Teammates, coaches working to make Ellis more aggressive
- Nov. 7, 2012
- 1 Comment
Kansas coach Bill Self is slowly turning into a broken record with how frequently he mentions that freshman forward Perry Ellis needs to become more aggressive on the court.
It’s a hard transition for a player who could get by on his athleticism in high school, but Ellis will play a key role in the Kansas offense when the Jayhawks open their season against Southeast Missouri State on Friday.
“He has all the talent in the world right now,” senior center Jeff Withey said. “He’s going to be really good if he can get out of his comfort zone and get out of his laid-back approach.”
Withey is familiar with the players being called laid back. He had to work past the label of a laid-back player when he first arrived at Kansas.
Eventually he worked through that and became aggressive enough on the court to be named the 2011-12 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
But that doesn’t mean Withey doesn’t have relapses from time to time, such as the first half of the Jayhawk’s exhibition game against Washburn, where he only recorded one rebound and one block before finding himself on the bench.
Self has a couple of other tried-and-true techniques he also uses.
When a player isn’t going hard in practice, Self gets on his back and starts riding him quick.
If Self couldn’t get Withey motivated verbally, he took a different approach.
Withey would find himself running up and down the bleachers of Allen Fieldhouse.
“He knows how to get the best out of his players, and he’s going to get you right,” Withey said. “He’s definitely going to push Perry, and it’s going to help Perry out a lot.”
Withey is far from the first player whose mindset Self had to change when they arrived on campus.
Self rode senior guard Elijah Johnson for playing too slow when he arrived on campus four years ago.
And before Johnson, it was other Kansas alums such as Sherron Collins or Tyshawn Taylor, who all figured it out and gone on to help Self lead Kansas to eight consecutive conference championships.
“If you don’t get yelled at, then it’s probably a problem.” Johnson said. “I think it’s definitely part of the process.”
As far as when the message will finally get through to Ellis remains to be seen, but he did show some signs of aggressiveness against Washburn.
In the first half he dove on the floor for a lose ball and also managed a block, a steal and two offensive boards.
“When I got out of that zone and got mad, things changed,” Withey said. “If Perry can get out of that, he can be really good.”