The news is rather cut and dry, but the implications are intriguing: Kansas coach Bill Self has suspended senior point guard Tyshawn Taylor and junior shooting guard Elijah Johnson from the team's two exhibition games in November. Self wouldn't specify what the suspensions were for, but he said that the violation of team rules came during the offseason, that Taylor and Johnson have known about their punishment for weeks and that they've been model citizens ever since.
Speaking of model, the statement Self issued with the news Sunday night was as impressively worded as any press release statement I've read in quite some time. That sounds like damnation with faint praise, but I don't mean to. Self nails it here:
“Tyshawn and Elijah have both been terrific since school began in August,” Self said. “They’ve not only performed well, they have been very responsible and disciplined the first few months of the school year. But during the offseason they violated a rule that I told them, because of some past experiences, their punishment was going to be severe and I was going to hold them out of the two exhibition games. They have been aware of this for several months and also are disappointed, but have had very positive attitudes about it.”
“I will not comment about this further,” Self added. “Losing two players and Thomas [Robinson] being questionable for Tuesday’s game probably changes the look of our team as much as anyone in the country. This gives a chance for our young guys to play under the lights and see how they react.”
You can't help but wonder if Self is sending a message to Kansas fans and observers as much as he is sending it to his players. I may be over-inferring here, but Self is no stranger to the expectations game; he's been trying to convince Kansas fans to hold their horses for weeks now. The second paragraph of his release feels like another push in this direction. Self seems to be saying, "Look, guys, we have a lot of young players, we're not as deep as we should be, our best talent is having some injury issues -- don't get mad at me if this team has its share of growing pains, because I'll have told you so. All it takes is Tyshawn to be Tyshawn."
Speaking of which, as STF's Eric Angevine quips here, it would appear Taylor is just one of those guys who can't stay out of trouble, however minor that trouble may be. This is merely the latest chapter in a long history of questionable behavioral choices by the guard, and it's especially discouraging because a) Johnson, a crucial junior sharpshooter, was also somehow involved and b) Taylor is one of the team's few truly experienced veterans. Simply put, Taylor must be excellent for Kansas to achieve its usual success this season. If he isn't -- if he just never gets it -- then any optimistic expectations for this team will be just that: optimistic.