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Why the minutes Kansas guard Remy Martin played on Monday night vs. Texas Tech should mean more than those he didn't

Kansas guard Remy Martin (11) takes a charge from Texas Tech Red Raiders guard Davion Warren (2) during the second half on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Remy Martin (11) takes a charge from Texas Tech Red Raiders guard Davion Warren (2) during the second half on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

In the postgame press conference following Monday’s 94-91 double-overtime thriller against Texas Tech, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self was asked why senior guard Remy Martin played just eight minutes in the second half and two overtimes.

“I don’t want to be negative, but who would he go in for,” Self replied. “We (needed) to rebound the ball, so I didn’t think it was a time that you play two little guards.”

That answer, which pegged Martin and Dajuan Harris Jr., as KU’s little guards, sparked a bit of a freak out from Kansas fans on message boards and various social media platforms.

Many fans seemed to think it was obvious that Martin could have — and many believe should have — taken Harris’ spot on the floor a little more often during the final 30 minutes of the KU victory.

Nearly half of Martin’s 8 minutes after halftime — 3:21, from the 8:25 mark of the second half to 5:04 — came with Harris on the floor with him. And Martin checked out for good at the 5:04 mark with KU leading by eight, 70-62.

The Jayhawks squandered that eight-point lead, forcing the teams to play 10 extra minutes and setting up a heck of a finish for KU senior Ochai Agbaji.

Harris, meanwhile, didn’t do a whole lot. At least not on the stat sheet. He finished with 4 points on 2-of-10 shooting and was not particularly effective in the assist department, tallying two assists and a turnover.

What’s more, he was continually picked on by the Texas Tech offense, which found ways to post Harris up and get easy baskets by shooting over him in close. Martin is not really any bigger than Harris. But he does offer more on the offensive end of the floor, both in terms of shot-making potential and his ability to bring energy.

So, I understand the frustration. But you also have to understand the situation.

Basketball is not just about offense. In fact, basketball under Bill Self is almost entirely about trust. And right now, it seems as if Self just hasn’t been around Martin long enough to fully trust him to execute what’s called in late-game settings.

Although the situation with Martin’s playing time has made this a hot-button issue, the concept is nothing new. Self has always leaned on players he trusts the most late in games. Always.

Sometimes, that meant leaving more talented players or better upside on the bench in favor of the guys he knew would do it right. It doesn’t always work out, of course. But things do tend to go in KU’s favor more often than not when assignments are carried out and instructions are executed.

Martin is still learning how to do all of that for Kansas, and no one should expect anything different. He’s been with the program for less than six months. And he’s been injured for a chunk of that time. Some guys still don’t fully get it even after being with Self for four years.

While many fans would argue that Martin didn’t play enough on Monday night, I would argue that the minutes he did play should be viewed as a good sign.

For one, it marked the second most minutes he has played in a conference game at Kansas. And, two, he now has topped the 20-minute mark in back-to-back games.

You’ll notice that Joe Yesufu hasn’t played in either one of those. So it’s clear that, though a little slow-going in the eyes of some, Self’s trust in Martin is being developed. And there’s still time for it to take some major strides forward before the season ends.

Based on some of his biggest moments on Monday night, Martin seems to get that and it appears as if he is doing all he can to earn Self’ trust. The next step is doing it with consistency so Self and Martin’s teammates get to the point where they can rely on him to be in the right spots and make the right plays.

Here’s a look back at Martin’s impact in Monday’s first half.

Perhaps no contribution was as important, if not unexpected, as Martin’s in the opening 20 minutes. Forced into a little more action than has been normal because of foul trouble to Harris, Martin delivered in just about every way imaginable.

And most of his production had nothing to do with offense.

Immediately after checking in for Harris following the sophomore guard’s second foul at the 10:16 mark, Martin drew a foul of his own on the ensuing inbounds play. A few minutes later, Martin drew another foul by going to the glass to help clean up a Texas Tech miss.

It’s been commonplace to see Martin flash his head nod and energetic bounce following big plays on offense. And there were a few of those on Monday night, as well. Most came after a pinpoint pass by Martin led to a bucket for a teammate. But the fact that Martin was feeling himself for his efforts in those back-alley battles showed perfectly where his focus was in this one.

“He brought good energy, good defense, he’s done some good things,” Self told ESPN’s Kris Budden at halftime.

Arguably his biggest sequence of the night came in the second half and featured a defensive rebound on one end and an assist to KJ Adams underneath for an and-one bucket just seconds later.

After finishing the basket through contact, Adams stood along the baseline and roared to the crowd. Facing the other way, about 45 feet from him, Martin did the same near midcourt. Adams missed the free throw, but Kansas still led 59-52 with 11 minutes to play.

Martin, who even mixed in a drawn charge with KU leading by 10 at the 6:48 mark of the second half, finished the night with four points on 2-of-7 shooting with four rebounds, five assists and one turnover.

The numbers are fine, neither stellar nor trash.

It’s the opportunities and what Martin does with them that you should keep an eye on in the coming weeks. Because that’s what will tell you if Kansas fans are ever going to see Martin truly unleashed in a KU uniform.

