Above, is a picture of Jeff Withey, center for the No.1 Kansas Jayhawks. Sometimes, Jeff can get angry. Opposing teams won’t like him when he’s angry.
Withey had 16 points and 16 rebounds in the Jayhawks’ 78-58 win over the No. 8 North Carolina Tar Heels in the Round of 32 of the 2013 NCAA Tournament on Sunday. That kind of performance is exactly what the 7-foot senior can do on a nightly basis for KU — if only Withey knew that.
The Jayhawks’ big man has 11 double-doubles on the season and one triple-double. Yet, Withey also has seven games of five boards or fewer. Withey can get tentative around the basket and it doesn’t take a dominant center to make him that way either.
There’s a reason why dominant post players get nicknames like beast or bulldog and not something cute like pony or teddy bear.
Playing in the post requires a sense of entitlement: that ball is yours and nobody can take it away — you’re not supposed to ask nicely either. By all accounts, Withey is a nice kid, but under the basket isn’t a place to make friends.
When the big man is on, his teammates draw energy from it and, more importantly, guys like Ben McLemore get to take advantage of a weak perimeter because of the attention Withey commands down low. Can Withey carry his team both offensively and defensively? Probably not. Can a dominant performance by him lead to the rest of the Jayhawks catching fire, making Kansas that much more deadly? Absolutely.
Mike Gillmeister can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter:@mgillmeiRantCBB. Like his Facebook page here for updates on Big 12/A-10 men’s basketball.