Written by: Joe Ryan
Big news coming from Lawrence, Kansas. Bill Self has just about had it with this team and a specific individual. Listen, this team is done surprising me. They can do absolutely nothing to shock me anymore. They can lose in the Round of 64 or win the National Championship and I would not be shocked if either happened. But, Bill Self has just about had it.
After Kansas lost their third game in Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday, when Oklahoma State came in and absolutely kicked Kansas’ ass, Bill Self decided he wanted to make some changes. And honestly, it’s about damn time. Kansas is going back to their original Bill Self look, three guards and two bigs as Mitch Lightfoot is being inserted into the starting lineup for LaGerald Vick for the foreseeable future.
New Starting 5:
PG; Devonte Graham
SG: Malik Newman
SF: Svi Mykhailiuk
PF: Mitch Lightfoot
C: Udoka Azibuke
Obviously, Bill Self is not going to make a move in which it hurts his team. He is a Hall of Fame coach who loves to win and hates losing even more. This move is obviously going to help Kansas. The Jayhawks, as mentioned, go back to their bread and butter and do what they’re best at with the two bigs. There is a guarantee that the Jayhawks will play much better defense, rebound the ball more efficiently, and actually try hard. Another key is that Svi gets to return to his normal position. Svi is playing offense at the four, and most importantly, playing defense at the four. He’s doing an okay job, but that’s not his position. That is one of the reasons behind Kansas’ defensive woes and being out-rebounded night in and night out. This move will put a band-aid on that to stop the bleeding.
We all know the cons. It is no secret. We have no depth now in the front-court. We’re playing both our front-court players to start the game, and if one or both of them get in early foul trouble, the Jayhawks are in trouble because you can’t just sub one in for another. Now, the Hawks do have Silvio De Sousa, but he has shown that he is not ready for the bigger moments yet. Can this turn out to be bad for Kansas? Yes. But Mitch Lightfoot is a smart player and he knows he needs to stay out of foul trouble.
But maybe I can spin this to be a positive, and that is with Silvio De Sousa. All I’ve been hearing is that the kid shows amazing stuff in practice but can’t do that in games because he’s not settled into the momentum of the game. However, this can lead to more playing time for de Sousa, if Lightfoot and Udoka get tired or in foul trouble. De Sousa can play through his struggles instead of getting the hook within the first two minutes of him playing. If this move can get De Sousa more minutes and playing more comfortable, this can lead to a Kansas Big 12 title and a deep run in the tournament.
What it means for LaGerald Vick:
Here’s the thing: LaGerald Vick isn’t trying as hard I don’t now why; I don’t know what his thought process is, I don’t know if he’s going through things, or if he’s just tired physically, emotionally and mentally. This is a kid who has two daughters and he’s doing everything he can to support them. I respect that so much. It might be tough for him that he is away from them and I get that and I feel for him, but his job right now his playing high-level basketball for the Kansas Jayhawks and everything else will work out. Guaranteed. I’m not trying bring his kids into this but what I’m saying is, for all the Kansas fans out there that are trashing him and giving him a hard time, these kids are 18-22 years old and they go through stuff. It happens. They are kids. I understand what it’s like to be a college kid with lofty expectations—it takes a lot.
With that being said, LaGerald Vick does need to try a lot harder. This is a player who was averaging 17 points and seven rebounds before the Texas game, and ever since then, he’s been averaging seven points and 4 rebounds. That is a massive drop-off for a player with a lot of talent. He is so athletic and has too good of a shot to only get seven & four.
But the positive for Vick? Bill Self loves his guys; he doesn’t give up on them and he pushes all the right buttons to get the most out of his players. Every player is different and Bill pushes different buttons for different guys, but he gets the same results: the most out of them.
If Vick has the right mindset and listens to what Bill Self says, he, too, will get the most out of himself. Vick is going to the NBA at one point or another, but he needs to want to get there. He needs to want to put on that Kansas uniform and he needs to want to try hard and win. That comes within himself. And I think, from what I’ve seen with Bill Self getting the most out of his players, this is a good move for Vick.