The players left over from last year's national championship title game run have a lot to make up for when it comes to returning Kansas basketball to the glory it enjoyed last season. Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor found themselves taken in the NBA Draft by the Kings and Nets respectively which means that Bill Self must reload again.
The good news is that Self has some nice pieces in place including center Jef Withey and guard Elijah Johnson. Yet Withey says that the news guys in fit well alongside the veterans. As Withey was asked about T-Rob's absence, he had nothing but praise for his new freshman teammate Perry Ellis.
"It's pretty tough, but I think Perry (Ellis) doing a pretty good job so far," said Withey. "He is a freshman. He's doing what he needs to do to get points and he's taking a lot of pressure off me. Whenever he catches the ball in the post, he can make moves and that's what we need from him. We're missing Thomas but we have young guys that definitely can fill his spot."
Yet ask Kansas' first opponent in 2012 and there's no question who impressed.
"He's big. What he does is he makes them a very good defensive team because you can put so much pressure on the ball, and if they get around you, you have a shot-blocker in there that really creates a lot of problems," said SEMO coach Dickey Nutt.
"His stats don't really show what he does. He alters a lot of other shots, and he scares a lot of the plays going toward him just because of his size. He's very mobile, and he's very good at it. The reason I say that is because he doesn't foul. He's not a foul-prone type guy, or he certainly wasn't tonight. He's good at it. He's a finesse-type shot blocker that creates a lot of problems, especially with a team like ours."
Withey is expected to play a major role on both sides of the ball in the post, and he's already making an impact. However, the center says he still has a way to go.
"I still have a lot of things to work on. I'm definitely getting more confident and more comfortable with the new guys. It's a process and it's still early, but I'm getting better every game."