Kansas junior shooting guard Svi Mykhailiuk scored in double figures in 13 of 17 games from Nov. 29 to Feb. 4.
“I thought he was on a real roll about three weeks ago,” Kansas coach Bill Self said Thursday at his weekly news conference.
Mykhailiuk, a 6-foot-8, 205-pound Cherkasy, Ukraine, native has encountered hard times of late however. He has cashed 3 of his last 18 threes over the last five games and has been limited to single digits in points the last seven games entering Saturday’s 5 p.m., regular-season finale at Oklahoma State.
“He hasn’t played as well of late,” Self said. “I don’t think he’s been quite as aggressive.
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“A lot of people equate aggressiveness to shooting the ball. I would equate it more to putting yourself in a position to make plays. It could be a 50/50 ball. It could be a hard block-out. It could be a lot of different things,” Self added, while indicating there’s a simple solution to Mykhailiuk’s current problems.
“He needs to quit thinking and just start playing,” Self said. “I think everybody goes through that sometimes, but him being a junior now, he knows his value to our team. He knows he’s got to be more aggressive. Now it’s just a matter of him going out and doing it.”
Mykhailiuk was 2 of 4 on three-pointers — and 2 of 6 overall — and scored six points in KU’s Feb. 22 home victory over TCU that clinched at least a share of the Jayhawks’ 13th-straight Big 12 title.
He’s scored just two points in each of the last two games — wins over Texas and Oklahoma — missing seven threes without a make.
“I don’t make a big deal about it, but I’ve talked to Svi,” Self said. “I’ve even thought about, would it help him maybe, would he feel less pressure coming off the bench?”
Mykhailiuk has started 19 of the last 20 games, being replaced on Senior Night by senior Tyler Self.
Sophomore Lagerald Vick, who has been on an uptick with two double-figure scoring games in his last five (14 points vs. West Virginia and 11 vs. Oklahoma) started five consecutive nonconference games from Nov. 25 to Dec. 10, before giving way to Mykhailiuk.
“Lagerald gives us such energy off the bench normally,” Self said. Vick has made 7 of his last 13 threes over the last five games.
“But Lagerald and Svi, if you look at them over time, one’s been good and one hasn’t been as good,” Self added. “Over the course of the season, they both had good (stretches). but they both had ruts, too. I think our best chance moving forward is to try to get Svi to come out of this, because I think Lagerald at least in the last couple of weeks has been consistent enough that we know what we’re getting from him and I certainly like what we’re seeing from him.”
Vick was 3 of 3 on three-pointers in Monday’s win over Oklahoma. He had 11 points and four rebounds in 22 minutes.
“I think if you are coming off the bench, it’s obviously great to change the pace or the energy level,” Self said. “A guy off the bench needs to breathe life into his team. I think Lagerald has done that.
“I think personality allows to you do that more. I think athletic ability allows to you do it more. But also scoring also allows you to do it more. You talk all the time about getting points off the bench. Even though it’s kind of a stat that’s way, way, way overrated, it does bring merit in knowing that, you can take out a starter and have somebody off the bench that can actually add something, give you something more. Certainly Lagerald has done that.”
Senior forward Landen Lucas believes Mykhailiuk will return to his early-season form soon.
“It’s really just mental,” Lucas said. “We know he’s a good player. Throughout a long season you are going to go through lots of ups and downs. The key is getting it back in time for the (NCAA) tournament. He’ll get it back. If it’s going to happen, now is the time before we get into the real serious stuff.”
Nothing’s guaranteed, yet
Has Big 12 regular-season champion Kansas (27-3, 15-2) wrapped up a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament entering Saturday’s game at Oklahoma State?
“No. No, I don’t think so. A victory Saturday … I could probably say that, but I’m not going to. I’m not going to go there,” Self said.
Self won’t be cutting minutes
Self isn’t planning on resting his rotation players.
“Think about it,” Self said. “We played Monday. We’re off Tuesday. We practiced 30 minutes (Wednesday) — 15 of it was shooting. We’ll be off Sunday. We’ll be off Monday. We’ll play the Big 12 Tournament. Regardless of what happens, we’ll be off Sunday. We’ll be off Monday. With that much time off, I don’t think taking them out and playing them five-less minutes in a game will impact them at all.
“I think it will be the same regardless. We’re going to play to try to win, and I think our guys would be really disappointed in me personally if they thought that I was doing anything different.”
Lucas agreed there’s no need to reduce minutes.
“Just because we want to win,” Lucas said. “For some of us, it’s our last Big 12 game. We take pride in it. We don’t want to lose any momentum. That’s probably the biggest key for us going into the last couple games.”
100-point game revisited
Thursday marked the 55th anniversary of Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in the NBA. Chamberlain, who had played in college for KU, hit 36 of 63 shots from the field and was 28 of 32 from the line in Philadelphia’s 169-147 victory over the New York Knicks on March 2, 1962 in Philly. He also grabbed 25 rebounds.
“Lonzo Ball’s brother got pretty close. Didn’t he get to 90 or whatever it was?” Self said. KU’s coach was referring to high schooler LaMelo Ball, who scored 92 points in a high school game in California this season.
“But at the NBA level, I guess it could (happen again),” Self added. “What did Kobe (Bryant) get, 81, something like that? (Bryant did socre 81 points for the Lakers in a 2006 game.) But there’s a big difference between 81 and 100. I personally don’t think that I’ll see it in my lifetime, but who knows?”
Players pick Mason
KU’s Frank Mason would win the Wooden Award, which goes to the country’s top player, if the Wooden candidates could pick the recipient, ESPN.com reports. Reporter C.L. Brown polled the 20 players on the late-season list of Wooden Award candidates to see who they’d vote for national player of the year.
Mason received seven of 18 first-place votes (two players did not respond) to place first . He was followed by Villanova’s Josh Hart, Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan, UCLA’s Ball and North Carolina’s Justin Jackson. KU’s Josh Jackson received two votes. Players could not vote for themselves.
Mason, by the way, needs 12 points and seven assists at Oklahoma State on Saturday to become the first player in Big 12 history to average 20 or more points per game and five or more assists per game in a season.
KU coach Bill Self watched Iowa Western big man De’Quon Lake score 16 points and grab 13 rebounds boards in Iowa Western’s 108-87 victory over Northeast (Neb.) Community College on Wednesday in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Lake, a 6-10 sophomore, is reportedly being recruited by LSU, Arizona State, Rutgers, West Virginia, Creighton, Oregon State, UMKC, Iowa State, Evansville and others. Lake is originally from the U.S. Virgin Islands. Self on Wednesday also attended a Hutchinson Community College workout of Shakur Juiston, a 6-foot-7, 215-pound sophomore forward originally out of Paterson (N.J.) Eastside High School.