"I thought he did fine," Self said of Martin after Monday's game. "He made a couple bad plays, obviously, but I thought he did fine. He's having a hard time finishing, obviously, and a lot of times those plays lead to run-outs or fast breaks the other way. But I thought Remy did fine. And if you look at he and Juan's stats together, it's good. But it's 4-of-17 (shooting), and we've got to get more consistent play out of that (position)."

Comments

Steve Zimmerman

Thanks for the article, Matt. That explains it. He's good at drawing those charges. I can't wait to watch more of Remy. His presence does make a difference in both ends of the court.

8 months, 1 week ago

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Matt Tait

Explains part of it, perhaps. It's just my read on things. I think the panic/fuss over his minutes is a little over the top.

There's no doubt his presence makes a difference. That's why getting him to be more consistent will lead to him getting more minutes and therefore him being more dangerous, too.

8 months, 1 week ago

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Pius Waldman

Some of the fans believe Harris is a special favorite and even the mistakes he make don't cause he to be removed. As for both playing at the same time Wilson or Braun would be removed. Their thinking is Harris and Martin should sub for each other rather than both at the same time. And Martin rates higher than Harris.

8 months, 1 week ago

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Roger Tobias

Short memories. He had a good game last night, but against K-State he jacked up several bricks early in the shot clock. His penetrations into the lane yesterday were much better decisions, reminiscent of one Frank Mason. And passing to CB for a 3 when they were both open was special. What was his field goal percentage at ASU?

8 months, 1 week ago

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Matt Tait

42.8% overall and 33.6% from 3-point range.

8 months, 1 week ago

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David Robinett

Who fed Ochai for the game-tying bucket at the end of the first overtime? Harris.

8 months, 1 week ago

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Edward Daub

There is also the possibility that he is on a "secret minutes limitation" as Remy recovers from his knee injury. Food for thought. Rock Chalk!

Pre-season B12 Player of the year = Post-season B12 6th Man of the year (I hope).

8 months, 1 week ago

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Barry Weiss

wow Matt, your article totally makes the points that I feel dictate Remy starts. Obviously Coach does not agree and he is the boss. I do love Harris and we will have him several more years. Remy, this it it. I struggle with the limitations we have put on him, given he was the leading scorer in the Pac12 last year. I understand he has to fit in and I think he has done a great job. I'm a bit surprised he has not become disillusioned about his decision to come to Kansas given the limited playing time he gets now. I don't know what the stats would show on assists, turnovers, points, rebounds, etc per minute played between Remy and Harris. Remy just seems to bring way more energy to the offense and I don't think there can be any doubt his ball control allows him to penetrate into a tough defense much better than Harris. Watching the game, Harris was basically passing back and forth at the top of the key and we could not break down Tech's tough defense. When he went out with his second foul, Remy came in and was immediately able to go downhill from the key and it really opens things up for our offense. Lastly, although its clear Coach has probably drilled into Remy's head and can not launch as many threes as he has done in his career, that is certainly another point I would make that in a tough late game situation, I would much rather have Remy launch a deep one than Harris. Coach can get pretty stubborn at times with some players and won't budge. That seems to be the case here. Oh well.

8 months, 1 week ago

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Blake Brown

My take on it is that Remi still has not been consistent enough especially on defense although he has improved immensely in this area and he kept in front his man for the most part on Monday. The most significant point was TT would post up whoever he guarded and it was always a mismatch.
The one word that still comes up game after game is CONSISTENCY. We are getting better and better and still go stretches of 5-10-15 minutes where we just do not keep it going on either end of the court. On a player to player basis, DMac is the most inconsistent. Martin has been too and so has JWil, CB, Dajuan and Coleman-Lands. Jesufu has never got it together and he looks like he has all of the potential to be a force. Like many before him, he would be starting for most D1 schools and after getting lots of reps, his game would be at the level we wanted/ expected him to have early on.
One more point. KJ not only contributed for the main reason he was in there= to guard their bigger guys, he was consistent and did not make bad plays. I expect him to get more time in games where we need that against teams that have all 5 guys who can play inside/out.

8 months, 1 week ago

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Robert Brock

Remy sat while KI Adams played. As Self mentioned, KU needed rebounding. End of story.

8 months, 1 week ago

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Pius Waldman

Most of us have opinions and of course are not facts. My opinion is playing Remy and Harris at the same time has problems. We definitely need Wilson and Braun. I also feel Remy with encouragement is more effective. Harris is also a decent player but scoring is not his best qualities. Also I feel some of the others including Remy see Coach playing Harris and they try to duplicate, Coach Self is a proven coach so his decisions will guide the team.

8 months, 1 week ago

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Steve Zimmerman

Matt, I'd love to read your article on CB. He's just hard to read. Sure he blocks here & there helping our D, but he used to be on fire, I meant offense wise, too. He seems to retreat when he's open. He passes a lot. He tried some 1-on-1 move with a spin and all, but didn't work. Does he have no confidence in shooting? He's a heck of FT shooter, he can dribble and drive inside and seeks contacts. That's the other problem, we don't really have guys who's like FM or Dotson who like contacts. Everybody seems to just keep passing the ball.

8 months, 1 week ago

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