Thrust into the role of pseudo-savior before he even had time to warm up, Kansas University freshman Josh Selby exploded onto the scene in mid-December with one of the most memorable debuts in KU basketball history.
In a two-point victory against USC at Allen Fieldhouse, Selby scored 21 points in 27 minutes. He hit five of eight three-pointers and six of seven free throws, much to the delight of an adoring home crowd.
Since then, Selby has endured the types of ups and downs that most freshmen experience during their first seasons of college basketball. However, in the last couple of weeks, Selby has started to turn the corner. The reason? The 6-foot-2 guard from Baltimore has started to become more assertive on offense, taking the ball to the rim instead of just settling for jumpers. It’s worked. And KU coach Bill Self has noticed.
“Ever since the Texas game, I told him I was going to force-feed him to be aggressive,” Self said Thursday. “He’s gotta be aggressive or I can’t play him. And I really believe that he’s become more aggressive and (is) doing more things. He’ll shoot it better if he’s attacking the paint. He’ll pass it better if he’s attacking the paint. He just can’t sit back and be a station-to-station player.”
In 13 games this season, Selby has averaged 27 minutes per contest while scoring 12 points per game. Although there have been games where he has disappeared offensively, Self has given him time to work through it for two big reasons. First, after sitting out the first nine games of the year, Selby is just now starting to hit his mid-season stride. Second, he’s done enough positive things of other varieties to warrant the minutes, particularly of late.
“He’s not selfish. He’s not taking an abundance of shots. But he’s looking to score, and that forces help and (then) he can find other guys,” Self said. “I think he’s doing a nice job now.”
Self continued: “Sometimes when kids hear you say, ‘Be under control,’ they hear, ‘Back it out.’ (When you say) ‘We can get a better shot than that,’ they hear, ‘Don’t shoot.’ Even though you don’t say that, that’s how they interpret what you say, so it’s kind of a fine line. ‘Go.’ He understands that. And he needs to go, he needs to go. And he needs to have that freedom to know that he can go.”
Selby, by the way, has been wearing a boot on the ankle he sprained in the first half of the Kansas State game.
“He tweaked his ankle and is wearing the boot for precautionary reasons,” Self said.
Releford slow to return
Self said Thursday that red-shirt sophomore Travis Releford still had a ways to go in recovering from the ankle injury he suffered against Iowa State on Jan. 12.
“Unfortunately, for him, he turned his ankle pretty severely and he’s still not 100 percent,” Self said. “We played him (Tuesday) against Texas Tech and he did fine while he was out there, made a couple of good passes and certainly didn’t hurt us when he was out there.”
Before the injury, Releford had begun to establish himself as one of the key members of Self’s shrinking rotation. Now, the 6-foot-5 guard is fighting to get back into it.
“In tight games, I don’t want to play six perimeter players,” Self said. “So I don’t know. He’s probably gonna have to get back into that mode of either beating Mario Little out or beating one of our perimeter players out.”
Brady simply being Brady
KU guard Brady Morningstar has enjoyed the most productive offense stretch of his senior season during the past couple of weeks. In a loss to Texas, Morningstar hit 4-of-5 field goal attempts and finished with eight points. He followed that up with 14 points, on 5-of-9 shooting (4-of-7 from three-point range) in a road win at Colorado and added 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting in Tuesday’s victory at Texas Tech.
Despite his recent hot shooting, Self said Morningstar’s value to the team remained as high as ever.
“He only scored four points against K-State and he was just as important in that game as he was the (others),” Self said. “But we need he and/or Tyrel (Reed) to be able to knock down shots. That’s what they should be able to do and that’s what they’ve done consistently in their careers. He’s become very aggressive and certainly, when you’re aggressive and you’re a post-feeder, that’s usually good for your offense because guys have to guard you.”
Reed sore, Taylor fine
Self said Thursday that senior guard Tyrel Reed was suffering from a sore left foot but added that the injury should not force the senior from Burlington to sit out any time soon.
“He’s been nursing a sore foot for a month or so and it bothered him for the first time in a game in Lubbock (Texas), so I cut back on his minutes, but he’s still gonna practice, he’s still gonna play. He’s got a bone bruise. The only thing that will heal it would be time off and we don’t have time, so he’s gonna have to play with it.”
Reed said Thursday that he may wear a boot when he’s not playing or practicing to take pressure off of the foot but confirmed that he would not miss any action.
As for other injuries, Self said junior guard Tyshawn Taylor, who momentarily left the floor after twisting an ankle during Tuesday’s victory against Texas Tech, was fine and also would not miss any time.
Reed an academic whiz
KU’s Reed has been named to the 2010-11 Capital One Academic All-District 7 men’s basketball team it was announced Thursday by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Reed will now appear on the national ballot as a candidate for Capital One Academic All-America honors. Reed also has a chance to become the second-straight Jayhawk men’s basketball player to be named Academic All-American of the Year after Cole Aldrich earned that distinction last year.
DeAndre Daniels, a 6-foot-8 senior forward from IMG Academies will remain at the Bradenton, Fla., school through the spring and not attend college until the fall, Zagsblog.net reports. Daniels had considered enrolling at either KU, Texas or Kentucky second semester. Nobody in Daniels’ camp is talking publicly.