A student of the game of basketball, particularly the art of shooting, Kansas University freshman guard Andrew White III regularly pores over film of NBA greats Ray Allen, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki and Reggie Miller.
The CliffsNotes version of what the 6-foot-6, 210-pounder from Richmond, Va., has picked up on tape:
“Reggie was a cold killer. His mentality, cockiness. He knew he was a good shooter. That’s a lot of what made him a great player,” White said of the former Indiana Pacers phenom.
“I like the follow-through Dirk has,” White added of the Dallas Mavericks’ sensation.
“What I see in Kobe the most ... he knows how to create separation just with his body, his shoulder movement,” he noted of the Lakers’ star. “Ray Allen (Miami Heat) gets his feet set and parallel quick. He gets his shot off quick. There’s a lot I take from everybody. I’m always looking at shooters specifically to see what they are doing well.”
White, who has cashed two of five three-pointers while playing sparingly in four of KU’s first six games, believes he knows exactly what it will take to start to earn meaningful minutes and perhaps someday have a career that rivals his favorites.
“What we are going to do in the next hour ... that’s the best way to get through to coach (Bill Self). You’ve got to compete,” White said, speaking right before Wednesday’s practice. “With coach, if you are confident, working hard, defending, rebounding, keeping a competitive edge, that’s what will get you on the court. At this level, it’s not about shooting or defending, it’s about how much a coach trusts you on both ends of the court.”
White, who acknowledged he is a patient person, has found a way to energize himself. Instead of complaining about the four minutes of playing time he received in KU’s last game against San Jose State, he savors each and every second of that stint.
“I get out there and play as hard as I can for that minute, two minutes. I enjoy being out there just for the time I am. That’s my motivation to push for more minutes,” White said. “I know I shoot the ball well. I know defense is something you have to do to stay on the court. I think I’m a good rebounder. I think my defense is coming along. We have a talented group with a lot of guys older than me. There are a lot of things I can do better. Coach wants to see the best out of all of us.”
White, who averaged 23 points and 10 rebounds a game last season at Miller School in Charlottesville, Va., said it took him awhile to adjust to the speed of the college game.
“You’ve got to make decisions on the fly,” he said. “That’s a big part of the game, being able to react quickly.”
Self said he has high hopes for White, who against SJSU was 0-for-1 from the field, 1-for-2 from the free-throw line and had a steal.
“What he does best now is shoot it,” Self said. “I’m OK with that. Taking care of the ball, understanding a little bit more what we’re doing ... Andrew is going to be a good player. He reminds me a lot of Conner (Teahan). It’s going to take him a little bit of time to get comfortable. He only played four minutes the other day. I thought he actually did well in the four minutes he was out there.”
Elijah’s OK: Self said senior Elijah Johnson, who had some knee swelling after the Nov. 20 game against Saint Louis, should be ready for Friday’s game against Oregon State (7 p.m., Sprint Center).
“He should be fine moving forward,” Self said, noting Johnson has to get to the free-throw line more. He has made six of seven all season. “I learned a long time ago, if you are out there, you have to perform. There’s nothing structurally going on with him, so if he doesn’t have quite the same pop he had before, then he shouldn’t be out there because if you are out there, we expect it. That’s the way it is with any athlete. I learned that from Keith Langford’s mother back when Keith played. I kept saying, ‘But his knee is bothering him.’ She said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa ... if he’s out there he’s got to produce or he shouldn’t be out there.’” That is the reality of it. He’s got to produce.”
Shuffling: Self commented on realignment in the wake of Wednesday’s announcement that Louisville had joined the ACC.
“It’s amazing to me the movement that could potentially occur in the immediate future,” Self said. “Everybody thought it was pretty much status quo, and there’s one guy working it behind the scenes that’s really good that has now changed the whole landscape of what’s going on, and that’s (Big Ten commissioner) Jim Delany. With what he’s done with the Big Ten (adding Rutgers, Maryland), it’s now caused a trickle down.
“The SEC is going to poach somebody now,” Self said. “They’re going to go to 16. The ACC is going to have 16. But, the SEC may poach the ACC, so now that’s going to screw that number up. So where are we on this stuff? I sure Mr. Bowlsby (Bob, Big 12 commissioner) and the presidents are in discussion about at least procedurally what would be our next move? ... We are going to stay at 10, which is the perfect number, but going forward is that really reasonable to be at 10 when everybody else is gonna go (16)?”
Self said he thought the Big 12 was solid.
“With the situation with the SEC and the Big 12 in football, the alliance, the new television deal, I mean, we are in great shape. I don’t feel like there’s any need to rush to do anything.”
“I do think there should be talks in case, a contingency plan. Who knows where that will go moving forward?”
Volleyball: Self applauded the efforts of KU’s NCAA-bound volleyball team at his weekly news conference. Of the fact his basketball team plays Oregon State at 7 p.m. Friday in Kansas City, Mo., and the volleyball team plays at 6:30 p.m. Friday against Cleveland State in Allen Fieldhouse, Self said: “I said last night (on his radio show), I don’t want our fans not to come to the Sprint Center to go support volleyball. If they have basketball tickets, come to basketball. Go to see Ray (Bechard, volleyball coach) the next day (Saturday in second round if KU wins Friday). But if you’re not planning on going to the basketball game, then go watch Ray and his team because they are fun to watch.”
Famous coach: Oregon State is coached by Craig Robinson, brother-in-law of President Barack Obama. Robinson played for the Princeton team that knocked Self’s Oklahoma State team out of the 1983 NCAA Tournament in the first round.