Jayhawk basketball lacks leadership in final exhibition game

In their final outing before the record counts, the Kansas men’s basketball team didn’t look like a team that had already played in five exhibition contests since August.

Instead the Jayhawks played like they had never been on the court together, operating as five individuals playing his own game.

After riding a 13-five run into half, the Jayhawks started the second half flat, turning the ball over nine times in the first 11:02 of the second half as the Jayhawks clawed their way to a 62 to 50 victory against the Washburn Ichabods.

“I think that it’s too many people thinking too hard and they’re not just playing,” Senior guard Elijah Johnson said. “And with us thinking so hard and thinking about everything, making it so complex, I think that it’s confusing each other, rather than just rolling in a rhythm and hopping on the same train.”

There was no single culprit to the Jayhawk turnover mess, instead the whole team contributed to the poor performance, with the team’s four leading scorers all turning the ball over four times each.

It started with the leadership at the top.

Johnson didn’t take control of the offense, instead he let other players, such as freshman guard Ben McLemore, take the ball up the court and start the offense.

“Ben struggled the whole night. Now here’s a guy with multiple turnovers and no assists, and Elijah’s having him initiate offense,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “That’s not what guards do. He’s got to do a better job running our team.”

At the outset of the second half, the Jayhawks guns, Johnson, McLemore and freshman forward Perry Ellis, went silent. After scoring 29 of the Jayhawks 36 first half points, they managed just 11 points in the second period.

Ellis said the Jayhawks need to work more as a team.

“We still need to learn how to get it back together,” he said.
But the bigger culprit turned out to be the Jayhawks showing their youth by committing mistakes and turnovers. Mistakes they didn’t show in their previous exhibition outing.

When the game got sloppy and physical, the Jayhawks turned to their big man down low, senior center Jeff Withey, to fend off the feisty Ichabods.

Despite being absent in the first half, where he only recorded one block and one rebound, Withey came to life after being benched, solidifying the defense with six blocks in the second half.

“You shouldn’t have to take a guy out and sit him to get him mad to where he’s aggressive,” Self said. “That’s how he should be all the time, he should start the game that way.”

Self said he felt his seniors didn’t do enough to carry the team when they needed to drag the struggling younger guys along.

The passive attitude started with Withey and the other seniors trickled down, causing the whole team to take on that mindset.
Self said the team missed opportunities to take charges, jump for the ball and box out.

“That’s as soft as a team could play,” Self said. “They beat us on everything.”

  • Updated Nov. 6, 2012 at 12:26 am
  • Edited by Luke Ranker