Not a Dry Jersey in the House

The Jayhawks may be only playing pickup games during the summer, but recent battles on the hardwood reinforced that these match-ups aren't meaningless. You can tell that the players want to be there. They want to get better and get into shape. It's obvious that the team is always having a good time during the games.

There's an alley-oop here and a ribbing there, but they still work hard, and you won't find any of the players in a dry jersey at the end of the night.

The defense they display each meeting makes it clear that they are there to improve, and not just play street ball. Here are a few guys that played well on the "other end" of the court:

Sherron Collins: Surprise! He's quick on defense, too. He'll be hard to drive on with such quick feet. He and Russell Robinson guarded each other for the better part of the night, and while Sherron has a ways to go before matching Russell on the defensive end, his fundamentals are smooth. Slide in front of the defender (this is where his quick feet come in handy) and get a hand in his face. On one possession, Robinson tried to drive down the right baseline but was cut off by a shuffling Collins. After being cut off, Russell took one dribble back and let go a turn around jumper that fell short because Collins was quick enough to elevate in time to get a hand in his face.

Robinson did a good job of keeping Collins in check, and he rarely tested Russell by driving to the basket. During other games, when a non-Jayhawk would guard him (usually there are three “scrubs” that aren’t on the team but are good enough to scrimmage), Collins made it rain. He shot five for six on the night - all of them three pointers. He showed his toughness as well by spending his share of time on the ground as on his feet. His jersey had met the floor four times by the end of the night. On one occasion he was diving for a ball, but the others were from getting banged around by bigger players under the goal. He was visibly shaken up one of those times, but ended up being fine. We may have the next Dwayne Wade on our hands here from a toughness standpoint.

Hopefully we’ll see nice chemistry between Robinson and Collins on the offensive end, but perhaps more importantly they’ll make each other better by playing against each other during scrimmages. Sherron took a couple of alley oops from Russell after practice.

Matt Kleinman: One way to get some playing time off the bench is through defense, and tonight Kleinman showed us something. He gave Julian Wright a hard time when they were matched up. Kleinman had one great defensive rebound over Wright, a couple of blocks, and also stuck some guys under the basket with no where to go by simply holding his ground and keeping his hands up. He’s showing more confidence too. He’s the first to speak up when there’s a discrepancy as to whose ball it is when it rolls out of bounds (the extra commentary between the guys is entertaining in itself when that happens). When Matt sets a pick at the top of the key, he’ll roll and call for the ball like he wants it rather than just going through the motions. He may not get a lot of playing time, but it’s good to know that he’ll be testing the starters during practice to make them better.

Darnell Jackson: He played big inside, and got three defensive rebounds in one game (two of them on consecutive possessions). He ran the court well tonight, and was on the receiving end of a wide open alley-oop dunk from Mario Chalmers on a fast break.

Rodrick Stewart: Stewart didn’t do much on the defensive end tonight, but his shooting again needs to be noted. If he’s open, it’s going in; simple as that. He and Collins were both lights out tonight. Rodrick was four for five.

All in all, the hustle was what stuck out tonight. Things like Julian Wright missing an opportunity for a blocked shot, and showing his frustration by jumping up, hitting the glass with both hands and yelling “Ahhh! I shoulda’ trapped it!” Stuff like that shows they want to improve during the summer. The practices only last an hour, but there’s little stop time in between games and everyone gets a workout.


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