Grading Out the KU Basketball Team ... Without Grades

   Don't like grades, don't trust em, don't adhere by them, glad I'm done "earning" them. With that said, I thought it would be good to take a look at how our players have done this season individually. So its like grading them with comments and smiley faces, you know like your first grade teacher gave you.

Please note that this article contains absolutely no stats, it is purely analysis on each significant player. What have they done well? What do they need to do better? What is the bottom line? I know you are as bored at work as I am, so dig in brother. And I'll sprinkle in some photoshops for those of yous who haven't seen this season's crop of epicness.

Tyshawn Taylor
Taylor really played well in the pre-Selby games for KU. He cut down on turnovers for the most part, helped our shooters get open looks, and flashed some scoring ability at times we needed it most (we don't win the UCLA game if Taylor doesn't give us six strait points late when we had fallen behind). His defense has been solid for the most part as well.

Bad: And just when you thought he was turning a corner, Taylor's last few games have been pretty poor. He seems to be trying a bit too hard on offense at times to get his, which has resulted in some turnovers. Also, his perimiter D seems to have fallen off a bit lately, but maybe being snowed in New Jersey has something to do with that.

Bottom Line: Taylor needs to pick his spots. Focus on defense first and foremost, and look to pass. When an opportunity to get to the rim is there, take it. But leave most of the scoring to Selby. I think Taylor needs to embrace a Russ Rob mentality with this team, as he has a talented scoring guard next to him a la a Mario Chalmers.

Josh Selby
Selby was put on this earth to score, score and then score. He cooled off last night, but he has been shooting a pretty consistent clip from the outside. His ability to make contested shots or create is a boost to a KU offense that can stall a bit at times if the Twins aren't in rythem.

Bad: Selby needs to work on his defense still, and he has a tendency to force things/play a little out of control (especially on fast breaks).

Bottom Line: Selby is likely still adjusting to the speed of college ball, and will settle down and ease into the game better. He has shown the ability to score, and with some time to work on his defense, he could turn into a superstar.

Tyrel "Relly Ice" Reed aka the Burlington Bomber aka Tom Berringer
Good: Reed is starting to knock down shots like we expected him to. He is a big part of our offense, as we need his outside shooting. He is also doing a lot of little things well: his defense is better, he can occassionally get to the rim, he even had seven boards against Thugs "r" Us University.

Bad: Reed's lack of height can be troublesome, especially at the wing spot which he seems to have locked up a starting spot at. In the USC game, Trojan men (meant to be said like the "Trojan Man" condom commercials) shot over him all game long. Also, he has a habit of fading into the shadows a bit at times.

Bottom Line: Reed has gone from spot up shooter to spot up shooter that can kind of do some other things sometimes. We need his shooting, and he will benefit greatly from the attention on Selby. Plain and simple, he needs to make shots, and anything else is a bonus.

Marcus Morris
Marcus can score. From anywhere. He is a matchup nightmare for most teams, and when he gets going he is tough to stop.

Bad: Marcus is prone to foul trouble, and his game sags when he is shuffled on and off the court. His post defense could use some work, he seems to struggle with legit bigs who back him down. Also, in case you haven't noticed, he has kind of a temper...

Bottom Line: Marcus needs to let the game come to him. He is a gifted athlete and scorer for a man of his size and the Hawks will depend on him. Stay out of foul trouble, get to the rim more, and continue to shoot well. As chugs in Happy Gilmore said... then you'll be unstoppable son!


Markeiff Morris
Kieffer is turning into a very productive big. He is rebounding well, scoring in the post, and still has the ability to knock down occasional outside shots. Oh, and he is starting to stay out of foul trouble.

Bad: Starting to stay out of foul trouble means... well, he had some issues with foul trouble. Kieffinator needs to be on the court, and one can't help but be nervous that when Big 12 play rolls around, his foul woes will continue.

Bottom Line: Gotta like what we've gotten from Markieff. He is getting better, playing within our offense, and providing some much-needed stability. If he continues to play well and stay on the court, he could be a huge piece to a march run puzzle.

Thomas Robinson
You can see the light bulb going on in TRob's head. His rebounding has gone from good to deadly, and he is starting to really produce offensively. He and the Morri now make up a deadly three man post rotation that will be a handful for any team to stop.

Bad: His occasional outside jump shots drive me mad. TRob also has a little Dwight Howard in him in which he wants to swat every opponents shots into the cheap upper seats that a poor man like myself rocks. He needs to just settle down a bit at times on offense and defense.

Bottom Line: Robinson is starting to turn into the player we thought he could. Just continue to grow and play within yourself young joc.


Brady Morningstar
At times, Brady can provide a lot of intangibles that really make our team better. He can get guys open shots, knock down an outside shot, and play good defense. He also is experienced and can provide a calming influence on a team that often badly needs it.

Bad: All those things I mentioned above? We don't see them consistently. Brady will play lights out one game (think KState game last year) and then do a lot of nothing the next couple games. Also, his shooting seems to have worsened from his sophomore year forward. Also WEAR SLEEVES!

Bottom Line: Reed brings a lot more to the table on offense and at this point is a better fit for us (IMNSHO), but for a reserve guard, you could do a lot worse than Brady Morningstar.

Travis Releford
Good: Releford is athletic, lengthy and has good size. He looks like a natural wing. He plays good defense, can attack the rim, and has started knocking down outside shots to boot. Has a high ceiling, kind of reminds me of a young Keith Langford: a big physical guard who can get to the rim.

Bad: His ball handling and decision making could use some work, and he can dissapear at times. Seems to still be adjusting to the game a bit.

Bottom Line: Releford is a great play in up-tempo games or against less athletic opponents. He is getting better, and will be a big factor for this team. I'm just not sure if that time is now or later. Now I want to eat a now or later.

Elijah Johnson aka the Prophet
Good: EJ is very athletic, and has shown to be an athletic mismatch against a lot of guards. He also has a pretty reliable outside shot and plays solid defense.

Bad: Can struggle with turnovers and boneheaded plays. Still adjusting to college ball it appears. Could have used a redshirt last year to iron out some wrinkles like Releford (plus I'd love to have him an extra year).

Bottom Line: I'm still not sure what to make of EJ. At times he looks unstoppable, other times he has me scratching my head. He played well last night, and could be very useful this season spelling Taylor/Selby at the one and two spot.

There you have KU's nine man rotation. I'm not including Withey or Little as it appears to me their roles are all but gone (plus who knows if/when Little will be back). I hope everyone's New Years is awesome yet safe at the same time. If thats possible.


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