I predicted before the season that the duo of Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson was going to comparable to Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich, if not better. I, like most people, saw such promise in Taylor’s game. A quick first step, good vision, and athleticism matched by very few in the college game.
And we all knew what Robinson could bring to the table. In my mind, both had ceilings that were higher than Cole and Sherron, and both were in a position to need good seasons for future basketball employment.
Of course, Robinson has been terrific. What’s more, he’s been incredibly consistent. He is a force down low and has been good at keeping himself on the court and relevant late in games. He has, thus far, produced a season better than Cole ever did.
But Taylor has not held up his end of the bargain.
He hasn’t been bad. In fact, he’s probably been the most productive guard in our lineup this year. Not that he’s had much competition.
But he hasn’t been great. And he definitely hasn’t been consistent.
It’s been said before, but the thing that’s so frustrating about watching Taylor is that you know he has the skills to be phenomenal. You’ve seen it in spurts.
He can get by his man whenever he wants to. It truly does not matter who is guarding him. He has an incredible first step and has built the strength to surge to the rim off the dribble. The problem for Taylor has always been what comes next. He tends to leave his feet at inopportune times, leaving him with the option to attempt a pass or a shot mid-air (often with no real commitment to either before take-off). The good news is that he’s often fouled. The bad news is he turns the ball over a lot.
His best asset is his speed, but it can also be his worst asset at times. He plays the game sped up, which gives him a super power most don’t have on the court. Except sometimes uses his power for bad instead of good.
I think this is what KU fans mean when we say “We need ‘Good Tyshawn’ today, not ‘Bad Tyshawn.’” You see Good Tyshawn when he uses all of his incredible talents for good — active on defense, smart distributor, getting to the basket under control.
And you know what happens when he uses them for bad. You see the one-handed passes off the dribble (the one thing I LOATHE from our guards), the circus shots that fail to draw rim, and the bullet passes to Withey that he couldn’t catch in a million years. You also see the obligatory swing pass that falls into the lap of Danny Manning on the bench. The common denominator to all of these errors usually starts and ends with playing sped up.
The funny part is, Tyshawn could be just as effective in the college game if he slowed down just a tiny bit. He doesn’t need to go 100% to get by most college guards. 80% would do just fine most of the time. And when he gets by the first guy, he need only trust his instincts just a little bit more. And I think his instincts need to come down to three options, in this order:
(1) Score the basketball as if you’re not going to get the foul call. If you do get the foul call, even better.
(2) Find the Post. If you see the post defenders drawing away from Robinson or Withey to contend your shot, find Robinson or Withey for an easy basket.
(3) Kick to the wing. This hasn’t been quite as effective this year, mostly because we don’t have that corner 3 threat that we’ve had in recent years. But it should still be open nearly every time Tyshawn gets to the rim.
At times, this KU team struggles to score. If teams are doing everything they can to shut down Robinson (good strategy), it should really be Tyshawn’s show. He is the only one on this team that has shown the ability to get the rim whenever he wants to, no matter what defense he is facing. And when Tyshawn is getting to the rim with ease, good things should happen (see above options).
Think back to the second half of the Kentucky game this year. Most people ridiculed Taylor for his 3-13 shooting performance, but without his penetration in the second half, KU might have lost that game by 25. He hit 15 of 17 free throws and did not have a turnover. He was our only offense at the time. It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective.
Certainly I understand the counterpoint that when Tyshawn drives the lane, throws up a prayer, and doesn’t draw a foul, it might as well go in the box score as a turnover. My response to that is when you have a 7-footer in Withey and Thomas Robinson (arguably the best rebounder in the NCAA), throwing a prayer off the backboard should get a put-back from time to time.
I still think this KU team is pretty good. In order to be great, though, it needs Good Tyshawn on a more consistent basis. Hopefully he can find it.
#kubball, Good Tyshawn, Kansas, Tyshawn Taylor