Kansas Suspensions Raise Additional Questions About The JayhawksPosted by nvr1983 on October 30th, 2011
To most people today’s decision by Bill Self to suspend Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson for the team’s two exhibition games would seem to be a non-issue as the games do not really count and even if Kansas were to lose one or both of those games it would not mean much in the grand scheme of things as the recent past has shown us. Self even tried to pass off the suspensions as not worth discussing when he issued the following statement:
Tyshawn and Elijah have both been terrific since school began in August. They’ve not only performed well, they have been very responsible and disciplined the first few months of the school year. But during the offseason they violated a rule that I told them, because of some past experiences, their punishment was going to be severe and I was going to hold them out of the two exhibition games. They have been aware of this for several months and also are disappointed, but have had very positive attitudes about it. I will not comment about this further. Losing two players and Thomas being questionable for Tuesday’s game probably changes the look of our team as much as anyone in the country. This gives a chance for our young guys to play under the lights and see how they react.
The fact that two upperclassman (a senior and a junior, respectively) on a young team would break rules that would merit a suspension raises larger questions for the Jayhawks this season. Coming into the season, many analysts questioned whether the Jayhawks could continue their dominance over the Big 12 despite losing most of their scoring from last season particularly when they lost several highly touted members of their freshman class due to NCAA Clearinghouse issues, but in the end the general consensus is that Kansas has a solid chance of winning the conference again due to a combination of solid veteran play (specifically Taylor and Thomas Robinson), Self’s coaching, and weakened competition within the conference. While the last two are still valid reasons, we have to question the leadership within the team. Self continues to talk to the team and media about instilling discipline, but when Taylor, who has had this fair share of run-ins with the law (point plankn, anyone?), is one of your leaders we would have serious concerns about your team. We might have been able to excuse Taylor for his idiotic behavior (and typos) if that had been an isolated event, but there was also a much less publicized incident last season that resulted in a brief suspension.
Some writers have claimed that not playing in the exhibition games will adversely affect the team because they will not have those extra games to develop chemistry or some other nebulous intangible, which we think is ridiculous. The suspension is a big deal, but it is a big deal because of the issues it raises with leadership and not because of missed exhibition games, which are basically useless in the long run when you play as many games as these teams do. We are sure that some Kansas fans will jump to Taylor’s (and Johnson’s) defense as this suspension for an unnamed violation of team rules could have been from something as minor as showing up a few minutes late to a practice, but it is a pretty clear indication that neither Taylor nor Johnson has fully bought into their roles as leaders of the team.
It is possible that Robinson has accepted his role as a leader and given his own personal issues off the court he may be viewed as the more charismatic leader by fans and teammates, but he lacks the ability to put a team on his back for an extended period of time, particularly one that lacks the depth and talent that we have come to expect from Kansas. Simply put, Robinson cannot do it by himself without buy-in from the other veterans on the team. Until Taylor and Johnson buy into their roles as leaders we doubt that this Jayhawk team will live up to its preseason expectations and based on what we have seen so far, if we were Jayhawk fans we would not too optimistic about that happening.