Taylor Trying To Conquer Mental Game

Tyshawn Taylor entered his sophomore season last year with great expectations after an impressive freshman campaign and then leading the United States to a gold medal in the U19 World Championships.

However, he never lived up to his promise in 2009-10 — both on and off the court. The 6-3 KU guard first dislocated his thumb in September during a fight between the Kansas basketball and football teams, which he publicized on facebook. Later during the season, Taylor talked about confusion regarding his role on the team, while posting on facebook about possibly transferring before head coach Bill Self ordered him to take down his profile.
   
On the court, Tyshawn Taylor's play was inconsistent. He lost his starting job for two games in December to Elijah Johnson. Then, in mid-January, he was replaced by Brady Morningstar before returning as a starter a month later.
   
The New Jersey native started 25 of 36 games, averaging 7.2 points in 23.1 minutes per contest while shooting 43.8 percent from the field. Those numbers were down from his freshman season, when he started 33 of 35 games, averaging 9.7 points in 26.5 minutes per contest while shooting 50.6 percent from the floor.
   
Now, Taylor enters a pivotal junior season ready for a fresh start. He already has renewed confidence from Self. The KU coach let Taylor reopen his facebook page. Taylor is also on Twitter.
   
It seems this is a new, matured Tyshawn Taylor. He's thinking the right thoughts and saying the right words.

For Taylor, he's all about the Jayhawks.

"My focus is on my team, and that's it and nothing else," said Taylor, who had an impressive exhibition opener in KU's 92-62 victory over Washburn Tuesday night in Allen Fieldhouse with 12 points (4-6 FG), three assists and two steals in 22 minutes.

"I want my team to be good, I want us to be better, and (that's) my focus."

Taylor is hoping an improved focus will help his play. He admits inconsistency has been a major problem during his career.

"I think it's more mental than anything with me," Taylor said. "I think a lot and I think too much. If I make a turnover I'm thinking, ‘Don't make another one,' instead of, ‘Make a good play or just play solid.' I think it's just mentally with me but I think I could be a real good player and I think I think I will beat it."

He aims to beat his mental mistakes learning from the lessons that Sherron Collins taught him the last two years.

"He taught me to just not think about anything, go out there and play, don't think so much," Taylor said. "I think Sherron has the best non memory I've seen in my life. If he missed a shot or took a bad shot, it wouldn't affect him at all. He'd come out and shoot it again. I'm not saying I'm just going to be shooting shots, but it's his same mentality: forget about the last play, just keep playing."

With a free mind, Taylor hopes to come up big this year— as a player and leader.

"I think I could," Taylor said about becoming a good leader. "I think I need to be more vocal and lead better by example, but those are things I'm taking and those are the things I know I'll have to do, so I'm going to continue to try to do (it)."

Self said Taylor could grow into a fine leader. He's been impressed with his offseason and how much he's matured since last year.

"I think Tyshawn has had a good spring, summer and fall," Self said. "He's certainly on the uptick compared at times last year. I'm proud of him because I think in some ways he certainly has used last year as motivation to better himself."

Taylor is plenty motivated this season. He is excited to play a more uptempo style with one of the most athletic teams of the Self era.

"That's my game," Taylor said. "I love to get up and go. I think for us to play fast, it's going to start on the defensive end. We're going to have to put pressure on their guards, our bigs are going to have to help us if we pressure and they beat us. I think defensively, if we pressure and do what we're supposed to do, offensively, when we get the chance to run and get fastbreaks and throw some lobs and stuff like that, it's going to be fun."

Taylor is also looking forward to playing with freshman phenom guard Josh Selby. That is, if Selby is declared eligible by the NCAA.

"I think we're going to be great when we play together," Taylor said. "He's athletic, he can shoot it, he can do some things. I think it's going to be fun."

While KU lost stars Collins, Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry, Taylor believes KU can be a great team with other players like himself ready to step up.

"We're hungry, we just want to win," Taylor said. "We want to be better every day, so we're going to come in here and work like we want to win."

After his troubles last season, Taylor would like nothing more than to be known as a winner and fulfill his great potential.

On and off the court.

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