Brought to you by Lawrence Photo Store

Sophomore Lagerald Vick expected to fill big shoes

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick puts up a shot during a practice on Wednesday, March 8, 2017 at Sprint Center.

— Typically, those day-before-a-tournament-game practices that are open to the media amount to little more than extended shooting sessions.

But Wednesday afternoon inside Sprint Center, the Kansas men’s basketball team had work to do.

A one-game suspension levied against freshman guard Josh Jackson left the Jayhawks even more short-handed than they already were, so Self and his team used the final portion of Wednesday’s practice to make sure that Jackson’s replacement, sophomore Lagerald Vick, was ready for Thursday's 1:30 p.m. Big 12 quarterfinal.

Quickly, Self ran the Jayhawks through six or seven set-play situations, keeping an eye on Vick the entire time. With Vick playing Jackson’s role as the 4 in KU’s four-guard lineup, several teammates, including Jackson, gave Vick quick reminders the entire time.

“You got it, Lagerald?” asked Self. “There’s gonna be a test.”

Self was only half-kidding, of course, but the real test will come when the Jayhawks tip it off for real on Thursday. Vick, who has started five games this season, has been on an uptick of late, leading teammates to believe he’s ready for what lies ahead.

“For him, (it’s) not only just starting, but it’s kind of out of his element playing a post,” senior Landen Lucas said. “So it’s going to be a good test for him. But I’m sure he’ll rise to the occasion.”

Self said it went without saying that Vick would need to play well in Jackson’s absence, but said that onus would fall on other players, too.

"He needs to play well," Self said of Vick. "Josh has been on such a roll. He’s played to an All-American level in the last month or six weeks, so, yeah, we need to have a lot of guys step up and give us some production.”

As for how Jackson's absence would impact KU's depth, Self admitted it was a concern.

“If you start Lagerald, you don’t have a guard sub,” he said. “So I would think that Carlton (Bragg Jr.) and Dwight (Coleby) and Mitch (Lightfoot) would probably play much more of a prominent role. You can’t play four guards the whole time because, if you do that, they’d all have to play 40 minutes. So we’ll start Lagerald and then we’ll probably play big more than we have maybe any game this year.”

For those players, junior guard Devonté Graham had just one piece of advice.

"That’s one thing we talked about today at practice, playing with confidence," he said. "They’ve got to play. Just come in and just produce.”

Home sweet Sprint Center

Thursday’s game will mark the Jayhawks’ fourth game at Sprint Center this season. With wins over UAB, Georgia and Davidson already in the bag, Self said his team had a good feeling coming into the building.

“You know, we didn’t play well in our tournament here,” Self conceded. “But we love coming over here and certainly look forward to it.”

Added Lucas: “It’s pretty much like a home game for us. We’re so close to campus, having played here so many times, and that’s why we’re really trying to make sure we’re playing here come Sweet 16 and Elite Eight.”

Thank goodness for basketball

Lucas was asked Wednesday how he thought his team had handled the recent off-the-court distractions, and the KU forward explained that the key for the team, as well as each individual player, was to remain focused on the task at hand.

“That’s what coach has been kind of harping on,” Lucas said. “There’s no reason to let it carry onto the court because when you’re on it, it’s a whole different world. We’ve been looking at it like that and it’s been a nice little escape for us.”

Added Graham of the challenge of playing without Jackson: “It’s going to make everybody have to step up and play a big role. Me, Frank, Lagerald, Svi, Landen, Mitch, Dwight, Carlton. Everybody. It’s going to take a big team effort.”

Comments

Marius Rowlanski

Lagerald Vick has big feet.

5 years, 9 months ago

Report

John Randall

Yeah? I'm just thinking -- how fortunate!

5 years, 9 months ago

Report

Marius Rowlanski

Yeah... I was just thinking the same.

5 years, 9 months ago

Report

Joe Ross

See? We don't *always* disagree!

5 years, 9 months ago

Report

Marius Rowlanski

Proof that anything is possible.

5 years, 9 months ago

Report

Tim Orel

Miracles happen in March...

5 years, 9 months ago

Report

Len Shaffer

I've always thought the idea of distractions is vastly overrated. It's one thing if it were internal dissension within the team, but if it comes from outside forces it makes perfect sense that teammates would rally around each other. I don't see any of that as being an issue.

5 years, 9 months ago

Report

Brock Wells

I completely agree and we've seen this team play their best ball after all of these issues have arose publicly. It's a perfect year to have Landon and Frank in uniform to guide the team.

I think Bill has handled the situation great (that's why he's at Kansas) and hopefully the players learn to take responsibility.

5 years, 9 months ago

Report

Bob Thompson

I hope KU starts the game with a lob to Vick like they do for Josh..... Let TCU know that just because Josh is not playing doesn't mean we aren't going to beat there butt.

5 years, 9 months ago

Report

Gary McCullough

Watched the TCU/OU game last night. Lobbing over the zone will be an important play.

5 years, 9 months ago

Report

Chad Smith

Honestly, a good spot for vick to make a start. He will be expected to be a leader next season and this is a game that while important, does not carry the same weight as an NCAA tourney game. I hope he plays free, loose and aggressive just like josh has. Hes got the talent and athleticism, weve seen it this year. Also, expect big games from coleby and devonte.

5 years, 9 months ago

Report

Harlan Hobbs

Obviously, Coach Self is not anxious to be without Josh today. However, I also think that he relishes the opportunity to put the onus on some of the support players like Lagerald, Svi, Carlton, Dwight, and Mitch. Coach has always seen such situations as a challenge and a chance to once again prove that he is one of the best coaches in the country.

My biggest regret today is that we will have to hear the announcers hype the absence of Josh.

5 years, 9 months ago

Report

Brock Wells

The situation is an opportunity for Carlton to contribute. I would like to see him hit some outside jumpers (like at TX) because we could use that in a big way in the real tourney.
If my memory is correct, he hit 2 3's against KSU last year in the Big 12 tourney and no 3's all of this year !?!

5 years, 9 months ago

Report

Mary Allen

SDSD

5 years, 9 months ago

Report

Marius Rowlanski

And in the final BIG12 game for Kansas, Josh Jackson's shoes were a little bit too big after all.

5 years, 9 months ago

Report

Commenting has been disabled for this item.