Tom Keegan: Lagerald Vick capable of reappearing as suddenly as he vanished

Kansas junior Lagerald Vick warms up prior to the Jayhawks' matchup with Stanford, in Sacramento, Calif.

Tyshawn Taylor was as open a book as any Kansas basketball player during the Bill Self era. Whatever was on his brain quickly made its way to his tongue. He wore his emotions on his expressive face.

Happy or sad, serene or mad, Taylor, the ultimate extrovert, left the window to his mind wide open, enabling air to flow freely in both directions.

And then there is the polar opposite of Taylor in that respect.

Long and thin, quick and explosive like Taylor, Kansas junior Lagerald Vick is as introverted as any player Self has coached at Kansas.

Taylor talked a mile a minute. Vick speaks slowly, softly, reluctantly.

So trying to get to the source of Vick losing his aggressiveness and, in turn, his point production in the past seven games has presented even as skilled a mind prober as Kansas coach Bill Self a sizable challenge.

Vick’s production decline came all at once, preceded by not the slightest hint.

He lit up Texas for 21 points on a night he made 3 of 6 3-pointers in KU’s Big 12 opener, a 92-86 victory vs. Texas in Austin.

To that point in the season, he had reached double figures in points in 10 of 13 games and was averaging 17.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists. He was shooting .561 overall, .491 from 3, .708 from the line.

In the seven games since, Vick reached double figures in points once and is averaging 6.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists. During that span, he is shooting .365 overall, .222 from 3 and has attempted just five free throws, making two.

“Lagerald, he hasn't really done much, quite candidly, on either end ... since the Texas game,” Self said. “And we need him being active. And we have visited quite a bit about it. It's not anything that he's playing poorly. He's just not putting his handprint on what's going on. And we need him to put his handprint on it.”

Self said his visits with Vick have involved letting him know “we need him to do more. And he wants to do more. It's not like he's fighting that at all. But needing him to do more and certainly becoming more aggressive and maybe why haven't you been as aggressive and those sorts of things.”

Vick scored four points on two dunks, and had two rebounds and an assist in Tuesday's 85-80 loss at Oklahoma.

Coming out of the inside-eight-minutes timeout in the second half, KU ran a play to get the scoreless Vick a dunk on a lob from Devonte’ Graham. Sometimes, running a play like that out of a timeout can ignite a slumping player. Not this time. Vick didn’t score again until picking up a putback slam with 2:22 left.

Malik Newman’s recent emergence has softened the blow of Vick’s slump, but doesn’t eliminate the need for the Vick of November and December to return.

“I think he's going through a situation where, in the past, he's probably never had to be counted on consistently,” Self said. “And he was so good early in the season and so good against Texas that maybe we started thinking that he could do that consistently, which I personally think he can."

Svi Mykhailiuk has played way more aggressively as a senior than in his first three seasons. Vick might do the same, but having already had a taste of what Vick plays like, nobody wants him to wait that long to return to early season form.

“I think he defers too much,” Self said. “It's not effort. It's not. It's a mindset. It's a mindset of playing safe or whatever, and we've got to get him out of that.”

Since Vick’s vanishing act came without warning, nobody should be surprised if the early season Vick reappears without a moment’s notice Saturday against Texas A&M in Allen Fieldhouse. He's far from an easy read.

Comments

Danny Hernandez

Vick we need YOU! Come back and take do your stuff!

3 months, 3 weeks ago

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Steve Zimmerman

So, it's a repeat of last year's Vick as has already been addressed by Tom's http://www2.kusports.com/news/2017/ja....

Would it help if coach designs a play for Vick? So he doesn't have to dribble and thinking too much...

Say, Newman or 'Tae dribbles the ball toward Vick and his defender, drawing his defender to double team ball handler. He will then bounce pass to Vick who cuts to the basket and gets a dunk or lob.

Sometimes, the best strategy is to get close to the opponent. Just sayin'.

3 months, 3 weeks ago

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John Fitzgerald

Part of me wonders if Vick's struggles are due to the lack of offensive rebounding and missed shots by the big man. He's a guy that gets a lot of his points running to the basket and gathering rebounds. He's quick, thin, and can jump which allows him to sneak in there and get some easy ones. This year he doesn't have a guy like Lucas that misses a lot or a guy like Jackson who can crash the boards like crazy and lead to open opportunities for him. He really hasn't been a great shooter and he's spending way too much time waiting along the perimeter instead of making things happen for himself. Honestly at this point I'd try to bring Vick off the bench and see if he feels more comfortable that way. He doesn't like the spotlight or attention and this would alleviate some of that. Also, I like the idea of starting Graham, Newman, Svi, Lightfoot, and Dok. Obviously given our current thin roster at the center spot that's dangerous but Mitch has shown some promise lately and maybe starting him can spark him even more.

3 months, 3 weeks ago

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Dillon Davis

Anyone thought about how many guards we are going to have next year??

Vick will surely be back. Newman should be back. Garrett and Cunliffe will be back. Then we add Charlie Moore, Dotson, and Grimes to the mix. I feel like Garrett and Cunliffe are going to be the odd men out. Garrett can't shoot and Cunfliffe can't get on the court now even with the lack of depth we have so his minutes certainly aren't going to go up with all we have coming in.

Good problem to have I suppose but man figuring out a starting 5 will be tough. We will have a great mixture of talent, experience, and depth next year. I think 2019 or 2020 is our year to win it all.

3 months, 3 weeks ago

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Marius Rowlanski

Cunliffe will lose some eligibility but I can't see him sticking around for another year on the bench. Especially with 3 more guards, 2 of them being McDonald All-Americans and an experienced Charlie Moore will make it just as tough to get minutes next year.

Still, having a plethora of guards is a much better situation than not having enough as we have seen in this year's frontcourt.

3 months, 3 weeks ago

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Cedric Spire

I have never seen Self use depth!! He was complaining about only having 7 prior to Sam and Silvio. Then we get them and he doesn't use Sam and Silvio very little. I understand Silvio because he is just young doesn't really know what he is doing. Sam per/minute stats since the TT game are better than Vick but he doesn't get a chance to play. Vick is not a drive to the basket player because his handles are not good, he started declining when Self emphasized getting down hill and driving. Sam has made some good drives in the little time he has played. Don't get Self at all. He has killed Sam's confidence and yet he leaves Dok in the game to lose it because he wanted him to have confidence. Go figure.

3 months, 3 weeks ago

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Kent Richardson

Not sure which way is up after the OU game. What does Self do to address silent Vick? Is this the same as Udoka? I am sticking with you until you get the message and work to improve?

Why not play Udoka and Mitch. Much better rebounding, defense and maybe just as good or better shooting and scoring. The thinking is the same with getting ready for March. If fouls are a problem get back to the four guard.

With the emergence of Malik and disappearance of Lagerald it has been a wash and that is disappointing.

3 months, 3 weeks ago

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Dirk Medema

Malik turned around virtually overnight so no reason why the switch can't be flipped for Vick as well. It wasn't quite as night and day for Svi but it's good to point out just how much his game has transformed this season.

3 months, 3 weeks ago

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