Archive for Sunday, December 18, 2005

Keegan: KU must improve at point

December 18, 2005


It will take weeks to get over the disappointment of failing to win a drawing for a high-definition TV.

The plan was to have two high-def idiot boxes side-by-side to make it easier to watch two games at once. Sadly, I had to settle for flipping back and forth with the remote between the Louisville-Kentucky and Tennessee-Texas games.

You can only see so much watching half a game, but this much was obvious: Kansas University can beat Texas up and down the floor and therefore has a chance to upset the Longhorns. As the players ran off the court into the locker room to get yelled at, a graphic flashed on the TV revealing that Texas was outscored 100-61 in the second half against Duke and first half vs. Tennessee.

What else was obvious?

Kentucky do-it-all point guard Rajon Rondo is better than any player KU has faced. Better than Arizona's Hassan Adams. Better than Arkansas' Ronnie Brewer. Better than Nevada's Nick Fazekas. Better than Saint Joseph's sharpshooter Chet Stachitas.

None of which changes the key to KU's season: improved point-guard play.

KU faces Pepperdine, Northern Colorado, New Orleans and Yale before Rondo invades Allen Fieldhouse on Jan. 5. There's no telling who will be the Jayhawks' point guard by then.

Freshman Mario Chalmers used the week not only to take his finals, but to get back to basics in basketball practice. He studied just what it was about Stephen Vinson's play against Cal that made the Jayhawks tick.

"Steve likes to make the basic pass, and that's just what coach is looking for right now," Chalmers said. "I just try to come to practice and do what coach wants me to do instead of doing my own thing, trying to make the simple pass in practice."

That can be tougher than it sounds. It can be frustrating.

"It is at times because I see things that I want to do," Chalmers said. "I just need to let it go by and make the simple play. Once I get more comfortable, I can try to make the fancy play."

KU coach Bill Self said Chalmers had a strong week of practice, and senior Christian Moody said the same of all the freshmen.

"I think the freshmen saw something different in Steve, and I think it's helped us in practice this week," Moody said. "He showed kind of what a point guard needs to do. The other guys see the energy he brings when he's out there, and it makes us a much better team."

Despite the strong practices, Chalmers said he did not expect to start Monday against Pepperdine. Surely, such a move would make him more confident.

"It would probably boost my confidence up a little," Chalmers said. "But right now, I just want to get better within the team concept, just work toward getting my starting spot. I don't want anything given to me."

Chalmers, who has 13 turnovers in 28 minutes against Pac-10 teams, is a .273 three-point shooter, a number he vows will improve.

"I think with every player, when your shot's falling, you get more energy, more confidence," he said. "When your shot's not falling, you just have to try to find another place to bring energy."


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