Withey a major part of Kansas basketball offense
- Oct. 17, 2012
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When Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor packed up their lockers for the final time last April, more than 50 percent of the Kansas men’s basketball team’s scoring in conference play walked out the door with them.
Without Robinson, the burden of opening Kansas coach Bill Self’s inside-out offense with low-post play falls on the shoulders of senior center Jeff Withey.
“Jeff naturally isn’t one of those guys that just looks to score or it comes easy for him. That’s not the case,” Self said. “Last year he averaged nine a game and a large part because he played next to Thomas, and Thomas would get doubled or whatever and Jeff would benefit from that.”
In the offseason, Self placed an emphasis on Withey developing a low-post move with his off hand, which would make him harder to cover.
In Withey’s first three years at Kansas, Danny Manning was always the one working closely with Withey on his low-post game. But Manning’s departure to take the Tulsa head coaching job created a hole in the Kansas staff.
Former Self assistant Norm Roberts returned to the staff to fill that void.
“I feel like he’s watched a lot of film from last year, because we’re doing a lot of the same things from when coach Manning was here,” Withey said. “He’s been extremely good with me.”
Roberts’ previous experience under Self eased his transition into his role at Kansas. Before leaving to take the head coaching job at St. John’s, Roberts coached in the same capacity under Self in each of his previous coaching stops.
In his first go-around on Self’s staff, Roberts used many of the same coaching techniques later implemented by Manning.
This year’s Kansas offense is much stronger and deeper on the perimeter than it is on the inside.
“We’ll probably shoot more jump shots than we have in any other time since I’ve been here,” Self said. “I’m not sure that’s a strength as much as we should play through our bigs more, but we don’t have a natural scorers inside.”
Self said without Robinson around, a jump to an average of 12 points or more per game would show a vast improvement in Withey’s offensive game because of how often Withey will see opponents double-team him down low.
It will also add another element to Withey’s expanded role in the offense, which will see more plays designed to go through him, including some plays that aren’t expected from a seven-footer.
“He can shoot the jumper, which a lot of people don’t really know,” said senior forward Kevin Young. “He can put it on the floor as well and go by some guys, but at the same time, he’s going to be able to draw in double-teams, which will leave me open to rebound.”