Tyshawn Taylor: ‘I’m a loveable guy, man’
KU vs. North Carolina
St. Louis ? Kansas University senior guard Tyshawn Taylor, who scored 22 points, grabbed six rebounds, dished five assists and plucked five steals in 36 minutes in the biggest game of his life, grinned when asked if Jayhawk fans would now love him forever.
He was reminded he’s had a love/hate relationship with the fans in the past.
“It’s not for me to say,” Taylor said after the Jayhawks’ 80-67 victory over North Carolina on Sunday at Edward Jones Dome. “There are still a lot of (naysayers) out there, I’m sure. Look at my body of work … I don’t understand how they can’t love me,” Taylor added, laughing.
“I’ve had some trouble on Facebook and Twitter in the past, but I think a lot of college kids do some things they regret later and learn from. I’m a loveable guy, man,” he added.
Taylor was holding court with a horde of media members in an arena hallway when junior forward Thomas Robinson motioned for him to re-enter the locker room.
Somebody asked Taylor what made Robinson (18 points, nine rebounds) so effective.
“Look at him, he’s huge,” Taylor said of the 6-foot-10, 237-pounder.
No Marshall: North Carolina was playing without point guard Kendall Marshall, who didn’t dress for the game because of a broken bone in his wrist.
“We know as a group we also caught a break today, too, with Kendall not playing,” KU coach Bill Self said. “I’m not saying that would have changed any the outcome, but we caught a break. But these guys, they wanted him to play. We talked about that.”
No fear with fouls: KU junior center Jeff Withey, on being a factor defensively after picking up his fourth foul with 3:58 left:
“I wasn’t really too worried about fouling out. I knew that if I would have backed up, they would have made a couple extra shots. So I knew I had to be aggressive still. If I fouled out, I fouled out. So I just knew I had to be aggressive and keep on trying to block shots.”
Rematch: KU will meet Ohio State in a Final Four semifinal Saturday in New Orleans. KU beat OSU, 78-67, on Dec. 10 in Allen Fieldhouse.
“I think it’s going to be good game,” Taylor said. “The last time we played them they had their best player on the bench (injured Jared Sullinger), and it was a home game, so it’s definitely their chance to get back at us. But we feel like we didn’t play our best that game, either. I didn’t play my best individually that game, and I’m sure Thomas is excited to play against Jared, so I think it’s going to be an exciting game.”
Dome woes: Taylor, who was 0-for-5 from three, has never hit a three in a dome. “I don’t even care. I don’t care one bit. I don’t like domes, but you know what, domes love me, it seems like, because we won. Is New Orleans a dome, too?” he asked.
Informed yes, he said: “Oh, man. You know what, hopefully that can change in New Orleans. But like I said yesterday, I’m going to keep shooting it because I got to. I got to make the defense respect that. I got to keep them honest. I’m going to get it to fall. I’m going to get it to fall.”
Robinson on this team overachieving: “That makes the feeling even more better. When people doubt you, I know myself, personally, I think that’s when I perform my best, when somebody doubts me. And as a team together, we knew that we could do it. But it took a lot of work. It just wasn’t a cakewalk. This moment is great to have, but you just want to finish our business now.”
KU fans galore: Self estimated there had to be 20,000 KU fans in the crowd of 24,107. “Our fans supported us great. It fired up our guys seeing all the blue in there,” he said. “We got energy from that. So that was good for us. But these guys, nothing fazes them. No matter what the situation is, they just think that they’re going to figure it out. And certainly they figured it out tonight.”
Taylor noted: “We had a lot of love in there tonight. I appreciate our fans. They’re always with us. No matter where we’re at, I feel like we always got a good fan base. So shout out to our fans for just supporting us and showing us a lot of love.”
Gimmick D: Self was asked about the triangle-and-two defense he employed with eight minutes left.
“We thought we’d go to it, but I thought we could really pressure (Stilman) White and (Justin) Watts. And we did,” Self said. “We did a great job on them the first half. They had nine points, eight assists and zero turnovers. Unbelievable. They played great. And we didn’t do a good job of that. So much for pressuring.
“They did a good job of releasing pressure in the backcourt with ball screens and things like that. And then we knew we were going to go to it, I thought the key was just pick the right time to go to it. And fortunately it kind of worked out for us.
“They got some open looks. Fortunately, they didn’t knock them down. And then sometimes when you get an open look, you don’t knock it down, you think a little bit, and that’s kind of what it does.
“But we were able to keep the ball out of their bigs’ hands and take away their two shooters. And the thing about it is, you got to rebound out of it. And you know, they’re a great rebounding team, but I thought we rebounded the ball as well as we have in a long time tonight.”
All-tourney team: Joining Robinson, Taylor and Jeff Withey on the all Midwest Regional team were North Carolina’s Tyler Zeller and Ohio’s Walter Offutt. Robinson was most outstanding player.