Ben McLemore: Confidence Is Key for Jayhawks' Star SG in Tournament

Josh BenjaminCorrespondent IMarch 21, 2013

LAWRENCE, KS - MARCH 02:  Ben McLemore #23 of the Kansas Jayhawks shoots a free throw during the game against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Allen Fieldhouse on March 2, 2013 in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Kansas Jayhawks freshman shooting guard Ben McLemore had a great first season, but his team isn't going to make any noise in the tourney unless his confidence is at 100 percent.

That isn't to say that McLemore's confidence is bad now. He showed incredible poise in his freshman season, leading the team with 16.4 points per game and shooting an incredible 51 percent from the field and 44 percent from three-point range.

But the fact of the matter is that as a freshman, it's easy to say that McLemore could crack under the pressure. He was a Kansas star in a fairly weak Big 12 Conference this year, and the tournament is going to be chock full of teams from stronger and more competitive conferences like the ACC, Big Ten and others. Compared to those squads, the Jayhawks could be small potatoes despite being a No. 1 seed.

This means that once McLemore faces lockdown defense from any given player, there's no telling what will happen. He'll either remain cool and calm, or he won't be able to handle it.

Just looking at McLemore's performance in the Big 12 tournament is enough reason to be concerned. Sure, he averaged 13 points per game and shot 58 percent from the field, plus 47 percent from long range, but look at his statline from the championship game against Kansas State.

The Wildcats were able to limit McLemore to just five points on 2-of-7 shooting in 36 minutes of play. Sure, everyone has a bad game, but Kansas' offense starts and stops with McLemore. If he's not at his best, a win becomes that much harder for them.

The fact is that despite a bad Big 12 Championship Game, McLemore must remain confident and be ready to lead the Jayhawks in the tournament. He is the offensive spark and catalyst, but he cannot be that unless he knows he can carry the team and approach each opponent with his head held high.

Otherwise, Kansas' offense will sputter with the freshman McLemore unable to mentally grasp the challenge in front of him.


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