Reed All About It - Excerpt #5
Oct. 24, 2011
REED ALL ABOUT IT: DRIVEN TO BE A JAYHAWK, is written by former Jayhawk Academic All-American guard Tyrel Reed. REED ALL ABOUT IT: DRIVEN TO BE A JAYHAWK, from Ascend Books of Overland Park, Kansas, was just released and is available at most local book stores as well as amazon.com and ascendbooks.com. This title is also available on all popular e-book platforms including ipad, Kindle and Nook.
KUathletics.com has presented excerpts from the book over the last few weeks. In today’s final excerpt, Tyrel talks about his senior year: Thomas Robinson, Josh Selby and….his feet!
I never really looked down the road or looked at the big picture, but I knew that if we took it one step at a time, Coach Self would get us to the point where we were in position to contend for it all by the end of the year.
Our first really good win was in Las Vegas against Arizona. I don’t think most people knew it at the time, but Derrick Williams is a fabulous talent. He was a tough matchup with an inside-outside game. He has a great body and has that same knack for the ball that Cole had. I’m not surprised he ended up being the second pick in the NBA draft. I felt bad for Josh during this part of the year, because he was suspended by the NCAA for accepting improper benefits when he was in junior high. The NCAA has its rules and I know those are in place for a reason. It was too bad he couldn’t play those games. Being a freshman is difficult enough, but he had to deal with all that on top of it. Plus, he had broken his finger over the summer. Then when school started, he could practice; then he wasn’t allowed to practice. It was an extremely tough situation for Josh.
I know it was rough on him and draining and taxing on him mentally and physically. He had to deal with a lot of things on and off the court most players don’t have to. With us guys he always had a good attitude. I loved Josh as a teammate. When he hurt his foot he saw a specialist in North Carolina. I flew out there with him because they wanted to check out my foot as well.
We went to North Carolina together. I got to know him on that trip. It was just me, him, and our trainer. It was a time for us to grow closer together. I really respect Josh as a player and all the things he went through.
His first game was against USC in the Fieldhouse. He came off the bench, scored 21 points and made the game-winning shot. I can’t imagine a debut game going any better. I knew he had that ability. It seemed like whenever he was starting to find his niche, something would happen and he couldn’t get comfortable. That’s gotta be tough as a freshman. He definitely was in it for us. He encouraged his teammates. I have nothing but good things to say about Josh.
He played a nice game at Cal, which was where I had the best game of my career, at least from a statistical perspective. I had 18 points and seven rebounds and made most of my shots. We won the game in front of a crowd that had to be half KU fans. It was amazing. After it was over, I walked over to the sideline and raised a couple thumbs up to the KU fans for supporting us. It’s amazing how many KU fans show up at road arenas all around the country.
Unfortunately, I sustained a foot injury during Christmas break that would hound me the rest of the season. There are some oddities about my feet. One of them is that the amount of sweat that comes out of them is literally enough to routinely destroy a pair of basketball shoes in a matter of weeks. Another is that I actually have an extra bone in my ankle. I have what is called the os trigonum, which is an extra bone that no more than 8 percent of people have. You can get something called os trigonum syndrome, which usually happens to people who put a lot of stress on their feet.
I had tweaked my ankle, which had caused this bone to start rubbing against different tendons and ligaments, just making everything inflamed. It really started hurting me the Texas Tech game and I didn’t play that much. This is something that can be fixed with surgery, and I did have surgery on it after the season, but we had no way of knowing exactly how long I would have been out. It could have been three weeks, or it could have been three months. We didn’t want to risk it being a season-ending surgery, so the only alternative was to play on it and take some pain killers.
From the Texas Tech game on, I got a shot in my butt before every game to stem the pain. I got a couple cortisone shots, too. They would shoot cortisone directly into my heel.
We finished the nonconference season undefeated and won our first three Big 12 games. We were getting ready to play Texas in another one of those big games against UT. It was well after curfew when I got a text from Mario saying Thomas Robinson’s mom had died. Curfew was 10:30 p.m. He called me about midnight to say a bunch of them were at Thomas’ and Elijah’s room.
To see the sadness in the room … there’s no way you can feel bad enough for somebody who’s going through that. After losing his grandparents and losing his mom, you can imagine how completely crushed he would be. Angel Morris was there; Tyshawn’s mom was there, Coach Self was there, Coach Dooley was there. We all sat together in the living room. Nobody said much.
Before everyone left, Angel asked me to say a prayer for everyone. We were huddled together, holding hands. It was a heartfelt moment. God was in control. We know we’re not in control and there’s a greater cause and his mom’s in a better place.
Thomas played in the game the next day. Think about that. He played in the game. I don’t know how. I don’t know how he could muster enough energy and enough courage to do that. It’s crazy. Thomas Robinson is the toughest kid I’ve ever known. We lost the game and it ended our winning streak in the Fieldhouse. It was probably the most emotional game I’ve been a part of.
That was our last loss of the Big 12 season and we went into Senior Night with the league title wrapped up. I don’t think there are many other places in the country where fans would sit around for an hour after the game is over to watch basketball players speak, and that’s one of the things that makes it special to play there. The place will be full to the rafters for senior speeches. Because of all the hoopla, it feels like that night is about the seniors, but it really isn’t. It’s really about everybody else. Everybody who has been there for you along the way. All your teammates. The fans. It’s your chance to thank everybody for making it so special.
That’s what I wanted to express on Senior Night. I wasn’t nervous to speak in front of everybody, although Brady and Mario were tough acts to follow. Those guys are both really funny. I forgot to thank my teammates, but they made sure I did at the end. I just want to say how thankful I am for the fans. I’ve played at places around the country, and there’s not a better place to play. There’s a special feeling in there and a special sound. I still get goosebumps in that place.
We beat Boston, Illinois and Richmond, which put us in the Elite Eight, facing a No. 11 seed in VCU. As I said, we don’t overlook anybody. We have never done that, and we didn’t overlook VCU. We just couldn’t make shots. We were the best shooting team in the nation in 2010-11, but couldn’t get any shots to fall against VCU.
I guess people probably wonder about the effect my ankle had on my shooting. I went 1-for-9 from the field and 1-for-7 from the three-point line. The thing is, I had been making shots other times, so I don’t see any reason I shouldn’t have made them that game. I just didn’t. I don’t think you can blame it on the ankle. For whatever reason, none of us shot well that day. Except for Tyshawn. He was the only guy on our team who made at least half his shots. We shot 36 percent. VCU made 12 threes. We lost by 10.
It shows you how difficult it is to win a national title. It’s weird, because you look at it, and it’s just six games. Just win six games in a row. We do that all the time. But it’s different. The teams are better. There are no bad teams in the NCAA Tournament, and there are plenty of great ones.
I was lucky enough to win the national championship as a freshman, then experience the heartbreak all but one team feels every year after that. That’s what makes winning it so special.