"I'm catching on..."

Quintrell Thomas was feeling down. Normally a quiet guy, Thomas was even more reserved after a rough three-game stretch heading into the Kent State game on Dec. 1.

Quintrell Thomas, KU’s 6-7 freshman forward, went scoreless and grabbed just three rebounds in a combined 14 minutes against Washington, Syracuse and Coppin State,
“I really wasn’t playing as well as I should have been,” Thomas said. “After the Coppin State game (on Nov. 28), I was real upset in the locker room and he (coach Bill Self) could tell. I came in the next morning. When we were going over film, he showed me I wasn’t going after rebounds and I wasn’t putting myself in position to score. He said if I get in the game and not doing what I’m supposed to, then he can’t keep me in there.

“After he told me what I wasn’t doing, I’m just trying to pick it up.”

Thomas scored four points and had three rebounds the following game against  Kent State on Monday before breaking loose for 10 points and seven boards in 17 minutes in KU’s 100-79 victory over New Mexico State on Wednesday night. He made all five of his shots.

He gave KU a lift in the first half with 12 quality minutes filling in for foul-plagued big men Cole Aldrich (two fouls) and Marcus and Markieff Morris (two fouls each). Thomas also performed admirably in the second half, scoring four points with two boards in five minutes.

“Anytime you get an opportunity to get in the game, especially if you haven’t been playing as much, anything you do that’s good gives you leeway for the next game,” Thomas said. “It’s like now the coach gets a little more confidence in you. That’s what the other coaches (assistant) have been telling me. I just got to do something to give him (Self) more confidence.”

Self was certainly pleased with Thomas’s effort.

“I thought Q played well the whole game,” Self said. “I thought he played well, but thought he was better the second half than he was the first half.”

“I would say he needed that,” Self added about Thomas’s 10 points. “I also think Tyrel (Reed, 12 points) needed it, too, because Tyrel hadn’t shot the ball well yet this year. For him to come in and make four threes, I think that will do wonders for his confidence also. I think that was good that both of them had good games.”  

Freshman guard Tyshawn Taylor was  happy for his roommate Thomas. He knew his buddy hadn’t been in the best spirits lately.

“I think I noticed it more than everybody else because he would go in his room and shut the door and not really talk that much,” Taylor said. “I feel like that’s things people go through. Players go through that everywhere. He got his chance and played well. He’s showing coach he wants playing time and deserves it.

“If he keeps working hard, I’m sure he’ll be fine.”

Thomas said it’s been a big adjustment to major college basketball after starring at St. Patrick High School in Elizabeth, N.J.

“It’s just constant, constant motion,” he said. “In high school, you might get a chance to cool down, especially if you’re one of the better players. You might jog down a time or two. Here, he (Self) doesn’t really allow you to jog at all. He wants you to run as hard as you can at all times.
“I’m catching on. You got to get yourself in good shape to play here. I just got to work harder in practice to get to that level.”

Taylor has no doubt about his roommate's bright future.
“I think he can become great,” Taylor said. “I think he’s really going to surprise some people.”

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