Tyrel Reed, who averaged 20.7 minutes per game a year ago compared to 15.2 mpg this still-young season, isn’t stressed over reduced playing time.
“I understand playing time is going to be hard to come by. We’ve got a lot of good players right now. Whoever is playing best at the time will get the minutes,” said Reed, Kansas University’s 6-foot-3, 183-pound combo guard from Burlington.
The junior scored three points with three assists and two steals in 11 minutes in Tuesday’s 84-69 victory over California in Allen Fieldhouse.
For the year, he’s averaged 4.7 points off 42.9 percent shooting. He’s converted 13 of 33 threes (39.0 percent) and has dished 17 assists against just four turnovers.
“We are deep, which gives us an opportunity whenever you are out there to play as hard as you can,” said Reed, who last year averaged 6.5 points per game. He hit 40.7 percent of his shots, including 49 of 126 threes (38.9 percent). He totaled 37 assists, 36 turnovers.
“We’ve got a lot of guys to throw at teams. Everybody has to give 100 percent when they are out there,” Reed added.
KU added another player to the perimeter mix two games ago when Brady Morningstar returned from a one-semester suspension.
“It’s great to see Brady back out there,” Reed said of the 6-3 junior guard out of Free State High. “He’s been through a lot and had a great attitude through it all. He’s a great defender and ball-mover. It’s great to see him out there for us.”
Also in the mix for second-semester minutes is freshman Jeff Withey, a former Arizona center who was ineligible first semester in accordance with NCAA transfer rules.
Coach Bill Self, who had a nine-man rotation Tuesday — Elijah Johnson entered early but played just one minute — just might expand his core group.
“I subbed too much early, way too much,” Self said. “I did it because the game was so fast. I told myself I was going to give Elijah a chance to guard (Jerome) Randle. He went by him right off the bat.
“I do think Elijah deserves to be out there. I think C.J. (Henry) probably deserves to be out there some, but in a game like that, I don’t see how you could say those other guys needed to come out because everybody was playing pretty well.”
Self said the unlimited practice time the Jayhawks will have from Saturday night until the start of second-semester classes on Jan. 14 will help Morningstar and Withey enter into the mix.
“We’ll have unlimited practice time. We can go twice a day if we want,” Self said. “We always feel with our teams that some of the greatest improvement has occurred over semester break.”
Reed has noticed that improvement in his previous two years at KU.
“I think we are a work in progress,” Reed said of the Jayhawks, 11-0 heading into an 8 p.m. home contest against Belmont next Tuesday. “We’ve got a lot of guys and are still trying to figure some things out with the rotation. We just had Brady come back and Jeff come back.
“As a team, we haven’t gotten real good until after Christmas break. We get a lot of time to put in our sets and work on basketball because there’s no set amount of time we can practice. Once that comes around, I think we’re going to get better fast,” Reed added.
Senior Sherron Collins said he loves when it’s all basketball and no studies.
“It’ll be tough ... we’ll have two a days,” Collins said. “Like coach said the other day: ‘Nobody’s here. No family. No friends. It’s just me and you.’ It’s fun,” Collins added. “I’ve done it four years. I’m enjoying it all.”
Self realizes the Jayhawks can improve in many areas.
“Our guys have to learn to have killer instinct. Our guys have to learn to play to that (key) possession as opposed to playing when the possessions don’t count,” Self said. “To me if you turn it over, you have to be the best defender on the other end because you can’t compound that turnover. We don’t have that. I think our guys are 100 percent in agreement we have to be better than this.”