Rush's Recovery: Smooth

I scored tickets to last night's Washburn demolition derby, and while the Hawks looked pretty ragged for about half the game, I was ecstatic about the in-person glimpse at Brandon Rush's recovery. There can be no doubt that Rush is back on track toward his status as KU's #1 game-changer. Watching Rush log his 12 minutes from about halfway up the bleachers, I was impressed by his smoothness and finesse. True, his timing is a little off, and my impression is that his explosiveness is not yet what it was--but on the occasions when Rush made moves toward to basket, there was no hesitation. None of the herky-jerky body mechanics that sometimes accompany major surgery.

This was especially true when Rush drove the lane for a soft floater. The drive was smooth, the decision was perfect, the tear drop barely grazed the bottom of the net.

When KU plays Northern Arizona next week, the Rush Watch should be in full effect again. If all goes well, I wouldn't be surprised to see B-Rush have a major impact on the upcoming Arizona game. There's no doubt in my mind that he'll be back near 100% in time for the conference season, and definitely in time for March.

Brandon Rush Hearsay

I wouldn't look to Andy Katz for tactical insight or high-level critical thinking, I think he understands this about himself as his ESPN blog (Insider) reads as a transcription of what people have said to him (no matter how ridiculous) in the last day or so. From today's blog (Insider):

Kansas coach Bill Self is still confident that Brandon Rush can return to play in games by Dec. 1 after having ACL surgery. He's hoping to have him practicing by Nov. 1.

It may be plausible. It may or may not be true, but I'm confident that Bill Self said that to Andy Katz.

Rush Declaring For Draft, Not Hiring Agent

Per KUSports.com:

"Sources within the Kansas University men's basketball program Thursday evening confirmed that sophomore Brandon Rush, KU's leading scorer this season, has declared himself eligible for the 2007 NBA Draft.

Rush will not yet sign with an agent, leaving the door open for him to return for his junior season.

Rush, who will soon turn 22, had expressed concern that he'd be a 23-year-old rookie if he were to stay another year."

UPDATE: Jason King of the Kansas City Star has a terribly dull and brief (though EXCLUSIVE!) interview with Rush, plus quotes from his mother, Glenda, and his former summer league coach John Walker.

stats glossary

Points, assists, turnovers, blocks, and steals listed per 100 individual possessions

Brandon Rush's stats while at Kansas:

Year %Min eFG% FT% PPWS Pts A TO BS S OR% DR%
FR 79.5 53.9 75.4 1.13 24.2 3.6 4.6 1.3 1.5 5.3 14.3
SO 80.4 53.2 68.1 1.12 24.7 3.6 3.7 1.6 0.7 5.6 13.0

Brandon Rush's 2006-07 stats along with those from comparable players who have entered the 2007 NBA Draft (Arron Aflalo, Morris Almond, Corey Brewer, Daequan Cook, Jeff Green, Alando Tucker, Marcus Williams, and Nick Young):

Name %Min eFG% FT% PPWS Pts A TO BS S OR% DR%
Afflalo 81.0 54.8 79.5 1.18 31.0 3.8 3.3 0.4 1.2 1.6 8.9
Almond 82.9 55.4 84.6 1.26 47.0 2.1 6.1 1.3 2.1 5.0 17.8
Brewer 66.4 53.1 72.3 1.16 27.6 6.1 5.2 0.8 3.9 5.1 13.5
Cook 49.9 53.0 69.7 1.10 30.8 3.2 4.5 0.8 2.2 4.5 20.4
Green 83.0 56.0 77.5 1.20 28.8 6.4 5.2 2.3 1.6 7.3 16.3
Rush 80.4 53.2 68.1 1.12 24.7 3.6 3.7 1.6 0.7 5.6 13.0
Tucker 81.7 50.6 65.9 1.09 38.7 3.9 3.2 0.5 1.8 8.2 12.1
Williams 79.0 52.3 69.5 1.11 29.4 4.0 4.7 1.4 2.0 7.9 15.2
Young 81.3 57.4 78.6 1.23 31.5 2.4 4.4 0.5 1.3 4.7 11.2

Brewer and Green are, in my opinion, clearly better NBA prospects than Rush who will have to differentiate himself from Afflalo, Almond, Cook, Williams, and Young to be assured of being taken in the first round.

