Former Kansas guard Aaron Miles made sure to watch every Jayhawks basketball game while playing for PBC Lokomotive Kuban last year in Russia.
One thing in particular stood out about Jayhawks guard Wayne Selden.
“I always used to say, ‘Man, he’s got to use his physicality more,’ ” said Miles, who is now the Jayhawks’ assistant director of student-athlete development. “A lot of times he used to try to be quicker than people, whereas, ‘You’re bigger than anybody — everybody. Just use your strength.’ ”
Selden did that at a crucial time Saturday in top-seeded KU’s 73-61 victory over ninth-seeded Connecticut in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Wells Fargo Arena. With the win, the Jayahwks advance to play Maryland about 8:40 p.m. Thursday in Louisville, Ky.
After the Huskies trimmed the deficit to nine in the second half, Selden drove from the right wing before jump-stopping, giving a head-fake before putting in a short jumper.
He had a similar move on the next possession. After dribbling in from the right corner, he stopped his momentum to land on both feet before pivoting to his right for an 8-foot shot.
“Just being aggressive,” Selden said. “Aaron Miles always tells me to play off two feet. I played off two feet on both of those and made two good plays.”
The reminders from Miles came often. They could be in practice or also in games if he saw the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Selden leaning on a shot.
“Sometimes if you go off one foot, you get off-balance a little bit. So two feet, you stay on balance,” Miles said. “With him being a physical presence like that, it allows him to use his body. When he jump-stops, in my opinion, he’s able to put his body up against somebody, then he’s able to use his athleticism to jump over them.”
At 6 foot 1, Miles says he’d love to have Selden’s body type. Because he doesn’t, he mostly relied on quickness to score against stronger defenders.
Miles says Selden shouldn’t have to.
“Get a shoulder on their hip, by the defender’s hip, and don’t try to go faster,” Miles said. “Just keep them on that hip and explode up. Be on balance.”
That worked for Selden against UConn as part of a 22-point effort on 8-for-15 shooting. Selden’s six two-pointers tied for his second-most this season.
The ability to mix up inside shots — going off one foot or two — has made Selden a more difficult player to guard inside, Miles says. He also believes Selden deserves credit for being open to advice, whether it’s come from assistants Kurtis Townsend and Jerrance Howard or Miles.
After spotting a potential weakness from 6,000 miles away a season ago, Miles — a 2005 KU graduate — was proud of Selden on Saturday, smiling while talking to reporters a few steps inside KU’s locker room.
“It’s good to know that he listens,” Miles said.