Taylor’s Injury a Blessing in Disguise

Tyshawn Taylor tore a meniscus in his knee and sprained his MCL a day before the Long Beach State game last week. He proceed to play 34 minutes (after not starting) against the Beach and 35 minutes against No. 2 Ohio State (both victories).

Kansas fans were furious with Taylor. Despite having a career-high 13 assists vs. Ohio State, Taylor still turned the ball over seven times. Against Long Beach State, Taylor had four assists and five turnovers.

Overall, Tyshawn Taylor has 39 turnovers through nine games. He does have 42 assists on the year. Turnovers are a problem for Kansas as they have more turnovers than assists. That hasn’t happened since the mid-80’s for the Jayhawks. For what it’s worth, Taylor, Johnson, Teahan and Tharpe are the only players on Kansas with a positive assist-to-turnover ratio.

Self announced after the Ohio State game that Taylor would have surgery and would be out 1-3 weeks to recover.

“I wasn’t missing this game,” Taylor said to the media. “When I come back, I’ll be 100 percent. It’s not even been real sore. T-Rob had the same injury. Conner (Teahan) did. They recovered quickly. I could be back the next game.”

Kansas’ next game is against Davidson on the 19th (eight days following Taylor’s surgery). At the end of the spectrum (three weeks), Taylor would be back for the start of conference play vs. Kansas State at Allen Fieldhouse.

Taylor takes a lot of criticism for his turnovers from fans. Self believes that criticism is unfair:

“I can do that probably more so than anybody, because he’s the point guard and he’s the quarterback and he’s more responsible than anything,” Self said on Hawk Talk (his weekly radio show). “But the bottom line is, instead of seeing sometimes what he doesn’t do, I think we should look at what he does do. Because if you look at us, we don’t beat Long Beach State if he doesn’t play. And we certainly don’t beat Ohio State if he doesn’t play.”

Self makes a fair point about Taylor. Right now, he is Kansas’ best option vs. a talented Long Beach State or Ohio State.

“He can do so many things to get in the paint to force help to get us easy baskets that when he doesn’t make some plays, we look at the negatives as opposed to all the positive things that he does,” Self said. “He’s got to tighten his game up. We’ve talked about it. We’re going to watch a lot more tape. He’s got a chance to watch a lot of tape right now and (we can) try to help him with that. But gosh, does he have a lot of talent. I mean, that is one talented kid that’s a phenomenal athlete.”

That being said, Taylor’s injury can be a blessing in disguise for Kansas.

1.  Davidson is a tough opponent. Their three losses are at Duke, Vanderbilt and at Charlotte. However, it is a game that Kansas should be able to handle pretty easily with a good performance from Taylor.

Self said on Twitter today that Taylor is still swollen. That may heal before the Davidson game at the Sprint Center but it might benefit KU more if he sits.

Let’s see how Kansas performs without Taylor in the lineup. If he’s healthy, Taylor will play a lot of minutes because he’s the most experienced guard on the team.

2. Give chances for Naadir Tharpe (who has played zero minutes in the last two games) and Elijah Johnson to run the point. What if Taylor gets a serious injury during a game and he isn’t able to run the point for the remainder of the game and/or for multiple games. Give Tharpe and Johnson reps so they get real time experience

3. As Self mentioned, Taylor can use this time to watch film and analyze what he’s doing wrong. Self is a great coach and he’s coached great guards. He should be able to figure out something that Taylor can do differently so he doesn’t turn the ball over more.

4. If Kansas does terribly without Taylor, the fans will realize that Tyshawn is needed in the lineup. In a perfect world, if that happens, he won’t get as much criticism on message boards and on Twitter. Unfortunately, a lot of people do publicly criticize Taylor and he sees a lot of it. Personally, I don’t think Tyshawn Taylor should have Twitter because it is a distraction and getting negative feedback from fans is not something he needs. Leave the coaching to the coaches, fans. Also, Missouri and K-State fans can pose as KU fans on social networks and it just isn’t needed.

5. It is a long season and Taylor will play a lot of minutes if he is healthy. Giving him some rest in December will benefit him in the long-run. Remember, he’s been a four-year starter for Kansas. He’s played a lot of minutes in college. Keeping him fresh is a good thing.

6. Playing through the injury showed fans that Taylor is a tough guy. I believe he earned a lot of respect from the fans by playing through his injury. After all, Jared Sullinger  of Ohio State sat with back spasms. Taylor played with a torn meniscus. That takes some serious guts and this team needs that toughness.

With two games within three days, including a road trip to Southern Cal, you shouldn’t expect Taylor to play a lot (if at all) in the upcoming games against Davidson (Dec. 19th) and USC (Dec. 22nd). With that, Kansas should learn a lot more about itself by the end of 2011. The biggest question will be: can someone step up to fill Taylor’s role on the offensive end? Believe it or not, Taylor has had a positive impact on the Jayhawks’ season so far so it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.