I think that Rush's combination of defensive ability and shooting range would be an immediately useful fit for a number of teams. But, were a team looking for immediate or long-term offensive help there are arguably better options, especially Daequan Cook.

Jayhawks need to get their "buts" in gear.

I'm generally not a big Seth Davis fan, but his latest Hoop Thoughts hits the nail on the head with regard to the Jayhawks:

This is still a Bill Self-coached group, so you know they play some mean D. ... There is also something to be said for having a variety of different weapons to keep opponents off balance. ... But in order to win an NCAA championship, a team at some point will need a great escape. (Think Danny Ainge, Tyus Edney and Christian Laettner.) When that critical moment comes, be it in the first round or the Final Four, whom will Kansas turn to?

Then he goes through the potential candidates.

Brandon Rush?

...has been shooting pretty well the past month, but the word is out that he is not a good ball handler. That makes him easy to defend in the half-court -- and he knows it. Plus, Rush does not have the mentality to take over a game in a tough spot.

Julian Wright?

a dynamic athlete, but his forte is passing and he does his best scoring in transition, not in the half-court.

Russell Robinson?

mentally tough, but he is averaging just 6.8 points ... and making 41.1 percent of his shots

Mario Chalmers?

has the skills to take over ... but apparently lacks the moxie to demand the ball like [Acie] Law did [on Saturday]

Sherron Collins?

The one player with the skills and the moxie to be a go-to guy ... But it's hard to imagine a freshman taking on that role, even if he is from Chicago.

Out of all of these choices, Chalmers and Collins have the least standing between them and "go-to player" status. They have the skill sets, they just need a little attitude (Chalmers) or experience (Collins). There's been a growing sentiment on this site that Collins needs to be the man with the ball in his hands at the end of the game, and I'm beginning to agree. From the looks of it, I think Seth Davis is as well. (Now if we can just get Bill Self on board...)

Andy Katz Profiles Brandon Rush

Andy Katz's nice profile of Brandon Rush leads ESPN.com's college basketball coverage today. Personally, I'd be surprised if Rush was Kansas's best player this year. His perimeter shooting, defending, and defensive rebounding will be crucial but I expect Mario Chalmers, Julian Wright, and (later in the season) Sherron Collins to initiate most of the offense. Behind the Insider wall, Katz suggests that Darrell Arthur will probably start the year behind at least Wright and Kaun in the rotation but figures to take on a bigger role in the second-half of the season.

Also, Bill Self compares the last two NCAA Tournament games Kansas has played.

"Bucknell had two or three guys who could have started for us, they were well coached and it was a scary game."

"But we played to our age against Bradley. We weren't under duress. We didn't play with pressure, since we weren't hunted all year. Last year's team was better equipped to go longer in the tournament, but it still didn't surprise me how it ended. We were so loose at shootaround that day, but by 9 p.m., we went out for warmups and I said, 'Oh, my gosh.' I had a totally different feel."

DeCourcy to Rush: Be hungrier!

Mike DeCourcy has some advice for the superstars of tomorrow, and BRush gets a little writerly advice:

Brandon Rush, Kansas: attacking. In order to make a point about a certain player's needing to be more aggressive on offense, you'll sometimes hear a television analyst -- or even a coach -- say the guy in question has to be "more selfish."

Wrong. It's not selfish for LaDainian Tomlinson to run forward with a football while a bunch of guys block for him. It's Tomlinson's job. He gets the glory, but that's the game. And so it is with Rush. His first job is to score, and 13.5 points per game for a player with his skills (47.2 percent on 3-pointers) getting his minutes (31.7 per game) isn't enough.

Rush has to be hungrier. The best way to show he has changed is by driving the ball into the lane, not by simply taking more shots. He attempted only 71 free throws last season -- one every 14.7 minutes. Only one Jayhawks regular shot free throws less frequently.

Good advice methinks.

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