LAWRENCE — Kansas coach Bill Self expected sophomore guard Tyshawn Taylor to be a more mature player coming off a summer during which he helped Team USA win the Gold medal in the FIBA Under-19 World Championship in Auckland, New Zealand.
"If anything, I think the USA trip gave him great confidence that he's one of the better players out there," Self said.
Early this season, Taylor may be playing with too much confidence, which could explain his carelessness with the basketball that has led to a team-high nine turnovers through two games. Taylor's seven giveaways during Tuesday night's 57-55 victory over Memphis were a big reason that the top-ranked Jayhawks couldn't get into a rhythm offensively in their first high-profile matchup of the season.
"This was not his night," Self said Tuesday. "At all. He's better than what he played tonight."
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Forced into a starting job and considerable playing time as a freshman because of KU's lack of depth last season, Taylor starred in some games and struggled in others, which was to be expected.
"Tyshawn's a talented guy, but he was a little bit like the (Morris) twins last year," Self said. "He was inconsistent. You've got a guy that can go for 26 in Norman or 3 in another game. That's probably something that will come with age."
Taylor began this season out of the starting lineup in the first exhibition game against Fort Hays State. He said that he hadn't been taking care of the ball in practice and that Self was sending him a message. Taylor, like every other player, wants to start. When Self took away that carrot, even in an exhibition game, it mattered.
"Coach Self's biggest problem with me is that I'm a little bit careless, and I make stupid decisions," Taylor said. "I think I can be better with that. That's on me. It's nothing that the defender is doing to me. I just gotta make better decisions."
Self said that he has the remedy for Taylor's problem.
"You can try to eliminate certain things, try to eliminate making great plays and make easy basketball plays," Self said. "Two hands on every ball, two hands on every pass... maybe get him more structured and eliminate certain things they maybe don't do as well."
Taylor, who has reclaimed his starting spot for now, said he needs to play better when he doesn't have a full supply of energy.
"Just stay focused and not let fatigue bother me," Taylor said. "I have good practices until I start getting really tired. That's when my decision-making goes down."
Taylor had to play 33 minutes against the Tigers because KU guard Sherron Collins was fighting off leg cramps in the second half. Collins wasn't impressed with what he saw as the Jayhawks amassed 21 turnovers.
"We played out of our element," Collins said, "didn't take care of the ball, rushed shots, didn't run our offense, didn't finish running the plays, kept breaking out of the plays and just forgetting to do things. We've got to be more focused."