Kansas University senior Conner Teahan knows what is expected of him as the Jayhawks’ first or second guy off the bench.
“If I’m out there, I need to be scoring points,” said Teahan, a 6-foot-5, 215-pound guard out of Kansas City Rockhurst High School. He’s known as KU’s most accurate outside shooter entering Saturday’s 4:15 p.m. home game against South Florida (5-3).
“Coach always says for me (the important thing) is making shots,” added Teahan, whose three first-half three-pointers helped the Jayhawks jump-start the offense in Tuesday’s 77-54 victory over Florida Atlantic.
He entered that game after a 1-for-6 showing from beyond the arc in KU’s three games at the Maui Invitational.
“I really wanted to get back out there. Maui wasn’t a great thing for me,” Teahan said. “I was very disappointed in the way I played when we were out there struggling. I have to come in and provide a spark.”
Of course, it’s way too early to pinpoint trends during the 2011-12 season. Yet through six games, Teahan has fared better at home than at neutral sites. Counting two exhibition games, he’s made 13 of 19 threes in Allen Fieldhouse, good for 68.4 percent. In Maui and against Kentucky (2-of-5), he connected on three of 11 from beyond the arc.
“I don’t know what it was. In Maui, I felt comfortable. I didn’t get a ton of looks. Then against Georgetown (1-of-5) ... sometimes you are going to shoot them and they are not going to go in. It was a little more difficult (getting open vs. Georgetown, UCLA and Duke). They were focusing in on me, Duke especially. It was kind of funny. I was guarding Dawkins (Andre, Duke) and it was like, ‘Do not leave him. Do not leave him.’ I felt it was the exact same way when they were guarding me.
“Obviously I love shooting at home,” he added. “I shoot it in the fieldhouse and practice gym all the time. It’s something I’m definitely used to, the surroundings, and it’s not too bad when you have 16,000 fans cheering for you.”
Coach Bill Self encourages Teahan to shoot when there’s the slightest space to do so.
“He doesn’t do as good a job of getting open as some guys do,” Self said. “He has to focus on that. People aren’t going to let him get his feet set. Even with that, you’ve accomplished something that’s very positive (when Teahan is in game). You’ve stretched the defense which isolates Thomas (Robinson) more in the post.”
Teahan, who red-shirted last season and played sparingly his three seasons before that, is still learning some nuances of the game: like knowing it’s still OK to fire away after missing.
“I sit there and talk to myself, ‘Hey you’ve got to forget about missing shots,’” Teahan said. “If I’m open I’m going to take the shot because that’s what the team wants me to do.”
Self explained: “Conner has a short memory. He remembers just the good stuff, which is a good way to be. He’s kind of like Mario (Chalmers) in that regard. He has not played the same number of minutes yet probably to have the same comfort level of Brady (Morningstar) or Tyrel (Reed). The guy can really shoot. We have to do a better job of getting him looks. If he gets four looks a game, I’m confident he’ll make at least two of them. He is important to us.”
South Florida of the Big East Conference has defeated Vermont, Marist, Florida Southern, Georgia Southern and Florida Atlantic and lost to Old Dominion, Penn State and VCU. KU beat Florida Atlantic, 77-54, while USF also stopped the Owls, 68-55. Coach Stan Heath’s Bulls are led by sophomore guard/forward Victor Rudd and senior forward Augustus Gilchrist, who averages 12.5 and 11.6 ppg. Preseason All-Big East pick Gilchrist averages 6.8 rebounds. He’s missed the last three games because of a shoulder injury, but is expected to play Saturday. Senior forward Ron Anderson contributes 11.0 ppg and 7.6 rpg. The school is located in Tampa, Fla., with an enrollment of 47,576.
“Their defense is excellent. They really guard. It’ll be a tough game. A Big East opponent coming in here ... we don’t see that every night,” Self said.