No reason to worry about Svi Mykhailiuk's mini-slump in KU's losses
It’s safe to say Kansas senior Svi Mykhailiuk’s offense began to fall into a bit of a funk the past couple of games, with consecutive sub-30-percent shooting outings in the Jayhawks’ two defeats.
After a string of seven consecutive double-figure scoring performances to start his final year in a KU uniform, Mykhailiuk’s struggles began in KU’s loss to Washington, when he shot 3-for-12 from the field, made just two of eight 3-point tries and scored 8 points. Plus, the typically sure-handed guard, who entered the game averaging only 1.1 turnovers, gave the ball up three times.
Mykhailiuk couldn’t shake his turnover woes in the Jayhawks’ loss to Arizona State, either. All four of his miscues came in the second half of the setback — leading to 5 of ASU’s 25 points off turnovers.
And although the 6-foot-8 senior from Ukraine made three of his final five field-goal attempts in the final six-plus minutes versus the Sun Devils to finish with 14 points, the nine shots that left his hand prior to that run all misfired. In the loss, Mykhailiuk missed 11 of his 14 shot attempts overall and saw 3-pointers rim out or bounce off the rim eight different times (3-for-11).
It’s important to note, though, that the mini-slump doesn’t have Mykhailiuk’s coach, Bill Self, worried about the senior’s game moving forward.
“He hasn’t played well. He didn’t have a good game against Arizona State, but for the most part this year he’s been good,” Self said of KU’s third-leading scorer, who is averaging 15.8 points per game, 3.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.7 turnovers, while shooting 30-for-65 on 3-pointers (40%), 44.3% from floor, and 10-for-14 on free throws (71.4%).
“And nobody tries harder than Svi, so he’ll be fine,” Self said. “He’ll be fine.”
Mykhailiuk’s consistent effort even showed up in the home loss to ASU. To the senior’s credit, during a volatile afternoon on the court, he at least facilitated the offense in the first 20 minutes, even though his shot wouldn’t fall. While going 0-for-5 in the opening half, Mykhailiuk also dished six assists — setting up a Malik Newman 3-pointer, a Lagerald Vick layup, a pair of Vick 3-pointers and back-to-back Vick dunks.
In KU’s consecutive losses to Pac-12 foes, Mykhailiuk’s averages read: 36 minutes, 11 points, 2.5 rebounds, 5 assists and 3.5 turnovers. He shot 6-for-26 from the field (23%), 5-for-19 on 3-pointers (26%) and 5-for-6 on free throws (83%, with no attempts vs. Washington).
While such a stretch might have unnerved him in past seasons, Mykhailiuk hasn’t appeared rattled of late. If anything, he shows some frustration after a costly turnover, then goes back to taking the same offensive approach that has made him more effective this season.
And even though he is still only 20 years old, the senior now is mature and confident enough to keep attacking and shooting when shots aren’t falling.
Following the loss to Washington, Mykhailiuk was asked whether there was more pressure to knock down open looks when the Huskies’ defense had set up so well to take the 3-point weapon away from Kansas.
“It’s the same mentality. When you’re open you’ve got to shoot it no matter what,” Mykhailiuk responded.
If his offensive arsenal is lacking anything at this point, with No. 13 Kansas inching closer to Big 12 play, it’s determined drives to the paint. Self said the previous season Frank Mason III used to go off the dribble, get into the lane and either force help or draw fouls.
“Svi can do a better job of that,” Self said, after identifying Devonte’ Graham and Vick as the only effective drivers for KU thus far.
Entering Saturday’s game at Nebraska (7-4), Mykhailiuk has attempted only 14 free throws and owns the lowest free-throw rate on the entire roster — a sign that he should seek out more opportunities to create offense off the bounce.
An even more dynamic Mykhailiuk who takes advantage of closing-out opponents with drives from the perimeter to draw defenders and fouls, would make his 3-point shot that much more difficult to defend.
Opportunities for the senior to put his recent funk behind him will present themselves at Nebraska, and every game going forward doubles as another chance for Mykhailiuk to further develop his overall game. The more versatility he shows as not just a shooter, but also a driver and passer, the more high-powered KU’s offense will become.