This past Thursday on their regular scheduled day off the Kansas Jayhawks came together for a players only meeting. The Seniors Jeff Withey, Travis Releford, Kevin Young and Elijah Jonson called this meeting after losing two straight games by Oklahoma State and TCU, the upset of the century. This meeting was called to talk about what’s going wrong with the team and to let anyone who wanted to speak up could do so. Ben McLemore is hoping this meeting finds a way to cure what’s bothering this team and to break down the wall that they have hit.
During the meeting the players watched films of the greatest moments so far this season – the victories like the Colorado and Ohio State game. McLemore said: “We were watching films of Ohio State and Colorado and saw how we pressured them and turned the ball over, saw how we were having fun and playing with energy. Just having fun. We want to go out there have fun and play Kansas ball.”
I believe that the Colorado game was one of the best games the Jayhawks have played this season. The game showed what this team can really do, score baskets, rebound, crash the boards and play aggressive defense. Even Colorado coach Tad Boyle said after the game, “That was an old-fashioned (butt)-whipping right there. That’s what that was,” “There’s no other way to put it. No excuses. Kansas just came out and manhandled us from start to finish. There wasn’t a lot we could do about it.” So what has happened to this old fashioned but whipping mindset that the Jayhawks have had in games this season?
Hopefully this player only meeting figured out what next step they will take to become the Kansas team everyone knows and loves. During the meeting it was the Seniors who did much of the talking. McLemore said that the Seniors “talked about things we need to do and improve and bounce back.” “Everybody got a little say-so into it. I was speaking. Even Perry Ellis was talking. Everybody gave their comments and stuff, mainly the seniors were talking giving their speeches letting us know what we have to do now. Now we got to focus on moving forward.”
So what will their focus be now after they had this meeting on Thursday? Hopefully on the next team they face Saturday in Norman, OK – the Oklahoma Sooners. Now it’s time for on the court leadership and high energy from all 5 spots plus the bench. Having the initiative to hold a players-only meeting is a good sign that the players themselves recognize the problem is about mentality and that they themselves hold the key to fixing it more than anyone else. Basketball is a mental game and if you lose that edge it will show in the way you play. You will not execute right and will not have the confidence in your shooting. The chemistry on this team needs to be fixed before they face the rest of the season and hopefully this players only meeting solved that.
Letting other players talk about what they feel is wrong and how they as an individuals can help fix the issues is so important. The next few games, especially Saturday against Oklahoma and Monday against Kansas State will really determine if this meeting worked or not. Sometimes a team can act like they are entitled to win and when that happens they usually get humbled. These losses have been a humbling experience and now two wins in a row will turn their season around.
Just remember a few years ago back in 2008 they Jayhawks had a player only meeting and look how that turned out-A National Championship. Is this team heading in the same direction? We will find out very soon.
John D. Hayden is a Writer and Contributor for RantSports.com, covering the NCAA and NBA. Follow John on twitter @jdhayden09, or add his Google + to your circles for all of his latest articles, thoughts, and rants.