslie is there best player who leads them in scoring with 14 points a game and is second in the team with 7 rebounds a game.  Also they have a good back court with a great point Lorenzo Brown who averages 13 points 5 rebounds and 7 assists a game.   The key for this game is Jeff Withey.  Withey will need to be tenacious on the defensive end because most of their points are in the paint from C.J Leslie and Richard Howell.  He will also need to rebound well in this game because North Carolina State can give a lot of team trouble in rebounds.  In the end I think this will be a very close game, but I feel that KU is more talented and experienced so KU should be playing in the Elite 8 this weekend.

Connor Willsey

Post Game: Ku verse Detroit

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KU vs Detroit Mercer Game Review
KU began its journey to New Orleans in Omaha playing Detroit Mercer a lowly fifteen seed.  KU was on upset alert before the game because 2 two seeds had lost earlier that day.  This unheard of in college basketball since only four two seeds had ever lost before this year.
            KU and Detroit began the game with Detroit giving KU all they could handle during the first eight minutes of the game.  At one point during the game Detroit was leading 21-19.  Through the first eight minutes of the game KU had played horrible turning the ball over eight times.  On average KU only turns over the ball ten times a game.  However, after the first eight minutes of the game KU took control of the game lead by Thomas Robinson.  KU took over the game with defense often making it impossible for Detroit to score in half court sets. KU finished the half on 15-3 run and then started the second half on a 16-4 run.  KU eventually won the game 65-50. Detroit shot a horrendous 31% percent from the field.
            Thomas Robinson was the best player on the floor last night and finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Jeff Withey yet again showed his dominant defense and the team in blocks with 5.  However, I thought Kevin Young gave the Jayhawks great minutes off the bench last night.  He had nine points, three rebounds, and two assists.  At one points during the game they had Thomas Robinson playing center and Kevin playing power forward.  Kevin had both of his assists during that set to Thomas Robinson.  Kevin looked to be a tough match up because of his ability to penetrate defenses and then kicking the ball to a wide open shooter.  Furthermore, Elijah Johnson played a lot of point guard last night with Tyshawn Taylor suffering from a leg cramp.  Elijah performed very well last night scoring fifteen points.  The only bad part of Elijah game last night was turning the ball over three times while only having two assists.
            KU next game will be against Purdue.  Purdue could be a tougher match up for KU because of there experience in the NCAA tournament and their ability to score off their half-court sets.  For KU to win they will need to disrupt their senior forward Robbie Hummel and senior point guard Lewis Jackson. However, KU should win this next game because Purdue won’t be able to effectively guard Thomas Robinson.
Connor Willsey 

Kansas Jayhawk’s Season in Review

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Going into the 2011-2012 basketball season the expectations were not as high in past years. This year’s team had 4 new starters and all of them were essentially role players at best on last year’s team.  With the expectations not as high people wondered how good KU would be this year.  Everyone had heard that Thomas Robinson was going to be a great player for KU this year, but how good was he really going to be.  Tyshawn Taylor was going to assume a leadership role with the team this year, but after uneven play and suspension the previous three year many wondered whether he was going to become the leader Bill Self wanted him to be. Lastly, many people wondered about Jeff Withey and how good he would be with KU.  Last season in limited action Jeff Withey looked average at best and often looked lost on the court.  In the end many people thought KU would compete for a Big 12 regular season title, but fall short and end up being a 3 or 4 seed at best in the NCAA Tournament.

