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Succession of setbacks dogging No. 3 Kansas
Question of the Day
LAWRENCE, KAN. (AP) - Point guard Tyshawn Taylor will remain suspended Saturday when No. 3 Kansas travels to Oklahoma, raising to 32 the number of games Jayhawk players have missed because of injury, tragedy, misbehavior or NCAA edicts.
Coach Bill Self confirmed Thursday that Taylor would miss a second straight game for violating unspecified team rules. In his place again will be sophomore Elijah Johnson, who is clearly being given an opportunity to win the job because Self is losing patience with the inconsistent Taylor.
Taylor’s not the only one who’s had his troubles.
Six players, for various reasons, have missed time. Given the fact the program is also dealing with the loss of two NBA lottery picks and point guard Sherron Collins _ the winningest player in school history _ Self figures a 26-2 record is nothing to be ashamed of.
“I do think this year has surpassed record-wise what I thought it could be, without question,” Self said. “I didn’t think going into the season this team could be 26-2. I did not anticipate losing two lottery picks and losing your best player and best leader and somehow or another we’d look up and we’re still 26-2.”
Nobody’s had a tougher year than 6-9 forward Thomas Robinson. The promising sophomore missed two games when his mother unexpectedly died, leaving Thomas and his 7-year-old sister without a mother or father at home. Robinson also was out three games with meniscus surgery.
Freshman Josh Selby, the most highly sought recruit Self has ever signed, sat out the first nine games for what the NCAA said was violation of rules of amateurism. He came back in high style, hitting the game-winning 3-pointer in a 70-68 victory over Southern Cal. But earlier this month, he missed three games with a foot injury.
Senior swingman Mario Little was suspended for six games after a domestic disturbance involving his girlfriend and another man. Guard Travis Releford missed five games with injury. Johnson was suspended two games.
But in spite of it all, the Jayhawks go into the final games of the regular season with an 11-2 record in the Big 12, only one game behind No. 5 Texas. Their only losses have been to Texas at home and to Kansas State on the road.
“Regardless of what happens, we have proven that we can take some hits personnel-wise and keep on moving forward,” Self said. “The thing I’ve learned the most is we can absorb some things when things aren’t going well, at least on the court, which is a positive for any team.”
Luckily for the Jayhawks, four players who have not been forced to the sideline are juniors Marcus and Markieff Morris, their leading scorer and top rebounder, respectively, and senior guards Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar.
“We’ve been able to dodge some bullets, having guys out, guys stepping up and playing well,” Self said. “I don’t think we would be dodging the bullets as much as we have if Brady and Tyrel were two of the components that were gone. They are a calming influence over our guys and have been our two most consistent perimeter players, especially since conference play started.”
“I think that’s just a testament to how close-knit of a group we are and how good of a job our coaches do of getting us ready to play,” he said.
Morningstar has been particularly effective in conference play. In his last six games, he has 20 assists and only two turnovers.
By Tom Harris and Madhav Khandekar
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