Kansas Jayhawks vs Richmond Spiders series:
Short, but spicy!
It has become pretty clear that Kansas is better than it appeared at one time early this season, when people who should know better were wondering if KU was in trouble.
The question now is whether the Jayhawks are as good as they’ve looked the past two Saturdays in blowouts of Colorado and Belmont.
“No, probably not,” coach Bill Self said.
Even if the Jayhawks settle somewhere in between, the past two games have hinted at KU’s ceiling. The Jayhawks beat two potential NCAA Tournament teams by a combined margin of 65 points, including Saturday’s 89-60 victory against the Bruins.
If the past two weeks show that KU has improved, this week — which starts with a home game against Richmond and ends with a top-10 showdown at Ohio State — will show how much.
“We’ll find out a lot about ourselves this week, to be real candid with you,” Self said. “Hopefully we’ll play well Tuesday, which sets up a game that will have some national implication, and we’ll find out how much better we’ve gotten.”
…The difference in Johnson’s play doesn’t necessarily show up on the stat sheet; he had a similar line against Oregon State and, in Self’s words, got whipped.
Saturday, Self called his senior point guard the best player on the floor.
“He only takes seven shots, but he totally controlled the game,” Self said.
The Jayhawks have needed Johnson to be a playmaker, and that’s what he was against Belmont. The highlights included Johnson blowing past a defender with the shot clock winding down, firing a pass to Ben McLemore to beat the halftime buzzer and threading a left-handed bounce pass to Releford, who flipped to Jeff Withey for an easy dunk.
“The left-handed backdoor pass and things like that, those are pretty special plays,” Self said. “He’s getting better all the time.”
It’s no coincidence that Johnson is getting healthier, too, after fighting a sore knee for several games.
“He looks faster to me,” Self said.
Coincidentally, the 6-foot-4 senior point guard from Las Vegas, who had helped the Jayhawks (8-1) average 73.6 points through the first seven games, said he felt close to 100 percent against both CU and BU.
“Travis (Releford) said he thought I was moving better, moving up the court and pushing the tempo. He said when he saw that, it hyped him up so much and made him so excited for the night. Ben (McLemore) said the same thing,” Johnson said.
“I didn’t know me just running up the court fast could bring so much energy to the team. I did, but I wasn’t conscious of it being in my own shoes. I know that’s what I’ve got to do now. I don’t have a problem doing it because I see how much my teammates feed off it.”
Johnson is “definitely getting better. He’s getting his knees back, his athleticism back. He controlled the game,” KU freshman McLemore said after Saturday’s rout of Belmont. “He was the key player of the game. He’s out there leading the team. We just follow along.”
12/11/12, 10:04 AM
Jeff Withey. Tons of blocks, very few fouls. RT @BKbuddy: best defensive player in ncaa? Why?
Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops)
KUAD WBB: Kansas defeats Prairie A&M postgame stats, notes, photos, video
Exactly 9 seconds after Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson needed to call a timeout, the Jayhawks’ Angel Goodrich did what good point guards and senior leaders are supposed to do — make big plays.
With 5 minutes left and the game tied at 57, Goodrich got the ball and didn’t hesitate. She drove to the basket, made a layup and was fouled in the process. Kansas 60, Prairie View A&M 57.
The Panthers of Prairie View made turnovers on their next two possessions, while the Jayhawks were able to capitalize once again, scoring off two free throws from sophomore guard Natalie Knight. The spurt was crucial in KU’s 72-60 win over Prairie View A&M.
“It’s always a game changer,” Goodrich said of the layup. “It’s a dagger.”
The Jayhawks’ 18-point, second-half lead had completely disappeared after Panthers senior guard Latia Williams buried a pull-up jumper from the left side to tie the game with 5:08 left. Coming out of the timeout, KU junior forward Tania Jackson told Goodrich the Jayhawks had to get a bucket.
“She left me in the conversation,” Jackson related, “and just drove down the middle and got an and-one.”
Goodrich’s three-point play with 4:53 left ignited a 15-3 KU run to close the game, and the No. 22 Jayhawks survived a scare with a 72-60 victory in their final nonconference home game of the season.
The play KU coach Bonnie Henrickson drew up in the timeout had senior forward Carolyn Davis as the primary option. But Goodrich, who led the team with 19 points and eight assists, turned the corner on her defender at the top of the key and saw her chance to drive.
“I knew something needed to be done,” said Goodrich, who scored seven points in the final five minutes, “and that just kind of opened up.”
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Former UCLA center Joshua Smith, who has KU, Washington and Georgetown on his list of transfer possibilities, will have one semester of eligibility remaining at his future school. If the 6-10, 305-pound native of Kent, Wash., enrolled for second semester classes at KU, he’d be able to practice, but not play in games until after final exams in December of 2013. He’d miss about nine games of his senior season. The former McDonald’s All-American averaged 5.2 points and 4.2 rebounds and 13.2 minutes a game in six games this season, his junior campaign. He averaged 10.9 points and 9.9 points in 2010-11 and 2011-12 respectively. Smith was the No. 23-rated player in the recruiting Class of 2010. He had 17 points and 13 boards in a 77-76 loss to KU on Dec. 2, 2010, in Allen Fieldhouse. He had one point and one board in 13 minutes in a 72-56 loss to KU last season in Maui. He has battled weight problems his entire college career.
Having been sick all week, Huntington Prep Academy boys basketball player Andrew Wiggins was looking for the right dose of medicine to get him through this weekend’s games in the Boyd County Roundball Classic.
It turned out the right medicine came from an unlikely source — the Walnut Hills contingent of the crowd.
As the 300 students from Walnut Hills began taunting the nation’s top-rated player with “overrated” and “U-S-A”, the Canadian elevated his game and finished with 32 points and 10 rebounds to lead Huntington Prep to a 61-54 win over the Cincinnati school in front of 3,000 fans during the first day’s final game at Boyd County Middle School.
“That motivates me to play better and that’s what happened,” Wiggins said. “As soon as they started talking, that’s when I started playing better — hitting my shots and everything. Them getting involved was bad for their team.”
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