To begin the season KU had a hard non-conference schedule with games against Georgetown, Kentucky, Duke, and Ohio State.  KU played Kentucky first and looked outmatched for most of the game, but stayed in it do to experience which Kentucky’s freshman laden team did not have.  KU eventually lost 75-65.  In the semifinals of the Maui Invitational KU played an underrated Georgetown team and squeaked out a victory 65-63.  In the finals KU played a high ranked Duke squad and hung with them the whole game, but in the end lost 68-61.  Late in their non-conference schedule they played an Ohio State team without their best player Jared Sullinger.  During that game KU found a new role player in Kevin Young who scored a fourteen points in the win against Ohio State 78-67.   Immediately following their impressive win against Ohio State they lost to Davidson, which is their worst loss of the season.  With their non-conference schedule over many still wondered how good KU had actually be this year.  The team need to play with more consistency, by this time everyone knew that Thomas Robinson was the best player on KU; yet Tyshawn and Jeff Withey were needed to score with more consistency.  Connor Teahen the KU sharp shooter had been shooting very poorly from the 3 point line and for KU to get better he would have to make the 3 point shot with more consistency during the Big 12 conference season.
In KU’s first conference game against in-state rival Kansas State, KU played its best game thus far beating Kansas State 67-49.  KU started conference play 7-0 and KU was starting to play its best basketball.  Tyshawn Taylor seemed to be scoring at will against teams often scoring 20 or more points. Tyshawn was also not turning the ball over as much as he used and finally looked like leader Bill Self had wanted him to be.  Jeff Withey picked his play up to in conference play.  Jeff Withey was scoring the ball more consistently often putting up ten points, but playing superb defense.  KU hit a rough patch losing two of three games to Iowa State and to rivals Missouri. After this rough patch KU went on to win the rest of its conference games and went on to win its eighth conference championship in a row.  At the end KU finished with a record of 25-6 and is a favorite to be a number 1 seed in the NCAA tournament which will be there third straight year of being a number 1 seed.
For KU to be down the nets in New Orleans on April seecond it will need role players such as Kevin Young and Conner Teahan to give them solid minutes off the bench.  Also, KU will need Jeff Withey and Tyshawn Taylor to be at there best to take pressure off Thomas Robinson.  Finally, I predict KU will not make a final four because I don’t feel it has the depth to play well if Thomas Robinson or Tyshawn Taylor get in foul trouble.
Connor Wilsey

Jayhawks Awards

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The Big 12 regular season ended Sunday night for KU with a win against Texas on Senior Night. With the regular season finished, awards must be given to the deserving candidate. The Conference player of the year was a no brainer; it was Thomas Robinson.  Robinson was the best player on KU for the entire season. He averaged 18 points, 12 rebounds, and 2 assists a game at the power forward position.  The big man from Kansas is also a major contender for James Naismith National Player of the Year Award.  Although he is a junior, he is expected to declare for the 2012 NBA draft and should be a top ten selection.   The Defensive player of the year in the Big 12 conference is also from KU, which is center Jeff Withey.  In Withey’s first year of major contribution at Kansas, he managed to become a defensive force at center.  Withey, only a junior, led the conference with 100 blocks and averaged 6 rebounds a game for KU and was Third Team All Conference due to his defensive contributions for the Jayhawks.

To add to all these awards, the Kansas Jayhawks had two players make First Team All Conference: Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor. Robinson and Taylor  were KU’s two best players all season, both players in different instances throughout the season  put KU on its back and lead them to victory.  Taylor, a senior guard from New Jersey, averaged 17 points and 5 assist for the Jayhawks this season. Although Taylor seemed incapalbe of throwing the ball to the right team for the first half of the season, he caught on during conference play and was vital as the season progressed. Bill Self yet again proved he was the best coach in the conference by winning coach of the year and coaching the Jayhawks to an unheard of 8 straight conference championships in a row.  This was Bill Self’s best year of coaching at Kansas, this team is arguably the least talented he has had.

The expectations for the KU basketball team this year were not as high as it had been in previous years. In the preseason AP Top 25 Kansas was ranked thirteenth with Baylor a team from their own conference ahead of them. With the regular season over, the Jayhawks  finished third in the AP Top 25 and the USA Today Coaches Pull, which puts Kansas in contention for a number one seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.  Coach Self looks to continue his success of dominating the Big 12 in the Conference Championship.

Connor Wilsey